David Broder's column on the Civil War {"A Lot to Learn From 'The Civil War,'" op-ed, Sept. 30} contains one misconception, however innocuous it may seem, that needs some clarification.

Mr. Broder states that "more ... lives were lost to free the slaves than in any other war." The PBS Civil War series reiterated on several occasions that contrary to the beliefs of many whites of the day, the war was not fought to free blacks. President Lincoln himself acknowledged, however, that Southern secession revolved around the slavery question when he said, "without the institution of slavery ... the war could not have an existence."

It is clear that President Lincoln's intention was not to interfere with slavery when he made the following statements: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery" and "Much as I hate slavery, I would consent to the extension of it rather than see the Union dissolved, just as I would consent to any great evil, to avoid a greater one."

The North was not a hotbed of liberalism on the subject of slavery. The TV series showed outbreaks of violence in the North when the Irish protested the draft to fight in a war they perceived to be an antislavery fight. In Illinois an abolitionist journalist was lynched, and both Illinois and Indiana had laws restricting free blacks. BERNADETTE B. DIENG Riverdale, Md.