IV. “The Myth of the Myth of the Lost Cause” (continued)
Rebels Without a Cause?
By Bill Vallante
260,000 Southern fighting men fell in that war, along with nearly 50,000 Southern civilians. Until recently, their struggle, albeit a losing one, was admired world-wide ….
“The Southerners have shown every characteristic that can mark an independent people. They have made the costliest sacrifices that men can make to assure their freedom from foreign rule, and they have fought for it with a gallantry that has not been surpassed in all the wars of liberation the world has seen….” (“The Quarterly Review,” “The Confederate Struggle,” London, July – October, 1862, vol. 112, pp. 535 – 564)
Go to Amazon.com, type in “U.S. Civil War,” scan the thousands of book titles and you will be hard pressed to find anyone holding an opinion like the Quarterly Review’s. Among the more contemporary ones are books which maintain that the planters led the South into war but they let the poor man do the fighting, that the women of the South complained bitterly of the war and urged their men to desert, that the Confederate soldier was a frequent deserter and that he often times donned blue to fight for the Union, and that the South’s population did not have its heart in the fight. The author of one such book even claimed that Southern women were against the war because they were tired of being “second class citizens.”
There is even a book on “The Free State of Jones,” a county in Mississippi which allegedly revolted against the Confederate government, and which was the subject of a very old movie called “Tap Roots.” As I said in the beginning of this paper, if they keep increasing the number of Southerners who fought for the Union, there will be no Southerners left to fight for the Confederacy, and eventually people will begin to wonder who it was that put those 360,000 Yankees into the “Southern dust?”
Yes, the Confederate army was plagued by desertions late in the war. Of course, late in the war there was this fellow named Sherman, whose army was pillaging its way through Georgia and South Carolina virtually unopposed, targeting civilians as it went. What would you do if you were a Georgian, or a South Carolinian soldier in front of Petersburg and you knew that your family was in the path of these thugs? Tough call, isn’t it?!
Desertions plagued both sides actually. No one wants to come home maimed, or worse, in a body bag and sometimes men simply decided that they had had enough and could take no more. It does appear however, desertions aside, that there were more than enough Confederates left to shoot down hordes of Yankees – a cursory look at the casualty figures late in the war would be enough to tell you that!
And while it has become all the rage among wack-ademics these days to “prove” that it was the South and the (allegedly) shabby cause for which it was fighting that caused its downfall and not overwhelming size and power of the Union army, one cannot escape the fact that the North had 4 times the South’s manpower and 10 times its industrial capacity. No, you can’t escape it no matter how many theses you write about how flawed the South was. You can’t escape it because even the South’s opponents noticed it themselves and spoke openly about it.
Union General Samuel Howe, in February 1862 made the following observations: “Look at the opposing armies and you will see two striking truths. First, the Northern men are superior in numbers, virtue, intelligence, bodily strength, and real pluck; and yet on the whole they have been outgeneraled and badly beaten. Second, the Northern army is better equipped, better clad, fed and lodged; and is in a far more comfortable condition, not only than the Southern army, but any other in the world; and yet, if the pay were stopped in both, the Northern army would probably mutiny at once, or crumble rapidly; while the Southern army would probably hold together for a long time, in some shape, if their cause seemed to demand it. The animating spirit of the Southern soldier is rather moral than pecuniary; of the Northern soldier it is rather pecuniary than moral.” 
Yes, Howe was a Union general. But respect for one’s enemy was not at all unheard of in those days. In a Memorial Day, 1884 speech, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., himself a union veteran said, “We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win…But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred convictions that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every man must respect those who give all for their belief…” 
Visiting British Colonel Arthur Freemantle, in his 1863 tour of the Southern states, might take issue with the contentions of our mythologists. After seeing first hand the determination of both the Southern soldier and civilian he remarked, “but the more I think of all that I have seen in the Confederate States, of the devotion of the whole population, the more I feel inclined to say with General Polk – “How can you subjugate a people such as this?”” 
Southern women brought down the war effort because they were sore about being second class citizens? The bimbo who wrote this either doesn’t get out much or she’s never met a Southern woman. She also ignores the fact that the women of the north faced the same kind of “second class citizenship.” Colonel Arthur Freemantle, who, unlike the author, actually visited the South during the war, had this to say about Southern women….
“…no Confederate soldier is given his discharge from the army, however badly he may be wounded; but he is employed at such labor in the public service as he may be capable of performing, and his place in the ranks is taken by a sound man hitherto exempted. The slightly wounded are cured as quickly as possible, and are sent back at once to their regiments. THEIR WOMEN TAKE CARE OF THIS…..” 
Indeed, the attitudes of the Southern women that I know mirror that of the woman whose fiancé declined on volunteering for the army. She sent him a package of women’s underwear with a note which read, “Wear these or volunteer!” Needless to say, he volunteered. 
