To the Editor:

According to Diane Mc- Whorter’s review of John M. Coski’s book, ”The Confederate Battle Flag” (April 3), the author ”points out that the ‘Heritage, Not Hate’ flag advocates are engaged in a futile exercise when they try ‘to divorce the defense of Confederate symbols and the honor of Confederate soldiers from the cause for which the soldiers fought.’ ”

My more than two dozen maternal ancestors who fought for the South made it clear, in their letters, memoirs and books, what that Lost Cause was: they were fighting for their homeland — not for slavery, but for their families, homes and country.

Put simply, most Confederate soldiers felt that they were fighting because an invading army from the North was trying to kill them and burn their homes and cities. Your reviewer implicitly acknowledges this, writing that ”the North’s scorched-earth war strategy was indeed designed to annihilate not just the South’s army but its entire civilization.”

In contrast, my ancestor Maj. Raphael Jacob Moses was forbidden by his commander, Robert E. Lee, even to enter private homes in search of supplies in raids into Union territory, to carry out his duties as commissary officer charged with feeding and provisioning 40,000 soldiers.

The Confederate soldiers, often exhausted and hungry, sick and shoeless, wet and cold, outnumbered and outsupplied but rarely outfought, showed amazing courage, honor and valor, enduring terrible hardships and overwhelming, even hopeless odds. That is why so many decent Southerners are proud of their ancestors, and their symbols. They may have lost the war, but they never lost their honor.

LEWIS REGENSTEIN
Atlanta