“Civil War” Sesquicentennial

by: Rex Miller, a short essay as appeared in a local quarterly publication.


     As the year 2011 approached it became apparent that the observation of the carnival of blood euphemistically called the “Civil War”  was about  to be hawked upon an  unsuspecting public for all the wrong reasons. Not that those who gave their lives in defense of the Constitution shouldn’t be honored; or not that the multitude of innocents who  suffered unimaginable deprivation, cruelty and wanton destruction shouldn’t be remembered or that the issues involved are not worthy of discussion, but that for the four years 2011 ~ 2015 there will be very little or none of that!

     Of course, a civil war is one in which opposing factions seek control of the central government. The South sought only to be left alone in order to institute a government of its own. When New England attempted the same ends in 1803, 1811, 1814 and 1844 their rights to do so were never denied by Presidents Jefferson, Madison or Tyler. Those Virginians as well as most if not all of the people of the several States United understood secession to be legal and constitutional. Indeed, the law text used at the Military Academy at West Point taught the same until at least 1860. Thus, the term “Civil War” is a misleading misnomer at best.

     “The propaganda of the victor will become the history of the vanquished” may be a very well accepted truism, but does that mean the vanquished must quietly submit while  bold lies are spread about their dead? Does it mean that civilized people cannot engage others in factual representation of history? Sadly, today there are far too many taboos that studied citizens are forbidden to approach.

     The Confederate Battle Flag was the last banner used by an army fighting in defense of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Yet in our modern climate of fear of offending it is forbidden by folks who by all standards of decency should know better. Schools, businesses, churches and governments all forbid that bloody banner when in reality it represents their last best hope of Constitutional Government.

      Rear-Admiral Raphael Semmes, Commander of the CSS Alabama, in his memoirs said, “If we succeed in preserving the principal of State sovereignty – the only principle which can save this whole country, North and South, from utter wreck and ruin – all will be well, whatever combinations of particular States being made, from time to time. The States being free, liberty will be saved… But if this principle be overthrown, if the mad idea be carried out, that all the American people must be molded into a common mass, and form one consolidated government, under the rule of the majority – for no constitution will restrain them – constitutional liberty will disappear, and no man can predict the future – except in so far, that it is impossible for the Puritan, and the Cavalier to live together in peace.”

Think… blue state, red state.