But these achievements came at the cost of 625,000 lives--nearly as many American soldiers as died in all the other wars in which this country has fought combined.
The American Civil War was the largest and most destructive conflict in the Western world between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the onset of World War I in 1914.
Grant came to Virginia from the Western theater to become general in chief of all Union armies in 1864.
After bloody battles at places with names like The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, Grant finally brought Lee to bay at Appomattox in April 1865.
In July 1863, violent anti-draft riots broke out in New York City, where a mostly working-class Irish immigrant contingent burned and looted the Colored Orphans Asylum, the draft office, and lynched African Americans.
At least a dozen were killed and the riot was only quelled by the arrival of Union troops, weary from their recent battle at Gettysburg.
In the meantime Union armies and river fleets in the theater of war comprising the slave states west of the Appalachian Mountain chain won a long series of victories over Confederate armies commanded by hapless or unlucky Confederate generals.
In 1864-1865 General William Tecumseh Sherman led his army deep into the Confederate heartland of Georgia and South Carolina, destroying their economic infrastructure while General George Thomas virtually destroyed the Confederacy's Army of Tennessee at the battle of Nashville.
The event that triggered war came at Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay on April 12, 1861.
Claiming this United States fort as their own, the Confederate army on that day opened fire on the federal garrison and forced it to lower the American flag in surrender.