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Talk:American Civil War

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Revision as of 15:17, 22 March 2009 by M. Vincent Gammill (Talk | contribs) (Economics)

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 Definition Major war 1861-65 fought over slavery in which the U.S. defeated the secessionist Confederate States of America. [d] [e]


What is the status of this article? I am new to Citizendium and very interested in the Civil War. Bill Falter 22:24, 10 September 2007 (CDT)

good question. it's imported from Wikipedia (where I worked a lot on it) and I plan a complete rewrite, one of these days.Richard Jensen 22:56, 10 September 2007 (CDT)


Just some cleaning up, mainly reducing the density of referencing, eliminating dead images and delinkingGareth Leng 16:53, 3 February 2008 (CST)

you have a sharp eye for what needs fixing! Richard Jensen 17:02, 3 February 2008 (CST)

Civil war gallery

Is it alright to include the public domain pictures taken by Mathew Brady? Minhaj Ahmed Khan Lodi 12:16, 14 March 2008 (CDT)

I think this article is in dire need of some images to spruce it up. --Todd Coles 18:57, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
YES indeed it needs them pleas pitch in. there arepublic domain images that can be used freely here all Brady images are in the public domain and cannot be copyrighted. Indeed, all images pre 1923 are public domain, Richard Jensen 19:32, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
Also, here is the Library of Congress Civil War page. --Todd Coles 19:40, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
I was actually wondering if the images of dead soldiers goes with citizendium's family-friendly policy. I didn't find them gruesome at all. Minhaj Ahmed Khan Lodi 00:29, 20 March 2008 (CDT)


I'm not sure if this was written by someone here, or still leftover from WP, but I feel like the intro is too long winded. I think it needs to be trimmed up, but wanted to get opinions first. --Todd Coles 19:46, 18 March 2008 (CDT)

I wrote the lede, originally for Wikipedia. The goal is to concisely summarize the entire civil war--since many people will only read this summary. It's long because the story is very long and complicated. Richard Jensen 20:40, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
As it stands, the introduction is redundant: "The Union), led by Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant defeated the breakaway Confederacy, led by Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee and ended slavery. Following the war, the southern states were readmitted into the Union during a turbulent period from 1865-77 known as Reconstruction....The war was between the United States (the "Union") and eleven Southern states that declared that they had a right to secession and formed the Confederate States of America, led by President Jefferson Davis." [emphasis mine]
Even if the article is distinguishing between the Confederate army and the Confederate States as a formal establishment, the second instance of the clause "led by President Jefferson Davis" is superfluous, at least for the introduction's purpose -- and if you think that's a poor assessment, then I would at least change the wording to eliminate redundancy.
Also, the grammar in the second sentence just doesn't appear right: "The Union), led by Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant defeated the breakaway Confederacy, led by Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee and ended slavery." Parenthetic expressions -- particularly those as long as "led by Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant" -- should be enclosed in commas. Nick Bagnall 00:56, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
good points, and I tried to fix the lede accordingly. Richard Jensen 02:05, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
Great stuff. There was a second parenthetic clause ("led by Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee") immediately following the first, so I tossed in another comma. Consequently, "and ended slavery" awkwardly falls on the end of the sentence, but I'm sure you or others can reword it better than I can (if you think it's necessary). --Nick Bagnall 02:59, 20 March 2008 (CDT)

(undent since this is a year later) Lincoln and Davis, yes, although their Congresses might disagree. Grant and Lee, however, are vast oversimplifications. Scott was the senior officer of the Union Army, although Grant effectually supplanted him. Lee was the most prominent Confederate leader, but he was not a general-in-chief; Davis would routinely give orders to individual senior generals. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:05, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Second Paragraph

I have issues with the second paragraph. As this first section is an overview of the war, the second paragraph seems to be summarizing the causes of the war. It should say something about the crises leading to secession, especially the political crisis. I rewrote it. --Russell D. Jones 14:48, 23 March 2008 (CDT)

Reconstruction started in 1863?

In the first paragraph: "Following the war, the southern states were readmitted into the Union during a turbulent period from 1863-77 known as Reconstruction." This is confusing since the war ended in '65. Are Lincoln's reconstruction efforts during the war worth mentioning here? I'd be inclined to just change it to 65. Warren Schudy 10:11, 20 March 2008 (CDT)

In this article, probably yes; it will be less confusing to naive readers (and we maybe have to reword slightly in order to not say anything which is inaccurate - something like "the bulk of Reconstruction 1865-mumble").
In the Reconstruction article, I would definitely cover Lincoln's pre-65 efforts, because one can see in them how his vision of what Reconstruction should have been differ from what actually happened. (Obviously, because of the timing of his death, we have no actual post-War Lincoln reconstruction to look at.) But let's see what others think... J. Noel Chiappa 10:51, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
historians now emphasize that Reconstruction began during the war and was well underway by 1865. The war ended in different states at different times, and Reconstruction began as soon as the union armies took over. Richard Jensen 19:31, 20 March 2008 (CDT)


