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America at war : military conflicts, home and abroad in the 1800s
 9781422217788, 1422217787, 9781422218518, 1422218511

Table of contents :
Part I. A Young Country:1801–1848
Part II. At War with Ourselves: 1848–1865
Part III. Fight Till the End:1865-1900
Think About It
Words Used in This Book
Find Out More
Picture Credits
About the Author and the Consultant

Citation preview

America at War Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Daily Life in America in the 1800s Bleeding, Blistering, and Purging: Health and Medicine in the 1800s Buggies, Bicycles, and Iron Horses: Transportation in the 1800s Cornmeal and Cider: Food and Drink in the 1800s America at War: Military Conflicts at Home and Abroad in the 1800s From the Parlor to the Altar: Romance and Marriage in the 1800s Guardians of the Home: Women’s Lives in the 1800s Home Sweet Home: Around the House in the 1800s Jump Ropes, Jacks, and Endless Chores: Children’s Lives in the 1800s Reviving the Spirit, Reforming Society: Religion in the 1800s Outlaws and Lawmen: Crime and Punishment in the 1800s Passing the Time: Entertainment in the 1800s Rooting for the Home Team: Sports in the 1800s Scandals and Glory: Politics in the 1800s The Sweat of Their Brow: Occupations in the 1800s Saloons, Shootouts, and Spurs: The Wild West In the 1800s

America at War Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s by Matthew Strange

Mason Crest Publishers

Copyright © 2011 by Mason Crest Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher. MASON CREST PUBLISHERS INC. 370 Reed Road Broomall, Pennsylvania 19008 (866)MCP-BOOK (toll free) First Printing 987654321 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Strange, Matthew. America at war : military conflicts, home and abroad in the 1800s / by Matthew Strange. p. cm. — (Daily life in America in the 1800s) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4222-1778-8 (hardcover)  ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-1774-0 ISBN 978-1-4222-1851-8 (papercover)  ISBN (pbk series) 978-1-4222-1847-1 1. United States—History, Military—19th century—Juvenile literature. I. Title. E181.S894 2011 355.00973—dc22 Produced by Harding House Publishing Service, Inc. Interior Design by MK Bassett-Harvey. Cover design by Torque Advertising + Design. Printed in USA by Bang Printing.


Introduction  6 Part I: A Young Country: 1801–1848  9 Part II: At War with Ourselves: 1848–1865  27 Part III: Fight Till the End: 1865–1900  41 Think About It  58 Words Used in This Book  59 Find Out More  61 Index  63 Picture Credits  64 About the Author and the Consultant  64

Introduction History can too often seem a parade of dis-

and difficult then than it is now, that peo-

tant figures whose lives have no connec-

ple were no more in agreement on matters

tion to our own. It need not be this way,

of religion, marriage, and family then than

for if we explore the history of the games

they are now.

people play, the food they eat, the ways

they transport themselves, how they wor-

lems of modernity, such as environmental

ship and go to war—activities common to

degradation, that people in the nineteenth

all generations—we close the gap between

century experienced for the first time.

past and present. Since the 1960s, his-

Because they met the challenges with

torians have learned vast amounts about

admirable ingenuity, we can learn much

daily life in earlier periods. This superb

from them. They left behind a treasure trove

series brings us the fruits of that research,

of alternative living arrangements, cul-

thereby making meaningful the lives of

tures, entertainments, technologies, even

those who have gone before.

diets that are even more relevant today.

The authors’ vivid, fascinating descrip-

Students cannot help but be intrigued, not

tions invite young readers to journey into

just by the technological ingenuity of those

a past that is simultaneously strange and

times, but by the courage of people who

familiar. The 1800s were different, but,

forged new frontiers, experimented with

because they experienced the beginnings

ideas and social arrangements. They will

of the same baffling modernity were are

be surprised by the degree to which young

still dealing with today, they are also simi-

people were engaged in the great events

lar. This was the moment when millennia

of the time, and how women joined men in

of agrarian existence gave way to a new

the great adventures of the day.

urban, industrial era. Many of the things

we take for granted, such as speed of

from the bottom up, it becomes clear just

transportation and communication, bewil-

how much modern America owes to the

dered those who were the first to behold

genius of ordinary people, to the labor of

the steam train and the telegraph. Young

slaves and immigrants, to women as well

readers will be interested to learn that

as men, to both young people and adults.

growing up then was no less confusing

Focused on home and family life, books in

We are still working through the prob-

When history is viewed, as it is here,

6  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Introduction  7

this series provide insight into how much of

history is made within the intimate spaces

up a dialogue with a past that is by no

of private life rather than in the remote

means dead and gone but lives on in

precincts of public power. The 1800s were

every dimension of our daily lives. When

the era of the self-made man and women,

history texts focus exclusively on political

but also of the self-made communities.

events, they invariably produce a sense

The past offers us a plethora of heroes

of distance. This series creates the oppo-

and heroines together with examples of

site effect by encouraging students to

extraordinary collective action from the

see themselves in the flow of history. In

Underground Railway to the creation of the

revealing the degree to which people in

American trade union movement. There is

the past made their own history, students

scarcely an immigrant or ethic organiza-

are encouraged to imagine themselves as

tion in America today that does not trace

being history-makers in their own right.

its origins to the nineteenth century.

The realization that history is not some-

This series is exceptionally well illus-

thing apart from ourselves, a parade that

trated. Students will be fascinated by the

passes us by, but rather an ongoing pag-

images of both rural and urban life; and

eant in which we are all participants, is

they will be able to find people their own

both exhilarating and liberating, one that

age in these marvelous depictions of play

connects our present not just with the past

as well as work. History is best when it

but also to a future we are responsible for

engages our imagination, draws us out of


our own time into another era, allowing us to return to the present with new perspectives on ourselves. My first engagement with the history of daily life came in sixth grade when my teacher, Mrs. Polster, had us do special projects on the history of the nearby Erie Canal. For the first time, history became real to me. It has remained my passion and my compass ever since.

