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Discussion in 'Post Civil War History, The Reconstruction Period' started by CMWinkler, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. CMWinkler

    CMWinkler Colonel Forum Host Retired Moderator

    Oct 17, 2012
    Middle Tennessee
    Veterans of the 'Lost Cause' launched a two-phased movement that influenced Southern thought for a century.

    Though most Southern vets withdrew from the public limelight, preoccupying themselves with earning a livelihood, many eventually yearned for the lost camaraderie of combat.

    Reconstruction-era hostility confronted "rebel" societies. In fact, federal authorities forbade them to organize as late as 1878. But that did not prevent the more determined among their lot from organizing.

    As early as 1867, Terry's Texas Rangers formed an association to erect a monument in Austin, Texas. (Incidentally, it took 40 years for them to raise $10,000!) No doubt, other groups formed locally to achieve specific ends.

    Birth of Veterans Movement
    The Confederate veterans movement evolved in two phases. The first phase centered on Virginia and was elitist. The Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, established Nov. 5, 1870, in Richmond, never numbered more than 200 ex-officers at one time. But its Louisiana Division, autonomous, helped sick and unemployed vets in New Orleans.

    In a similar vein, the Association of the Army of Tennessee came on the scene in 1877. A Confederate Survivors' Association was created in Augusta, Ga., the following year. It espoused noble ideals, but never did much. North Carolina's Society of Ex-Confederate Soldiers and Sailors may have been the first to go statewide in October 1881.

    A prominent early vet group was Robert E. Lee Camp #1 (Confederate Veterans), formed in Richmond in April 1883. Four years later, independent camps formed into the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans of Virginia. It then spread to Tennessee and Georgia.

    Camp #1's greatest project was creation of the first permanent soldiers' home in the South. It embraced Northern vets as "a band of brothers, bound to us by deeds greater than those won on the field of battle or the forum, deeds of brotherly love and charity." By 1883, New Orleans had gained a reputation as the "headquarters of Confederate sentiment, feeling and action." Within six years, several groups there united to launch the movement's second and most influential phase.

    United Confederate Veterans

    In February 1889, the Virginia and Tennessee army society divisions along with the Benevolent and Historical Association, Veteran Confederate States Cavalry endorsed a plan for a comprehensive regional organization. Representatives of 10 Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi groups met that June and formed the United Confederate Veterans.

    John B. Gordon became commander and George Moorman adjutant general. Moorman, the organizational genius and Gordon, the inspirational leader, remained in office until their deaths in 1902 and 1904, respectively.

    Sumner Cunningham brought to the movement his journalistic skills. Owner and editor, he established in 1893 The Confederate Veteran, the high-quality official organ of the UCV. Selling for 50 cents and later $1, it reached a peak circulation of 20,000 by the century's turn. In 1909, it was regarded by some as the most popular magazine published in the South.

    UCV helped create two auxiliaries that later went independent. Sons of Confederate Veterans counted 16,000 members in 1903; United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) reached 45,000 members in 800 chapters by 1912. Children of the Confederacy was a UDC offshoot. The Daughters also sponsored a scholarship program at various colleges.

    Membership of the UCV was drawn from a broad spectrum of Southern society. Nearly half were from the middle class; virtually none from the elite. In 1890, more than 60 percent of Confederate vets were still under 55.

    Around 1903 or 1904, UCV hit its zenith in numbers: 80,000 or one-fourth to one-third of living eligibles. Its 1,565 local camps were spread across 75 percent of the counties of the 11 former Confederate states. The largest percentage of camps -- 19% -- were located in Texas. South Carolina and Georgia trailed with about 10% each.

    Assistance to needy veterans and their families was not the hallmark of the UCV's existence. New Orleans, Nashville and Richmond camps did well in this regard. "In general, though, the UCV devoted limited attention to aid, and the rhetoric of respect generally exceeded the reality of relief," reported Gaines Foster in Ghosts of the Confederacy.

    Typical camps met only once or twice a year, provided no aid to indigent comrades and undertook no historical projects. What individual members looked forward to most were the annual reunions, or conventions.

    Some 20,000 vets flocked to Birmingham in 1894. Throughout the 1890s, these get-togethers attracted 30,000 vets and 50,000 spectators on average. UCV's 1903 reunion in New Orleans outdrew Mardi Gras in public attendance. But by 1902, of the 140,000 people who attended in Dallas, only 12,000 were veterans. Reunions had long ago become "annual festivals of the South" where crowds expressed symbolically society's appreciation for the common soldier's sacrifices.

    UCV's 1917 parade, reviewed by President Wilson, was the pinnacle of its prominence.

    Vindicating the 'Lost Cause'

    UCV's chief interest and most significant activity was in the field of history. It preserved the Confederate heritage, especially celebration of the average infantryman.

    In 1892, it established a Historical Committee to promote understanding of the war. UCV recommended histories, sponsored exhibits and helped establish museums, such as the Confederate Battle Abbey in Richmond in 1921. Fearing history's verdict, it embarked on this crusade with a vengeance.

    Vindication was needed because of the growing commercial spirit of the New South that belittled the achievements of the war generation. One veterans group was determined "to see to it that our children do not grow up with false notions of their fathers, and with disgraceful apologies for their conduct."

