History of the 20th Century: Part 2

This is part two of a series of blogs about the 20th century. This series will cover the events between the years 1914-1993. The start of WWI to the fall of communism. 

Click the year or conflict you want to go to and it will send you down to it. Also, click on any blue highlighted words to read more about it.





This blog will cover the events between the years 1922 to 1930. The years between WWI and WWII (1918-1939) are known as the Interwar Years.

Throughout 1922 and the entire 20th century, communist revolutions and uprisings occurred throughout the world. This was partly because on April 3, 1922 Joseph Stalin became leader of Russia after the death of Vladimir Lennin, changing the official name of communist Russia from the Russian SFSR to the Soviet Union or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). These communist rebellions were mostly between the current government in the country and the communist party, but sometimes they were fought between the communist party and another political party, like a fascist or democratic group. The rebels rarely won these revolts. Brazil, South Africa, the Weimar Republic, Bulgaria, and many more had failed communist revolts. The rebellion in Brazil lasted from 1922 until 1927, when the rebels were put down.

Flag of the USSR.

On March 12, 1922 Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan banned together and joined the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (SFSR). Georgia had joined the SFSR only after being invaded by the Soviet Union’s Red Army and the government overthrown.

Irish Civil War

Following the Irish War of Independence, the Irish had another war. This time is was between Irish who were for the treaty with the UK and those who were against it. This is called the Irish Civil War and it started June 28, 1922.

The IRA (Irish Republic Army) was against having the Anglo-Irish Treaty with the UK because in the treaty it stated that Ireland would be within the British Empire, but almost completely free to do as they pleased. They also thought it was a betrayal of the Irish Republic that had been proclaimed under the Easter Uprising, who were Irish who loathed the British and wanted no connection with them whatsoever, so they started a civil war to try to overthrow the pro-treaty Irish Provisional Government, which became known as the Free State in December 1922. The Provisional Government wanted peace with the UK and thought the treaty was fair. Many of the people, on both sides, had fought under the Old IRA during the Irish War of Independence. Many of the pro-treaty members of the IRA either left or were thrown out when the civil war began.

Flag of the Irish Free State (Provisional Government).

On April 14, members of the new IRA occupied buildings of the Irish Supreme Court (Four Courts). These members wanted to spark a new conflict with the British Empire. Some Provisional Government officials wanted to use force against them but others wanted to avoid a civil war as much as possible.

From April to June the rebels were left alone until the National Army bombarded the Four Courts until the IRA surrendered. The building was badly damaged and many of the archives were burned.

Other attacks and bombings occurred, but on May 24, 1923 the anti-treaty IRA surrendered to the pro-treaty Provisional Government.

March on Rome

On October 31, 1922 Bentino Mussolini became the 27th Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy after the March on Rome. The March on Rome was Mussolini’s mass demonstration during which Mussolini and his fascist “Blackshirts” marched through the city of Rome. Three days after the march, Mussolini was appointed the 27th Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy. During the march, the current Prime Minister, Luigi Facta, wished to declare a state of siege, but was overruled by King Victor Emmanuel III and appointed Mussolini as Prime Minister instead.

Mussolini along with other fascist Blackshirts march on the streets of Italy’s capital of Rome.


Italian Pacification of Libya

Also known as the Italo-Senussi War the pacification of Libya was a long and bloody conflict between the Italian military against Libyan rebels known as the Senussi Order. The Senussi Order were a resistance to Italian colonization in Cyrenaica, currently Eastern Libya, under rebel leader Omar Mukhtar. During the conflict, the Italians, under Benito Mussolini, committed multiple war crimes including the use of chemical weapons, the execution of surrendering Libyans, and the killing of mass civilians. Concentration camps were also used for rebellious Libyans, who opposed the Italian occupation.

Libya had been part of the Ottoman Empire until the Turkish-Italo War in 1911 when Italy invaded Libya. The war ended in Italian victory, so Italy was able to keep Libya as its own colony. Up until 1923, the Libyans were able to relatively ignore the Italian control over the country, but when Omar Mukhtar staged a rebellion the Italians decided they needed to do something. Over 250,000 Libyans died during the “Pacification” between 1923 and 1932.

