The Civil War to WWI Quiz


By: Marie Hullett

6 Min Quiz

Image: LifeJourneys / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

After years of tension between northern and southern states on the issue of slavery, the Civil War in America began in 1861. Abraham Lincoln's 1860 election provoked the secession of seven southern states, which then formed the Confederate States of America. Four more states soon joined, and a bloody four-year war began. Though the Union won the war, conflicts surrounding race still persist in the U.S. 

Then, just when Americans thought the Civil War was the most conflict they'd ever see, World War I kicked off in 1914. Though the motivating factors for World War I differ starkly from those of the Civil War, they both share a common denominator: unprecedented chaos and bloodshed. An estimated 620,000 people died in the Civil War, while 16 million civilians and military personnel died in World War I. Though the U.S. didn't join the war until 1917, over 116,000 American lives were still lost. 

You might already know that the Union won the Civil War and the Allies were the victors of World War I. Of course, war is always more complicated than winners and losers. So, do you know what happened in between the front lines and the peace treaties? Take this quiz to test your knowledge of the American Civil War and World War I! 

African Americans served in the Union Army. Is this statement true or false?

Black Americans made up about 10% of Union troops, but they were restricted to segregated regiments and earned less pay than their white counterparts. They also weren't permitted to hold positions of authority.


Where were the first shots of the Civil War fired?

On April 12, 1861, Confederate leaders commanded an attack at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, just before sunrise. The fort sparked collision between the Union and Confederacy after the state seceded in the months prior. Both sides wanted to seize it.


In 1915, a German U-boat sunk a British ocean liner. What was the name of the sunken vessel?

For a short time, the RMS Lusitania was the world's largest passenger ship. and held the title of the fastest Atlantic crossing—that is, until the German U-boat torpedoed it off the southern coast of Ireland. More than 1,000 people drowned in the incident, which served to accelerate the U.S. entry of the war.


Which war had more U.S. military casualties, the Civil War or World War I?

Years of battle between Americans left somewhere between 620,000 to 750,000 troops dead during the Civil War, which is more than the total of all U.S. military deaths in every other war combined. By comparison, about 117,000 Americans died in World War I.


What was another common name for World War I at the time?

Near the start of the war, British author H.G. Wells called World War I "The war to end all wars," and the phrase quickly caught on. Woodrow Wilson even used it once. Of course, it was not the war to end all wars, and now the phrase is used mostly sarcastically.


In 1859, a notable abolitionist led a raid on John Harpers Ferry in Virginia. Who was it?

On October 16, John Brown recruited 22 armed slaves to attempt to take over the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry. While Brown asked abolitionist movement leaders Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass to join his raid, neither did. His team was ultimately defeated by U.S. Marines.


What was the first major battle of the Civil War?

Also called the First Battle of Manassas, the Confederates won the first major event of the war on July 21, 1861 in the north of Prince William County, Virginia. Both sides had ill-equipped, poorly-trained troops, but the Union ultimately retreated.


What were the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia?

The battle between these two ships on March 8 and 9, 1862 marked the first between two ironclad navy vessels in world history. Although neither ship sank, both sides attempted to claim victory afterward.


Which general commanded the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front?

John J. Pershing is most famous for serving as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces from 1917 to 1918. He staunchly believed in the Woodrow Wilson's wish for the U.S. to fight under a unified army, and was nicknamed "Black Jack" by troops for his strict, rigid approach.


In 1919, where did the post-war peace conference of nearly 30 nations take place?

After the war, the controversial Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles took place in Versailles. The treaty stipulated the planned creation of the League of Nations and other measures, including strict punishments against Germany.


Which one of the following was not a major battle in World War I?

The Battle of Antietam took place during the U.S. Civil War. The Battle of Amiens, First Battle of the Marne and the Battle of the Somme were all central to World War I.


You might already know that South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union. What was the second state?

After South Carolina, Mississippi seceded from the Union on January 9, 1861. Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee would soon follow suit.


In 1914, someone's assassination played a key role in the onset of World War I. Whose was it?

On June 28, 1914, Serbian terrorists shot and killed Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The assassins wanted to take down Austria-Hungary's South Slavic provinces in order to combine them with Yugoslavia. The event ultimately led to an angry Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia with Germany's support on July 28 of the same year.


Which landmark case ruled that African Americans were not American citizens and therefore could not sue in federal court?

In 1857, the Supreme Court stripped African Americans, whether free or in slavery, of their right to citizenship. The Court also deemed slaveowners' rights as constitutionally protected by the Fifth Amendment and that Congress lacked the power to ban slavery.


What event effectively marked the end of the Civil War?

After four years of fighting, the Civil War concluded on May 9, 1865 at the Battle of Appomattox Court House with a Union victory. The Confederacy crumbled and four million African American slaves were freed.


When did Pickett's Charge take place?

Pickett's Charge marked the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place from July 1 to July 3, 1863. The Charge involved an assault of about 15,000 Confederate soldiers on Union Major General George Meade's roughly 6,500 troops. The poorly planned canon attack led to over 6,000 Confederate deaths.


