U.S. Postal Service

Brochure for a commemorative postage stamp series depicting both the suffering and heroism during the Civil War


Civil War

The Civil War was an agonizing milestone in American history—a composite of grief and glory, heartbreak and heroism. It was a test of fortitude that crumbled a young country, while providing the foundation for a new, united America whose growth continues today.

The American nation of the mid-1800s consisted of two factions with radically opposing beliefs and mismatched rates of growth in industry and infrastructure. To escape proposed laws that they believed would cripple their economy, a group of southern states seceded from the Union and set up the Confederate States of America. In 1861, when the first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumter, both sides were resolute in their own objectives: Independence and self-reliance for the South, and preservation of an ethical Union for the North.

It was a war fought by enthusiastic and untrained armies of volunteers. Church bells were melted to make cannons, and window sash weights to make bullets. Camps plagued with diseases challenged doctors’ unrefined medical expertise; many of the war’s 600,000 casualties did not result from battle. Soldiers who survived did so due to determination and an idealistic belief in their cause.