GDG- Lost Cause and Inevitibility
joadx1 at netscape.net
joadx1 at netscape.net
Sun Jan 22 17:44:05 CST 2012
It is a challenge to add anything to Ms. Blough's always accurate and complete explanations of things, but I would like to try to add some related information to the southern sense of superiority that she notes: this is the fact that southerners not only felt socially and culturally superior to northerners but also racially superior. As James McPherson explains (with documented quotations) in Battle Cry of Freedom, the south concocted a theory that the southern colonies were populated by Norman-descended Cavaliers, while the New England Yankees were descended from Saxon-descended Round Heads who were fit only for slavery. Southern rhetoric at the time was filled with master race echoes that went well beyond justifications for chattel slavery. They really did believe that one "southron" could defeat ten (or more) "yankees." This is why, as Ms. Blough clearly explains, it was only when they were actually were forced to face defeat that they suddenly "discovered" that they never had a chance.
This raises a somewhat related fact. The presentation of the southern fighting man virtually always completely ignores some facts that the members of this group are well aware of: ie., that not only did huge numbers of confederate soldiers desert the colors during the war but that huge numbers of southern men resisted the military draft that Davis instituted (before Lincoln ever did) because an insufficient number of southerners were enlisting "to defend their homes." More profoundly, after the one year enlistments of the first rush of volunteers ran out, Lee saw to it that their one year enlistment contracts were voided (talk about abuse of individual liberty) and converted into enlistments for the duration of the war. If southern men were so intent on fighting to defend their homes and families, they would not have needed to be forced to do so through conscription and the forced conversion of their original enlistments.
In short, any version of the war that presents the Civil War as some sort of Wagnerian grand opera, with Lee in the role of Sigfried and with the south suffering some sort of inevitable Götterdämmerung against the evil Yankee frost giants who were destined to win anyway, not only ignores the less romantic facts of the case but has a Lost Cause air to it.
From: Margaret D. Blough <mdblough1 at comcast.net>
To: GDG <gettysburg at arthes.com>
Sent: Sun, Jan 22, 2012 2:58 pm
Subject: Re: GDG- Lost Cause and Inevitibility
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
Many, if not most, secessionists did not see the slave states as being at any
disadvantage economically or militarily. The antebellum South was wealthy, both
in slaves and "King Cotton", and it saw itself as superior socially and
culturally to the "mudsills and greasy mechanics" and foreigners of the North
and certainly superior in military talent. They did not believe the North could
get itself together enough to resist and they believed that, even if it did,
such resistance would be ineffectual. Most were certain that the UK and France
would come to the South's support because of their dependence on "King Cotton."
There were some factual elements in this belief, primarily the wealth of the
South and the fact that, unlike the US government, they did not need to regain
control of territory and populations. A lot of the rest of it was making the
fatal error of believing their own propaganda, including their portrayals of
Lincoln as an illiterate yahoo with apelike characteristics. One of the most
unexpected and movingly courageous episodes in Stephen Douglas's life was when
he toured the South during the presidential campaign of 1860. It was NOT the
done thing for presidential candidates to campaign then and, by the time he did
it, it was clear that he could not possibly win. Douglas not only strongly urged
the slave states not to attempt secession but not to underestimate his longtime
The reason that the "overwhelming resources" belief will get you associated with
the Lost Cause is that it was an explanation that Confederate supporters only
came up with as defeat stared them in the face. The few pro-slavery advocates
who argued against secession and refused to discount the US government and its
will and ability to fight were ignored.
More information about the Gettysburg