Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nebraska's Part in the Civil War

It was today, April 12th, 150 years ago, that the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter. The territory known as Nebraska was a long ways from those shots, but yet the creation of the territories of Nebraska and Kansas led to the eventual Civil War. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories for the expansion of the railroad across the continent. In so doing the settlers were allowed to decide whether slavery should be allowed. The struggle between factions in the Kansas Territory was not apparent in the Nebraska Territory. In 1861 slavery was officially prohibited in the Nebraska Territory.

Nebraska men rallied to the cause and fought in the Union Army. Approximately 3,000 served with many giving their lives on the battleground or from disease.

By the summer of 1861 the First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry mustered 1,000 men into service at Omaha. They joined General Grant's campaign in western Tennessee and many were involved in the Battle of Shiloh. The First Nebraska returned to the territory in 1864 and was stationed at Fort Kearny. They provided protection to road ranches and travelers along the Platte Valley.

The Nebraska Battalion, comprised of four companies of Nebraska cavalrymen, joined troops from Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa to form what eventually became known as the 5th Iowa Volunteer Cavalry.

Even though slavery was prohibited in the Nebraska Territory, there were southern sympathizers living there. The population was largely along the Missouri River and close to Kansas and Missouri. Political views were not always in favor of war or the freeing of slaves.

Nebraska was the first to be granted statehood after the Civil War ... on 1 March 1867.

There are many Civil War web sites and the following are recommended for Nebraska genealogical researchers:

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