The war ended in Italian victory in 1932 and they executed of Omar Mukhtar and many of his followers.

Omar Mukhtar.

Beer Hall Putsch

Meanwhile in the German Weimar Republic on November 8, Hitler, some 20 Nazi Party members, and a detachment of 603 SA surrounded a beer hall in the city of Munich in the German state of Bavaria. In the hall a man named Gustav Ritter Von Kahr was making a speech. Kahr was a Bavarian socialist, who was against Adolf Hitler and his ideas. With his soldiers guarding the event from outside, Hitler made his way into the auditorium, jumped on a chair, and yelled, “The national revolution has begun! The hall is surrounded by 600 men. No one is allowed to leave!” He then said that the government of Bavaria was deposed and declared the formation of a new government. Then he ordered Kahr along with two other men at gunpoint to accept new government positions he had just assigned to them. They refused and were taken into custody by the Nazis.

During the night, units of Kampfbund (other Nazis) were wandering around the city, attempting to resupply themselves when a unit of Reichswehr (Barvarian police) spotted them. The Reichswehr were trying to get to nearby barracks when they had spotted the Nazis. They fired at each other without any fatalities. The Nazi Kampfbund retreated while the Reichswehr called reinforcements.

Members of the Nazi SA during the Putsch.

The next day Hitler realized the Putsch was going nowhere. He was about to call it off when a Nazi named Erich Ludendorff then shouted, “We will march!” so Hitler and 2,000 other Nazis and Sturmabteilung (SA) marched to the Feldherrnhalle, where they were confronted by German police. The police fired on the Nazis, which resulted in the death of 16 Nazi Party members and 4 police officers. Adolf Hitler was wounded, but escaped his arrest and fled to the countryside. Two days later, he was taken into custody and was charged with treason. He was found guilty and charged with five years in prison. During his time, he wrote a book about Nazi ideals and Germany’s future called Mein Kampt or My Struggle in German. After serving only six months, Hitler was released.


Tatarbunary Uprising

On the 15 of September, Bolshevik-inspired Romanian rebels started an uprising in the Bessarabian city of Tatarbunary. Being pro-Russian the rebels called for an end to Romanian occupation of Bessariarabia and the creation of a new Moldovan Communist nation, a protectorate of the Soviet Union. The revolt lasted from September 15 to the 18. In the end the Romanian government prevailed, but resulted in the death of 3,000 people.  

Saudi Conquest of Hejaz

In the Arabian Peninsula the Kingdom of Hejaz and the Sultanate of Nejd were about to go to war. Hejaz contains the key Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious center for Islam, and most of the land that borders the Red Sea.

Flag of the Kingdom of Hejaz. This same flag was used by Arab revolutionaries during the Arab Revolt.

In 1916 during WWI, Hejaz had been a part of the Arab Revolt, a mass Arab rebellion led by the United Kingdom against their Ottoman oppressors. After the war the Kingdom of Hejaz achieved independence. Hejaz bordered a large Arabian country called the Sultanate of Nejd, modernly containing most of Saudi Arabia. Hejaz and Nejd had already fought between each other in the First Saudi-Hastemite War of 1919, but this conflict sparked because Saudi pilgrims were denied access to the Islamic holy land in the cities of Mecca and Media. On August 29, 1924 Saudi troops invaded the Kingdom of Hejaz. They advanced towards the city of Taif, which fell without any major struggle. Then Nejd turned toward Mecca. Hejaz appealed to the United Kingdom for aid, but they refused. Mecca fell with little resistance. The king of Hejaz had fled from Mecca to Jeddah before the city fell. Yanbu and Medina fell in December, 1925 and in January, 1926 Saudi troops entered the gates of Jeddah. Hejaz was united with Nejd after the city fell.


Kurdish Rebellions

To the north in the country of Turkey, the Kurds wished to be separate from Turkey and have their own country. In 1925, they had three rebellions: The Sheikh Rebellion, Raçkotan and Raman Pacifying Operations, and the Sason Rebellion. All three of these rebellions failed and the leaders of each were executed. The first two combined lasted not even a year, but the last rebellion lasted until 1937.