The value of this series is that it opens

—Dr. John Gillis, Rutgers University Professor of History Emeritus

Part I A Young Country: 1801–1848




1800 The Library of Congress is established.

1801 Thomas Jefferson is elected as the third President of the United States.

1801 The First Barbary War starts when Tripoli, Tangier, Algiers, and Tunis declare war on the United States.

1802 The U.S Military Academy is established at West Point, NY.



1814 On December 24, Britain and the United States sign the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.

1820 Missouri Compromise—Agreement passes between proslavery and abolitionist groups, stating that all the Louisiana Purchase territory north of the southern boundary of Missouri (except for Missouri) will be free states, and the territory south of that line will be slave.


1803 Louisiana Purchase—The United States purchases land from France and begins westward exploration.


1804 1804 Journey of Lewis and Clark— Lewis and Clark lead a team of explorers westward to the Columbia River in Oregon

1812 War of 1812—Fought between the United States and the United Kingdom



1823 Monroe Doctrine— States that any efforts made by Europe to colonize or interfere with land owned by the United States will be viewed as aggression and require military intervention.

1825 The Erie Canal is completed— This allows direct transportation between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

War and Ordinary People Eighteen years might seem like a long time—but for the citizens of a new country, just beginning to enjoy the wonders and hardships of freedom, it didn’t amount to much at all. At the start of the nineteenth century, that’s how much time had passed since the United States of America had gained its independence from Great Britain. In those eighteen years since the Revolutionary War, America was just gaining its stride, expanding westward, and attempting to figure out the politics of running a country filled with different kinds of people, from different places, living in an unknown land.

12  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Part I: A Young Country: 1801–1848  13 Unfortunately, even in the early years of the country, conflicts within and outside the borders of the United States were common. America had its share of wars. So what did all this fighting mean for the average American? Well, that depended a lot on who you were. The life of a farmer was different from that of a lawyer. And a woman’s life, tending to the home and watching after her children, was very different from that of a Southern slave’s. Also, just as is true today, the life of a young person differed greatly from that of an adult. War would have touched the lives of each person differently. Even when a country is at war, life goes on. While the big political issues are being battled in life-and-death struggles, many people remain focused on those aspects of life that directly

affect their ability to stay healthy and happy—the routines of work, the seasons and weather, dealing with sickness and death. On top of that, especially at the beginning of the century, news moved slowly. A woman or man from New England would probably have heard very little of the happenings in Virginia or Louisiana—and vice versa. People didn’t travel much, and in the rural parts of the country, each family was independent, providing nearly all its own food and clothing. They might trade with other nearby families and merchants for things like metal ware, farming tools, and the occasional luxury item, but mostly each household stood alone and could comfortably be cut off from the rest of the world for months without much inconvenience.

America has had it shares of military conflicts ever since its birth, but in most American wars, battles were not fought on home territory, where ordinary people lived their lives. This meant that everyday life for most people was very different from the lives of the soldiers shown here, who were engaged in military life.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, America was still a nation of farms, but changes were coming. The railroad and growing industries would bring more and more people from rural areas like this to the cities. Small towns like the one shown here in the distance in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Valley would grow into busy cities.

An Overview of America in the Nineteenth Century On farms in the North, West, East, and South, families, white and black, were growing the staple crop of corn to feed both people and livestock. Men on these farms labored in the fields, forests, and workshops, while the women spent their time tending to the children, milking cows, and making butter and cheese. The children on these farms were also often put to work, the young men working beside their fathers in the fields, and the girls helping with chores like sewing. Northern cities, like New York and Philadelphia, were becoming commercial centers during the early years of the nineteenth century, drawing merchants and artisans. They were crowded and busy, noisy, dirty. When rural visitors traveled to cities like Boston, they often complained of not being able to sleep because of the constant commotion. But all that commotion also made these new cities exciting places.

Who Were Americans in the 1800s? In the years between 1800 and 1820, about 184,000 immigrants entered the United States. With the promise of wages that were twice to four times as much as those paid in parts of Europe, immigrants, especially the Irish, came to the United States in search of opportunities to live and work more freely. But life was by no means easy for immigrants. They entered a new world where their language (or accent) immediately sepa-

rated them, and where the customs and manners of the surrounding population were unfamiliar and often demoralizing. Large numbers of Irish settled into jobs working to help build the canals that were snaking their way across the country. America, with its wide expanse of land and its religious and political freedoms, was a place of great opportunity—but not everyone was able to

On a typical Southern plantation, rich whites lived in large houses like the one shown here, while their slaves lived in far simpler cabins behind the main house.

Part I: A Young Country: 1801–1848  17 benefit from that opportunity equally, and families spanned a wide economic range. At the top were the households of successful urban merchants, large Southern plantation owners, the great farmers of the North, and a few professional men. Next were the middling farmers, storekeepers, and successful artisans, followed by the common farmers and mechanics, and then the landless laborers and slaves. In the South, a slave’s life was dictated mainly by two things—the demands of his master and the seasons. Cotton was the major crop, and in the Deep South cotton required four hoeings that continued from April until July. The harvest season followed the hoeing, more steady, repetitious work.

Slaves carried large sacks slung over their shoulders as they stooped and picked the cotton. Their hands were often torn and bleeding from the rough edges of the plants. They would be in the fields every day until it was too dark to see, and then they’d wake up the next day and do it again, always under threat of the whip if they worked too slowly or complained. Men and women worked side by side in the fields, but on some of the larger plantations, where duties were more specialized, the men might be more apt to be in the fields and in the woods, doing the physical labor, while the women were kept in the households to cook, do laundry, and help raise the master’s children.


nother group of people that inhabited the new country had actually been here first—American Natives. And as white Americans cleared more land, and continued to move west, interaction with the native people was unavoidable. By the 1800s, the tribes were widely and often thinly spread across the country. In some parts of the country, like New England for example, communities of a few hundred Mohegans, Penobscots, and others remained, preserving their languages and crafts, still traveling the rivers of the area in birch-bark canoes and weaving intricately beautiful baskets for trade with their white neighbors. Meanwhile, on the western borders of the United States, the contact between white settlers and Indians ranged from peaceful trade and negotiations to violent conflict. Indians of the western

The Plains Indians’ way of life depended on the buffalo, but the coming of white settlers to the Plains brought an end to both the buffalo and a centuries-old lifestyle.

