GDG- Lost Cause and Inevitability

CWMHTours at CWMHTours at
Mon Jan 23 15:07:30 CST 2012

"Failure of will of will in the South".
The concept is good, Jack, but in light of the situation in  winter '65 
wouldn't you say that it was obvious to everyone in the South, except  for Jeff 
Davis who had flies in his eyes, that the war was lost?
At some point, regardless of the strength of your will to  fight, after 
taking some bruising you eventually have to admit that you just  can't win in 
the face of the odds.
"Will to fight" had nothing to do with it in the South at the  end of the 
By that time staying in the fight for Southernors was almost a  matter of 
Hence the high level of desertion in Richmond/Petersburg, some  200 a day?
Circa/post Appomattox, the South DID have options.  There  was serious 
consideration to just taking Johnston's and Lee's armies into the  Appalachians 
and beginning a REALLY BIG guerilla war.  Which easily could  have been done 
and was quite a concern to the Union high command.
Jay Winik in his EXCELLENT book (Look! I am praising a  book for a change)  
"April 1865" Jay goes into the issues rather  well.  Loved his book and he 
is a speaker not to be missed.  A nice  man.  Professor at U. Md in College 
To risk a HOOK(!) in jumping to the modern times George W.  Bush read his 
book, passed it onto his staff, and invited Jay to dinner at the  White House 
where he proceeded to pump his brain for  perspective on insurgent/guerilla 
Will to fight...  You could enter a boxing ring to box  with Michael Tyson 
(THNX George) with the hughest-ever will-to-fight and once he  beats the 
crap out of you and you are lying on the canvas barely alive you can  still 
have the will to fight.  Won't do you much good,  tho. 
"Just  the facts, ma'am." 

Your Most Obediant Servant

In a message dated 1/23/2012 2:15:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
jlawrence at writes:

Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:

>> We can never know.  These are  hypotheticals.  My point is that the will 
to fight is a practical  matter, a matter of empirical experience, not an 
abstract principle.   The point some of us are making here is that, in 
practice, there was  nothing inevitable about Union victory because there 
nothing  inevitable about Union willingness to fight to the last man and 
dollar (or anything near that).  In fact a lot of evidence shows that  a 
more setbacks would have caused a voting majority of the north to  throw in 
the towel.  Lincoln sure thought so in the summer of  1864.  Grant feared 
as late as the spring of  1865.

These Lincoln in defeat theorieare all conjectural  hypothesis.
Using a more factual basis, Lincoln got 55% of the popular vote  in the 
(The common wisdom that after Atlanta fell,  Lincoln's poistion improved. 
This also is conjectural.
Most of the  soldiers who went home to vote voted for Lincoln.
The country has a record  of strong "peace" movements during wartime 
with a reelecton of a  sitting president
(don't count Wilson, do count Lincoln and the president  during the 
unpleasntness that occurred in the 1960's.
Lincoln was the  first p[resodent who was reelected in 30 years or so.

Conversely, what  is laways overlooked in this discussion is the failure of 
will in the  south.

The confederate armies had 275,000 men under arm at the time of  
Even so, after Lee's surrender, the south folded like a cheap  card table.
They had no will to fight.

They could have done it 4  years later and saved everyone a lot of trouble.



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