The American Civil War (1861-1865) was fought over the distribution of power. Southern states wanted strong state governments. Northern states wanted a strong central government.


The Civil War 1861-1865 for Kids

The American Civil War was not fought over slavery, not in the beginning. War broke out because states in the South and states in the North could not compromise on what rights states had to govern themselves.

  • States in the South wanted strong state governments. They did not want Congress telling them what to do. They wanted individual states to have the right to decide major issues for themselves.

  • States in the North wanted a strong central government. They wanted Congress to decide major issues. They wanted individual states to obey any laws created by Congress, even if those laws were in conflict with laws created by individual states.

By 1861, the Union (northern states) and the Confederacy (southern states) were at war over the issue, not of slavery but of states' rights, although slavery certainly was at the heart of things.

Events Leading Up to the Civil War

Causes of the Civil War

Army & Camp Life

Comparison, Typical Confederate and Union Soldiers

Camp Life

Music, Bugles, Songs, Bands

Marching & Drilling

Leisure Time Activities, Baseball, Entertainment

Soldiers Payroll, Sutler Stores

Food & Foraging

Letters and Packages



Troop Mascots

Punishment, Trials, Courts-Martial


The Draft, Draft riots in New York

Engineers, Herman Haupt

Women & Child Soldiers

African American Soldiers

Teamsters & Supply Trains

Slaves in Camp, Racism in both the Union and Confederate Armies

Civil War Navy and Air Force

The Navy, Ironclads, Monitor vs. Merrimack

The Air Force, Observation Balloonists, Thaddeus Lowe

The War

Major Battles

Medical Care, Clara Barton

Prison Camps

Ciphers, coded messages

Speeches, Proclamations, Primary Sources

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

People of the Civil War

The Home Front

The South: Civilian Life, Inflation, Poverty, Starvation

The North: Civilian Life, Economic Boom, Dawn of the Industrial Age

Fund Raisers, Sanitary Fairs



The Economics of Slavery

The Triangle Trade

The Constitution and Bill of Rights on Slavery

The Missouri Compromise of 1820

Slave Life

The Underground Railroad

 Harriet Tubman

The Abolitionist Movement and Frederick Douglass

Fugitive Slave Laws

The Liberator - "AND I WILL BE HEARD"

The Compromise of 1850

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Dred Scott Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (1858)

1860 Democratic and Republican Conventions, Lincoln elected president

1860, South Carolina Secedes, More Southern States follow, Border States

Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 - freed all slaves in areas NOT under Union control

1865, the Civil War ends;  the 13th Amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution ending slavery forever

Reconstruction, What happened after the Civil War was over? (1865-1877)

Post Civil War

Maps, Graphs, Timelines

Maps & Graphs (some interactive)

Timelines (some interactive)

Games & Activities for Kids:

Interactive Games & Activities about the American Civil War for Kids

For Teachers

Lesson Plans & Activities

Civil War Powerpoints

Civil War Video Clips

Civil War Clip Art

Free iPad & iPhone apps