United States were hunters who depended heavily on bison (often referred to as buffalo) as their main source of food. They lived in tipis that could be taken down or put up quickly to make following the herd easier. But, as the white man moved steadily across the nation, hunting the bison to near extinction, the native way of life was destroyed. And although some of the new settlers were willing to live in peace with the Indians, the new national government’s policy toward Indians was one of removal.

The Coming of War As all of this was going on in the lives of everyday Americans, national political interests moved toward war. Great Britain was at war with France, and it saw any other nation that traded with France as a direct threat to its own interests. Since the United States and France were trading partners, Britain attacked American ships. These prob-

lems out at sea contributed to the War of 1812 being fought mainly as a naval war. But there were issues on land, too. In America’s Northwest Territory, the British supported Native leaders, like the Shawnees’ Tecumseh, in their fight to retain or regain land from the United States. Meanwhile, in the Southern states, America was pulled into battle with the Creek Nation, which was also a British ally. In New England, where the livelihood of ship owners and small seaport traders depended heavily on trade with European countries, including Great Britain, the idea of going to war was unpopular. New Englanders took issue with the trade embargoes set by the American government. But in the Northwest and in the South, where

Boston Harbor in the nineteenth century was a place of busy commerce, with ships unloading their goods from all around the world. Americans merchants did not like the British interfering with U.S. ships, but they wanted to find an answer that did not involve either war or embargoes (since both options would be bad for business).

the interests of the citizens were more focused on acquiring new land, the war had support in the form of “war hawks” who pushed hard for a declaration of war against Britain.

  Eventually, the pressure to go to war was too much, and on June 18, 1812, President Madison declared war on the British. The war would last over two years.

When the British lost the Revolutionary War, they also lost access to the large American naval labor force. The Royal Navy sailed worldwide and it needed sailors—so it solved the problem by capturing men to be sailors from American ships, as well as from the saloons of port cities. This practice—known as impressment—became a growing source of tension between the United States and Great Britain in the years before the War of 1812.

Incredible Individual Francis Scott Key Francis Scott Key was born August 1, 1779, in Frederick, Maryland. He lived in Georgetown and worked as a lawyer and district attorney, and enjoyed being an amateur poet. After the burning of Washington during the War of 1812, Key undertook a mission to release a doctor who had been taken prisoner by the British. Key met with the British and was able to secure the doctor’s release, but not before witnessing the combined land and sea attack on Baltimore. From the safety of a ship, as Key watched the flag of the United States still flying, he was inspired to write the “Star Spangled Banner,” which would officially become America’s national anthem in 1931.

The War of 1812 Much of the war occurred at sea. On the Atlantic, naval ships and privateers on both sides of the conflict attacked each other’s merchant ships, the British blocked the East Coast of the United States, and small American gunboats attempted (usually unsuccessfully) to defend U.S. ports. In the Northwest, on the Great Lakes, naval battles also raged. The war ended up being largely for show, however, a small incident in the eyes of the British. But for the young country of America, the conflict acted as a unifying force for a people who had not been able to agree with each other before the war. 22  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Extra! Extra! Washington in Flames For two nights, the skies around Washington have been lit with fire. Our nation’s capital still smokes. The town in its entirety is in the possession of British troops and every public building is in ashes. This morning, the barracks and the navy yard were set aflame. You cannot imagine the sense of fear and tension that has the area. Women and children are crying and screaming as they hurry out of town. Stores and houses are closed and empty. The conditions are dismal and disheartening. The British com-

U.S. naval forces were amazingly successful in their sea battles against the British. On August 24, 1814, however, America was stunned when the British were able to invade Washington, D.C., and set fire to the Capital Build-

manders have assured us that any persons and what they own will not be harmed if not found to be in arms against them, but who knows what will become of all this.

ing and the White House. But just one month later, the British were turned back at Fort McHenry, and American spirits soared, prompting Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.” Part I: A Young Country: 1801–1848  23

A modern-day reenactment of one of the battles between the British and Americans during the War of 1812.

The war petered off to an end, with both sides recording very different stories in their history books. The United States and Britain agreed to the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, leaving all borders where they had been and agreeing to a truce that would last the rest of the century and beyond. America had proved it could hold its own against a great world power, and this gave the ordinary citizen a feeling of great pride and satisfaction in his country. Later in the century, after a long period of large-scale military quiet, another brief war arose, this time in the nation’s southwest. Texas was admitted as a state in 1845, but not without

much debate. The new state had been an independent territory (except in the eyes of Mexicans, who still considered Texas to be theirs), and some of its residents wanted to continue to be independent. Also, Texas would allow slavery, which had by that time been made illegal in the North. This meant the South liked the idea of acquiring Texas, a large amount of land that defended the Southern view that owning slaves was a right—while the North was nervous about adding another slave state to the Union, since adding to the population and land area of the South would swing the balance of the country in favor of slavery.

24  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Part I: A Young Country: 1801–1848  25

Snapshot from the Past A Drum and an Enemy to Beat The morning he was scheduled to lead the soldiers out of New Jersey to march south to fight the British, James’s thoughts drifted back a few summers. He remembered how he had heard the sounds of a drummer boy in a parade he and his parents attended, and how he found himself filled with envy. He wanted to be that boy, leading a proud group, keeping everyone in step. And so he had begged and pleaded with his parents to get him a drum so he could find his rhythm. Finally, after weeks of pestering, his father came home from town with a small drum. James had never been happier.   And he’d stuck to it, for sure. For two years he’d been drumming, both on his own, and with his father’s local militia, leading the men in drills. Now James’s fingers and thumbs were calloused from holding the sticks he loved so much. He was only thirteen years old, but his passion had a purpose.   He knew his mother was terrified of the prospect of her husband and son going off to battle together. But James hadn’t really considered what was waiting for him—the booming of guns and the death that followed. He hadn’t thought about the fact that his father might not return with him, or that they could lose and the British could reclaim his land. He didn’t understand what war was, and what he was about to face. Maybe it was better that way. Because, as James and his father walked on, leaving the safety of their home behind, James smiled with pride and didn’t say a word, just began tapping out a rhythm on his drum. Rattatat-tat! Tat! Tat! Ratta-tat-tat! Tat! Tat!

