Golden Thread Anyone ever change their mind?

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Location
New Jersey
If I may comment further on the thread which I started, I have recently changed my mind based on the books recommended to me on the subject of George Thomas. No, not George Thomas himself, but the Confederates he faced on the battlefield.

Like many Easterners I have spent much more time and interest on the fighting east of the Appalachians and have never visited a western battlefield site. As far as I was concerned the war was pretty much a series of battles between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. Western Confederate leaders and armies were just background noise to the main theater.

In reading the books that posters have recommended I have been compelled to pay more attention to Confederate commanders like Bragg, Joseph Johnston, Hood, Hardee, Cleburne and Forest. In doing so I no longer see Bragg as a fool. He seems to me, now to be an able tactician, if a poor strategist. Johnston is no longer simply a precursor to Lee in Virginia but a skilled defender who did a great deal with limited resources and, most of all, I now see the Confederate Army of Tennessee as a fighting force the equivalent of the Army of Northern Virginia.

What writers here and their recommended reading have done for me is to change my mind about the importance of the Western theater and the capabilities of the Trans Appalachian Confederate soldier. I might now even subscribe to the notion that the war was won or lost there and the fighting in the east did little more than write "finis" to what had already transpired in the Mississippi Valley. Well, maybe not quite that far, but pretty close to that.
 

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Location
New Jersey
Nothingfaced: it was Napoleon Bonaparte who put it this way ( and he knew this from his own experience); "History is a lie agreed upon". Yes, the Civil War is pretty much taught that way in the schools ( I taught history for 43 years) but it is not so much a conspiracy as it is ignorance of the teaching staff who simply parrot what they learned (the same drivel) and never make a serious study of the course content they teach, which might actually require them to make some disturbing, mind altering changes that could get them in trouble with the powers that be. Safer to get and keep your tenure by not delving too deeply into these matters. I always tried to present contrarian evidence to my high school students (AP students, pretty smart kids) like the Loyalists in the revolution were the good Americans, the Abolitionist were themselves racist, intransigent, fanatics, that Germany was not primarily responsible for WW I, or that we forced the Japanese to attack us at Pearl Harbor. It compels the students to think about their convictions and even if no minds are changed it requires them to use evidence to support their positions.

Does it work? Perhaps, but it's like trying to overcome ten years of mind numbing, incessant, propagandizing with two years of thought provoking, evidence gathering and it is a lot more difficult to do than have the kids read the textbook (more drivel), answer the questions at the end of the chapter and do the worksheets for homework. It is no wonder so many people do not know their history. They were never taught it by teachers who ever bothered to learn it themselves.
PS I know full well that there are hardworking teachers who do teach history properly and most of us can recall their classes and remember their names but the reason we can is because they were so unusual.
 

shanniereb

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 28, 2012
Location
Mt. Croghan South Carolina
One area that I have "reevaluated" is Sherman's march. He is still far from being my favorite commander, but I have worked hard to have a better understanding of the man himself. I still think that the march was a tragic event but I try not ot put horns on the man and his army. (If that makes any sense to ya). I have to say that I got my desire to learn more about the march (not just from one perspective) from this forum.
 

rickvox79

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2011
Location
Pace, FL
Like many in this thread I'm not sure my mind was changed more than just opened. Before I joined this forum 3 years ago, I thought I had a decent knowledge of the Civil War. I had always had an interest in history and before that my main interest was WW2. But back in early 2011 I got on Ancestry.com and started learning about my family and finding relatives I never knew I had that fought in the Civil War. That really opened the flood gates for me.

In 3 years, I have found over 30 relatives that fought in the Civil War on both sides, read around 20 Civil War related books and been to Chickamauga, Vicksburg and Shiloh in the last year. Also witnessed my first reenactment in February. I can't really think of a specific Civil War related person, event or battle that I have changed my mind on. Because honestly, any of my opinions prior to 3 years ago, don't really even count as valid to me anymore. It's funny, I thought I'd take a break from Civil War books and read a different book for a change the other day that was not Civil War related. I read about a chapter before going on Amazon and getting Larry Daniels book on the Battle of Stone's River. I couldn't help it! I'm an addict at this point.
 

Pat Answer

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Oct 8, 2013
Location
“...somewhere between NY and PA”
Correct.. that's what I meant. My apologies.

Oh goodness, none necessary. :smile:

This has probably been discussed before on a more appropriate thread, but it would have been interesting to see how he reconciled his personal objection to the peace platform and instincts as a soldier (by March 1865 it was pretty clear the war was all but over) with the fact that a Democratic victory in the election would have been a repudiation of the war effort.
 

