Bob Shell: Civil War-Part Two

Civil War

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

Civil War-Part Two


As I write in September of the end of the second decade of the Twenty-first Century, there is much talk in the media of a second civil war. How this will turn out is anybody’s guess right now, but if the unrest descends into war, it will not be a second civil war, because there is yet to be a first civil war on American soil. Yes, you heard me right, the war in the 1860s was NOT a civil war. A civil war is, by definition, a war between opposing factions within one country.

”The War Between the States’, or as it is often called here in the South, ‘The War of Northern Aggression,’ or, as I prefer, ‘Lincoln’s War,’ was fought between two sovereign countries, the United States of America (USA) and the Confederate States of America (CSA). The CSA was recognized, and had treaties of alliance with numerous other countries, England and Russia in particular, and had a properly ratified peace treaty with the USA.

Before the USA was formed, each state was essentially a separate country, like the countries that make up the European Union (EU), sometimes called the ‘United States of Europe,’ today. It is a well-established historical fact that when Virginia joined the USA, she reserved the right to leave the Union at any time.

If you’ve paid attention to international news for the past few years, you know about BREXIT, the decision by Britain to leave the EU. Britain, like Virginia, reserved the right to leave the EU when joining.

You don’t see Brussels sending an armed invasion force across the Channel to England to force them to come back into the European Union, do you? But that’s exactly what Lincoln did when he sent troops across the Potomac to invade Virginia. It was an illegal invasion of another country, a country with which the USA had signed a peace treaty. Bet you didn’t learn those uncomfortable truths in your history classes, did you? I did, at Virginia Tech in the 1960s.

Napoleon called history “a pack of lies agreed upon by the historians,” and that’s what history as taught in American schools today is. It is as factual as the history that used to be taught in the old Soviet Union, or in China today. I’ve seen the history books used today and sat down with young family members to talk about history. The pure PC nonsense our children are being taught today is both inaccurate and dangerous. If I had children, I would not subject them to this so-called education. The downfall of the USA may well be caused from within while our enemies laugh at our ignorance. Knowledge is power, but only when it is real knowledge. Belief in myth is weakness.

As George Santayana is so often quoted, “Those who forget history are destined to repeat it.” Our educational institutions today are engaged in a wholesale revision of history having damned little to do with truth.

My several times great grandfather, Hugh McCracken, enlisted in the 33rd Virginia Infantry at the start of Lincoln’s War. He fought bloody battles, saw horrible sights, and came home to his farm to raise a family. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. My family has his war diary, and I’ve read it. There’s a word that appears nowhere in that bloodstained diary: slavery. Hugh was not fighting to preserve slavery, he was fighting to protect his homeland from foreign invaders.

My ancestors were Appalachian farmers, mostly so-called Scotch-Irish, who’d come to America to find new lives without a King’s yoke around their necks. They didn’t own slaves, couldn’t afford them if they’d wanted them. Ours was not the South of massive plantations, it was the South of small subsistence farms.

There is such a thing as Southern Heritage, and it pains me deeply to see it systematically destroyed by ignorance.

When I lived in Richmond in the late 1960s, I used to walk around Monument Avenue to appreciate the heroic statues and monuments. I was particularly impressed with the Robert E. Lee monument and statue. Lee, my namesake and distant cousin, was my childhood hero, a genuine gentleman.

After the war a big publisher offered Lee a lot of money for his memoirs. Mark Twain had been hired to co-author them. Lee turned down this lucrative offer because he said it would not be proper to make money off the blood of his men.

The publisher then took the offer to Grant, who took the money. That tells us the measure of the two men.

It is well-known that Lee welcomed a Black man to his church in Lexington, and knelt to pray with him before the scandalized congregation.

It is wrong to try to judge men of the past by the standards of today. Almost none would measure up.


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here:

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on

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