Mexican-American War Despite these arguments, Texas did become part of the United States, and so, when Mexico refused to let go of the land, President Polk defended the new state by declaring war on Mexico on May 13, 1846. The war lasted almost two years, until the beginning of 1848. And, once again, as the war progressed, so did national support; the army during this time swelled with volunteers from a little over 6,000 to 115,000. With the end of the war came a great sense of national pride. The disagreements over whether Texas should be a state or whether the United States should go to war with Mexico had been temporarily forgotten. But the underlying disputes between North and South were still there, and not much more than ten years later, America would enter its greatest armed conflict of the nineteenth century. This time, the war would have a far greater effect on the everyday lives of America’s ordinary citizens. On May 9, 1846 in Texas, Captain Charles A. May’s squadron slashed through enemy lines, proving that the 2,500 American soldiers under Zachary Taylor had enough courage to shatter the Mexican force of 6,000 and eject it forever from Texas. The victory built American pride and confidence.

Part II At War with Ourselves: 1848–1865




1836 On March 6, Mexican forces take the Alamo from Texas, after 13 days of siege.

1838 Trail of Tears—General Winfield Scott and 7,000 troops force Cherokees to walk from Georgia to a reservation set up for them in Oklahoma (nearly 1,000 miles). Around 4,000 Native Americans die during the journey.

1839 The first camera is patented by Louis Daguerre.




1854 KansasNebraska Act— States that each new state entering the country will decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery. This goes directly against the terms agreed upon in the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

1859 John Brown’s Rebellion—John Brown leads a revolt and takes over the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. However, he is soon forced to surrender by U.S. Marines, and then is hung for his crimes.

1861(-65) Civil War—Fought between the Union and Confederate states.




1844 First public telegraph line in the world is opened— between Baltimore and Washington.

1848 Seneca Falls Convention— Feminist convention held for women’s suffrage and equal legal rights.

1846 The MexicanAmerican War is declared on May 13, when the U.S. and Mexico fail to resolve a boundary dispute over the annexation of Texas.



1863 The Battle of Gettysburg is a major Union victory in the Civil War.

1862 Emancipation Proclamation— Lincoln states that all slaves in Union states are to be freed.

1848(-58) California Gold Rush—Over 300,000 people flock to California in search of gold.


1865 Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution— Officially abolishes slavery across the country.

1865 The Civil War ends when Robert E. Lee surrenders on April 9. 1865 President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated on April 15.


he previous conflicts of the nineteenth century had only minor influence on the structure of American society. People continued to live their lives much as they had before. There were increases in national pride, state borders might have shifted or new land might have been added, and the United States may have established itself as being more secure and legitimate in the eyes of the rest of the world. But the main changes in the country during this time had less to do with war and more to do with industry. Workers rights were beginning to be recognized with the instituting of the ten-hour work day, and inventions like vulcanized rubber, the sewing machine, and the safety pin—all developed in the 1840s— had a dramatic affect on industry and the daily life of Americans. Before the Civil War, the average American was aware of the government but was unlikely to feel any direct influence from it. Americans paid

In the first half of the nineteenth century, most Americans lived out their lives in their own homes, with very little concern for the country as a whole. With transportation and communication between regions of the nation taking so long, ordinary people had little interest in events taking place outside their own communities. This painting portrays a family reading a letter, with the father consulting a map, perhaps to get a better sense of the whereabouts of friends or family who had moved West.

no taxes, exchanged very little national currency, and had little chance of ever encountering a federal official. America was a loosely connected group of communities that lacked any centralization, both in social and political order. Ironically, the Civil War that in many ways would tear the nation apart, would also end up unifying it.

The Civil War The War Between the States had many causes—the differing economic systems of the North and South, the North being industrial and the South agricultural, for example, as well as the issue of slavery—and in many ways the Civil War was a war of ideas. The North was fighting for nationalism and emancipation, and the South for localism and the right to continue to own slaves. This meant that the North believed that a strong central government should have the right to declare laws that governed the states, while the South favored a weaker federal government that would allow for states’ rights to decide things for themselves. As the 1850s came to an end, political and personal tensions grew nearly unbearable, and a violent conflict became inevitable. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln, the new Republican president who favored the abolition of slavery, the Southern states began seceding from the nation even before Lincoln was inaugurated, setting themselves apart as the Confederate States of America. Then, on April 12, 1861 Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, a U.S. military fort in Charleston, South Carolina. The American Civil War had begun. The Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston’s harbor marked the beginning of a long and bloody war.

Extra! Extra! A Country at War Brooklyn Post, April 25, 1861 The excitement of war is increasing daily in Brooklyn. Many storekeepers and even private residences are choosing to display the flag. In truth, it seems almost all public places have begun to fly the national colors. Recruiting has begun in earnest with hundreds of young men lining up at the recruiting

office of the 13th Regiment last night. Many have already been enrolled. There is no doubt that within days all four of the local regiments will be filled with the requisite 700 men, constituting a brigade, under order to be ready for service with three days’ notice.

