Southerners should celebrate heroes who fought for South
May 15, 2006

I’m a Yankee. For many years I have had the privilege of living in the South. The weather is priceless, the people are warm and gracious, and the environment has salvaged my well-being. But where was the celebration for young Confederate soldiers who gave their life for the South during the War between the States?

The more years that I spend in the South I cannot understand why more Southerners are not vocal in praising the bravery exhibited by the soldiers of the Confederate States of America during the War Between the States. The war seems shaped by a flag flown by the Confederacy (there were three, plus battle flags). In a narrow sense it’s defiled as representing slavery in all its sins. Of course as a Yankee I must admit that we had slaves in Boston, certainly in the early 1700s, and in New England into the late 1700s.

But this is not about slavery as an issue; this is about why men fought the Civil War. Company J, 8th Regiment, Georgia Volunteers had 76 percent of its membership killed on the field of battle, wounded or dead from disease. More men had died than had been wounded. During the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1, 2, 3, 1863), 3,903 Southern boys were killed, 18,735 Southern men were wounded. These figures might have a bit of give and take as all figures of this type do, but they are close to the mark.

Would I look a sane man in the eye and say the main issue settled in the Civil War was slavery, when the majority of those who died or were wounded owned no slaves? A man marches into rifle and cannon fire while in close order formation (as they did) for complex reasons. Why do we wait to measure these complex reasons? As a Yankee who now calls the South home, I would like to celebrate the bravery of these young Southern men and women.

Warren J. Smith
Port St. Lucie

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