Was it a Civil War?
Was The War Between the States really a civil war? Though many refer to the conflict as a civil war, it clearly was not one, by any common definition. Webster defines a civil war as a war between different sections or factions of the same nation, which is not what occurred from 1861 to 1865 since North and South were two separate nations, the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. Before the conflict began, Southern states legally developed and passed ordinances of secession to leave the United States and later legally affiliated themselves to form a new nation.
Nor was the clash a civil war, as the term is applied to other historical conflicts, including English or Roman civil wars. Southern states had no desire to take over the existing central government, by force or any other means; they had no interest in imposing their political will, for example, in Massachusetts or New York.
Instead, Southern states first withdrew from the United States, leaving that government entirely intact, and then formed their own confederation—an approach similar to one taken by American patriots 90 years earlier, but with far stronger legal justification than the revolution celebrated by many who condemn Southern secession.