“The North Fought the Civil War to Preserve Slavery”…..Yea Right: Part 2

It is often that one hears the numerous arguments for why Southern soldiers fought in the Civil War. Once in a while, one might even hear explanations for the Union soldiers’ reasons to fight. In truth, Union soldiers share the same ambiguity in reasons for going to war as their Confederate counterparts. Reasons the Northern man fought include, but are certainly not limited to, preserving the Union, to “see the elephant,” display courage, a communal effort, and perhaps because of prior U.S. military service. Union Soldiers fighting for a connection to slavery, rather it be preservation or abolitionism, made up an extreme minority of the Northern force. To say that Union Soldiers fought the Civil War to “end” slavery, is misleading. Keep in mind however that it really does not matter what ideology Northern soldiers adhered to in the broad context of the war. In the end, these soldiers represented merely the cutting edge of the instrument of government policy. This is something that  David Tatum agrees to in his post about why Union soldiers fought. The problem with his interpretation is not in his realization that soldiers are merely a part of the proverbial machine, but on what he believes is the government’s policy they wish to extend.


Dav’s argument follows the normal narrative mentioned before. But then he engages in counter factual posing an interesting argument.

Yankees that claim that the South was primarily fighting for the right to continue slavery !
OK just for the sake of argument let’s say it’s true, That by a  soldier joining the armed forces he was fighting to maintain slavery . But if we accept this we must also look at what the North was fighting for.
Now the Yankee’s will tell ya it was to preserve the Union and later the focus changed to freeing the slaves. Then they will throw in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation
OOOOO-K, I’ve heard it all before. But lets look at it from the Yankees perspective and apply the logic evenly.
If the Confederates were fighting to preserve slavery, so were the Yankees!
The Yanks were fighting to preserve a Union that by law included slavery. So by fighting to save the union they were at the same time fighting to save slavery which was a part of the Union.
Even after the Emancipation Proclamation the yanks were fighting to preserve a Union that included slavery ! Lincoln stated- “Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
So slavery was still an accepted practice in the Union even after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
So the Yankees were still fighting to preserve a Union that included slavery.
As long as we all play by the same rules ya gotta accept the facts !

David seems to be under the impression that the Union fought to preserve slavery, because slavery existed, by law, in the U.S. at the time. Therefore, preservation of the Union means preservation of slavery. Apart from engaging in the logical fallacy of tu quoque, or the “you too” argument, David completely overlooks the North’s plainly stated policy.  In order to tease out the North’s policy, we must make certain realizations about war and its function. First, the North (Union) did in fact fight in the Civil War. Second, war, as dictated by Clausewitz, is merely a continuation of policy. It is a instrument for that continuation. Third, the North used this instrument to carry out their policy. Finally, the North’s policy was primarily to preserve the Union, and later adopted a secondary policy of ending slavery, but only as long as it served the primary policy. Numerous primary documents dictate these conclusions:

1860 State of the Union Address – President James Buchanon (Dec. 3, 1860) – “…..Such a principle [secession] is wholly inconsistent with the history as well as the character of the Federal Constitution….” Buchanon insisted that secession was not constitutional, nor was it ever after the ratification of the Constitution. Of course, he also believed the Government could not stop it. His indecisiveness  contributed to his failures as a President. But the policy of preservation continued on.

First Inaugural Address – Abraham Lincoln (Mar. 4, 1861) – “….It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances…..” Lincoln demonstrates from his inaugural that the government’s position will maintain secession as an illegal act. When the South escalates the level of violence in their policy by firing on Fort Sumter, Lincoln in turn chooses to escalate the North’s instrument of policy to one of war.

Lincoln’s Proclamation – Abraham Lincoln (Apr. 15, 1861) – “…I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured…..” Lincoln’s proclamation is a government document. It calls for the concepts of the government to be preserved and protected. Lincoln, in this document, seeks this policy through the build up of military personnel asking Americans to rally behind his policy.

