The difference which eventually led to the declaration of war 150 years ago next year, actually began with the colonization of America. Early on it was apparent that not only were there environmental differences between the colonies in New England and those in the South, but there were also cultural, religious and economic differences. The diversity played heavily upon the eventual turmoil that led to the Civil War ... not just the issue of slavehood.
In 2011 our nation will begin a five year celebration known as the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. From the firing upon Fort Sumter in April of 1861 to the surrender at Appomattox in April of 1865, there will be reenactments, celebrations, books written, documentaries and movies appearing on our TV sets and special tours to battlefields. The war that tore families apart, pitted brother against brother and within five years, caused the nation to come together as one, will become part of our daily lives. It will be a time to celebrate and explore our personal Civil War heritage.
While I am constantly working on military records for various family members, I decided to do some exploring on Internet of Civil War web pages. Most of my favorites are still there, but thousands more have been added, as if overnight.
If you want to get a head start on the Sesquicentennial, I recommend these web pages:
Civil War Sesquicentennial http://www.aaslh.org/civil_war.htm
Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial http://civilwarnavy150.blogspot.com
Civil War Preservation Trust: Civil War Sesquicentennial Home http://www.civilwar.org/150th-anniversary/
There are subscription web sites that contain historical and genealogical information about the Civil War, such as Footnote.com and Ancestry.com. However, one of the all time favorite free web pages for genealogists is the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System at http://www.civilwar.nps.gov/cwss/ .
One of my favorites which provides hundreds of links to Civil War web pages, everything from books to regimental histories to music of the Civil War is The American Civil War HomePage at http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/. There are many more such as The American Civil War Home Page, http://www.civilwarhome.com; the Civil War Home Page Civil War Battles; American Civil War - History.com at http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war.
If you had an ancestor in prison during the Civil War, check out Civil War Confederate and Union Prisoners of War http://www.pacivilwar.com/pow. Civil War Prison Camps at http://www.censusdiggins.com/civil_war_prisons.html and Andersonville Civil War Prison at Andersonville Civil War Prison also provide excellent information.
Reading blogs can be entertaining and informative. There are some great Civil War blogs with almost daily additions of information. Here are just a few:
Civil War Days & Those Surnames http://civilwarthosesurnames.blogspot.com
Civil War Women Blog http://www.civilwarwomenblog.com
Crossed Sabers http://crossedsabers.blogspot.com
This Mighty Scourge http://thismightyscourge.com
Cenantua's Blog http://cenantua.wordpress.com
As a genealogist, I enjoy locating places that ancestors lived on maps and Google Earth. There are excellent maps online that pertain to Civil War battles and in particular maps of the time period. These are just a few:
Civil War Maps (Library of Congress)
Civil War Image Map (intearctive)
Hargrett Library Rare Map Collection - American Civil War
Rare Map Collection - American Civil War
In preparation for the Sesquicentennial, genealogists can begin reading, studying and researching their ancestors who served and their ancestors who lived during the war. How did it change their lives? Can you walk a day or two in their shoes and hear the sound of the battle cry, the roar of the cannon and the beating of their hearts as death came so near?