Saber and the lovely Mrs. Saber
(they are the couple in right of the picture)

Graybacks and Bluebellies

Why They Fought

To the Civil War novice, the reason the Civil War soldiers fought was to end or preserve the institution of slavery. This could not be farther from the truth.

The boys from north and south who rushed to volunteer were not politically motivated. These were simple young men, most of whom were barely literate. Most lived in homes that were built by their fathers and grandfathers and many had never traveled more than ten miles from their homes. Many northern boys had never seen a Negro and the great majority of southern boys did not own any slaves. Then why did they flock to enlist before this unpleasantness between the states was over.

For one answer in the north, perhaps we need go no farther than the flag and the freedom and strength of union it represented. The boys were treated to an avalanche of speeches all telling them of how those backward southerners were threatening their freedom and ruining their country. For the vast majority this was enough.

Southerners had a different perspective. They listened to speeches filled with ideas of states rights, intrusion of the Federal government, invasion of sacred southern soil and reminders of their ancestors fight against tyranny. It is easy to understand why many viewed the coming war as the second American Revolution. The majority simply had to defend their homes.

As thousands of adventure seeking young men swelled the ranks of the Union and Confederate forces, one fear was paramount in their minds. The war would be over before they got there. Honor and glory was awaiting them on the battlefield if they could get there in time. To both Graybacks and Bluebellies it would only take one great charge and it would all be over. This was their romantic idea of war. For those who survived those first battles their ideas of honor and glory would be crushed forever.

I have tried to give a brief overview of their willingness to fight. It would fill volumes to fully detail the motivations of both sides. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention possibly the most important motivation to either side:

"Once the die was cast and war was inevitable, it was simply the right thing to do. "