Carole Marsh of Peachtree City is author and publisher of a series of booklets called “The Student’s Civil War,” designed for grades 4 to 8, marketed nationwide.
The series consists of six booklets; I have read only the one entitled “What Was The Civil War All About?” This one is, without a doubt, the most important and I wanted to see their answers. In the research process, Mrs. Marsh and her team, she says “… assembled more than 200 books and even more magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, and other information from the past…” as reported in a large article by The Citizen on Jan. 12.
Lord, I wish they had found some books like “When in the Course of Human Events” by Charles Adams (not a Southerner), respected world-wide as a tax historian, writer, and lecturer. Or “War Crimes Against Southern Civilians” by Walter Brian Cisco. Just the first page of Chapter one reveals to the world and posterity Robert E. Lee’s policy on the treatment of civilians during the war. Compare that to the Union General’s actions, approved by General Sherman, in chapter 14 about the burning of the mills at Roswell, Ga., then shipping all the women and children employees to the North.
I don’t know if Mrs. Marsh is a Southerner. She did not divulge her place of birth, upbringing, or schooling in this booklet, on her website, or in her speaking at the Peachtree City library on Jan. 15.
She poses a lot of questions that are still being argued and fought over and asks the children what they think. There is nothing different from what the victors of the war wrote; in other words, it is much of the same old North-slanted material dressed in shallow flippancy designed to appeal to the children.
Page 5 — A Word From the Author
In a general statement about the war, “Slavery was ended.” Response: This implies that slavery was ended by the war. Slavery was ended by the 13th amendment, after the war. The amendment is mentioned elsewhere in the booklet in a throwaway line. That doesn’t excuse the casual usage of the same old lie the South has endured for 150 years.
Page 8 — What Was America’s Civil War Really All About? “Southerners had imported slaves starting in 1619.”
Response: Very little importing was done by Southerners. The vast majority of slave ships were based in England and New England. Most of the latter were based in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Many of the great fortunes there were made in the slave trade.
You forgot to mention tariffs on this page.
Page 9 — Word Definitions — Civil War: “Citizens fighting citizens in the same country.”
Response: Too simplistic even for the 4th-graders. Not correctly applicable to this war where one section severed relations with the other, formed their own country, then fought to preserve it.
Mason Dixon Line: “imaginary line (between Maryland and Pennsylvania) that separated free states and slave states.”
Response: Not imaginary, a well-marked, 223-mile-long line surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to settle a property dispute. Delaware, a slave state, was grouped with the north side. The line was later extended westward by legislative action.
Secession: “to leave the Union of ‘United States’ in order to form a new government; this was illegal.”
Response: A major, unforgivable error. The basis for the South having been called traitors even today, 150 years later. The U.S. Constitution did not forbid secession; several states specifically retained the right to withdraw from the Union at the time of ratification. Massachusetts, for example, threatened several times to secede.
Reconstruction: “the years after the Civil War when the states reunited, rebuilt, and recovered.”
Response: These 12 years, ending in 1877, were more a continuing destruction of the South, which was divided into military districts, each ruled by a Union general. Wholesale confiscation of land was rampant and many illiterate former slaves were “elected” to office. Bullying of whites by the former slaves engendered a hatred for which the blacks paid dearly for many generations.
Page 17 — (Concerning Fort Sumter battle) — “The Union soldiers just watched for 36 hours, then surrendered.”
Response: This is erroneous. Major Anderson’s defenders returned significant cannon fire.
(Referring to states) “We all had to choose — North or South? … Support our Union or did we join the Confederacy?”
Response: Four states are depicted as among those faced with a decision. One of these is Alaska which was not a state until near a hundred years later.
Page 18 — About the various names for the war — The small-print question alongside the framed list of 21 names for the war asks, “What would you have called the Civil War?”
Response: Objection on the grounds of leading the student. “Civil” should have been omitted. Especially since it was not a civil war, but a War for Southern Independence.
“Civil War in a Nutshell”
“Abe was against slavery and everybody knew it.”
Response: Abe said in his first inaugural address, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
The Civil War in a Nutshell
“They (the CSA) made their own flag. The Rebel flag, right?”
Response: You are probably referring to the well-known Confederate battle flag, a blue and white St. Andrew’s cross on a red field. The national flag of the CSA was a different flag. How could that fact be missed in all the research?
Quote: “… Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It said all slaves are free.”
Response: This proclamation did not free all slaves, only those (with exceptions) slaves in states not under Union control. Critics at the time pointed out that Lincoln freed the slaves where he had no authority, and kept enslaved those held in the Union. This was a war measure, considered by the South an attempt to incite slave uprisings.
Many Europeans were horrified.
Page 30 — How Come We’re Still Fightin’ This Dang War?
Response: This accusative question is mostly directed at the South. An honest reading of the aforementioned books by Adams and Brisco along with a few others, all very professionally written, would pretty well answer that question.
Page 31 — The Civil War Experience
Two movies are recommended; one is “The Civil War” by Ken Burns.
Response: This otherwise well-done film has a major error at the beginning. It clearly states that the war was over slavery, with no other reason given. It is repeated every year or so to the millions of television viewers. The bashing of the South never ends.
I have no wish to embarrass Mrs. Marsh. She had a wonderful idea, but it was not, in the case of this booklet, well executed.
I challenge her to recall and destroy all copies of this booklet and to publish a more balanced and fair history of the war that defined this country. The children, and their children, deserve no less.
Peachtree City, Ga.