09 June 2010

Interesting Post By Michael Hardy

Fellow WBTS blogger and author, Michael Hardy, recently posted some interesting comments on his blog, North Carolina and the Civil War. In his post, "Why Don't They Get It?" - Michael raises some questions about the different "interpretations" of the war and refers to historian Gary Gallagher's 4 distinctions in a recent Civil War Times piece: "the Emancipation Cause, the Lost Cause, the Reconciliation Cause, and the Union Cause."

Michael quotes Gallagher's observation: “the Union Cause is the least appreciated of the four great traditions. It is dismissed as unworthy, of great sacrifice by many historians and is virtually absent in the popular understanding of the war.”

Michael focuses his comments and raises questions, specifically, about the Emancipation Cause vs. the Union Cause and points out that the emancipation of slaves was not foremost in the minds of Union soldiers:

"If emancipation was what the soldiers themselves saw as paramount, would it not have appeared on their monuments?" 

So often we see academics (mostly Northerners) psychoanalyze Confederate monuments. It's interesting to see someone raise similar interpretation and "memory" questions regarding Union monuments.

There's much more to his post and you can read the rest of Michael's comments here.


David H Jones said...


I have yet to hear the war referred to as "The War to Abolish Slavery" in either a period or present day account . . . and I've read plenty of both from all points of view. Besides the ever-popular "Civil War", we hear "The War of the Rebellion", "The Secession War", "The War for Southern Independence", "The War of Northern Aggression" . . . and probably the most accurate name . . . "The War Between The States."

Michael Hardy has it right in my humble opinion.


David H. Jones

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hey David, good to hear from you! Thanks for your input.

Michael Bradley said...

It is slso significant that the U.S. forces called themselves the Union Army or Federals.

Anyone who reads original source material knows that most Union soldiers cared very little for African Americans. Indeed, the adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation caused a serious drop in the morale of the Army of the Cumberland which was camped at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, at the time. Major James Connoly, in Three Years in the Army of the Cumberland, makes this quite clear. These midwestern Yankees accepted emancipation merely as a way of weakening the Confederacy and ending the war sooner. None of the midwestern states gave civil rights to African Americans within their borders, indeed, several--including Illinois and Iowa--had exclusion clauses in their state laws which required any "free person of color" to post a bond on entering the state with the intent of making sure such persons did not settle in that state.

One might also recall the way in which some northern states ratified and then resecnded the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Michael for adding to the discussion.