Let America never repeat Civil War of 150 years ago
The Civil War occurred 150 years ago. There were more American casualties in that war than in any other American war, before or since. My father was born in 1909, about 45 years after that war, and he spoke with veterans and participants of that war in the way that you and I spoke to the veterans and participants of World War II. He talked with people who had lived through that war, and he came away from those conversations with the feeling that it was the greatest mistake in American history.
The claim is made that the Civil War ended slavery, and to the credit of the war’s outcome, that was true. However, slavery was only one issue in the disagreements of the North and the South. The war was fought because those two lifestyles, that of the North and that of the South, were considered to be incompatible. While the victorious North proudly proclaimed the elimination of slavery, the North ignored the introduction of a forced military induction that filled its army ranks.
Both sides claimed that God was on their side. But surely if any God was watching, he must have been dismayed at both sides. The carnage of the Civil War far exceeded that of earlier warfare. It was not a proud moment in American history. The North won, not based on any moral grounds, but because it was in a better industrial position to fight the war of attrition that it had become.
Matthew Brady’s photographs of the war shocked many as to the brutalities of the 1860 battlegrounds. It would be better that we remembered those photographs as a truer representation of that war than remembering the speeches of Gettysburg.
As bad as the war was to the populace of the North, it devastated the South. Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) wrote stories of both sides drawing from his own experiences of that period. He tells the story relating to the fullness of the moon as it appears in the South. A woman from New York traveled to New Orleans after the war and remarked to a woman there how beautiful the moon was in the southern night sky. The southern women replied, “Oh dearie, I wish you could have seen it before the war.”
Let us hope that our differences never again deteriorate to the point that we ever find ourselves in another civil war.
Donald Butler, Warren