On this day in 1861 after bubbling under for quite some time and threatening to explode for quite some time, the American Civil War started.
I am loath to tell you too much about this as I am aware that I have a number of US readers and I’d hate to be in the position of teaching my collective grandmothers to suck eggs. However, the truth is that I’m quite the expert on this subject, so I’m going to have to give you a little bit of information or I would be failing in my task to edumacate the world. Here goes then.
Now as you all know, even before the war began things were in quite a two and eight. The south was not happy that Abe Lincoln was President, the north was getting off with the south being all about “we can do what we want, screw you.” Everyone was all “You do it our way!” “No, you do it ours!” and then the secessions began. These caused even more problems. As state after state seceded (seven had done one even before the election of Abe, so it wasn’t all down to him by any stretch of the imagination), things got more prickly, especially as the federal government refused to recognise the rights of the states to secede. This then started a big old argument about federal property, mostly focusing on military strongholds. The Secession states wanted the federal government to leave them and hand them over; they would not. Then the new Confederacy offered to pay for them, especially Fort Sumter which sat in the harbour entrance to Charleston. Abe told them they could sing for it because it wasn’t going to happen. His view, reasonable enough and also totally unreasonable if you were a Confederate, was that if he said “Oh go on then, you can buy it off us” he would be recognising the legitimacy of the Confederacy, which he was not about to do. So in March and April of 1861 everyone was looking at a stalemate.
The stalemate ended when Confederate troops began to bombard Fort Sumter on April 12th. The Union army inside the fort had been in a state of siege throughout 1861. The bombardment was pretty much a formality and also the opening salvo in a vicious war that would divide the nation, divide states, families and friends for the next four years.
Of course, while the bombing of Fort Sumter started the war, the event needed to be reported so that everyone could be all “War!
War!” and get into their uniforms and have some battles. The day after the bombardment, we know that in a mansion called Twelve Oaks in Georgia, a couple of brothers ran into a big barbecue and what was going to be a ball, to tell everyone that the war had started, which made all the men get very excited and run off to get on their horses and find a battle. All except Rhett Butler who was nobody’s fool and decided that he’d made a shitload of money off the war instead. You may have seen this in a film, but what you won’t know is that after Scarlett O’Hara married Charles Hamilton in a fit of pique, because stupid old Ashley Wilkes is going to marry Miss Melly, she gets up the duff. In the film they’re all “Oh she got married a lot before Rhett, but she didn’t do marital ghastliness with Charles and Frank Kennedy”. She did! A lot! She also had a sister called Careen which is v. close to my own name, but her Careen became a nun, which is pretty far from being like me.
Anyway! That’s how the war got properly started. I won’t bore you with details of all the battles that happened between April 1861 and April 1865, because you wouldn’t thank me and maybe I’ll turn to one of them another time if I’m lacking inspiration. Or Reconstruction which was so unbelievably stupidly administered that it more or less guaranteed that the US would fail to have anything close to racial equality, harmony and fairness for the next hundred years.
Today is the birthday of long-time crush, even when he was way too young and I felt a bit icky about it, Paul Nicholls.
He originally came to the forefront of the British consciousness when he played Mad Joe in Eastenders. He got called Mad Joe a lot,
which was pretty shitty, given that Joe Wicks, as his character was more properly called, was suffering from schizophrenia. I loved him from the first moment and even the tin foil all around his room did not put me off.
Thankfully, after he left Eastenders, he went on to get lots more jobs and to grow even more handsome – and delightfully hirsute – with age. He was in something once where there was a glimpse of his meat and two veg, and oh my, that was an impressive glimpse.
He is currently featuring in a thing on BBC1 called Candy Cabs, which is mostly pure shite, but I don’t really care as I get to look at him and think “I love you!” He’s a sort of British Jake Gyllenhaal in that he has lovely eyes, has played a mentalist, has got better with age and has got much hairier as he has gone from vaguely
pedalo crush of shame to full-grown hot man who gives me butterflies in my tummy when he twinkles and smiles on screen.
He is, however, married which is just dreadful. I mean, I honestly can’t believe that he didn’t give me at least one go first! Ah well. His wife seems like a nice lass and they seem like a happy couple and that is a really lovely thing.
Paul, if you are reading this (highly unlikely), I’m not as obsessed as I sound, and you are a real darling. I hope your birthday was full of love and cake and champagne and fun and laughter. I mean, it would have been better if it had also been full of me, but [sigh], I’m sure you got by nearly as well without me!