Letter to the editor: Southern traitors treated now like heroes

The Andersonville prison in Georgia was a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp during the final 12 months of the American Civil War. Iowa author MacKinlay Kantor's novel, "Andersonville," captures the grim conditions of the camp.

To the editor:

As a former eighth grade U.S. history teacher, I was distressed to read the current misunderstanding of the Civil War events. It was the Confederate states who declared war on the United States by bombarding Fort Sumter, S.C., in 1861. This act of treason was responded to with the forces of the U.S. army.

During the Civil War, there were more than 600,000 casualties, which exceeds the nation’s losses in all its other wars. Prisoner of war camps claimed some 55,000 emaciated prisoners who perished. To deter future generations, it would have been better to preserve the prison camps that could have been compared to the Nazi prison camps without the ovens.

In 1846 Iowa joined the U.S. as a free state. No other state had a higher percentage of its male population serve in the U.S. military during the Civil War. Iowans fought valiantly in many major battles. Republicans and Democrats alike shed their blood in defense of the U.S.

President Lincoln himself in 1863 identified a list of top Confederate generals who deserved to be imprisoned for treason. General Grant later convinced President Johnson that convicting Confederate leaders of treason would make them martyrs. Several decades later, it happened anyway with the erection of monuments, making the traitors look like heroes.

Julie Stewart Ziesman


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