How to name the war

 

A few weeks ago we discussed whether The War of Northern Aggression was a name that was ever used seriously.  Whether or not, it’s not a name that will find acceptance among all the regional partisans in our country.  I don’t think we’ve even reached complete agreement on whether it was the Civil War or the War Between the States.  Each of those names is also a political statement.

But look at how the issue was finessed by the local  G.A.R. post in Albion, Michigan:GAR markerThe marker reads: “G.A.R. Memorial / In Memory of U.S. Soldiers and Sailors  / War of 1861-65 / Erected by the E.W. Hollingsworth Post 210 / Department of Michigan / 1925”

“War of 1861-65” avoids all the political implications of the other names, right?  Sort of like “Seven Years War” vs “French and Indian War.”

Who would have thought a group of G.A.R. guys would be so sensitive to easily-ruffled politically feelings back in 1925? 

I happened to come across the marker on today’s bicycle ride.  I was leaving Albion on a road I’ve used a couple times before, only this time I thought Victory Park might be a good place to take a break. It wasn’t. There were too many mosquitoes. But the marker caught my attention on the way in.

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  1. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    I think “War for Southern Independence” is accurate.

    • #1
  2. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I’m partial to “the Democrats War to Keep Slavery” myself.

    • #2
  3. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    I’m partial to “the Democrats War to Keep Slavery” myself.

    That would work if somehow the “elitist” concept could be worked in. I think the supporters of the slavery institution suffered illusions similar to those we see today among American political and business leaders’ blindness towards globalism and the extreme socialism as practiced by the Chinese Communists. Most of those who fought in that conflict for the Confederacy viewed themselves as patriots defending the right to a self-governing state with no overriding economic interest in defending the existence of slavery. We are still fighting the same war.

    • #3
  4. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    The inscription ties in well with the theme of “malice toward none and charity for all”. Good on them.

    • #4
  5. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    We refer to “The War Between the States.”

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    It occurs to me that I should start paying closer attention to other War of 1861-65 memorials to see how they handle the issue. I encounter lot of them on my rides but am more interested in prior generations, so don’t give them much attention.  When visiting cemeteries I note those who served in the Indian Wars, so called,  the War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War (usually the parents of people who followed their children out west to Michigan and Indiana).

    • #6
  7. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Department of Michigan?

    That I don’t understand. 

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Department of Michigan?

    That I don’t understand.

    I presume one would have to be familiar with the G.A.R. organizational structure in order to understand that designation, but I haven’t bothered to look into it. 

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Department of Michigan?

    That I don’t understand.

    I presume one would have to be familiar with the G.A.R. organizational structure in order to understand that designation, but I haven’t bothered to look into it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Army_of_the_Republic#State_posts

    • #9
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Department of Michigan?

    That I don’t understand.

    I presume one would have to be familiar with the G.A.R. organizational structure in order to understand that designation, but I haven’t bothered to look into it.

    Wikipedia says this: “The GAR was organized into “Departments” at the state level and “Posts” at the community level…” I haven’t bothered to check the footnote reference for it, but it might be worth someone’s time, as there are some puzzling things in the Wikipedia article that I would question a bit. Most likely the ignorance is mine and not Wikipedia’s, but you never know.  

    The G.A.R. was once a big deal around here.  The G.A.R. Hall in Marshall (next town to the west of Albion on I-94) is one of many historic buildings there. Twenty-five years ago a local historian took me into the basement of the building to show me some one-of-a-kind, original documents from the 1830s.  They were in cardboard boxes stacked next to the furnace. The heating system appeared to be relatively modern equipment, but still, that can make a historian nervous.

    This local historian was an elderly gentleman, older than I am now, and was somewhat concerned about what would happen to all of his personal genealogical materials, as his children were uninterested. And there was some concern about these documents in the G.A.R. basement, too. When I had a chance I mentioned their existence to a staff member at the nearest Michigan regional archive, and she said that maybe it was time for a photocopying expedition if permission could be arranged. I don’t know if anything ever came of it.  

     

    • #10
  11. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    My own personal favorite:  The Recent Unpleasantness.

