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During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United Statesmarker, which was supported by the twenty-three states which were not part of the secession attempt by the 11 states that tried to form the Confederacy. Although the Union states included the Western states of Californiamarker, Oregonmarker, and (after 1864) Nevadamarker, as well as states generally considered to be part of the Midwest, the Union has been also often loosely referred to as "the North", both then and now.


Legally, the term originated in the Perpetual Union of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Because the term had been used prior to the war to refer to the entire United States (a "union of states"), using it to apply to the non-secessionist side carried a connotation of legitimacy as the continuation of the pre-existing political entity. Also, in the public dialogue of the United States, new states are "admitted to the Union," and the President's annual address to Congress and to the people is referred to as the "State of the Union address".

During the American Civil War, those loyal to the federal government and opposed to secession living in the border states and Confederate states were termed Unionists. Confederate soldiers sometimes styled them "Homemade Yankees." However, Southern Unionists were not necessarily northern sympathizers and many of them although opposing secession supported the Confederacy once it was a fact.

Still, nearly 120,000 Southern Unionists served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and every Southern state, except South Carolinamarker, raised Unionist regiments. Southern Unionists were extensively used as anti-guerrilla forces and as occupation troops in areas of the Confederacy occupied by the Union. Since the Civil War, the term "Northern" has been a widely used synonym for the Union side of the conflict. Union is usually used in contexts where "United States" might be confusing, "Federal" obscure, or "Yankee" dated or derogatory.

In comparison to the Southern Confederacy it opposed, the Union was heavily industrialized and far more urbanized than the rural South. The Union states had nearly five times the white population of the Confederate states (23 million to 5 million). The Union's great advantages in population and industry would prove to be vital factors in the Union's victory over the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Union states

The Union states were:

  • Californiamarker
  • Connecticutmarker
  • Delawaremarker* *[[Illinois]] *[[Indiana]] {{col-2-of-5}} *[[Iowa]] *[[Kansas]] *[[Kentucky]]* *[[Maine]] *[[Maryland]]* {{col-3-of-5}} *[[Massachusetts]] *[[Michigan]] *[[Minnesota]] *[[Missouri]]* *[[Nevada]] {{col-4-of-5}} *[[New Hampshire]] *[[New Jersey]] *[[New York]] *[[Ohio]] *[[Oregon]] {{col-5-of-5}} *[[Pennsylvania]] *[[Rhode Island]] *[[Vermont]] *[[West Virginia]]* *[[Wisconsin]] {{col-end}} * Border states: In Kentucky and Missouri, pro-secession factions declared for the South and those states were claimed by the Confederacy, but had both Union and Confederate state governments claiming power.

Kansasmarker joined the Union on January 29, 1861, after the secession crisis had begun but before the attack on Fort Sumter. West Virginiamarker separated from Virginia and became part of the Union during the war, on June 20, 1863. Nevadamarker also joined the Union during the war, becoming a state on October 31, 1864. Portions of what is now Southern Nevada were part of New Mexico territory, which at one point was claimed by the Confederacy.


  1. Today in History: January 29
  2. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius - Kansas Seal


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