Civil War and Reconstruction
Civil War/Reconstruction 7 Civil War/Reconstruction 5 Civil War/Reconstruction 4 Civil War/Reconstruction 2 Civil War/Reconstruction 3 Civil War/Reconstruction 1b

Civil War and Reconstruction

The Civil War (1861 to 1865) and Reconstruction (1865 to 1877) were very difficult times in our country and state’s history.  Most Tennesseans experienced enormous political, social, and economic changes.

During the Civil War more battles and skirmishes were fought in Tennessee than any other state except Virginia.  Why?  

Tennessee was a border state in the Confederacy.  This means that Tennessee was right next to the Union state of Kentucky.  Tennessee was like a gateway for both armies into the other side’s land.  

This is why so much fighting happened in Tennessee.  More than 64,000 Confederate soldiers and 59,000 Union soldiers died here. 

During Reconstruction, Tennesseans had to decide how to deal with the many changes caused by the war.  The most important change was the end of slavery.  African Americans gained many new rights like voting.  

Black and white Tennesseans had to figure out how to rebuild their communities.  People had very different ideas about this.  This caused a lot of conflict. 

Many Tennesseans suffered hardships during the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Ultimately the state re-cover-ed from the war’s devastation and achieved progress.  The changes that occurred in this time continue to affect Tennessee today. 

For older students:


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Picture Credits:
  • Ambrotype, a type of photograph, showing a seated couple, arm in arm.  Tennessee State Museum Collection, X82.1.5

  • Photograph of an African American woman who was a part of the Woods family of Nashville.  The photograph was probably taken in the 1870s so she was not a slave.  The photographer was R. Poole of Nashville.  Tennessee State Museum Collection, 1999.51.5

  • Framed ambrotype of an unidentified child.  Tennessee State Museum Collection, 85.29.3

  • Ferrotype, photograph, of African American Union soldier.  Tennessee State Museum Collection, 76.197B

  • Tintype, photograph, of a Confederate soldier holding a pair of Navy Colt revolvers.  Written inside the case is "Uncle Nate Abel/Civil War Soldier/GMA Ford's brother."  Tennessee State Museum Collection, X85.2.5

  • Hand colored tintype, photograph, of a young woman wearing a broach with someone's picture in it.  Inside is written "April 15th, 1862, Nashville."  Tennessee State Museum Collection, 95.19.147

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this web site do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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