The border states during the Civil War were the slave states that didn't leave the Union. These states included Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. West Virginia, which separated from Virginia during the war, was also considered a border state.
Border States by Ducksters
Kentucky - President Abraham Lincoln considered Kentucky's loyalty to the Union as an important factor in the Union winning the Civil War. Kentucky began the war as a neutral state, but later came under Union control.
Maryland - Maryland was also very important for the Union. The land of Maryland was the only thing standing between Virginia and the Union capital at Washington D.C. The war would have gone very differently had Maryland seceded from the Union. Maryland voted to abolish slavery during the war in 1864.
Missouri - At the start of the war Missouri decided to remain with the Union and not secede, but many people in the state felt that the war against the Confederacy was wrong. As the war progressed, the Missouri state government split into two rival governments. One of the state governments voted to secede from the Union while the other wanted to stay. As a result, the state was claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy for a period of time.
Delaware - Although Delaware was a slave state, few people in the state were enslavers at the outbreak of the war. The state didn't actually border any Confederate states and was always loyal to the Union.
West Virginia - When the state of Virginia seceded from the Union, West Virginia broke away and formed its own state. It remained loyal to the Union, however, the people of West Virginia were split. Around 20,000 West Virginia men fought on the side of the Confederacy.
Other Border States
Other states that are sometimes considered border states include Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Kansas. All of these states had strong support for both the Confederacy and the Union.
Why were they important?
Keeping control of the border states played an important role in the victory for the Union. These states gave the Union the advantage in troops, factories, and money.
Did everyone support the Union?
Not everyone in the border states supported the Union. In some cases, like Missouri and West Virginia, the support for each side was fairly evenly split. Thousands of soldiers from the border states headed south and joined the Confederate Army. There were also politicians in these states who fought hard for secession. Even if they didn't want secession, many of the people of the border states thought the war against the Confederacy was wrong. They felt that the states should be able to leave the country if they wanted.
Slavery and Emancipation
The border states were the primary reason that President Lincoln waited so long to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Abolitionists in the North were demanding that he free the enslaved. However, Lincoln knew he needed to win the war. He was stuck between wanting to free the enslaved and needing the border states to win the war. He knew he had to win the war to truly free the enslaved.
Did brothers really fight brothers?
Yes. There were many cases where brothers were fighting brothers on the same battlefield. Families all across the country were split over the issue. Even sons fought against their fathers.
Interesting Facts about the Border States During the Civil War
Abraham Lincoln once said that "I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky."
Brothers James and William Terrill each became brigadier generals, William for the North and James for the South.
Although Tennessee seceded, it came under Union control in 1862.
Missouri and Kansas became the home of small raids and guerrilla warfare. The worst of these raids was the Lawrence massacre where a small band of Confederates killed around 160 civilians in Lawrence, Kansas.