21 Surprising Facts About Civil Wars

A series of civil wars occurred in the 1st century Roman Republic which is recognized as the first ever interstate war occurred in the world that we know today. Since then, there had been countless interstate conflicts and many of them totally changed the course of the nation’s history. In a study, commissioned by the World Bank in order to understand the various causes of the conflict, they came out with the Collier–Hoeffler Model or the theory of Greed verses Grievance.

In simple terms, either these conflicts are based on ethnicity, religion and other social affiliation, or because of political and most importantly economical greed of individuals and groups. Well, we are not here to talk about economic consequences of civil war or about socio-political factors leading up to it. Here it will be purely facts based, facts about civil wars that were not popularly known. Presenting 30 surprising facts about Civil Wars.


Image source: history

The American civil war featured a peculiar moment, when members of a prominent family fought against each other. Thomas Leonidas and George B. Crittenden were brothers who also served as generals during the American Civil War. The interesting part; one for the North and the other for the South.


In 1967, the Nigerian Civil War was halted for two days because the whole nation wanted to watch their favorite soccer player Pele in an exhibition match. However, according to some source, the ceasefire story is a myth despite it has been widely reported by CNN, Time, and The Guardian.


The Confederacy was never diplomatically recognized by any foreign nation during the entire American Civil War. For instance, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, although legally recognized the Confederacy as belligerent, but however, never recognized it as a nation and never signed a treaty or exchanged diplomats.


During the Spanish Civil War, Nationalists actually had no more than a dozen of Americans sided with them. But Francisco Franco did gain a crucial support of Texaco chief executive Torkild Rieber, a Norwegian-American businessman. During the war, Texaco illegally supplied thousands of barrels of oil to Nationalists for war purposes.


Mary Edwards Walker was an American feminist and surgeon during the U.S. Civil War. As of 2017, she is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor. She was captured by Confederate army forces after intentionally crossing enemy lines to aid wounded civilians.

As a result, she was deported to Richmond, Virginia as a prisoner of war, until released in a prisoner exchange. After the war, she was honored with the highest United States Armed Forces decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor, for her courageous efforts during the Civil War.


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Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was a war hero and one of the South’s most successful generals during the American Civil War. Thomas Jackson won many key battles against the Northern forces and was the main reason behind the unsuccessful raid of the Union in Richmond, Virginia. Unfortunately, he was shot by his own forces during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Though, he didn’t die because of the shot wound, but from pneumonia on May 10, 1863.


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The last surviving Civil War widow didn’t pass away until 2008. Maudie Hopkins was born in 1914 and at the age of 19 she married an 86-year-old civil war veteran. She died on August 17, 2008, in a nursing home in Lexa, Arkansas, aged 93.


Image source: Life Magazine

Soon after the outbreak of civil war in 1961, every single student in the University of Mississippi were enlisted for the Confederate Army. Sadly, they suffered a 100% casualty rate.


By the end of the Civil War, lotteries in the USA were prohibited in most states except Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky.


In 1865, at the aftermath of the American Civil War a considerable amount of Confederates left the region; many moved to other parts of the United States, but a few left the country to search their new home. There were nearly 20,000 confederates who immigrated to Brazil, where slavery remained legal. Today, even though many of them returned to the United States, there are still some living in different parts of Brazil.


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Sam Houston, the general who guided Texas to its independence from Mexico, was removed from his post as Governor after refusing to support the Confederacy during the Civil War.


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Sideburns are actually named after a Union General, General Ambrose Burnside. General Burnside is known for his successful campaigns in North Carolina and East Tennessee and was the first president of the National Rifle Association.


During both the World Wars, Spain remained neutral. But, at the same time experienced a civil war from 1936 to 1939, which resulted in Nationalist victory after over 500,000 human casualties.


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Argentina became independent in July 18, 1818 after eight year long war of independence. It was quickly followed by a series of extended civil wars from 1818 to 1880.


In 2005, Internationally acclaimed, Ivorian soccer player Didier Drogba put a cease-fire in his home country of Ivory Coast that brought a five-year civil war to an end.


During the American Civil War, if you were drafted for combat in a war front, you could legally pull out of it. You just have to pay someone else $300 to go in your place.


Since 1945, there has been a staggering amount of international intervention in civil wars throughout the world that some have argued served to extend wars. According to Patrick M. Regan in his book Civil Wars and Foreign Powers (2000), about 2/3rds of the total 138 conflicts between the end of World War II and 2000 saw major international intervention. With the United States intervene in 35 of these conflicts.

Read: 15 Bizarre World War 2 Weapons


Throughout the Spanish Civil War (1936- 1938), despite the fact that the U.S. government officially maintained a neutral stance, nearly 3,000 American nationals volunteered for the Republican cause. Many of those, who had never fired a gun .


Writers and reporters from all over the world gathered into Spain during the civil war. Some of whom, without the fear of death, managed convey their message to the world by risking their lives staying on the front lines, while others filing articles from safe distant places. For instance, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry flew his private plane to exclusively report on the conflict, whereas George Orwell survived a bullet wound on the neck while serving with a Republican militia. Various famous artists produced countless unforgettable arts related to the war, most notably Pablo Picasso, whose famous painting “Guernica” portray the bombing of a innocent town by Hitler’s Condor Legion.

Read: 51 Interesting World War 2 Facts


In October 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu brought the Somali civil war into the international attention. During the battle, 18 U.S. Army Rangers and hundreds of Somali civilians were killed and two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down above the Somali capital.


The Russian Revolution ignited when anti communist White movement revolted against Lenin’s Bolsheviks with their Red Army. But it was more messier and complicated than it looks. Among the many factions were various types of socialists, anarchists, monarchists, nationalists, capitalists, and peasants defending their own homeland. Huge amount of foreign intervention made it one of the most important event in the world history.

Written by
Bipro Das

Biprojit is a content writer with over 7 years of experience covering gaming and anime topics. He is also interested in the retail sector and often writes about popular retail brands with a keen interest in their business model.

Biprojit has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Delhi, majoring in Geography.

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