The American Civil War was a four-year armed conflict between the North and South due to the abolition of slavery leading to the secession of Southern states and formation of the Confedracy, rights of states, economic and social differences between North and South brought about by industrialization (Faragher et al, 2002, pp. 381-385).
On April 12, 1861 Confederate forces led by Gen. Beauregard fired at Union forces garrisoned at Fort Sumter, South Carolina after Union Maj. Anderson refused to surrender Fort Sumter to the Confederacy. South Carolina was claiming the fort after its secession. After a two-day attack by the Confederate troops, Maj. Anderson and his men surrendered Fort Sumter. This attack on Fort Sumter, where the first shots between the North and South were fired, was the conflict that actually started the American Civil War (Faragher et al, 2002, pp. 407- 408).
The Battle of Gettysburg, from July 1 to 3, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the most decisive and important battle of the Civil War. It was also the most costly because of the number of casualties suffered by both the Union and the Confederacy. It is considered the turning point of the Civil War because it gave the Union a clear advantage as the South was never quite able to recover from their loss here and it put a stop on their ambition to fight the war in the Northern states (Faragher et al, 2002, pp. 425-426).
On November 23 to 25, 1863 Gens. Grant and Sherman led the Union to victory over Confederacy troops in the Battle of Chatanooga, Tennessee. This turned the tide of the war in favour of the Union as Chatanooga was the gateway to the lower South. The Union victory allowed them to successfully invade the South, capture Atlanta and influence the 1864 presidential and congressional elections in their favour.