A Long and Bloody War Initially many people believed, especially in the North, that the war would be brief. The North’s Union Army marched immediately toward Richmond, Virginia (the capital of the Confederacy), with the goal of ending the war quickly. At the Battle of Bull Run/ Manassas, hundreds of Northern spectators gathered nearby to see what they thought would be an almost immediate clobbering of the Confederate forces. What they got instead was an intense battle that lasted days. The battle set the tone for the four brutal, bloody years that lay ahead. The stories of American men during that time, be they rich or poor, from the South, North, or even West, was mostly the same. They enlisted. They went off to war, leaving families at home to care for themselves, and they often

didn’t return. While away for months at a time, they engaged in battles, of course. But between battles they had to march from location to location. They spent down-time drilling or practicing battlefield techniques. They spent time making meals and cleaning their clothes, or writing letters to home. If they didn’t go off to war, they worked to support the fighting, helping to build ships or collect goods for whichever army they supported. Unlike the War of 1812, which had been fought mainly at sea, or the Mexican-American war that had been localized in one area of the country, the Civil War was waged in every town and city. Battles occurred, essentially, in people’s backyards. Brothers—sometimes even fathers and sons—ended up on opposite sides of battlefields.

Part II: At War with Ourselves: 1848–1865  35

Snapshot from the Past A Family Affair One memory stands out above all others when I think back on the time I spent in the Union’s grand army. It was in the afternoon after a rain, and a fog hung over the battlefield as we approached the next hill we were to take. I was happy to have Sergeant Johnson at my side, a brave man if there ever was one. Through the haze, we both noticed a small company situated to our left, actually advancing on us as we charged. They were keeping heavy fire on us and were being led by a brash officer who seemed no more than a boy. I said to Sergeant Johnson, “That company will be the death of us!” and Johnson, agreeing, stood tall and fired on the officer, hoping to take him out and discourage the rest of the company. It took him no more than 2 shots, the officer fell, and the company dispersed. It was miraculous. We continued our charge and took the hill with ease. But as we passed the location where that small company had been, I suggested that we check to see if the officer was still alive. Unfortunately, Johnson was the one to find him. Had I gotten there first, perhaps I would have seen the resemblance and somehow saved Johnson the agony of knowing it had been he who shot him. I had been right in my assessment—the officer was not much more than a boy. And he was alive when Johnson found him, alive just long enough in fact to look up at the father he had left in the North years ago, and say, “Goodbye.”

Gettysburg The Battle of Gettysburg is often described as the turning point of the war, because it ended Confederate General Lee’s invasion of the North. The war may have marked the end of the war in the minds of historians, but

it did little to change the lives of the women and families left behind while their men went off to fight. Women and children had to continue the farming production for the entire country. No longer were the duties split

Involving 90,000 Union soldiers and 75,000 Confederates and resulting in combined casualties of approximately 50,000 (23,000 Union and an estimated 24,000–28,000 Confederate), historians consider Gettysburg to be the largest and most important battle of the American Civil War.

Part II: At War with Ourselves: 1848–1865  37

Eyewitness Account The War’s in Town Tillie Pierce was attending school in Gettysburg on June 26, 1863, when she heard a cry—“The Rebels are coming!” We were having our literary exercises on Friday afternoon, at our Seminary, when the cry reached our ears. Rushing to the door, and standing on the front portico, we beheld in the direction of the Theological Seminary, a dark, dense mass, moving toward town. Our teacher, Mrs. Eyster, at once said, “Children, run home as quickly as you can.” It did not require repeating. I am satisfied some of the girls did not reach their homes before the Rebels were in the streets. As for myself, I had scarcely reached the front door, when, on looking up the street, I saw some of the men on horseback. I scrambled in, slammed shut the door, and hastening to the sitting room, peeped out between the shutters.

between husband and wife. Women cooked and cleaned, sewed, and watched after the children as always, but now they also had to find a way to bring in the harvest, chop the wood, and tend to the animals.

While the men fought on the battlefields, many women volunteered to sew uniforms and provide nursing to wounded soldiers.

Snapshot from the Past Strength Elizabeth saw the first rays of sunlight just begin to break over the trees at the edge of her family’s farm, and she knew it was time to get up. It had been three weeks since her father and oldest brother, Richard, had left to join up with the Union army, and her body was sore from the extra work she was having to do around the farm. At ten years old she was not old enough to chop wood for the fire, but she could help carry the wood up to the house, which is what she had spent yesterday afternoon doing. As Elizabeth came to the top of the stairs, she heard the sound of her mother crying in the kitchen below. Elizabeth froze, wondering what she should do. But she didn’t have much time to think about it before she heard her mother’s footsteps coming toward the stairs, and her mother’s voice calling, “Elizabeth!” Her mother looked up at her from the bottom of the stairs, and now Elizabeth couldn’t see a hint of sadness in her eyes. “Well, Elizabeth, are you just going to stand there all day or are we going to get started?” Elizabeth smiled. If her mother could be brave, so could she. “Yes, Mother,” she said and ran down the stairs toward her day on the farm.

In the North, the economy flourished with war-time manufacturing. In the South, times were tough because of the shift away from the standard mode of production. Southern prices for goods

rose, putting pressure on the poor, and stretching the budgets of even the welloff. To meet the demands of providing materials, tools, weapons, and clothing, children were put to work, expected to

38  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Many women in both the North and the South wore black during the Civil War, a sign that they were in mourning for a husband or father, son or brother who had died in the war. help as much as possible on the farms and in the industries of the cities. Some communities sponsored fairs, hoping to raise both morale and money. People were asked to donate agricultural goods and money to help feed the fighting soldiers and fund the hospitals that cared for the many who were injured.

Before the war, wealthy women in both the North and the South had more time for fashion and parties—but during the war, all women, no matter how wealthy, worked hard.

Incredible Individual Clara Barton Clara Barton was born on Christmas in 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts, the youngest of five children. In 1861, while living in Washington, D.C., she witnessed a Regiment arrive after the Baltimore riots. She organized a relief program for the soldiers, beginning her life as a philanthropist. Later, after learning that many soldiers wounded during battle suffered because they simply did not have the necessary medical supplies, she advertised for donations and began an organization for distributing goods. The following year, she was granted permission to travel with the army ambulances to help with the soldiers. By the end of the war, Barton had been involved with most of the services that would later be associated with the American Red Cross, which she founded in 1881.

