Discussion Army University Press: The ‘Union Army’ Is No More

Claude Bauer

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
"...while the historiography has traditionally referred to the “Union” in the American Civil War as “the northern states loyal to the United States government,” the fact is that the term “Union” always referred to all the states together, which clearly was not the situation at all. In light of this, the reader will discover that the word “Union” will be largely replaced by the more historically accurate “Federal Government” or “U.S. Government.” “Union forces” or “Union army” will largely be replaced by the terms “U.S. Army,” “Federals,” or “Federal Army.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/corn...2qlMy7ZkmDH0f3BfVthtJi_aIOEpitG_cvu6I7oeOgZPQ


Deep sigh. Is this directive from the Army University Press really necessary? I think this is a very superficial interpretation of these terms, and they completely missed the mark on this one.

The Northern states were fighting to preserve “the Union,” i.e., the United States of America, where the South was in a state of rebellion. The South’s attempt to illegally dissolve the Union via secession and create their own Confederacy was an act that was being put down by force.

In the minds of the rebels, the Union had been dissolved and was no longer together, but in the minds of the Northerners, the concept of the Union still existed and was to be defended.

“The Union forever, hurrah boys, hurrah!” was not referring to just the Northern states. “Down with the traitor, and up with the star,” meant quash the rebellion, raise the star once again in the lands they claimed, and preserve the Union as it was before.

The CSA was a pipe dream in the minds of the rebels--no one else recognized it or supported it. It wasn’t another country, which is why the whole bloody affair is called the Civil War.

The Northern states weren’t fighting to preserve just “the Federal Army” or just the “Union Army” or just the Northern states; the fight was to preserve the Union—all of it.

Mission accomplished.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
The use of the term "Union" was actually quite common when referring to the United States in the first half of the 19th Century. Of course, it meant the union of all the states, not simply a section of the country. Southerners such as Jackson and Calhoun invoked the term Union with varying degrees of meaning, but overall it was understood to refer to one country. The term fell into disuse after the CW, when the dispute over secession was essentially over, and even during the war when President Lincoln started to refer to the United States as a "Nation."
 

dlofting

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
I think that if the people of the day used the term Union to describe the federal government forces than it is still appropriate today. That doesn't mean that everyone living in the loyal states during the war would have recognized and acknowledged the label, but certainly enough to make its use historical.
 

Claude Bauer

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
I think that if the people of the day used the term Union to describe the federal government forces than it is still appropriate today. That doesn't mean that everyone living in the loyal states during the war would have recognized and acknowledged the label, but certainly enough to make its use historical.
Agree--it's not a one size fits all situation. In fact, the purpose of the US Constitution is to form, "a more perfect Union."

Lincoln believed that, "the union of the states is perpetual," and, "the concept of The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774."

He also maintained that "the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy."

It's inaccurate to say US soldiers were not fighting to preserve the Union of all the states (as well as against slavery) by suppressing the Southern rebellion, because that's exactly what they were doing. Thankfully, they prevailed on both counts.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Union and Federal have long been synonymous, just like Confederate and Rebel.

There's an argument for referring to the Union Army as the US Army, which was technically true. However the US Army is usually synonymous with the American Army, which was not accurate in 1861-1865, there being two American armies.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the army were not regular units or draftees, but entirely volunteer units organized at the state level then accepted into federal service. This method of organization contrasts starkly to 20th century organization. Units in WW1, WW2, etc were organized into regular units, with little regard for state origin. Even National Guard units that forned whole divisions (rather than individual regiments) were effectively no different than the non-NG divisions with regard to organization, at least so far as I know. Thus the term "Union Army" draws attention to how different the US Army was during the ACW compared to before, after, or now.
 

RedRover

Corporal
Joined
Dec 16, 2019
"...while the historiography has traditionally referred to the “Union” in the American Civil War as “the northern states loyal to the United States government,” the fact is that the term “Union” always referred to all the states together, which clearly was not the situation at all. In light of this, the reader will discover that the word “Union” will be largely replaced by the more historically accurate “Federal Government” or “U.S. Government.” “Union forces” or “Union army” will largely be replaced by the terms “U.S. Army,” “Federals,” or “Federal Army.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/corn...2qlMy7ZkmDH0f3BfVthtJi_aIOEpitG_cvu6I7oeOgZPQ


Deep sigh. Is this directive from the Army University Press really necessary? I think this is a very superficial interpretation of these terms, and they completely missed the mark on this one.

The Northern states were fighting to preserve “the Union,” i.e., the United States of America, where the South was in a state of rebellion. The South’s attempt to illegally dissolve the Union via secession and create their own Confederacy was an act that was being put down by force.

In the minds of the rebels, the Union had been dissolved and was no longer together, but in the minds of the Northerners, the concept of the Union still existed and was to be defended.

“The Union forever, hurrah boys, hurrah!” was not referring to just the Northern states. “Down with the traitor, and up with the star,” meant quash the rebellion, raise the star once again in the lands they claimed, and preserve the Union as it was before.

The CSA was a pipe dream in the minds of the rebels--no one else recognized it or supported it. It wasn’t another country, which is why the whole bloody affair is called the Civil War.

The Northern states weren’t fighting to preserve just “the Federal Army” or just the “Union Army” or just the Northern states; the fight was to preserve the Union—all of it.

Mission accomplished.



The "Union Army" included the "United States Army" and not the other way around... For example, from the Military Code of the State of New York, 1866:

1624119485852.png

And from Fred Phisterer:
1624119546319.png



J. Marshall,
Hernando, FL.
 

Borderruffian

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2007
Location
Marshfield Missouri
Well the US Army was actually at the time, made up of Regular Regents ( the standing Army) and Volunteer Regiments ( the Regiments enlisted for war time service) so the Army isn't really wrong, they were all officially US Army. Do I think it's gliding a non-existent lily for some non-existent reason other than the egg heads want too? Why yes, yes I do.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
@Claude Bauer said: "Deep sigh. Is this directive from the Army University Press really necessary? I think this is a very superficial interpretation of these terms, and they completely missed the mark on this one."

I agree completely. Any claim that the "Union army" only represented the "northern, loyal states" is simply inaccurate. It's a non-issue. The United States Army was comprised of Regulars and Volunteers, and both together were the army of the Union (a descriptive, not a title). And the Union consists of ALL the states.

Edited to add:
EVERY state except South Carolina, provided organized state volunteer units to the U. S. Army. And no star ever attached to those 13 stripes was removed even for an hour. In fact, that blue field with the stars is called the Union.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
@Claude Bauer said: "Deep sigh. Is this directive from the Army University Press really necessary? I think this is a very superficial interpretation of these terms, and they completely missed the mark on this one."

I agree completely. Any claim that the "Union army" only represented the "northern, loyal states" is simply inaccurate. It's a non-issue. The United States Army was comprised of Regulars and Volunteers, and both together were the army of the Union (a descriptive, not a title). And the Union consists of ALL the states.
I agree with Mr. Hartwell. The United States Army consisted of both the US Regulars and the US Volunteers. Examine the Mexican-American War as a reference. The army was composed of Regulars and Volunteers. Union is descriptive only.
 
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