How did the American Civil War impact the lives of the Southerners?  

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The American Civil War made life very difficult for many people in the South.  Of course, it did not have the same impact on all Southerners.  However, it did generally have a relatively great impact on them.  Let us look at two major ways in which this is so.  Of course, the most obvious impact was upon those who were wounded or killed in the war and on their families.  However, this is probably not what you are supposed to be talking about.

First, the war badly cut into the amount of material goods that the Southerners were able to get.  The South had depended very heavily on imports from Europe and from the North.  These supplies were cut off by the war and by the Union naval blockade that sharply cut the ability of the South to trade with Europe.  This led to severe shortages which got bad enough that there were even “bread riots” in the capital city of Richmond, VA in 1863.

Second, the war brought direct devastation to many Southern areas.  The most famous example of this was General Sherman’s “March to the Sea.”  The South was invaded by the North and the fighting (as well as “total war” tactics like Sherman’s) brought devastation to many areas.  This caused hunger and other forms of hardship for many in the South.

Thus, Southerners were hurt in a variety of ways by the war.