Well if you look at the situation your country is in today, it almost directly parallels the years leading up to the War Between the States.
1. Panic of 1819 - Major recession in the US
2. Tariff of 1828 - Tax imposed on the Southern states that damaged their economy
3. Nullification Crisis of 1832 - South Carolina threatening to secede if tariffs are not lowered.
4. Panic of 1837 - Banks stop accepting paper money, favoring silver and gold as currency
5. Texas Annexation of 1845 - Texas is stolen from Mexico, along with it's 10 million dollar debt that the US has to pay
6. The Compromise of 1850 - In which Stephen Douglas tried to appease the Southern states not by lowering tariffs, but by promising them their runaway slaves, no matter what state they were in. It keeps the South quiet for a few years, but doesn't solve the problem.
7. The Border Wars of 1854 - The Federal government is allowing people to hack each other to death over personal differences. One of the main reasons why Texas secedes.
8. Panic of 1857 - Another recession
9. Lincoln runs for the 1860 Presidency - Most Southerners believed that if you were a hypocrite who had never gone to school and skated by on wit, you shouldn't be President, as you might f*ck up the country worse than it already was.
See how slavery was barely mentioned? That's because it wasn't much of an issue back then. The entire United States was a slave nation, NOT just the South. There were two kinds of slaves: African and Irish ones, both who were victims of circumstance. In fact, Lincoln was all for a "white nation." He wanted to ship all the slaves to Haiti, South America, or even back to Africa to get rid of racial impurity and use the Irish as slaves instead.
And for the record, Lee didn't surrender with an inch of cowardice. He had been fighting with far fewer men and supplies against a totalitarian force that formally issued a genocide against all people below the Mason-Dixon. Lee had been running on empty for five years and nearly won...until the CSA had reached its carrying capacity; the South could no longer afford the fight. There were no more men, no more weapons, no more food, supplies, or capable leaders. Therefore, Lee had no choice. He surrendered honorably, but later regretted it.
"If I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation,
I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand." (Lee, talking about Reconstruction to Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale in 1870)
In all, the War Between the States isn't an "embarrasing fiasco." It's a source of pride. These men finally said that enough was enough and led the second revolution for independence, as the former government had strayed from the Founding Fathers' ideals and became a dictatorship. Those men gave everything they had for one ideal: liberty. Unfortunately, they lost, but the War is a testament to human mettle.
"If the North triumphs, it is not alone the destruction of our property, it is the prelude to anarchy, infidelity and the ultimate loss of free and responsible government on this continent. It is the triumph of commerce, banks and the factory." - Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson to J.E.B. Stuart. It appears as though Jackson was on to something.