Civil War re-enactors can be found in many states. David Wyatt lives in Indiana.
The Unites States of America, our country, fought a civil war 150 years ago. It lasted four years and over 600,000 men died fighting it. In some places almost half the people died. Imagine for a moment if half of your school friends were to fall dead, ten friends at a time, every day for four long years. You would be very sad for the rest of your life. You could never forget them and you would tell your children and grandchildren about them. That’s what happened in the United States of America and that is why we still remember the civil war. We remember our friends who died. We remember what our friends did before they died. We remember why our friends died.
The first thing to remember is that war is a terrible thing. War kills people just like you and me. War ruins cities and farms alike. The people who live through war loose Fathers. Mothers, Brothers and Sisters forever and suffer sadness for the rest of their lives. War should always be avoided unless your family’s life or freedom is threatened as it was in the civil war.
The second thing to remember is that slavery played a part in our civil war and that slavery is a great wrong that one person inflicts on another. Every human being deserves to be free. There was slavery of black people, red people and white people in the United States of America and in most of the world at the time of the civil war. Slavery was normal before the civil war.
There is still slavery today in the world, especially in Africa and Asia. Slavery should always be found and defeated which the North did.
Family life and freedom is still threatened in the world today, and it should be fought for and protected, which the South did.
In the United States of America, our civil war was fought mostly east of the Mississippi river between the Northern States and the Southern States including Texas. The Far Western States were not yet fully established.
At the time of the civil war, the people of the North and the people of the South had grown into different peoples. Communication between them was slow and confused because there were no telephones, radio, TV, cars or air planes. Newspapers bragged about their hometowns and ways of life, insulting the ways of life of the other side. There were few chances for understanding between the people of the North and the people of the South. Both the people of the North and the people of the South were full of self pride in what they had built in the new world.
Over time, since pilgrim days, the people of the North changed the way they lived and they wanted to change the way the people of the South lived too. The people of the North believed we should have one country that believed and did the same things.
The people of the South didn’t want to change because they were happy and believed they had a deal with the North called our constitution. This deal made all states, North and South like small countries that had no business telling each other what to do.
So the Northern states and Southern states argued for years over everything. And just like with your brothers and sisters, little things became big things. Big things sometimes were ignored and soon there was a big fight. The fight between the North and South was more over who was right or wrong than about what was right or wrong. Sound familiar?
The North had more people, more factories, more guns and better friends in England and France who made the guns. So naturally the North eventually won the war. But it was not easy for the North. The South fought bravely and at times brilliantly like tigers with a ferocity that stunned the North. The South could have won the war and almost did. The Southerners were fighting for their lives, family and freedom and made the North pay a very heavy price. More Northern Solders died than Southern Soldiers because the Northerners were the invaders of the South.
After the North conquered the South, the constitution was changed by the North and the Southern states no longer had the same rights as before. It took 150 years for the South to rebuild. Only in the last 50 years has the South again become strong. There is no need to fear another war from the South as the South is no longer made up of a majority of the same people. But those people who have descended from the Southern fighters should still be respected with the same dignity and honor as the descendants of Northern fighters.
The war brought us a strong federal government in Washington DC, paper money and weaker state laws. Our constitution is no longer as strong as it was and is often times ignored by Washington DC.
What you can do ….
Each fighter in the civil war was both right and wrong. Each fighter was a hero who should be honored today along with his flag, purchased by the blood of his friends, both in the North and in the South.
As a note there would be no slaves today no matter who won the civil war.
Trade in slaves was illegal in both the North and South long before the civil war started and both the North and South had slaves during the war. Not a single slave ship every sailed under a Southern flag. Slave ships were Northern United States ships that sailed before the war. So a Southern victory would not have meant that we would still have slaves today. Freed slaves were not welcomed by people in the North or West after the war. Often this made their lives even harder than when they were slaves and their poverty persisted for a hundred years.
David R. Wyatt
Captain First Arkansas Mounted Rifles
Captain David Wyatt commands
The First Arkansas Mounted Rifles Company I McCulloch’s Rangers.
The 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry