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The War’s Legacy

Even after the war ended, its repercussions continued to be felt. Parents grew more protective of their children and the phrase “child protection” became a watchword for reform societies seeking to address such social problems as child abuse and neglect. Children’s experience during the Civil War permanently altered a generation of Americans, who, in turn transformed American society in the years that followed. For the children of former Confederates, the war’s legacy was apparent in the formation of organizations such as the Sons and the Daughters of the Confederacy, which sought to ensure that their parents’ sacrifices had not been in vain. Meanwhile, the children of former Union soldiers took the lead in promoting hiking, camping, and competitive sports to provide their offspring with a “moral equivalent of war.”

I, J. Reb, being of unsound mind and bitter memory, and aware that I am dead, do make public and declare the following to be my political last will and testament.
I give, device, and bequeath all my slaves to Harriet Beecher Stowe.
I direct that all my shares in the venture of secession shall be cancelled, provided I am released from my unpaid subscription to the stock of said enterprise.
My interest in the civil government of the Confederacy I bequeath to any freak museum that may hereafter be established.
My sword, my veneration for General Robert E. Lee, his subordinate commanders and his peerless soldiers, and my undying love for my old comrades, living and dead, I set apart as the best I have, or shall ever have, to bequeath to my heirs forever.
And now, being dead, having experienced a death to Confederate ideas and a new birth of allegiance to the Union, I depart, with a vague but not definite hope of a joyful resurrection, and of a new life, upon lines somewhat different from those of the last eighteen years. I see what has been pulled down very clearly. What is to be built up in its place I know not. It is a mystery; but death is always mysterious. AMEN.

Eighteen-year-old John Sergeant Wise, a Confederate lieutenant and the son of a Confederate General, quoted in Werner, Reluctant Witnesses, 142-143

In our district school the history books devoted at least a third of their contents to the Civil War and every battle was set down in detail, often with a map beside it. I supposed no generation after ours was required to learn and know the battles, generals, plans, armies, and achievements of both sides as we were. The events were recited without bitterness and with a breath catching thankfulness that in the end the Union had been saved. There remained in our minds forever the rollcall of battle names: Shiloh and Shenandoah, Malvern Hill and Cold Harbor, the Wilderness and Island Number Ten. If the words were not beautiful in themselves, they became so to us by the splendor of association.

Anne Gertrude Sneller, who was born in Onandoga County, New York, in 1883, A Vanished World, 21 22

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