The War Between The States


The Many Names of 'The War'

When a Southern gentleman uses the term, "The War," he is referring to the American conflict of the 1860’s (unless, of course, he is relating his personal experiences in defending America). Before The War, everything was different, and after The War, everything changed.

In the South, there is no confusion in which war is "The War." Southerners had a violent army invade their land, burn their homes, destroy their cities, jail their leaders, and brutally enforce martial law.

At first, Northerners had trouble in designating that conflict. During the early years of The War, the Yankee propagandists attempted to drum up support by labeling it "The War to Save the Union" (inadvertently acknowledging that the North, without the South, would be lost).

As the battles drags on and Yankee morale ebbed, they renamed it the "War for Abolition." Finally, after the final surrender, the Union government renamed it again when they published "The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies."

People have labeled The War by more names than any other American conflict. Listed below are some of the names unsed in the last 130 years:

The American Crisis
The American Iliad
America’s Saddest War
America’s Trauma
America’s Time of Trial
The Brother’s War
The Cataclysm
The Civil War
The Crisis of the Union
First Modern War
The Fratricidal War
The Great Rebellion
The Insurrection
The Irrepressible Conflict
The Last Civilized War
The Last Gentlemen’s War
The Last War of Chivalry
Lincoln’s War
The Lost Cause
The Ordeal of the Union
Ordeal to Teach Yankees Some Manners
The Recent Unpleasantness
The Second American Revolution
The Second War for Independence
The Southern Rebellion
The Tragic Years
The Uncivil War
Uncle Abe’s War
War Between the North and South
War Between the States
War for Separation
War for Southern Independence
War for Southern Nationality
War for Southern Rights
War for States Rights
War for the Lost Cause
War for the Union
War of Rebellion
War of Secession
War of Northern Aggression
War to Suppress Yankee Arrogance
The Yankee Invasion

After all the smoke cleared, and while the South was subjugated, the Northern war-mongers groped to justify their aggression. During the terrible military rule of "Reconstruction" the Northern conquerors popularized the term "Civil War." It is a misnomer, but repeated over and over again enough times a myth becomes accepted without question.

According to the Webster’s University Dictionary (published in New York City) a "civil war" is a war between factions for control of a nation. This definition just does not fit the conflict of the 1860’s when the United States made war on the separate and independent nation of the Confederate States of America.

During "Reconstruction," with Southern presses censored and freedom of speech was suppressed, the Southerners took a compromise position. They referred to it as the "War Between The States:" still frequently used today and often shortened to WBTS. If one considers the dispute was between the United States and the Confederate States then WBTS is an accurate description of the combatants. But the cause is lost somewhere in the dust bin of history.

On the other hand, if one assumes the "War Between The States" refers to the events between the Northern and the Southern states of the USA, then the implication is a civil war. As noted above, it was not a civil war.

In either case, "War Between The States" can be considered, at best, a compromise. A term was needed to describe the Southern people’s struggle for independence. It had to capture the South’s strong belief in the endowed right of self-determination.

The "War of Northern Aggression" and the "War of Northern Invasion" are both accurate descriptions of the event, but both omit the reasons for the Yankee offensive. They neglect the Southern half of the equation and fail to explain the Northern passion to exploit the South which turned to hostility.

The name "THE WAR FOR SOUTHERN INDEPENDENCE" describes the reason for the Confederate’s actions. It clearly places the blame for all the carnage on the aggressors, those people who wanted to keep the South under their thumbs. It is a self-explanatory term that reflects the virtues of the heroes of the Confederacy. It does not require a lengthily explanation that self-determination (not some peculiar institution) was the cause which our forefathers so honorably risked their homes, their fortunes, and their lives.

When confronted with the phrase "WAR FOR SOUTHERN INDEPENDENCE," South-bashers are placed in a position in which they must openly and honestly reconsider the Yankee myths. Southern patriots should insist on the Southernly correct term "WAR FOR SOUTHERN INDEPENDENCE."

Originally printed in The Camalier Dispatch, Newsletter of the Captain Vincent Camalier Camp #1359, Sons of Confederate Veterans



Let's Say..
"The War Between the States"

The Conflict (1861-1865) between the Northern States (the Union) and the Southern States which seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States has been given many names.

The official Union designation was "The War of the Rebellion." Other names have been "The War of Secession" and "The War for Southern Independence." In the South, the conflict is called "The War Between The States."

The Congress of the United States used the term "War Between The States" in two measures enacted into law; one measure became Public Law 834 in 1950, and a Resolution, H. 580, was adopted by the House in 1944. The term "War Between The States" has been used in various reports on bills during the 70th, 71st, 72nd, 74th, 80th and 81st Congresses.

The name "Civil War" has also been widely accepted, no doubt because it is short. Actually the term "Civil War" is misleading and inexact. The war was not a class struggle, but a sectional combat, having its roots in such complex political, economic, social and psychological elements that it is difficult for historians to agree on all its basic causes.

The fact that for four years the Confederacy maintained an entirely separate government (with its own currency, commerce, army and navy) established the Confederate States of America as a separate nation.

This nation, the Confederate States of America, levied and collected revenue, enlisted its armies and issued cotton bonds which were accepted in foreign commercial marts.

Its navy, though small, fought brilliantly, and introduced with the Virginia (Merrimac) a new type of warship, the ironclad.

The Confederate flag, "The Stars and Bars," was recognized all over the world as belonging to a nation other than the United States of America.

The "War Between The States" does not imply a war between individual states. The noun, "States," is used in its collective sense. The official titles of the contending parties during the conflict were the "United States" and the "Confederate States."

Therefore, since the war was between two groups of states, the United States and the Confederate States - two separate nations - the most exact name for that great conflict of the 1860’s is "The War Between The States."

Originally published May 1, 1954 by the Florida Division UDC
Written by Mrs. Murray Forbes Wittichen, President 1952-1954


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