We dodged an authoritarian bullet in the 1860s…

Reading about the Civil War always makes me extremely glad the Union won, not to mention extremely angry that the war happened at all.

If a large portion of the officer corps of the U.S. military had not decided to surrender their honor and become traitors, it’s likely the estimated 620,000 soldiers on both sides (and that figure doesn’t include war-related civilian deaths) who lost their lives during the conflict and the millions of dollars of destruction could have been avoided.

Unfortunately for us future generations, by the time U.S. Grant and William Sherman had beaten the South into submission the nation was so tired of war they decided to give those military traitors a free pass, other than brief imprisonments for some. And thus was born the “Lost Cause” fable that ushered in decades of monstrous Jim Crow subjugation of anyone with African-American blood in their veins–no matter how little flowed there.

It’s not too strong a statement to say that the Confederate government had a lot in common with the authoritarian governments of the early 20th Century, and seems to have pioneered some of the same techniques fascist and communist governments used to subjugate their own people.

The Civil War is often described as the first modern war since it made extensive use of railroads, mobilization of heavy industry, and proto-modern military tactics such as elaborate entrenchments and rifled firearms. It can also be considered a modern war in that it really didn’t settle much, other than eliminating slavery. Which, granted, was quite a major achievement. Southern attitudes took a breather for a few years but then began once again to eat away at the fabric of the nation right up to the present, to the point that the America envisioned by the Founders is in real danger of disappearing under a mound of hatred and lies.

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Filed under Frustration, Military History, People in History

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