The causes of the Civil War has roots that start with the Debate Over Slavery. Sectionalism played a large role in the conflicts between the slave holding South and the free states in the North. Then Trouble Breaks out in Kansas as conflict escalates into actual fight as two governments exist at the same time. The Whig Party dissolves and a new abolitionist leaning party, the Republicans, forms from a coalition of several groups. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate in the Illinois senate race. 


Study Guides For: The American Civil War For Kids

Study Guide

The Debate Over Slavery

Chapter 15 Section 1 (1820-1852)

In this section, kids will learn about how new lands would ignite conflicts over slavery again in the United States. Sectionalism is the concept of self interest in different sections of the country being different. The Compromise of 1850would calm the storm briefly, but the momentum against slavery in the North was stoked by writings such as Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Trouble In Kansas

Chapter 15 Section 2 (1852-1856)

Forces on both sides of the Free/Slave state issue, were focusing on Kansas. Compromises that were intended to keep the peace were now boiling up into violence. Presidential politics were clearly focused around the issue of slavery. A railroad through the West to the Pacific Ocean would create conflict as both the North & South wanted it in their region. The Kansas Nebraska Act incited abolitionists in the North as protests broke out. Two legislatures were voted in as one was supported by Missourians who had crossed over into Kansas just to support slavery. Slavery supporters attacked and sacked the city of Lawrence burning buildings killing one person. John Brown, a New England Abolitionist, traveled to Kansas and began to fight fire with fire. He led attacks against slavery supporters. The fighting spilled dover into Congress as one senator attacked another in the Senate.

Study Guide

Study Guide

Political Divisions

Chapter 15 Section 3. (1856-1858)

In the election of 1856, the U.S. saw the elimination of one political party: The Whigs and the creation of another: The Republicans over the issue of slavery. 

A case lands in the Supreme Court dealing with a slave suing for his freedom, Dred Scott, turns the country on its head and brings the issue of slavery front and center again.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate the slavery issue in debates leading to the senate race in Illinois. 

The Nation Divides

Chapter 15 Section 4.  (1858-1861)

In 1858, John Brown led a Raid on Harper's Ferry that ended in disaster with his small group being captured by Robert E. Lee and Brown and most of his followers either killed or hanged. 

In the Election of 1860Abraham Lincoln topples his rivals: Stephen DouglasJohn Breckinridge and John Bell. With the election of Lincoln, the South secedes from the Union. These states form the Confederate States of America. The CSA chose Jefferson Davis as their president.

Study Guide

Study Guide

The War Begins

Chapter 16 Section 1 (1861)

Abraham Lincoln tried not to provoke the South into War, but after Fort Sumter was captured by Confederates, all out war was inevitable. Troops began to build up on both sides and both sides were under prepared for war. The border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri all stayed with the Union. The North had an advantage in Industrial Production and Infrastructure: railroads, canals and roads. The South had a majority of the best military minds and a stronger military background. General Winfield Scott came up with two pronged strategy to beat the South: Control the Vital Mississippi and blockade the Southern Port cities. Jefferson Davis tried to get foreign help through Cotton Diplomacy, but that failed.

The War In The East

Chapter 16 Section 2 (1861-1862)

In July 1861, Lincoln orders General Irvin McDowell to attack the Confederate Capital at Richmond. This leads to the 1st battle of Bull Run. The Confederates were lead by General Pierre Beauregard and General Stone Wall Jackson. Lincoln needed a well trained and disciplined army. He turned to General George B. McClellan. After a long period of time, McClellan started his Peninsular Campaign. In June of 1862, Robert E. Lee took over Confederate Forces in Virginia. In June of 1862, Lee launched a series of attacks called the Seven Days Battles. After these battles, Lincoln's frustration peaked as he sent General John Pope South against Richmond. This would be the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. Lee then invaded the North in Maryland which led to the Battle of Antietam. ​Naval Warfare also progressed at this time with the advent of Ironclad ships, not to Mention the Union Naval Blockade: The Anaconda Plan.

Study Guide

Study Guide

The War In The West

Chapter 16 Section 3  (1861-1863)

Ulysses S. Grant was a far different commander than McClellan. Grant was aggressive and decisive. Grant teamed up with Admiral David Farragut. Both men were focused on capturing the Mississippi River. Grant moved into Kentucky and captured several Forts: Henry and Donelson. The Battle of Shiloh would see Grant using his masterful tactics and snatching Victory from the Rebels. Farragut and Grant would finally link up at the Port town of Vicksburg.  The Siege of Vicksburg starved the Confederates and forced them to surrender to Grant. The Union would block the South from moving into the far West on several occasions.

