How Much Do You Really Know About the Confederacy?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: George N. Barnard

About This Quiz

When he was elected president in the fall of 1860, Abraham Lincoln knew that he had his work cut out for him. Little did he know, however, just how dire the situation would become. His Southern brothers rebelled against his authority, creating a new nation with its own values and laws. How much do you know about the Confederate States of America?

In the mid-1850s, America’s population was mostly concentrated in the eastern part of the country. But the northern region was much, much different from the South. The so-called antebellum era found the North embracing the Industrial Revolution, while the South maintained older (and rather savage) traditions. Do you know the issues that divided these cultures?

As national politics deteriorated, the South gave rise to the Confederate States of America. Suddenly. America was divided into two parts – an untenable situation, particularly for the North’s new president. Do you know how the Civil War began?

Men like “Stonewall” Jackson, James Longstreet, Jefferson Davis, and many more were about to become icons of rebellion. Their deeds – and misdeeds – served as lessons for generations to come. Crank up “Dixie” and fire up the cotton gin, let’s see how much you know about the Confederacy that started the bloodiest war in American history. Take our Confederacy quiz now! 

How did the Confederate States of America spark the American Civil War?

In 1861, the Confederate States of America -- the Confederacy -- seceded from the Union. President Abraham Lincoln immediately told his armies to bring the rebels back into the fold.


Which event caused the Confederacy to choose secession?

In November 1860, Abraham Lincoln's election was the last straw for the South, which wanted to preserve rights particular to its way of life. It was the beginning of an incredibly bloody era.


Who served as the president of the Confederacy?

Jefferson Davis was president of the Confederacy during its short existence, from 1861 to 1865. He was a native of the South, born in Kentucky in 1808.


How many Southern states took part in the secession that caused the Civil War?

At the start, there were seven states that seceded, and ultimately four more joined them, making the rebellion 11 states strong. About 9 million people lived in the rebel states.


The Confederate states were obsessed with which issue?

In the South, legislators wanted the power to do as they pleased -- they wanted powerful states rights that would overrule federal control. But as the Confederates found out, in a republic, things don't really work that way.


The Confederate constitution specifically forbade any laws that might affect which issue?

The Confederates were blatant in their mission to preserve slavery. Their constitution included clauses that prohibited any sort of laws that could undermine slavery in any way.


How many people were enslaved in Confederate states at the start of the war?

When the South seceded, slave owners held more than 3.5 million people in bondage. Many of them celebrated the outbreak of war, but it would be years before most of them finally saw freedom.


What role did a man named Robert E. Lee play in the Confederacy?

General Robert E. Lee was the South's most capable and famous commander. More than once, his outnumbered forces defeated Union troops that had the upper hand.


At the end of the war, which city served as the capital of the Confederacy?

At the war's outset, Montgomery, Alabama was the capital of the Confederacy. The capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia in the spring of 1861, and it remained there until the war's end.


True or false, was Confederate President Jefferson Davis a slave owner before the war?

Davis worked on a plantation in Mississippi. Just before the war broke out, he had 70 or more slaves working the cotton in his fields. So it's no surprise that he fell on the side of the Confederates.


How did the South's economy compare to the North's at the start of the war?

Factories boomed in the North in the pre-War era. But the South was entirely reliant on agriculture … and slaves. Southern society as a whole was less advanced than in the North.


How many men served in the Confederate military during the war?

Roughly 900,000 men served in the South's military. That number was about half the size of the Union Army.


During the war, what sort of leader was President Jefferson Davis?

Davis was not a good war president. He squabbled over pointless details, ignored vital civil matters, and had none of the common sense of the Union's Abraham Lincoln.


Why did the Confederacy expect that it would have Britain's support in the rebellion?

Britain needed Southern cotton for its sprawling textiles industry. The Confederacy figured that this was a great poker chip in terms of overall war strategy, one that would find the English aiding the South.


The Confederacy figured it could leverage its cotton exports to influence Britain's policies during the war. Why didn't this strategy work?

The cotton-as-leverage gambit was logical. But Britiain had warehouses full of Southern cotton already, so the country could withstand the loss of new imports, at least for a while.


True or false, did diseases and other hardships cause more Confederate deaths than combat?

War is hell, especially when there's no modern medicine. Roughly 100,000 Southern troops died in combat. About twice that number died from disease and other difficulties associated with warfare.


The Confederacy implemented a draft to build its army. But it exempted which men?

The Confederate draft had some contentious loopholes. The most glaring was an exemption that allowed men with 20 or more slaves to avoid serving in the army -- an obvious way for the wealthy to dodge combat.


Many Confederate men avoided the draft thanks to a policy known as ______.

The South allowed "substitution" process, in which draftees could pay a substitute to take their place in the army. The policy was blatantly unfair and led to all manner of corruption.


Before the war, the South produced roughly what percentage of U.S. manufactured goods?

The North had about 90% of the country's manufacturing capabilities. In other words, right from the start, the South was at a huge disadvantage in terms of war production.


Nathan Bedford Forrest was a famous Confederate general and also a leader of the ______

Nathan Bedford Forrest was an aggressive general who showed no mercy to his Union foes. He was also a prominent leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and the first Grand Wizard in the organization's history, thereby doubling his shame in history.


How did the Emancipation Proclamation affect British and French involvement in the war?

When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 (two years after the war's start), the legislation effectively made it impossible for Britain and France to side with the South. Neither country wanted to be associated with a slave-holding country like the Confederacy.


What sparked the so-called "Southern bread riots" in early 1863?

The Union Army strangled Southern food supplies during the war. Food was so hard to come by that a Southern "bread riot" saw people breaking into shops to steal food and other items.


How many major slave uprisings were there in the Confederacy during the Civil War?

During the war, there were no giant uprisings by slaves hoping to expedite the process of emancipation. Instead, their freedom wouldn't come until the Confederacy finally collapsed.


What effect did the Union victory at Vicksburg have on the Confederacy?

When Union forces triumphed at Vicksburg, they took control of the Mississippi River, effectively chopping the South in two. It was another nail in the Confederacy's coffin.


Which Confederate victory had Northerners worried that they might lose the war?

In 1863, Confederate Braxton Brigg scored a major victory in Georgia at the Battle of Chickamauga. Some Northerners feared that their defeat might lead to even bigger losses down the road.


Of the following Confederate states, which saw the LEAST combat action during the war?

Battles raged all over Virginia and Tennessee during the war. Western states like Texas, however, saw comparatively little bloodshed.


In 1864, the Confederate was desperate for soldiers, requiring all able-bodied men ages 17 to _____ to serve in the military.

As the war claimed many thousands of Confederate soldiers, legislators kept changing the ages for conscription. By 1864, all capable men between 17 and 50 were required to report for duty.


True or false, did Missouri officially declare secession and join the Confederacy?

During the war, the Confederacy attempted to prod both Missouri and Kentucky to become part of the rebellion. Neither state declared secession, and they were never in Confederate control, either.


In 1865, the Confederacy dispatched a diplomat to Europe with a desperate last-ditch effort to gain foreign assistance. What did that diplomat offer?

In 1865, a Confederate diplomat named Duncan Kenner traveled to Europe. He offered to free all of the South's slaves in exchange for foreign help, but it was far too little, far too late. The South was doomed.


In 1865, what major event happened at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia?

On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army. His defeat essentially marked the end of the Confederate rebellion.


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