5 Things You Didn't Know About The Civil War

On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Here are 5 interesting facts you didn't know about the Civil War…


Many of the Combatants During the Civil War Weren’t Home-Grown The Union Army during the Civil War was multinational and multicultural.  We often hear about Irish soldiers (7.5 percent of the army), but the Union’s ranks included even more Germans (10 percent), who marched off in regiments such as the Steuben Volunteers. Other immigrant soldiers were French, Italian, Polish, English and Scottish. In fact, one in four regiments contained a majority of foreigners. 

Harriet Tubman Led a Raid to Free Slaves During The Civil War. Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave remembered for leading slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. She gathered intelligence from freed slaves, and in 1863, she accompanied James Montgomery, a Union colonel, along with 300 black soldiers, to attack plantations and free the slaves. More than 720 slaves escaped and streamed across the countryside to make their way to freedom in the North.


Many Women Fought While Disguised as Men Contrary to the popular belief that women were just nurses and cooks that followed the armies during the Civil War, there were actual female soldiers.They disguised themselves as men and served in the Union or Confederate Armies. These women enlisted for a number of different reasons. They either wanted to share in the trials of their loved ones, for adventure's sake, for the promise of reliable wages, or even for patriotic reasons.

Lincoln Wanted to Send Freed Slaves to Central America Abraham Lincoln wanted to send slaves that had been freed to live abroad not only while the Civil War was ongoing but before then. It was a policy that Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, James Madison and other important figures of the day supported. Lincoln went so far as to ask Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to fund the colonization of Central America by American blacks, but abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass were more than a little appalled by the idea of expelling blacks from the country.  Lincoln never succeeded at gathering support for the policy, and after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation he never mentioned it publicly again.

More Men Died in The Civil War Than Any Other American Conflict Approximately 625,000 men died in the Civil War, more Americans than in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. If the names of the Civil War dead were arranged like the names on the Vietnam Memorial, it would stretch over 10 times the wall’s length. Two percent of the population died, the equivalent of 6 million men today. Rifles were by far the war’s deadliest weapons, but deadlier still was disease. Camps became breeding grounds for diseases such as mumps, chicken pox and measles, and over one million Union soldiers contracted malaria.