From the North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission website,
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
“The application of the term “rebel” to Confederates is a very grave error, destructive of the hope of establishing the South’s just claims to being the constitutional party, involving the right of secession, and in consequence acknowledging the right of coercion. It makes the sending of troops into the South a constitutional act, which Lincoln tried by sophistry to prove, but which has been disproved by all who earnestly seek reason and truth.
The common saying, “Washington was a rebel, and we are rebels too,” is a very grave error, and will be readily so recognized if we consider the distinctive differences between the Revolutionary War and the war of the States. I will remark, parenthetically, that my ancestors were not Tories, but fought, like Washington, to overthrow monarchical rule.
The Revolutionary war was a war between colonists and their mother country; the other war (the war between the States) was a war between citizens of coequal States. One was a rebellion of subjects against an established monarchy: the other was the resistance of free, sovereign and independent States to the encroachment of their common agent – the general government – the resistance of the creator to the creature.
The fact that the enemy applies to us the term “rebels” should be of itself sufficient to cause us to regard the term as intended by them one of opprobrium. They know full well that it is only by asserting that we were rebels that they can, in the least, be justified in an unholy war.
The fame of the Northern soldier is of physical force; the glory of the Southern soldier is of moral courage. The reputation of the Northern soldier rests upon numerical strength; the renown of the Southern soldier is based upon unexcelled skill and fortitude. One sought conquest; the other, justice. One drew the sword in vengeful hate; the other, without hatred or malice.
One climbed to the height of worldly success; the other, attained the summit of lofty virtue. One triumphed; the other lost, but with his face to the foe and his eye toward heaven. His was the defeat of the vanquished patriot – no broken faith, but a broken heart; his soul spotless, but his body scarred; his worldly inheritance seized, destroyed, but the priceless wealth of a clear conscience was still his own.
Ashes marked the spot of his once peaceful home, but on the dismal scene he an altar to his country raised. And around that altar we, the daughters of the Southland, in reverent devotion gather, feeding its dimly burning light with ardent love, and filling the memory-haunted scene with the triumphant refrain:
“The body may to the sword fall victim, but truth can never know of death, and yet it will rise and weave into the tapestry of the world’s most honored the words, “Men of the Confederacy.”
(Miss A. Dunovant, Historic Southern Monuments, Mrs. B.A.C. Emerson, editor, Neale Publishing, 1911, pp. 92-93)