Restricted The Mythical Civil War and the Historians' Civil War

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Why not, the USA had already grabbed the first half.
With full Southern support at least from slave owners.

You undersell the situation.

Texas was settled by Southerners, founded by Southerners, and annexed because of Southern interests. A Southern president deliberately provoked a war over the disputed border for Southern interests and acquired Mexican territory primarily for Southern interests.

It's grossly disingenuous to pretend that because no entity called the CSA existed prior to 1861 that nothing the USA did pre-1861 had anything to do with the South. The federal government did not ignore antebellum Southern interests. It waged wars to support Southern interests!
 

Pete Longstreet

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
To speak in reference to @donovan67 post, I think this goes for any topic of discussion, civil war related or not. Everyone has biases, it's human nature. There is no way around it. It could be a bias towards people, things, activities, etc. It also can sway a person's thoughts even if the facts present something different. For example, you can give two people the exact same evidence and they may come up with two different conclusions. Same goes for civil war history. Historians contradict each other after reading or studying the same documents. It also happens all the time on this forum... we express our thoughts and beliefs based on what we know, have read, and believe. But it's also a reason why this forum is so interesting.... who doesn't like a good discussion/debate over our favorite topic! I think the best way to look at both sides, north and south, objectively, is to translate yourself back into that time period as much as you can. Look deep into why things happened and what would you do if you were in a certain situation. We will never agree with everyone, but maybe we can understand why some feel so strong about a certain topic, the Lost Cause for example, which you referenced in your post. Even if well documented, history is not always black and white... it falls into the realm of "gray", as most things involving human interpretation usually do.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Everybody can dump on me for this, but the biggest obstruction to truly objective Civil War study is "heritage." There's too much of it. Too many ancestors. Too much family pride and prejudice. Too many axes to grind. Too many cherished monuments and carefully manicured battlefields, all pointedly designed to put a favored spin on their subject. "Memory" is a valuable tool, but always a dangerous one. For many people subject to such influences, genuine objectivity can be all but unattainable. But, we all do what we can, though it behooves us to keep this in mind, to admit and to make an honest effort to challenge our own motives.

Maybe in a million years, when humanity is extinct, some alien scholar
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will resurrect and decipher our archives, and write the true history of the 19th century American conflagration.Though I daresay, it would satisfy none of us today.
 
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Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Location
Canad-istan
I am not going to defend or deny a particular viewpoint...I am really not wrapped up in debates about the reasons for the war, I am mainly fascinated by the military history and the weapons of the time.

But one thing that people should bear in mind about any historical war, is that the history gets written by the victor, resulting in a significant bias that can be difficult to overcome even decades and centuries later.
 

Florida Rebel

Corporal
Joined
May 31, 2019
You certainly have that point 100% correct! Because the South lost it's struggle for independence, not only are they "traitors," they are also racist. The "victorious North" will say whatever they want to say and Lord knows, they have. It used to be ok for Southerners to honor their ancestors with statues, school names and anything else. After all, didn't they put it all on the line in their quest for freedom? But now they're villians and too many people today want to erase anything positive about the Southern people and their cause. And sadly, I don't see many younger people willing to defend the Southern era which leads me to believe it'll all be gone in another 20-50 years.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
You certainly have that point 100% correct! Because the South lost it's struggle for independence, not only are they "traitors," they are also racist. The "victorious North" will say whatever they want to say and Lord knows, they have. It used to be ok for Southerners to honor their ancestors with statues, school names and anything else. After all, didn't they put it all on the line in their quest for freedom? But now they're villians and too many people today want to erase anything positive about the Southern people and their cause. And sadly, I don't see many younger people willing to defend the Southern era which leads me to believe it'll all be gone in another 20-50 years.
Actually, in the South the Lost Causers wrote the history for decades. The best example is the textbooks that were adopted by several state boards of education for nearly a century or so. And I've encountered folks from the South whose families have been there for generations and their version of the "South" is different - people whose ancestors were staunch unionists and, of course, others whose ancestors were slaves. Like everything else, we tend to oversimplify things.
 

Florida Rebel

Corporal
Joined
May 31, 2019
Even the people who believe in the Lost Cause; like myself in 2020, and YES, I really do, are finding more and more people who do not. It saddens me to know how history is changing to a more politically correct view.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Location
Canad-istan
Here's another perspective, from a different era. The Boston Tea Party is heralded by Americans as this epic moment when the people openly showed their defiance of the King, and it is a celebrated event. Celebrated because those defiant people won the war of Independence. Had they lost, it would have gone down as an act of shameful rioting and destruction of private property, with a warning that the next time an unruly mob takes to the streets like that it would be thoroughly crushed by the authorities. Notice that events of today are often portrayed in that light.
 
