The United States Army is the military land force of the United States of America. During the American Civil War it was also referred to as the Union Army, Federal Army, or Northern Army. Its primary military objective during the war was the restoration and preservation of the United States through the defeat of secessionist forces. The United States Army traces its roots to the Continental Army, created in 1775 during the American Revolution. Following American independence, the new United States severely reduced the size of the army due to distrust of permanent standing military forces. The small regular army generally handled military operations against Native Americans and for coastal defense. State authorities were expected to support the country’s military needs with their militias, or by raising volunteer units, temporarily activated for federal service.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the United States regular army consisted of barely more than 16,000 soldiers, scattered across the country (primarily at coastal defenses and forts established in the territories) among ten infantry regiments, four artillery regiments, two cavalry regiments, two dragoon regiments, and one regiment of mounted rifles. Roughly 20% of the army’s officers and enlisted resigned their positions to fight for the Confederacy. After Southern troops attacked and captured Fort Sumter in South Carolina, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to expand the army and defeat the Confederates. The government continued to issue subsequent requests for volunteers as the war progressed. As with established practice, the states were to recruit the volunteers and provide them for federal service. Initial enlistments were for 90 days, but eventually enlistment terms were expanded, typically for three years. In total, more than 2,000,000 men served in the United States Army during the course of the Civil War. Of those, only around 60,000 were part of the regular army. The overwhelming majority were in state-based units. Most soldiers were volunteers, however the federal government began drafting men in 1862, as the army’s campaigns continued and volunteer numbers dwindled. In total, around 46,000 Union soldiers (about 5.5%) were draftees.
Approximately two-thirds of the soldiers in the United States Army during the Civil War were native-born white citizens. Around 100,000 were from states within the Confederacy. Immigrants made up about 25% of Union soldiers, with Germans and Irish immigrants being among the most prominent. The army also included soldiers of different ethnicities, including more than 3,000 Native American soldiers. In 1863, the Union army began formally accepting African American soldiers—in segregated units—and by the end of the war, around than 179,000 had served in the United States Army uniform.
When hostilities ended in June 1865, approximately 110,000 had been killed in combat or succumbed to wounds, more than 220,000 had died of disease, and roughly 30,000 had died in prison camps. (Wikipedia; National Park Service)
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Army
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