Union States


This page provides background to the situation in the Union States during the Civil War


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Union and Confederacy Statistics
Population: 22,300,000 9,100,000 (3.5 million slaves)
Factories: 110,000 18,000
Shipping (tonnage): 4,600,000 290,000
Workers: 1,300,000 110,000
Cotton Production: 43,000 bales 5,344,000 bales
Wheat and Corn Production: 698,000,000 bushels 314,000,000 bushels
Data from: Davidson et al. Nation of Nations, p. 562


The View from the Union

The Union consisted of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, California, Nevada, and Oregon. Some historians count the four border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware, and Maryland as Union states also. Border states were those that refused to give up the practice of slavery, but also refused to secede from the Union. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 specifically denied freedom to slaves in these border states, so that they would not be tempted to secede. In addition, the state of West Virginia essentially seceded from Virginia in 1863 and joined the Union.

The entire populace in the USA wanted a quick resolution to the war. After the Confederate victory at Bull Run in 1861, however, it was readily evident that the war would be a long one. In fact, Union supporters actually lined the hills of Manassas, Virginia with their picnic baskets in anticipation of watching a Union victory (almost like it was a soccer match.) After Bull Run, morale in the USA was extremely low, and there was an ever-present threat of a Confederate attack on Washington from the Confederate forces in nearby Virginia. The Union Army (known as the Army of the Potomac) suffered from poor leadership and President Lincoln tried several different generals to lead them, most of whom failed miserably. Despite the uncertainty near Washington, Union forces quickly gained ground in the western territories and by 1863 controlled most of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, including the vital Mississippi River. After repulsing the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg (the only significant battle fought on Union soil), and securing the last of the Confederate ports on the Mississippi River (Vicksburg and others) the tides of the war turned dramatically. In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant was named Commander of the Union Army. Lincoln chose Grant specifically for his willingness to fight. In his "Overland Campaign" Grant chased Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia throughout the fields and forests of Virginia, using his massive army to overwhelm southern forces. Both sides suffered huge numbers of casualties, but the Union Army had so many soldiers that it survived, while Lee’s Army was reeling from the continuous assaults, starving, and lacking adequate provisions and clothing. Eventually, Lee’s Army was besieged at Petersburg (40 miles south of Richmond), which prompted an evacuation of the capital. Meanwhile, General Sherman was busy destroying Georgia and South Carolina. In April of 1865, Northern forces forced a Confederate surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. The War was over.