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Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Location
Canad-istan
You certainly have that point 100% correct! Because the South lost it's struggle for independence, not only are they "traitors," they are also racist. The "victorious North" will say whatever they want to say and Lord knows, they have. It used to be ok for Southerners to honor their ancestors with statues, school names and anything else. After all, didn't they put it all on the line in their quest for freedom? But now they're villians and too many people today want to erase anything positive about the Southern people and their cause. And sadly, I don't see many younger people willing to defend the Southern era which leads me to believe it'll all be gone in another 20-50 years.
Rebels, traitors...how dare they break up the Union, as if the Union was something sacred and god-like. I never heard any other term until just last year when somebody called the Civil War the Second War of Independence ….that name certainly casts the South's struggle in a different light.

Just remember guys, I am not wrapped up in the politics of the time too much. As someone born in the 20th century, I certainly am appalled at the thought of slavery. However, I am a firm believer that when it comes to political unions, nothing is sacred, and the Right to Self-Determination is what I believe in. So, if one of the Canadian provinces wants to separate today, I would say "let them go". Work out the details on debt, currency, trade, transportation issues and let them live as they wish to live. Quebec and Alberta are the biggest complainers about wanting to separate. I would never ever go to war or advocate war to prevent their departure.

Re the ACW: slavery was not the reason for the North going to war. I think the North was eye-ing the unclaimed territories. They figured they would have to fight the South for those territories at some point, so better to fight them while they had no military industry. They then provoked the South into firing on Fort Sumter so they could claim internationally that the South started the war that the North wanted to wage. Back to my main point, this is not how the "history" was written by the victors. Now, I may have over-simplified the facts of the time to make a point here...apologies if I did...but I don't think anyone will deny that territorial expansion and control of North America was a goal of the North. So was the "Union" sacred or was the quest for territories and resources far more "sacred"? I don't ever recall reading about the "sacred territorial quest" in the history books ... hmmmm, I guess they didn't want that reflected in the "history".
 
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Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Here's another perspective, from a different era. The Boston Tea Party is heralded by Americans as this epic moment when the people openly showed their defiance of the King, and it is a celebrated event. Celebrated because those defiant people won the war of Independence. Had they lost, it would have gone down as an act of shameful rioting and destruction of private property, with a warning that the next time an unruly mob takes to the streets like that it would be thoroughly crushed by the authorities. Notice that events of today are often portrayed in that light.
In fact, that's how the British in Boston - the Royal Governor Hutchinson and the general commanding British forces there, Gage - characterized what was going on in the lead-up to 1775. Perspective is everything and reality often doesn't fit a zero-sum analysis.
 
Joined
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Location
Canad-istan
In fact, that's how the British in Boston - the Royal Governor Hutchinson and the general commanding British forces there, Gage - characterized what was going on in the lead-up to 1775. Perspective is everything and reality often doesn't fit a zero-sum analysis.
Yee, I imagine the Brits did characterize it that way. But they didn't get to write the official history, so one has to go look up primary source materials for that type of context/perspective. Thanks for adding that in though, because it emphasizes that perspective is everything.

I'd love to see how Britain's "official history" of that war characterizes the Americans. Rebels, traitors, mutinous ungrateful heathens, an uneducated rabble, etc, etc, etc. No doubt the Brits "lost the war" because of mistakes, logistical problems, domestic problems, etc. and it was a tragic loss considering they waged the war "with just cause", with "the rule of law" on their side, and many other terms to describe why they were in the right and the American traitors were in the wrong.
 
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atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
The pro union mistake is calling it a civil war it was not. The pro confederate mistake is denying the critical role of slavery as a cause for the war. The abolitionists opposed the resettlement of freed slaves in Liberia which was the only viable option for the southern states if the uneducated slaves were freed. Current historians don't want to hold the abolitionists to account for triggering a war.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Location
Canad-istan
Consider this from a different perspective. When the fighting started, the South had no intention of invading the North. The South was only fighting to repel the Northern armies. They only invaded the North during the war in order to force the North to accept that the South had seceded. If Lee won his campaign in the North, the South would not have "occupied" the North and forced the states to adopt slavery or anything else (and racism towards blacks was quite prolific in the North so let's not entertain any fairy-tales about the moral superiority of the North). Lee would merely have gone back home with a peace agreement, content that the issue was settled and that the South was free to pursue its own course. The South was not seeking to subjugate the North.

The fact that the South had millions of people subjugated to slavery was entirely a different matter, and the moral code of mankind has evolved thankfully such that slavery of any people is considered a great evil. Every great civilization, and likely the not-so-great, practiced slavery...sadly, it was the way of the world since probably before history was ever recorded, but it is the South that unfairly seems to bear the burden of guilt for all slavery that was ever practiced by mankind (alas, the post-war record of "civil rights" didn't help with that).

