In 1861, the United States of America was divided into two groups of states. This was because of some strong disagreements between these two groups. One of these groups comprised of the northern states of USA and was called the Union.
The other group, which broke away from the Union, comprised of the southern states and was called the Confederacy. Their disagreements soon resulted in a war which was called the American Civil War. This war lasted from 1861 until 1865.
The Union refers to the American states which remained loyal to the US Constitution and continued to be a part of USA. These states supported the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. In all, the Union included 23 free states (where slavery was illegal) and 5 border states (which were located on the border between the North and the South).
The 11 free states in the Union included New York, Maine, California, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin. The border states in the Union included Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware.
The Confederacy comprised of 11 slave states. These states supported slavery and did not want the federal government to have a lot of power, which is why they separated from USA when Abraham Lincoln was elected as President.
The Confederate states included South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. These were collectively called the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy had a government of its own with President Jefferson Davis as its head.
One of the strong points of the Union was that it was far more industrialized than the South. So when the Union armies needed weapons and other equipment, the industries in the North could easily produce and supply them. The Union states also had far more population than the Confederate states.
This meant that it was easier for the Union to enlist and ready large armies for battle. The weakness of the Union was that it had launched an aggressive war against the South, so the northern armies were not familiar with the terrain and the land when fighting in the South. The Union also didn’t have as many high-ranking officials as the Confederacy.
The Confederacy had few strong points and many weaknesses. For a start, the Confederate states had a population of only 9 million compared to the 23 million people in the Union states. This made it harder for the Confederacy to field large enough armies and fight the Union. In fact, the numerical advantage of the Union armies proved the decisive factor in the war.
The Confederate states also had nearly no armories or industries at the start of the war, putting them at a severe disadvantage. One key advantage of the Confederacy, however, was that it was fighting a defencive war. So the Confederate soldiers were fighting on their own land and knew the terrain very well which made it possible to use the terrain to their full advantage during the battles.