Is there an "official name" for the Civil War?

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Skip Magyar

Cadet
Joined
Aug 10, 2018
Messages
6
The reason I ask is because I belong to a large genealogy website and in the course of adding a profile for an ancestor I placed him in a few of their predefined categories, to wit:

Categories: Killed in Action, United States Civil War | 77th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, United States Civil War | Battle of Shiloh.

I thought their categorizing it as the "United States" Civil War sounded very odd and I couldn't recall the War being referred to that manner. I'm not a Civil War scholar but I've read over 20 books on the War, researched hundreds of Civil War veterans and I can't recall ever seeing that characterization of the Civil War in print. The States were anything but United at the time.

So for my veteran only, I changed United States to American and added Volunteer as shown below:

Categories: Killed in Action, American Civil War | 77th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, American Civil War | Battle of Shiloh.

This didn't affect anyone else on the website and I felt it was historically more accurate. About a week later someone changed my original post from "American " to "United States". I didn’t recognize the person who changed my post but she appeared to be some kind of site monitor. I changed "United States" back to "American" and a few days later the monitor changed it for a second time.

Next I messaged her the following:

Hi Nancy,
I'm asking you nicely to please stop changing the Bio information for my ancestor John Hepburn

There was never a war called the United States Civil War. It is usually called the American Civil War or the War Between the States or even the War of Northern Agression if you happen to be from the south but it was never the United States Civil War.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at jmagyar2@comcast.net

Thank you,

Skip

I thought that would fix the problem but then I received her response:

Regardless of that, at WikiTree in our category system, it's called United States Civil War. I didn't choose it, but it was chosen by Military and War project in coordination with the Categorization project, sometime in the past.

The category [[Category:Killed In Action, American Civil War]] is an invalid category and will be deleted. We already have a category for this, but apparently it's not what you believe to be correct. If you don't like that category name, you can simply leave it off and ensure that the facts of the man's war service and death are laid out in his biography. We have been removing the use of "American" for the US in categories because the USA is not the only place using "America." Sure, many people around the globe refer to US citizens as "American" but some do not. We are leaning toward using nouns in category names (vs. adjectives.) This is not in full use yet, and we have not reviewed all categories for such a change at this point in time.

Thanks,
Natalie

My response:

It's not a matter of what I believe, it's a matter of historical fact. I would ask the Military and War project to revisit their naming conventions and do a little research on the Civil War. I'm not trying to create a new category. I just don't want incorrect information on my ancestor's profile page.

Please don't change John Hepburn's Biography again.

Thanks,

Skip

Am I being unreasonable wanting to honor my ancestor with accurate information...

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hepburn-1098

...or are they exhibiting yet another example of "political correctness" run amok?

I'd appreciate any comments, pro or con.

Skip
 

Hussar Yeomanry

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 6, 2017
Messages
930
Location
UK
As someone from Britain I have heard it called the US Civil War before. (Probably to differentiate it from all the other Civil War's. But you are also correct that I cannot recall someone from the US calling it that).

As a result it is probably not so much a 'political correctness' thing but a facet of wikitree being international.

[Also be aware this is a contentious subject you are bringing up as some people have very firm opinions on what it should be named.]
 

matthew mckeon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Messages
13,764
Yes, you're being unreasonable. This person is a site moderator, one of the finest, and least appreciated people on the face of the internet. If you want to use their stuff, you've got to follow their rules. Other American nations have had civil wars, so it has the virtue of being specific.

The official name, to the degree there is one is The War of the Rebellion.

My personal choice is TIDOS, Treason in Defense of Slavery. But nobody but me likes this.
 

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
3,193
Location
New Jersey
I believe the US Government once called it "the War of the Rebellion". Southerners have used several other names for the war. When I write about the war I keep in mind who my audience might be. Here in the States, I think the most common term is "the Civil War" as in Civil War Talk. If my audience is likely to consist of readers from other countries I will say, the American Civil War or sometimes abbreviate it to, the US Civil War.
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2016
Messages
3,897
Location
berlin
Yes, you're being unreasonable. This person is a site moderator, one of the finest, and least appreciated people on the face of the internet. If you want to use their stuff, you've got to follow their rules. Other American nations have had civil wars, so it has the virtue of being specific.

The official name, to the degree there is one is The War of the Rebellion.

My personal choice is TIDOS, Treason in Defense of Slavery. But nobody but me likes this.
not true - count me in :D
 

MattL

Guest
Joined
Aug 20, 2015
Messages
3,128
Location
SF Bay Area
Yes, you're being unreasonable. This person is a site moderator, one of the finest, and least appreciated people on the face of the internet. If you want to use their stuff, you've got to follow their rules. Other American nations have had civil wars, so it has the virtue of being specific.

