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Confederate Soldiers Killed and National Identity

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by MattL, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. MattL

    MattL First Sergeant

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    To be clear this is not meant as flame bait. This is a genuine discussion on the technicalities of views and how that relates to looking back now.

    This came up in a discussion about Confederate graves. Someone made that the comment that they were Americans too and should be honored.

    To be clear I believe they should indeed be honored and are indeed Americans (5 of my ancestors served in the Confederacy and one died, though no record of his death exists and I know of no grave unfortunately), moving beyond that this is actually a more complicated question that I find is interesting, others may know more about contemporary beliefs too. Some thoughts

    1) American is meant to refer to Citizens of the United States of America... This is the context the term is used in and not a more literal term for anyone living in America (North or South). This is not also meant as potential shorthand for citizens of the Confederacy, but as American as in the modern US.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/American

    I'm only referring to #3

    "a citizen of the U.S."

    2) If you don't recognize secession then they clearly died as rebelling Americans.

    3) If you don't recognize secession but recognize they are people who foreswore their citizenship, does this then make them not Americans?

    3) If you recognize secession then they died as citizens of the Confederate States of America and aren't "Americans" from that perspective. Additionally they deliberately died to no longer be an American. Is then calling them an American an insult or ironic contradiction from a contemporary perspective?


    Again this is meant to be real discussion, not grounds for arguing whether Confederates should or shouldn't be honored... This is about the interesting technicalities.

    I am also curious if people know contemporary views and statements to shed some light on this. I am admittedly naive of how the Confederates specifically viewed leaving the US and being American. I know many viewed themselves as "true" Americans, with the rest of the Nation breaking away from the intention of the Constitution (no this thread is not intended to debate this either way), though they also clearly formed themselves as the Confederate States of America and using "American" as a term for US Citizens they seemingly clearly swore off that?

    I find this a fascinating intersection of modern and old... where we know they were all folded back into the US (and legally never left), though these people died trying to break away, is it ironic at all to call them "American" despite that?
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  3. Scourge the yellow cat

    Scourge the yellow cat Cadet

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    They are still Americans. Even though the C.S.A didn't live, they were still born American and even became Americans once the C.S.A lost
     
  4. MattL

    MattL First Sergeant

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    Though if they died before the CSA lost then they never had a chance to become "Americans once the C.S.A lost"?

    As far as born Americans, what about those foreign born?
     
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  5. MattL

    MattL First Sergeant

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    Again for the record secession wasn't deemed legal hence they never stopped being American (and you can't just throw off your citizenship by proclaiming it), though I find this an interesting conceptual puzzle.

    Is honoring them as Americans actually an insult? They died to become non-Americans?
     
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  6. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    They're not alive to answer that question,but that's a different topic than your top-post.
     
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  7. Scourge the yellow cat

    Scourge the yellow cat Cadet

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    Even then, YES, they would be fighting the USA, YES, they killed Americans, but Robert E. Lee was American, fought the union, then became an American again. Really hard for me to correctly describe what I mean
     
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  8. unicornforge

    unicornforge First Sergeant

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    By act of Congress they were U.S. Veterans.

    Civil War Veterans.jpg
     
  9. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    That statement on a Conservative website is entirely false. [https://www.facingsouth.org/2015/07/busting-the-myth-that-congress-made-confederate-ve]

    The widespread belief among Confederate apologists that in 1958, Congress passed a law recognizing Confederate veterans as American veterans, with equal status as Union veterans is a misreading of the the actual legislation. All it did was make then surviving Confederate veterans eligible for the same VA benefits as Union soldiers were. It did not make them U.S. veterans, make any other official change in their status, or extend any particular protections to their graves or monuments. Nor did it have any bearing on the status of Confederate soldiers already dead. It also offered pension support for living widows of Confederate dead, while raising pensions for Union and SpAm War widows. It was a Social-Welfare legislation to help certain groups of elderly citizens.
     