Zaraniq Rebellion

Not far from Turkey in Yemen, people from the Zaraniq tribe started an armed revolution against the Arabian country of Yemen.

At the time Yemen’s official name was the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen. Zaraniq was supported by the United Kingdom, who were still very instrumental in the Middle East. Zaraniq was also supported by the newly united country of Hejaz and Nejd.

Flag of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen.

The only fighting that occurred during the war was occasional raids by the Zaraniq. In 1929 the war ended with the Yemeni government emerging on top.    

Great Syrian Revolt

To the north of Yemen groups of Syrian rebels plotted to rid Syria of French rule, who had taken the land from the Ottomans after WWI.

Different types of Muslims and even Christians across Syria and Lebanon independently fought with one common goal: to rid the area of French rule. The revolt lasted from July 1925 to June 1927 with a total of 6,000 casualties. The French won the war and defeated the rebels.      

Sultan al-Atrash.jpg
A rebel leader celebrating the release of imprisoned revolutionaries.


Northern Expedition

In the 1920s, the Beiyang Government was thought to be the legitimate government in China. Although claiming to be in control much of the country was ruled by different warlords. This era is called The Warlord Era. In July 1926, some different Chinese factions decided to put an end to the Beiyang Government. This was the Nationalist Government, which consisted of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA), Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Communist Part (CCP), and some allied warlord armies, who agreed to join with the revolutionary government if they won the war. Fighting took place in parts of Northern Manchuria all the way down to the border of French Indochina.

The war ended in December 1928 with a Nationalist victory. The Beiyang Government was overthrown and the warlords were defeated.

Beiyang soldiers retreating by train.

The communists had been thrown out of the alliance in April 1927 after communist labor unions took control of Shanghai and were defeated. After this point the CCP was angered, thus starting the long, bloody Chinese Civil War. 

1926 Communist Revolt in Indonesia

In June 1926 the Communist Party of Indonesia planned a overthrow of the Dutch government. It was quickly put down and around 20,000 revolutionaries were either interned, imprisoned, or arrested. 

Seal of the Communist Party of Indonesia


More Kurdish Rebellions

In 1927, there were three more Kurdish rebellions, in the fairly new country of Turkey, that were all put down within the end of 1927. These were the KoçuÅŸaÄŸi Rebellion, the Mutki Rebellion, and the Bicar Suppression.    

In 1929, there were also two more, the Asi Resul Rebellion and the Tenduruk Rebellion, which also ended in failure.

Chinese Civil War

In 1927, still during the Northern Expedition conflict, a 22 year conflict was about to begin between the Kuomintang (KMT) lead Republic of China and Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To make this easier I’ll split this into three parts. The first part will cover the years 1927-1930, the second will cover 1931-1937, and the third part will cover 1937-1949.

In early 1927, the KMT-CPC rivalry led to a split in the revolutionary ranks. The KMT moved the seat of the KMT government from Guangzhou to Wuhan. Guangzhou had a heavy communist influence whereas Wuhan was heavily nationalist. Also it’s important to emphasis that there were left-wing KMT, who were more socialist and didn’t like communism, and then right-wing KMT. Right and left KMT worked tried to work together, but it led to an unstable government. Wuhan was the seat of the left-wing KMT while Nanchang was the seat of the right. On August 1 of the same year the CCP launched an uprising in Nanchang against a KMT government based in Wuhan. This led to the creation of the Chinese Red Army. This rebellion was put down by August 8.

Leader of KMT Nationalist government Chiang Kai-shek in 1926 with the NRA during the Northern Expedition.

In September peasants led by Mao Zedong attempted an uprising known as the Autumn Harvest Uprising, but this was quickly put down.

The rest of the fighting until 1930 was the the KMT quelling small little CCP revolts led by anti-KMT left-wing and communist leaders.    


Afghan Civil War

The Afghan Civil War was fought between the current government under King Amanullah Khan with Ali Ahmad Khan against the rebellious Saqqawists, who allied themselves with the anti-Russian/Soviet Basmachi and Shinwari tribe.