Letter to Horace Greely – Abraham Lincoln (Aug. 22, 1862) – ‘…I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save teh Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery…”  In this letter to New York Times Tribune Editor Horace Greely, Lincoln again reiterates his policy as one preserving the Union and the laws inherited by the Constitution. He is adamant in his position so much so that he plainly explains how preservation of the Union stood paramount in the struggle over other issues such as slavery’s preservation and abolition. Of course, as Horace Greely pointed out years later, Lincoln’s continuous insistence on his cause having to do with preservation and not emancipation, might have been Lincoln’s attempt to prepare people for his changing position on slavery. Lincoln already completed a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation not long before his letter to Greely. This could be a way for Abe to highlight his primary purpose, but also demonstrate that emancipation was going to be used in war policy.  

Notice that throughout the early years of the war, the Union maintained a policy of preservation. Not once is it mentioned that U.S. policy hinged on the preservation of slavery. In David’s twisted logic, he believes that simply because something existed within the Union, that means the Union fought to preserve it. By that same logic, we can also deduce that the Union fought to preserve coffee or the union blue wool that each soldier wore during the war. With that logic we can also conclude that the South fought for jean wool and industry….simply because they existed in the south. I do not think it is hard to see where David’s logic runs afoul. Especially given that Lincoln used the institution in a war like policy, changing with his own views over time, always subsidiary to the number one task of preserving the Union. In the long run, applying such twisted logic serves only to delude a situation and cancel out motivating factors of policy.


  1. And that’s what passes for historical analysis with the Heritage Instead of History crowd. They either can’t or refuse to comprehend actual history so they have to cobble together bits and pieces of their limited understanding. They make Southerners look bad.

  2. Well the North certainly wasn’t fighting to free the slaves. Certainly some good historical references in the article.

    George Purvis
    Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

    I thought you were not gonna allow insults and derogortoy remarks on your blogs. Dowes this rule just apply to Southerners???

    • No, not until it fit their policy in 1863. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Notice that Mackey did not specifically target one individual, nor did he say all Heritage advocates, merely those that think Heritage supersedes History.

      Also, Mackey and myself are Southerners George.

      • In reality you and I know no slaves were freed — even by the EP. The North only “freed” the slaves as a war measure not becasue it was a policy. It si an interesting post- argiument at any rate. On the other hand the southwas not fighting to preserve slavey..

        No but the intended insult in still there. You know one thing I cannot stand is white, fat, liberal professors who twist facts to serve his or her agenda.

      • While I don’t reject the label, Rob, I think some would say it is tenuous at best to call me a southerner and others would downright deny it. I did spend four wonderful years at a fine southern institution of higher learning, and I did spend an awful lot of my adult life living in various parts of the South, one of my children born in the South and both of them educated in and living in the South now, the rest of my time was spent either in the West (or far, far, far west in the case of three years living in Hawai’i) or north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

  3. Nearly 180,000 free black men and escaped slaves served in the Union Army during the Civil War. But at first they were denied the right to fight by a prejudiced public and a reluctant government. Even after they eventually entered the Union ranks, black soldiers continued to struggle for equal treatment. Placed in racially segregated infantry, artillery, and cavalry regiments, these troops were almost always led by white officers.

  4. [edit: insult] Of these 180, 000 negroes who served only some 3,000 were KIA.

    Rob, the revelance — It proves that the Union did not like, nor trust theBlack amn as well as you thougt. Racism existed in the Union army.

    George Purvis
    Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

    • Thanks for the comments George. Please refrain from using insults.

      Historians do not contend, nor have they ever, that the North was absolved from Racism in the 19th century or ever. So as far as “as well as you thought,” I’ve never thought anything other than what I just said in the comments.

      Now to redirect back towards Gilbert’s comment. Again, what is the relevance? And George, don’t speak for other people. This post is about war as an instrument of policy, and that at the onset of the war, preserving the Union was the policy of which war served as an instrument. What does this have to do with black enlistment in the North?

