Confederate States of America
US flag 33 stars
1861–1865 US flag 35 stars
Confederate National Flag since Mar 4 1865 ConfederateStatesofAmericaSeal
Flag (1865) Confederate Seal
Deo Vindice  (Latin)
"With God our Vindicator"
(none official)
"God Save the South" (unofficial)
"The Bonnie Blue Flag" (popular)
"Dixie" (traditional)
Capital Montgomery, Alabama
(until May 29, 1861)
Richmond, Virginia
(May 29, 1861–April 2, 1865)
Danville, Virginia
(from April 3, 1865)
Language(s) English (de facto)
Government Confederation
PresidentJefferson Davis
Vice PresidentAlexander Stephens
Legislature Congress of the Confederate States
Historical era American Civil War
 - Confederacy formed February 8, 1861
 - Start of Civil War April 12, 1861
 - Military collapse[1] April 11, 1865
 - 18601 1,995,392 km² (770,425 sq mi)
 - 18601 est. 9,103,332 
     Density 4.6 /km²  (11.8 /sq mi)
 - slaves2 est. 3,521,110 
Currency CSA dollar
State Currencies
1 Area and population values do not include Missouri and Kentucky nor the Territory of Arizona. Water area: 5.7%.
2 Slaves included in above population count 1860 Census

The Confederate States of America (also called the Confederacy, the Confederate States, and the CSA) formed as the government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern states of the United States of America that had declared their secession. The CSA's de facto control over its claimed territory varied during the course of the American Civil War, depending on the success of its military in battle.

Asserting that states had a right to secede, seven states declared their independence from the United States before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President on March 4, 1861; four more did so after the Civil War began at the Battle of Fort Sumter (April 1861). The United States of America (The Union) held secession illegal and refused recognition of the Confederacy. Although British and French commercial interests sold the Confederacy warships and materials, no European nation officially recognized the CSA as an independent country.[2][3]

The CSA effectively collapsed when Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston surrendered their armies in April 1865. The last meeting of its Cabinet took place in Georgia in May. Union troops captured the Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Irwinville, Georgia on May 10, 1865. Nearly all remaining Confederate forces surrendered by the end of June. A decade-long process known as Reconstruction expelled ex-Confederate leaders from office, gave civil rights and the right to vote to the freedmen, and re-admitted the states to representation in Congress.


Seceding statesEdit

Confederate States
in the
American Civil War

South Carolina
North Carolina

Dual governments</tr>


Border states</tr>

West Virginia

Claimed territories</tr>

Indian Territory
New Mexico Territory

Seven states declared their secession before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861:

  1. South Carolina (December 20, 1860)[4]
  2. Mississippi (January 9, 1861)[5]
  3. Florida (January 10, 1861)[6]
  4. Alabama (January 11, 1861)[7]
  5. Georgia (January 19, 1861)[8]
  6. Louisiana (January 26, 1861)[9]
  7. Texas (February 1, 1861)[10]

After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and Lincoln's subsequent call for troops on April 15, four more states declared their secession:[11]

  1. Virginia (April 17, 1861; ratified by voters May 23, 1861)[12]
  2. Arkansas (May 6, 1861)[13]
  3. Tennessee (May 7, 1861; ratified by voters June 8, 1861)[14][15]
  4. North Carolina (May 20, 1861)[16]

The border states of Kentucky and Missouri declared neutrality very early in the war. In Kentucky, the state gradually came to side with the north; however a second, pro-Confederate, government emerged in some southern counties (much like the situation in the counties that would become West Virginia) although its control in those regions did not last very long. A more complex situation surrounds the Missouri Secession. In Missouri the majority of the legislature and the governor passed an ordinance of secession.[17] However, this occurred after a standing constitutional convention declared the legislature and governor void after Federal troops marched on and took over the capital. Missouri, since the Union already controlled most of it, was exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation that outlawed slavery elsewhere. However, the standing State constitutional convention repealed slavery in Missouri before Federal constitutional amendments passed. The Confederacy recognized the pro-Confederate claimants in both Kentucky and Missouri and laid claim to those states based on their authority, with representatives from both states seated in the Confederate Congress. Later versions of Confederate flags had thirteen stars, reflecting the Confederacy's claims to Kentucky and Missouri.

In 1861 the authorities declared martial law in Maryland (the state which borders the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C., on three sides) in order to block attempts at secession. Delaware, also a slave state, never considered secession, nor did Washington, D.C. Although the slave states of Maryland and Delaware did not secede, citizens from those states did exhibit divided loyalties. Only Delaware among the slave states did not produce a full regiment to fight for the Confederacy. Delaware achieved the distinction of providing more soldiers by percentage than any other state, and overwhelmingly they fought for the Union.

In 1861, a Unionist legislature in Wheeling, Virginia seceded from Virginia, eventually claiming 50 counties for a new state. However, 24 of those counties had voted in favor of Virginia's secession, and control of these counties, as well as some counties that had voted against secession, remained contested until the end of the war.[18] West Virginia joined the United States in 1863 with a constitution that gradually abolished slavery.

