American Civil War Controversies, Questions, and Conundrums
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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As I dive more into the American Revolution and Europe from Louis XIV to Napoleon, I'll have to leave the Civil War a bit behind. I'll still read about it and hopefully I can someday write a book or two, but for now I must put that era on hold. Regardless, this will be my last Civil War geeklist, a sort of swan song to the era I have read about and thought about more than any other. I am almost tempted to drop my other interests as a historian, but some much has been written about the war and I feel the only scholarship I could offer would be a more harsh critique of Lincoln as commander-in-chief and a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the current emancipationist memory of the war.

I will not offer my opinion here. Rather, I'd like to hear what everyone else thinks. I'll only chime in to correct faulty information and offer more questions, like Socrates (I guess).

Please Avoid These Common Misconceptions!
Lee was not opposed to slavery. He saw it as a necessary evil for the society, but not as a positive good, hence his lack of enthusiasm for it.

McClellan was not a peace candidate. He was committed to beating the south. However, this does not mean his election would have been a good thing.

The war did not give a boost to the Industrial Revolution, in fact it probably put the whole thing on pause as investment and commercial output fell during the war years.

Jefferson Davis and Bragg were not friends. Davis simply had few alternatives to Bragg's generalship after Murfressboro and he thought it unwise to sack him after Chickamauga because he had just won a victory and had Rosecrans cornered.
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1. Board Game: The American Civil War [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:13222]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Was the Civil War an "irrepressible conflict" or avoidable? Was it necessary?


William H. Seward coined the phrase "irrepressible conflict:"
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2. Board Game: Conspiracy [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:3563]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Was there a slave-power conspiracy? Was there a Northern abolitionist conspiracy against the South? Was the war caused by a fear of a compromise of sacred rights?


Roger Taney opposed secession but thought the abolitionists were to blame:
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3. Board Game: Rebellion [Average Rating:4.71 Unranked]
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Is their any validity in making John Brown a martyr? Was he prophet of the coming war or an insane demagogue?


Images like this lend themselves to the prophet idea:
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4. Board Game: The Price of Freedom: The American Civil War 1861-1865 [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:5400]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Was the problem of slavery mostly one of morality, economics, or the way race effected society? Would it be better to say all of the above and give each equal credit?


The mark of slavery:
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5. Board Game: The Game of Dixie or Bonus 20 [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Was the Confederacy a reactionary revolt or a revolution? Was it somehow both or something else altogether? Was secession legal or just a convenient excuse?


The Confederacy's National Seal has many meanings:
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6. Board Game: Save the President [Average Rating:4.80 Overall Rank:14263]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Was Jefferson Davis the only man truly capable of leading the South or were there other better options? Who could have led in Davis's place?


Many members of the first CSA cabinet were presidential hopefuls:
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7. Board Game: Innocence Lost: First Bull Run 1861 [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Could Fort Sumter have been avoided? If so would it have changed anything? What would happen if the South had lost Bull Run?


The die is cast:
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8. Board Game: C.S.A. America's Civil War 1861-1865 [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:10026]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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How could the South have won? Could they have won after July 1863?


Sherman predicted in 1861 that the South would lose:
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9. Board Game: Crucible of Courage [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Was the Civil War soldier ideological, devoid of ideology, or more motivated by the culture of manhood? Regardless of your answer, how did the course of the war change these as aspects of thinking and experience?


We'll never know what these Confederates thought and felt:
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10. Board Game: Fire and Fury [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:3395]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Is the modernity of the Civil War overstated or understated? In what ways was it still Napoleonic and yet modern? Was decisive battle possible? Have Americans overestimated the skill of the generals involved and the war's effect on military developments?


Beauregard was both modern and Napoleonic in his military actions:
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11. Board Game: Raiders and Blockaders [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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How effective was the blockade?


Winfield Scott was the father of the blockade strategy:
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12. Board Game: Here Come the Rebels [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:2229] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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How possible was European intervention or expanded support for the Confederacy?


Palmerston pursued neutrality but considered mediation after Second Manassas:
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13. Board Game: The War in Virginia: 1862-1865 [Average Rating:6.70 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Why did the North lose early on in Virginia? Was it due mostly to McClellan's failures or Lee's victories or is their another reason? In what ways were Lincoln, Halleck, Cameron, and Stanton responsible for failure? What did they and McClellan do right?


The war in Virginia frustrated Lincoln:
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14. Board Game: Mr. Lincoln's War: Army of the Tennessee [Average Rating:6.16 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Could the South have had more sucess in the western theater, or did the lack of Southern leadership and the presence of Union commanders like Grant, Sherman, and Thomas make victory improbable?


George Thomas was a factor in numerous Union victories:
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
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Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Why was Davis unable to create a winning command team outside of Virginia?


Johnston blamed failure in the west on Davis:
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16. Board Game: Gettysburg: Badges of Courage [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:3865]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Was Gettysburg decisive or overrated? Could Meade have destroyed Lee? What could Lee have gained by winning at Gettysburg? Is Gettysburg more the product of memory? Are historians, such as Steven Woodworth, critical of the battle's importance on to something or just chasing an agenda?


High water mark?
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17. Board Game: Lee vs. Grant [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:3481]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Was Lee a great general, solid, or overrated? Was Grant a great general, solid, or overrated? Was each man only as good as his subordinates and the generals they defeated? Regardless of the answers there remain two burning questions about each commander: did Lee follow a good overall strategy and if so why did he lose? Also, how effective was Grant's Overland Campaign and regardless was was there a better way?


Neither general acknowledged the "greatness" of the other:
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18. Board Game: 1864: Year of Decision [Average Rating:6.58 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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What would have happened if McClellan had won the election?


McClellan was saddled with a copperhead running mate:


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19. Board Game: Lincoln's War [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:6450]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Was Lincoln great, solid, or overrated as president? Is his exalted status due to his death just on the cusp of ultimate victory, or was it assured regardless?


Lincoln's death led to instant martyrdom and hero-worship:
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20. Board Game: Impeached [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Should Andrew Johnson have been impeached? Would his removal have had any bearing on Reconstruction?


The impeachment of Johnson cast a long shadow over the age:
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21. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: 1867 Georgia Reconstruction, South Carolina & Oklahoma Land Rush [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Why did Reconstruction, as attempted by congress, fail? Was there a much better way to implement the program of Reconstruction?


Sumner believed in radical Reconstruction:
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22. Board Game: The War for the Union [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:5891]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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If the war was about slavery why were the ex-slaves abandoned after the war? Was there a more important, underlying reason for the fighting or had priorities simply changed?


An example of racist pamphlets directed at northern whites:
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23. Board Game: Lee at the Crossroads [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Does the Lost Cause have any truth to it? If past scholarship was in love with the Lost Cause, are we now operating within an opposite, abolitionist myth of the war?


1907 Confederate Reunion Parade in Richmond:
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24. Board Game: America's Spirit [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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To what extent and how do regional and political differences play an important role in how people interpret the war? Is the memory of the conflict much more political than we give it credit? Was the country truly united by the war?

1856 presidential election:


1904 presidential election:


1956 presidential election:


2004 presidential election:
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25. Board Game: American Civil War 1861-1865 [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:9386]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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What do you think were the five main effects of the American Civil War?


Images of the aftermath:




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