      • Insult??? What did I say that was insulting???

        Gilbert’s comment refers to Negroes in the War for Southern Independence which is relevant to the discussion. It is more relevant than this comment—

        “And that’s what passes for historical analysis with the Heritage Instead of History crowd. They either can’t or refuse to comprehend actual history so they have to cobble together bits and pieces of their limited understanding. They make Southerners look bad.”

        • The comment is irrelevant to the post because it is a copy and paste of hit-list statements on the U.S.C.T. organizations. It is irrelevant to the content of my post, because my post focuses on preserving the Union as policy of the state. The comment was merely Gilbert attempting to point the finger and say how bad the North treated blacks, as some sort of cover for the issues of slavery.

          Mackey’s comment is in reference to David Tatum’s post. Therefore, relevant.

          • LOL LOL Why did I know you were gonna say that? I suppose the part about the H&H croud was only for David? Lie about that. My supposed insult was in response to yours and Mackey’s comments on this bord therefore relevant.

            So what if Gilbert did copy and paste you do the same so do I. The USCT aren’t the heroes you make the out to be, the number of KIA proves that. Most of the stuff posted on this page is irrelevant to your blog, up to and including Mckey’s insults. Had Gilbert said something bad about the South
            you would have let the post stand and praised him, but he did not so you must take an opposing view. We know how the game is played by [Mackey]. This last comment is in reference to Mackey’s post.so it must be relevant.

            Shall I post a relevant comment for you?

          • I cannot lie about a statement I did not write, I saw it as pointed towards Tatum’s original post, and I noticed how Mackey did not say “Heritage” crowd, but “Heritage over History” crowd, which is not a generality.

            I did not make the USCT out to be heroes, I did not make them out to be much of anything at all in these posts. Again, irrelevant.

          • You know as well as I do Mackey meant anyone who defends the South. It just proves the point I have been making all along, as long as the stings are directed at people whom you do not agree with or people of the South, you are fine with them. Put the shoe on the other foot and you want to edit or ban the person. You comeacross on these blogs as some sort of [edit: derogatory]

            Now let me say this the points David Tatum is presenting are absolute facts. You cannot dispute them. To sort sort is to dispute all historical fact regarding the war..

          • Mackey has an opinion, I have an opinion, you have an. Mine is not insulting unless insulted first.

            All of Tatum’s points are historical fact. To preserve the Union as it was, was to preserve slavery. It was never Lincoln’s intention that Negroes be allowed in the Northern states or the territories. This is proven by the Northern Black codes.

            Have you ever researched beyond any of Tatum’s points?

            George Purvis
            Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

          • How so George? Are we to say also that preserving the Union was to preserve Coffee, Oregano, Lumber, etc. etc.?

            Blacks were already allowed in the Northern states before Lincoln’s administration, so that’s a moot point.

          • Well think about it.If the Union soldiers were fighting to preserve the Union and the laws of the Union, then slavery was one of the laws.

            Not so Negroes were encourgaed to keep moving under the Black codes.

          • No it isn’t George. The laws of the nation are an indirect consequence of preserving the union. This is especially true given that the North will use slavery as an instrument of their policy as the war progresses. The same could be said of trade, coffee, etc. etc. Also, it would be equally arguable to your stance, to say the North fought preserve abolition, since certain states in the Union abolished the institution. It would be like saying the South fought to preserve agriculture. Or to say that the South fought to preserve law the prohibited given arms to blacks, as that was an indirect consequence of their policy, and one they would later use as an instrument of their policy.

            “encouraged,” As you state it would be a gross generalization and rather ignorant of the history, I’m sorry to say. The reality is that many blacks lived in the North before Lincoln’s admin., during, and after. Frederick Douglas?

          • Thibnk outside the box a little bit Rob. Noteyour abolition statement— good. I had read there were more abolition groups in the Southe ant one time than in the North, but I have no hard evidence.

