Here is how Webster’s dictionary defines “Rebel”:
1 a : opposing or taking arms against a government or ruler b : of or relating to rebels <the rebel camp>
2 : DISOBEDIENT, REBELLIOUS
I have long had very serious reservations about applying the term “Rebel” to the Confederacy, Confederate soldiers, and all things Southern. “Rebel” is a term that governments use to describe those who oppose them, and I understand that it was turned around and used as a matter of pride by some Confederate soldiers. That said, it still does not change the fact that those who defended their Southern homeland against invaders from the North were not rebels. Had the War for Southern Independence been a true civil war in which the South tried to overthrow the existing Federal government, then the definition would fit; however, that is not the case.
Respect for legitimate authority is a cornerstone of civilization, and thus a cornerstone to what makes up a Southern Gentleman. Certainly, Robert E. Lee would not condone rebelliousness among his troops or officers. Respect for, and obedience to, legitimate authority is the mark of a gentleman – especially a Southern gentleman. For that reason, I no longer accept the term “Rebel” as a legitimate word for those who fought for the Confederacy – and especially for Southern Gentlemen.