LINCOLN’S WAR The Real Cause, the Real Winner, the Real Loser




By Marc Roland

Many readers of THE BARNES REVIEW are especially interested in the Southern War for Independence—more widely known to the broader, less well-informed public as the “Civil War”—not merely because it is “interesting” or just an important part of history. Rather, their passionate interest is due mainly to the fact that this struggle was a decisive event-horizon that clearly separated our once constitutional republic from a domineering federal police state that replaced it in the aftermath of the war. In accordance with a familiar maxim “history is written by the victors,” for the last six generations, our fellow citizens have been taught that Black slaves were liberated by mostly White soldiers in combat against the forces of Southern slaveowners, all of them evil White men.

But in Lincoln’s War, author Lochlainn Seabrook, a respected historian and prolific writer on Confederate and Southern history and culture more broadly, points out that only about “5% of the Southern population owned slaves.” “In 1861,” Seabrook notes, “the South’s 300,000 White slave owners made up only 1% of the total U.S. White population of 30 million people. Thus, while only one Southern White out of every 300,000 owned slaves, one Black out of every four Blacks owned slaves (25%). In other words, far more Blacks owned Black (and Mulattoes and sometimes White) slaves than Whites did.”

Throughout the book, Seabrook dispels one myth after the next. “In the spring of 1861, there were 315,000 slave owners in the Yankee military, but only 200,000 in the South’s military,” the author notes, adding, “500,000 to 1 million slaves still lived and worked in the ‘abolitionist North’.” Seabrook quotes the newly elected president, the widely revered Abraham Lincoln, as having unequivocally declared to his Inauguration Day audience that he had “no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists.”

“I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so,” Lincoln continued. “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and not to either save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union with- out freeing any slave, I would do it.” Seabrook documents how “for the first two years of his war, Lincoln barred Blacks from joining his armies.”

In explaining his motive for later having done so, Lincoln said, “I thought that whatever Negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for White soldiers to do in saving the Union” from dissolution. The Confederacy’s defeat in 1865 was even then inaccurately described by the Northern press as “a triumph for Lincoln’s War of Liberation.”

Since Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s capitulation in central Virginia, America’s endless series of self- described “wars of liberation” are in- variably wars of domination, from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to cur- rent American meddling in the Middle East and other far-flung corners of the world. Lee later told the governor of the state of Texas: If I had foreseen the use of these people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. No, sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in this right hand. While he may not have foreseen the depths of the enemy’s postwar savagery, Lee prophetically described how “the consolidation of the states into one, vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”

Acquainting modern readers with such visionary statements from Amer- ica’s tragic if glorious past is part of Seabrook’s achievement—namely, de- scribing the hidden causes for the War for Southern Independence and their far-reaching implications for our country’s present condition. ❖ —— Lincoln’s War: The Real Cause, the Real Winner, the Real Loser (softcover, 347 pages, #757.