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War of the Rebellion: This label was a Yankee, or Union usage to refer to what we now know as the “Civil War.”  This act of naming was punctuated with a pair of capital letters, unlike early references to the ‘civil war’ that were not capitalized. Capitalization (hence naming) of the “Civil War” may have been less about seeking an acceptable alternative to the “War of the Rebellion,” than simply codifying a common (and generic) usage. On the other hand, although a common usage, a “Civil War” may have been a Northern capitulation to Southern, Reconstruction-era rhetoric that sought credibility for a lost cause, previously titled ‘Rebellion’ and carried out by ‘Rebels.’ Official military records of the North also utilized the neutral “War of 1861” title, a notion that became more unrealistic as the war raged on. 

The part enacted by the Negro soldier in the war of the Rebellion is the romance of North American history.  It was midnight and noonday with no space between; from the Egyptian darkness of bondage to the lurid glare of civil war; from clanking chains to clashing arms; from passive submission to the cruel curse of slavery to the brilliant aggressiveness of a free soldier; from a chattel to a person; from the shame of degradation to the glory of military exaltation; and from deep obscurity to fame and martial immortality.    George Washington Williams, 1888.