The American Civil War

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    ...and then things went downhill from there.

    "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

    Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
    "Deep are the wounds that civil strife inflicts"
    —Marcus Lucanus

    In 1861, a group of Southern states seceded from the American Union and declared themselves independent as the Confederate States of America. From there events took on a life of their own and the situation devolved into a full-blown war. The war was the result, like so many civil wars, of the failure of internal politics. In this case, the great failure was to resolve tensions over the future of Slavery in America; the 'Slave States' feared that the central government in Washington D.C. would attempt to regulate or ban the slave trade and the practice of slavery, an unjustified fear but one understandable in the context of the liberalization of the Northern Free States, where Anti-Slavery groups modeled after their British counterparts had begun to flourish. Abolitionists were in many respects a vocal minority, however, though the people of the North generally agreed that slavery was a violation of the principles of free labour and that the black population should be shipped back to Africa - removal of course being preferable to attempts at integration, for there was no escaping the possibility of miscegenation and cultural degeneracy that would come with harboring such a large population of free negroids.

    Like the The American Revolution, this was a civil war that tore families, towns and states apart. Nationalism had truly developed since then and where before people had largely been torn between ideals, people were now divided just as much if not more by State and local loyalties, for 'National' nationalism had yet to supersede these. It was for their States and for Freedom that, as in the English Civil War, about 2-5% of the total population of the United States died and far more were left impoverished, displaced, maimed and traumatised. Again as in the Revolution, the victory of the government was almost guaranteed; but no world powers aided the unsympathetic cause of these rebels, who were left to face the far superior manpower finance and industry of the central government on their own. The result was almost inevitable; the whole affair appeared a very close-run thing, especially given the rebels' early successes, but the Army learnt (however slowly) from its mistakes and made good on its material advantage, grinding the rebels down and eventually crushing them after four years of the bloodiest fighting North America has ever seen. The rebels - The Confederacy - still engender sympathy in certain states, generally those that rebelled. Such people often prefer to think that the rebels fought for Freedom from the tyranny of Central Government more than the Freedom to own and use people as they saw fit. This was the American Civil War, The War of the Rebellion, the War Between the States, the War of Southern Treason, the War of Northern Aggression, Lincoln's War, the Slaveholders' Revolt, and the Late Unpleasantness, an era which pitted brother against brother, and where the armies of the Blue and the Gray shot cannons and Minié Balls at each other across smoke-filled battlefields.

    The Southern part of the United States at this time is a world filled with romantic, tall-columned plantation houses where delicate Southern Belles sashay in large skirts and Corset Faint at every available opportunity. Where chivalrous, cigar-chomping, white-tuxedo-wearing Southern Gentlemen pistol-duel at dawn and where the phrase "Damn Yankees!" is used with a fair degree of regularity. Slaves work the fields down here, although whether a production chooses to show the more realistic aspects of slave life depends a lot on the era in which it's made. (Don't expect to see many whitewashed "happy" portrayals of slaves in any modern series.)

    In the North, there is industry and patriotism, and Abolitionists cry out against the evils of slavery from every pulpit. Abraham Lincoln is a pretty popular guy in these parts -- he spends most of his time in the Oval Office, brooding over battle maps and writing deep historical speeches on stovepipe hats. Ask him why he's fighting the war and he'll tell you it's to free the slaves. (Never mind that this runs contrary what he actually said when asked, during the war. This is Hollywood History,where heroes are pure and their motives always perfectly clear. Similarly ignored are all of the explicit references to preserving slavery made by Southern governments and politicians during this time, because the product has to be sellable in all fifty states.

    In actuality, Lincoln at first refused to make freeing the slaves a Union war aim. Doing so would have made the border states--slave states that stayed in the Union--leave. When the mood was right, he presented the abolition of slavery (in those states which were in rebellion) as a means of critically undermining the rebel war effort. Two years previously by this time, a lawyer-turned-general had made his major contribution to the war effort by declaring he claimed three slaves who had been used to dig trenches on the grounds they were contraband of war, and then expanding that legal fiction to encompass any slave, whom the Union then emancipated on the grounds they didn't want them; since the most die-hard racist and advocate of slavery who supported the Union could see the logic of seizing rebel slaves, the legal fiction was so widespread that escaped slaves were (and are) habitually referred to as contrabands. The Emancipation Proclamation merely declared it a universal matter; it was ostensibly written as a war measure that only freed slaves in rebel-held areas--where public opinion didn't matter very much.[1] But by the end of the war, the national mood shifted, and Lincoln helped pass the Thirteenth Amendment that completely ended the institution. Emancipation also had the effect of making European public opinion--already wary about the Confederacy--turn decisively in favor of the Union, more or less making recognition of the Confederacy politically unthinkable.

    Meanwhile, on the battlefield itself, the Age of Dakka has dawned, which means that everything anybody knew about warfare is wrong again. Hollywood Tactics are played straight, and while this is justified, that doesn't make anybody any less dead. There is smoke and blood everywhere, with doctors severing gangrened limbs left and right, bugles blowing, drummer boys drumming, and cavalry charging every which way (often resulting in casualty figures upwards of 30%, per battle). Expect to see at least one man from either side bravely carrying a tattered unit flag until he gets shot with a Minie ball and crumples artfully in a heap. The Real Life effect was enough, especially near the end of the war when the campaigns were relentless, to churn out men suffering from "soldier's heart" -- we can recognize them with hindsight as Shell Shocked Veterans. The widespread ignorance to this kind of trauma - until (the aftermath of) World War I - is probably because the US Civil War was the 19th Century's only protracted conflict between newly-industrialised states on this kind of scale, the Franco-Prussian war being too brief to really count.

    In the 1910's, around the 50th anniversary of the war, Civil War films (then silent) became extremely popular, with hundreds being produced, including the (in)famous Birth of a Nation. Most films had a theme of reconciliation; a film about the civil war that did not portray southerners as heroic victims (as did Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind) risked having no audience or bookings in the states of the old Confederacy. Most early Hollywood studio bosses were first and second generation European immigrants, so they had no personal association with the war to motivate them to make movies that automatically wrote off a quarter or a third of all theater screens before the production even began.

    Several tropes therefore became standard in older Civil War movies:

    • Other than Quantrill's Raiders (Missouri guerrillas whose ranks include Jesse James, the Dalton Brothers, and other famous outlaws) Confederate soldiers are almost always shown as as heroic and respectable. Where individual Confederates were villainous, there would be noble Confederates around as contrast. Confederate officers are gentlemen, Confederate enlisted men are tough, have thicker accents, but are very loyal to their officers.
    • Confederate soldiers are superior to Union soldiers in every way. They are braver, more clever, more noble, and just more tragic. Battles where the Union showed innovative strategy (such as Vicksburg) are forgotten or given a one-off mention in favor of showing battles that "prove" the Union only used We Have Reserves. This occurs even if the Union soldiers are the heroes of the movie or television episode.
    • Union soldiers and politicians are thuggish and venal. If motivation is brought up, they are likely to wonder why they are in the army, and why there is even a war going on. The black soldiers are the exception, since they know exactly what they are fighting for, and - conscious of the good example they must set - act with the utmost discipline and valor.
    • Race and slavery is seldom, if ever, mentioned as a motivation for the war. If slaves are involved in the story line at all, some or all of them will be loyal to their masters, and there is often a Loyal Slave scene in which they protect the family home from Yankee invaders or aid their masters to outwit the Yankees or escape them. There may even be a one-off scene where southern generals or gentlemen sit down and have a talk about how the conflict is definitely not about slavery.
    • Quite often there might be a specific Slave Denial scene. In this scene a slave or slaves is questioned about slavery, asked to turn against their masters, or offered their freedom--and they turn it down, often with a simple silent denial. This scene turns up in Civil War epics made as recently as the 1980s (the TV mini-series North and South)!
      • There were plans in place to raise Southern Black regiments; the war ended before the plan got off the ground. One Confederate commented on the irony: "If they do not fight well, we are lost. If they do, our country is built on a lie."
      • There were also white regiments from every Confederate state fighting for the Union. Ironically, "hillbilly" stereotypes in movies and TV (including Granny Clampet from The Beverly Hillbillies) are often portrayed as Confederate diehards. In reality, Appalachia was strongly pro-Union during the Civil War (West Virginia so much so that they formed their own state) and many regions suffered retaliation from the Confederate government.
        • The reason Appalachia (especially West Virginia) was so strongly pro-union was that the mountainous topography separated them from the government seats, prevented them from using plantations as means of income, and meant most trade and transportation came from Northern states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland. Therefore those areas didn't have as strong a loyalty to the state's governments when they seceded. The economic and social differences in West Virginia were so great that they had pushed to form their own state as early as 1820, the secession just gave them a opportune vacant seat to take advantage of.
        • Or the CSA was nearer, the nearer would be more able to be irritating and they disliked The Government whoever it was, because rednecks are Just That Ornery.
        • This is perhaps a bit of an oversimplification. There were also religious differences at work (Presbyterian and Baptist backwaters vs. Episcopalian Tidewater), class differences (wealthy plantation families vs. impoverished, disenfranchised mountain folk), even ethnic differences (Scots-Irish hillbillies vs. Anglo plantation aristocrats) all contributing to the animosity. A hundred and fifty years later the differences have not all been forgotten, either.

    This war was essentially the Trope Codifier for modern battlefield tactics: less about cavalry, more about infantry, and keep your Dakka handy, 'cuz Swords aren't useful anymore. In fact, the Gatling gun was invented and used during this war, the predecessor to rapid-fire automatic weaponry. The world even got a sneak preview of World War I in the form of the trench warfare that took place at Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Vicksburg. Of course, like it does so often, the world proceeded to completely ignore it. Like World War II, this war was waged on battlefields but won in factories; the highly industrialized North could mass-produce muskets, cannon, and ships that the agrarian South could only import. Also, this war had the first recorded successful sinking of an enemy ship by a submarine, and they did it completely blind. And the first battle between two fully-armoured ships, the CSS Virginia (an ironclad) and the USS Monitor (founder and namer of its class, first all-iron ship, first rotatable gun turret) at Hampton Roads.

    Current historical estimates are that about 620,000 American soldiers died in the Civil War. That's more armed-forces casualties than in every other war the United States has fought, combined... and does not include civilian deaths (which came out to another 41,000, for a total of over 660,000 out of a combined population around 34 million). Read that figure again. More Americans died in a single day at Antietam than on D-Day, or at Pearl Harbor, or in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The casualties for the three-day Battle of Gettysburg almost equal those killed in the entire Vietnam War. The destruction and loss of life were immense, even 'medieval'[2]; it was like something out of Homer, or perhaps the Thirty Years' War. The costs of the war—not just the immediately obvious ones like having to pay for raising armies, but also vast swaths across entire states laid waste, cities burned and farms looted, interruptions in trade, factories idled and mines closed for lack of labor, two-and-a-half million maimed and crippled veterans who could not support themselves and required pensions—caused an economic depression that lasted for a generation after the war. Some regions took generations to recover; in fact, some authorities believe that areas of the South, which took the brunt of the destruction (particularly during late 1864 and early 1865, when Sherman's army group smashed its way through Georgia and the Carolinas) didn't completely recover until... quite a bit later.

    Admittedly, the Civil War took a big toll upon the Southern states of the American Union, where most of the war was fought. Not only was property destroyed, but more importantly a lot of wealth disappeared virtually overnight; wealth in the form of Confederate government bonds and currency - which became worthless when the Confederacy was dissolved in '65 - and in slaves - who were declared free by the Federal Government as a means of sabotaging the Confederate war effort. Slavery had shaped the southern economy for decades, the profitable and dependable returns from investing in cotton production discouraging investment in other forms of agriculture, raw-resource gathering, primary and secondary industries. The efficiency of slavery had discouraged investment in industry and commerce, which ultimately - as technology developed - turned out to be far more profitable than agriculture ever could or would be. The south had been prosperous, but the central-northern United States were more prosperous and growing at a far faster rate. What the war did was destroy much of the wealth of the south and force a fundamental restructuring in its economy, leaving it to lag behind the rest of the United States until the New Deal and the advent of the 'New South' in the mid-twentieth century. The southern states were not impoverished, nor left backward (relative to most of the world) by the Civil War... but the war did leave them struggling to adapt to a more... normal state of economic affairs, something that would have been difficult even had there been a smoother and more gradual end to slavery (a virtual impossibility in any case).

    Narrated by Ken Burns. And since motion film hadn't been invented yet in the Civil War, but the photographic film was, here's a bunch of shots zooming in and out and panning over some static images.

