Letters to the Skirmisher

Women's Political Meeting
Women in New York gathered as early as 1861 to establish nursing organizations for the Union. (Library of Congress)

How did the Civil War change the United States?

The death toll of the Civil War reflects the enormity of the trauma the war inflicted on American citizens. 750,000 people died as a result of the war. The equivalent number today would be seven million. There were 52,000 men killed, wounded, or captured at Gettysburg. That’s about 350 times bloodier than the Boston Marathon bombings. 

The war transformed American society, politics, and the economy. The most revolutionary change was the end of slavery. During the war, hundreds of thousands of slaves won freedom and battles, and achieved citizenship.

As men joined the military, Northern women entered the workforce to take their places. For the first time, women served as nurses on battlefields and worked in arms factories, making crucial contributions to the Union war effort. 

The war also increased the pace of Northern industrialization and devastated the South’s economy. The gap between the Northern and Southern economies increased after the war, as the South struggled to recover and industrialize.

Why study the Civil War?

Like any great story, the Civil War’s power comes from the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual connections that you forge with the tale. 

If you really open yourself up to it, allowing yourself to be swept up in the drama, you will find countless parables and life lessons that will really make you think about who you are when it’s all on the line.  You will think and feel more deeply about all things.

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