GDG- Lost Cause and Inevitibility

Tom Barrett tbarrett21 at
Sun Jan 22 18:02:11 CST 2012

I agree with all of that, but I suspect that, simply due to the reality of
the numbers, if the war was fought to a conclusion the South was bound to

I am most certainly not a "Lost Causer"

But, had the B of G gone the way Lee (likely) imagined it, and had the AOP
been soundly defeated with huge casualties, I think there really was a
chance that the political pressure in the North would have caused even
Lincoln to blink. Unlikely though it was, the threat of European
intervention was still there.

Remember, the South didn't have to conquer the North.  They just had to make
it seem too expensive in terms of lives and assets for the North to continue
to hold them.



-----Original Message-----
From: gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at]
On Behalf Of joadx1 at
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2012 6:44 PM
To: gettysburg at
Subject: Re: GDG- Lost Cause and Inevitibility

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:

 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.



-----Original Message-----
From: Margaret D. Blough <mdblough1 at>
To: GDG <gettysburg at>
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
disadvantage economically or militarily. The antebellum South was wealthy,
in slaves and "King Cotton", and it saw itself as superior socially and 
culturally to the "mudsills and greasy mechanics" and foreigners of the
and certainly superior in military talent. They did not believe the North
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
would come to the South's support because of their dependence on "King
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
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
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
it, it was clear that he could not possibly win. Douglas not only strongly
the slave states not to attempt secession but not to underestimate his

The reason that the "overwhelming resources" belief will get you associated
the Lost Cause is that it was an explanation that Confederate supporters
came up with as defeat stared them in the face. The few pro-slavery
who argued against secession and refused to discount the US government and
will and ability to fight were ignored. 



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