    I think it was coined by the Daughters of the Confederacy as the war was deemed too traumatic to be directly referred to.  

    This name has the advantage of being able to be updated/applied to many occurrences.  Thus, Hurricane Katrina can be called The Recent Meteorological Unpleasantness, 1/6 The Recent Capitol Unpleasantness, and so forth.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Some Call Me …Tim (View Comment):

    My own personal favorite: The Recent Unpleasantness.

    I think it was coined by the Daughters of the Confederacy as the war was deemed too traumatic to be directly referred to.

    It’s interesting that the Wikipedia article on the G.A.R. refers to that term, too. 

    This name has the advantage of being able to be updated/applied to many occurrences. Thus, Hurricane Katrina can be called The Recent Meteorological Unpleasantness, 1/6 The Recent Capitol Unpleasantness, and so forth.

     

    • #12
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Department of Michigan?

    That I don’t understand.

    I presume one would have to be familiar with the G.A.R. organizational structure in order to understand that designation, but I haven’t bothered to look into it.

    Wikipedia says this: “The GAR was organized into “Departments” at the state level and “Posts” at the community level…” I haven’t bothered to check the footnote reference for it, but it might be worth someone’s time, as there are some puzzling things in the Wikipedia article that I would question a bit. Most likely the ignorance is mine and not Wikipedia’s, but you never know.

    The G.A.R. was once a big deal around here. The G.A.R. Hall in Marshall (next town to the west of Albion on I-94) is one of many historic buildings there. Twenty-five years ago a local historian took me into the basement of the building to show me some one-of-a-kind, original documents from the 1830s. They were in cardboard boxes stacked next to the furnace. The heating system appeared to be relatively modern equipment, but still, that can make a historian nervous.

    This local historian was an elderly gentleman, older than I am now, and was somewhat concerned about what would happen to all of his personal genealogical materials, as his children were uninterested. And there was some concern about these documents in the G.A.R. basement, too. When I had a chance I mentioned their existence to a staff member at the nearest Michigan regional archive, and she said that maybe it was time for a photocopying expedition if permission could be arranged. I don’t know if anything ever came of it.

    The G.A.R. was officially succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, as G.A.R. membership was limited by actually participation in one of the services during the Civil War. 

    The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of veteran heroes who fought and worked to save the Union in the American Civil War. Organized in 1881 and chartered by Congress in 1954, SUVCW is the legal heir and successor to the Grand Army of the Republic.

    In 1866, Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and became a social and political force that would control the destiny of the nation for more than six decades. Membership in the veterans’ organization was restricted to individuals who had served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby limiting the life span of the GAR. The GAR existed until 1956.

    In 1881 the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America (SV) to carry on its traditions and memory long after the GAR had ceased to exist. Membership was open to any man who could prove ancestry to a member of the GAR or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR. In later years, men who did not have the ancestry to qualify for hereditary membership, but who demonstrated a genuine interest in the Civil War and could subscribe to the purpose and objectives of the SUVCW, were admitted as Associates. This practice continues today.

    Many GAR Posts sponsored Camps of the SV. In 1925 the SV name was changed to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), under which its federal charter was issued in 1954. The SUVCW is legally recognized as the heir to, and representative of, the GAR.

    Today, the National Organization of the SUVCW, headed by an annually elected Commander-in-Chief, oversees the operation of 26 Departments, each consisting of one or more states, a Department-at-Large, a National Membership-at-Large, and over 200 community based camps. More than 6,360 men enjoy the benefits of membership in the only male organization dedicated to the principles of the GAR — Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. It publishes “The BANNER” quarterly for its members. The SUVCW National Headquarters is located in the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

    The SUVCW is one of five Allied Orders of the GAR. The other four Orders are: Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Woman’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

     

    • #13
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    One of these days, I should get involved in these groups.

    • #14
  15. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Arahant (View Comment):

    One of these days, I should get involved in these groups.

    You’re related to the wrong side.

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    One of these days, I should get involved in these groups.

    You’re related to the wrong side.

    Shh! Don’t tell, I had two great-great-grandfathers on that side, too. They were immigrants from Ireland and Germany, respectively, so they didn’t know any better (and probably were drafted) and they supported the Great Tyrant.