The official name, to the degree there is one is The War of the Rebellion.

My personal choice is TIDOS, Treason in Defense of Slavery. But nobody but me likes this.
I just went with SSSS!

Slavery Slavery Slavery Slavery!

Yours might be more subtle
 

MattL

Guest
Joined
Aug 20, 2015
Messages
3,128
Location
SF Bay Area
The reason I ask is because I belong to a large genealogy website and in the course of adding a profile for an ancestor I placed him in a few of their predefined categories, to wit:

Categories: Killed in Action, United States Civil War | 77th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, United States Civil War | Battle of Shiloh.

I thought their categorizing it as the "United States" Civil War sounded very odd and I couldn't recall the War being referred to that manner. I'm not a Civil War scholar but I've read over 20 books on the War, researched hundreds of Civil War veterans and I can't recall ever seeing that characterization of the Civil War in print. The States were anything but United at the time.

So for my veteran only, I changed United States to American and added Volunteer as shown below:

Categories: Killed in Action, American Civil War | 77th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, American Civil War | Battle of Shiloh.

This didn't affect anyone else on the website and I felt it was historically more accurate. About a week later someone changed my original post from "American " to "United States". I didn’t recognize the person who changed my post but she appeared to be some kind of site monitor. I changed "United States" back to "American" and a few days later the monitor changed it for a second time.

Next I messaged her the following:

Hi Nancy,
I'm asking you nicely to please stop changing the Bio information for my ancestor John Hepburn

There was never a war called the United States Civil War. It is usually called the American Civil War or the War Between the States or even the War of Northern Agression if you happen to be from the south but it was never the United States Civil War.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at jmagyar2@comcast.net

Thank you,

Skip

I thought that would fix the problem but then I received her response:

Regardless of that, at WikiTree in our category system, it's called United States Civil War. I didn't choose it, but it was chosen by Military and War project in coordination with the Categorization project, sometime in the past.

The category [[Category:Killed In Action, American Civil War]] is an invalid category and will be deleted. We already have a category for this, but apparently it's not what you believe to be correct. If you don't like that category name, you can simply leave it off and ensure that the facts of the man's war service and death are laid out in his biography. We have been removing the use of "American" for the US in categories because the USA is not the only place using "America." Sure, many people around the globe refer to US citizens as "American" but some do not. We are leaning toward using nouns in category names (vs. adjectives.) This is not in full use yet, and we have not reviewed all categories for such a change at this point in time.

Thanks,
Natalie

My response:

It's not a matter of what I believe, it's a matter of historical fact. I would ask the Military and War project to revisit their naming conventions and do a little research on the Civil War. I'm not trying to create a new category. I just don't want incorrect information on my ancestor's profile page.

Please don't change John Hepburn's Biography again.

Thanks,

Skip

Am I being unreasonable wanting to honor my ancestor with accurate information...

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hepburn-1098

...or are they exhibiting yet another example of "political correctness" run amok?

I'd appreciate any comments, pro or con.

Skip
No offense, but I think what you might be missing is that wikitree is not intended as a US genealogical only website/database. This means that labels need to have the contextual information to differentiate them. What if you log an ancestor who was involved in a different American Civil War.

I don't think anyone there is saying "American Civil War" isn't an appropriate or more used term for the Civil War that happened in the US, just it doesn't serve well as a global genealogical label.

No political correctness, just non-conflicting categorization. The reality of having a central location for so many different ancestral entries from a variety of Nations and time periods.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
33,528
Location
Right here.
"A few avid defenders of those symbols talk of the War of Northern Aggression, and at least some people assume it is the South’s name for that war. And if not that, they think, white southerners surely call it the War between the States. Yet in a 1994 Southern Focus Poll, still the most extensive poll on attitudes toward the Civil War, when asked the war’s name only 6.5 percent of southerners answered War Between the States, and fewer than 1 percent offered War of Northern Aggression.

"That name came into use only in the second half of the twentieth century. Before the 1950s, almost no southerners used War of Northern Aggression. It emerged out of white southern resentment of federal intervention in race relations during the civil rights era, and its use grew after that, encouraged by the neo-Confederate movement. As the Southern Focus Poll showed, however, even then relatively few southerners adopted it."

https://journalofthecivilwarera.org/2018/09/what-the-name-civil-war-tells-us-and-why-it-matters/
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
33,528
Location
Right here.
The reason I ask is because I belong to a large genealogy website and in the course of adding a profile for an ancestor I placed him in a few of their predefined categories, to wit:

Categories: Killed in Action, United States Civil War | 77th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, United States Civil War | Battle of Shiloh.

