I've never had a problem with the term "Civil War." Though I concede it's not technically accurate when describing the conflict in the United States that occurred from 1861-1865. I use the terms, "War Between the States" (more common in the South) and "Civil War" (more widely accepted in the general population) interchangeably and often within the same paragraph. Of course, WBTS is not accurate either. Not all the states were at war with each other. New York was not fighting Maine and Virginia was not at war with Tennessee. But General Lee referred to the conflict as the "Civil War", so it's ok with me. (So did Jeff Davis & Nathan Bedford Forrest.)
However, Merriam-Webster defines Civil War as: "a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country." Since the Southern states had seceded and proclaimed themselves no longer part of the Union, their inhabitants were no longer "citizens of the same country." The South was attempting to leave the Union peacefully and form a new Nation, thus the term "Civil War" is not accurate.
I believe that the most accurate term (though I rarely us it), and one put forth most notably by *Douglas Southall Freeman, is the term "War for Southern Independence." Most who make an issue of the numerous terms are doing so for various reasons:
- They honestly believe their preferred term is the more accurate one.
- There are sectional reasons for their preference.
- There are political motivations.
And all sides of the debate are included within the 3 groups noted above.
*I realize the term pre-dated Freeman.