Printable American Civil War Worksheets

The American Civil War started in 1861 and lasted four years. Eleven Southern States seceded from the United State and formed the Confederate Sates of America. Here is a series of worksheets to help students understand the struggle.

  1. Acrostic Poem
  2. Civil War Summary
  3. Comparing the Confederacy and the Union VENN Diagram
  4. Cryptogram
  5. Generals of the Civil War Word Search
  6. Group Creative Writing
  7. KWL The American Civil War
  8. Maze
  9. Reading Comprehension Worksheet
  10. Ten Questions On The Civil War
  11. Timeline
  12. Vocabulary & Definitions
  13. Vocabulary Quiz
  14. Word Search Worksheet
  15. Writing Paper

Teacher Resources On This Theme

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  9. Historic Battles, Wars
  10. Proud To Be An American Teaching Theme
  11. States Of America Lesson Plans
  12. States of America Teaching Theme
  13. Teaching American Civil War
  14. Teaching The U.S. Constitution
  15. United States History Lesson Plans
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What Was the American Civil War?


American history is extensive and intriguing. Some pivotal incidents in US history have shaped the course of the American future monumentally.

The civil war is one event. Although it lasted for only four years, it remains as one of the most controversial and studied times in American history. The civil war had a serious impact on American culture. It was the civil war that shaped America into the kind of nation it is now.

Wars are not always between different countries; in fact, a civil war, by definition, is the war that breaks out between opposing states of one country. And the reasons for these wars could be anything.

Although the United States civil war formally began in 1861, America was nevertheless divided throughout, and the complex political and social unrest spread across the nation like wildfire. The decades-long simmering tensions between the northern states and southern states of America fueled the civil war.

People of America were fighting each other on the grounds of nationalism and conflicts between opinions with regard to the institution of slavery. It is integral to acknowledge that while slavery was a very critical element in the civil war of 1861, it was definitely not the only one, as there were other stimuli that were evident in the factors that played the role of a stimulus towards the war.

While the act of slavery was well abolished in North America back in 1865, slavery was unfortunately still considered a norm in the south region of America.

Tensions between North and South

Northern America and South America had differences that neither were willing to compromise on. While the north had abolished slavery and wanted it to end nationwide, it also fought to sustain the union, which most states from south America had cut ties with.

During the early 1800s, both North and South America economically developed differently. While the north developed more industry and commerce, south America continued to rely on plantation agriculture. North America had a fast life due to the industrial advancements they had.

The economy of the south, in contrast, was primarily based on a system of large-scale farming. The South also witnessed the rise of a few substantially wealthy planters who dominated southern society. These people particularly relied on the labor of slaves, who would help in growing certain crops, including tobacco and cotton.

Although most white people in the south were poor, they did not own any slaves but still continued to support slavery.

North America was against slavery only because they felt that it was a threat to their economic system, as they felt that the enslaved people could replace them. Despite this, Northern Americans were still racist to a large degree - according to many historians.

The growing problems in the South were far from being simple for anyone to point out one particular reason for the increasing pace at which they seceded. Slavery was definitely at the root of it all, but there was more to that; often, people only focused on slavery as the key cause of the civil war.

Given the growing tensions between the North and the Southern regions, the civil war began when troops from the south bombarded Fort Sumter, South Carolina. This war was fought between them from 1861 to 1865. Although it was not an extensively long war, its impact was devastating, to say the least, and molded the future of American culture.

South's Secession

The secession in America was a series of events that started in December 1860 and carried on until June 1861.

In 1860, when America elected Abraham Lincoln, who was known for his opposition to slavery, the South Carolina legislature felt threatened. This was when South Carolina called for a state convention in which they decided to separate themselves from the union, also known as the United States of America. After South Carolina, ten other states from the lower and upper South region seceded from the union and formed the Confederate States of America.

Consequences of the War and Final Thoughts

After a relatively short but one of the deadliest wars in America, the Northern region successfully won the civil war. Admittedly the war caused great damage. In fact, in the history of America, the Civil War is still the deadliest battle, with deaths estimated at millions. People were killed for many reasons; diseases, infections, and injuries were some of the primary ones. War prisoners lived through the worst conditions in the prisons and often died due to starvation and neglect.

Apart from the life that was lost to the civil war, farmers and their bread and butter were affected tremendously. The war led to drought, rising costs, and high-interest rates, all of which combined made the life of a farmer difficult, to say the least, as they were pushed into debt and poverty.