Confederate declarations of martial law checked attempts to secede from the Confederate States of America by some counties in East Tennessee.[19][20]


Seceding territoriesEdit

Main article: New Mexico Territory in the American Civil War

Citizens at Mesilla and Tucson in the southern part of New Mexico Territory (modern day New Mexico and Arizona) formed a secession convention, which voted to join the Confederacy on March 16, 1861 and appointed Lewis Owings as the new territorial governor. In July, the Mesilla government appealed to Confederate troops in El Paso, Texas, under Lieutenant Colonel John Baylor for help in removing the Union Army under Major Isaac Lynde that had taken up position nearby. The Confederates defeated Lynde's forces at the Battle of Mesilla on July 27, 1861. After the battle, Baylor established a territorial government for the Confederate Arizona Territory and named himself governor. The Confederacy proclaimed the portion of the New Mexico Territory south of the 34th parallel as the Confederate Arizona Territory, on February 14, 1862,[21] with Mesilla serving as the territorial capital.[22] In 1862 the Confederate General Henry Hopkins Sibley led a New Mexico Campaign to take the northern half of New Mexico. Although Confederates briefly occupied the territorial capital of Santa Fe, suffered defeat at Glorietta Pass in March and retreated, never to return. The Union regained military control of the area, and on February 24, 1863 set up the Arizona Territory with Fort Whipple as the capital.

Confederate supporters also claimed portions of modern-day Oklahoma as Confederate territory after the Union abandoned and evacuated the federal forts and installations in the territory. The five tribal governments of the Indian Territory — which became Oklahoma in 1907 — mainly supported the Confederacy, providing troops and one general officer. On July 12, 1861 the newly formed Confederate States government signed a treaty with both the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian nations in the Indian Territory.[23][24] After 1863 the tribal governments sent representatives to the Confederate Congress: Elias Cornelius Boudinot representing the Cherokee and Samuel Benton Callahan representing the Seminole and Creek people. The Cherokee, in their declaration of causes, gave as reasons for aligning with the Confederacy the similar institutions and interests of the Cherokee nation and the Southern states, alleged violations of the Constitution by the North, claimed that the North waged war against Southern commercial and political freedom and for the abolition of slavery in general and in the Indian Territory in particular, and that the North intended to seize Indian lands as had happened in the past.[25]

Causes of secessionEdit

Main article: Origins of the American Civil War

By 1860 sectional disagreements between North and South revolved primarily around the maintenance or expansion of slavery. Historian Drew Gilpin Faust observed that "leaders of the secession movement across the South cited slavery as the most compelling reason for southern independence."[26] Related and intertwined secondary issues also fueled the dispute; these secondary differences (real or perceived) included tariffs, agrarianism vs. industrialization, and states' rights. The immediate spark for secession came from the victory of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 elections. Civil War historian James M. McPherson wrote:

To southerners the election’s most ominous feature was the magnitude of Republican victory north of the 41st parallel. Lincoln won more than 60 percent of the vote in that region, losing scarcely two dozen counties. Three-quarters of the Republican congressmen and senators in the next Congress would represent this “Yankee” and antislavery portion of the free states. The New Orleans Crescent saw these facts as “full of portentous significance”. “The idle canvas prattle about Northern conservatism may now be dismissed,” agreed the Richmond Examiner. “A party founded on the single sentiment... of hatred of African slavery, is now the controlling power.” No one could any longer “be deluded... that the Black Republican party is a moderate” party, pronounced the New Orleans Delta. “It is in fact, essentially, a revolutionary party.”[27]

Four of the seceding states, the Deep South states of South Carolina,[28] Mississippi,[29] Georgia,[30] and Texas,[31] issued formal declarations of causes, each of which identified the threat to slaveholders’ rights as the cause of, or a major cause of, secession. Georgia also claimed a general Federal policy of favoring Northern over Southern economic interests. In what later became known as the Cornerstone Speech, C.S. Vice President Alexander Stephens declared that the "cornerstone" of the new government "rest[ed] upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth".[32]

Historian William J. Cooper Jr., in his biography of the Confederate president Jefferson Davis, wrote, “From at least the time of the American Revolution white southerners defined their liberty, in part, as the right to own slaves and to decide the fate of the institution without any outside interference.”[33] Speaking specifically of Davis, Cooper wrote:

For his entire life he believed in the superiority of the white race. He also owned slaves, defended slavery as moral and as a social good, and fought a great war to maintain it. After 1865 he opposed new rights for blacks. He rejoiced at the collapse of Reconstruction and the reassertion of white superiority with its accompanying black subordination.[34]

In his farewell speech to the United States Congress, Davis made clear his view that the secession crisis had stemmed from the Republican Party's failure "to recognize our domestic institutions [an acknowledged euphemism for slavery] which pre-existed the formation of the Union - our property which was guarded by the Constitution."[35]

Religion, slavery and secessionEdit

As the nation divided over slavery, religion exacerbated the sectional differences. Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians in the first half of the nineteenth century expressed reservations about slavery,[36] but by 1850 John C. Calhoun would note that “already three great evangelical churches had been torn asunder” over slavery.[37] By the 1850s, as sectional tensions over slavery grew, more and more ministers in the South “who openly resisted southern evangelicals’ accommodation with slavery found themselves silenced or driven out of the South”.[38]

Rise and fall of the ConfederacyEdit

The American Civil War broke out in April 1861 with the Battle of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. Federal troops of the U.S. had retreated to Fort Sumter soon after South Carolina declared its secession on 20 December 1860. U.S. President Buchanan had attempted to re-supply Sumter by sending the Star of the West, but Confederate forces fired upon the ship, driving it away. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln also attempted to resupply Sumter. Lincoln notified South Carolina Governor Francis W. Pickens that "an attempt will be made to supply Fort Sumter with provisions only, and that if such attempt be not resisted, no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition will be made without further notice, [except] in case of an attack on the fort." However, suspecting just such an attempt to reinforce the fort, the Confederate cabinet decided at a meeting in Montgomery to capture Fort Sumter before the relief fleet arrived.

