Using Primary Sources in the Classroom:
Civil War Unit

Introduction to the Civil War Unit:


When Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860, Alabama seceded from the United States along with other Southern states. The Confederate States of America was organized in Alabama's Senate Chamber in Montgomery. On the capitol portico Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was inaugurated President of the new government. Montgomery was the Confederacy's "cradle" for three months and then the capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia. Although many Alabamians did not want the Confederate capital moved, the move saved Montgomery and central Alabama from becoming prime war targets. With the exception of the Battle of Mobile Bay, few major battles took place in Alabama. Rather, military activity consisted of Union raids into Alabama to control the Tennessee River, cut railroad lines, destroy ironworks, and blockade the port of Mobile. After men were drafted, women, children and elderly people were left to take care of their homes, and to plant and harvest crops. Food, horses, cotton and slaves were conscripted or impressed to assist the war effort. With shortage of food at home and supplies cut off, prices soared. As the war drew to an end, Alabama was virtually undefended except by boys, old men, and the home guard. No one knows precisely how many white Alabamians fought for the Confederacy, but estimates go as high as 100,000. Around 2,700 white Alabamians and an estimated 10,000 black Alabamians enlisted in the Union army mostly from northern areas of the state.


The two activities selected for this unit illustrate how Alabama coped with shortages and the important contributions of Alabama women during the war.


Go to Lesson 1 : Alabama's Saltworks.

Go to Lesson 2 : Juliet Opie Hopkins: Superintendent of Alabama's Hospitals in Virginia.


Related Links:

A Belle of the Fifties: Memoirs of Mrs. Clay, of Alabama, Covering Social and Political Life in Washington and the South, 1853-66.
Sarah Rousseau Espy Diary, 1859-1868
Alabama Internet Resources