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  10. wausaubob

    wausaubob Sergeant Major

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    They were Americans at all times. It just became a little clearer after the AofV surrendered. And no one by Andrew Johnson had any interest in treason trials or extorting concessions from the former Confederates.
     
  11. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    The simple answer is Yes.
     
  12. CSA Today

    CSA Today Colonel

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    Are you sure? If true I've learned something new.
     
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  13. ucvrelics.com

    ucvrelics.com Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    Yes they were and so were the live ones.
     
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  14. Burning Billy

    Burning Billy Corporal

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    From the Union point of view they were never anything but Americans, and the Confederate States of America was not an independent nation.
     
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  15. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    Does that mean we should replace the CBF's on their graves with the Star Spangled Banner?

    In any event, I disagree with the premise. Anyone living in the Americas can properly be called an American.
     
  16. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    The act of 1958 read:
    cconfedvets.png
    It affected living veterans only.

    The law of 1929 gave Confederate grave sites recognition as War Graves, with the due protections. It did not affect, ex post facto, the status of the soldiers in those graves. It might be noted that the graves of German and Italian POWs who died in American camps are also legally War Graves -- the soldiers are not considered American (as in U.S.) soldiers.
     
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  17. CMWinkler

    CMWinkler Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Of course they are. They are also entitled to gov'munt markers, too.
     
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  18. Reb

    Reb Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    I have family that arrived as early as the 1610's in America. 160 years before the Revolutionary War. They were British citizens. Their children were born in America. Technically, they were Americans. There are 23 countries and 9 territories in America. All of the people in these countries are American. The Confederate soldiers who survived the war were brought back into the fold of the United States of America. They received their U.S. citizenship back. My humble opinion is that the Confederate soldiers who died were American as apple pie and Chevrolet. CSA stands for what? Confederate States of America. The CSA is as American as my first family who were British.

    The US government, in 1958 authorized the Dept of Veterans Affairs to furnish grave markers for Confederate Veterans, and to pay a pension to Confederate widows. Why would the US government feel they had an obligation to do this if these men weren't considered American? If the purpose of the civil war was to restore the Union, then they were Americans, otherwise they would have been let go and recognized as citizens of another country. It's a conundrum. The Union was saved.

    Are the Texans who died when Texas was a Republic, Americans?

    Since the OP has stated that the purpose of this thread is not to start a Confederate bashing, I will ask those that want to start in that Confederate were traitors to respect the intentions of the author and save the contempt, and if there is an argument to keep it on the level. If I have misstated anything, feel free to offer counterpoints.
     
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  19. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

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    Thank you for starting your own thread and not clogging up my thread!

    God bless,
    Bill
     
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  20. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    I'm perfectly happy to grant them that consideration. Equal treatment with U.S. war dead, even though they are not U.S. war dead. I shouldn't think they would want that anyway. It would be drastically at odds with historical fact.
     
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  21. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard 2nd Lieutenant

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    Americans?
    yes, they where born in the USA.
    (most of them anyway)

    Veterans that should be honored by the official USA today?
    NO, not in any way. they fought against the Union. And many of them would properly not want to be.

    So no more or less than having a basic respect for all veterans... like German WWII veterans, dead German POWs and similar.

    Veterans and wargraves should be respected... but they are at best the equal of German soldiers from the world wars... not US soldiers. and should be treated just like all other "enemy combatants"

    If you want to count them as US veterans, then stop with all the CSA flags.
    At German war graves in France do they have the Imperial German flag or the Swastika flying? No the modern German flag is used. And the modern flag for the area that was the CSA is the stars and stripes.

    You can't have it both ways.
    Either they where Confederates and as such enemies of the USA and should be treated as such. (still respected them, but no more than any german WWII grave) or treat them as US veterans, and ban the flying of any flag other then the stars and stripes. At the cemeteries.


    Stop spreading fake history like that.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
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