What began as a secessionist action in response to the results of a presidential election escalated into four years of bitter and bloody warfare. The Civil War remains the most devastating conflict in U.S. history; military losses in the Civil War alone are roughly equal to the total losses suffered by American armed forces in all of the nation's other wars to the present time combined. But in the end, the Lincoln administration saved the constitutional republic by prevailing on the battlefield. And during the course of the war itself, the Lincoln administration implemented policies that would end slavery throughout the nation by 1865. With the stakes so high and the results so dramatic, it is no wonder that the Civil War has loomed large in the history of the United States.