The Civil War Expert Quiz


By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: lillisphotography/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

It's the war that divided a nation: tearing apart states, communities and even families. It eventually led to the deaths of over half a million Americans: 620,000 people.

When the Civil War started in 1861, not a soul across the United States expected it to last as long or be as bloody as it was. As soldiers geared-up and headed off to battle, ideologies surged through them as one side sought to protect their way of life, and the other side aimed to preserve the Union. The gleam of fighting a righteous war quickly wore-off.  After all, the United States, a relatively new country, had never seen kind of fighting that distinguished the Civil War as our most deadly war. Powerful weapons caused devastation in increasingly high numbers.

Once those four bloody years ended, the country was forever changed, and many of the lasting effects of the Civil War can still be felt nearly two centuries later. For example, the war helped build strong regional ties, defined future race relations and proved the country was stronger united than divided, which would be important in the first half of the 20th century with two World Wars coming.

If you think you are a Civil War expert, take this quiz, and prove it to yourself and your country! 

Which of the following was not a catalyst of the Civil War?

Historians agree that the outbreak of the American Civil War was catalyzed by a combination of disagreements about states' rights, slavery and westward expansion, although not everyone agrees on which of these factors was most important.


Which of the following made Atlanta an important city for the Union to capture?

Although Montgomery was the capital of the Confederacy, Atlanta was the center of supplies and industry. By capturing Atlanta (and the railroad/transportation hub,) many of the supplies needed by the Confederacy Army were effectively cut-off from reaching their destination.


Which was not one of the first seven states to secede from the Union?

Virginia did not secede from the Union until after the war began. Virginia was joined by Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas.


Which of the following countries did the Confederacy hope would join their cause?

Because of Europe's reliance on cotton for textiles, the Confederacy hoped Britain and France would join their fight against the Union. Of course, this alliance never happened.


How many words are in the Gettysburg Address?

Edward Everett spoke before Lincoln, and his speech lasted over two hours. This made Lincoln's speech seem even shorter in comparison.


How did most people die during the war?

Leading up to the Civil War, military technology had advanced significantly, but medical advancements were lacking, which caused many soldiers to die of disease. The poor sanitary conditions that the troops faced in the field and in hospitals contributed to the rapid-fire spread of viral and bacterial infections.


How did Admiral David Porter help secure the victory at Vicksburg?

By sailing a fleet past Vicksburg, Porter provided Gen. Grant with the ships necessary for his army to cross the Mississippi River and set up camp in a strategic position against the city.


Nurse Clara Barton, who helped in many battles during the war, is known for what?

After a struggle to get funding for the cause, the first official meeting for the American Red Cross branch was held on May 21,1881, and Barton was the president of the organization.


What did the Battle of Ironclads do to the world?

The Battle of Ironclads was the first battle in history between two ironclad warships (rather than wooden ones.) The battle, which ended in a draw, made it clear that wooden-hulled ships would no longer be strong enough to fight against the newest generation of war ships.


What battle was the bloodiest single day of the war?

Although the battle was considered a Union victory, Confederate troops were able to retreat across the Potomac, and the Union failed to land a fatal blow against the Confederate Army. Nearly 23,000 troops on both sides were either killed, injured or missing after the battle.


What was the name of the most significant army in the Eastern Theater for the Union?

The Army of the Potomac was used in major battles from the Battle of Chancellorsville to the Battle of Gettysburg.


What helped the Confederacy win the Second Battle of Bull Run?

Although the Confederacy had only about half the troops of the Union, Robert E. Lee was able to out-maneuver the Union forces because of the negligence of John Pope, who didn't wait to amass more troops before attacking.


How many soldiers died on each side during the battle of Fort Sumter?

Their were no deaths on either side during the battle for Fort Sumter. However, two Union soldiers were killed when artillery exploded during a military salute before they evacuated.


Who led the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment?

Colonel Robert Shaw was given command of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which was one of the first all-black regiments. The regiment inspired more African Americans to join the war.


Who is widely credited for the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Bull Run?

"Stonewall" Jackson came in at an important moment to save a key position at Henry House Hill. His troops reinforced the Confederate lines, despite coming under very heavy fire.


Which Confederate state's governor refused an oath to the Confederacy?

After Sam Houston (like the city) refused to support the Confederacy, he was removed from his office as the Governor of Texas.


