THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

I am an Englishman and not a patriot of the United States.

This is, however, my twopenny-worth as a reflection on the American Civil War.

The United States of America was a union of thirty six states formed by the so-called founding fathers with a declaration of independence from colonial rule in 1776.

The two key elements of the declaration were freedom for every American and entitlement to a pursuit of happiness.

One of the legacies of colonial rule was slavery, the concept of which was to contract one individual to another by way of subordination.

The slaves were brought from Africa and the Caribbean.

It was the era of industrialisation and the swing away from slavery to free paid labour across the world.

Slavery remained prevalent throughout the Union.

Significantly less so in the industrial north than the agricultural south where the prosperity gained from cotton and tobacco flourished.

It was somewhat inevitable that the white European settlers of the south who had the most to lose from the abolition of slavery, would be the most resistent to it in their territory and would be the least able to accept an emancipated slave as their equal.

In spite of the founding fathers vision, America remained a divided nation from the time of independence right through the civil war, a period of reconstruction and decades more of racial indifference before finally in 1965, equality for blacks with whites across the Union was acknowledged.

It does, however, seem extraordinary that in a nation state such as America that there could have been such blantant racial discord for so long.

In truth, if you believe in a cause whether or not right or wrong, then it is surely a just one.

Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Generals Lee and Grant, were honest, honorable and humble men who were true to a cause as they saw it.

The Confederates were not necessarily wrong to effect secession.

The Union were not wrong for the corrective actions they took to protect what existed.

The two American States could potentially have separately co-existed side by side.

It was not quite a case of the irresistable force meeting the immovable object.

War was forseeable and predictable but not inevitable.

If it was not an attack on Fort Sumner which sparked conflict, then it surely would have been something else.

Neither the Union nor the Confederates were ready for war.

The Confederates were certainly not ready for governance.

Richmond Virginia was no match for Washington as an administrative capital, let alone Montgomery Alabama.

The Confederates could have held the upper hand if possessed of a more manageable infrastructure, if the fighting force was better trained, if more consideration was given to maintaining morale not just spirit and determination to fight, if a greater sense of objectivity was applied in key decision making and if those who could financially contribute towards the cause did so from their profits.

A war is not won by tactics alone.  It needs strategy, planning, organization, objectives and an infrastructure by virtue of which a military force can access food and supplies.

In the case of the American Civil War, railroads and rivers such as the Potomac and the Mississippi played their part in the outcome of the conflict as did an effective blockade of southern ports and an ineffective embargo on export of products to former colonial powers.

Once the south had what the north did, partly but not entirely due to the economic and political reconstruction of the Union which followed the end of the Civil War,  it slowly but surely dawned on Americans living in the deep south that living the American dream could not be miraged from the past.

There was enlisting and drafting of able bodied men for military service.

There was conscription.

There was recruitment of combatants from overseas.

There was no rebellion or insurrection.

There was no invasion or official border control division.

There was no treason.

There was oppression.

There was self-preservation.

There was patriotism.

For every three men who fought for the Confederates, two had never owned a slave.

For every man who vocalized the cause, there were three more who paid an exemption fee and did not fight.

For every Afro-American who was enslaved, there was another who found it to freedom.

For every American who fought, there was a compatriot who died for the supposed cause.

This was a conflict in which the valiant fought for the true cause.

The true cause was that no man or woman should suffer oppression when there is a more righteous path in the pursuit of happiness.

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