Although it ended nearly 150 years ago, the American Civil War still stirs intense emotion in the hearts and minds of much of the American public. It was the largest military conflict ever to take place on American soil, and forever changed the social, economic, and moral fabric of the country.
In border states, divided loyalties tore families apart, and in some cases brother fought against brother. Everyone was touched in some way by the war.
The combined forces of the United States and the Confederate States totaled over 3,000,000 men. It was estimated in 1889, that approximately 620,000 soldiers died during the Civil War. Recent estimates go as high as 850,000. Many were killed in action, or died as a result of their wounds, but many more died by accident, starvation, and disease. More American soldiers died as a result of the Civil War than any other war in which Americans have fought.
Even before all fighting had ended, Civil War veterans assembled to recreate battles. They did this not to relive the glory of battle, but as a remembrance to their fellow soldiers and fallen comrades, and they used these reenactments to educate the public on the true nature of war. Today people still participate in Civil War reenactments, many for the reasons of remembrance and education, but some choose to participate simply to honor an ancestor or to attain a greater historical perspective of the Civil War era.