    Said one UCV Historical Committee member: "... No concerted action has been taken to write our history...save those who are antagonistic to us and our posterity, who are prone to moderate our valor, and the victories we won..." That was remedied with the publication of a 12-volume history -- Confederate Military History -- in 1899.

    Military defeat had no bearing on this historical crusade. As author Bennett Young wrote, veterans had to believe the "sword in and of itself never made any cause right, and the outcome of battles does not affirm the truth of political or even religious questions."

    The Committee's highly educated members could cite several successes: it stimulated historical research (by 1903 history was being taught in every Southern institution), spurred establishment of state archives, made history courses mandatory in public schools and convinced Tennessee to fund a chair of American history at Peabody Normal College.

    Besides its multi-volume military history, the UCV also proposed a major study of veterans contributions to society entitled The Confederate Soldier in Peace. But by the 1920s, most work had been turned over to the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy.

    End of the Line

    Like all associations, UCV endured petty bickering, internal political infighting, commercial exploitation of its rituals, trivialization of its traditions and declining public interest. Of course, simple aging of members was the ultimate arbiter of UCV's destiny.

    After 1913, little institutional structure survived in the New South to sustain the memory of the war. The last bona fide individual reminder of the War Between the States -- Gen. John Salling of Slant, Va. -- died at age 112 on March 16, 1959.

    CSA Today and Barrycdog like this.

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  3. Tin cup

    Tin cup 1st Lieutenant

    Jan 9, 2010
    One veterans group was determined "to see to it that our children do not grow up with false notions of their fathers, and with disgraceful apologies for their conduct."

    I'm not saddled with vindicating anything but the truth.
    I have Confederate ancestry, and I have no false notions of what the goal was they were fighting for...the goals of the Confederate Government they fought for was to protect slavery. I have never asked anyone in any generation of my family to apologize for that...but I won't mask over that truth as some folk try to do.

    I thought that the Gen. John Salling of Slant, Va. story was all bunk?

    Kevin Dally
    rpkennedy likes this.
  4. Barrycdog

    Barrycdog Major

    Jan 6, 2013
    Buford, Georgia

    Story from a 1959 newspaper from Parkersburg, WV. Dated Tues. 3/17/1959.

    'Boy Soldier' of Civil War Dead at 112
    KINGSPORT, Tenn. (UPI) - Virginia's revered old mountaineer John Salling, next-to-last survivor of the armies of the Civl War, joined his comrades in death Monday.

    A boy soldier of the Confederacy, Salling died peacefully of pneumonia just sixty days short of his 113th birthday.

    His death left just one more living veteran of the war between the states, 116-year-old Walter W. Williams of Houston, Tex. Williams was too weak to be told that he was the last man alive of the great armie who fought under Lee and Grant.

    The last Union veteran, Albert Woolson of Duluth, Minn., died in 1956 at the age of 109. Woolson was a drummer boy, Williams was a forager. Salling spent his service in the Army of Virginia digging saltpeter, an ingredient of gunpowder.

    Never Fired a Shot
    Only 13 when Confederate guns fired Ft. Sumter, Salling never fired a shot during the war, and never wore a gray uniform until his long life made him one of a handful of surviving Civil War veterans a dozen years ago. In his later years, he became a living symbol. He was given the honorary rank of general and outfitted with winter and summer uniforms. He rode in parades and received messages from presidents and governors.

    He lived a sheltered life in his last years, on his boyhood farm from near the hamlet of Slant, Va., 25 miles north of here.

    Until recently he enjoyed good health. He remained active until he broke his hip at the age of 106, and attributed his long life to "hard work and moderation".

    Death Came Peacefully

    Salling contracted influenza and a cold last week and was admitted to a private clinic here last Thursday. Then his condition became worse and pneumonia developed. The frail old man lacked strength to fight any longer.
    He lapsed into a coma Sunday and died at 7:45 a.m. e.s.t. Monday with a daughter, Mrs. Hugh McCamy and his grandson, H. Hawkins at his side.

    A nurse who was present said the old mountaineer's death was "very peaceful."

    Salling's body will lie in state at Gate City, Va., until services with military honors at 11:30 a.m. e.s.t. Thursday, Salling will be buried in the family cemetery near his mountain cabin at Slant, VA.

    Contact the Author

      • marcella pauline salling

      • 249 Fedderson Street

      • Kingsport, TN 37660

      • United States


    CSA Today likes this.
  5. Dave Wilma

    Dave Wilma 2nd Lieutenant

    Aug 12, 2011
    Elliott Bay
    Don't forget that the GAR was organized almost immediately upon veterans' return from the war so the trend/desire for the men to come back together seems almost hard-wired into the experience of war. The last half of the 19th Century saw a growth of "secret" and fraternal societies like the Eagles, Elks, Moose, Odd Fellows, etc., motivated by fellowship and life and burial insurance. These groups offered entrepreneurial sorts some income along with fulfilling the need to be part of something. That the reconstructed or unreconstructed Confederate would do this is natural. Add to all this is the need to continue to make some sense of the slaughter and destruction, incomprehensible to us today (certainly to me). I say the Lost Cause was entirely predictable.

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