Let’s get this statement out of the way: slavery was evil. However, there was more at stake in the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression as it’s called in the South, most notably the right of states to secede and to resist invasion. The explanations for why states cannot be allowed to secede flounder on their own convolutions, especially in light of the fact that the American Revolution was a secessionist movement. Certainly most of the founders supported the right of states to leave the US. No set of political arrangements can ever be set in stone. The attempt to wipe the Confederacy from American history denies history, truth, and recognition of valid principles that animated many of those in the South who took up arms. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
On Sept. 1, 1864, Union forces under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, victorious at Jonesborough, burned Atlanta and began the March to the Sea where Sherman’s troops looted and pillaged farms and towns all along the 300-mile road to Savannah.
Captured in the Confederate defeat at Jonesborough was William Martin Buchanan of Okolona, Mississippi, who was transferred by rail to the Union POW stockade at Camp Douglas, Illinois.
By the standards of modernity, my great-grandfather, fighting to prevent the torching of Georgia’s capital, was engaged in a criminal and immoral cause. And “Uncle Billy” Sherman was a liberator.
Under President Grant, Sherman took command of the Union army and ordered Gen. Philip Sheridan, who had burned the Shenandoah Valley to starve Virginia into submission, to corral the Plains Indians on reservations.
It is in dispute as to whether Sheridan said, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” There is no dispute as to the contempt Sheridan had for the Indians, killing their buffalo to deprive them of food.
Today, great statues stand in the nation’s capital, along with a Sherman and a Sheridan circle, to honor these most ruthless of generals in that bloodiest of wars that cost 620,000 American lives.
Yet, across the South and even in border states like Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, one may find statues of Confederate soldiers in town squares to honor the valor and sacrifices of the Southern men and boys who fought and fell in the Lost Cause.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, President McKinley, who as a teenage soldier had fought against “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah and been at Antietam, bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War, removed his hat and stood for the singing of “Dixie,” as Southern volunteers and former Confederate soldiers paraded through Atlanta to fight for their united country. My grandfather was in that army.
For a century, Americans lived comfortably with the honoring, North and South, of the men who fought on both sides.
But today’s America is not the magnanimous country we grew up in.
To continue reading: After the Confederates, Who’s Next?