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Celtic Radio Community > Polls > Civil War Program

Posted by: CelticRadio 02-Oct-2007, 09:29 PM
One of the traditions of Highlander Radio is our Sunday morning Civil War program which plays authentic music from both the South and North during the years of the American Civil War.

People often question, "Why are you playing Civil War Music on a Celtic Music Broadcast?"

To answer that question you would have to examine the peoples that made up the armies of the South and North. Many where of Celtic and Appalachian descent and brought and played their music in the ballads and verses they created at the time. Regardless of your position, our Civil War broadcast is to honor and remember all Americans who gave their lives fighting for a cause they believed in.

But what would happen if the South Had Won? Recently I have been reading many essays on this topic written by some famous historians and leaders - such as Winston Churchill - which we plan on post here.

Anyone that wants to try and recreate this bit of history, give it a try!

Posted by: Elspeth 03-Oct-2007, 06:30 AM
Fascinating conjecture. Hadn't thought of this before.
Can't wait to read the essays.

Posted by: CelticRadio 29-Oct-2007, 06:39 PM
Sir Winston Churchill speaks:

In 1861 eleven Southern States of the U.S.A. left the Union, setting up an independent nation known as the Confederacy. In the same year the Union Government, headed by Abraham Lincoln, declared war upon them. The terrible American Civil War between North and South had begun. The war was fought primarily because Lincoln wished to preserve the Union: he denied the right of the Southern States to secede from it. But the North and South were also divided by the issue of slavery. The South insisted on maintaining this institution; the North soon became convinced that it was fighting a crusade to destroy it.

At first the Southern armies carried all before them. On 1 July 1863 the invasion of the North by General Lee, the South's C-in-C had brought several components of his army into the vicinity of Gettysburg, in southern Pennsylvania. A general engagement developed, which endured furiously for three days. On the third, Lee decided to attempt the envelopment of the Union right, while his fresh reserves under General Pickett were to attempt a direct break through the Union centre at Cemetery Hill. The former operation broke down, but the latter, in one of the fiercest actions in military history, all but succeeded -- the North's line was actually penetrated and only a lack of further reserves prevented Lee from following up Pickett's charge with the rout of the Union Army. Lee was compelled to fall back into Virginia, and no further general invasion of the North was ever attempted.

The Battle of Gettysburg together with the Union General Grant's capture of Vicksburg, which occurred next day, is considered the turning-point of the war. From then on final victory for the Union became inevitable. But had Lee won there is little doubt that in a few days he would have held Washington and a large portion of Union territory.

What Churchill imagined would have happened if Lee had won?

Lee's victory at Gettysburg did not itself immediately settle the issue. The greater population and infinitely greater resources of the Union would in the long run have been decisive and the South vanquished. Lee's great masterstroke was not on the field of battle but in the realm of politics. Immediately upon taking Washington, he shook the world with his august declaration that the victorious Confederacy would pursue no policy towards the negroes which was not in harmony with the moral conceptions of Western Europe. It was this pronouncement more than any military event that assured the South's victory. For now that the moral stumbling block of slavery had been removed there was nothing to prevent an alliance with Britain.

The British statesman Gladstone, always sympathetic to the Southern cause, managed within a month to effect a formal treaty of alliance between the British Empire and the Confederacy. This alliance completely revolutionized the military and naval situation. The Northern blockade of the South could not be maintained even for a day in the face of the immense naval power of Britain. The opening of the Southern ports released the blockaded cotton, restored the finances and replenished the arsenals of the Confederacy. But even the might of the British Empire thrown in the scales against them could not have forced the Northern states to concede defeat. This would have prolonged, not ended the struggle. It was Lee's abolition of slavery that at a blow destroyed the moral foundation of what had in the North increasingly come to be regarded as a holy crusade. It was one thing to tolerate appalling bloodshed over a clear-cut issue of right and wrong, quite another to do so over a constitutional dispute. Lincoln no longer rejected the Southern appeal for independence.

"If", he declared in his famous speech in New York, "our brothers in the South are willing faithfully to cleanse this continent of Negro Slavery, and if they will dwell beside us in neighbourly goodwill as an independent but friendly nation, it would not be right to prolong the slaughter on the question of sovereignty alone."

And so the war was ended, the South was independent and the negroes were free. But the events that did follow, however, were certainly ominous. The United States, as the North continued to call itself, nurtured dreams of revenge for its humiliation, and the Confederacy did little to mitigate the fermenting wrath. Made arrogant by the possession of such a large battle-hardened army they cast covetous eyes southward, and in 1884 conquered Mexico. By that time, their army numbered 700,000 men, and Northern resentment became mingled with fear. A frantic arms race developed. By the 'nineties North America bristled with armaments of every kind, and what with the ceaseless growth of the Confederate Army -- in which the reconciled negro population now formed a most important element -- and the very large forces which England and Canada maintained in the north, it was computed that not less than two million armed men with trained reserves of six millions were required to preserve the uneasy peace of the North American continent. Such a process could not go on without a climax of tragedy -- or a remedy.

