What Ended the Civil War?
When did the Civil War end? The civil war officially ended on August 20, 1966 when President Andrew Johnson issued his Proclamation. There were many facts and events that led up to the ending of the war.
President Lincoln met with Union Army generals in Antietam, Maryland during the Civil War.
- The Union was better equipped for war with trained soldiers, superior naval forces, the effective leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, and superior financial and industrial resources.
- One of the major turning points of the Civil War was the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1-3, 1863 in combination with the Battle of Vicksburg that ended on July 4, 1863. The aftermath of these battles left the Union with the upper hand and the Confederacy weak and on the verge of collapse.
- The Union and the Confederacy both lost massive amounts of soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Vicksburg. However, the Confederacy lost a higher percentage of soldiers as well as many vital high ranking officers. The leadership of the Confederacy was deeply shaken and never recovered after these battles.
- The Union gained control of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River was a huge resource to the Confederacy. It was their main access to transportation and communication between the eastern and western halves of the Southern States. The Mississippi River split the Confederacy down the middle, so when the Union gained control, it was no longer possible for the eastern side of the Confederacy to contact or get supplies to the western side of the Confederacy.
Timeline for the End of the Civil War
This burning State House in South Carolina depicts some of the devastation the Civil War caused for Southern States.
The Civil War civil war start and end date was April 12, 1861 (start date) to August 20, 1966 (end date).
- April 12-14, 1861: Confederate soldiers attacked the Union at Fort Sumter at 4:30 a.m. This was the beginning of the American Civil War.
- July 12, 1861: The first major battle was the Battle of Bull Run near Manassas in Virginia. The Confederacy won this battle.
- April 6-7, 1862: The Battle of Shiloh took place in Tennessee. This was possibly the bloodiest battle of the war and both sides suffered heavy casualties. The Union won this battle.
- January 1, 1863: President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation that stated all people in the United States are free. This also allowed freed slaves to join the Union Armies, thus raising the number of Union soldiers by an estimated 180,000.
- July 1-3, 1863: The Battle of Gettysburg took place in Tennessee. The Union win was the turning point of the war.
- May-July 4, 1863: The Battle of Vicksburg took place in Mississippi. The Union win gave them complete control of the Mississippi River. The river was a vital part of the Confederacy's transportation and communication systems.
- September 2, 1864: Union General William T. Sherman captured Atlanta, GA. Atlanta was the center of military operations for the Confederacy. The Confederacy lost access to their vital railway and supply center.
- April 9, 1865: Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered to Union forces at Appomattox Court House. This is considered by some historians to be the end of the Civil War due to the significance this had for the Confederacy. General Lee's surrender marked the beginning of the end of the Civil War. Once Lee surrendered, Confederate President Jefferson Davis went into hiding for fear of capture, and more Confederate army generals made the choice to surrender as well.
- April 14-15, 1865" President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Vice President Andrew Johnson became the 17th President of the United States.
- April 26, 1865: Confederate leader Joseph E Johnson surrendered his army to General Sherman.
- May 10, 1865: Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured and imprisoned by the Union. The war was considered to be over and Reconstruction began.
- May 12-13, 1865: The last battle took place at Palmito Ranch in Texas.
- May 26, 1865 : The last surrender occurred when Confederate leader Edmond Kirby Smith surrendered to Edward Canby.
- August 20, 1866: The Civil War officially ended with President Andrew Johnson's Presidential Proclamation
What Battle Ended the Civil War?
There was not one battle that ended the Civil War. It actually was the combination of several battles. The Confederacy lost multiple battles to the Union, and this caused the Confederacy to lose the war. Two pivotal events were:
- The Battle of Gettysburg
- The capture of Vicksburg
The Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg took place on July 1-3, 1863 in Gettysburg, Tennessee. Confederate General Robert E. Lee withdrew from the battle and retreated. This was a crushing defeat for the Confederacy, who lost over 1/3 of their soldiers and high ranking officials. This contributed tremendously to the end of the Civil War.
The Capture of Vicksburg
This photo captures a cannon fire at the Battle of Vicksburg.
The Battle of Vicksburg ended on July 4, 1863 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This was a substantial victory for the Union Army since winning this battle gave them complete control of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River had been vital to the Confederacy for transportation between states to the east and the states to the west. The Mississippi River split the Confederacy in half; therefore, control of the river was vital for military operations. The western states were isolated after this battle and were not able receive any support from the Confederacy.