            My other computer is in the shop, I had several of theBlack codes on it . I cannot offer any source at th8istime except this excellent website—-http://www.slavenorth.com/exclusion.htm

            George Purvis
            Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

          • So I am to think outside of the box of which historical fact reinforces? That may be how you prove things George, but that is not how history works.

          • As I said think a little bit outside the box and you can see how it could be said that the Union was fighting to save slavery. If you have fact that proves otherwise feel free to post it.

            We know for a fact the South wasn’t fighting for slavery

          • I’ve already posted that face in part 2 of the series. Something which you seem not to have read. The North fought to preserve the Union. To say it fought to preserve slavery, simple because slavery existed in the North, is irrelevant. It is irrelevant a point as saying that the North fought to abolish slavery from the war’s onset, simply because states existed in the Union which abolished slavery.

            Part 1 lays out plainly what the South fought for. If you disagree, then disagree there.

          • So you have no facts that says the North didn’t fight to preserve slavery as one of the laws of the Union. All my points are revelevant. Because you cannot disaggree with fact makes them even more revelevant.

            I’ll get to part one as soon as you post facts proving the North did not fight to preserve slavery.

            George Purvis
            Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

          • You’ve yet to make any points. You’ve just made assertions without proof. And it’s relevant, not “revelevant” You’ve posted no fact to prove anything, therefore there is nothing to actually prove nor disprove in your statements.

            The proof is in their stated policy.

          • I have made vaild points at least twice. Not my fault you cannot grasp a simple idea or fact. Post your proof and prove me wrong — it is that simple.

            Remember I have always said the war wasn’t about slavery/ It stands to reason I can prove the neither the North or south was fighting to save the institution, nor was the north fighting to destory the institution.
            Are you ready for me to bail your butt out?????

            George Purvis
            Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

          • No you haven’t.

            And you are always wrong on that matter. The south plainly states that as their reason. To suggest anything else is simply dishonest. I know you want that not to be true George, the problem is that you approach this subject already asserting this isn’t the case, then your biased blinds your reasons.

            Sorry, you’re wrong. You have been wrong. You will continue to be wrong on that issues. Get over it.

          • You are wrong about the South and I will prove that later. Right now your immediateproblem is proving the North didn’t fight to preserve slavery. Remember West Virginia came into the Union as a slave state. That is just one more point for my side.

            George Purvis
            Southern Heritage AdvancementPreservation and Education

          • It isn’t a point on your side George. Just because something existed in something, does not mean those people fought for it. It is a contradiction to argue such a thing because you would also argue that the North fought for abolition, emancipation, to stop the spread of slavery, and to preserve slavery all at the same time. You are making a ridiculous argument in an attempt to hi-jack the conversation, and I’m not going to entertain it anymore.

          • It is a point fo my side. Just becasue you try to spin the facts different to fit your agenda doesn’t make you right.

            yes it appears more and more like the North fought to preserves slavery. We do know foe a fact they were not fighting to end it!!!!!!!!!

            Better get to work spinning!!!!!

            george Purvis
            Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

          • [Edit: Since you can’t pay attention George, you’re done until you can learn to converse in a civil manner.]

  5. Rob,
    Why is it always appear that defense of a supposed heritage somehow trumps historical fact?

    As a retired soldier of twenty years service, I know for a fact soldiers join the army for many, many personal reasons, but they serve at the government’s pleasure and their political and military goals, their personal reasons having no impact whatsoever on those goals.

    It is a fact, not a fantasy.


    • Exactly Neil. Thanks for commenting.

      I know not why heritage trumps history. My best guestimate, and what I have always argued, is that many of the heritage advocates are a political movement projecting their politics on the past.

    • neil how is your comment relvant? We are talking about why the Southern Soldier fought but rather “Did The North Fight to Preserve Slavery?”

      George Purvis
      Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

        • —-and i regularly talk about the USCT.

          The comment is irrelevant to the post because it is a copy and paste of hit-list statements on the for anyone who knows trues historical fact, and defends the Confederacy and Confederate heritage organizations.

