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Notable figures from the American Civil War

Juneteenth was officially declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 17, 2021. That declaration might have been the first time many Americans heard of Juneteenth, a day with a lengthy and meaningful history.

The National Museum of African American History & Culture reports that Juneteenth commemorates the arrival of Union troops in Galveston Bay, Texas on June 19, 1865. Those troops brought the news that President Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved Africans in America nearly two years earlier, a proclamation that meant a lot to the more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas at the time.

Juneteenth came on the heels of the end of the American Civil War, which remains the deadliest military conflict in U.S. history. The American Civil War was indeed bloody, and many notable figures played key roles during the conflict. The following are some of the more notable figures from the American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln

America’s sixteenth president is often the first name to come to mind when pondering the nation’s civil war. The Civil War played out during the Lincoln presidency, and many in the southern states viewed his election in November 1860 as a direct challenge to their pro-slavery way of life, an outlook that prompted various states to secede. Lincoln served as president as the Union defeated the Confederacy, but was assassinated near the end of the war in 1865.

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee was a Confederate general during much of the war and ultimately was appointed as overall commander of the Confederate States Army (CSA) near the end of the conflict. Lee had a distinguished military career prior to the outbreak of war and was even offered command of the Union armies, which he declined. Though Lee had been described as philosophically opposed to slavery, he did not oppose its legality and returned to his home state of Virginia when it seceded from the Union in 1861.

Stonewall Jackson

Stonewall Jackson was a Lieutenant General in the CSA until his death in 1863 at the age of 39. Though Jackson played a prominent role in Confederate successes, he was ultimately felled by friendly fire after being accidentally shot by Confederate forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Though Jackson initially survived the blow, he ultimately perished eight days later from complications related to his injuries.

Frederick Douglass

A former slave who escaped bondage in Maryland in 1838, Frederick Douglass was a talented orator and a prominent abolitionist whose works are still read today. Douglass’s 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, is considered an influential tome in promoting the abolition of slavery.

William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman was a Union general who is perhaps most remembered for his decision to embrace a scorched earth policy as he led his troops through parts of the south, including Atlanta, which Sherman and his men burned to the ground. Sherman’s ‘March to the Sea’ through Georgia and the Carolinas, during which he ordered the utter destruction of military and civilian infrastructure, was designed to crush the will of the Confederacy.