20 Good Reasons To Study The Civil War, John C. Waugh, 96 pages, McWhiney Foundation Press, 2004, $12,95.
In 20 chapters each three to five pages long, John C. Waugh provides a clear and succinct summary of the legacy of the American Civil War. Here is the list in CWL's words. The American Civil War . . .
is unique.: a new birth of freedom paid for by enormous causalities, Antietam 23,000 K/W/M, Gettysburg 53,000 K/W/M
is a watershed. with the destruction of slavery as a system of labor
is a war of firsts. submarine, telegraph, observation balloons, railroads, draft, hospital ships, organized medical/nursing/signals, active enlisted soldiers casting ballots, wide spread use of chloroform during surgery
saved republican government. the experiment in representative self-government survived and remained in a somewhat steady condition in a world that had a tradition of government by kings, dictators, overlords, and mobs invoking terror
killed slavery. the contradiction of race-based slavery in a republic premised on the notion that all men are equal before the law came to an end
generated new ways of waging war. the tools of killing and the practice of total war dispensed with the then popular medieval notion of chivalry in warfare
revolutionized naval warfare. the science of fast cargo vessels also produced the fast chase vessel; the science of metallurgy made iron float on water
teaches brotherhood of arms. the bonds of a West Point education allowed for a degree of reconciliation after the war
showcased undaunted courage. courage must not be assumed without a test
made heroes. civilians, untrained in warfare, showed bravery beyond their observable capacity
created an industrial nation. The implications Lincoln's phrase 'entirely free or entirely slave' implies wage paid and unpaid labor. The productivity of wage labor in an early industrial society was unknown in 1861 but by 1865 the productivity of wage labor was to become an American virtue.
created fabulous fortunes for individuals. Andrew Carnegie, J.D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan were not Union army veterans though they were in their 20s when the war began. The war was a management learning lab for these three young men. Iron and railroads, finance and railroads, petroleum and railroads were the fields of capital management exploration.
created political oddities. four presidential candidates in 1860, politicians demanding to be generals, a presidential election during wartime for a second term and the last two term president was Andrew Jackson 1828-1836, Lincoln's second term opponent was a general who hated politicians, first time voters in 1864 voted while on campaign.
pioneered a new print media. the telegraph, the Associated Press, the new presses.
inspired great literature. not just novels like Killer Angels, The Red Badge of Courage, Cold Mountain, and The Black Flower but the immense amount of personal diaries and correspondence like Frank Haskell's Gettysburg letter and Grant's memoirs.
tested the citizens religious faiths. From Lincoln's Second Inaugural to the personal diaries of soldiers, such as used in Faust's Republic of Suffering
is one of the nation's immediate ties to the past. government enlistment papers with physical descriptions and occupations and letters home are what genealogists' dreams are made of
causes the citizens to remember the past. Reunion, Remembrance, and Reenactments
is great drama. the human drama with 625,000 deaths and 4 million released from slavery
still speaks today. though letters, diaries and through Ken Burns' The Civil War, though the literary imaginations of Jeff Shaara and Howard Bahr, through the painters' hands Don Troiani and Keith Rocco, and the diligence of the National Park Service.