The Amend Corner

We’re divided, but still united

By Don Amend
Posted 1/27/22

At Christmas, I can always count on receiving one particular gift, and my daughter came through once again in December, handing me a gift-wrapped book.

Erica knows me very well, which she should, …

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The Amend Corner

We’re divided, but still united


At Christmas, I can always count on receiving one particular gift, and my daughter came through once again in December, handing me a gift-wrapped book.

Erica knows me very well, which she should, having been my little girl for more than half a century. She knows I prefer non-fiction — especially history, politics, and social and economic history — so that’s what she gives me.

This year’s gift was a bit different, a book titled “Break it Up.” I’ve only read enough to know what the author, a gentleman named Richard Kreitner, thinks should be broken up: the United States of America.

I suppose this is the result of our being bombarded for the past 15 or 20 years with the idea that we Americans are divided into two warring camps identified as the red guys and the blue guys, each flinging obscenities or calling the other all sorts of names.

Anyway, it’s gotten to the point where some people are thinking the nation should be divided. There is even at least one group that believes we should have another civil war, prompted, I suppose, because they didn’t like the outcome of the election. This, of course, mirrors the last Civil War, which was prompted by the election of Republican Abe Lincoln.

A new Civil War would also be like the first because those who want to fight are afraid of what they think the new president might do, rather than what he probably will do. And in both wars, the people who want to revolt believe they are the real patriotic Americans.

Now, any war is a blood bath, and for we Americans, the Civil War was the bloodiest. The official casualty total for that war is 624,511, although recent research seems to show the real total was more than 700,000. Many of those deaths were from disease, and many of those casualties could have been saved with today’s medical science, but the advanced weaponry of today probably would inflate those statistics.

If these people who are contemplating a new civil war are smart, though, there are a few things they should take a look at first — including just how many Americans would support them.

Years ago, I acquired an unusual book, “Disloyalty in the Confederacy.” It was written in the early 1930s by a Missouri woman during her quest to obtain her master’s and Ph.D. Georgia Lee Tatum was from a family who had been slave owners and whose men had all fought for the Confederacy.

Among other facts, she notes that many southerners did not support secession. Those who did used coercion and even lynching to ensure that, when the vote was taken on leaving the union, the vote would be for secession; they should have realized that this would have weakened their cause. Tatum also notes there were many southerners who were strong supporters of the union. Eastern Tennessee, and northern Alabama were just two such areas, as were most big cities. These sentiments grew stronger as the South’s fortunes went bad, and the Confederate Army began to suffer from desertions. 

More recently, I read a newer book, “Bitterly Divided.” Author David Williams says about 300,000 southerners joined the Union Army after deserting. One of them was a Georgian, David Snelling, who was taken in by an uncle when his parents died. The uncle put him to work in the fields alongside his slaves and Snelling grew to detest slavery and resent the way his uncle had treated him. He became a lieutenant in General Sherman’s army and during Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” he went out of his way to lead a raid on his uncle’s farm, taking as many supplies as they could carry and destroying the cotton gin.

Interestingly, the estimated number of 300,000 southerners fighting in the Union Army is close to the number of Union soldiers killed in the war, so their presence helped the northern army maintain its strength.

For the South, the war became a war with two fronts: one fighting the Yankees and the other their own people. As a newspaper editor in Georgia wrote, “We are fighting each other harder than we ever fought the enemy.”

Further, southerners often did little to support the efforts of the Confederate Army. Plantation owners, for example, who had pledged to keep the army fed with their crops, went on planting cotton as they had before the war, so the soldiers often went hungry and their wives and children at home were threatened with starvation.

Today’s issues are quite different from those that brought the Civil War into our history books, of course, but it would be a big mistake to attempt to break a part of our nation off into a new nation. When asked, many Americans might proclaim their support of such a move when they are angry. Once they realize what destroying their country actually costs, though, or when they learn the objectives of the people leading the revolt, they might change their minds — especially if following those leaders makes enemies of family members and longtime friends.

All of those leaders should take a long look at the first Civil War before trying to lead a rebellion. There is a whole library full of books they can refer to for more information.

The Amend Corner