On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops, following orders from Davis and his Secretary of War, fired upon the federal troops occupying Fort Sumter, forcing their surrender. After the war, Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens maintained that Lincoln's attempt to reinforce Sumter had provoked the war.[39]

Following the Battle of Fort Sumter, Lincoln called for the remaining states in the Union to send troops to recapture Sumter and other forts and customs-houses[40] in the South that Confederate forces had claimed, sometimes by force. Lincoln issued this call before Congress could convene on the matter, and the original request from the War Department called for volunteers for only three months of duty.[40] Lincoln's call for troops resulted in four more states voting to secede rather than provide troops for the Union. Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina joined the Confederacy, bringing the total to eleven states. Once Virginia had joined, the Confederate States moved their capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia. All but two major battles (Antietam and Gettysburg) took place in Confederate territory.

By 1862 the Union had taken control of New Orleans, and had also gained control of the contested northernmost slave states (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia). Confederate incursions into Union territory, into Maryland in 1862 and into Pennsylvania in 1863, were both turned back. By 1863 the Union held control of most of Tennessee; with the fall of Vicksburg, Missisippi on July 4 of that year, the Union gained complete control over the Mississippi River, cutting off the westernmost portions of the Confederacy (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas). In 1864 the Union took Mobile, Alabama, the last major port on the Gulf Coast, and by the end of the year Atlanta had fallen to Union troops, paving the way for the March to the Sea by William Tecumseh Sherman's forces, which reached Savannah by the end of the year, devastating the Confederate heartland and cutting the eastern Confederacy in half. The Union took the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, in April, 1865. Historians generally regard the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia by General Lee at the village of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 as the end of the Confederate States.[41] Unionists captured President Davis at Irwinville, Georgia, on May 10[42], and the remaining Confederate armies had surrendered by June 1865. The crew of the CSS Shenandoah hauled down the last Confederate flag at Liverpool in the UK on November 6, 1865.[43]

Government and politicsEdit


Wikisource has original text related to this article:

The Southern leaders met in Montgomery, Alabama, to write their constitution. The Confederate States Constitution reveals much about the motivations for secession from the Union. While much of it replicated the United States Constitution verbatim, it contained several explicit protections of the institution of slavery, though it maintained the existing ban on international slave-trading. In certain areas, the Confederate Constitution gave greater powers to the states (or curtailed the powers of the central government more) than the U.S. Constitution of the time did, but in other areas, the states actually lost rights they had under the U.S. Constitution. Although the Confederate Constitution, like the U.S. Constitution, contained a commerce clause, the Confederate version prohibited the central government from using revenues collected in one state for funding internal improvements in another state. The Confederate Constitution's equivalent to the U.S. Constitution's general welfare clause prohibited protective tariffs (but allowed tariffs for providing domestic revenue), and spoke of "carry[ing] on the Government of the Confederate States" rather than providing for the "general welfare". State legislatures had the power to impeach officials of the Confederate government in some cases. On the other hand, the Confederate Constitution contained a Necessary and Proper Clause and a Supremacy Clause that essentially duplicated the respective clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

The Confederate Constitution did not specifically include a provision allowing states to secede; the Preamble spoke of each state "acting in its sovereign and independent character" but also of the formation of a "permanent federal government". During the debates on drafting the Confederate Constitution, one proposal would have allowed states to secede from the Confederacy. The proposal was tabled with only the South Carolina delegates voting in favor of considering the motion.[44] The Confederate Constitution also explicitly denied States the power to bar slaveholders from other parts of the Confederacy from bringing their slaves into any state of the Confederacy or to interfere with the property rights of slave owners traveling between different parts of the Confederacy. In contrast with the secular 18th-century Enlightenment language of the United States Constitution, the Confederate Constitution overtly asked God's blessing ("invoking the favor of Almighty God").

The Constitution provided for a President of the Confederate States of America, elected to serve a six-year term but without the possibility of re-election. (The only president was Jefferson Davis as the Confederacy was defeated by the Union before he completed his term.) One unique power granted to the Confederate president was his ability to subject a bill to a line item veto, a power held by some state governors. The Confederate Congress could overturn either the general or the line item vetoes with the same two-thirds majorities that are required in the U.S. Congress. In addition, appropriations not specifically requested by the executive branch required passage by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress.



The original Confederate Cabinet. L-R: Judah P. Benjamin, Stephen Mallory, Christopher Memminger, Alexander Stephens, LeRoy Pope Walker, Jefferson Davis, John H. Reagan and Robert Toombs.

PresidentJefferson Davis1861-1865
Vice PresidentAlexander Stephens1861-1865
Secretary of StateRobert Toombs1861
 Robert M.T. Hunter1861-1862
 Judah P. Benjamin1862-1865
Secretary of the TreasuryChristopher Memminger1861-1864
 George Trenholm1864-1865
 John H. Reagan1865
Secretary of WarLeroy Pope Walker1861
 Judah P. Benjamin1861-1862
 George W. Randolph1862
 James Seddon1862-1865
 John C. Breckinridge1865
Secretary of the NavyStephen Mallory1861-1865
Postmaster GeneralJohn H. Reagan1861-1865
Attorney GeneralJudah P. Benjamin1861
 Thomas Bragg1861-1862
 Thomas H. Watts1862-1863
 George Davis1864-1865


Main article: Confederate Congress

As its legislative branch, the Confederate States of America instituted the Confederate Congress. Like the United States Congress, the Confederate Congress consisted of two houses:

  1. the Confederate Senate, whose membership included two senators from each state (and chosen by the state legislature)
  2. the Confederate House of Representatives, with members popularly elected by properly enfranchised residents of the individual states

Provisional Congress
For the first year, the unicameral Provisional Confederate Congress functioned as the Confederacy's legislative branch.

