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I was thinking about the program to be presented by George Hall to the Calhoun Historical Society and other interested citizens. I thought I knew what “Civil War” meant, but could not put it into a simple answer. The same thought came up when the word “guerilla” was used., so I went to the dictionary:

“Civil war is a war between different groups of people who belong to the same country. The American Civil War was fought between the North (Union States) and the South (Confederate States). It lasted from 1861-1865.”

Some think the conflict between the North (Yankees) and the South (Rebels) started because of their different ways of living. The North wanted the South to give up their farms, build factories, and abolish slavery. Congress treated slaves as personal property and would not take away rights of ownership.

So, America began a conflict that would take the lives of more than 620,000 of its citizens and injure more than 375,000. Most of the battles took place in the South, and recovery from the destruction took many years.

On Apr. 12, 1861, the first shot was fired at Ft. Sumter, N.C. This was the beginning of the Civil War. West Virginia became a state in 1863. The war was over on Apr. 9, 1865, when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House.

“Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians (or irregulars) use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and less mobile traditional army, or strike a vulnerable target, and withdraw almost immediately.”

In his book, Civilian War in West Virginia, Hall quotes Herman Matheny: “I could not understand why my Confederate grandmother, living in the North, and my Union grandmother, living in the South and surrounded by southern sympathizers, had similar problems with Union and Confederate soldiers! . . . I loved both grandmothers, and even now I cannot decide which one was right, if indeed, either one was right or wrong.”

When I was at Gettysburg, the most impressive event was a re-enactment of a battle between a Northern group from Michigan and a Southern group from North Carolina. The battle ended with each army marching to a midpoint, laying down their weapons and shaking hands or embracing a member of the opposite army.

It is a part of our history, even if we are not proud of it. Some of our ancestors were Moccasin Rangers, but most of them were good family men. We would not be here if this was not true. We must put the past behind us, forgive our ancestors and learn from their actions.

The Civil War is over. It is time to band together and make this a county of which we are proud. This also means “Keep Calhoun County on the map.”

Hall will present a review of his book at the Historical Society meeting on Thursday, Mar. 10, 6 p.m., at Family History Center Museum, Main St., Grantsville.

In future issues, The Calhoun Chronicle will feature biographies of those who were in the two armies. Readers are invited to send in stories of family members who may have been involved, from either the North or the South.

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