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Location
New Jersey
Rickvox79, don't worry about this addiction. There are no known negative outcomes from an addiction to greater knowledge. As Leonardo da Vinci put it, "No one ever regrets knowledge".
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Rickvox79, don't worry about this addiction. There are no known negative outcomes from an addiction to greater knowledge. As Leonardo da Vinci put it, "No one ever regrets knowledge".
Must contradict Signore da Vinci. We have all seen some here who so regret receiving knowledge that they turn a blind eye to it.
 

Nothingfaced

Private
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Nothingfaced: it was Napoleon Bonaparte who put it this way ( and he knew this from his own experience); "History is a lie agreed upon". Yes, the Civil War is pretty much taught that way in the schools ( I taught history for 43 years) but it is not so much a conspiracy as it is ignorance of the teaching staff who simply parrot what they learned (the same drivel) and never make a serious study of the course content they teach, which might actually require them to make some disturbing, mind altering changes that could get them in trouble with the powers that be. Safer to get and keep your tenure by not delving too deeply into these matters. I always tried to present contrarian evidence to my high school students (AP students, pretty smart kids) like the Loyalists in the revolution were the good Americans, the Abolitionist were themselves racist, intransigent, fanatics, that Germany was not primarily responsible for WW I, or that we forced the Japanese to attack us at Pearl Harbor. It compels the students to think about their convictions and even if no minds are changed it requires them to use evidence to support their positions.

Does it work? Perhaps, but it's like trying to overcome ten years of mind numbing, incessant, propagandizing with two years of thought provoking, evidence gathering and it is a lot more difficult to do than have the kids read the textbook (more drivel), answer the questions at the end of the chapter and do the worksheets for homework. It is no wonder so many people do not know their history. They were never taught it by teachers who ever bothered to learn it themselves.
PS I know full well that there are hardworking teachers who do teach history properly and most of us can recall their classes and remember their names but the reason we can is because they were so unusual.

Thanks for the reply... I would have loved to have been a student in your class.
 

18thVirginia

Major
Joined
Sep 8, 2012
My mind hasn't been changed on anything, but I have learned a significant amount in my short time here.

As far as changing people's minds on the internet.... you won't. The same with politics.

The leftists will continue to brainwash Southern schoolchildren and make them feel bad for their heritage in the many years to come just like they have for 150 years.

It's widely accepted that the South seceded to protect their slaveholding society. That is true. What isn't true? That the United States of America murdered 600K people in a 4-year long bloody war to free enslaved negroes. And this is what children are taught in history class? Disgusting. History is but written prejudice.

As a former Southern schoolchild, I don't recall the "brainwashing" that you assert. And I notice that my grandchildren have received a hefty dose of Lost Cause beliefs in their modern history courses.
 

John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
Nothingfaced: it was Napoleon Bonaparte who put it this way ( and he knew this from his own experience); "History is a lie agreed upon". Yes, the Civil War is pretty much taught that way in the schools ( I taught history for 43 years) but it is not so much a conspiracy as it is ignorance of the teaching staff who simply parrot what they learned (the same drivel) and never make a serious study of the course content they teach, which might actually require them to make some disturbing, mind altering changes that could get them in trouble with the powers that be. Safer to get and keep your tenure by not delving too deeply into these matters. I always tried to present contrarian evidence to my high school students (AP students, pretty smart kids) like the Loyalists in the revolution were the good Americans, the Abolitionist were themselves racist, intransigent, fanatics, that Germany was not primarily responsible for WW I, or that we forced the Japanese to attack us at Pearl Harbor. It compels the students to think about their convictions and even if no minds are changed it requires them to use evidence to support their positions.

Does it work? Perhaps, but it's like trying to overcome ten years of mind numbing, incessant, propagandizing with two years of thought provoking, evidence gathering and it is a lot more difficult to do than have the kids read the textbook (more drivel), answer the questions at the end of the chapter and do the worksheets for homework. It is no wonder so many people do not know their history. They were never taught it by teachers who ever bothered to learn it themselves.
PS I know full well that there are hardworking teachers who do teach history properly and most of us can recall their classes and remember their names but the reason we can is because they were so unusual.

I, too, wish I had had you as a teacher in my youth.

I grew up in the South but unlike Pvt. 18th. I didn't get the Lost Cause course. I got the simplistic , stereotypical, black/white version: i.e. the CSA wanted slaves and the North didn't so they started a war but Lincoln freed the slaves because he and the North loved blacks and now he should be worshiped because of it; the end. This was all taught by poorly-trained teachers (we were nearly ranked last in education) who didn't know squat themselves and just regurgitated what was printed in the teacher's version of the text book.

