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View Full Version : Why are we Americans obsessed with the Civil War?



Chogy
30 Oct 09,, 14:38
I don't have any books to add to an otherwise excellent list, just an observation, and I apologize beforehand for any thread drift. But I'm curious... Do those WAB members not living in the U.S. shake their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about over a 150 year old civil war that never really exited the borders of this nation? Americans are obsessed with this war. Every unit, every officer, every move, every decision has been recorded, analyzed, and debated ever since the war itself, in unending detail.

The U.S. Civil War truly tore this country apart, but that alone doesn't explain the volume of literature, the debate, and the fact that there are still hard feelings, especially in certain rural areas of the South; these feelings having been handed down in a generational manner.

So do non-Americans wonder "why the huge fuss? Let it go." And the obvious question, "Why are we Americans obsessed with this war?"

TopHatter
30 Oct 09,, 19:35
Do those WAB members not living in the U.S. shake their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about over a 150 year old civil war that never really exited the borders of this nation?I think part of the fascination of the Civil War exists for that very reason: It did not go beyond the borders of the United States (with the obvious exception of certain naval actions).

There was no "hard to understand" foreign opponent who spoke a totally different language or battles at a funny-named geographic location that you'd probably never visit in your lifetime.

Want to see a Civil War battlefield? Look in your own backyard.
Want to read about a Civil War soldier or general? Look in your own family tree.

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.


Every unit, every officer, every move, every decision has been recorded, analyzed, and debated ever since the war itself, in unending detail. Same reason as before: Every officer was an American, North and South. These were men that in many cases had fought side-by-side in the past and now they squared off against each other on opposites sides of the battlefield.


The U.S. Civil War truly tore this country apart, but that alone doesn't explain the volume of literature, the debate, and the fact that there are still hard feelings, especially in certain rural areas of the South; these feelings having been handed down in a generational manner.Again, you yourself gave the reason: The literature, debate and hard feelings are a direct result of this country tearing itself apart and the long and painful aftermath of Reconstruction.

The great experiment in democracy had apparently failed, to all appearances.

Oscar
30 Oct 09,, 19:58
And what else would you talk about when discussing national history? The US is just two centuries old thats not incredible compared to other countries. :)

I'm not sure if the rest of the world is very interested about it thats right, but this fascination is understandable for Americans since its the only one whose outcome would have radically affected their country's destiny (bar independance of course). It happened on their soil, it was the bloodiest war they ever had to fight and it was the only time the civilian population suffered from the pain and misery of a war.

Chogy
31 Oct 09,, 12:49
t was the bloodiest war they ever had to fight and it was the only time the civilian population suffered from the pain and misery of a war.

I find this particularly telling. WW2 in the sense of enemy action did not really touch us. The war of 1812 saw more destruction on U.S. soil than both world wars, discounting the coastal menace of the German U-boats.

When I look at photos of some of the ruins in the South, there is little doubt that the destruction and suffering was very real and significant.

What I find interesting in the U.S. Civil War is the juxtaposition of old tactics with new equipment. It was a foreshadowing of wars to come. We see metallic cartridges and repeating arms in the Spencer, explosive shells, mass casualties from ill-advised frontal attacks, ironclads, a submarine, even aerial observation from balloon corps. Mass conscription. And a vague taste of the total war concept.

If the civil war had been fought in 1895 instead of 1865, you'd have had smokeless powder, Mausers, breechloading cannon, and perhaps some WW1-style warfare. If it had been fought in 1845, casualties would have been fewer, and the industrialization of the destruction would have been less evident.

The war was fought at a unique time in terms of armament, and tactics evolved to deal with it.

I am definitely an armchair historian; these are just my general impressions.

oliveryty
31 Oct 09,, 12:57
There will be no civil war in the border of the US any more.

Shek
01 Nov 09,, 01:36
I think there are three reasons, of which Joe has already alluded to:

1. We can actually visit the battlefields.
2. Debate about the causes and the commanders still exist.
3. There's something both eery and fascinating about brother fighting brother, which occured with enough frequency to be documented.

This last point is congruent with one of the reasons why my most favorite museum that I've ever visited is the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin - it's about the story of brothers and sisters being divided and the lengths they would go through to try and become reunited. While the scale of death and matter of death and coming back together is certainly worlds apart, at the human level, it's a very similar story.

eshcol
01 Jan 10,, 18:12
The 4 New Zealand wars which were fought around the same time get nowhere near as much fuss as what i see the American civil war. Only until recently are they being taught in schools over here

Blue
01 Jan 10,, 23:04
The U.S. Civil War truly tore this country apart, but that alone doesn't explain the volume of literature, the debate, and the fact that there are still hard feelings, especially in certain rural areas of the South; these feelings having been handed down in a generational manner. Actually, the country was already divided before the war. And first off, there was nothing civil about the war. The very definition of Civil war was not met in the case of the war for southern independence. the South did not want to conquer the North, but the North sure wanted what the south had. The southern states seceeded, written and ratified thier own constitution and simply wanted to be left alone. It was not about freeing slaves or even doing the right thing by the north. It was an invasion, defeat and occupation by a government that literally did "whatever it took" including violating its own bill of rights and imprisoning around 14,000 people without writ.

The war and then reconstruction pretty much sealed it for the true Southerner and generations to come. The same govt that started the war is still in control today.

I can recommend a book that can explain exactly why we feel the way we do, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the South, 2007, Regnery Publishing, ISBN 1596985003.

If you really have interest, read it. Johnson is a Southerner that will tell it from a Southerner POV using facts left out of books written by northern authors.

I won't post anymore on this thread due to I plan to discuss the War from a Southerners view, using facts not commonly known since the history seems to have a decidedly northern slant in our politically world of late, and I want to avoid repeating myself.

Station 22
02 Jan 10,, 03:15
And what else would you talk about when discussing national history? The US is just two centuries old thats not incredible compared to other countries. :) While the nation has existed for +/-229 years, our history goes back around 400 years




There will be no civil war in the border of the US any more.
What do you base this on?

~~~~~~~~~

I think that you will find as much or more interest in the Second World War, than the War Between the States. Go into any bookstore and see how much shelf space is devoted both eras. Even in general subject bookstores, the discrepency is noticeable.

troung
02 Jan 10,, 19:36
he South did not want to conquer the North,

They just wanted the right to whip and cut the feet off of black people.


It was not about freeing slaves or even doing the right thing by the north.

The south succeeded to keep slaves.


The southern states seceeded, written and ratified thier own constitution and simply wanted to be left alone.

To enslave black people. Said so at the time.


If you really have interest, read it. Johnson is a Southerner that will tell it from a Southerner POV using facts left out of books written by northern authors.

God because if it was over slavery, then people who dress up as confederate soldiers and wave confederate flags might look like jackasses for supporting a bunch of pieces of crap who plunged the country into war because they wanted to own slaves.

Blue
02 Jan 10,, 20:38
They just wanted the right to whip and cut the feet off of black people.



The south succeeded to keep slaves.



To enslave black people. Said so at the time.



God because if it was over slavery, then people who dress up as confederate soldiers and wave confederate flags might look like jackasses for supporting a bunch of pieces of crap who plunged the country into war because they wanted to own slaves.
Your an uneducated idiot that has made my list, don't bother responding.