Daily Life During The War

Chapter 16 Section 4 (1860-1865)

Lincoln Frees the Slaves with the Emancipation ProclamationNight Watch was the tradition of celebrating freedom on December 31st 1862. Frederick Douglas impact on America. The celebrated 54th Massachusetts African American Regiment. The Copperheads fight against the war. Draft Riots in the Civil War. The 1864 Presidential ElectionMedicine in the Civil War. Life in Andersonville POW Camp. Women that made a major impact on soldiers for both sides: Clara Barton and Sally Tompkins

Study Guide

Study Guide

The Tide of War Turns

Chapter 16 Section 5

Fighting resumes with the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Lincoln changes strategy and replaces George McClellan With Ambrose Burnside. Both battles were set backs for the Union. The Battle of Gettysburg would be the major turning point in the war. General Longstreet lobbied Lee not to attack, but Lee did not listen. General Pickett's Charge was a disaster for Confederate forces. Gettysburg was a Union Victory! At the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery, Lincoln gave the most famous speech in American History: The Gettysburg Address. The Union keeps up the pressure in the Wilderness Campaigns. Sherman starts his campaign to the Battle of Atlanta in the Spring of 1864. Sherman and Grant chase rebel forces across the South and finally surround the general near Appomattox Courthouse where Lee Surrenders and the war is over.

American Civil War Links

A. Pinterest

1.The Civil War On Pinterest

a. Pictures, battle maps, infographics and a large amount of information on the American Civil War.

2. Civil War Hollywood Movies
a. Hollywood movies and documentaries about the American Civil War.

B. Other Links:

1. Civil War Trust
a. Gettysburg Battle: Animated Map

 2. The American Civil War Homepage

a. This site allows kids to study different aspects of the American Civil War: Civil War History by State, Civil War Soldiers and Military Organization, States Rights and Secession, Causes of the Civil War, Civil War Weapons & Technology, Slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Union & Confederate Warfare, Reconstruction, Casualties & Killed, Turning Points.

3. A History of Illinois In The Civil War

a. Illinois may not be able to claim fame as the location of famous Civil War battles, but this state was active in its contributions to the Civil War efforts. Illinois was responsible for providing more troops to the Union army than any other state. The city of Cairo, Illinois, is the city that occupies the southernmost location in the state, and this made the city of Cairo important as a staging area for organizing troops and materials that moved via nearby waterways.

4. The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns PBS

a. THE CIVIL WAR, the award-winning film produced and directed by Ken Burns, was rebroadcast as a newly restored, high-definition version in September of 2015. The 2015 rebroadcast coincided with the 25th anniversary of the series’ initial broadcast in September 1990, and presented the film for the first time in the same fidelity and framing as the negative that Ken Burns and his co-cinematographers Allen Moore and Buddy Squires shot more than 25 years ago.

5. The History The American Civil War

a. The Civil War was America's bloodiest and most divisive conflict, pitting the Union Army against the Confederate States of America. The war resulted in the deaths of more than 620,000 people, with millions more injured and the South left in ruins.

6. Civil War and Reconstruction

a. Civil War and Reconstruction organizes these into topics: Causes, Overview, Timelines, Maps, Key Figures, Battles and Reconstruction.
7. Son of the South: Civil War Links

a. The Links Below provide extensive historical information for the serious Civil War student.
8. Medicine In The American Civil War

a. The Civil War came at a time when there were very few advancements in terms of medicine and the treatment of injuries and ailments. Even some of the most basic life-saving techniques, such as CPR, were not heard of or developed at that time. Although medications and methods of treating injuries were in their infancy, the weapons of war were advancing, as was their ability to wreak havoc on the human body.

10. TeachThe

a. I have been studying the topic of teaching the Civil War for the past 15 years. As an educational technologist with a particular interest in the American Civil War, I love sharing how teachers can engage students in doing history.

11. Clara Barton: Civil War Nurse

a. Clara Barton is a famous teacher, nurse, and humanitarian. She is considered to be one of the most famous nurses of the Civil War but is most recognized for establishing the American Red Cross. Because she was able to do more than many women were allowed to do at the time, Barton is also a role model for many girls and women.​

12. Constitution of the Confederate States of America

a. A look at the document that was the constitution of the Confederate States of America.

13. Georgia's Blue and Grey Trail

a. Georgia's Blue and Gray Trail Presents America's Civil War: Civil War Encyclopedia, Civil War in Georgia, On the Blue and Gray Trail, Civil War by state, Today in the Civil War, This year in the Civil War, Battles, Images, Places, Feature Stories, Links