American History

There is one thing that I dreaded when I took on my Top 100 Documentaries Challenge and that thing occurred a few days ago. The dreaded documentary series. I knew it was going to happen, and it did.

#31 The Civil War

I try not to look at the previews of the films. I kinda want to be surprised. So, I didn’t know if this was going to actually be about the Civil War or about who knows what. Turns out it was a 9 episode series at approximately 99 minutes each and actually about the Civil War. Thankfully it was a well funded PBS documentary with some great narration and production (Two Words: Morgan Freeman), so it was extremely interesting to watch. I binged the hell out of it; mainly because I find that part of American history so fascinating.

I will try not to spoil it, I mean it’s a historical documentary and you kind of know who won; however there are some things that I don’t think that everyone knows about the Civil War. I was actually shocked at what Texas did to join the confederacy (Which proves Texas politics has been fucking retarded since 1861). The whole series was just filled with details about the war that made it so interesting and infuriating at the same time. The main thing that I noticed, is that some of these things are still happening today. The players have different names, but the ideas that are being tossed around echo the the same things that happened back in 1861.

Don’t be fooled by anyone, the war started over slavery. It wasn’t about State’s rights, it was about slavery. The North (and the rest of the world for that matter) had moved away from slavery and started to industrialize. The South was also heading that way until the invention of the cotton gin. When the cotton gin was invented, and production of cotton skyrocketed and people were getting stupid rich.So, the need for slaves increased by 10 times in the South. When Lincoln was elected, a Republican (which was a new party at the time and more like the Democratic party is today, somewhat liberal & progressive), the South feared that the Federal Government was going to take away slavery. However, a major part of Lincoln’s platform was that he was not going to abolish slavery. The South just freaked out any way.

When the film covered this, I my jaw dropped because I had an “Ah-Ha” moment. Because this sounded REALLY familiar. When Obama was elected, gun and ammo sales increased all over the country  91% in his first term (and I am willing to bet the majority of that was probably in the southern states) because people were afraid that gun restriction were going to be passed or their 2nd amendment rights/guns were going to be taken away. I remember just 4 years ago, a handful of nut jobs here in Texas (I believe it was roughly 1% of the population) were pressing for Texas to secede from the US because of Obama and his anti-gun views. At the time, no gun laws had been passed at all.

Then just this year, this happened:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday revealed his plans for a “convention of the states,” the first in more than 200 years, as part of a larger effort to reshape the U.S. Constitution and expand states’ rights.

When the Confederacy was formed, the main part of it’s Constitution was that State’s Rights overruled the Central Government and that’s pretty much what these changes would do. Plus, if you have never read about our governor here in Texas, he’s bat-shit crazy. He dispatched the Texas Guard to shadow the US Military during a training exercise called Jade Helm because it was really an invasion to disarm all Texans and establish Wal-Marts as prison camps.


When marriage equality was passed, he fought it due to religious liberty, yet allowed some Texas Senators and Representatives to openly discriminate against Muslims, but probably the most crazy thing that he has done was he rejected a bill that would have help Texans with mental health issues by giving doctors more legal grounds to detain them for evaluation and summon law enforcement if needed. Why was it vetoed? Because he received a letter from a group that was backed by Scientology (and a few other crazies) and decided they had good ideas vs. all of the Medical Professionals that backed the bill (not to mention that is passed through the Texas House and Senate with little to no resistance), so he vetoed the bill.


When I started hearing what went into the Confederacy being formed, I got a cold shudder. Because some of it is starting to whisper up again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we are on the verge of another civil war (The South is NOT rising again!); however the saying: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” does come to mind.

OK, back on topic.

The other thing that has always intrigued me is the technology that came out of The Civil War. Rifling, cone bullets, repeating rifles, the machine gun, the Gatling gun, battle ships, land mines, and the telescopic sight. Hundreds of patents were filed during the war, mostly for war technology. The other thing that also baffles me is the way wars were still fought. Rows of men firing musket volleys, just standing there almost waiting to be shot (and they were). When people say that the civil war was the bloodiest war America has ever fought, it is true. There were more casualties in that war than all other wars combined that America has fought in. Most battles in the civil war at least doubled the loss of life that occurred in D-Day. What I don’t understand is why the use of guerrilla warfare wasn’t used as it was in the American Revolution. A lot of battles were fought conventionally in the Revolution, but what really turned the tide and kicked England’s ass (sorry England, no hard feelings) is when Washington and other generals changed their tactics to unconventional warfare. I wonder if either side in the Civil War would have done this, would the war have been shorter or would the outcome have been different? Mind you, I am really happy with the way it turned out, but the loss of life and damage to a lot of cities on both sides of the country may have been spared.  I guess that will always be an unanswered question.

I hope anyone that reads this hops on Netflix and watches this film. There’s a ton of stuff that I am not going into that I actually was amazed by (Spoilers!). This documentary series was great and I will probably watch it again, eventually. Now I can continue on my trek to get to 100 and hopefully there aren’t anymore documentary series on the list.

Knock on wood.



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