    Popular tropes from this time period are:
    • The Alcoholic: Grant. He was broke and working in his father's hardware store when the war started because he'd drank his way out of the peacetime army. He even went on a bender during the Vicksburg campaign. To be fair, he only drank under two conditions: 1. There was nothing interesting going on, and 2. He was separated from his wife.
      • Grant's supposed rampant alcoholism is Hollywood History. In truth, he was a social drinker who was slandered by critics who either a. thought he was doing too little at the beginning of the war, when he was commander of the garrison in Cairo, Illinois, or b. thought of him as too reckless and radical to be a commander when he DID do something(like the siege of Vicksburg, for instance).
      • His reputation stems from an early posting at a remote outpost in California were separated from family and just about everything else anyone would care about, he began drinking (probably as a result of depression). Rumors spread from there. The fact that he was dead last in his class at West Point didn't help matters.
        • He wasn't dead last. He graduated 21st of 39 students, somewhere in the middle.
      • It was widely believed enough at the time to be of assistance to him during the early stages of the war. Men who objected to him would complain that he drank -- not that he was of dubious loyalty, which was a far more serious charge.
      • Lincoln took a simpler view "I cannot spare him - he fights", in marked contrast to some others of his Generals (notably McClellan). He also stated that the people who accused Grant of drinking should find out what brand, so he could give it to his other Generals.
    • Alternate Character Interpretation: Abounds profusely with the exact degree depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon line you're on.
    • And This Is For: The Union's cries of "Chickamauga! Chickamauga!" during the Battle of Missionary Ridge is only the most famous example.
      • On the Confederate side, there was Brigadier General Lewis Armistead's call to arms before Pickett's Charge: "Virginians! For your lands! For your homes! For your sweethearts! For your wives! For Virginia! Forward... march!".
        • And when it fails, the Union chants "Fredricksburg! Fredricksburg!" at the retreating Confederates.
    • Armor Is Useless: Both subverted and played straight.
      • For ships, armor changed how naval warfare was fought ever since and sent wooden ships to the dustbin of history.
      • For people, armor was never a widely considered idea, on either side. Generally, bullets were more effective at penetrating it, or the armor in question was too impractical or cumbersome to be worth use in actual combat. Both sides tended to feel those who relied on it were Dirty Cowards as well.
    • Ascended Extra The Ken Burns documentary did this for a bunch of people - Mary Chestnut, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.
      • Chamberlain was an ascended extra in real life - College professor to Major General in four years, chosen by Grant above all other officers to accept the Confederate surrender.
      • Phillip Sheridan was a second lieutenant at the start of 1861. By 1864 he was a regular army major general (as opposed to a voluntary Major General), making him 4th in the entire Union Army.
      • Nathan Bedford Forrest enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army and was a Lieutenant General by the end of the war.
    • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Any general on either side who ordered frontal attacks against well entrenched, fortified positions that were defended by cannons. Even the all-time greats like Lee and Grant did this. If your first few thousand men didn't crack (or even dent) 'em, try again. Accounts for a lot of those aforementioned 600K casualties.
      • Can you really blame them? The battle strategies were relics from the Napoleonic era, where being in infantry masses was the safest place on the battlefield while rifling technology meant that position would become one of the deadliest.
      • The tactical differences between the ACW and the Napoleonic Wars have been exaggerated. The basic infantry weapon, the rifle-musket, was more accurate and had a longer range than the older flintlock smoothbores, but it had exactly the same rate of fire, and research indicates that most soldiers were such bad shots that they couldn't hit anything beyond 200 yards anyway. Hence most actions were fought at about the same ranges as in the Napoleonic period and had similar rates of losses. Frontal attacks on steady troops were usually ghastly, bloody failures in the Napoleonic period too -- Waterloo was essentially a long day in which Napoleon broke his own army by bashing it into the British, who then finished him off.
        • You're missing an important point called "Danger Space": The trajectory of a flintlock smoothbore is so high that a shot aimed at an infantryman 300 yards away would pass clean over a mounted horseman at 150 yards: Only people standing within 25-30 yards or either end to the trajectory could get hit, meaning the total danger space is only 60 yards. The trajectory of a rifled musket is flat enough that the danger space for infantrymen increases to nearly 200 yards (100 yards on either end of the trajectory) and a mounted horseman would be in danger for the entire distance. A modern assault rifle, by comparison, has a trajectory that rises approximately one inch or 25mm over the same distance, meaning the danger space is complete. And yes, this did have a decisive effect on some battles, particularly First Manassas/Bull Run, where Jackson's brigade got off lighter than they could have because their proximity to the enemy put them between the dangerous spaces of most of the Union fire.
        • Well... massed fire with rifled muskets could and did permit infantry formations to reach out to 800 meters or more, at least for effective suppressive fire. In an era before radio, before indirect-fire artillery, artillery had to have a direct line of sight to their targets. For the first time, the infantry was armed with a weapon that could at the very least make the artillerymen nervous out to nearly a kilometer. Another intimation of the future was that the war demonstrated that cavalry was useful for reconnaissance and raiding, but their day as shock troops to break the defensive line was long past. There were a number of massed boot-to-boot cavalry charges attempted during the war. Most ended badly for the attackers (Farnsworth's Charge at Gettysburg, or Brandy Station, or...). Europe ignored this, and von Bredow's Uhlans were trying to ride down French infantrymen with bolt-action rifles a decade later at Mars-la-Tour, with pretty much the same results: a bloody draw with horrific casualties.
        • You can also say that Civil War America ignored the lessons of the bloody European wars of the 1850s on the Crimea and in Italy (even though e. g. George McClellan witnessed the former as an official observer). The effect of rifled muskets was already known, and the Prussian standard infantry firearm since the 1840s was the breech-loading rifled Dreyse needle-gun. (In the first year of the American Civil War there were regiments equipped with smoothbores). As far as cavalry goes, the success or failure of a charge always depended on many factors, and even in the Napoleonic Wars charges against unbroken infantry often ended in a bloody fiasco, as they did at Waterloo. So maybe European observers primarily attributed the failure of Pleasonton's Charge etc. to bad leadership; that would after all a very fair observation about the Union cavalry at least until 1863. Cavalry officers were conditioned to take risks, and sometimes they did pay off, as in the Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava. And there were successful cavalry charges as late as World War I and the Polish Soviet War, by which time repeating rifles and machine guns were standard equipment.
    • Awesome but Impractical: Why Abe politely declined the King of Siam's gift of a herd of war elephants.
      • Sadly, the offer was more in the line of using them for heavy lifting and transportation than Elephant Brigades.
    • Badass: Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry. When his troops were running out of ammunition trying to hold Little Round Top, he ordered a bayonet charge.
      • Nathan Bedford Forrest. Started the war as a private in the Confederate army. Ended up as a Lieutenant General. And he wasn't some hide-behind-the-lines general; he was always in the front rank. He was once shot by a disgruntled subordinate, whom he immediately stabbed to death with a pen-knife. A pen knife. Authority does indeed equal Ass Kicking.
      • Considering the tactics and the casualties, every single man who didn't turn and run at the first sign of battle counts. It takes a lot to stand up straight, in a line, and get shot at. Not all infantrymen had to expose themselves, mind; there were some breech-loading rifles available to the Army, courtesy of the Manufacturing hub of the North-East.
    • Badass Bookworm: Chamberlain again. He started out as an English professor and was eventually a Major General.
      • For the Confederates, Stonewall Jackson, who was a physics instructor at the Virginia Military Institute prior to the war.
    • Badass Grandpa: General Edwin "Bull Head" Sumner, who at age 65 was the union's oldest corps commander. And he wasn't even the oldest officer.
      • Admiral David Glasgow Farragut was the naval version of this. He started doing things like capturing New Orleans at 60, and three years later, he did the same to Mobile. In the latter case, he especially earned his badass credentials, willing to make himself a target having himself lashed high on the rigging of his own sails so he could spot targets for his gunners to fire on, despite this making HIM an ideal target.
    • Badass Mustache: Subverted. Ambrose Burnside had the most awesome whiskers on either side, but even he agreed he was a terrible general.
      • J.E.B. Stuart's beard was so large it looks fake.
    • Badass Preacher: Subverted. Confederate General Polk was an Episcopal bishop. He was also one of their least impressive commanders.
    • Bayonet Ya: Col. Joshua Chamberlain's Badass Moment of Awesome at Gettysburg; see above.
    • Big Bulky Bomb: A Big Bulky Bomb opened the battle of The Crater.
    • Big Damn Heroes: A.P. Hill at Antietam.
    • Black Market: Rebs had Tobacco and Yanks had coffee. And even war cannot stop Americans from being capitalists.
    • Black Sheep: George H. Thomas, Union General, war hero, The Rock Of Chickamagua was disowned by his wealthy Virginian family for choosing his country over his state.
    • Blood Knight: Stonewall Jackson and in a less gentlemanly manner, Nathan Bedford Forest.
      • Also Sheridan, Custer, and perhaps J.E.B. Stuart.
      • Hood, who thought that higher casualties meant his men were fighting hard. It worked so well, he destroyed his own army in the Nashville campaign.
    • Book Ends: The American Civil War's first major battle was The First Battle of Bull Run (July 18, 1861), and the Confederates used Wilmer McLean's house as a headquarters. During the war, Wilmer eventually moved to the quiet(er) community (one that wasn't right on the front lines), of Appomattox Courthouse Virginia. On April 8, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee finally decided to surrender his forces, and he sent out a messenger to find a house to handle the surrender in. The house the messenger found was Wilmer McLean's. The war started in his yard and ended in his parlor.
      • Also, the war began with the Union Loss of Fort Sumter. Shortly after the war, on April 14, 1865, Fort Sumter had a flag-raising ceremony where the same commander who took the flag down when the Union lost the fort raised the same flag up. While this is a nice bookend for the fort itself, this ceremony of raising the flag at Sumter was on the very same day Abraham Lincoln was assassinated - the last major loss of the Civil War Era.
    • Boring but Practical: Grant. A reserved, unassuming man a fellow officer once described as "plain as an old stove" and wore a simple (and often mud-spattered) field uniform instead of the flamboyant, personalized uniforms many generals on both sides preferred. He was also widely considered the best Union general and Confederate commanders who faced him quickly learned not to underestimate him.
      • Likewise with his Confederate counterpart, Robert E. Lee.
    • Broken Country: You'd be amazed at how frequently and vehemently folks in the States still disagree about the cause of the war, the men who fought in it, the legitimacy of secession, and just about any other topic you can think of.
      • Hooo boy. Try living in a border-state-that-was. Get together a tableful of people all from the same town and you'll have at LEAST half as many opinions as you do people. Get together a tableful from all over the place, and you'll probably have twice as many opinions as you do people. With little connection to what their ancestors thought, too.
    • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Stonewall Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant, amongst many others. American Civil War General could have been the name of the trope.
      • Daniel Sickles, definitely, at least in a half-literal sense. He was a lawyer and congressman and was acquitted of murder by pleading insanity -- as was proven by a court of law.[3]
    • The Butcher: Whether deservedly or not, this was Grant's nickname.
      • On the one hand, his main strategy was rather cold-hearted. On the other hand, it worked.
        • And in any case, he definitely felt the carnage deeply: after the first day of the Wilderness, he broke down and wept. Then he pulled himself together and rammed the army through thirty-eight more consecutive days of equally horrendous carnage.
      • Not to mention Jubal Early, who needlessly razed Union towns he conquered, on the grounds that they "burn so beautifully."
      • General Sherman, likewise, razed the towns his troops passed through on his March to the Sea, particularly in South Carolina; unlike Jobal Early, though, this was done with Grant's implicit approval.
    • Captain Ethnic: Franz Sigel was a TERRIBLE general, but they kept him around because he got German immigrants to volunteer.
    • The Caretaker: Clara Barton.
    • Head-in-The-Sand Management: James Buchanan. Widely considered one of the worst Presidents ever for giving up on the brewing conflict and passing it off to Lincoln.
      • NOT to be confused with Union General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who was a Badass Bookworm and didn't pass anything off to anyone.
    • Color Coded for Your Convenience: The Blue and the Grey. Oh, wait, the rebels couldn't actually produce or afford grey... 'twas more like 'The Blue and the whatever-they-happened-to-be-wearing-at-the-time-but-probably-mostly-brown', really.
    • Combat Pragmatist: Union general William Tecumseh Sherman. His only goal was victory and he didn't care what he had to do to accomplish it. Destroying infrastructure, confiscating property, burning cities - there's a very good reason he's almost universally hated in Georgia even to this day. Doesn't quite qualify as a Blood Knight, as he did the things he did out of a single-minded desire to accomplish his mission rather than a love of battle. Furthering his pragmatism in peacetime, Sherman (following the example of his friend U.S. Grant) granted defeated Confederates terms of surrender so lenient that Grant had to reject them. "Hard war, easy peace," indeed.
      • Emancipation was a low, low blow by the Government to a series of rebel states which were basically slaving economies and slaving societies. Plural because the United States was hardly an integrated entity at the time.
    • Conflicting Loyalty : They don't call it "the Brothers' War" for nothing. Especially for people in the border states, it was not at all unusual (still sad, but not unusual) that brothers would literally be fighting on opposite sides of the war.
      • And towns trying to remain neutral could end up a target for both sides. Take Newport, Tennessee as an example.
    • Cool Boat: The USS Monitor (First warship with a revolving turret, i.e., first modern battleship) and the CSS Virginia (first ironclad warship to see combat).
      • The former was built in response to the latter, and their single battle is still considered a Crowning Moment of Awesome for both navies.
        • The second those two ships fired at each other, wooden ships were heading for obsolescence. When it was seen how little damage the many hours of close-quarters cannon fire had inflicted (the Monitor was practically undamaged, the Virginia was damaged but completely seaworthy), old-style cannon were heading that way too.
      • There is also the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to ever sink an enemy vessel in combat.
      • We also have the USS George Washington Parke Custis, a barge that was modified to carry one of Thaddeus Lowe's observation balloons. In short, the world's first aircraft carrier.
    • Cool Gun: The Sharps single-shot breechloading rifle, the origin of the word "sharpshooter"; also, Spencers and several other major manufacturers mass produced several models of multiple-shot, rapid-fire rifles. That was good news for Union soldiers, and very bad news for Confederates.
      • Webster says that "sharpshooter" is derived from "sharp" as in "sharp-eyed"; there is also a German word, "Scharfschütze", meaning the same thing.
      • Also, the Lemat Revolver, a nine-round revolver with a small shotgun built in for good measure.
      • Don't forget Dr. Richard Gatling's invention, which has a trope all its own.
    • Cool Hat: The Iron Brigade of the Union Army of the Potomac was also known as the Black Hat Brigade because the Hardee hats they wore became iconic for them, even though such hats were also issued to other units of regulars.
    • Crippling Overspecialization: The USA's slaving states and by extension, the Confederacy. In their defense, it was only in the last few decades before the war that investments in the industry started to have greater returns than those put into (slave) agriculture. As a result, the South had good infrastructure but very little industry, especially in sophisticated products (a single factory supplied every cannon they had).
      • The South's leadership was convinced that Great Britain (the chief buyer of North American cotton) would help them, somehow, even if it was just to broker a ceasefire. However, the huge cotton harvests of 1865-60 effectively meant that British textile manufacturers had at least a year's supply of the material hoarded away come 1861.
      • In fact, the Confederate economy was so focused on cotton that they didn't have enough free cropland left to grow food, at least not in sufficient quantities to feed their entire population; as a result, bread riots were a common occurrence, food confiscation laws were passed permitting the Confederate government to seize food from private farms for the war effort, and even with these measures in place, Confederate soldiers were frequently severely underfed and malnourished.
    • Crowning Moment of Awesome
      • Confederate general John MacGruder outfoxing Gen. George McClellan at the siege of Yorktown (part 2!) by making it look like he had a bigger army.
      • Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest fighting out of a Union ambush by using an enemy soldier as a human shield at Shiloh.
      • Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine's defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg.
      • Phil Sheridan's ride at Cedar Creek.
      • Lee's successive victories at the Peninsula, 2nd Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.
      • The 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Regiment's assault on Battery Wagner. Although this all-Black unit was not able to take the fort, their valiant fighting pushed the North to accept the worth of Black soldiers and inspired thousands more Black recruits to help defeat the Confederacy.
    • Crowning Moment of Funny: The bloodiest war in American soil had its moments.
      • Union Gen. George McClellan was hesitant to let his army cross a river because he was unsure how deep it was, so Captain George Custer (yes, that one) got on his horse, waded into the center of the riverbed, and told him "It's this deep, sir".
      • Phil Sheridan saved the army from rout and they cheered his name. He told them "God damn you, don't cheer me. Fight!"
      • A visitor asked the Confederate Secretary of State where is the State Department. He replied, "In my hat, sir, and the archives are in my back pocket."
      • Gen. George McClellan, tired of Lincoln always badgering him for updates on the front, finally sent a sarcastic telegraph to the president reading "Have captured two cows. What shall I do with them?". To his surprise, he got a reply back from Lincoln stating, "Milk them, George."
      • One Southern politician objected to South Carolina's secession.

    "It's too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum".

      • Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks trying to save his routed army at Harrisburg.

    Banks: Stop, men! Don't you love your country?
    Private: We do, by God, and we're trying to get back to it as quick as possible!