President of the Provisional Congress

Presidents pro tempore of the Provisional Congress

Sessions of the Confederate Congress

Tribal Representatives to Confederate Congress


The Confederate Constitution outlined a judicial branch of the government, but the ongoing war prevented the creation or seating of the "Supreme Court of the Confederate States"; the state and local courts generally continued to operate as they had done, simply recognizing the CSA as the national government.[45] Confederate district courts were, however, established and judges appointed by President Davis within the individual states of the Confederate States of America. Where Federal troops gained control over parts of the Confederacy and civilian government was re-established, U.S. district courts resumed jurisdiction.[46]

Supreme Court - not established.

District Courts - judges

Civil libertiesEdit

The Confederacy actively used the military to arrest people suspected of loyalty to the United States. Historian Mark Neely found 2,700 names of men arrested and estimated a much larger total. The CSA arrested suspects at about the same rate as the Union arrested Confederate loyalists. Neely concludes:

The Confederate citizen was not any freer than the Union citizen — and perhaps no less likely to be arrested by military authorities. In fact, the Confederate citizen may have been in some ways less free than his Northern counterpart. For example, freedom to travel within the Confederate states was severely limited by a domestic passport system.[47]


File:Virginia Capitol 1865.jpg

Montgomery, Alabama served as the capital of the Confederate States of America from February 4 until May 29, 1861. The naming of Richmond, Virginia as the new capital took place on May 30, 1861. Shortly before the end of the war, the Confederate government evacuated Richmond, planning to relocate farther south. Little came of these plans before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Danville, Virginia, served as the last capital of the Confederate States of America, from April 3 to April 10, 1865.

Financial instrumentsEdit

Both the individual Confederate states and (later) the Confederate government printed Confederate States of America dollars as paper currency, much of it signed by the Treasurer Edward C. Elmore. During the course of the war these severely depreciated in value, eventually becoming worthless. Many bills still exist, although in recent years copies have proliferated.

The Treasury also issued paper bonds in large numbers, and the Post Office produced a considerable number of postage stamps; both stamps and bonds (and especially bond coupons) remain readily available. The philatelic market regards as far more valuable the stamps placed on envelopes that were actually used during the war.

At the time of their secession the states (and later the Confederate government) took over the national mints in their territories: the Charlotte Mint in North Carolina, the Dahlonega Mint in Georgia, and the New Orleans Mint in Louisiana. During 1861 the first two produced small amounts of gold coinage, the latter half dollars. Based on current dies on hand, these issues remain indistinguishable from those minted by the Union.

Also in 1861 plans originated to produce Confederate coins. The New Orleans Mint produced dies and four specimen half dollars, but a lack of bullion prevented any further minting. A jeweler in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, manufactured a dozen pennies under contract, but did not deliver them for fear of arrest. Over the years copies of both denominations have appeared. More details and pictures of the original issues appear in A Guide Book of United States Coins.

International diplomacyEdit

Once the war with the United States began, the Confederacy pinned its hopes for survival on military intervention by Britain and France. The United States realized this as well and made it clear that diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy meant war with the United States — and the cutting off of food shipments into Britain. The Confederates who had believed that "cotton is king"[48] — that is, Britain had to support the Confederacy to obtain cotton — proved mistaken.[49] The British instead focused more heavily on cotton and textiles produced in India or in Russia,[50] with the French also ramping up production in Algeria.[50] The early years of the war did not see strong international demand for textiles, and hence for cotton.[51] In time, the war and Union blockade of the South caused economic hardship in textile-producing areas of England such as Lancashire, which depended heavily on cotton exports from the seceding states;[52] however, abolitionist sentiment among English workers ran counter to this economic interest in Confederate victory.[53]

While the Confederate government sent repeated delegations to Europe, historians do not give the CSA high marks for diplomatic skills. James M. Mason went to London as Confederate minister to Queen Victoria, and John Slidell travelled to Paris as minister to Napoleon III. Each succeeded in obtaining private meetings with high British and French officials respectively, but neither secured official recognition for the Confederacy. Britain and the United States came dangerously close to war during the Trent Affair (when the U.S. Navy illegally seized two Confederate agents travelling on a British ship in late 1861), and it seemed possible that the Confederacy would see its much desired recognition.[54] When Lincoln released the two, however, tensions cooled, and in the end the episode did not aid the Confederate cause.[55]

Throughout the early years of the war, British foreign secretary Lord Russell, Napoleon III, and, to a lesser extent, British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, showed interest in the idea of recognition of the Confederacy, or at least of offering a mediation. Recognition meant certain war with the United States, loss of American grain, loss of exports to the United States, loss of huge investments in American securities, possible war in Canada and other North American colonies, much higher taxes, many lives lost and a severe threat to the entire British merchant marine, in exchange for the possibility of some cotton. Many party leaders and the public wanted no war with such high costs and meager benefits. Recognition was considered following the Second Battle of Bull Run when the British government was preparing to mediate in the conflict, but the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, combined with internal opposition, caused the government to back away.

In November 1863, Confederate diplomat A. Dudley Mann met Pope Pius IX and received a letter addressed "to the Illustrious and Honorable Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America". Mann, in his dispatch to Richmond, interpreted the letter as "a positive recognition of our Government", and some have mistakenly viewed it as a de facto recognition of the C.S.A. Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, however, interpreted it as "a mere inferential recognition, unconnected with political action or the regular establishment of diplomatic relations" and thus did not assign it the weight of formal recognition.[56] For the remainder of the war, Confederate commissioners continued meeting with Cardinal Antonelli, the Vatican Secretary of State. In 1864, Catholic Bishop Patrick N. Lynch of Charleston traveled to the Vatican with an authorization from Jefferson Davis to represent the Confederacy before the Holy See. That same year, Davis sent Duncan Kenner to France and England with an offer to emancipate Southern slaves in exchange for recognition of the Confederacy from France and Great Britain.[57] This attempt was unsuccessful.