I thought their categorizing it as the "United States" Civil War sounded very odd and I couldn't recall the War being referred to that manner. I'm not a Civil War scholar but I've read over 20 books on the War, researched hundreds of Civil War veterans and I can't recall ever seeing that characterization of the Civil War in print. The States were anything but United at the time.

So for my veteran only, I changed United States to American and added Volunteer as shown below:

Categories: Killed in Action, American Civil War | 77th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, American Civil War | Battle of Shiloh.

This didn't affect anyone else on the website and I felt it was historically more accurate. About a week later someone changed my original post from "American " to "United States". I didn’t recognize the person who changed my post but she appeared to be some kind of site monitor. I changed "United States" back to "American" and a few days later the monitor changed it for a second time.

Next I messaged her the following:

Hi Nancy,
I'm asking you nicely to please stop changing the Bio information for my ancestor John Hepburn

There was never a war called the United States Civil War. It is usually called the American Civil War or the War Between the States or even the War of Northern Agression if you happen to be from the south but it was never the United States Civil War.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at jmagyar2@comcast.net

Thank you,

Skip

I thought that would fix the problem but then I received her response:

Regardless of that, at WikiTree in our category system, it's called United States Civil War. I didn't choose it, but it was chosen by Military and War project in coordination with the Categorization project, sometime in the past.

The category [[Category:Killed In Action, American Civil War]] is an invalid category and will be deleted. We already have a category for this, but apparently it's not what you believe to be correct. If you don't like that category name, you can simply leave it off and ensure that the facts of the man's war service and death are laid out in his biography. We have been removing the use of "American" for the US in categories because the USA is not the only place using "America." Sure, many people around the globe refer to US citizens as "American" but some do not. We are leaning toward using nouns in category names (vs. adjectives.) This is not in full use yet, and we have not reviewed all categories for such a change at this point in time.

Thanks,
Natalie

My response:

It's not a matter of what I believe, it's a matter of historical fact. I would ask the Military and War project to revisit their naming conventions and do a little research on the Civil War. I'm not trying to create a new category. I just don't want incorrect information on my ancestor's profile page.

Please don't change John Hepburn's Biography again.

Thanks,

Skip

Am I being unreasonable wanting to honor my ancestor with accurate information...

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hepburn-1098

...or are they exhibiting yet another example of "political correctness" run amok?

I'd appreciate any comments, pro or con.

Skip
You're being unreasonable. "United States Civil War" is a specific name to specify the country involved. The Chilean Civil War of 1829 was in South America, thus it was another "American Civil War." Likewise, the Uruguayan Civil War was another "American Civil War."

"War Between the States" and "War of Northern Aggression" are among the least accurate terms.
 

7thWisconsin

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Messages
1,146
While those are certainly other civil wars that involved Americans, they are conventionally known by other names. The American Civil War is the conventional title for the conflict which occurred in the United States between 1861 and 1865. It is known by that title even by authors and publishers outside the United States. Wargamers abbreviate it as ACW (to differentiate it from the ECW, the English Civil War). I'm gonna go so far as to say that anyone trying to use another name for it in serious discussion is just being pretentious.
 

Skip Magyar

Cadet
Joined
Aug 10, 2018
Messages
6
You're being unreasonable. "United States Civil War" is a specific name to specify the country involved. The Chilean Civil War of 1829 was in South America, thus it was another "American Civil War." Likewise, the Uruguayan Civil War was another "American Civil War."

"War Between the States" and "War of Northern Aggression" are among the least accurate terms.
I appreciate your input but let me suggest that if you asked a Croatian goat herder in the Velebit mountains about the American Civil War, his first thought would not be about the dust up in Uraguay.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
33,528
Location
Right here.
I appreciate your input but let me suggest that if you asked a Croatian goat herder in the Velebit mountains about the American Civil War, his first thought would not be about the dust up in Uraguay.
How many Croatian goat herders are going to be researching genealogy on the internet looking for ancestors in the US?
 

GwilymT

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
690
Location
Pittsburgh
For the purposes of that particular site, it seems that the US Civil War would be the most accurate term. Citizens of the United States have a maddeningly annoying habit of thinking that the term America refers to United States and that these are synonymous terms to be used interchangeably. That being said, the American Civil War is quite well understood to refer to our Civil War (the most common name in the US).

During the war, the US government usually referred to it as The War of the Rebellion, so if there is a historically accurate official term, that would be it. In 1862, the Supreme Court referred to “the present civil war between the United States and the so called confederate states.” And goes on to classify the conflict as such: “recognizing the hostilities between the United States and those States styling themselves the Confederate States” -https://www.lectlaw.com/files/case31.htm

There is no real “officially recognized” name that I am aware of...
 
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