King Amanullah Khan had angered these Islamic nationalists because he was against radical Islam. He wished for women to have more rights and thought non-muslims should have equal rights in Afghanistan.

Flag of the Saqqwists.

The war began when the Shinwaris revolted in the city of Jalalabad in November 1928. Even though this revolt was quickly put down, it inspired the Saqqawists to rebel in Jabal al-Siraj before attacking Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul on December 14, 1928. This assault was stopped, but on January 17, 1929 the Saqqawists were successful in occupying the capital. After Kabul they headed east and beat back Ali Ahmad Khan’s army near Jalalabad.

In June a man known as Nadir Khan engaged a Saqqawist offensive in the north. The man that had been king prior to the revolution, Amanullah Khan, had fled the country leaving it up to Nadir Khan to stop the rebels. After a month of stalemate in the north, Nadir pushed them all the way back to Kabul. On October 13, 1929 the Afghan palace in Kabul, the Arg, was captured by Nadir’s forces. After the capture of the Arg the civil war is known to end even though Saqqwist activity continued until 1931. After the war Nadir Khan became the new king of Afghanistan and ruled until 1933.

Also, in December 1929, the Soviets entered Northern Afghanistan to wipe out the anti-Soviet Basmachi there, who had fought against them on several occasions on the Soviet-Afghan border and in Uzbekistan.

Nadir Khan.


1929 Stock Market Crash

The 1929 Stock Market Crash was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States. The 1920’s in America was a time of wealth and prosperity and is known as “The Roaring Twenties” because of this. This crash signaled the beginning of the Great Depression, an event which left many Americans in poverty until after WWII.  


Sino-Tibetian War

The Sino-Tibetian War began when the Tibetian Army invaded China in a dispute over Buddhist monasteries. Although a three-year war, Chiang Kai-shek’s army overwhelmed Tibetian forces during the first year of the war. A ceasefire was being negotiated, but Tibet refused the conditions and the war continued for two more years. In 1932 the war ended, but it had changed nothing. Tibet still had the same land as before and the monasteries remained in Chinese control.      

Modern Countries Part 4

Guyana (South America)

Guyana flag

Capital: Georgetown

Population: 786,391

Size: 83,000 sq. miles

Currency: Guyanese Dollar

Tallest point: Mount Roraima 9,220 feet tall 

Main religion: Christain 63%

Main languages: English, Akawaio, and Macushi

About: In December 1964, England let Guyana vote and hold elections. They voted to become Independent.

St George’s Cathedral in Georgetown, Guyana.

Haiti (North America)

Haiti flag


Population: 11.1 Million

Size: 10,710 sq. miles

Currency: Haitian Gourde

Tallest point: Pic la Selle 8,773 feet tall

Main religion: Christain 86.9% 

Main languages: French, Haitian Creole

About: The Haitian Revolution against the French was from 1791-1804.After the War’s end Haiti gained independence from France.

Palais san Souci, Haiti

Vatican City (Europe)

Vatican City flag

Capital: Vatican City

Population: 825 

Size: 0.19 sq. miles

Currency: Euro

Tallest point: Unnamed Location 250 feet tall 

Main religion: Christain 100% 

Main languages: Italian

About: In 1929, the Italian Government recognized Vatican City as an Independent country.

Vatican City, with view of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Honduras (North America)

Honduras flag

Capital: Tegucigalpa

Population: 9.5 Million

Size: 43,433 sq. miles

Currency: Lempira

Tallest point: Cerro las Minas 9,420 feet tall

Main religion: Christain 87% 

Main languages: Spanish

About: On September 15, 1821, Honduras gained independence from Spain.

Copan Ruinas, Honduras.

Hungary (Europe)

Hungary flag

Capital: Budapest 

Population: 9.7 Million

Size: 35,920 sq. miles

Currency: Forint

Tallest point: Kékes 3,327 feet tall 

Main religion: Christain 54.3% 

Main languages: Hungarian

About: In 1989, Hungary peacefully became independent from the Soviet Union. 

