Just War Theory and the Movie "Glory"

Glory is a movie that reenacts the formation of the first Negro infantry, the 54th Massachusetts, during the Civil War. Led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the volunteer Massachusetts infantry endured grueling training and strict discipline. Under his watchful eye, they slowly transformed from being wild and unruly to proud, courageous, and patriotic soldiers. Although the North believed in the abolition of slavery, many Northerners’ still thought the Negro to be inferior to the White race and did not believe they could fight as well.

They were soon to be proven wrong. When the moment of battle came upon the 54th at Fort Wayne, SC, they fought with all the bravery and pride that any Union soldier would have felt. Their infantry suffered heavy casualties during the battle, including the loss of their beloved Colonel Shaw. The American Civil War was the bloodiest war fought on American soil. It was also the saddest war for the same reason. Countryman against countryman, brother against brother; a war no American would have ever dreamed might be possible. But it happened.

It was a war fought not only to abolish slavery, but to gain back the Southern states that had succeeded from the Union. While the North wanted only to preserve the Union and Democracy, the South believed that succession was the only way to prevent the North from taking away their rights; their rights to free labor, i. e. , slavery. Democracy meant freedom for all. Southern states depended on slave labor and many could not afford to pay laborers to work their farms; their livelihood would be on the brink of collapsing. The North was becoming too strong!

Just who was it that waged war against the Southern states of America; a civil war? It was the legitimate and legal authority, of the United States Government. No authority in the U. S. could be higher Did the U. S. Civil War have a “just cause”? I believe so! The causes were to regain the Southern states that had succeeded, to abolish slavery and to establish peace between the North and South. I believe the movie “Glory” depicted a just cause. It showed how the black man was looked down upon as an unequal, EVEN in the North where they were not treated as slaves.

They were thought to be beneath the white man, even in battle. They proved their worth was much more than being a slave; they proved they had equal courage and stamina compared to any white man. Now it was time to free their brothers from slave drudgery in the South. They fought to uphold Democracy, they fought for freedom of every man, and they fought to preserve the Union that America had once been and could be once more. I think the North fought the Civil War with right intentions because it viewed Democracy and freedom as belonging to both sides, to all men and women living in the United States.

The movie portrays just how much the black man believed in his freedom by standing up and wanting to fight for it. The also wanted to regain the succeeding states as part of the United States. No country is willing to give up its territory without a fight. The intentions of the South were inhumane in that they believed in enslaving their fellow man for their benefit and they were willing to leave the Union to do it, and they did. I don’t think the Civil War was a last resort. The North and South had their differences but no one was being killed over it.

Perhaps the Government could have subsidized the unwealthy farmers with money for paid laborers so that they wouldn’t need slave labor to work their farms. This would have alleviated the financial stress of Southern farm owners while making the issue of freeing slaves much easier. Many thousands of lives would have been saved. Also, bringing some industry to the South would have created jobs and empowered the South with a more stabilized economy like the North had. This could have prevented the succession of the South from the Union.

In my opinion, the North had a reasonable chance of success because it had industry which meant more wealth than the South enjoyed. The wealth allowed them to manufacture more artillery and ammunition needed to win a war. As shown in the movie, officers had lavish parties in wealthy homes and even used watermelons for sword practice. Watermelons are usually grown in the warmer climate of the South where there was more poverty. I doubt very much the Southerners would have wasted watermelons on sword practice as many tended to be poor. All of this does not mean the American Civil War was proportional. In fact, I don’t believe it was.

When Fort Wayne was attacked in the movie, “Glory”, almost half of the Union soldiers perished in that battle. They were sitting ducks, running to the slaughter. The goal of freeing slaves or not freeing slaves was NOT worth the gain of killing more enemy soldiers than the opposing side and the destruction of thousands upon thousands of men. Lastly, noncombatant immunity was not practiced during the Civil War as portrayed in the movie, “Glory” when Southern property was attacked and property stolen and destroyed by Union soldiers. Captain Shaw did not condone this behavior.