Archive for January, 2011

In The Words Of Those who Lived It

by Andy Mateja

Just in time for the Civil War Sesquicentennial , a new books series emerges that describes the war by those who lived it.

This four-volume series is a four-year work-in-progress and begins with the following edition :

The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It                                                        Edited by Brooks D. Simpson, Stephen W. Sears, and Aaron Sheehan-Dean Library of America, 840pp., $37.50

This volume and subsequent volumes will include basic documents, diaries, speeches, declarations, diaries letters, journalism and government memorandum,  all collected to facilitate understanding of what the participants were actually thinking and feeling  at the time , instead of what “revisionists” today are interpreting mainly for political correctness.

I believe this series will be an excellent resource for current and aspiring authors to explain causes and effects of the Civil War based on how it really was instead of how it should have been …………………

Why The Civil War Was Fought –

by Andy Mateja

Recently an article was written in the Washington Post by a political journalist that said the Civil War was fought principally over slavery. He selectively chose quotations  from Confederate political leaders supporting his assertion. There seems to be a growing trend by a new breed of “revisionists” to alter the long held belief that “states rights” and “preserving the Union” were the leading motivators of the war.

Most of the Southerners who fought and died for the Confederacy did not even own slaves. Based on diaries and articles written at the time, their main reason for waging war was to preserve the rights of their home states, whom many were more loyal to than the national government. Virginia and other border states enlisted men to prevent the “Yankee invader” from destroying their home and property and defiling their women.

Northern soldiers enlisted to put down the Southern rebellion and to preserve the Union. When Lincoln put out his call for volunteers, tens of thousands joined the Union army without delay. It was only after Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation that Union soldiers began to question what they were fight for and many left the army, refusing to fight to free the slaves. Their cause was national……not political. Resistance to joining the Union army increased in 1863 which led to stronger efforts to “draft”  unwilling participants into the army. The New York City draft riots in July 1863 which occurred less than two weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg , was mainly a wide scale protest of the newly implemented draft that allowed the rich to purchase their way out of serving and exempted freed blacks.  Low wage workers, particularly the Irish, refused to fight and die in an army that was going to free other blacks that could travel North to take their jobs. Over 100 died in these riots including 11 free blacks.   

With the sesquicentennial of the Civil War upon us, it is important to keep the events of this major turning point in our history in perspective. While there were some leaders in the South that wanted to preserve slavery and some leaders in the North who wanted to abolish it, those who actually FOUGHT the war – namely the rank and file , were motivated by other causes.   Over 600,000 died for what they believed in –  preserving or ending slavery was not on the top of their list……………………..