Guest Blog by Gordon Strong: British involvement in the American Civil War

Many, including a great proportion of Americans, are ignorant of the motives behind the Civil War. The extent of British involvement in the conflict is also generally unknown.

Received opinion assigns the emancipation of the slaves as a reason for making Abraham Lincoln the ‘good guy’ in the conflict.  This is not to take into account Lincoln’s primary aim which was simply to maintain the Union.  The supposed plight of the slaves was not his greatest concern.  It is also suggested, and with good reason, that the North wished to colonise the South and acquire its wealth.

Of the cotton produced in the southern states, 80% was exported to England for use by the Lancashire cotton mills.  It is not surprising that feelings of support for the Confederacy ran high in these areas.  It was said that more Confederate flags flew in Lancashire than in America.

Aware of this amity, representatives of the Confederacy sailed to England and successfully commissioned the Liverpool ship yards to build an armed vessel to be used by the South. CCS Alabama was duly constructed and, with a British crew, sailed to war.  Its success in naval battles was prodigious, sinking fifty-five Union vessels before itself being sunk off the coast of France.

Unfortunately, and perhaps embarrassingly for the British government, the Union were the victors in the Civil War.  They insisted that three million pounds be provided in compensation for the loss of the Union vessels sunk in the conflict.

The strong affiliation the North of England felt for the Confederacy and its heroes would not be forgotten. Immediately following his death at the battle of Chancellorsville the creating of a statue of Stonewall Jackson was proposed by those still loyal to the cause.  This was subsequently paid for by subscription.  Duly completed by an Irish sculptor, the monument was shipped to Richmond Virginia, and in 1875 erected with due ceremony.  With a certain irony one learns that a Lincoln memorial stands in London.

That the Civil War resulted in 150,000 deaths is only tragedy divided loyalties, it also severed family ties. Three of Lincoln’s brothers-in-law fought for the South.  The permanent legacy of the war was the establishment of the Federal ethic and all that represents in the twenty-first century.  The concepts of liberty that Jefferson upheld have been buried beneath a travesty of the original Republican stance.

‘Historical ifs are worthless’ my old History master used to say.  Yet it is interesting to speculate as to what might have happened if in the 1860s Britain had recognised the Confederacy as the legitimate America and taken a more active part in arming the Southern states. Things might well have been very different in the U.S.A.  Would that term actually exist? 

© Gordon Strong 2012

Published by Llewellyn International, Wooden Books and Skylight Press, Gordon is an international author.  His specialist subjects include myth, philosophy and esoteric history. He also writes informed, dynamic novels, now all available on Amazon Kindle.  Gordon’s most recent work is THE SACRED STONE CIRCLES OF STANTON DREW from Skylight Press.

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About Daniel

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