This article takes forever to get to the Civil War. Perhaps it should be forked into an article called "The Causes of the US Civil War"? And too little of the article deals solely with the war. --Russell D. Jones 14:59, 23 March 2008 (CDT)

the article reflects the way the textbooks handle the issue--the hard part is explaining how the war happened. The main battles will eventually get their own articles. What is missing is solid coverage of the N and S homefronts, which is where historians have focused in recent years.Richard Jensen 19:10, 23 March 2008 (CDT)

Why is there a very long discussion of the "causes of the Civil War" with a link to a very long article "US Civil War, Origins"? The two articles go over some of the same material, but there are also differences. --Russell D. Jones 06:33, 1 April 2008 (CDT)

Suggestions for Rebuilding this article

--Russell D. Jones 14:51, 26 April 2008 (CDT)


Current weights

April 30, 2008:

  1. 42.5% of this article (4800 words) deals with the origins of the war. It shouldn't be that long since there is a separate article on the Origins of the War.
  2. About 18% of this article (2000 words) deals with the aftermath of the war. It was the most important conflict in US history, but do we really need a sixth of the total article devoted to the effects?
  3. only about one-quarter of this article (2800 words) deals with the actual battles of the war.
  4. About 8% of the article (875 words) deals with the social and foreign policy aspects of the war.

Suggested Weights

  1. The origins of the war should be pared to a few hundred words instead of the 4800 it now is.
    1. The material in this section should be merged with U.S. Civil War, Origins.
  2. The aftermath of the war should be pare to a few hundred words as well. We can have a longer article on the effects of the war some place else.
  3. At least 80% of this article should be about the events between 1861 and 1865.
  4. Expand the discussion of the social aspects of the war.
  5. Create and develop a section on the political aspects of the war
    1. election of 1864
    2. suspension of Habeas Corpus, Vallandigham, ex parte Milligan
  6. It needs a map or maps.
all the textbooks give about equal weight to the causes and the war itself, so reducing that to 10-20% seems odd; i'll reduce it some. Look at the newest big compendium, Lacy Ford, ed. A Companion to the Civil War and Reconstruction. (2005) table of contents = ch 1-10 on coming of war, ch 11-15 on the war itself, and ch 16-23 on Reconstruction. The point is that the military history is better covered in separate articles that link here. The aftermath is already covered in a long article on Reconstruction, and is only briefly mentioned here. The destruction section is NOT an "aftermath"-- it all of course happened during the war and as an integral part of the war and belongs here. I think we need a major article on memory of Civil War--a very hot topic these days. Probably should be separate. Agreed we need more on social dimensions (gender roles, women, religion) also ideology and politics. Maps are really needed too.Richard Jensen 18:05, 26 April 2008 (CDT)
Really, nearly everything covered by the article should have their own pages. --Russell D. Jones 15:37, 4 May 2008 (CDT)


The intro calls it 'The American Civil War'. Isn't that what everyone calls it? It was the US vs the CS. Shouldn't the article be moved? Ro Thorpe 01:54, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

I'd certainly support such a change. As you point out, it was decidedly not the war of the "united" states. Now, there are some that might call it the War to Free the Slaves, and there are some that might call it the War of Yankee Aggression. The genteel and elderly docents at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond have been known to speak of "the late unpleasantness between the States". "U.S. Civil War" is rarely if ever used.
CSA, suh. CSA.
Not, of course, that generic "civil war" isn't oxymoronic at multiple levels... Howard C. Berkowitz 02:00, 22 March 2009 (UTC)


The Section on Economics supports the view that economic disputes played little or no role in the war. However, I'm taking a U.S. history course now, and our textbook (it was written by a Stanford Professor of History) disagrees, and points continuously to economic conflicts. Also, the article goes on to opine that the economies of the sections "should have complemented each other well." The assessments I've read paint it differently - the industrial North did indeed get what it needed in terms of raw materials for, among other things, textiles from the South. However, the South bitterly resented the drag on its economy of being a non-producer.

The primary issue economically, in this interpretation anyway, was the tariff. The industrial North favored high, protective tariffs, because why not when they could use the South for raw materials and the West for foodstuffs? The South, on the other hand, as it lost its clout in Congress, suffered greatly (or felt that it did) from the tariffs - it raised prices dreadfully, made imports impractical, and made their goods (such as cotton) harder to sell abroad, due to retaliatory tariffs.

I'm not saying that the article is wrong. But it is broadly dismissing an entire school of thought on this subject without giving it more than a passing glance, and with no referencing to make that okay? Could anyone address this? M. Vincent Gammill 16:13, March 22 (UTC)