Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Civil War & Lincoln

The Civil War

We have a new exhibit at TeachingAmericanHistory called The Civil War Sesquicentennial. We put it up today because the war began today, one hundred and fifty years ago. On the evening of April 13, 1861, The New York Times started its report with the following words: "Major Anderson has surrendered, after hard fighting, commencing at 41/2 o'clock yesterday morning, and continuing until five minutes to 1 to-day. The American flag has given place to the Palmetto of South Carolina...."

In a speech delivered in Germany to a group of Americans in the late 1870s, U.S. Grant distilled into a few sentences, according to the historian Gary Gallagher, what most loyal citizens would have said gave most meaning to their great internecine conflict:

"What saved the Union, was the coming forward of the young men of the nation.  They came from their homes and fields, as they did in the time of the Revolution, giving everything to the country.  To their devotion we owe the salvation of the Union.  The humblest soldier who carried a musket is entitled to as much credit for the results of the war as those who were in command.  So long as our young men are animated by this spirit there will be no fear for the Union."

Discussions - 3 Comments

Does that include those who were drafted and those right off the boat? That picture is very patriotic, but overlooks a lot of gritty reality.

What is the source of your information claiming men were drafted right off the boat? I saw that depicted in "Gangs of New York" but had read or heard nothing about it before or since.

I didn't get the notion from that movie, but from history classes I took years ago. Why does it matter to you -- it is clearly the case that the Federal govt. was desperate for soldiers and that it went after immigrants in a big way.

You need to stop questioning every little detail. Isn't it enough to understand that millions of Americans think the whole process was illegitimate? FORCING people to stay in the Union isn't an American notion. Haven't we always prided ourselves on the voluntarism of our system (cf. the Berlin Wall)? This was an unfortunate era of American history, and the only reason I keep commenting on it is because so many people on the blog think that it was our finest hour!

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