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At the start of the Civil War, people chose sides. Some were determined to fight for the North, while others decided that the South was right to secede from the Union.

Several important people became great leaders during this time in American history. One was a former slave who had escaped to the North and became an abolitionist. Another was a young politician from Illinois who opposed the spread of slavery and joined a new political party.

Many of the military officers had gone to West Point, a military academy in New York, fought together in the war with Mexico, and now faced their old friends on the battlefield. On whichever side they stood, these leaders determined where America would journey over the next four years during the Civil War. Their decisions would impact the outcome of the war, their strength would give purpose to the men and women who fought beside them, and their abilities would lead the United States through one of the most difficult challenges for this nation. These men and women were the leaders of the American Civil War.

Gen. Robert Edward Lee

Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

Gen. James Longstreet

Gen. J.E.B. Stuart

Gen. George McClellan

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant

Abraham Lincoln

Jefferson Davis

Frederick Douglass

William Lloyd Garrison


The story

1. A Nation Divided

2. Events and Battles

3. Leaders

4. Daily Life

5. Aftermath


North or South?

Match the abolitionist

What would you do?

Name that leader

Study the artifact

Be a columnist

Interactive map


SOL Civil War key word index