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The Civil War Service Medal

The first Federal war service medal was for service in the Civil War and was finally issued forty-two years after the fact in 1907. The obverse has a great portrait of President Abraham Lincoln who ran as an abolitionist (anti-slavery) Republican. His election as far as the pro-slavery south was concerned, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Southern States then promptly seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. Lincoln was also a lawyer and his first concern was the protection and preservation of Federal property in those Confederate States. The legal question of whether or not states that had voluntarily joined the Union had the right to leave the Union, first raised in 1832, was not yet resolved at that time. As a lawyer Lincoln hoped that reasonable minds would prevail in time and that the question would be settled in the courts. He did not feel that he had the legal right to commence military action against the Confederates. Then Confederate forces fired on and captured Fort Sumter thereby forcing Lincoln’s hand. I have often wondered what would have happened if the Confederates had not fired the first shot. Would there have been a bloody civil war or would the lawyers have fought it out in the courts?