What Were Positive Effects of the Civil War?

By Sarah Bostock

More than 617,000 Americans lost their lives in the Civil War, but it did produce a few positive effects. It enhanced the notion that America was a whole country and not just a collection of states. The war closed the door on slavery, and led to new laws that gave federal protection to all citizens. It also led to advancements in health care and helped spread the game of baseball.

Reconstruction Amendments

Amendments 13, 14 and 15 of the U.S. Constitution are called the Reconstruction amendments because they address the legal and political status of African-Americans. Amendment 13 abolished "slavery and involuntary servitude." The 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized" in the United States, including African-Americans. It declared every state must provide equal protection to all people within its jurisdiction, including African-Americans. The 15th Amendment gave all male citizens the right to vote regardless of "race, color or previous conditions of servitude."

Medical Advances

In June 1861, The U.S. Sanitary Commission was created to help reduce disease in field hospitals. The Commission stressed the importance of well-ventilated hospital tents, clean water and good food, but few field hospitals had access to such necessities. Twice as many soldiers died from disease than war wounds. Union Gen. George McClellan authorized a trained ambulance corp, and both armies incorporated them. Also, field hospitals were permanently staffed with doctors, nurses, and volunteers, which led to greater efficiency in military hospitals.

Professional Nursing

Approximately 2,000 women volunteered as nurses in military hospitals. Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton were instrumental in creating a professional Nursing corps, which significantly increased the occupational and educational roles of women in American society. Barton helped create the American branch of the International Red Cross after the war ended.

New Military Technologies

Historians consider the Civil War the "first modern war" because of the new military technology in which it was fought. It was the first to use more rifles than smoothbore muskets, which increased reloading speed, range, and accuracy. The "minie ball" bullet, which was developed with these rifles in mind, made the rifles even deadlier. As a result, the full-on frontal assaults common in war until then were more likely to fail. Generals had to rethink how they could assault or protect a position, which led to concepts like trench warfare.

Baseball Culture

Before the war, baseball was mainly a Middle Atlantic states game. The National Association of Baseball created in 1857 consisted of 16 New York teams. Many soldiers passed the time in their camps playing baseball. So did Union prisoners held in Confederate camps. That exposed the game to the South. By 1867, just two years after the war ended, the National Association of Baseball consisted of 400 teams all over the United States.