Which two forts protected New Orleans?

With the capture of New Orleans, the Union took away the commercial hub of the South, severely cutting off their trading ability.


What did the South need to do to secure aid from France and Britain?

European nations waited on the South to secure one major victory on the battlefield, but they could not accomplish it. Most Southern victories were small ones or simply moral victories, which weren't enough to gain foreign support.


Who ran against Lincoln in the 1864 election?

George McClellan was a viable candidate to run against Lincoln, arguing that he could end the war quickly. However, shortly before the election, Sherman captured Atlanta, which proved that Lincoln was capable of ending the war soon. Lincoln removed McClellan from command of the Union Army in 1862.


Before (and in conjunction with) the Emancipation Proclamation, what did Lincoln want to do with freed African Americans?

For Lincoln, the Civil War served as an example that blacks and whites could not live together, so he formulated a plan to colonize another country where blacks could live. In 1862, he even secured Congressional funding for this plan.


What happened to General Robert E. Lee's family estate during the war?

When Robert E. Lee failed to pay his taxes during the war, his property in Virginia was confiscated and turned into a cemetery by the Union. Not just any cemetery, mind you, but one that now holds more than 400,000 burial sites.


Which of the following men were executed for war crimes?

Henry Wirz, who was in charge of Andersonville, a military prison, lacked the supplies necessary to take care of the amount of Union soldiers imprisoned there. However, after the war, Wirz was executed for war crimes. Only one other person was charged with war crimes after the war.


What day did Vicksburg surrender?

The people of Vicksburg did not celebrate the Fourth of July again until 1907. This event was considered one of the turning points in the Civil War.


Why was Abraham Lincoln upset with Maj. Gen. George Meade after the Battle of Gettysburg?

After Maj. Gen. George Meade failed to track down Lee's retreating army, Lincoln turned to Ulysses S. Grant for leadership.


Why was Fort Wagner difficult to capture?

Since the fort was located on a narrow island, Union troops could only attack from the south side along the beach. The other sides were surrounded by marshes and the sea.


Which General is credited with the Anaconda Plan?

The Anaconda Plan called for the Union Navy to cut off all ports leading into Confederate states. Without access to the sea, the Confederacy could not export cotton to foreign nations, and the plan made it difficult for the Confederate armies to move military supplies around.


Which two ironclad warships fought in the Battle of Ironclads?

The CSS Virginia was built from the remnants of the USS Merrimack. Without the technology to build more ironclad warships, the Confederacy was unable to end the blockade against them. Instead, the Battle of Ironclads ended in a draw.


Near what city did the Battle of Shiloh take place?

The Battle of Shiloh, which was one of the largest early battles, demonstrated that the war was not going to end after one battle. Instead, the war would be long and grueling for both sides.


In which battle did Pickett's Charge occur?

The failure of the charge ended the Battle of Gettysburg, with General Lee regretting his decision to order the charge. With this failure and the capture of Vicksburg, the war turned in the Union's favor.


Which city did Robert E. Lee abandon because of a siege by Ulysses S. Grant?

After Grant cut off the supply lines into Petersburg, Lee was forced to evacuate his army. Lee hoped to acquire provisions during his retreat, but Grant intercepted them, forcing Lee to surrender.


How did John Wilkes Booth die?

Booth made his way south after assassinating Lincoln and ended up at Garrett's farm in Virginia. There he was surrounded in a barn and shot. He was dragged out of the barn and died shortly after.


Which city gave the Union control of the entire Mississippi River?

Vicksburg was the last major city on the Mississippi River that the Union had to capture to gain control of the river. Major General Ulysses S. Grant laid siege to the city which lasted for more than forty days.


In what battle was Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson mortally wounded?

Jackson's death, which was caused by friendly fire, was a major blow to the Confederacy. He died of pneumonia eight days after losing his left arm to an accidental gunshot wound.


What caused Kentucky to end its neutrality?

After the Union Army drove out the Confederate Army, the Confederacy tried to overthrow the government of Kentucky and place their own governor in power. Needless to say, the new government didn't last.


Which battle included the largest number of soldiers?

Although Gettysburg was the deadliest battle of the war, Fredericksburg saw the most soldiers pitted against one another. General Ambrose Burnside led the Army of the Potomac during the battle. Nearly 200,000 soldiers on both sides engaged in the battle.


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