Civil War, U.S. - Unforgettable Sights - A CHANGING LANDSCAPE

A CHANGING LANDSCAPE (Illustration) American Presidents Civil Wars Famous Historical Events Geography Visual Arts Social Studies Nineteenth Century Life American History

At the start of a war, people are often excited (or, at least, art work of the time portrays such enthusiasm). In this 1862 image, depicting “Yankee Volunteers Marching into Dixie,” we see a fanciful portrayal of “Uncle Sam’s” soldiers. Online via the Library of Congress. Click on the image for a better view.


At the start of the War Between the States—when cows grazed near the White House (the home of America's presidents since John Adams took office) and daisies surrounded the Smithsonian (one of the country's national museums)—opposing ideals split the country in two. *

Seemingly irreconcilable differences caused fathers and sons to leave home "to fight," never to return again. In many cases, family members had no idea how their loved ones died (or where they were buried).

Did either side think the war would be over quickly? Despite the typical early enthusiasm to "fight for the right" of one's convictions, the war dragged on. ** By its end, the country and her people had been devastated—especially in the South. For many soldiers, on both sides, their dreams of going home were never fulfilled.

While many Americans have heard of the places made famous by the Civil War, no one alive today has first-hand knowledge of what it was like to live through the conflict. For that, we must go to the U.S. National Archives and the Library of Congress, where it is possible to "meet" the people involved, "visit" the scenes of conflict and "examine" the evidence of what actually happened in America's first highly photographed war.

  • Yorktown was a beautiful, seaside Virginia town in the spring of 1862. But the town was changing from an idyllic peacetime setting to a place of war
  • Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, viewed Vicksburg in the same way as Lincoln, writing to General Pemberton:  "Vicksburg is the nail head that holds the South's two halves together! You must hold it at all costs!"
  • After a long battle and siege—summarized in animated/video format by the Civil War Trust—Vicksburg fell to federal troops, led by General Grant, one day after Gettysburg fell to Union troops in Pennsylvania. With the loss of Vicksburg, Confederate leaders would have a very hard time supplying their troops with food and military supplies (and Confederate forces in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas would become isolated from the rest of the Confederacy).

To learn how family life was impacted, when Americans fought and killed each other, we can read novels written by authors who lived through the conflict. One of the most popular at the time is still popular in the 21st century.  Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is a semi-autobiographical tale—with some very sad parts—of the writer's own life.


* The link for "split the country is two" is a power-point animation, from the U.S. Military Academy, which graphically summarizes the "Prelude to the American Civil War."

** The link for "the war dragged on" is a video with animated maps, summarizing the U.S. Civil War from its start (at Fort Sumter) to its end (at Appomattox), produced by the American Battlefield Trust and Wide Awake Films.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Oct 20, 2019

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"A CHANGING LANDSCAPE" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2003. Feb 18, 2020.
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