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American Civil War: Thoughts and Opinions of the Shenandoah Valley Inhabitants - Essay Example

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Several factors motivated the American civil war. For one, economic differences between the Northern and Southern regions inevitably led to bitter differences between individuals and groups from these areas…
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American Civil War: Thoughts and Opinions of the Shenandoah Valley Inhabitants
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Download file to see previous pages This was unfavorable to many states in the South. In addition to this, Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States around the same time. This put pressure on the states that were for slavery due to his strong stance against the practice. In summary, all the causes of the war seem to have originated from slavery. The strain felt given the differences in opinions and ideologies eventually translated into a war that lasted from the year 1861 to 1865 and left more than half a million casualties: The civil war. Even though the war achieved some results that altered the course of history, it is not possible to ignore the loss felt during and after the war. This paper discusses the variation of opinions and thoughts on the war among different categories of people, particularly in the Shenandoah Valley. In Virginia, as pointed out in an article by Rickard on the American Civil War (2006), the Shenandoah Valley was one of the hardest hit regions during the war. It was an area dotted with beautiful mountains, known for its fertility and for having developed transport systems, especially the railway. Its strategic situation rendered it one of the best routes to accessing both the Southern and Northern regions. All this, according to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation website2 turned out to be a disadvantage during the war since both the Northern and Southern areas took a keen interest in gaining control of the region. The two regions subsequently fought their wars in the valley itself, disturbing the stability that was the norm previously. Over the period of the war, Shenandoah Valley was conquered many times and was the epicenter for many major campaigns that kicked off during that time. In Ayn Rand’s famous words, “Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive” (Winokur 1992, 14)3 The same was true for the civil war, which was felt to be a worthy cause against slavery in the years between 1861 and 1865. For many in the Shenandoah area, the war achieved what it set out to do effectively. On the other hand, there are those who after the war felt that the losses incurred were not worth the gains felt. The region was at the time composed of people from various age groups, genders, and races. There are those who were soldiers that fought in the civil war, and on the other hand were civilians. This was the case for both Franklin and Augusta counties. In available 1863 wartime and pre-war accounts from Augusta County, it is clear that some felt that the war was in their favor. This seemed to encourage those in the Southern region to fight for a course that they felt was moral. Newspapers, for example, urged the public to fight for their ‘worthy’ cause, rather than allow the ‘Yankees’- a derogatory term used by the Confederates to refer to Federal troops during the civil war or by Southerners to refer to the Northerners 4 (Kwok 2001) - to succeed in pushing forward their agenda. An example of this is this extract from the Staunton Spectator. “From the West we hear of schemes designed by the desperate and disaffected--conspiracies tending to fresh ruptures and the final overthrow of the Republic. Wicked men, even at the North are beginning openly and shamelessly to dally with disunion, and propose, since dislocation has come into fashion, to multiply the fragments of our institutions. All this is terrible. We can better afford to lose fifty fights than thus to weaken the morality of our cause. We can better afford to submit to invasion than thus to make disintegration familiar to our constituencies. We can better afford to let the slaveholding soldier bivouac in the Capitol than to be betrayed into ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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