Golden Thread Anyone ever change their mind?

Tom Reagan

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Location
Caldwell County, NC/Chesapeake, VA
Dedej, this is one of the best posts I have ever read on this forum, certainly one that has moved me like few others. I sincerely admire your struggle to be free of the stereotypes you held and of your own understandable emotional "cargo" in order to understand the people of the time. I cannot encourage you enough. You are a beautiful example of how to approach the past.

I've been struggling with this myself over the past many years, that effort to put myself in the shoes of others in other times. I'm coming from a different direction, that of a southern white. To put my feet in your shoes, I do think this would be much harder. As a black person, it would be extremely hard to look past or beyond or around slavery in any fashion, especially how the white supremacist views that supported the slave system in turn gave birth to the Jim Crow system. I salute you. You are made of better stuff than me.
This is pretty much what I wanted to say in response to you, @Dedej, I just couldn't find a way to put it into words. @Georgia Sixth said it way better than I could have. Anyways, you're amazing!
 

1NCCAV

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 23, 2016
I've gone back and forth over whether I think I would have been Union or Confederate had I lived then. I lean Confederate but I had Union ancestors too. I can see it being an agonizing decision if I'd lived then and had to make it.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
From much of what I have read here, and much, much more later reading, I have concluded that I may have been wrong and, perhaps in his gene pool, he really was a later amalgam of Pompey and Darius, perhaps a Vercingetorix and Leonidas, more of a tragic figure than a victorious commander.
So what I am asking here is, have any readers have ever been forced to reevaluate long held, cherished convictions based on what they have read here or in books recommended by other readers.?



I am sure any member who spent any time on this board have changed the opinion on something, even if they may not always admit it.

As for me, just a few from the top of my head: My admiration of of Lee's generalship has lessened considerably, while that of Bragg's has increased.

I discover George H. Thomas, who I consider might have been(almost) an equal, as of Grant as a general of armies, if circumstances had been different.

I learned how bad McClellan really was as general and politician.

I gained a much better understanding of how badly the cards were stacked against the confederacy.

Discovering that Lincoln was not only a great president, but also a gre4at man.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
I've gone back and forth over whether I think I would have been Union or Confederate had I lived then.

I don't think that is something many of us can really answer about ourselves. We are much shaped by growing up in modern times and would nearly all be different had we been raised in am antebellum environment. People in 1860 had more in common with their ancestors from 150 years earlier than any of us today.
 
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Jimklag

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Location
Chicagoland
I don't think that is something amy of us can really answer about ourselves. We are much shaped by growing up in modern times and would nearly all be different had we been raised in am antebellum environment. People in 1860 had more in common with their ancestors from 150 years earlier than any of us today.
I was born in northern Ohio and my ancestors got there from New England and Germany. I'm pretty sure I would have been a Yankee.
 

Andersonh1

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Moderator
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Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
So what I am asking here is, have any readers have ever been forced to reevaluate long held, cherished convictions based on what they have read here or in books recommended by other readers.?

Very much so. In fact, I recall reading a book about the Civil War when I first got into the history, then going back to it a year later, and being more than a bit surprised at how differently I looked at the same facts. I commented to my wife that after all I had read, I could not see the facts in the same way, and that I had a lot of opinions that I hadn't held the year before!

I can't help but have formed new opinions, because I held so few before I started educating myself. I read the portion of John Winn's post that I've quoted below, and that was my Civil War education:

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.
 
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Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Location
Talladega, Alabama
I have had certain things not just being a total change in my view but it has opened up a new view from which I have not seen or read before.
I do not know everything concerning the war and some here are much more educated or learned on subjects that I have not studied indepth.
I will say if you really read and keep an open mind I think you can learn a lot more about the war.
I will say those that attempt to push their views or totally disreguard your view you have, I become very intolerant to listen to their opinions then. If they belittle my views or opinions I then do the same to theirs.
 

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Location
New Jersey
If I might add to this. The more I have read and the more I have reflected, the more I am convinced that we don't really understand, really comprehend, how very different their lives were from ours. I know from interacting with younger people that they don't understand how different our lives were just fifty years ago and if we add another hundred years or so to that it becomes almost impossible to know how they felt and thought and valued things and all our study of history does is approximate, through a glass darkly, what their world was like. Geeze, I wish we had time travel to see how much of it we have right because I fear we have it, not as it was, but how we would like it to have been.
 

KeithA

Private
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Location
Cedar Rapids IA
Very much so. In fact, I recall reading a book about the Civil War when I first got into the history, then going back to it a year later, and being more than a bit surprised at how differently I looked at the same facts. I commented to my wife that after all I had read, I could not see the facts in the same way, and that I had a lot of opinions that I hadn't held the year before!

I can't help but have formed new opinions, because I held so few before I started educating myself. I read the portion of John Winn's post that I've quoted below, and that was my Civil War education:
I find that simplified PC version he alludes to very widespread amongst many of my peers and it has been a hard nut to crack, especially with older generations like my parents in their 70's..(I'm 48). Their minds are closed to anything that could deviate from it.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
I know from interacting with younger people that they don't understand how different our lives were just fifty years ago and if we add another hundred years or so to that it becomes almost impossible to know how they felt and thought and valued things and all our study of history does is approximate, through a glass darkly, what their world was like.