    • Crowning Music of Awesome: This era is a positive treasure trove of Crowning Music.
      • Battle Hymn of the Republic for the North; Dixie for the South are just two of the ones that are still well-known today.
    • David Versus Goliath: The South is David to the North's Goliath, and the Slaves are David to their owner's Goliath. Confusing, No?
    • Deadpan Snarker: Lincoln! After he appointed Joe Hooker to command of the Army of the Potomac he got wind of a comment in which Hooker said the country needed a dictator. Lincoln responded by writing Hooker a letter in which he said "What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship." He also spurred the overly-cautious General McClellan by telling him, "If you are not using the army, I would like to borrow it for a while."
      • To round out the list of Army of the Potomac commanders: he responded to a dispatch from John Pope stating bylined "Headquarters: In the saddle" with "His headquarters are where his hindquarters ought to be"; he said Ambrose Burnside could "snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory"; and, on hearing that Grant was a drinker, asked what brand he drank that he could "send a barrel to each of his other generals."
    • Death Glare: Robert E. Lee was known to have one.
    • Defeat Means Friendship: Confederate General Joeseph E. Johnston, commands the last of the CSA forces in the Carolinas Campaign before surrendering to William Tecumseh Sherman. They became friends and corresponded frequently in the years after the war, partly due to the fact that Sherman issued rations to Johnston's soldiers and offered to distribute food to civilians in the area. Johnston attended Sherman's funeral and refused to wear his hat despite the cold, which may have led to him catching a fatal case of pneumonia....
      • Similarly, Robert E Lee, in the last years of his life, would not tolerate any unkind words about Ulysses S. Grant to be said in his presence.
    • The Determinator: Pretty much inevitable when there are Americans on both sides. Also, a typical regiment had been raised from the population of a single town or county, so if a soldier ran away or didn't fight his hardest he'd have to answer for it when he got home. In previous wars, the majority of casualties had been inflicted in the pursuit after one army retreated or in skirmishing as the armies maneuvered, but in the Civil War, the majority of casualties were in actual battle, with the armies standing face-to-face.
    • Draft Dodging: You could buy your way out (or just hire a substitute to enlist in your place)!
      • *cough* Grover Cleveland!
      • Theodore Roosevelt's father as well, which was one of the motivating factors for TR to become a Badass Normal.
      • In the South, slaveowners didn't even have to draft-dodge, as they were automatically exempt from all conscription laws. Additionally, several Southern counties with high slave populations were granted full exemptions from conscription quotas due to needing all of the men of appropriate age and fitness for military service armed, at home, and on constant patrol to discourage potential slave uprisings.
    • Early-Bird Cameo: Trench warfare was first seen in Virginia towards the end of the war, in all its bloody, gory, honorless detail, a full fifty years before the No Man's Land in France.
    • Elephant in the Living Room: Slavery is often quickly brought up just to be dismissed as something minor compared to other things, such as the brave soldiers defending their homes and way of life (of which slavery really isn't part of, honestly!). Needless to say, the wounds are still there because AMERICANS JUST WON'T STOP PICKING AT THEM.
    • The Empire: A big part of the secession was concerned that the U.S. had become this.
    • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: The attacking Confederate troops at the Battle of Shiloh stopped to eat the breakfasts they found in Yankee camps after the Union soldiers had fled in panic from the attack. This delay actually helped save the Union army. It's not quite as stupid as it sounds - Confederate forces were usually criminally undersupplied, and all of that hot, fresh food just lying around for the taking was probably too much for the half-starved soldiers to resist.
    • Everyone Has Standards: Both Union and Confederate forces were quick to discourage the use of explosive rifle rounds, generally on the grounds they were a horrific way to die as opposed to regular rounds, which were bad enough.
    • Famous Last Words: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." - John Sedgwick, shortly before getting a headshot from a Confederate sharpshooter.
    • A Father to His Men: Robert E. Lee, probably the most famous single Confederate.
      • General McClellan was this, to the point of inefficiency; his caution was admirable and the men loved him for it, but it prolonged the war and lead to his replacement as a front-line commander.
      • William Tecumseh Sherman, a.k.a. "Uncle Billy", was this too - but he was more willing to sacrifice his men.
      • In fact, many officers were like this, on both sides, as it was a good way to inspire loyalty.
    • Fiery Redhead: General Sherman.
    • Five-Man Band: The Lincoln cabinet.
    • Friendly Enemy: Common soldiers on both sides could be quite amiable during truces, many being former friends.
      • In one famous example, Nathan Bedford Forrest once rode up to the Union line, mistaking it for the Confederate. Rather than taking the golden opportunity before them, the Northern soldiers told Forrest the truth and suggested he get back to his side; Forrest saluted and rode off.
    • Friend or Foe: Claimed the life of "Stonewall" Jackson; even worse, it wasn't even during a battle. Friend Or Foe problems happened many times during the war.
    • Foreshadowing: "Mark me, Franklin. If we give in on this issue, there will be trouble one hundred years hence. Posterity will never forgive us." - John Adams, 1776. He was only off by about 15 years.
    • Gatling Good: Arguably the Trope Maker, as this war featured the first combat fielding of the Trope Namesake Gatling gun.
    • Gauls With Grenades: The French army had a high reputation in the 1860s, and both North and South copied French military fashions when designing their uniforms.
    • General Ripper: How many in the South view Grant and Sherman. Also how many in the North (perhaps with greater justification) view General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
      • General Hugh J. Kilpatrick, nicknamed "Kill Cavalry" because he often sent his men into suicidal cavalry charges.
    • Glorious Leader: President Lincoln.
    • Glory Hound: Many. Isaac Trimble said, "I intend to be a major general or a corpse."
      • George Armstrong Custer became one of the youngest generals in the Union Army largely due to this impulse.[4]
    • Government in Exile: Although it isn't widely known, a substantial number of former Confederate government officials and soldiers, their families, and fellow loyalists emigrated to Brazil after the war ended, establishing an enclave of Confederate expatriates that came to number over 50,000. They claimed to be the legitimate government of the Southern United States until the early 1900s, and their descendants (known as 'Confederados') still identify themselves with Confederate culture.
      • Missouri and Kentucky never left the Union, but they had Rebel governors and legislatures in exile.
      • The secessionist government of Texas actually took great pains to avert this trope, placing pro-Union government officials (such as then-governor Sam Houston) under house arrest and armed guard to prevent them from setting up a Unionist government-in-exile.
        • Justified in more ways than one: Texas, like Virginia, had more than enough remote territory for a rump legislature to set up shop and form a pro-Union state, and Confederate sympathy was not as strong in Texas as in the Deep South. The pro-Confederate legislature easily could have faced a second front in the form of Union troops and Union loyalists within Texas led by the very charismatic (and still very popular) Sam Houston.
    • Guile Hero: Benjamin Butler (a skillful lawyer before the war), when faced with a demand by a Virginia fort to return some runaway slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act. His reply?

    "I mean to take Virginia at her word, I am under no constitutional obligations to a foreign country, which Virginia now claims to be. [...] You cannot consistently claim them. I shall hold these Negroes as contraband of war since they are engaged in the construction of your battery and are claimed as your property."

    • Hellhole Prison: Just about any prisoner of war camp qualified as such, but Andersonville was perhaps the most notorious, owing to its dubious distinction of having the highest mortality rate of any POW camp, as well as the photographs of some of its former inmates, who resembled living skeletons.
    • Heroic BSOD: William S. Rosecrans after his defeat at the battle of Chickamauga.
    • Heroic Sacrifice: Where oh where to begin? Where oh where to end? A few standouts, perhaps ...
      • These also double as You Shall Not Pass, considering they gave their lives to halt an enemy's advance, however long they could.
        • Prentiss's Union Division at the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh. Originally a strong point in the Union line, they were left to stand alone when the flanks fell back. The failure of the Confederates to either maneuver around or crush the Hornet's Nest is seen as a decisive factor in the battle.
        • Hood's Texas Brigade (CSA) at Antietam- The last reserve available on the Confederate left, the brigade successfully stymied a whole Union Corps, and took 60% casualties.
        • 20th Maine Regiment at Gettysburg - They were literally at the far end of the Union line and had to hold off a vastly numerically superior Confederate force.
        • 1st Minnesota Regiment (USA) at Gettysburg Day 2. The only available Union regiment guarding a gigantic gap in the Union line. So it was ordered to attack a threatening Confederate brigade (five times its size) to buy time for the Union brass to patch up the line. It did. 282 North Star staters go in. 47 come back.
    • Hero Antagonist: No matter which side of the debate you're on, no one can say their side had a monopoly on war heroes.
    • Hey, It's That Guy!: George Custer served as a general in the Union and fought at Gettysburg.
      • Lew Wallace, best known as the author of Ben-Hur, was also a Union general and played a significant role in the Battle of Shiloh.
      • Winfield Scott, "Old Fuss and Feathers", previously served as a general in the War of 1812 and the Mexican American War.
      • Former vice president John C. Breckinridge (who lost the presidential election to Lincoln) served as a Confederate general.
    • Nightmare Fuel:
      • Photographs of Union prisoners released from Andersonville Prison. They are eerily similar to those of Holocaust survivors.
        • The commander of Andersonville was a German who claimed he was just following orders. Sound familiar?
      • Photographs of post-battle casualties, mostly Confederate corpses at Antietam and Gettysburg.
      • Photographs of burial/exhumation details going about their work.
      • Descriptions of the effects of artillery upon the human body. Any really, but particularly canister.
        • Musketry too. Some of the wounded were wounded by flying fragments of other people's teeth and bones
      • Slave life in general, but particularly under the thumb of a cruel overseer.
      • Practically anything about a hospital, North or South.
      • The battle of the Wilderness was fought in the woods near Chancellorsville. Rain uncovered the shallow graves. Brush fires killed the wounded who couldn't make it back to camp.
      • Let's just say the whole damn war.
    • Historical Hero Upgrade: Debates about whether this happened to Abraham Lincoln, why it happened, whether it was deserved, and who knows what else still go on today.
      • Lee is also debated to be an example of this, as one writer ironically observed that the man who had come closer than any other in destroying the United States became an American hero.
        • Lee didn't become an American hero because of the War. Lee became an American hero because he realized that there was no way he could win, surrendered and urged reunification and reconciliation instead of decades of guerrilla warfare. Even if it was all pragmatism on his part, it did establish precedents and made reunification relatively peaceful.
    • Historical Villain Upgrade: Nathan Bedford Forrest was a bastard who butchered prisoners, buried black people alive, and played a major role in the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. People have a tendency, however, to totally dehumanize him, instead of just a badly screwed up, bitter redneck, not to mention that many accounts leave out that he didn't expect the Klan to become violent and denounced their later actions. Sherman and Grant are better examples, being regarded as monsters in much of the south (and even some of the north). Sherman in particular gets a bad rap, despite being a Shell-Shocked Veteran who came back to serve his country and helped to save it. In a modern story he'd be a Type III or IV AntiHero at worst. But he took part in the Civil War and didn't fight like a gentleman, so we better hang the bastard.
      • Grant also received quite a character assassination after his death, due largely to opponents who already tried to get rid of him by accusing him of being a raging drunk during the war and many bitter ex-Confederates (Jubal Early among others) dismissing his military successes as nothing but the use of We Have Reserves. This was so prevalent that even Winston Churchill (admittedly something of a Confederate fanboy) and many historians would repeat that "fact" and give Grant contempt for it, overlooking or refusing to acknowledge Grant's use of innovative combat engineering and stratagem. Grant's scandal-hounded presidency didn't help his image much either. Only recently has the image begun to be rehabilitated.
      • The Klan was originally founded as an organization to protect the rights of Southern whites by legal means. When it used violence, Forrest quit and took up a full-page newspaper ad to announce the fact and urge all other members to do so too.
        • It was actually founded as a social group for Confederate veterans.
    • Hot-Blooded: JEB Stuart, George Custer, George Pickett (before all his men got killed at Gettysburg; cue the Character Development), Dan Sickles, P.G.T. Beauregard.
    • Ignored Expert: Confederate General James Longstreet played this role to Lee on many, many occasions, most notably at Gettysburg. Many Southerners would still rather blame him than Lee for their defeat there.
    • I Have Many Names: Guess which war?
    • Intrepid Reporter: One of the first wars in which these played a large role.
      • They would often wander into camp, find the lowest, worst soldier, drain all the information they could out of him and then publish all of it the next day. This annoyed General Sherman so much, that he said:

