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Difference between the Civil War and Revolution

Info: 1372 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in History

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The Civil War is a revolution; the Revolution a civil war

 A civil war or a revolution, what is the difference? The main difference is who the battles are fought between. A war and a revolution are both battles, both wars. A revolution is a battle fought in hopes of a new system, by overthrowing a government and a civil war is fought between people of the same country. The Civil War and the American Revolution were both wars, battles fought in seek of change. The vast reasons for both battles, the differences of opinions, the division of the people over issues and the unbroken ties are a few reasons that the Civil War can be called a revolution and the American Revolution a civil war.

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The causes of the American Revolution and the Civil War had vast differences. The colonists who left Great Britain in search of freedom of religion, also desired their complete independence from Great Britain. In the beginning Great Britain left the colonists alone but, as the British government became more involved, the colonists reached a point where they decided they had to fight for their freedom. The French and Indian War, which lasted nine years, was fought between France and the American colonies who were assisted by Great Britain. The British government decided to tax the American colonies to help pay for the troops that were used during this battle. The imposition of new taxes and laws did not make the colonists’ happy. They felt that they should not be taxed because they had no representation in the British Parliament. As explained in Give Me Liberty!, Fifth Seagull Edition, “No taxation without representation” became their rallying cry (185). Protests began, like the Boston Tea Party, which the British answered to with laws and taxes, which were made to control and punish the colonies. Control of the colonies is not what the British got though, this actually caused the colonies to become more united, eventually causing the American revolution. The Civil War was caused by a division between the North and the South, with the main battle being over slavery. The northern states of the Americas were moving more toward industry, slaves were not needed and many thought that slavery was wrong. The wanted slavery to be illegalized which cause the people of the south much stress. The need for slaves was still very big for the South with farming still being the primary feeder for the economy.  Along with slavery there were other things that contributed to the Civil War. The battle for states’ rights was something that the southern states feared they were losing and with the US expanding westward the shift of power between the North and the South was something else the South feared would cause them to lose their rights. The election of Abraham Lincoln, who was anti-slavery, as President of the United States pushed the southern states to leave the US and created the Confederate States of America. Abraham Lincoln sent troops in to stop the South from leaving the United States which started the Civil War.

 The weapons used in both the American Revolution and the Civil War were very similar. The main weapon used in the American Revolution was the musket. The musket was loaded through the muzzle and took most soldiers about 15 to 20 seconds to load it. Most soldiers had a bayonet at the end of the musket which was a metal blade that was about 17 inches long. The musket was also used in the beginning of the Civil War but, as the war progressed they used rifles which were, by this time, more accurate and had a longer range. Cannons were other weapons used in both the American Revolution and the Civil War, sometimes fired straight at the enemy, used to sink ships and to destroy structures. Something new to warfare during the Civil War were submarines and ironclad ships which would change the way ships were used in war.

 The main turning point of the Revolutionary War was the Battle of Saratoga and for the Civil War the Battle of Gettysburg. The American victory over the British at the Battle of Saratoga convinced the French government to join the war as their ally. The defeat for the Confederacy in Gettysburg turned the trend of the Civil War in the Union’s favor.

At the end of the American Revolution the British finally decided to give America it’s freedom with the signing of the Treaty of Paris and the Americans in return had to pay back the money they owed to Britain before the war. The fight for independence from Britain had finally ended. This battle ended but the loss of lives was vast as battlefields.org stated in the following passage:

 Throughout the course of the war, an estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in action,

 6,100 wounded, and upwards of 20,000 were taken prisoner. Historians believe that at

 least an additional 17,000 deaths were the result of disease, including about 8,000-12,000

 who died while prisoners of war.

 Unreliable imperial data places the total casualties for British regulars fighting in the

 Revolutionary War around 24,000 men. This total number includes battlefield injuries,

 deaths from disease, men taken prisoner, and those who remained missing.

 Approximately 1,200 Hessian soldiers were killed, 6,354 died of disease, and another

 5,500 deserted and settled in America afterwards (battlefields.org).

At the end of the Civil War, with the defeat of the Confederacy, “the Constitution was amended to free the slaves, to assure ‘equal protection under the law’ for American citizens, and to grant black men the right to vote (battlefields.org). The loss of lives in the Civil War was horrific as battlefields.org stated in the following passage:

 Approximately 620,000 soldiers died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease

 during the Civil War. This number comes from an 1889 study of the war performed by

 William Thomas Leonard Livermore. Both men fought for the Union. Their estimate is

 derived from an exhaustive study of the combat and casualty records generated by the

 armies over five years of fighting. A recent study puts the number of dead as high as

 850,000 (battlefields.org).

The American Revolution was fought in hopes of gaining complete freedom from Great Britain. Not all of the colonist agreed on what should be done though. The American Revolution was fought between the British colonists, who were not yet free from Great Britain, and the British government which makes this a civil war. There were those who wanted to repair the relationship with Great Britain and those who wanted complete independence, making this conflict both a revolution, because of the differences in opinion, and a civil war. The Civil War was fought over slavery and states’ rights. For the people of the North it was a battle that they hoped would keep the United States together. The South had legally broken from the old Union, the Confederacy an unrecognized country in North America, therefore the battle can be seen as both a civil war and a revolution. The vast reasons for both battles, the differences of opinions, the division of people over issues and the unbroken ties are a few reasons that the Civil War can be called a revolution and the Revolution a civil war.

Works Cited

  • American Battlefield. “Civil War Facts.” Battlefields.org. Accessed 28 April 2019.
  • American Battlefield. “Revolutionary War Quick Facts.” Battlefields.org. Accessed 28 April 2019.
  • American Battlefield. “10 Facts: What Everyone Should Know About the Civil War.”  Battlefields.org. Accessed 28 April 2019.
  • Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: an American history. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2008. Print.


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