And as far as the planters and the old “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” hooey is concerned, it is common knowledge that the ranks of the South’s aristocracy provided, for the most part, the bulk of the leadership in the Confederate army, and that most of the time these men led from the front. It was the planters who had the most to lose in the South’s bid for freedom and lose they did. They lost their fortunes, they lost their way of life, and oftentimes, they lost life itself. Their words have indeed been recorded and they are in the history books if you’re not too lazy to look for them:
After leading a charge at Gettysburg and falling at the head of his troops, mortally wounded General William Barksdale, a wealthy planter by the way, asked his Yankee captors to give his wife a message as he lay dying – “Tell my wife I am shot, but we fought like hell!” 
17 year old David O. Dodd, a rich man’s son, was executed for being a spy by Union troops on January 8, 1864, and was eulogized by one of his captors – “His quiet and heroic bearing stamped him as not only one of the bravest of the brave, but not one of us doubted that he met his fate with the same lofty feeling of patriotism that sustained, in his last hours, Nathan Hale, the immortal spy of the Revolution.” 
Colonel William Peleg Rogers of the 2nd Texas Infantry, a planter’ son, who fell at the battle at Battery Robinette, Corinth Miss., 1862, was eulogized by none other than Union General Rosecrans – “He was one of the bravest men that ever led a charge. Bury him with military honors and mark his grave so his friends can claim him. The time will come when there will be a monument here to commemorate his bravery.”  (I wonder how General Rosecrans might respond to the current craze of tearing down Confederate monuments?)
Private Charlie Jackson, a young teenager, barely 16 and a rich man’s son killed, April, 1862,
His dying words to his father – “…Father, tell the boys when you get back how I died – just as a soldier ought to! Tell them to fight the Yankees as long as there is one left in the country, and never give up! Whenever you fill up the company with new men, let them know that besides their country there’s a little boy in heaven who will watch them and pray for them as they go into battle!” 
I could go on and on in this vein. I could also ask why it is that our myth busters seem to focus heavily on Southern discontent but ignore the same, if not greater discontent that existed in the North. In November 1864, with the war going heavily in the North’s favor, 1.8 million out of 4 million northern voters were courageous enough to go to the polls and vote against Lincoln. I say “courageous” because in those days you did not go into a booth, close the curtain and vote in secret. You marked a ballot in front of everyone. Everyone knew how you voted, including the Union government which had, to that point, imprisoned thousands of its own citizens for speaking out against the war. Any perceived opposition to the war or to the government and its policies could easily earn you a trip to jail (minus any writ of habeas corpus) or an unpleasant home visit from “The Loyal League.” Where are our myth busters on the subject of Northern discontent I wonder? And why is it that all the myths busted are Southern ones?
There was a time when historians were less partisan than they are now and I’m old enough to remember such times. One particular historian, very well respected in his day was Bruce Catton, certainly no Lost Cause apologist by any stretch of the imagination. I’ll close this section with his words on the subject of the Confederate soldier:
“There is no legend quite like that of the Confederate fighting man. He reached the end of his haunted road long ago. He fought for a star-crossed cause and in the end he was beaten, but as he carried his slashed red battle flag into the dusty twilight of the Lost Cause, he walked straight into a legend that will last as long as the American people care to remember anything about the American past.” Bruce Catton
(to be continued)
 Gen. Samuel Howe, US Army, February 20, 1862, Confederate Veteran Magazine, July, 1930, page 251
 “Let Us Die Like Brave Men, Behind the Dying Words of Confederate Warriors,” By Daniel W. Barefoot, Copyright 2005, John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Preface, page x
 “Three Months in the Southern States,” Colonel Arthur Freemantle, copyright, 1991, University of Nebraska Press, pp 308-309
 “Three Months in the Southern States,” Colonel Arthur Freemantle, copyright, 1991, University of Nebraska Press, Page 306
 “The Quarterly Review”, “The American War”, London, January – April, 1863, vol. 113, pp. 322 – 353
 “Let Us Die Like Brave Men, Behind the Dying Words of Confederate Warriors,” By Daniel W. Barefoot, Copyright 2005, John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, North Carolina p. 116
 “Let Us Die Like Brave Men, Behind the Dying Words of Confederate Warriors,” By Daniel W. Barefoot, Copyright 2005, John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, North Carolina p. 171
 “Let Us Die Like Brave Men, Behind the Dying Words of Confederate Warriors,” By Daniel W. Barefoot, Copyright 2005, John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, North Carolina p. 61
 “Let Us Die Like Brave Men, Behind the Dying Words of Confederate Warriors,” By Daniel W. Barefoot, Copyright 2005, John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, North Carolina p. 23
I. “The Myth of the Myth of the Lost Cause”
Myth? What Myth?
By Bill Vallante
II. “The Myth of the Myth of the Lost Cause” (continued)
About Slavery as a Political Issue in ante-bellum America
By Bill Vallante
III. “The Myth of the Myth of the Lost Cause” (continued)
“The Slaves Set Themselves Free!”
By Bill Vallante