Finally, on April 9, 1865, near Appomattox Station, the Confederacy surrendered, ending the deadliest of America’s wars. But the influence of the Civil War on ordinary Americans’ lives was by no means over. Now began the period that would be known as the Reconstruction. 40  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Part III Fight Till the End: 1865-1900




1869 Transcontinental Railroad completed on May 10.

1870 Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution— Prohibits any citizen from being denied to vote based on their “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

1867 United States purchases Alaska from Russia.

1870 Christmas is declared a national holiday.



1881 Clara Barton, who had aided wounded soldiers in the Civil War, founds the American Red Cross.

1886 The Statue of Liberty is dedicated on October 28.


1890 Wounded Knee Massacre— Last battle in the American Indian Wars.

1892 1892 Ellis Island is opened to receive immigrants coming into New York.





1871(-86) Native Apache leaders, Geronimo and Victorio, raid white settlers and soldiers, until they are forced to surrender in 1886.

1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.

1877 Great Railroad Strike—Often considered the country’s first nationwide labor strike.

1878 Thomas Edison patents the phonograph on February 19. 1878 Thomas Edison invents the light bulb on October 22.




1893 U.S. marines land in the kingdom of Hawaii to help with the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani.

1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson—Supreme Court case that rules that racial segregation is legal as long as accommodations are kept equal.

1898 The SpanishAmerican War— The United States gains control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.

1896 Henry Ford builds his first combustion-powered vehicle, which he names the Ford Quadricycle.

Reconstruction The effects of the Civil War were far-reaching, changing the ways in which Americans interacted with their government and each other. During what was called the Reconstruction Era, parts of the South were put under military control in the hopes of creating communities where newly freed slaves could claim their new rights. The federal government also helped to rebuild the South in other ways, by getting railroads up and running, helping to build schools, and rebuilding cities that had been destroyed during the war. And while all this was happening, individuals were trying to get their lives back in order after the death and loss the war had brought to many families.

For many black Americans, the first order of business was often to reunite their families. Slaves had frequently lost spouses and children when they were sold to far-away owners, so now that they had the right to travel and earn money, they searched for their long-lost relatives. During the Reconstruction Era, thousands of black couples were also

able to make their marriages official for the first time. All-black churches had important roles during these years. Not only could black Americans now worship together openly, but their churches also provided them with places where their children could go to school, and where they could develop a cultural identity.

The years after the Civil War were ones of great hope for black Americans. For the first time, they could openly reclaim their pride, their families, and their faith.

Much of the South was left in ruins after the Civil War. Ordinary life would never be the same for the people who had lived in these cities. While all this was going on, whites in the South were struggling with the issue of cultural identity as well, but for very different reasons. About one-fifth of the South’s adult male population had been killed during the Civil War,

and this staggering loss of life made it difficult for many families to recover. Women who had been forced to take on extra duties to cover for husbands and sons off at war, now had to continue those duties as well as cope with the loss of loved ones. Some men who did return were badly maimed, and none were the same men who had gone off to war. The Ku Klux Klan used violence and intimidation to force black Americans back under the control of white men. Claiming that they were acting in the name of Christianity, the Klan lit burning crosses as warnings to black families who dared to assert their rights. Many black people were beaten or murdered.

Eyewitness Account Report by Generals Steedman and Fullerton to the federal government, regarding the corruption within the Freedmen’s Bureau. Among the many acts of cruelty committed by Superintendent Fitz, we found that he had in two instances suspended freedmen with cords around their wrists, their feet not touching the floor, and kept them in this position, in one case four, in the other case six hours; that he sentenced a freedman to an imprisonment of three months for a trivial offence—that of wrangling with his wife. He kept another man, who was arrested for debt, shut up in the black house—the prison—for months, while his wife and children, reduced to abject destitution, died with the smallpox, and took him from the prison under guard and compelled him to bury his last child in the cradle in which it died. On another occasion, when one of his guards reported to him that a colored woman had spoken disrespectfully of him, without even inquiring what the woman had said, he ordered her to be imprisoned until the next morning at nine o’clock, when she would be brought before him to answer for the indignity. In one instance he imprisoned six children for ten days for playing in the streets on the Sabbath day.

After suffering the loss of loved ones at the hands of the Union, along with the destruction of their property and pride, many Southern whites were bitter and heartsick. Some expressed their sorrow by building Confederate cemeteries and monuments, but others resorted to more violent means to express their anger. It was a difficult time for everyone—black, white, male, female.

The assassination of President Lincoln soon after the end of the war meant that a far weaker president, Andrew Johnson, had to handle Reconstruction. The high hopes that blacks had felt at the end of the war were dashed to the ground by the hard, cold reality that settled in as the years passed. Slavery would never come back, but prejudice, discrimination, and violence took its place.

Part III: Fight Till the End: 1865-1900  47

The Indian Wars Meanwhile, as the South struggled to recover from the war, other white Americans decided to leave the East and head West, looking for new opportunities to make a living. Conflict with

the Native people who lived in these lands was inevitable. White Americans believed they had a God-given right to expand westward—and the Native tribes that had once roamed freely

This illustration, printed in Harper’s Weekly in 1868, shows armed Sioux warriors creeping up on a white farmer plowing a field.

48  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Part III: Fight Till the End: 1865-1900  49

Another illustration from Harper’s Weekly shows the interior of a settler’s cabin during an Indian raid. across the Great Plains were pushed steadily west into a shrinking territory. They did not go without a fight, and violence between the white settlers

and the Native tribes escalated. The ongoing Indian Wars became the background for the nation’s life in the years after the Civil War.

