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Civil War Terms and Definitions, S

Part of a fortification, line of defense, or system of trenches that project out toward enemy positions.

A term used by some Southerners to describe Southern whites who joined the Republican Party during Reconstruction.

The act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. After the presidential election of 1860, the South Carolina legislature passed an Ordinance of Secession on December 20, 1860, repealing the state’s ratification of the Federal Constitution. Ten other states eventually followed suite and formed the Confederate States of America.

A person who advocated withdrawal of a state from the United States of America.

The action of an armed force that surrounds a fortified place to isolate it from help or supplies while continuing to attack, especially with artillery bombardments.

A person who is sent out in advance of a main body of soldiers to scout or probe an enemy position. These people often became engaged in skirmishes, or small fights, with the enemy.

Small Arms
Any weapon smaller than a canon and carried by an individual soldier. During the Civil War, small arms included muskets, rifles, shot guns, carbines, and handguns.

A sharpshooter who targets individual enemies and brings them down with shots from extreme distances.

States Rights
A doctrine based upon the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that the “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” States rights advocates believe in a narrow interpretation of the Constitution, which grants the Federal government very limited powers, with all other powers belonging to state governments.

During the Civil War, a substitute was a person hired by another person to fulfill a military obligation. Substitution was a commonly accepted practice that allowed affluent men to avoid military service by paying others to serve in their place.