No country appointed any diplomat officially to the Confederacy, but several maintained their consuls in the South whom they had appointed before the outbreak of war. In 1861, Ernst Raven applied for approval as the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha consul, but he held citizenship of Texas and no evidence exists that officials in Saxe-Coburg and Gotha knew of his actions. In 1863, the Confederacy expelled all foreign consuls (all of them British or French diplomats) for advising their subjects to refuse to serve in combat against the U.S.

Throughout the war, most European powers adopted a policy of neutrality, meeting informally with Confederate diplomats but withholding diplomatic recognition. None ever sent an ambassador or an official delegation to Richmond. However, they applied principles of international law that recognized the Union and Confederate sides as belligerents. Canada allowed both Confederate and Union agents to work openly within its borders. In Hamilton, Bermuda a Confederate agent openly worked to help blockade runners. Some state governments in northern Mexico negotiated local agreements to cover trade on the Texas border.[58]

"Died of states' rights"Edit

Historian Frank Lawrence Owsley argued that the Confederacy "died of states' rights."[59] According to Owsley, strong-willed governors and state legislatures in the South refused to give the central government the soldiers and money it needed because they feared that Richmond was encroaching on the rights of the states. Georgia's governor Joseph Brown warned that he saw the signs of a deep-laid conspiracy on the part of Jefferson Davis to destroy states' rights and individual liberty. Brown declaimed: "Almost every act of usurpation of power, or of bad faith, has been conceived, brought forth and nurtured in secret session." To grant the Confederate government the power to draft soldiers was the "essence of military despotism."[60] In 1863 governor Pendleton Murrah of Texas insisted that his State needed Texas troops for self-defense (against Indians or against a threatened Union invasion), and refused to send them East.[61] Zebulon Vance, the governor of North Carolina was notoriously hostile to Davis and his demands. Opposition to conscription in North Carolina was intense and its results were disastrous for recruiting. Governor Vance's faith in states' rights drove him into a stubborn opposition.[62]

Vice President Stephens broke publicly with President Davis, saying any accommodation would only weaken the republic, and he therefore had no choice but to break publicly with the Confederate administration and the President. Stephens charged that to allow Davis to make "arbitrary arrests" and to draft state officials conferred on him more power than the English Parliament had ever bestowed on a king. "History proved the dangers of such unchecked authority."[cite this quote] He added that Davis intended to suppress the peace meetings in North Carolina and "put a muzzle upon certain presses" (especially the antiwar newspaper Raleigh Standard) in order to control elections in that state. Echoing Patrick Henry's "give me liberty or give me death" Stephens warned the Southerners they should never view liberty as "subordinate to independence" because the cry of "independence first and liberty second" was a "fatal delusion". As historian George Rable concludes, "For Stephens, the essence of patriotism, the heart of the Confederate cause, rested on an unyielding commitment to traditional rights. In his idealist vision of politics, military necessity, pragmatism, and compromise meant nothing".[63]

The survival of the Confederacy depended on a strong base of civilians and soldiers devoted to victory. The soldiers performed well, though increasing numbers deserted in the last year of fighting, and the Confederacy never succeeded in replacing casualties as the Union could. The civilians, although enthusiastic in 1861-62 seem to have lost faith in the nation's future by 1864, and instead looked to protect their homes and communities. As Rable explains, "As the Confederacy shrank, citizens' sense of the cause more than ever narrowed to their own states and communities. This contraction of civic vision was more than a crabbed libertarianism; it represented an increasingly widespread disillusionment with the Confederate experiment."[64]

Relations with the United StatesEdit

During the four years of its existence the Confederate States of America asserted its independence and appointed dozens of diplomatic agents abroad. The United States government, by contrast, regarded the Southern states as states in rebellion and refused any formal recognition of their status. Thus, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward issued formal instructions to Charles Francis Adams, the newly-appointed minister to Great Britain:

You will indulge in no expressions of harshness or disrespect, or even impatience concerning the seceding States, their agents, or their people. But you will, on the contrary, all the while remember that those States are now, as they always heretofore have been, and, notwithstanding their temporary self-delusion, they must always continue to be, equal and honored members of this Federal Union, and that their citizens throughout all political misunderstandings and alienations, still are and always must be our kindred and countrymen.[65]

However, if the British seemed inclined to recognize the Confederacy, or even waver in that regard, they would receive a sharp warning, with a strong hint of war:

[if Britain is] tolerating the application of the so-called seceding States, or wavering about it, you will not leave them to suppose for a moment that they can grant that application and remain friends with the United States. You may even assure them promptly, in that case, that if they determine to recognize, they may at the same time prepare to enter into alliance with the enemies of this republic.[66]

The Confederate Congress responded to the Battle of Fort Sumter by formally declaring war on the United States in May 1861 — calling it "The War between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America".[67] The Union government never declared war, but conducted its military efforts under a proclamation of blockade and rebellion. After the war, the U.S. Congress readmitted representation from the southern states. Mid-war negotiations between the two sides occurred without formal political recognition, though the laws of war governed military relationships.

