Lincoln’s Mercenaries

John Randolph of Roanoke always had a good quip, and more often than not a prescient position on a contemporary event.

Take standing armies. Randolph thought that standing armies were a form of welfare. People who could not obtain work often joined the military.

Not much has changed. The modern United States army will fork over up to $40,000 for recruits to sign up.

That might surprise some people. After all, a patriotic people shouldn’t need financial incentives to join up and serve.

But the American empire is in need of Legionaries and they need to get paid. And in many cases, the military is the best job they can find.

Republicanism died out long ago. A far flung empire will do that to a people.

It wasn’t even around during Mr. Lincoln’s War in the 1860s, at least not for most Northern soldiers.

William Marvel published a marvelous book a couple of years ago, Lincoln’s Mercenaries, that destroys the “Righteous Cause” myth.

If Confederate soldiers signed up to fight for slavery, as the establishment historical profession incorrectly insists, then shouldn’t Union soldiers have signed up to fight against it?

Short answer: No.

Most signed up because they needed an income, and many stuck around after the War because they needed the money.

In other words, saving the Union took a backseat to lining their pockets, and you can forget about slavery. Most Union soldiers didn’t care, particularly in 1861 when they marched off to war for the first time.

That means the War wasn’t about slavery. For the common soldier in the North, it was mostly about getting a job.

For Southerners, it meant protecting your home from foreign invasion. You could find real republican dedication in the South, even if conscription helped fill out the ranks.

Marvel is no Confederate sympathizer. His multi-volume series on the War pulls no punches for the South. But he rightly calls the conflict “Mr. Lincoln’s War” and correctly views the conflict as a crusade for political power, nothing more.

This is a groundbreaking book that anyone with an interest in the War should read.

Subscribe to The Podcast

Comments are closed.