          That door swings both ways doesn’t it.? I told you that you were biased you just proved it ——- againm

          George Purvis
          Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

          • It doesn’t matter what you regularly talk about, this is my blog.

            George, It is nearly impossible to cipher through your incoherent rants. Put together a logical, reasonable sentence that actually lays out arguments in relevance to the post, and you might be taken seriously.

          • [edit: insult]

            You seem to do a good job with my broken English, you reply is always posted and is exactly what is expected.

          • Is that the best comeback you have???

            You know you are biased and this page proves.

            The Union fought to preserve slavery.and you can’t prove otherwise!!!!!!!! LOL LOL LOL

          • Actually, my proof is in the post. You have provided nothing to prove the Union fought to preserve slavery George, you just say so and expect that to be true.

          • Wellwe know slavery was still leagl in the United states until 1865, therefore if the North was fighting for the Union and its laws they were fighting for slavery. This is not based on my say so, it is based on historical fact.

            Now bring you proof the Union wasn’t fighting to preserve slavery. Shall I do it for you???? Do you need me to bail you out????

          • No not realy. Remeber West virginai came into the Union as a slave state. The EP only freed the slaves in the rebelling states and loyal Union slaveowners in these places could keep their slaves

            [edit: insult – Note* That is pretty grotesque George. Statements like that will get you banned permanently. Consider this your warning.]

          • But according to your logic, since there were states that abolished slavery, then the North fought to abolish slavery. That’s what you said earlier. Since it exists as a law within the country, and the North fought to preserve the Union and its laws, then abolishing slavery is what they fought for….

            Do you understand why you, and David Tatum are making ludicrous arguments here?

            I guess the North also fought to stop the expansion of slavery, the trans-atlantic slave trade, abolition of slavery, and fugitive slave laws all at once… Hmmmmm

          • I didn’t say anything about any state abolishing slavery. I said yiou could say they fought to abolish slavery, then went on to prove otherwise. You have yet to provide one exampleof the North fighting to abolish sllavery but I have provided at least 3 examples of them fighting to preserve slavery. Want more—- Frempnt’s Emancipation. Look it up.

            If that doesn’t do it I have one more waiting.

            [edit: see your other comment, this is your last warning.]

            George Purvis
            Southern heritage Advancement Preservation and Education.

          • No you didn’t. In fact, you proved that practically anything could be thrown in with “what the north fought for.”

            Why do you change the criteria for the preservation of slavery over other things George?

            I have never said the North fought to abolish slavery, you insinuate that so you can build your straw man argument. You’ve yet to give an example of why the North fought to preserve slavery, or a citation to go with that example.

            I know Fremont’s emancipation well, I also know the reasons Lincoln did not approve it, which will be included in the next part in this series.

          • George, please read above. As well as your comments here and here. Those types of vulgarity and insinuations will not be allowed. In other words, when you get over childish attitude, you may then come back.

          • I’m sorry George. No one that reads these comments, think that you prove anything. That is why you are so openly mocked. And to say I am negative about the South, would be counterproductive as my family have always been Southerners.

            Have a Dixie Day.

          • Southerners??? Ha You disgrace the name.

            I know these comments are not being read.

            I am openly mocked only by your group of booty boys and that is because I tell true history fact and ya’ll can’t beat me in that department. You are openly mocked because you are a chithead.

          • George, every time you comment on this blog, you flood it with your ignorance and negativity. You comment with ulterior motives and do nothing to contribute. Instead you just insult, or make grotesque comments about rape. If you tell true historical fact, where are your publications? What/where are your books, titles, and degrees? Instead you copy and paste internet information, wrongly and out of context. You are constantly, matched, measured, and defeated on every issue George. I am allowing this comment through the filter to highlight once against your childish antics. You are banned from this blog, until you learn to dismiss your childish antics.

          • Sorry George. That comment still falls under the “childish” category. It is topped off with another rape joke and the usual “I am better than you” formality.

            Currently this is how you are acting.

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