Born Fighting

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thea_447

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Lest We Forget:

From James Webb, Born Fighting, pps. 220-221

". . . . These Confederate soldiers and nurses and citizens of beleaguered towns had one inspiration that twentieth-century America has not credited to them: the vigorous Revolutionary tradition. Many in the ranks had seen old soldiers of the Continental Army, thousands had heard the stories of the sacrifices of 1777 and of the hunger and nakedness at Valley Forge. . . . .

But not only the Revolutionary War spirit drove them. As I wrote of the Scots-Irish tradition in my novel "Fields of Fire," the culture even to this day is viscerally fired by "that one continuous linking that had bound father to son from the first wild resolute angry beaten Celt who tromped into the hills rather than bend a knee to Rome two thousand years ago, who would .....chew the bark off a tree, fill his belly with wood rather than surrender from starvation and admit defeat to an advancing civilization.

That same emotion passing with the blood: a fierce resoluteness that found itself always in a pitch with death, that somehow, over the centuries came to accept the FIGHT as birthright, even as some kind of proof of life.

True to the historic militia concept that itself had evolved from the legacy of clan loyalty, the Confederate Army rose like a sudden wind out of the little towns and scattered farms of a still unconquered wilderness, drawing 750,000 soldiers from a population base, male and female of only 8 million. By contrast the Northern states drew 2 million soldiers from a population of 22 million. In the South the Great Captains called as they had at Bannockburn and King's Mountain, and the able-bodied men were quick to answer. This army fought with squirrel rifles and cold steel against a much larger and more modern force. It saw 90 percent of its adult male population serve as soldiers and 70 percent of these become casualties, some 256,000 of them dead including astoundingly 77 of the 425 generals who led them. The men of the Confederate Army gave every ounce of courage and loyalty to a leadership they trusted and respected. When they laid down their arms, they returned to a devastated land and a military occupation, enduring the bitter humiliation of Reconstruction and an economic alienation from the rest of this country that continued for a full century. . ."
 
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