Prepping for a civil war

Yes, we’re going to talk about getting ready for a civil war. Not how to fight it, but how to survive it.

Let me make clear my reasoning. In the American Revolution, a Wikipedia article estimates are that a maximum of 65% of the population supported one side or the other. Other modern sources support those numbers. That means that roughly 1/3 of the population in the 13 Colonies wanted to just be left out of it altogether.

In the War Between the States, I can’t find widely agreed on numbers in terms of support for either side. My own reading of history points to a substantial number of people who wanted to be left out of the war, although the reasons in this war were very different. I’m going to make an assumption that the percentage was probably similar to the Revolutionary War.

Despite all the talk in the media about how polarized the US is at this point in time, anecdotal evidence suggest that there is a large portion of the population who think both sides are full of it and would rather be left out of it. I’m going to assume that the number is going to be that 1/3 of the population.

Even if you would side with one side or another, leaving fighting out of it still means you need to survive the war in terms of day-to day needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. None of that goes away in a war, indeed, history shows that all of these become harder to obtain and protect when there’s a war on.

So let’s consider the things you might want to consider if things come down to actual fighting. I think we’re far closer to it than many like to believe, so you need to get down to it.

If you’re a prepper, I hope it’s a safe guess that you have already stocked up on the “beans, bullets and bandages” part of the list. If you haven’t, then you need to tend to those first, and there are a crapload of web sites and books to help you out. I’m not going into those things. You do your own homework there.

Civil war–not something that the average prepper has included in their plans, I’d wager. Let’s look at a few things that you may have not considered.


Community is my top item. This isn’t the “You need to have plenty of like-minded folks around if you expect to survive!” thing. Rather, this is a need for detailed knowledge of your community, both in terms of geographic layers ranging from your neighborhood, your town/city up to the level of your local area as well as some level of knowledge about the people who live there. In the War Between the States there are plenty of historical accounts of how the war split families and communities. Another such war will do the same. The last thing you want is to be living in a area where you don’t know, at least in general terms, the political proclivities of your neighbors.

On the Internet, it seems everyone wears their politics on their sleeve. It isn’t like that in the real world. For many reasons, many people understandably simply don’t care to discuss their politics with anyone, or they limit it to family and close friends. There are too many examples of people losing their livelihood because of a poorly considered Facebook post, for example, for thinking people to ignore the dangers of publicly speaking out. This could cause some issues if it turns out your entire neighborhood has a very different set opinions than you when things get bad.

So how can you get a handle on what the wider community is thinking? You look for clues. It can be as simple as who flies a flag and what flag they are flying. During election seasons, what candidates yard signs blossom and in what yards/areas do you see them. Read the “letters to the editor” section of your local newspaper and see what people are saying. What sorts of things happen locally that really stir people’sfeelings? Research voting patterns and political contributions in your area. There are a lot of ways to get a feel for this kind of knowledge.

Also look at your community in terms of what stresses it’s facing. This can range from exploding growth to exploding unemployment and the financial issues that brings. Both of these can lead to large changes in the nature of the area in a short time. Is a large employer closing, or are you one of the fortunate places where one is opening?

Look at the population distribution figures. What’s the age makeup? How many single family households? Racial demographics? Income distribution? All of these things should be data points for your personal calculation of what you’ll face if the balloon goes up.

Bugging Out

There are a lot of people who plan to bug out in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse. I’m not a big fan of it; seeing a lot of issues for most people in terms of practicality as well as in the logistics of the thing..These concerns will double or triple in the event of civil war.

That said, it could well come down to not having a choice. You may have to live in an area where your views don’t fit due to job or family considerations, but it’s where the jobs are. It could be that you’re stuck somewhere because you can’t get a decent price for the house you own now. Maybe you stay for family reasons, such as aging parents. But when the bullets and Molotov Cocktails start flying, your instinct is to say “Oh crap, we are so outta here!” But how and to where? How much of your stuff can you carry in a single load? Will you be welcome if and when you arrive?

While there are ways, cheap ways, to bug out with enough stuff to be pretty self-sufficient for a couple of months, the average refugee isn’t going to be able to go home in a month or two–maybe not even in a year or two. You can’t carry enough stuff for that situation with a 53′ box trailer and a Kenworth.

“Oh, it’s cool–we’ll go to Uncle Harry and Aunt Flo’s place! They live way out in the middle of nowhere so it’ll be safe there. And we’re family! They have to take us in!”

Is this the same Uncle Harry and Aunt Flo who blew a gasket when they saw the wrong politician’s bumper sticker on your car? Or what if Uncle Harry and Aunt Flo have been forced to bug out themselves? How about the famous “We can only take care of ourselves,” delivered over the barrel of a gun? Blood isn’t necessarily thicker than water when the feces impact the air handler.

In short, anyone who don’t have a remote location(s) really need to work on that. Bear in mind things like “I’ll go to this little campground I know about” isn’t going to work. It’ll be you and a few hundred or thousand of your closest friends. Don’t even go there.

Supplies, Care and Storage of

Let’s say your ahead of me, and you have gotten the first two under control. You’ve looked over your supplies, and you feel you have plenty of beans, bullets and band-aids. Heck, you’ll even be big enough to take in Uncle Harry and Aunt Flo if they show up.

But there’s a flaw in your cunning plan. Let me throw out a couple of historical incidents that occurred here in the South during the War Between the States: Sherman’s March to the Sea and Stoneman’s Raid. There’s a reason a lot of folks around here still bear a grudge toward the Union over 150 years after the fact. If you think things will be different this time, you’re wrong. They’ll likely be worse.

Our ancestors buried their food and valuables when they knew either of these two jackals were on the way. Of course, that didn’t save things like houses and barns, or railroads and cities), but at least they had something to try and start over with, and something to eat while they did it.

Have you split up your supplies? Cached some away from your home? For that matter, do you have a few nearby places in mind where you could hide out for a few days, even if it was uncomfortable? No? Time to get moving.


I’m going to stop beating the horse here. Hopefully you see the kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself to ensure you can face this new problem..  You’re still going to be doing the same sorts of prepping activities, but working to adapt to a new threat. You may also be doing some things you never planned on and working from a perspective you never considered.  Use your head, and use history as a guide. Ask questions and find the answers. Get out there and find those people who you’ll be able to trust. Time may or may not be short, but all of this is doable.

Good luck. To all of us.

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