Yet another book…..
Everyone these days is out to find a new way to make the South look like it was Satan’s spawn or that the "Lost Cause" was a post-war fabrication created by Southerners to make themselves look good while distancing themselves from the "sin" of slavery. Here is yet another book, by a contemporary historian, trying desparately to find a new angle on that subject.
When I was an undergraduate some 40 years ago and majoring in history, historians came up with different interpretations of the same event and then proceeded to argue with one another. Those differing interpretations and the resulting arguments were what actually constituted "the study of history"! Today it seems that historians are in perfect agreement and harmony….. the study of history is far more peaceful today than it once was….. it is the "peace" of the hive. Time to shake that hive up!
Bill Vallante
Commack NY
Well whoopdee doo! It’s another book about the Southern Confederacy as the “Evil Empire.” How novel. Somebody pass me my “No-Doz” before I slip into a wackademic -induced coma.
“What the secessionists set out to build was something entirely new in the history of nations,” – Really? I guess Stephanie McCurry never heard of ancient Athens or hundreds of other political sovereignties throughout history who built civilizations using slavery?
And yeah, we know, we know – half a million slaves went running off to join da’ Union army and sum o’ dem fights wid Massa Linkhum’s boys. Problem is, that still leaves over 3 million slaves back on the farm, or in some cases, marching with the Rebel army under their own power. Maybe the next time someone writes one of these books and claims that “the slaves freed themselves,” they could perhaps elaborate on how many slaves were actually CARRIED OFF by Union troops against their will as opposed to going voluntarily?
“What the Yankees didn’t take they wasted and set fire to it…. They done one more thing too. They put any colored man in the front where he would get killed first and they stayed sorter behind in the back lines…….. When they come along they try to get the colored men to go with them and that’s the way they got treated.”  (Liney Chambers, Arkansas, The Slave Narratives)
“The….nig***s, as a general thing, preferred to stay at home, particularly after they found out that we wanted only the able-bodied men, and to tell the truth, the youngest and best looking women. Sometimes we took them off by way of repaying influential secessionist. But a part of these we soon managed to lose, sometimes in crossing rivers, sometimes in other ways.” – (Thomas J. Myers, Lieutenant, U.S.A., February 26, 1865)
Southern women brought down the war effort because they were sore about being second class citizens? Poor Stephanie – either she 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 thing. Colonel Arthur Freemantle, who, unlike Stephanie, 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…..” (“Three Months in the Southern States,” Colonel Arthur Freemantle, copyright, 1991, University of Nebraska Press, Page 306)
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. (“The Quarterly Review”, “The American War”, London, January – April, 1863, vol. 113, pp. 322 – 353)
Freemantle, an English officer and subject who himself opposed slavery, had this to say about the motivation of the Southern people and what they were fighting for as well as against. My guess is that he would take issue with contentions of the sort that are advanced in books like this one.
“But the mass of respectable Northerners, though they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition and conquest. For this war is essentially a war of conquest. If ever a nation did wage such a war, the North is now engaged with a determination worthy of a more hopeful cause, in endeavoring to conquer the South; but the more I think of all that I have seen in the Confederate Sates 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?”” (“Three Months in the Southern States,” Colonel Arthur Freemantle, copyright, 1991, University of Nebraska Press, pp 308-309)
And while it has become all the rage among hack-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 the 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.
“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.”  (Gen. Samuel Howe, US Army, February 20, 1862, Confederate Veteran Magazine, July, 1930, page 251)
Y’all will pardon me if I don’t wet my pants with excitement over the debut of this book. There are 3 things that the world today has far too many of: Sensitivity Training Courses, Adam Sandler movies, and books like this one.