The Massacre at Sand Creek An example of the Indian Wars’ brutality took place at Sand Creek in Colorado. The Cheyenne and Arapaho people there had been assured by the U.S. government they would be safe in the territory they were occupying, but the white settlers had heard stories of Native warriors’ violence against whites during the Dakota War of 1862,

and anti-Indian feelings were running high in Colorado. The settlers wanted the Indians to be moved out of what the settlers considered to be their land. American troops attacked the peaceful village and killed and mutilated about two hundred of the villagers, two-thirds of whom were women and children.

The U.S. attack on the village at Sand Creek turned into a massacre that left more than two hundred Cheyenne dead.

Incredible Individual Black Kettle The leader of the Sand Creek village, Black Kettle, did not want to fight the white men’s violence with violence. He hung a white flag from his tipi and encouraged other Indian leaders to work for peace with the whites. Black Kettle escaped the massacre because he was out hunting with many of the other men. He returned and found that his wife had been seriously injured, while many other women had been killed. Black Kettle, however, continued to work for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between whites and Natives. He signed a treaty with the U.S. government that promised “perpetual peace” and lands in repayment for the Sand Creek massacre. However, the treaty’s practical effect was to force the Cheyenne to move again, to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Black Kettle never stopped believing that peace was possible, but most of his own people stopped listening to him.

Part III: Fight Till the End: 1865-1900  51

Battle of Little Bighorn After the massacre at Sand Creek, the survivors joined the camps of the Sioux. War pipes were smoked and passed from camp to camp—and raids on white settlements followed. In the 1870s, the situation grew still worse when trespassing white miners discovered gold in the Native tribes’ sacred Black Hills. The U.S. government took over the land, an area known to the Native people as “the heart of everything that is.” The tribes attacked the American forces and defeated General George Custer and his troops at the Battle of Little Bighorn. But their victory would not last for long. By 1877, most of the Native people had been rounded up and placed on reservations. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Arizona, and Western Texas, the roaming Apaches were more successful at warding off defeat. The tribes joined together and offered the U.S. Army a unified resistance. Although, in 1872, one of their chiefs had agreed to peace and led his followers onto a reservation, others were led by Geronimo and continued to mount attacks. But by 1886, even Geronimo could resist no more and surrendered.

The Sioux people portrayed in this painting by George Catlin are engaged in a war council, making plans to try to defend their lands from white invaders.

The Black Hills, in what is today South Dakota, are still considered by many Native tribes to be sacred land. When whites dug into the mountains in search of gold, the Native people viewed their actions as sacrilege.

Wounded Knee The end of the Indian Wars came in December 1890, on the Northern Lakota reservation at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Fearing that the Lakota were going to rise up again, the U.S. Army tried to prevent the people at Wounded Knee from holding a religious ceremony. Gunfire broke out, and the American soldiers killed around three hundred people, mostly old men, women, and children. It was the last armed confrontation between the American military and Native warriors. A photograph taken after the massacre at Wounded Knee.

54  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Extra! Extra! Editorial, Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, January 3, 1891 The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untameable creatures from

the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past.

Although the Spanish-American War was short, it was violent—and it brought some major changes to America. It marked America’s entry into world affairs, and at the end of the war, the United States gained almost all of Spain’s colonies, including the Philippines, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Even more important, however, the war helped heal old wounds left by the Civil War. Northerners and Southerners, blacks and whites joined together against a common foe, helping to ease the scars left from the Civil War.

Spanish-American War At the very end of the century, America began to focus its attention outwardly again, specifically on helping Cuba win its freedom from Spain. Although not directly interested in securing Cuba for

itself, the American government, under pressure created largely by a frenzy of newspaper articles published with the sole purpose of exciting the public, declared war in April of 1898, hoping

56  America at War: Military Conflicts, Home and Abroad, in the 1800s

Part III: Fight Till the End: 1865-1900  57 to help Cuba defeat Spain. President McKinley was reluctant to go to war, but just 144 days after the declaration of war, the conflict was over. And so was America’s military action in the 1800s. Ordinary life had survived—but the twentieth century would

bring new threats to Americans’ lives. The United States has never managed to remain at peace for long. Still, everyday life continued, as it always has, and Americans—white and black, Native Americans and immigrants—struggled to meet the challenges of their lives.

The Battle at San Juan Hill was the most famous of the Spanish-American War. It was also the bloodiest. Most of the troops who fought that day were African Americans—and they were led by Teddy Roosevelt, who would one day become America’s president.

Think About It War was an almost constant theme in the history of 1800s America. That theme included a war with the British, a war with Mexico, a century-long war against the Native American tribes, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. Between them all, there were very few real periods of peace in the nineteenth century. l Consider

each of the major conflicts of the 1800s mentioned above. How did each one of them change America and Americans?

l How

would America been different if the South had won the Civil War?

l Could a century of continuing warfare against Native Americans been avoided

if the U.S. had pursued a different policy toward Native tribes? How would America be a different country today? l Our

country continues to fight wars around the world. Do you think there’s any chance for lasting peace in your generation’s lifetime? What can young Americans do to work for peace?

58  Think About It

Words Used in This Book abject: Miserable and completely hopeless. abolition: The act of doing away with or getting rid of something; often refers to the outlawing of slavery. agricultural: Having to do with farming; the business and science of growing crops and raising livestock. artisans: Skilled craftspeople. brutality: The quality of being cruel and harsh. centralization: The concentration of authority or power under one central group or organization. confrontation: A coming together of two people or groups, often involving violence. currency: Money; something that is used as a medium of exchange. demoralizing: Discouraging, dispiriting, leading to disorder and confusion. diplomatic: Having to do with the relationships and negotiations between governments. discrimination: The treatment of individuals based on ideas and prejudices about a certain group, race, etc. to which they belong, rather than on a consideration of them as individuals. emancipation: The act of setting a person or persons free; especially refers to freeing from slavery. embargoes: Orders by a government banning trade with certain nations. industrial: Having to do with manufacturing and trade businesses. inevitable: Not able to be avoided. legitimate: Valid, accepted based on established practices or standards. localized: Restricted to a certain area. merchants: Businesspeople; those who buy and sell goods. nationalism: The love of your country and a strong belief that the interests of the country are of first importance.