Military Surrenders and the End of the War
There was not just one military surrender that ended the Civil War. Many armies, forces, and commanders surrendered at different times with different conditions. The Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, did not commission any surrenders. The generals, forces, and commanders surrendered under their own judgement.
The Army of North Virginia
General Lee's surrender in 1865 marked a turning point in the war. General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of North Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 when he realized the Confederacy was not going to be able to break the Union lines and wanted to save the further destruction of the Southern states. This event is considered by some historians to be the end of the Civil War, since it held such a vital importance to the mentality of the Confederacy.
The Army of Tennessee
Confederate General Joseph E. Johnson surrendered the Army of Tennessee to Union General William Sherman in North Carolina on April 26, 1865. General Johnson realized that his men were no longer able to fight and his army was near total desertion. He knew his army could not take on the Union therefore resigned in hopes to save the lives of his men.
The Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana
Confederate Lt. General Richard Taylor surrendered his army to Union General E.R.S. Canby on May 4, 1865 after receiving word of Johnson's surrender of the Army of Tennessee.
The Trans-Mississippi Department
Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith reluctantly surrendered to Union Forces in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 26, 1865 after the Battle of Palmito Ranch. This battle was the last major battle of the Civil War. General Smith could not accept that the war was over and fought until he ultimately ran out of the resources necessary to continue.
Indian Territory consisted of five tribes with two major units that supported the Confederacy. Chief Stand Watie was the last official to surrender his army to Union forces on June 23, 1865. This was the last surrender of a Confederate Army of the Civil War.
The CSS Shenandoah was a Confederate ironclad war ship. The Confederates used her to travel the world and demolish the Union's economy. Confederate Captain Waddell surrendered to Union Captain Paynter, six months after the Civil War ended, on November 6, 1865. The last shot of the Civil War was of the deck of the CSS Shenandoah.
Political Events and End of Civil War
There were several political events that led to the end of the Civil War.
- When the Union took control of the Mississippi River
- The Battle of Gettysburg where the Confederate Army lost an estimated 1/3 of their armies and high ranking officials
- The surrender of Robert E. Lee
- The capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis
- The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and appointment of President Andrew Johnson
Capture of Jefferson Davis
Confederate President Jefferson Davis retreated into the deep south in an attempt to avoid capture after Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. He knew that he was in danger and fled as far as he could. He was eventually captured by a Union army on May 10, 1865 in Georgia. He was charged for treason and taken to Fort Monroe, Virginia as a prisoner of war.
His capture, combined with the surrender of high ranking officer General Robert E. Lee, is considered by many to be the end of the Civil War.
Andrew Johnson's Presidential Proclamation
President Andrew Johnson issued his Presidential Proclamation on August 20, 1866. This Presidential Proclamation was the official end of the Civil War. He stated in his proclamation that the insurrection (violent uprising) was at an end and that peace, order, tranquility, and civil authority now exists in and throughout the whole United States of America.
Reconstruction and Further Violence
The end of the Civil War was the beginning of the Reconstruction of the Southern States, formally the Confederacy. This was a time of hostility and violence as many Southerners were resistant to any changes to their way of life. The governments of the Southern states enacted Black Code Laws that charged and imprisoned former slaves as vagrants and loiters. The Equal Justice Initiative reports that over 2,000 freed slaves were killed in lynching's during the Reconstruction Years, 1865-1867.
The main key points to consider when describing the end of the American Civil War is that no one political or military event caused the war to end. Multiple events led to the fall of Confederacy and the victory of the Union. The Civil War started April 12 1861 with shots fired at Fort Sumter. When was the end of the Civil War? The official end of the war was on August 20, 1966 by a Proclamation from President Andrew Johnson.
- The Union had superior naval forces, armies, and more trained soldiers.
- The Union had the statesmanship and leadership of Abraham Lincoln, and the Confederacy struggled to overpower his military and political skills.
- The Union had more industrial and financial resources.
- The Confederates lacked strong political leadership and key financial and political resources.
- The Confederates lost control of the Mississippi River, which caused major failures in transportation.
- The Confederates lost their main military, railway, and supply sources when the Union Army seized Atlanta, Georgia.
- General Lee's surrender in 1965 marked the beginning of the end of the Civil War.
- Many Confederate generals surrendered their armies to Union Forces after Lee surrendered.
- The last battle was the Battle of Palmito Ranch on May 26, 1865.
- The last surrender was by Chef Stand Watie on June 23, 1865.
- Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured on May 10, 1865.
- President Andrew Johnson's Presidential Proclamation, which was enacted on August 20, 1866, was the formal end of the Civil War.