Danube Monument Budapest, Hungary.

Iceland (Europe)

Iceland flag

Capital: Reykjavik 

Population: 364,134 

Size: 39,682 sq. miles

Currency: Icelandic Krona

Tallest point: Hvannadalshnjúkur 6,922 feet tall

Main religion: Church of Iceland ???% 

Main languages: Icelandic, Polish

About: In 1944, Iceland became independent from Denmark, after 97% voted to be free.

Strokkur Geyser, Iceland.

India (Asia)

India flag

Capital: New Delhi 

Population: 1,352,642,280 (1.3 Billion)

Size: 1,269,216 sq. miles

Currency: Indian rupee

Tallest point: Kangchenjunga 28,169 feet tall

Main religion: Hinduism 79.8% 

Main languages: Hindi, English

About: From 1857-1947 India had an independence movement to end British rule there. On August 5, 1947 India gained its independence.

Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

Indonesia (Asia)

Indonesia flag

Capital: Jakarta

Population: 267.6 Million

Size: 735,358 sq. miles

Currency: Indonesian rupiah 

Tallest point: Puncak Jaya 15,774 feet tall

Main religion: Islam 86.7% 

Main languages: Indonesian, Javanese, Sundanese, and Malay

About: During the Indonesian National Revolution, (1945-1949) they fought against the Dutch for Independence. On August 17, 1949 they gained independence.

Yogykarta, Indonesia.

Iran (Asia)

Iran flag

Capital: Tehran

Population: 83.1 Million

Size: 636,372 sq. miles

Currency: Rial

Tallest point: Mount Damavand 18,403 feet tall

Main religion: Islam 99.4%

Main languages: Persian, Azerbaijani, Qashqai, and Turkmen

About: In 1979, there was a revolution which turned Iran into a Islamic Republic. 

Azadi Tower, Iran.

Iraq (Asia)

Iraq flag

Capital: Baghdad

Population: 38.4 Million

Size: 168,754 sq. miles

Currency: Iraqi Dinar

Tallest point: Cheekha Dar 11,847 feet tall

Main religion: Islam 98% 

Main languages: Arabic, Kurdish, Mandaic, Turkish, Assyrian, and Armenian

About: On October 3, 1932 Iraq gained independence from Britain. 

Saddam’s Specter, Iraq.

Ireland (Europe)

Ireland flag

Capital: Dublin 

Population: 6.5 Million

Size: 32,595 sq. miles

Currency: Euro

Tallest point: Carrauntoohil 3,407 feet tall

Main religion: Christain 78.3% 

Main languages: English, Irish, Ulster Scots, and Shelta

About: From 1916-1921 there were many riots and chaos in Ireland. In 1921, they gained independence from Britain. 

Poulnabrone Dolmen, Ireland.

Israel (Asia)

Israel flag

Capital: Jerusalem  

Population: 9.2 Million

Size: 8,522 sq. mile

Currency: Shekel

Tallest point: Mount Hermon 9,232 feet tall

Main religion: Judaism 74.2% 

Main languages: Hebrew, Arabic

About: In 1949, Israel became independent from Britain. It was formerly part of the British colony of Trans-Jordan. 

Christ’s Tomb in Jerusalem, Israel.

Italy (Europe)

Italy flag

Capital: Rome

Population: 60.3 Million

Size: 116,350 sq. miles

Currency: Euro

Tallest point: Monte Bianco 15,782 feet tall

Main religion: Christain 83.3% 

Main languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, and German

About: After WW2, Italy was made into a Democracy, before being a member of the Axis. 

Colosseum Rome, Italy.

Jamaica (North America)

Jamaica flag

Capital: Kingston

Population: 2.7 Million

Size: 4,244 sq. miles

Currency: Jamaican Dollar

Tallest point: Blue Mountain Peak 7,402 feet tall 

Main religion: Christain 68.9% 

Main languages: English

About: Britain gave Jamaica independence on August 6, 1962. 

Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Japan (Asia)

Japan flag

Capital: Tokyo 

Population: 125.9 Million

Size: 145,937 sq. miles

Currency: Japanese Yen

Tallest point: Mount Fuji 12,389 feet tall

Main religion: Shintoism 80% 

Main languages: Japanese 

About: After WW2 Japan became a territory of the United States of America. It became free on May 3, 1947.

Kami-Goryo Shrine, Japan.

Jordan (Asia)

Jordan flag

Capital: Amman

Population: 10.6 Million

Size: 34,495 sq. miles

Currency: Jordanian Dinar

Tallest point: Umm ad Dami 6,083 feet tall 

Main religion: Islam 95% 

Main languages: Arabic

About: Jordan gained independence along with Israel when they became independent in 1949. 

Petra, Jordan.

Kazakhstan (Asia)

Kazakhstan flag

Capital: Astana (Also known as Nur-Sultan) 

Population: 18.7 Million

Size: 1,052,100 sq. miles

Currency: Tenge

Tallest point: Khan Tengri 7,439 feet tall 

Main religion: Islam 70.2% 

Main languages: Kazakh, Russian

About: On December 16, 1991 during the Dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991-1993) it became independent. 

Bayterek Tower in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Kenya (Africa)

Kenya flag

Capital: Nairobi 

Population: 47.5 Million 

Size: 224,081 sq. miles

Currency: Kenyan Shilling 

Tallest point: Mount Kenya 17,021 feet tall

Main religion: Christain 85.52% 

Main languages: English, Swahili 

About: On December 12, 1963 Britain let Kenya have independence. 

Giraffe in Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kiribati (Australia and the Pacific)

Kiribati flag

Capital: South Tarawa 

Population: 123,346 

Size: 313 sq. miles

Currency: Australian Dollar

Tallest point: Banaba 285 feet tall 

Main religion: Christain 96.2% 

Main languages: English, Gilbertese

About: Formerly known as the Gilbert Islands Kiribati was first discovered by Europeans when Captain Thomas Gilbert, found it in 1788 and named it the Gilbert Islands. In 1979, Britain granted Kiribati independence. 

Kiribati Parliment House in South Tarawa, Kiribati.

Korea, North (North Korea) (Asia)

North Korea flag

Capital: Pyongyang 

Population: 25.5 Million 

Size: 46,450 sq. miles

Currency: Korean People’s Won 

Tallest point: Paektu Mountain 9,019 feet tall 

Main religion: None 

Main languages: Korean

About: Before WW2 Korea was under Japanese control and after it was divided in South and North Korea the North Communist and the South Democratic. 

Pyongyang, North Korea

Korea, South (South Korea) (Asia)

South Korea flag

Capital: Seoul 

Population: 51.7 Million 

Size: 38,750 sq. miles

Currency: Korean Republic Won 

Tallest point: Jeju 6,400 feet tall 

Main religion: Christain 26.1% 

Main languages: Korean 

About: South Korea became independent after WW2 just like North Korea. In 1950, North and South Korea waged war until 1953. They finally signed the peace treaty in 2018. 

Cheongdeokgung Palace, South Korea.

Kuwait (Asia)

Kuwait flag

Capital: Kuwait City 

Population: 4.4 Million 

Size: 6,880 sq. miles

Currency: Kuwaiti Dinar

Tallest point: Mutla Ridge 1,004 feet tall 

Main religion: Islam 74.3% 

Main languages: Arabic

About: On June 20, 1961 Kuwait became independent from the British Empire. 

Kuwait Towers, Kuwait.

Kyrgyzstan (Asia)

Kyrgyzstan flag

Capital: Bishkek 

Population: 6.5 Million

Size: 77,202 sq. miles

Currency: Som 

Tallest point: Khan Tengri 23,000 feet tall 

Main religion: Islam 90% 

Main languages: Kyrgyz, Russian

About: On December 25, 1991 During the fall of the Soviet Union Kyrgyzstan gained independence from the Soviet Union.

Burana Tower, Kyrgyzstan.

History of the American Civil War Part 1: Pre-War and 1861

By Zeke and Houston

Important Battles

Confederate Battle Flag.