    "If I killed all the reporters, there'd be news from Hell before breakfast."

    • The Irish Diaspora: One of the two biggest and most noticeable immigrant communities of the time (the other being German-Americans). In the North, Irish-Americans were split in their loyalties. On one hand, you have units like the Irish Brigade and Phil Sheridan, on the other the New York draft riots. The Irish-American community in the South was actually less significant than many Civil War movies would have you believe.
      • And the Irish in the south at the time were mostly Scots-Irish, rather than the stereotypical Irish Catholics who largely were immigrants at this time who tended to settle in the North. In fact, the term Scots-Irish came about not too long before the Civil War for the Protestants (who immigrated from England/Scotland to Ireland, then to America often Appalachia and the Carolinas) to differentiate themselves from the lower-class Irish Catholics who came later (mostly starting during the famine of the 1840s). Before that, the Scots-Irish were just called Irish.
    • Irony:
      • In retrospect people from Massachusetts fighting against secession and condemning the wickedness of rebellion sounds a mite odd.
      • Southern politicians seceded for states' rights and against the wickedness of a strong central government after using the federal government to further their purposes when they still controlled it. Notably to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law in free states and to permit and uphold slavery in US territories even against the will of the majority of their population.
        • Early in the war, Confederate citizens and authorities would invoke the federal Fugitive Slave Law to demand that slaves escaping across the lines be sent back to them. They basically got the answer: If we're right, then you are rebels and traitors and your slaves are contraband of war; if you're right, you live outside the US and therefore the Fugitive Slave Law does not apply.
      • A Confederate army in Texas was attacked by a local Union army and proceeds to win the last official battle of the Civil War several weeks after Lee's surrender, a day before they planned to disband.
      • The Dunkers were a pacifist sect that lived around Sharpsburg, MD. Their simple, one-story church was the most-easily-identifiable landmark on the Antietam Battlefield. Odd place to host the Civil War's bloodiest day.
      • Shiloh Methodist Church was another place of worship that witnessed a horrible battle. Shiloh means "the peaceful place" in Hebrew.
      • Wilmer McLean. After the First Battle of Manassas, he decided to move his family out of the path of the war to a small town called Appomattox Courthouse. "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor."
      • During Virginia's secession, several counties of that state refused to secede from the Union. So they seceded from the state instead and became West Virginia.
      • A sign at the gate of Cemetery Ridge warning anyone who enters armed will be prosecuted.
      • Yorktown is again under siege but with the rebels now holding it.
    • Jumped At the Call: The young male population of both sides. In the early days of the war, recruiting officers on either side had no trouble filling their quotas. Plenty of the young female population of both sides cross-dressed as men and enlisted as well. Recruiting officers never particularly checked for gender. Not to mention all the Canadians that ran south to enlist on both sides. Confederate President Jefferson Davis realized this tendency of his people near the beginning of the war, remarking that "We are about to grind the seed corn of the nation."
    • Kill It with Fire: Sherman and Sheridan's respective strategies.
    • Knight Templar:
      • Much of the Confederate leadership. Honest, honorable men are convinced of the rightness of owning human beings as property.
      • John Brown fits. Was he an abolitionist who happened to condone the use of extreme violence? Or was he a homicidal maniac who happened to be an abolitionist? Is such a distinction even important? In any event, violence-as-a-way-to-resolve-slavery-related-issues was about to go mainstream in a big way, making fanatics like himself seem almost clairvoyant.
        • John Brown as Himself: I, John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can not be purged but with blood.
        • John Brown as The Joker : You see, I'm not crazy. I'm just ahead of the curve.
    • Know When to Fold'Em : Lee's surrender.
    • Leeroy Jenkins: Dan Sickles at the Battle of Gettysburg.
      • A much more fortunate Leeroy Jenkins for the Union came at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, when the Union men at the base of the ridge attacked uphill without orders, carried the heights, and won the battle.
      • Likewise, at Gettysburg, George Custer charged his cavalry brigade headlong into the much larger cavalry division of J.E.B. Stuart. Custer's 1st Michigan Cavalry suffered the heaviest losses of any Union cavalry brigade, but they turned back Stuart's charge. This was one of the key moments in the battle, as a successful charge by Stuart would have made a Union victory much more difficult. Of course, after the war, Custer's Leeroy Jenkins tendencies famously didn't end well.
    • Loads and Loads of Characters: See any decently-sized history book.
    • Meaningful Name: Union general Joseph Hooker liked to pay women for their company so much that his name entered the lexicon as a synonym for prostitute. While the term predates the Civil War by about 20 years but was popularized by Hookers "convivial and informal" headquarters.
      • In an era of flamboyant facial hair, Ambrose Burnside managed to stand out so much that — to this day — they're called sideburns.
    • Modern Major-General: Ambrose Burnside, by his own admission.
    • More Dakka: As noted above, the Age of Dakka began with the introduction of the Gatling gun. Funnily enough, Gatling was a pacifist who wanted to show the futility of war and reduce the size of armies. It definitely achieved the latter objective.
      • To give an example, there is the stump of a tree preserved in a museum. What makes this tree stump special is that it was felled by rifle fire. Not artillery, or Gatling gun fire, but rifle bullets.
    • My Greatest Failure: Lee ordering Pickett's charge at Gettysburg.
    • Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
      • Confederate William "Bloody Bill" Anderson.
      • Union General David "Black Davy" Hunter (He liked to burn stuff).
      • Union General Ben Franklin "Beast" Butler (If you're a Southern Belle).
      • Union General Hugh Judson "Kill Cavalry" Kilpatrick (If you're under his command).
    • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The CSS Arkansas. One of the largest and certainly the scariest thing afloat on the Mississippi in 1862, its ordered-to-spec driveshaft didn't arrive from the Tredegar Works in Richmond before it had to go out and face essentially the entire brown-water US Navy. It successfully fought them off, too, but its homemade engine parts gave out and the crew was forced to burn her to prevent capture. The Confederate Navy never again managed a presence on the Mississippi.
    • Not So Different: It's often misunderstood that the Nothern states were not racist simply because they fought against slavery. In actuality, many people in the North were just as racist as the South. Being against slavery did not always mean they were for the rights of African Americans. An example of this can be found in the Draft Riots of New York, as well as such Union heroes as William Sherman, who refused to allow black Union soldiers into his army because, as he wrote to his step-brother, "I won't trust niggers to fight."
    • Occupiers Out of Our Country!: This is largely the motive of Neo-Confederates.
    • Officer and a Gentleman: Stereotyped Confederate officer. Often for Union officers too.
    • The Paragon Always Rebels: Robert E Lee. The greatest officer of the American army in his generation becomes the most lethal adversary it has ever faced.
    • Pocket Protector: A bullet hit Colonel Chamberlain's saber during the defense of Little Round Top, allowing him to make his famous "swinging door" charge soon afterward.
    • Punch Clock Villain: Many people on both sides.
    • Rated "M" for Manly: As far as wars go, this one had one of the highest counts of Badasses among the combatants. And many of them had impressive facial hair.
    • Real Men Love Jesus: There were a lot of other examples on both sides and all ranks. It is no accident that one of the best remembered Crowning Music of Awesome songs of the era was the rather grim lyrics of Battle Hymn of The Republic. The Civil War happened in the middle of, or just after, one of the periodic waves of religious enthusiasm that hits America. The motto "In God We Trust" made its very first appearance on American money in 1864.
    • Reassigned to Antarctica: John Pope got sent to Minnesota after an embarrassing defeat at Second Bull Run.
      • Lincoln once joked that he made Simon Cameron (his corrupt and venal first Secretary of War) ambassador to Russia because he "couldn't find anyplace further to send him."
      • General Lew Wallace was blamed by Grant and Halleck for the Union almost losing at Shiloh by not bringing his reserve unit up quickly enough and reassigned to defensive posts in Ohio and later Maryland. This resulted in a mild case of Reassignment Backfire when his small outpost in Maryland held up an invasion by Jubal Early in 1864 long enough for reinforcements to arrive and drive the Confederates off.
    • Rebellious Rebel: Unionists from the South included Texas governor Sam Houston, Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson (rewarded with selection as Lincoln's running mate in 1864), and Generals Winfield Scott and George Thomas from Virginia. Then there was the entire state of West Virginia, which split off from Virginia and cleaved back into the Union.
      • Oh, that's barely scratching the surface. Of all Union forces who served in the war, nearly a quarter of them came from Confederate states. The Confederacy itself was rife with internal divisions and strife, with county after county after county openly rebelling against the central Confederate government and pro-Union guerrilla bands regularly ambushing Confederate government officials and other high-profile targets; indeed, while the Confederacy fought one civil war against the Union, they were, for all intents and purposes, fighting another civil war against themselves. Even the Confederate capital itself, Richmond, was so rife with anti-Confederates that it spent much of the war under strict martial law.
    • Rebels With Repeaters: The CSA Army.
    • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sherman and Grant.
    • Redshirt Army / We Have Reserves: Neither side was particularly concerned about the lives of individual men when it came to high-level strategy, and indeed many battle plans and maneuvers essentially boiled down to throwing masses of poorly-trained conscripts at the enemy's masses of poorly-trained conscripts.
      • An intensive, high-casualty strategy made sense for the Central Government as they could afford the kinds of losses that came with it, whereas the rebels could not. As the war ground on most Confederate Generals cottoned on to this and cut down on the higher-casualty manoeuvres (like frontal assaults on entrenched positions). Most.
    • Religious Bruiser: Abolitionists were often very much like this."Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord," and all that jazz. Many generals and troops on both sides would also count, given the time period, with Stonewall Jackson, a raging example of The Fundamentalist being perhaps the most iconic.
    • Remixed Level: Second Bull Run/Manassas and The Wilderness fought in the woods near Chancellorsville. Also, Yorktown which was the site of the last British defeat in the Revolution.
    • The Remnant: A surprisingly large number of Confederate soldiers never stopped fighting the war, becoming bandits or outlaws (Jesse James and his gang, for example) rather than disbanding.
      • The last surviving Confederate naval vessel, the CSS Shenandoah, continued to mount raids on Union merchant shipping for nearly a year after Lee's surrender, and holds the distinction of being the only Confederate vessel - civilian or military - to circumnavigate the globe.
    • Retired Badass: 70-year-old John Burns of Gettysburg was a vet of the War of 1812 and the Mexican war and was turned down for service at the start of the civil war for being too old. But when the war found him at home anyway in July 1863, he shouldered his gun, joined the troops, fought, and was wounded on the first day.
      • Postwar, men from each side formed their own organizations of Retired Badasses - the 'Grand Army of the Republic' for Union veterans, and the 'United Confederate Veterans' for the Confederacy.
    • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After popular Union General James B McPherson was killed at the battle of Atlanta, Sherman's troops smashed the Confederates and pounded the city to the ground.
      • Every battle fought by former slaves could count as well.
    • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Several Confederate states, when holding a vote for secession, actually ended up with a small majority of their population voting 'no' - at which point the state legislatures, composed almost exclusively of wealthy slaveholders, proceeded to secede anyway, apparently taking a 'the voters do not truly know what they want the approach to governance.
      • The hiring of 'replacements' for the draft (as mentioned above) or outright bribery ensured that the war remained 'a rich man's war but a poor man's fight'.
    • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Desertion was a serious problem in the South; by 1863 men were deserting faster than new recruits could be conscripted to replace them, and by war's end over three-quarters of the Confederate army was AWOL. Entire Confederate divisions existed solely on paper, their men and command structure having walked out en masse, stealing as much equipment as they could carry. The most notable incidence of desertion was probably Confederate general Pemberton's army, paroled after the surrender at Vicksburg. Mustered with 30,000 men, a month later fewer than 1,500 of them were left to report for duty, the rest had simply changed back into civilian clothes and gone home.
      • This is basically what happened with the entire Confederate States of America after their candidate (John C. Breckinridge) did not win the presidential election of 1860.
    • The Scourge of God: From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address:

    "...if God wills that [the war] continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

      • "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord/He is trampling out the vintage where The Grapes of Wrath are stored..."
    • Screaming Warrior: Rebel Yells from the South and a standard "HURRAH!" from the North.
    • Sedgwick Speech: Trope Namer.
    • Shocking Defeat Legacy: The fall of Vicksburg and the consequent division of the Confederacy into two parts.
      • The entire war, for some Southerners.
    • Sociopathic Hero: Sherman is often seen and portrayed as this. He was indeed vicious, extremely ruthless, and terrifying in battle, but once the smoke cleared he actually had a reputation for leniency and mercy, regularly permitting defeated enemies to retrieve their belongings and go home without further molestation. He was repeatedly reprimanded by his superiors for this.
    • State Sec: Although the Confederates had no independent secret police force, the CSA's military filled this role when not on the front. Suspected abolitionists, Unionists, draft dodgers, deserters, guerrillas, or people who had not contributed sufficiently to the war effort were regularly rounded up and either arrested or summarily executed. Some Confederate army units spent almost the entire war deep in their own territory, rooting out agitators and 'purging' problem communities. The North was little better, going so far as to abolish habeas corpus for the duration of the war.
    • Stone Wall: The partial Trope Namer himself.
    • Take That: Montgomery Meigs, born a Georgian but a career Union officer and staunch U.S. patriot, hated the Confederacy for what he saw as a great betrayal against his country. Late in the war, when the Union dead was filling up the National Cemetery in Washington, Meigs suggested using Robert E. Lee's Union-occupied estate as a new burial ground. It later became Arlington National Cemetery.
    • Tear Jerker: This letter was written by a soldier to his wife shortly before going off to battle.
      • A.M. Lea captured a Union flotilla in Galveston, Texas only to find his Union Navy son dying on the deck.
    • Token Minority: Blacks fought for the North and their exploits are detailed in movies like Glory.
      • Blacks were allowed to serve the Confederate military in a support capacity but were forbidden to enlist as soldiers. However, there were state militias that employed free blacks. While these militias were not officially part of the Confederate military, they did see some action. While the enlistment of slaves was eventually legalized, it was too late in the war to have any effect on the outcome.
      • A lot of people don't realize that both sides had a small number of Chinese soldiers [1]. Though most of them fought for the North, the most well-known ones fought for the South. They are Christopher and Stephen Bunker, the sons of conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker, respectively.
      • Cherokee leader Stand Watie, the only Native American to become a general in the war.
    • To the Tune Of: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was adapted from "John Brown's Body." Another example would be the Union and Confederate versions of "Battle Cry of Freedom."
    • Ultimate Job Security: Ben Butler. Never that great a soldier, he was made a general to convince War Democrats that this wasn't just a Republican war. After Lincoln won his 1864 re-election campaign, he had no more use for Butler. Grant then put him in charge of the amphibious assault on Wilmington, North Carolina, the Confederacy's last open port. The first step in taking Wilmington would be taking Fort Fisher, which Butler signally failed to do, calling off his first and only assault after one man was killed and fifteen wounded out of a 6500-man force. He was promptly hauled in front of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War to account for his failure; he rested his defense on the claim that Fort Fisher was impregnable anyhow. Midway through his defense speech, news arrived that his successor had taken Fort Fisher. So what happened then? Well, the Joint Committee unanimously exonerated him on all charges, then voted him a commendation for his calm decision-making in calling off the assault in the face of a superior enemy position. Yeah.
    • Unmotivated Close Up: Every history of the war makes a point of mentioning that the man in charge of repressing John Brown in 1859 was Colonel Robert E Lee.
    • Values Dissonance: The Men of the North fought for the Negro, that he might be shipped back to Africa. Only the abolitionists were remotely interested in emancipation until doing so was framed in terms of undermining the rebel war effort, and even then Lincoln's government sat on the idea for a couple of years until they could claim to be winning (post-Antietam) before they actually went ahead with emancipation. There's also the whole slavery thing, which doesn't fly among most people these days.
    • Victory Pose: The fact that after the Confederate Capitol of Richmond fell, Abraham Lincoln visited the city and sat at Confederate President Jefferson Davis's desk in the Confederate White House.
    • Vindicated by History: The Gettysburg Address.
    • Warrior Monk: Episcopalian bishop and Confederate General Leonidas Polk.
    • We ARE Struggling Together!: The Confederacy. People may be familiar with the term "died of states' rights".
    • We Have Reserves: Most people like to paint Grant (and the Union at large) as this, but in reality pretty much every side used it at some point or another. Tactics of the day were simply wasteful of men. The North just had more to draw on than the South. It didn't help that offensive tend to get more casualties than offensives, and the resulting higher casualty rates for the Union were due mainly to fighting more offensive battles while the Confederacy usually had the luxury of defensive positions. In battles where the Confederacy went on the offensive, they suffered higher casualty rates as well.
      • The Wilderness Battles
      • Also one of the key pieces of logic for the Union's ending of prisoner exchanges. The North could recruit/draft more soldiers when they lost some to capture. The South could not. Starting in 1864, life for prisoners was about to get worse.
        • However, the major reason the Union ended prisoner exchanges was that Robert E. Lee refused to order his troops not to murder black soldiers who surrendered.
      • The main reason that Irish-Americans despised President Lincoln so vehemently. Being poor, Catholic and a Democrat drastically increased one's chances of being drafted. Pope Pius IX even had one of his best preachers go to Ireland to warn the people that if they went to America, they would probably end up being used as cannon fodder in "Lincoln's War". Certain Irish-American neighborhoods in New York City detested Lincoln so much that they voted for McClellan in the 1864 election by margins of over 90%.
    • Wham! Episode: The end of the battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg; McClellan is relieved of command for the last time, and Matthew Brady's "The Dead of Antietam" gallery is opened delivering the horror of war to the North for the first time, Lincoln frees the slaves ensuring no European nation will support the South. Not to mention the 23000 casualties, making it the bloodiest battle of the war.
    • Wham! Line: Late in the Battle of Gettysburg, General Lee called on Major General George Pickett to rally his division.