In today's political climate, that would mean virtually ever historical statue, building, religious site, document, art or any other product of those prior civilizations should be taken down and destroyed too. Please text me in advance when they blow up the Sphynx in Egypt because it was built by slave labour...I don't want to miss that spectacle.

These are very complicated issues, clearly, and hence the debate rages 155 years after the ACW ended. But erasing history does not accomplish anything.
 

Fire Eater25

Cadet
Joined
Jul 4, 2019
This great little book gives a good insight to the people and what was happening. I think it explains a lot. Personallly if you are unwilling to see something for what it is you ultimately stop growing and learning and I hate to see that
0D5E0A17-EE12-4605-AF52-F86F5297A681.jpeg
 

Kenneth Almquist

Corporal
Joined
Apr 25, 2014
Consider this from a different perspective. When the fighting started, the South had no intention of invading the North....
The Confederate Secretary of War certainly announced an intention of invading the North (source; also here, column 3):
Montgomery, Friday, April 12, 1861.--An immense crowd serenaded President Davis and Secretary Walker, at the Exchange Hotel, tonight.​
The former is not well, and did not appear. Secretary Walker appeared and declined to make a speech, but in a few words of electric eloquence told the news from Fort Sumter, declaring, in conclusion, that before many hours the flag of the Confederacy would float over that fortress.​
No man, he said, could tell where the war this day commenced would end, but he would prophesy that the flag which now flaunts the breeze here would float over the dome of the old Capitol at Washington before the first of May. Let them try Southern chivalry and test the extent of Southern resources, and it might float eventually over Faneuil Hall itself.​

With the benefit of hindsight, we know that Walker was unrealistic, or perhaps was bluffing to ensuring that the United States went to war, but at the time the threat probably seemed quite real. It would have been a dereliction of duty for Lincoln not to have called up troops in the face of such an announcement.
 

Florida Rebel

Corporal
Joined
May 31, 2019
A possible dereliction of duty for Lincoln? Heck no, that never had a chance of happening! Lincoln goaded the southern attack on Ft. Sumter and got the war he wanted.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I am not going to defend or deny a particular viewpoint...I am really not wrapped up in debates about the reasons for the war, I am mainly fascinated by the military history and the weapons of the time.

But one thing that people should bear in mind about any historical war, is that the history gets written by the victor, resulting in a significant bias that can be difficult to overcome even decades and centuries later.
Definitly not true. Ex Confederates wrote plenty of books such has Jubal Early's " Lost Cause" plus Jefferson Davis wrote his memoirs and have many paid speech's around the US. Southern states after Reconstruction taught their school children how wonderful the Confederacy was. In the 1950s the State of Virginia had a textbook that showed the African Americans came to Virginia as voluntary immigrants. @Pat Young even showed the illustrated page from the text book.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Consider this from a different perspective. When the fighting started, the South had no intention of invading the North. The South was only fighting to repel the Northern armies. They only invaded the North during the war in order to force the North to accept that the South had seceded. If Lee won his campaign in the North, the South would not have "occupied" the North and forced the states to adopt slavery or anything else (and racism towards blacks was quite prolific in the North so let's not entertain any fairy-tales about the moral superiority of the North). Lee would merely have gone back home with a peace agreement, content that the issue was settled and that the South was free to pursue its own course. The South was not seeking to subjugate the North.

The fact that the South had millions of people subjugated to slavery was entirely a different matter, and the moral code of mankind has evolved thankfully such that slavery of any people is considered a great evil. Every great civilization, and likely the not-so-great, practiced slavery...sadly, it was the way of the world since probably before history was ever recorded, but it is the South that unfairly seems to bear the burden of guilt for all slavery that was ever practiced by mankind (alas, the post-war record of "civil rights" didn't help with that).

In today's political climate, that would mean virtually ever historical statue, building, religious site, document, art or any other product of those prior civilizations should be taken down and destroyed too. Please text me in advance when they blow up the Sphynx in Egypt because it was built by slave labour...I don't want to miss that spectacle.

These are very complicated issues, clearly, and hence the debate rages 155 years after the ACW ended. But erasing history does not accomplish anything.
The Confederacy invaded the South West with the goal of siezing the New Mexico Territory plus at least San Bernardino County in Southern California but was stopped at the Battle of Gloritea Pass.
The Confederacy tried to siezed Maryland, Missouri and Kentucky. Before the war slave owners sponsered " Fillabusters" such has William Walker who temporarily siezed Nicaragua to establish bc a slave republic.
No one has argued that the Confederacy wanted to siezed the entire United States just a large part of it.
Leftyhunter
 
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