The climax came in 1905 when war broke out between Russia and Japan; for a moment the whole English-speaking world teetered on the verge of disaster. The United States, well aware of the likelihood of Britain, the South's ally, being drawn into the conflict on the side of Japan, saw the moment as ripe to settle once and for all with the usurper to the south. But Prime Minister Balfour, President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States, and President Woodrow Wilson of the Confederacy were men of consummate wisdom and skill. At the eleventh hour they managed to avert the catastrophe. On Christmas Day 1905 was signed the Covenant of the English-speaking Association, creating a vast community of all the English-speaking peoples while leaving untouched the sovereignty of each. It signified a change in the hearts of men, the adoption of a higher loyalty and a wider sentiment. The autumn of 1905 had seen the English-speaking world on the knife-edge of self-destruction. The year did not die before they were associated by indissoluble ties for the maintenance of peace between themselves, for the prevention of war amongst outside Powers, and for the economic development of their measureless resources and possessions.

The benefits for humanity of this unity and strength were dramatically shown by the European crisis of 1914, which followed the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo. On 1 August, when the armies were mobilized and already nearing one another, the E.S.A. virtually ordered a halt by solemnly proclaiming that it would consider any country whose army crossed a frontier to be automatically at war with itself. The European leaders in Russia, France, and Austria were more than relieved to be given an excuse to draw away. It was said that Germany's Kaiser received the news with a scream of joy, and fell exhausted into a chair, exclaiming: "Saved! Saved! Saved!" Thus was a European war avoided which could have resulted in the deaths of millions of people. Kaiser Wilhelm II became one of the most respected elder statesmen of Europe. He may perhaps have reflected how easily his career could have ended in disaster: how Germany might have been laid in the dust and he ended his days in ignominy and despair, the outcast of a ruined nation.

Posted by: jedi-josh 28-Dec-2007, 09:26 AM
If anyone can produce a Web copy of the rest of Sir Winston's paper, I would be both most obliged and most appreciative.

This was a topic of fierce but congenial debate amongst some of my classmates and I back in HS. Not only were we avid readers of "The Killer Angels"/Michael Shaara, we also played the board- and PC-game versions of the battle over and over. Numerous paper napkins were doodled and drawn on and were sacrificed in the endeavour. It all ends up to one thing: the permanent division of the United States into North and South, as outlined previously.

However, I am of the personal opinion that things would not have turned out as "enlightened"-ly as Sir Winston put it. Granted, the tensions mentioned up to the alternate-universe 1905 would have persisted, but I seriously suspect that things would have taken a catastrophic downturn from there. I think it would not be too great a stretch to consider that the lingering animosities between North and South would have fomented a new war, but this time, with the Commonwealth on the South's side formally, that the North would lose and turned into a separate vassal state. The great experiment in democracy would be no more, and the British Empire would have another jewel in her crown, this one, however, with massive industrial capacities.

Just a thought.....

Posted by: Sekhmet 28-Dec-2007, 11:46 AM
Hey, you know what background I come from. I've been recreating the period and teaching it for years now. There's quite a few interesting essays available online. My suggestion would be to hit up the google scholarly search engine, which is here:

Plug in your pet topic and go to town.

Incidentally Paul, there's a band or two that I've been in contact with (or know personally in one case) who I think would be excellent additions to this sort of broadcast. Let me know if you're interested, one has an album that's Celtic music done on period string instruments. And they're a lot of fun. biggrin.gif

Posted by: CelticRose 28-Dec-2007, 04:47 PM
Ooh! I forgot about this original post. Loved reading the Winston Churchill essay and Sekhmet! You were the first person I thought of who could help us learn the period of history better. Thanks so much for that link! thumbs_up.gif

Posted by: dalern63 29-Dec-2015, 06:13 PM
Loved reading the Winston Churchill essay

Posted by: five4 10-Jan-2016, 09:12 AM
I absolutely love your "War between the States" program on Sunday mornings. The music is wonderful and the excerpts are both thrilling and informative, instilling a sense of pride in this otherwise dark and terrible period of American history. Somewhere in excess of 200,000 Irish and Irish-Americans took part, with about 75% serving with the North. Also of note is that it is estimated that between 25% and 35% of the Continental Army was composed of Irish and Irish-Americans...As always, I raise my glass to all those who served, fought and died.

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