    Lee: General Pickett, you must see to your division.
    Pickett: General Lee, I have no division.

    • What an Idiot!: The "King Cotton" mentality of many ardent secessionists in the build-up to the war. But of course, the rabidly abolitionist nation of Great Britain will automatically cave! It's not like they own an entire subcontinent that is perfect for cotton cultivation and has loads of cheap labor! Or that they've seen this coming for a decade and have filled their warehouses to the brim with cotton!
    • "What Now?" Ending: Racial politics during reconstruction. The abolitionists succeeded, and all the slaves are free. Unfortunately, the vast majority did not know what to do about what happened to the former slaves once they were given freedom since said newly freed slaves were 1)illiterate, 2) farmers hands with no land in an area suffering from economic depression and 3) in an area now actively hostile to their interest.
    • With Friends Like These...: Respectively Braxton Bragg for the South and McClellan for the North.
    • The Woobie: James Longstreet, the best corps commander in the conflict on either side. See T.J. Jackson). Lost several of his young children to scarlet fever in 1862, was Cassandra-esque in his petitions for a more defensive war, was unjustly blamed for the loss at Gettysburg (thereby taking the blame away from the saintly Lee), had to fight against Grant (the two were very close; Longstreet was best man at Grant's wedding to Longstreet's cousin) and was considered a traitor and scalawag by his fellow Southerners for becoming a Republican and advocating suffrage for former slaves. Whew!
    • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. Perhaps the last great exponent, prevailing in the face of deadlier guns, ironclads, and mines. "Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead!"
      • Confederate commerce raiders, of which the CSS Alabama was the most famous.
    • Worst Aid: Medical training was a long way behind the technology of war. As a result, more died from wounds on both sides than the actual bullets.
    • Worthy Opponent: Blue and Grey often thought each other this.
      • Perhaps best exemplified when Union General Chamberlain's division and Confederate General Gordon's corps famously saluted each other as Gordon marched away from the surrender at Appomattox.
      • After the war, veteran's reunions would occasionally involve former soldiers from both sides, such as the Gettysburg reunions which continued until the late 1940s, by which point there were too few people left alive to justify them. The general opinion expressed by the attendees was that their opposite numbers had most definitely been worthy opponents.
      • General Robert E. Lee was well respected by many members of the Union, including Abraham Lincoln.
      • Ulysses S. Grant was similarly well respected by Lee, who, after the war, never, ever tolerated an unkind word about Grant in his presence. Joseph Johnston was similarly disposed towards his rival. Considering that the rival in question was the oft-villainized William T. Sherman, that's saying something. Johnston even served as a pallbearer at Sherman's funeral and refused to cover up despite poor health and bone-chilling winter. Because of this he caught pneumonia and died a few weeks after Sherman's funeral.
        • Exemplified by Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox. To quote the other wiki: "Dressed in an immaculate uniform, Lee waited for Grant to arrive. Grant, whose headache had ended when he received Lee's note, arrived in a mud-spattered uniform—a government-issue flannel shirt with trousers tucked into muddy boots, no sidearms, and with only his tarnished shoulder straps showing his rank. It was the first time the two men had seen each other face-to-face in almost two decades. Suddenly overcome with sadness, Grant found it hard to get to the point of the meeting and instead the two generals briefly discussed a previous encounter during the Mexican-American War."
        • Actually Lee had little respect for Grant at the start of the campaign, and only came to admire him as it went along. Lee and Meade, the guy who beat him at Gettysburg are probably a straighter example. To quote Lee: "General Meade will make no mistake on my front, and should I make one, will be quick to seize upon it."
        • It would be better to phrase it that Lee never tolerated an unkind word about Grant after Grant had shown him so much respect and mercy at the surrender.
      • Indeed the Civil War was full of this, as many Confederate officers had been U.S. Army officers until just before the war.
    • Written by the Winners: One of the greatest aversions ever, "Lost Cause" anybody?
    • You Shall Not Pass
      • The 400 -+ men of the 2nd Georgia at Antietam. They held up 12,000 Union soldiers at Burnside's Bridge for about 3 hours.
      • General John Buford. His tactical brilliance meant he chose his ground perfectly, and his 2,000 cavalry troopers with their Spencer repeating carbines held off Confederate forces that would soon number 20,000, buying time for General Reynolds to arrive with the First Corp to take the position.
        • Arguably the entire history of the Army of Northern Virginia was one huge You Shall Not Pass.
    • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Both sides sent spies and saboteurs across enemy lines, with expected results. The most famous would be Andrew's Raiders during The Great Locomotive Chase. All of the Union soldiers participating in it were captured by the Confederates and treated (and in some cases, executed) like spies. After the men managed to return to the USA through either escape or prisoner transfer, the Union government basically awarded everybody who participated with the first Medals of Honor for their bravery.
    • Zerg Rush: A common tactic despite the fact this was the first war after technology had heavily started favoring the defender. The dead on both sides piled up as both sides tried to adjust to this brutal fact.

    Works that are set in this time period are:

    Comic Books

    • The French-Belgian comic book series Les Tuniques Bleues.
    • Several issues of Jonah Hex dealt with Jonah's service in the war. In one issue, Jonah accidentally shoots Stonewall Jackson as the General returns from a reconnaissance, inflicting the wound which cost him his arm and precipitated his death shortly after due to sepsis.


    • Disney's Song of the South is mistakenly thought to occur during this era, but it actually takes place in the post-Civil War Reconstructionist Period. It's received a lot of flak though for its idealized portrayal of smiling, happy sharecroppers.
    • The Film Glory -- Showed popular culture once and for all that black didn't just beg for their freedom, but fought for it.
    • Dances with Wolves -- The central character is a Union Cavalry Lieutenant who voluntarily transferred to a remote post so that he could "see the frontier before it was gone". He had been wounded in the leg and was about to have it amputated. Preferring death to dismemberment, he borrowed a horse and rode it back and forth in front of the Confederate line. While the Rebels were trying to shoot him (and missing, since it's really hard to hit a moving target with a musket), the Union soldiers charged and took the field. The General rewarded him by having his private physician save his leg and gave him whatever posting he requested.
    • Cold Mountain -- The novel featured both white and black characters, but the film is almost entirely white.
      • They did integrate the battle of The Crater, which is historical (and pretty much happened that way).
    • The Conspirator -- About the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the trial of the conspirators, chiefly Mary Surratt.
    • Gettysburg -- Four-hour epic covering all three days of the Battle of Gettysburg, putting extra emphasis on the heroic actions on both sides. Confederate generals have a discussion around a campfire with a British lieutenant observer about how the war is not about slavery.
      • The novel it was based on (The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara) was better.
        • The movie is shockingly faithful to the novel. About 90% of the novel's contents are intact in the movie.
    • Major Dundee A Civil War Western epic by Sam Peckinpah. Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners ally to battle the Apaches. The Black soldiers are brave and noble, the southerners are more gallant and skillful than the northerners, and, of course, the Union commander, nominally the hero, is mainly motivated by cynical ambition.
    • The Horse Soldiers -- John Wayne is the hero as a Union cavalryman (Benjamin Grierson, an actual historical character) but spends most of the movie running away from his enemies. Since Grierson's mission was behind-the-lines raiding, not fighting, his actions were considered a great military achievement at the time. What is telling, of course, is that this tale of Union soldiers running away from Confederates was virtually the only Civil War battle detailed in a major Hollywood movie or television show over the first sixty years of the sound era. It features a heroic Confederate charge, complete with streaming flags, a brave Southern Belle, her loyal slave servants, and at one point Wayne's entire command is routed by a battle line of boys from a Mississippi military school! The two leading characters for the Union, played by Wayne and William Holden, are both war-hating pacifists.
      • The incident with the Mississippi schoolboys described above is both a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and an example of Worthy Opponent, since Grierson/Wayne decided to have his troops deliberately retreat rather than risk a slaughter of the children. This incident in question may not have actually happened during Grierson's raid: it may owe something to the real-life Battle of New Market in 1864, when the student body of the Virginia Military Institute played a key part in the defeat of a numerically superior Union force.
      • Director John Ford subverted many tropes though, for instance, the loyal slave servant (Althea Gibson) ends up shot dead by a Confederate bushwhacker for her pains) and the Southern Belle trope turns into comedy where the ladies of Newton Station throw dirt at the Yankee cavalrymen, dirtying themselves in the process. It also turns out that one of Marlowe/Wayne's men (played by Ford stalwart Hank Worden) knows the area from the time before the war when he helped slaves escape on the "Underground Railroad", and a couple of Confederate deserters (who by their very existence counter the trope of always honorable Southern soldiers) boast about their shooting prowess and then cross the Moral Event Horizon by using the time when one of them shot a female runaway slave right between the eyes. The schoolboys' action is played not as heroic, but equal parts tragedy - there's a real Tear Jerker moment when a mother begs the commander to spare her one surviving son and not take him into battle with him - and comedy - the little drummer boy then runs away from home (implying that only ignorant child would want to seek martial glory?) to rejoin his comrades, but is captured by the Northerners who let him go after giving him a spanking. Also, the briefing with Grant and Sherman at the beginning makes it clear that the Marlowe/Wayne's raid is part of the operations that resulted in one of the great victories of the North, the taking of Vicksburg, and the brigade handsomely wins the two fights against grownup Confederates that it cannot avoid.
    • Perhaps the film that put Hollywood on the map; The Birth of a Nation.
    • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • Shenandoah -- Interestingly for a movie made in the sixties, neither side is displayed particularly flatteringly.
    • The General -- A Buster Keaton action-comedy about a southern train engineer who tries to become a soldier, and ends up defeating Yankee hijackers.
      • Based on a real incident. The movie The Great Locomotive Chase is a decently accurate re-telling (from the Union Side).
    • Gods and Generals, a less-inspired prequel to Gettysburg.
      • In some instances wildly incorrect. Stonewall Jackson's tells his cook (who in reality was a slave, not a free black) in late 1862 that he and the Confederate leaders were thinking about freeing slaves if they volunteered to serve in the Confederate Army. (In actual fact, the first time that kind of scheme was proposed was a year later, after Jackson's death, by Irish-American general Patrick Cleburne to his fellow generals in of the Arme of Tennessee, and even then it was considered so dangerous and outrageous that he was discouraged from mentioning it to the Confederate government). For added effect, the film consigns the battle of Antietam and the subsequent Emancipation Proclamation to the memory hole, and from the portrayal of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and his men you'd never guess that they came from a state where blacks had the vote before the Civil War.
      • Not sure where that came from about the portrayal of Chamberlain, considering he's given a long monologue about how even if the Confederates were right about the US central government oppressing the states and usurping, they are still hypocrites for not applying this same logic to their own treatment of enslaved people.
    • Andersonville
    • Django is set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil war: The title character is a veteran of the Union army and the villains are a Fictional Counterpart of the Ku Klux Klan.
    • CSA: Confederate States of America takes place in a world where the South won the Civil War (the turning point being the battle of Gettysburg). The United States is annexed by the Confederacy; manifest destiny and both World Wars still happen, but they have no qualms about exterminating or enslaving any non-White, non-Christian peoples.
      • The executive producer was Spike Lee.
    • Gangs of New York: Takes place in New York as the Civil War is going on. Throughout the film, we see examples of Union soldiers being recruited right off the ships as they immigrate to America, dislike of Lincoln from nativists, and the film's climax is interrupted by the outbreak of the New York Draft Riots.
    • Goodbye Uncle Tom. Just before the war.
    • The Three Stooges short "Uncivil War Birds".
    • Ride with the Devil, an Ang Lee movie starring Tobey Mac Guire, about civil war conflicts between the Jayhawkers and Bushwhackers. The protagonist is a young German immigrant that chooses to side with the Confederacy, although quickly he discovers the harsh nature of war, losing his friends one by one, then his illusions about the very meaning of his fight. A Gray and Grey Morality movie. Note that the end followed the usual Chinese morality: the Hero survives most of the war and seeing no real reason to continue, he chooses to go into the west and start a new life with his newfound family.
    • The Outlaw Josey Wales is set during the final months and immediately after the war, and follows the title character Wales in his vendetta against a sadistic Union commander whose men had murdered Wales' family.