As for young people that probably says more about their youthful ignorance than anything.

But if you feel as you do - that the past is too murky to understand - why study history at all?
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
If I might add to this. The more I have read and the more I have reflected, the more I am convinced that we don't really understand, really comprehend, how very different their lives were from ours. I know from interacting with younger people that they don't understand how different our lives were just fifty years ago and if we add another hundred years or so to that it becomes almost impossible to know how they felt and thought and valued things and all our study of history does is approximate, through a glass darkly, what their world was like. Geeze, I wish we had time travel to see how much of it we have right because I fear we have it, not as it was, but how we would like it to have been.

Agree 100%. Very well said.

I have wished on several occasions that it was possible to walk the streets or battlefields or plantations, just to cut through all the fog of opinion and the limitations of the written record and see the truth for myself, firsthand. I don't think we really understand just how different our ancestors' world really was and we probably never really will.
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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I have a saying, "I did all my best parenting before I had a child." Likewise, as a northener, I knew all about the CW till I started reading about it.

My sister lived in Talladega for many years and I would go visit. I got to meet many southerners. My niece lives in MD and of course the CW has it hand prints all over everything there.

My "downfall" started about 3-years-ago. I had just come back from Maryland and for (to me) an unknown reason, I wanted to know what Confederate women thought. I started my first diary and never looked back. I learned about the immense suffering that BOTH armies caused by endless foraging, not bringing the band-aids to war, etc. I was *shocked* that the north caused suffering too!

And I didn't know at all about the immense run-up of years over slavery that had been going on, long before an actual battle took place.

I'm glad the Union didn't dissolve but I'm sorry such a catastrophe had to take place. Thanks to many people on this site and getting involved in the book club, I've learned so much and have had my mind changed about many things.
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2017
Location
Philadelphia
Since I joined my opinion of Gen. George Meade has undergone a dramatic change. Members of my family fought in the AoP and I am from Philadelphia, so I had always had an interest in him. However my initial posts on Meade were somewhat harsh and I repeated Butterflied-Sickles-Hooker style claims. In response posters on this site presented me with loads of information and corrected my opinions. I am now better able to view the situation for his perspective and I have gained a great respect for him. I'm thankful to my fellow posters, I think I better understand my heritage now. :smile:

I recently read this touching statement by General Warren written shortly after the death of Meade,"Don't let the name of General Meade be forgotten, nor any note of detraction go unsilenced on that field (Gettysburg)." I'm gonna try to follow Warren's advice from now on.
 

Desert Kid

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Arizona
Oh big time.

One of the first things I ever debated was "which side would I be on"? At first it leaned Confederate, but then I found I also have a Unionist ancestor. Then, "Well I guess it would depend on where I lived". So I had to dictate that on where the family was back then. Dad's side was already in New Mexico Territory (Southern New Mexico! Future Arizona, near the future site of Fort Thomas). Or mom's side: West Tennessee or East Texas? Guess the question still stands. Probably Confederate, and me right smack in the middle of either Granbury's Brigade or Tom Green's Cavalry.

My opinion of both Sherman and Forrest have drastically changed since I was a teenager. I openly disliked Sherman, but after reading some of his memoirs and his characterization in Jeff Brooks' novels really made me sympathetic to him and his PTSD.

My opinion of Forrest was shaped by and large by the misconceptions that he was the founder of the Klan, not merely it's first and questionable Grand Wizard status. In time I read both Jack Hurst's and Brian Steel Wills' biographies of Forrest that greatly changed my opinion of him.

I also found myself having a strange support for Jefferson Davis, in the sense that he really, REALLY didn't want to have the job of POTCS. And yet when picked, did his absolute best, even if it led to failure.

As for Lee, I never did see him as the "Marble Man" stereotype. But I still see him as a very George Washington-esque figure, and not just because he is literally blood to me.
 
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Georgia Sixth

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
I agree. When in college I had the honor of corresponding with Genovese around the time of the publication of "Southern Tradition." His letters to me I will treasure forever! His wife was just as powerful a writer and historian too! Their passing left a definite void!

What a treasure that correspondence must be. Is there any chance you might share bits of it?
 

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
What a treasure that correspondence must be. Is there any chance you might share bits of it?

Most of our letters dealt with the esoteric form/style of writing and its alleged use by modern political philosophers -particularly Leo Strauss and many of Strauss's students out of the University of Chicago. The rest was his advice to me regarding school and his private opinions regarding the South and her politics.

I will share a bit from one of his letters wherein were disagreeing about the lodestar of our Republic's founding and where he shared his view with me. It is the last sentence in this quote - his very bluntness- that I cherish and don't think - if he were still around- he would mind me sharing.

"As for the 'atheistic principles' to which you refer, that is a tricky question. In fact, I think the Republic was founded on Christian principles. (See for example, the recent book by Ellis Sandy and Barry Shain.) Joseph Story demonstrated a Century and a half ago that the Common Law, which undergirds American freedom, developed largely from Christian sources. (See his essay in his son's book on him.) Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has been lying about all this for the last half century." Letter from Eugene Genovese to A. Polk, April 24, 1996.
 
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