What is the Civil War for Kids?

 Hello my name is Andrew Druart and I started The Civil War for Kids (CivilWarKids.com) in the summer of 2010 to help teach other kids about the Civil War and how we can help save Civil War Battlefields from being erased by people destroying them with buildings, housing, or stores. I also wanted to help give parents a fun/interactive way to teach their kids about the Civil War.  

  I am currently a 16 year old high school junior living in Austin, Texas. I am a Civil War fanatic, but I also have interests in US and European military history. My intended goal when starting this website was to educate kids and teens the importance of not only learning about this important time in history but also the importance in preserving that history as well. Since 2010 my site in cooperation with the Civil War Trust has raised over 30,000 US dollars to help preserve battlefields across the country.

Summary of the Civil War

  From the first fighting in the Civil War on April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC through the final battle at Palmito Ranch in South Texas on May 13, 1865 there were more than 620,000 Americans killed or missing, thousands more wounded. Because record keeping was bad some people think that it was even more than that, but regardless it was the bloodiest, most deadly war that we have ever fought in. I used to think that there were really two main reasons that the war was fought - to end slavery and to protect the United States of America as a Union. Now, after learning more about the war, it is clear to me that most people who supported the Federal cause wanted first and foremost to preserve the Union. While President Lincoln eventually knew that preserving the Union required freeing the slaves, in 1862 he said: "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that." There were also some slave holders who wanted to preserve the Union as it had been good for them and their business. I think that the Confederate politicians believed that slavery (or a states right to engage in slavery) was a part of their way of life they needed to fight to protect and drove their secession.  I think most Confederate soldiers fought because the Union forces threatened their land and lifestyle, more than "protecting slavery." And most of the Federal soldiers fought to protect the Union created by our Founding Fathers not to free the slaves - though as the war went on that became more of a reason. It was, in my opinion, slavery that was the one issue that threatened the Union and was only going to be decided through war.

While the war started in 1861 there were many events that led to the fighting. The election of Abraham Lincoln as President in November 1860 made many people in the South believe that they had no choice but to no longer be part of the United States, so they began to secede from the United States. That means they voted or decided they wanted to be separate from the rest of the United States. Eleven states left the United States and formed the Confederate States of America (CSA), called the Confederacy or sometimes just called the South, "Rebels" often "rebs" for short. There were 20 "free states" and five "border states" that mostly supported the federal government of the United States, also called the Union or sometimes the solders were called "feds" or "Yankees." Even though the 11 states "left the Union," President Lincoln did not take the stars of the American Flag, so it had 35 stars during the whole war. Many people think a flag called "the stainless banner" was the Confederate flag, but it was actually a Confederate battle flag as the official flag has 11 stars in a circle on a blue background, with two red strips outside a white stripe.  The Confederate soldiers changed to the battle flag because in the smoke, dust and confusion of battle it was hard to tell the United States flag and Confederate States' flag apart.

   The first state to secede was South Carolina, where the fighting started. South Carolina was also the only state in the South that did not have any of its people fight for the Union. Every other southern state had people fight with the Northern soldiers. After South Carolina, came Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. These states elected Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States of America. Two months after the first battle at Fort Sumter, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, then Tennessee joined them. Tennessee was the last to secede and the first one to go back after the war.

   According the the experts I have read there were more than 10,000 battles, fights and skirmishes during the Civil War. According to the National Park Service that protects many of our battlefield with help from organizations like The Civil War Trust, there were 391 battles that were significant. That means that if you and your parents have time there are plenty of places you can go see and learn about the Civil War.  I plan to share some of what I learn about the sites I visit and those that are most endangered of being destroyed by people or companies building on them.