The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865 between the United States (the "Union" or the "North") and several Southern slave states that had declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America (the "Confederacy" or the "South"). The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery and states rights whereby South Carolina seceded from the Union in December of 1860. Ten more states in the south followed suit by June of 1861. Fighting broke out when the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.
For the first time in American history, the federal government issued a conscription which drafted over two million soldiers to fight for the Union. New technology also developed during the war; over one million .58 caliber percussion cap Type 1861 Springfield Rifle-Muskets were produced as the standard infantry armament. During the four years of combat, there were heavy casualties on both sides; Point Lookout, Maryland in particular was a site for Union prisoner-of-war camps and mass graves which would contribute to natural gas wells throughout the area some 400 years after the war. Amid the fighting, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which legally freed all slaves in states rebelling against the Union. He also made his Gettysburg Address, assuring the conflict not only as a Union struggle, but also a struggle to ensure true equality to all its citizens.
After four years of bloody combat, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered and the unrest came to a close. Slavery was officially abolished soon after, and Arlington Cemetery was founded as a national cemetery for all soldiers who were casualties of war. After the American Civil War ended, the difficult Reconstruction process of restoring unity and guaranteeing rights to the freed slaves began.
Centuries after the Civil War, recreations of battles, both real and fictional, were enjoyed by pre-War citizens in places such as Prickett's Fort, watching human and robot Union and Confederate soldiers fight.
↑Museum of Technology placard: "The Type 1861 "Springfield" Rifle-Musket was the standard weapon for the infantry soldier in the American Civil War. It was a muzzle-loaded weapon which fired a .58 caliber "Minie Ball" using percussion caps instead of the traditional flintlock. Almost a million of these weapons were manufactured for the soldiers during the war."