As folks are now talking about whether they've ever changed their minds about something related to the CW, and not just about the OP question of if they've done so because of this forum, I'll say that' I've changed my view on a number of things over the years but it's been because of serious study and reading. I don't have a side and my objective is to try to understand what actually happened and why so if somebody can show me solid research to support a different conclusion than one I have held then I accept the new information, think about it in perspective to other notions, and update my opinion. Repeat as needed.

Sorry for the ramble. How history is taught and how ignorant most are of it are issues near and dear so I get a little wound up sometimes.
 

kel1985

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
I think to understand the history, unless you lived it in person, you have to keep an open mind and be willing to accept different interpretations as they are presented to have a more fully formed picture of what happened.
That being said, yep...I've changed my mind a few times.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
I, too, wish I had had you as a teacher in my youth.

I grew up in the South but unlike Pvt. 18th. I didn't get the Lost Cause course. I got the simplistic , stereotypical, black/white version: i.e. the CSA wanted slaves and the North didn't so they started a war but Lincoln freed the slaves because he and the North loved blacks and now he should be worshiped because of it; the end. This was all taught by poorly-trained teachers (we were nearly ranked last in education) who didn't know squat themselves and just regurgitated what was printed in the teacher's version of the text book.

As folks are now talking about whether they've ever changed their minds about something related to the CW, and not just about the OP question of if they've done so because of this forum, I'll say that' I've changed my view on a number of things over the years but it's been because of serious study and reading. I don't have a side and my objective is to try to understand what actually happened and why so if somebody can show me solid research to support a different conclusion than one I have held then I accept the new information, think about it in perspective to other notions, and update my opinion. Repeat as needed.

Sorry for the ramble. How history is taught and how ignorant most are of it are issues near and dear so I get a little wound up sometimes.

The world works strangely. Growing up here in New England 60 years ago, it sounds like I got more of the "Lost Cause" version in school than many did in the South. The war was not really about slavery at all -- great care was taken to emphasize that. States' Rights and sectionalism were the real causes, the secessionists' aim being to 'Balkanize' the continent. Many southerners seem to have been more exposed a so-called "treasury of virtue" than we were in 'nasty old Massachusetts.'

Later Edit: As I think about this, maybe timing has something to do with it. How did the teaching of the Civil War in schools change during/after the Civil Rights movement? I was in college by 1965, and out of direct contact with the public schools.
 
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John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
Later Edit: As I think about this, maybe timing has something to do with it. How did the teaching of the Civil War in schools change during/after the Civil Rights movement? I was in college by 1965, and out of direct contact with the public schools.

Interesting question and I don't know the answer. I'm a little younger than you but most of my "education" about the war was before or at the start of the civil rights movement getting into full swing. I've often assumed that the story varied by region but as posts already made her attest that seems not to be as true as I once thought. I wish I could ask my parents what they were taught but they're long gone.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Interesting question and I don't know the answer. I'm a little younger than you but most of my "education" about the war was before or at the start of the civil rights movement getting into full swing. I've often assumed that the story varied by region but as posts already made her attest that seems not to be as true as I once thought. I wish I could ask my parents what they were taught but they're long gone.
I know my mother was taught, back in the 'teens & '20s, the same as I was in the '50s. -- slavery not the cause of the war. Of course, that was still the period when the impulse for reunification was strong, and "the blame game" was officially discouraged.
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
One area that I have "reevaluated" is Sherman's march. He is still far from being my favorite commander, but I have worked hard to have a better understanding of the man himself. I still think that the march was a tragic event but I try not ot put horns on the man and his army. (If that makes any sense to ya). I have to say that I got my desire to learn more about the march (not just from one perspective) from this forum.

Perhaps, in time and a greater appreciation of Sherman and the “tragic event,” you’ll to come understand his march as a something akin to a romp across Sunny Brook farm.
 

John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
Perhaps, in time and a greater appreciation of Sherman and the “tragic event,” you’ll to come understand his march as a something akin to a romp across Sunny Brook farm.

That's why I asked on another thread for reading recommendations on Sherman's march. Right now I'm of the opinion that it was wrong of Lincoln to support the policy of attacking civilians (or their property, anyway, which sometimes was pretty much the same thing), especially once Atlanta had fallen. They could have won without the scorched earth mentality.

So, maybe after I finish the books I've ordered I'll be one of those whose opinion was changed by this forum. Stay tuned.
 
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