Words Used In This Book  59

negotiations: Discussions and arrangements of the terms of an agreement or treaty. perpetual: Continuing forever. policy: A course of action decided on and followed by a government, organization, or other group. prejudice: Opinions and beliefs, often negative, about a person or group, formed without knowledge or full understanding. privateers: Privately owned ships that have been authorized by a government during a war to attack and capture enemy ships. provocation: Something that causes anger, irritation, or other emotion, leading to action. Reconstruction: The process by which the Confederate states were brought back into the United States and made a part of the country again. Reconstruction lasted from 1865 to 1877. seceding: Formally withdrawing from an organization, union, or political alliance. smallpox: A contagious disease characterized by fever and blistering, which leaves permanent scarring after recovery. Smallpox has been responsible for millions of deaths throughout history, but has now been wiped out, with the exception of a few laboratory samples. staple: A type of goods, a crop, or a resource that is the primary source of income for a particular area. trivial: Not important; insignificant. vulcanized rubber: Rubber that has been treated using sulfur and heat to make it more durable and better able to stand up to extremes in temperature.

60  Words Used In This Book

Find Out More In Books Greenblatt, Miriam, and John Stewart. War of 1812. New York: Facts on File, 2003. Katcher, Philip. Union Cavalrymen of the Civil War. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2003. McNeese, Tim. Reconstruction: Life After the Civil War. New York: Chelsea House, 2009. Reis, Ronald A. African Americans and the Civil War. New York: Chelsea House, 2009. Slavicek, Louise Chipley. Women and the Civil War. New York: Chelsea House, 2009. Somerlott, Robert. The Spanish-American War: “Remember the Maine.” Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow, 2002. Sonneborn, Liz. The Mexican-American War: A Primary Source History of the Expansion of the Western Lands of the United States. New York: Rosen, 2005. Uschan, Michael V. A Civil War Doctor. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent, 2005. Waldman, Neil. Wounded Knee. New York: Atheneum, 2001. Walker, Paul Robert. Remember Little Bighorn: Indians, Soldiers, and Scouts Tell Their Stories. Des Moines, Iowa: National Geographic Children’s Books, 2006.

Find Out More  61

On the Internet Five Tri-State Women During the Civil War: Day-to-Day Life Fort Davis National Historic Site: Indian Wars in the West Wars_in_the_West.htm Gettysburg National Military Park: Civil War Soldier Life Hard Times: Civilian Life During the Civil War The Spanish-American War The U.S.-Mexican War

The websites listed on this page were active at the time of publication. The publisher is not responsible for websites that have changed their address or discontinued operation since the date of publication. The publisher will review and update the websites upon each reprint.

62  Find Out More

Index Barton, Clara 28, 40 Battle of Little Bighorn 42, 52 Black Kettle 51

Lincoln, Abraham 28–29, 32, 42, 47

church 44 Civil War 28, 30–32, 34, 36, 39–40, 44–46, 49, 56 Confederacy 38, 32, 34, 36, 40, 47, 60

Native Americans 18–20, 28, 48–54, 57 North 15, 17, 20, 24, 26, 32, 34–36, 38–39

Mexican-American War 24, 26, 29, 34

Reconstruction 40, 44, 47 Revolutionary War 12, 21

emancipation 28, 32 farms 13–15, 17, 36, 38–39, 48 Gettysburg 28, 36–37 Great Britain 12, 20–21 Great Lakes 22 Great Plains 49 immigrants 16, 42, 57 Indian Wars 42, 48–50, 54 Irish 16 Johnson, Andrew 47

slavery 13, 16–17, 24, 28, 32, 44, 47 soldiers 13, 25–26, 28, 36–37, 39–40, 54–55 South 13, 15–17, 20, 24, 26, 32, 34, 38–39, 44, 46–48, 56 Spanish-American War 42–43, 56–57 Texas 24, 26, 28–29, 52 trade 13, 18, 20 War of 1812 20–22, 24, 34 Washington, D.C. 22–23, 29, 40 West 12, 15, 18, 34, 48–49, Wounded Knee 42, 54

Key, Francis Scott 22–23 Ku Klux Klan 46

Index  63

Picture Credits Altairisfar: p. 16 Antonino, Matt; Dreamstime: p. 38 Bronwyn, Dreamstime: p. 22 Collinson, James: pp. 30–31 Dover: pp. 8–9, 12–13, 14–15, 18–19, 20, 34–35, 48, 49, 52 Harper’s Weekly: pp. 33, 37, 41, 53 Hovendon, Thomas: pp. 44–45 Johnson, Eastman: pp. 24–25 Kramskoi, Ivan: p. 39 Lewis, James; Dreamstime: p. 23

Library of Congress: pp. 22–23, 40, 46–47, 50–51, 54, 55, 56–57 Machnitzki, Thomas R.; Creative Commons: p. 17 Mariners’ Museum: p. 21 Martin, Kelly; Creative Commons: p. 53 Sargeant, Rick; Dreamstime: p. 27 U.S. Military: pp. 26, 40, 58, 59 U.S. National Park Service: pp. 32–33, 36–37, 54

To the best knowledge of the publisher, all images not specifically credited are in the public domain. If any image has been inadvertently uncredited, please notify Harding House Publishing Service, 220 Front Street, Vestal, New York 13850, so that credit can be given in future printings.

About the Author and the Consultant Matthew Ronald Strange is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. He has worked as an editor and as a copywriter, but his true passion is writing creatively: short stories, poetry, and maybe someday a novel. This is his first time writing for Mason Crest. John Gillis is a Rutgers University Professor of History Emeritus. A graduate of Amherst College and Stanford University, he has taught at Stanford, Princeton, University of California at Berkeley, as well as Rutgers. Gillis is well known for his work in social history, including pioneering studies of age relations, marriage, and family. The author or editor of ten books, he has also been a fellow at both St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and Clare Hall, Cambridge.

64  About the Author and the Consultant