    But there are also other organizations, such as Sons of the Confederacy and Sons of the American Revolution that I qualify for. The only drawback would be that it would mean going outside and being around people.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    The G.A.R. was officially succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, as G.A.R. membership was limited by actually participation in one of the services during the Civil War. 

    I wonder if it inherited any of the property of local G.A.R. chapters, such as the G.A.R. halls that are still standing.

    • #17
  18. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    The best name for the war was given by the government when they were compiling the records of the war. The government referred to it as “The War of the Rebellion”.  Most Civil War  histories will have citations in the footnotes that read”O.R.” which is short for “Official Records” but whose full title is “The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.”

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    The best name for the war was given by the government when they were compiling the records of the war. The government referred to it as “The War of the Rebellion”. Most Civil War histories will have citations in the footnotes that read”O.R.” which is short for “Official Records” but whose full title is “The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.”

    Yankee term. How about the War of the Great Tyrant?

    • #19
  20. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I see many parallels today in the absence of true and lasting self-interest for those individuals enlisted for the fight supporting a Marxist society when compared to those enlisted to carry out the rebellion in support of the slave society.

    • #20
  21. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    The G.A.R. was officially succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, as G.A.R. membership was limited by actually participation in one of the services during the Civil War.

    The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of veteran heroes who fought and worked to save the Union in the American Civil War. Organized in 1881 and chartered by Congress in 1954, SUVCW is the legal heir and successor to the Grand Army of the Republic.

    In 1866, Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and became a social and political force that would control the destiny of the nation for more than six decades. Membership in the veterans’ organization was restricted to individuals who had served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby limiting the life span of the GAR. The GAR existed until 1956.

    In 1881 the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America (SV) to carry on its traditions and memory long after the GAR had ceased to exist. Membership was open to any man who could prove ancestry to a member of the GAR or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR. In later years, men who did not have the ancestry to qualify for hereditary membership, but who demonstrated a genuine interest in the Civil War and could subscribe to the purpose and objectives of the SUVCW, were admitted as Associates. This practice continues today.

    Many GAR Posts sponsored Camps of the SV. In 1925 the SV name was changed to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), under which its federal charter was issued in 1954. The SUVCW is legally recognized as the heir to, and representative of, the GAR.

    Today, the National Organization of the SUVCW, headed by an annually elected Commander-in-Chief, oversees the operation of 26 Departments, each consisting of one or more states, a Department-at-Large, a National Membership-at-Large, and over 200 community based camps. More than 6,360 men enjoy the benefits of membership in the only male organization dedicated to the principles of the GAR — Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. It publishes “The BANNER” quarterly for its members. The SUVCW National Headquarters is located in the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

     

    My brother is a member of both the SUVCW and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  He has attended meetings of both organizations and says that the Sons of Confederate Veterans are a lot more fun – more relaxed and more prone to consuming alcohol.

     

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Some Call Me …Tim (View Comment):
    My brother is a member of both the SUVCW and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  He has attended meetings of both organizations and says that the Sons of Confederate Veterans are a lot more fun – more relaxed and more prone to consuming alcohol.

    Give a Rebel Yell to that!

    • #22
  23. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Arahant (View Comment):

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    The best name for the war was given by the government when they were compiling the records of the war. The government referred to it as “The War of the Rebellion”. Most Civil War histories will have citations in the footnotes that read”O.R.” which is short for “Official Records” but whose full title is “The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.”

    Yankee term. How about the War of the Great Tyrant?

    Yankee term, but “War of the Rebellion “ is nevertheless the best name.

    • #23
  24. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Arahant (View Comment):

    One of these days, I should get involved in these groups.

    I used to be in the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Every year in February, we put on The Battle of Aiken.  We get many re-enactors from the north and the midwest.  The irony is that re-enactors on both sides typically have two sets of uniforms – Union and Confederate.  Once there’s a headcount of the attendees, some re-enactors may have to “galvanize,” which is when you dress up and re-enact for the other side to balance the forces.  Ironically, there are a lot of Union re-enactors who want to be Confederate . . .

    • #24