One of the very best things on the internet are the resources not available prior to it. The old man in the below interview pretty well sums-up the reason for fighting the war from a Southern viewpoint. There is an even better recording of actual Confederate soldiers speaking of the reason for the war.

Slavery was not a consideration for the Rebels. The vast majority of
Southern boys had no slaves at any rate. They had no reason fight for well-to-do plantation owners. The abolitionists recognized an opportunity when they saw it. Slavery was a by-product.

The reason they went to war was states rights…period. More specifically, they fought for their respective states. Back then Virginians were not Americans, they aligned to their nationality according to their state. Even citizens of the northern states tended to be state-oriented.

OK. Now, what the hell is states rights? It is the voluntary nature of each state to belong to the United States (meant literally). It was always understood by all that each state could voluntarily withdraw from the Federation. For whatever reason and without recourse by the other states.

We citizens originally had three fall-back options against the federal government gone rabid. The first, our front-line, is the Constitution. We the people built a fence around the various governments which we created. By nature governments consume, grow and consume. Our Constitution delimits the rights we handed the government and no more.

Second, each state could “vote with their feet”. An over-powering central government would find itself without subjects had this option held. But Lincoln doomed this option when he declined to accept the peaceful withdrawal of the Southern states. The Confederacy did not make war upon the north. Lincoln refused to accept that…and he killed over 640,000 of the best young men in America.

The third option is is a general rebellion. In effect we now have an “all or nothing” option. When the Federal gov’t becomes too oppressive, war becomes the only option. And, as we all know, war is a load of krap. No one ever wins a war.

The Founding Fathers conceived the US originally as a Confederation. They, needing a stronger central authority for defense and other reasons, built the Constitution and the individual states ratified it. But, states rights were never revoked and always assumed by all.

Lincoln and Grant broke the back of the Confederacy and made any resolution dividing the states impossible. (You can tell he has never been a favorite of mine). He preserved the Union but at too horrendous of a cost. The elimination of that second option for peaceful resolution of irreconcilable differences will kill many in the end.

Confederate soldier Julius Howell Interview What The south Fought For