Which Constitutional amendment abolished slavery?

On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the 13th Amendment of the United States, which formally granted slaves emancipation. The motion outlawed both slavery and "involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."


Where did the Allied Powers land in Turkey on April 25, 1915?

French, British, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in attempt to coerce Turkey out of the war. The Allies hoped to provoke Constantinople in order to forge a path to Russia. The effort resulted in a stalemate and was abandoned a year later.


Who were the "Big Four" during World War I?

The the U.K., Italy and France fought together as Allied Powers during World War I; the U.S. then joined in 1917 as an Associated Power. Although there were representatives from over two dozen nations at the Treaty of Versailles, what was known as the "Big Four" largely dominated the proceedings.


Who was Mata Hari?

The Dutch exotic dancer Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" MacLeod, more commonly known as Mata Hari, was convicted of being a spy for Germany in 1917. A French firing squad killed her in response to accusals that she was a double agent.


Before World War I, the use of tanks in combat was unprecedented. Which battle did tanks first fire?

The five-month battle that unfolded between the Germans against the British and French armies from From July 1 to November 18, 1916, became one of the war's bloodiest. The British employed a tank against the Germans, a novel act that would soon lead to the demise of trench warfare.


In 1917, the German Foreign Office sent a message to Mexico proposing an alliance and urging the nation to take military action against the U.S. What was this famous correspondence called?

In January 1917, German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman sent a coded message to Mexico's German ambassador proposing an alliance. However, the British intercepted and decrypted the message and revealed the content to the U.S. This event ultimately compelled the Americans to enter the war.


What does Anzac stand for?

In 1915, the two groups formed the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps in Egypt. The corps disbanded in 1917 when the Australians built their own military unit.


How many people, including military personnel and civilians, are estimated to have died in World War I?

While estimates vary, experts think that about 18 million people died in World War I, including about 7 million civilians. It remains one of the bloodiest wars in history. Still, World War II remains the most deadly with an estimated 70 million casualties.


On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that would remain famous to this day. It begins, "Four score and seven years ago..." What is it called?

Lincoln gave the famous speech at the Soldier's National Cemetery of Gettysburg, where Union soldiers who died in the Battle of Gettysburg were buried. The speech is commemorated in particular for Lincoln's assertion of the U.S. possessing "a government of the people, by the people, for the people."


Which of the following countries did not partake in World War I?

Although the conflict spanned far and wide, Spain managed to remain neutral throughout the war. The Spanish military dictator Francisco Franco did permit volunteers to join the German army if they agreed to combat Bolshevism and not oppose Western allies.


Which Civil War battle led to the most casualties in a one-day period?

On September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam resulted in 22,717 dead and wounded persons. The combat between Confederate General Robert E. Lee of the Army of North Virginia and Union General George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac remains the deadliest in U.S. history.


Winston Churchill did a lot over the course of his career. What was his notable role in the first World War?

In March 1915, Churchill coordinated a naval attack with British and French forces in attempt to seize the Dardanelles Straits from Turkish forces. The disorganized effort ultimately failed, which tarnished Churchill's reputation.


Maneuver warfare is a type of military strategy that was employed throughout the war. What does this tactic entail?

Maneuver warfare involves the use of abrupt movement to shock and confuse the enemy, thereby impeding their decision-making abilities. It is a common tactic still utilized in wars today.


Germany was in opposition to many countries during the war. Which nation did the country first declare war on, though?

On August 1, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia, partly in response to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Soon after, Germany would also declare war on France and invade Belgium.


The attack on which country by the Germans played a role in Britain's decision to go to war?

On August 4, 1914, the German military invaded Belgium. Prior to the invasion, the Belgian government maintained that if war arrived it would hold its longstanding neutrality. However, Germany's fierce attack forced Belgium to mobilize.


What was the secret plan to divide the Ottoman lands between the French and British called?

In May 1916, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot created the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which would grant Britain control over areas in Jordan, modern Israel and southern Iraq and France control over Syria, Lebanon, northern Iraq and modern southeast Turkey. Much to the embarrassment of the two nations, Russia's government published the details of the plan to the world.


Which nations made up the Triple Alliance formulated in 1882?

On May 20, 1882, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance; the nations then renewed the agreement regularly until 1915 Italy took part in the Treaty of London. Italy then sided with the Allied Powers during the war (rather than the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary).


Which nations made up an alliance called the Triple Entente?

On August 31, 1907, France, Britain, and Russia formed an alliance that likely contributed to their decision to enter the war as Allied Powers. The agreement was named after the French word entente, which means friendship and understanding.


Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was forced to abdicate his throne on March 15, 1917. Who else renounced his throne during World War I?

On June 12, 1917, King Constantine of Greece, who advocated for neutrality in World War I, abdicated his throne. Britain, France and those within Greece, including Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos, pressured him to enter the war which ultimately lead to his renunciation of his title.


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