In truth, those States who remained in the 1789 Constitution under Lincoln’s presidency continued as “the Union” – while several Southern States decided to form a more perfect Union known as a Confederacy. In this manner Lincoln’s Union was saved – so why did he wage war against the States which is the very definition of treason?
In addition, the invading Northern army was not truly reflective of Northern society as rising casualty lists, coffins and those maimed for life returned home early in the war and enlistments dwindled. By mid-1862 volunteers no longer came forward and Lincoln had to resort to foreigners, conscription and generous bounties for outright mercenaries.
An alleged restoration the Union evaporated quickly as the invading armies descended into indiscriminate destruction, looting and property confiscation – and the erection of puppet governments in conquered areas.
Hatred and the Thirst for Vengeance
“[I]n reality Sherman was remarkably free of malice toward the Southern people. He urged a warfare of terror not out of vindictiveness, but simply to win the war as quickly as possible [and without regard for the human cost].
And many other Northerners were drawn to the hard policy by their deepening hatred of Southerners. The death of tens – eventually hundreds – of thousands of Northern men inevitably stirred cries for revenge. Simple victory and the restoration of the Union would no longer suffice; there must be retribution. It now seemed clear that the Southern people as a whole were not misled and innocent of treason, but willful and guilty.
Northerners concluded that Southern society as it existed was simply incompatible with American nationhood. Even if vanquished in war, the South would remain a menace to the Union unless its very society was fundamentally reformed. All the previous elements that represented this society had to be swept away so that the South could be reconstructed in the image of the North. Only then could America fulfill its sacred destiny.
The Northern invaders now had a very different mission: not to conciliate, but to conquer and avenge; not to protect but to seize and destroy; not to restore but to prepare the way for a new South, and a new nation.”
(When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South. Stephen V. Ashe. UNC Press, 1995, pg. 52-53)