Four years after the war, in 1869, the United States Supreme Court in Texas v. White ruled Texas' secession unconstitutional and legally null. The court's opinion was authored by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederacy, and Alexander Stephens, its former vice-president, both penned arguments in favor of secession's legality, most notably Davis' The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. The court did allow some possibility of separation from the Union "through revolution or through consent of the States."[68][69]

Confederate flagsEdit

Main article: Flags of the Confederate States of America
CSA FLAG 4.3.1861-21.5.1861 Confederate National Flag since Mai 1 1863 to Mar 4 1865 Confederate National Flag since Mar 4 1865 Jack of the CSA Navy 1861 1863
1st National Flag
"Stars and Bars"
2nd National Flag
"Stainless Banner"
3rd National Flag
"Blood Stained Banner"
CSA Naval Jack
Conf Navy Jack (light blue) Battle flag of the US Confederacy Bonnieblue
CSA Naval Jack
Battle Flag
"Southern Cross"
"Bonnie Blue Flag"
Unofficial Southern Flag

The first official flag of the Confederate States of America, called the "Stars and Bars", had seven stars, representing the seven states that initially formed the Confederacy. It sometimes proved difficult to distinguish the Stars and Bars from the Union flag under battle conditions, so the flag was changed to the "Stainless Banner". The union of the Stainless Banner, known as the "Southern Cross" (or Saint Andrew's Cross), became the one more commonly used in military operations. The Southern Cross had 13 stars, adding the four states that joined the Confederacy after Fort Sumter, and the two divided states of Kentucky and Missouri. Due to similarities between the "Stainless Banner" and a white flag, a red stripe was appended vertically to the end of the flag, creating the third of the national flags.

Because of its depiction in 20th-century[citation needed] popular media, many people associate the "Southern Cross" flag with the Confederacy today. The actual "Southern Cross" flag had a square shape, while the Naval Jack (also used by the Army of Tennessee) had a rectangular form but used a lighter shade of blue. Popular media often depict an amalgam, taking the rectangular shape of the Naval Jack and the darker blue of the "Southern Cross" battle flag.


The Confederate States of America claimed a total of 2,919 miles (4,698 km) of coastline, thus a large part of its territory lay on the seacoast with level and often sandy or marshy ground. Most of the interior portion consisted of arable farmland, though much was also hilly and mountainous, and the far western territories were deserts. The lower reaches of the Mississippi River bisected the country, with the western half often referred to as the Trans-Mississippi. The highest point (excluding Arizona and New Mexico) was Guadalupe Peak in Texas at 8,750 feet (2,667 m).


Much of the area claimed by the Confederate States of America had a humid subtropical climate with mild winters and long, hot, humid summers. The climate and terrain varied to semi-arid steppe and arid desert west of longitude 96 degrees west. The subtropical climate made winters mild but allowed infectious diseases to flourish. Consequently, disease killed more soldiers than died in combat.[70]

River systemEdit

In peacetime, the vast system of navigable rivers allowed for cheap and easy transportation of farm products. The railroad system, built as a supplement, tied plantation areas to the nearest river or seaport. The vast geography made logistics difficult for the Union, and the Union armies assigned many of their soldiers to garrison captured areas and to protect rail lines. Nevertheless, the Union Navy had seized most of the navigable rivers by 1862, making its own logistics easy and Confederate movements difficult. After the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863, it became impossible for Confederate units to cross the Mississippi: Union gunboats constantly patrolled the river. The South thus lost use of its western regions.

Railroad systemEdit

Main article: Confederate railroads in the American Civil War

The outbreak of war had a depressing effect on the economic fortunes of the railroad system in Confederate territory. The hoarding of the cotton crop in an attempt to entice European intervention left railroads bereft of their main source of income.[71] Many were forced to lay off employees, and in particular, let go skilled technicians and engineers.[71] For the early years of the war, the Confederate government had a hands off approach to the railroads. Only in mid-1863 did the Confederate government initiate an overall policy, and it was confined solely to aiding the war effort.[72] With the legislation of impressment the same year, rail roads and their rolling stock, came under the defacto control of the military.

In the last year before the end of the war, the Confederate railroad system stood permanently on the verge of collapse. The impressment policy of Quarter-master's ran the rails ragged; feeder lines would be scraped in order to lay down replacement steel for trunk lines, and the continual use of rolling stock wore them down faster than they could be replaced.[73]

Rural/urban configurationEdit

The area claimed by the Confederate States of America consisted overwhelmingly of rural land. Few urban areas had populations of more than 1,000 — the typical county seat had a population of fewer than 500 people. Cities occurred rarely. Of the ten largest U.S. cities in the 1860 census, only New Orleans lay in Confederate territory — and the Union captured New Orleans in 1862. Only 13 Confederate cities ranked among the top 100 U.S. cities in 1860, most of them ports whose economic activities vanished or suffered severely in the Union blockade. The population of Richmond swelled after it became the national capital, reaching an estimated 128,000 in 1864 (Dabney 1990:182). Other large Southern cities: (Baltimore, St. Louis, Louisville, and Washington, as well as Wheeling, West Virginia, and Alexandria, Virginia) never came under the control of the Confederate government.

The cities of the Confederacy included most prominently in order of size of population:

# City 1860 population 1860 U.S. rank Return to U.S. control
1. New Orleans, Louisiana 168,675 6 1862
2. Charleston, South Carolina 40,522 22 1865
3. Richmond, Virginia 37,910 25 1865
4. Mobile, Alabama 29,258 27 1865
5. Memphis, Tennessee 22,623 38 1862
6. Savannah, Georgia 22,292 41 1864
7. Petersburg, Virginia 18,266 50 1865
8. Nashville, Tennessee 16,988 54 1862
9. Norfolk, Virginia 14,620 61 1862
10. Augusta, Georgia 12,493 77 1865
11. Columbus, Georgia 9,621 97 1865
12. Atlanta, Georgia 9,554 99 1864
13. Wilmington, North Carolina 9,553 100 1865

(See also Atlanta in the Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina, in the Civil War, Nashville in the Civil War, New Orleans in the Civil War, Wilmington, North Carolina, in the American Civil War, and Richmond in the Civil War).