On December 24, 1860 South Carolina Seceded From the Union. South Carolina, was followed by Mississippi, then Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Upon seceding the Confederates made treaties and alliances with the 5 civilized Indian tribes, the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole.

The first battle in the Civil War was The Battle of Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Confederate Troops fired on the Union troops garrisoned at the fort when American President Abraham Lincoln ordered for more troops and supplies to be shipped to the now Confederate fort. This is the event that began the American Civil War. Earlier that year in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States, and in 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected President of the Confederate States of America (CSA).

Political Situation

The political situation during the Civil War is a complicated and controversial topic, but I will try to explain the politics and reasons for secession in 1861 the best that I can.  

In 1861 there were 17 slave states, the 11 states that seceded, also Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware (18 if you include West Virginia). States that were slave states but didn’t secede are called border states. Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, even though they didn’t secede, didn’t raise armies to fight against their southern brethren. 

Southern states were angry because they felt like they didn’t have equal representation in the government. In 1787, there was a compromise reached for how to count slaves as part of a state’s population. Contrary to the narrative today, southerners wanted slaves to be counted as a whole person for more seats in the House of Representatives, while northerners wanted them to not be counted at all. They came to the compromise that slaves would be counted as three-fifths of a person.

Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson, who proposed the Three-Fifths Compromise.

In 1861 southern states had every right to secede and it’s even in the Constitution.

Battle of Fort Sumter

The Battle of Fort Sumter took place from April 12-13 1861. Confederate troops fired on Union stationed in the fort in Charleston Harbour, South Carolina. Union troops had already peacefully surrendered all Federal property except Fort Sumter, which refused to surrender, so they fired on the fort. They surrendered the next day on April 13, thus starting the Civil War. 

First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run)

The first Battle of Manassas took place on July 21, 1861, near the town of Manassas, Virginia, 3 months after the Fort Sumter. It was the first major battle in the Civil War. Union casualties weighed in at 2,708, while Confederates only had 1,982, an embarrassing defeat for the Union. The hero of the battle, Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Got his nickname here because he rallied his troops by standing in the middle of the fighting. Another Confederate General Barnard Bee of South Carolina remarked,“There stands Jackson like a stonewall! Rally behind the Virginians!”

Fighting at Manassas.

Sadly Bee was killed later in the battle. The Confederates were able to repulse the Union invasion into Virginia during this one of the first battles of the Civil War.    

Civilians from Washington had picnicked on a hill to watch the Battle, hoping The Union would make a quick end to the battle and the war, but to their amazement, The Federals retreated, and the civilians had to run. The First Battle of Manassas showed that the Confederates were not as weak as everyone had thought.

Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Oak Hills)

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek was fought on August 10, 1861 in Greene County, Missouri. It was fought between Confederate General Sterling Price and Union General Nathaniel Lyon. It was part of the Western Theater of the War. It was one of the most important battles in Missouri and it resulted in yet another Confederate Victory. It was not as bloody as Manassas, but close. In total there were 1,317 casualties for the Union, and 1,232 for the CSA.

Flag flown by Missouri Confederates.

Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general to be killed in the war, died at Wilson’s Creek. When the Union started retreating, Confederates were too disorganized to pursue them. Even though the Union controlled most of Missouri for the rest of the war, the Confederates were able to secure Southwestern Missouri due to this Victory. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek was the first major battle in the Western theater of the Civil War.

Battle of Ball’s Bluff (Leesburg)

The Battle of Ball’s Bluff took place on October 21, 1861 near Leesburg, Virginia. It was one of the worst defeats for the Union in the whole war. The Confederates only had 155 casualties, while the Union had a crushing 1,002. It was also the first battle that Union General George B. McClellen served as commanding General of the Army of the Potomac. It was so bad that the Union was pushed all the way back to Washington D.C.  

Map of Northern Virginia in 1861.

Also, Union Colonel Edward D. Baker was killed at the battle, and 2nd Lieutenant John William Grout. Even though McCllean failed to be successful as commanding General, he would be in command until 1862. You can probably already see that the CSA was very successful, winning almost every important battle in 1861.