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The Different Names for the Civil War

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by tmh10, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    The conflict known to most of us as the Civil War has a long and checkered nomenclature. To this day some patriotic Southerners wince at the term, Civil War. These partisans usually favor The War Between the States-and some organizations of descendants of Confederate warriors use this term under their by-laws, and none other. The tide seems to stem from the two-volume work by Alexander Stephens, the Confederate Vice-President, published after the war.

    Most of the names listed are of Southern origin, since they were defeated and their heirs grasped for some expression of unquenched ardor and defiance which would do justice to the Old South. These names have been seriously, not to say apoplectically, offered to the world.

    In a more jocular vein the war has been known as The Late Unpleasantness, The Late Friction, The Late Ruction, The Schism, or The Uncivil War. But in the South in particular it is known simply as The War, as if the planet had not heard a shot fired in anger since '65.
    Some Examples:
    The War for Constitutional Liberty
    The War for Southern Independence
    The Second American Revolution
    The War for States' Rights
    Mr. Lincoln's War
    The Southern Rebellion
    The War for Southern Rights
    The War of the Southern Planters
    The War of the Rebellion
    The Second War for Independence
    The War to Suppress Yankee Arrogance
    The Brothers' War
    The War of Secession
    The Great Rebellion
    The War for Nationality
    The War for Southern Nationality
    The War Against Slavery
    The Civil War Between the States
    The War of the Sixties
    The War Against Northern Aggression
    The Yankee Invasion
    The War for Separation
    The War for Abolition
    The War for the Union
    The Confederate War
    The War of the Southrons
    The War for Southern Freedom
    The War of the North and South
    The Lost Cause
    Source: Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War​
     

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  3. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Very interesting. Thanks for post.
     
  4. Miles Krisman

    Miles Krisman Corporal

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    Although it is commonly referred to as the American Civil War, or more simplistically - the Civil War, it is officially known as The War of the Rebellion.
     
  5. Unionist

    Unionist Banned

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    I sometimes refer to it as the Southern War to Defend Slavery. Usually in response to someone calling it the War of Northern Agression. Good topic. I've wondered about this. I've read quotes from Southerners of the time and they referred to it as the Civil War. It certainly fits the dictionary definition of a civil war. The war between the states name is annoying and now neo-confeds are frowning upon that name.
     
  6. wondering

    wondering Sergeant

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    Unionist, I'm starting to appreciate your mud-wrestling.
     
  7. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    And the beat goes on. We are all quite accustomed to call the Late Unpleasantness the US Civil War. No matter how you parse each name, it's still the Civil War. Stray from that nomenclature by calling it the War of Northern Aggression and you will likely start a pizzing contest. Nobody wants to do that. Do they? I thought we were all adults here.

    Manure, by any other name still stinks.
     
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  8. Unionist

    Unionist Banned

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    Hop in
     
  9. Unionist

    Unionist Banned

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    I do. And I tote a gallon of water around with me so I can keep my bladder full. You've got to nip this stuff in the bud. The are seriously waging a PR war and I am not budging an inch.

    I think you know me better than that. [​IMG]
     
  10. Unionist

    Unionist Banned

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    Take a listen to this slop. This man now thinks the term "War Between the States"(I don't like it either, but the constant changing to find the best fit for victim status is annoying) is bad.


    I don't know who started this myth that the term "civil war" doesn't apply.
    civil war


    noun
    a war between political factions or regions within the same country.
     
  11. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    All very good, or too funny whichever applies. In old family letters, etc., just keep seeing 'The Rebellion' , love to know what similar documents tend to refer to it in the south. Hee- you just know in letters home, unless someone was really pendantic, no one was going to go to all the trouble of writing out ' The War of Northern Aggression' when referring to where they might be and why. I suppose some, just most had to be interested in saying 'Hey' to the family, not spending pencil lead on lengthy descriptions of their political view points.

    Now having said that, doubtless someone will produce letters home from some pendantic and prolific soldier who did just that. :smile:
     
  12. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    In the book, "The Language of the Civil War" by John D. Wright, he gives several meanings of names for the Civil War.

    1. "War Against the States". The name given the Civil War by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston."

    2. "War Between the States". The traditional southern name for the Civil War, still heard today. This term empasized a war between states with equal rights, being opposed to the northern name of "War of Rebellion."

    3. "War for (or of) Independence." A southern name for the Civil War, which in the South was also called the "War for Southern Independence", the" War for Southern Freedom", and the "War for Southern Rights". A year after the war ended, Confederate Major General Jubal Early wrote "A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the C.S.A." (1866) and Confederate Major Heros Von Borcke penned "Memoirs of the Confederate War for Independence."

    4. "War for Separation." A descriptive early southern name for the Civil War."

    5. "War for Southern Nationality or War for Nationality." Early southern names for the Civil War, first heard in 1861."

    6. "War of 1861." An optimistic name for the Civil War during the first year for many people felt it could never last longer. The name was engraved on some "Identity Discs" worn by soldiers. A similar name was "War of the Sixities"."

    7."War of the Rebellion". The official name used by the U.S. Congress for the Civil War while it was happening and until the end of the nineteenth century, when it was printed on the U.S. government publication, "Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies". The name was commonly used in the North, along with "the Great Rebellion". "

    from: "The Language of the Civil War" by John D. Wright, pages 319-320.
     
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  13. KeyserSoze

    KeyserSoze Captain

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    War of the Rebellion. Just about anything else is crass revisionism.
     
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  14. CSA Today

    CSA Today Colonel

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    Civil War is misleading in that it implies the Confederates wanted control of the government in Washington, DC the Confederates didn’t, they wanted control of the government in Richmond, Virginia.

    As for Neo-Confederates frowning on the name War Between the States, they don’t, it’s that they prefer the War for Southern Independence or sometimes the War against Southern independence.

    “A merely fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished.”
    Johan Christoph Schiller
     
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  15. Unionist

    Unionist Banned

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    It does not imply that. It states clearly what it was. Neo Confederates used to call it the War Between the States. That didn't elicit enough sympathy and they've move on now to test another name.
     
  16. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

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    I agree*. "Civil war" or for that matter "Revolution" usually means a power struggle within a nation for control of that nation, e.g. English Civil War, French or Russian Revolution. Both sides in such wars are usually determined to keep the nation together.

    For better or worse "Civil War" and "American Revolution" are the accepted usages, but the ideal would be "war for independence" or if successful "war of independence".

    * with CSA Today; thought mine would be the immediate next post.
     
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  17. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

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    "War Between the States" doesn't help clarify what the war was about; states could be fighting over anything. It sounds more like a disagreement between states within a nation. Nor does "States" really describe either of the combatants. The Union was fighting specifically as, well, a Union, a single entity, rather than a collection of states. One could argue that the southern states seceded as individuals, but they formed and fought as a nation; this remains essentially true despite the states' rights issues which complicated their war effort.
     
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  18. shanniereb

    shanniereb Sergeant Major

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    I just call it the Civil War or War Between the States, that makes is simple for my simple mind :smile:!
     
  19. realevergreen

    realevergreen Private

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    I sometimes call it the war within the states because, in a lot of areas, it was.
     
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  20. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    Most of the letters I have read to or from the ANV have either referred to " the war" which if memory serves was probably the most common or "Mr. Lincoln's war".
     
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  21. Joshua Horn

    Joshua Horn Sergeant

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    I'm not sure how you could say individuals seceded, as technically I don't think that is even possible. Right or wrong, it was the states that seceded.
     

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