It's the war that divided a nation, tearing apart states, communities, and even families.
When the Civil War started in 1861, not a soul across the United States expected it to last as long or end as bloody as it did. As soldiers geared up and headed off to battle, ideologies surged through them as one side sought to protect their way of life and the other side aimed to preserve the Union. Not long after the battles started, these ideologies faded, and most men just wanted to return to their families. After all, the United States had never seen the brand of fighting that marked the Civil War. Powerful weapons caused devastation in increasingly high numbers, as mass graves became commonplace. Eventually, soldiers were being forced to fight rather than volunteering too.
Once those four bloody years ended, the country was forever changed, and many of the lasting effects of the Civil War can still be felt nearly two centuries later. For example, the war helped build strong regional ties, defined future race relations, and proved the country was stronger united than divided, which would be important in the first half of the 20th century with two Great Wars coming.
If you think you are a Civil War expert, take this quiz and prove it to yourself and your country!