Reading through Lawyers, Guns, and Money today, I was eventually directed to the US Army site on the service of African-Americans throughout history. The lead line of the section on the Civil War really raised my hackles: “When Federal troops invaded Southern states….” This bothered me so much I was motivated to actually write the webmaster (and my Congressman). Since I believe anything worth writing is worth using twice (at least), I’m just going to quote what I said to them:
I visited your site on the service of African-Americans in the US Army. I must admit to being extremely disturbed by the section on the Civil War, which opens with the line “When Federal troops invaded Southern states…”
Federal troops did not “invade” the South. Federal troops are free to move throughout the nation, subject only to concerns of Posse Commitatus. Federal troops redeployed to areas of the nation engaged in active insurrection, which to me seems the appropriate use of them. Secession by the Southern states was illegal and thus void, and carries no weight. Surely the official record of the Army of the United States should reflect this reality.
Likewise, without belittling those slaves impressed into frontline war service, it was not possible for them to serve “with honor” the Confederate cause — not through failings of their character, but because the South stripped them of their honor and forced them to support a rebellion dedicated to suppressing them.
I know that it’s becoming popular to sympathize with the Confederate cause, to focus on their “honor” and “chivalry” while downplaying or ignoring the brutal reality of four million people in chains for no better reason than the color of their skin. I am, however, shocked and dismayed to find such a pernicious lens deployed by the historians of the Army who fought to break those chains.
-=-Bernard HP Gilroy
Pro-Confederate revisionism is on the rise and it really ticks me off.
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