The war, of course, was fruitful in ways. It was because of the civil war millions of enslaved African Americans gained their freedom; this was an extraordinary moment in the history of the US. Americans also were able to come together and confirm one single political entity of the United States.

What was happening in America was grounded in the struggle for gaining power over another and continuing the enslavement of people; disregarding the basic human rights of African Americans. Analyzing the civil war and slave history is peculiar because Americans, prior to all of this, had fought long and hard against the British for the sake of their freedom and then carried on the same behavior towards their own fellow men. These lessons serve us well, even today.

How the American Civil War Started and Ended

The American Civil war was a tragic time in the history of the United States. The war lasted only four years, but many people died during it. It almost led to the United States splitting up. The 1860s war was between the Northern and Southern states. Many battles took place between the start and end of the civil war. Both sides won and lost battles. Most of the fighting happened in the East and the West. The Northern Union won the Civil War and reunited the states.

Why did the American Civil War start?

There were many reasons for the American Civil War. The Northern and Southern States disagreed on many topics. The tension built up till it led to war.

Rights of Southern States

At the start of the American Civil War, Southern states decided to fight against the US government in the North. They were upset because they wanted the right to make their laws.

Abolishing Slavery

The war was fought mainly over the issue of slavery. The North wanted to abolish slavery, but the South wanted to continue enslaving people.


Before Missouri became a state, they couldn't decide if it would be a slave or free state. Missouri became a slave state in the end. Around the same time, Maine became a free state. This caused even more tension between the North and the South. Each wanted states to join their side.

What role did Abraham Lincoln play in the Civil War?

Abraham Lincoln was part of the Republican Party. They wanted to abolish slavery. When he became president, the South was extremely upset. This was the final blow that started the war. They did not know that Lincoln was not going to end slavery right away.

What were the two sides called?

Seven southern states voted to separate themselves from the United States. They wanted a separate Southern Confederate of states. The North tried to stop them, which started a war.

The other side was the Union. These states wanted to stay together as part of the United States. Most union states were against slavery. But four slave states were also part of the Union. They were called 'border' states.

Who won the American Civil War?

There were many battles fought in different areas. The North had better roads and railways, but the South had better soldiers. Both sides one in different areas.

Fort Sumter Battle

This was a Northern Fort in the South. The Southern states wanted the North to give it to them after they voted to separate. After the South took over the Fort, the North tried to get it back. There was a long battle fought over the Fort. The Union attacked the South, but the Confederates managed to push them back. This battle was a win for them.


In this battle, the North made the first move. They took control of a Confederate fort. They also managed to defeat the Confederates in the Battle of Shiloh. This battle was fought in Tennessee.

Sea Battles

Neither side won the battle on the sea. It was a stalemate.

Robert Lee and Battle of Bull Run

Robert Lee was a really smart Confederate general. Thanks to him, the Confederate states won a battle at Bull Run. This was a good year for General Lee because he managed to push back the Union quite a lot.

End of Slavery

After the Union won the Antietam battle, Lincoln officially abolished slavery. He wanted the United States to stay united. This was a good decision because freed slaves joined the Union army.


The Union started to gain an upper hand in the war after they defeated the Confederates at Gettysburg. They managed to take over Mississippi. This made it easier to take over Tennessee too. The Union was slowly bringing Southern states to unite with the North.

Final Battles

The best Union General, Ulysses Grant led the Union side to victory eventually. He managed to win major battles. He started at Virginia, moving on to Georgia and eventually taking over Atlanta. As the Union soldiers planned to take over Savannah after Atlanta, they also made the smart decision of disrupting Confederate supply lines. They destroyed railroads so that trains couldn't run on them. Confederate soldiers could not get the guns and food that they needed to fight against the Union. And this made them surrender to the Union because their people were starving and needed food.

Palmito Ranch Battle

This was the last battle of the civil war. It was an unnecessary battle because the war had ended. It happened after Lee had already surrendered to the Union. It happened because the Union general wanted to win another battle to get some battle glory. A lot of Union soldiers died in this battle but the Confederate side survived.

End of American Civil War

The war ended when Robert Lee finally decided to surrender in 1865. The Confederate states were starving because of the war. The Union was winning most battles and had better infrastructure. They officially signed the surrender at a courthouse in Virginia.

It's important to know what started the American civil war so such wars can be avoided in the future. We learn history so we don't make the same mistakes again. The time between the start and end of the civil war was a terrible time in American history. It took a lot of time to recover from the war.

The time after the war became known as the Reconstruction period. It lasted for a long time. It also took time for military soldiers to return home and withdraw from states. The Southern states had to rebuild all their roads.