    • Gone with the Wind -- Written by a Georgian and very much in the southern heroic mode.
    • Harry Turtledove's Alternate History novel How Few Remain was the starting point for his Timeline-191 series, now nearly a dozen books and counting and up to only the end of World War II.
      • His The Guns of the South was an entirely different Alternate History in which South African white supremacists go back in time to arm the Confederacy with modern weaponry (particularly AK-47s) and help them win the Civil War. One of the novel's two focus characters is Robert E. Lee (the other is a Confederate infantryman and schoolteacher who gives the "ground level" view of events).
    • The Red Badge of Courage
    • Bernard Cornwell's Starbuck Chronicles
    • Part of the Backstory for Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars: he had been a Confederate officer.
    • The children's novel Across Five Aprils is a recounting of the Civil War stories told to the author by her grandfather.
    • Ambrose Bierce gained early fame for his Civil War stories.
    • The last third of Foxes Of Harrow by Frank Yerby.
    • Multiple books of Dear America and its spinoffs.
    • Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels, which was the basis for the movie Gettysburg, and was largely responsible for rescuing Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain from the back pages of history. Shaara's son Jeff Shaara later wrote a prequel (Gods and Generals) and a sequel (The Last Full Measure). Gods and Generals depicts the beginning of the war, following Lee, Jackson, Hancock, and Chamberlain from joining their respective sides to late June of '83. The Killer Angels follows Lee, Longstreet, Buford, and Chamberlain through the battle of Gettysburg. The Last Full Measure is post-Gettysburg to Appomattox and features Lee, Longstreet, Grant, and Chamberlain.
    • Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, which was also made into a movie.
    • In The Heroes of Olympus, it’s said that the Civil War was actually a war spurred on by the Greek and Roman demigod camps taking it out, which forced them to be permanently separated and told the other doesn’t exist to avoid further horrible wars between them. It’s likely the Greek side (which the main protagonists are on) was the Union, as Chiron mentions having trained Chamberlain in one of the earlier Percy Jackson books; this would cause Unfortunate Implications, as the Roman-camp demigods are described as more warlike, untrusting, and violent...
    • J. T. Edson's Civil War series is (unsurprisingly) set during the American Civil War.
    • Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, the first book of an Alternate History trilogy also composed of Grant Comes East and Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant: The Final Victory. The trilogy starts with a Confederate victory at Gettysburg but does not result in an overall Confederate victory. Basically, Lee's victory causes things to be worse than they were in real life, with the butcher's bill even more staggering for both sides. There's also a memorable scene where Lee's assault on Washington D.C. is bloodily repulsed, with the black troops of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry regiment playing a decisive role.
    • Lee and Grant at Appomattox, an historical fiction children’s novel by Mac Kinlay Kantor, unapologetically portrays Grant as a silent, shabby, and stubborn man who liked animals more than people as well as an unimaginative idiot who loves We Have Reserves. Naturally, Lee is almost fawningly described and compared to heroic, martial Biblical figures.

    Live-Action TV

    • North and South
    • The Blue and the Gray (like North and South, a TV miniseries)
    • Ken Burns did one of his epic PBS Documentaries on the conflict, known simply as The Civil War. It is remembered for its detail, fairness, depth, and its Crowning Music of Awesome, "Ashokan Farewell."
    • True Blood has Bill, a 170-year-old vampire who was once invited to speak at an event at the local church when it was found he had served during the civil war. The townspeople try to play down the fact he fought for the Confederacy.
    • In Have Gun — Will Travel, Paladin served as an officer in the Union Army (apparently under that name) and frequently runs into people he served with.


    • The Decemberists' song "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" is a modern song set during the time of the Civil War, shown from the South's perspective.
    • "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band, and later Joan Baez. The closing days of the Civil War as told by a fictional Confederate soldier. Written by a Canadian (Robbie Robertson)!
    • "Across The Green Mountain" by Bob Dylan. Plays over the closing credits of Gods And Generals. Another first-person account of a Confederate soldier.
    • "Swan Swan H" by R.E.M. "Hurrah. We're all free now."
    • "Gettysburg, 1863" by Iced Earth, a 32 minute song about the titular battle.

    Tabletop Games

    • Deadlands. Taking place in an Alternate History, the Civil War continues some 15 years after the real-world culmination (1879, according to Deadlands: Reloaded) due to a resurgence of supernatural activity at Gettysburg.

    Video Games

    • Damnation is set during a Steampunk Alternate History version that drags on into the early 20th century, and involves a Mega Corp that sells weapons to both sides.
    • Dealt in Lead A very, very odd version of it.
    • The Activision game Gun takes place after the Civil war, and features a Confederate General named after John Magruder as the villain. The game, while itself fun, however, has numerous instances of wildly inaccurate dates, such as the game taking place in 1880, but claiming that the Civil War ended ten years prior, when it actually ended 15 years prior. That's not even getting into the other rather stupid errors regarding date inconsistency in the game.
    • The History Channel: Civil War - A Nation Divided is an Activision first-person shooter set in the Civil War, where players can choose to play on either side in many major battles. Being a first-person shooter, Rare Guns had to be invoked to make the more rapid-fire guns of the era more common than they actually were in real life. Reloading sequences were also abbreviated[5] to speed them up a bit. Reviews were mostly mixed.
      • Its sequel Civil War - Secret Missions is pretty much more of the same, except with more types of guns, somewhat better graphics, and focusing on covert missions related to major battles rather than the major battles themselves.
    • The Civil War Generals series is a Turn-Based Strategy game allowing the player to command either side in some of the war's most famous battles.

    Web Original

    • Lee at the Alamo is an online Alternate History short story by Harry Turtledove with the point of divergence being in December 1860, when General David E. Twiggs is unable to take command of the Department of Texas, leaving Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee as the commander. The story takes place a few months later, just after Texas has voted to join the Confederate States. Lt. Colonel Lee concludes that it is his duty to defend U.S. munitions and property in San Antonio, Texas, including the fabled Alamo, rather than allow their surrender to the seceding Texas government, as Twiggs did do in Real Life, even if he expresses that he has no love for the about-to-take-office Lincoln and his policies. This puts him in a quandary later when his home state Virginia secedes since he's now a hero in the Union. After having had men die under him fighting Confederates, he just doesn't feel right changing sides anymore, nor does he feel right just sitting out the war in safety while people are dying. He settles for a compromise and has Lincoln assign him to the western theater of the war so that he doesn't have to fight Virginia directly.

    Western Animation

    1. It is not a question of the fact that the Proclamation only applied to rebelling states; there was plenty of land in rebelling states held by Union forces, and since the Proclamation was a military order, they were the ones expected to enforce it. The arrival of Union troops in any place in the rebelling South meant freedom for the slaves in that area.
    2. amateur historians can put away the tissues, we only use the word in the hollywood history sense of medieval conflict, i.e. large-scale and barbaric
    3. The historical record is, sadly, silent on whether or not he had bunny ears.
    4. He was reduced in rank to captain after the war, a standard practice in the peacetime army (wartime promotions were considered temporary for the duration of the war). Persistent disciplinary issues, his unpopularity among frontier troops, and internal Army politics ensured he would never again rise higher than lieutenant colonel, his rank at the Battle of Little Big Horn.
    5. the revolvers skip adding percussion caps, for one, which would make them unable to fire in real life