Main article: Economy of the Confederate States of America

The Confederacy started its existence as an agrarian economy with exports, to a world market, of cotton, and, to a lesser extent, tobacco and sugarcane. Local food production included grains, hogs, cattle, and gardens. The 11 states produced $155 million in manufactured goods in 1860, chiefly from local grist-mills, and lumber, processed tobacco, cotton goods and naval stores such as turpentine. By the 1830s the 11 states produced more cotton than all of the other countries in the world combined.

The CSA adopted a low tariff of 15 per cent, but imposed it on all imports from other countries, including the Union states.[74] The tariff mattered little; the Union blockade minimized commercial traffic through the Confederacy's ports, and very few people paid taxes on goods smuggled from the Union states. The government collected about $3.5 million in tariff revenue from the start of their war against the Union to late 1864. The lack of adequate financial resources led the Confederacy to finance the war through printing money, which led to high inflation. The requirements of its military encouraged the Confederate government to take a dirigiste-style approach to industrialization.[75] But such efforts faced setbacks: Union raids and in particular Sherman's scorched-earth campaigning destroyed much economic infrastructure.[76]


The United States Census of 1860[77] gives a picture of the overall 1860 population of the areas that joined the Confederacy. Note that population-numbers exclude non-assimilated Indian tribes.

# of
# of
Total #[78]
% of Free
as % of
Alabama 964,201 435,080 96,603 529,121 33,730 6% 45%2,690
Arkansas 435,450 111,115 57,244 324,335 11,481 4% 26%144
Florida 140,424 61,745 15,090 78,679 5,152 7% 44%932
Georgia 1,057,286 462,198 109,919 595,088 41,084 7% 44%3,500
Louisiana 708,002 331,726 74,725 376,276 22,033 6% 47%18,647
Mississippi 791,305 436,631 63,015 354,674 30,943 9% 55%773
North Carolina 992,622 331,059 125,090 661,563 34,658 5% 33%30,463
South Carolina 703,708 402,406 58,642 301,302 26,701 9% 57%9,914
Tennessee 1,109,801 275,719 149,335 834,082 36,844 4% 25%7,300
Texas 604,215 182,566 76,781 421,649 21,878 5% 30%355
Virginia 1,596,318 490,865 201,523 1,105,453 52,128 5% 31%58,042
Total 9,103,332 3,521,110 1,027,967 5,582,222 316,632 6% 39%132,760

(Figures for Virginia include the future West Virginia.)

Age structure 0–14 years 15–59 years 60 years and over Total
White males 43% 52% 4%
White females 44% 52% 4%
Male slaves 44% 51% 4%
Female slaves 45% 51% 3%
Free black males 45% 50% 5%
Free black females 40% 54% 6%
Total population 44% 52% 4%

(Rows may not total to 100% due to rounding)

In 1860 the areas that later formed the eleven Confederate States (and including the future West Virginia) had 132,760 (1.46%) free blacks. Males made up 49.2% of the total population and females 50.8% (whites: 48.60% male, 51.40% female; slaves: 50.15% male, 49.85% female; free blacks: 47.43% male, 52.57% female).[80]

Armed forcesEdit

Main article: Military of the Confederate States of America
File:Navy Jack CSA.jpg

The military armed forces of the Confederacy comprised three branches:

The Confederate military leadership included many veterans from the United States Army and United States Navy who had resigned their Federal commissions and had won appointment to senior positions in the Confederate armed forces. Many had served in the Mexican-American War (including Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis), but others had little or no military experience (such as Leonidas Polk, who had attended West Point but did not graduate.) The Confederate officer corps consisted in part of young men from slave-owning families, but many came from non-owners. The Confederacy appointed junior and field grade officers by election from the enlisted ranks. Although no Army service academy was established for the Confederacy, many colleges of the South (such as the The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute) maintained cadet corps that were seen as a training ground for Confederate military leadership. A naval academy was established at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia[81] in 1863, but no midshipmen had graduated by the time the Confederacy collapsed.

The soldiers of the Confederate armed forces consisted mainly of white males aged between sixteen and twenty-eight.[citation needed] The Confederacy adopted conscription in 1862. Many thousands of slaves served as laborers, cooks, and pioneers. Some freed blacks and men of color served in local state militia units of the Confederacy, primarily in Louisiana and South Carolina, but their officers deployed them for "local defense, not combat."[82] Depleted by casualties and desertions, the military suffered chronic manpower shortages. In the spring of 1865 the Confederate Congress, influenced by the public support by General Lee, approved the recruitment of black infantry units. Contrary to Lee’s and Davis’s recommendations, the Congress refused “to guarantee the freedom of black volunteers.” No more than two hundred black troops were ever raised.[83]

Military leadersEdit

Military leaders of the Confederacy (with their state or country of birth and highest rank)[84] included:


Table of CSA statesEdit

State Flag[85] Secession ordinance Admitted C.S.A. Under predominant
Union control
Readmitted to
in Congress
South Carolina SC-SovFlag December 20, 1860 February 8, 1861 1865 July 9, 1868
Mississippi File:Mississippi 1861.svg January 9, 1861 February 8, 1861 1863 February 23, 1870
Florida File:Florida Provisional 1861.svg (unofficial) January 10, 1861 February 8, 1861 1865 June 25, 1868
Alabama File:Alabama 1861 Obverse.svgFile:Alabama 1861 Reverse.svg January 11, 1861 February 8, 1861 1865 July 13, 1868
Georgia Seal of the State of GeorgiaSealback January 19, 1861 February 8, 1861 1865 1st Date July 21, 1868;
2nd Date July 15, 1870
Louisiana File:Louisiana Feb 11 1861.svg January 26, 1861 February 8, 1861 1863 July 9, 1868
Texas Flag of Texas February 1, 1861 March 2, 1861 1865 March 30, 1870
Virginia Flag of Virginia April 17, 1861 May 7, 1861 1865;
(1862/63 for West Virginia)
January 26, 1870
Arkansas May 6, 1861 May 18, 1861 1864 June 22, 1868
North Carolina File:North Carolina 1861.svg May 20, 1861 May 21, 1861 1865 July 4, 1868
Tennessee June 8, 1861 July 2, 1861 1863 July 24, 1866
Missouri (exiled government) Seal of Missouri October 31, 1861 November 28, 1861 1861 Unionist govt. appointed by Missouri Constitutional Convention 1861
Kentucky (Russellville Convention) Ky CSA Seal November 20, 1861 December 10, 1861 1861 Elected Union and unelected rump Confederate governments from 1861
Arizona Territory (Mesilla government) March 16, 1861 February 14, 1862 1862 (Not a state)

See alsoEdit



  • Cooper, William J. Jr. Jefferson Davis, American. (2000)
  • Coski, John. The Confederate Battle Flag. (2005)
  • Crofts, Daniel W. Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis. (1989) ISBN 0-8078-1809-7.
  • Current, Richard N., ed. Encyclopedia of the Confederacy (4 vol), 1993. 1900 pages, articles by scholars.
  • Davis, William C. "A Government of Our Own". (1994) ISBN 0-8071-2177-0
  • Downing, David C. A South Divided: Portraits of Dissent in the Confederacy. Nashville: Cumberland House, 2007. ISBN 978-1-58182-587-9
  • Faust, Drew Gilpin. The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil War South. (1988)
  • Faust, Patricia L. ed, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War, 1986
  • Goen, C.C. “Broken Churches, Broken Nation: Regional Religion and North-South Alienation in Antebellum America” Church History, Vol. 52, No.1 (March, 1983) pp. 21–35 JSTOR
  • Gallagher, Gary W. The Confederate War (1997) ISBN 0-674-16055-X
  • Heidler, David S., et al. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, 2002 2400 pages (ISBN 0-393-04758-X)
  • Kull, Irving Stoddard “Presbyterian Attitudes toward Slavery” Church History, Vol. 7, No. 2, (June 1938), pp. 101–114 JSTOR
  • Levine, Bruce Confederate Emancipation. (2006)
  • Levine, Bruce Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War (1992) ISBN 10: 0809053527
  • McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom. (1988)
  • Rubin, Sarah Anne A Shattered Nation: The Rise & Fall of the Confederacy 1861-1868 (2005)
  • Sinha, Manish The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (2000) ISBN 0-8078-2571-9
  • Smylie, James H. "A Brief History of the Presbyterians" (1996)
  • Stampp, Kenneth M. The Peculiar Institution (1956) 1989 Edition ISBN 0-679-72307-2
  • Woodworth, Steven E. ed. The American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research, 1996 750 pages of historiography and bibliography

Economic and social historyEdit

see Economy of the Confederate States of America

  • Black, Robert C., III. The Railroads of the Confederacy, 1988.
  • Clinton, Catherine, and Silber, Nina, eds. Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War, 1992
  • Dabney, Virginius Richmond: The Story of a City. Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 1990 ISBN 0-8139-1274-1
  • Faust, Drew Gilpin Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, 1996
  • Faust, Drew Gilpin. The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil War South, 1988.
  • Grimsley, Mark The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865, 1995
  • Lentz, Perry Carlton Our Missing Epic: A Study in the Novels about the American Civil War, 1970
  • Massey, Mary Elizabeth Bonnet Brigades: American Women and the Civil War, 1966
  • Massey, Mary Elizabeth Refugee Life in the Confederacy, 1964
  • Rable, George C. Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism, 1989
  • Ramsdell, Charles. Behind the Lines in the Southern Confederacy, 1994.
  • Roark, James L. Masters without Slaves: Southern Planters in the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1977.
  • Rubin, Anne Sarah. A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868, 2005 A cultural study of Confederates' self images
  • Thomas, Emory M. The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience, 1992
  • Wiley, Bell Irwin Confederate Women, 1975
  • Wiley, Bell Irwin The Plain People of the Confederacy, 1944
  • Woodward, C. Vann, ed. Mary Chesnut's Civil War, 1981


  • Alexander, Thomas B., and Beringer, Richard E. The Anatomy of the Confederate Congress: A Study of the Influences of Member Characteristics on Legislative Voting Behavior, 1861-1865, 1972
  • Boritt, Gabor S., et al., Why the Confederacy Lost, 1992
  • Cooper, William J, Jefferson Davis, American, 2000 Standard biography
  • Coulter, E. Merton The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, 1950
  • William C. Davis (2003). Look Away! A History of the Confederate States of America. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-86585-8. 
  • Eaton, Clement A History of the Southern Confederacy, 1954
  • Eckenrode, H. J., Jefferson Davis: President of the South, 1923
  • Gallgher, Gary W., The Confederate War, 1999
  • Neely, Mark E., Jr., Confederate Bastille: Jefferson Davis and Civil Liberties, 1993
  • Rembert, W. Patrick Jefferson Davis and His Cabinet, 1944.
  • Rable, George C., The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics, 1994
  • Roland, Charles P. The Confederacy, 1960 brief
  • Thomas, Emory M. Confederate Nation: 1861-1865, 1979 Standard political-economic-social history
  • Wakelyn, Jon L. Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy Greenwood Press ISBN 0-8371-6124-X
  • Williams, William M. Justice in Grey: A History of the Judicial System of the Confederate States of America, 1941
  • Yearns, Wilfred Buck The Confederate Congress, 1960

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.