Did the Southern Soldier Fight and Die to Preserve Slavery?

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trice

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Do you really believe that Virginia's fire-eaters would have joined the Union army? Really?? If you do, I don't think there's any point in continuing this discussion.
Since I never said any such thing, I have no idea why you are heading in this direction.

It's a question I've wondered many times. Why does it upset some people so much to think that there might have been Confederates who were motivated to fight for some other reason than slavery? But I've really quit wondering by this point. They exist, and no amount of evidence or logic will change their mind, and that's that.
Since my post said nothing about that, why be upset with me?
 

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It is my understanding that when a freeman bought a family member they were immediately manumitted and thus were not listed as slaves, but this needs further research. I'm trying to locate the book referenced, so that I can check the bibliography.

Ira Berlin in his book Slaves Without Masters has a list of the state manumission laws. Roughly after 1830 in some instances and 1850 in others, the states of Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, and Delaware did not prohibit manumission by owners and no special request to the legislature or the courts was required. Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina (until 1861), required the slaveowner to petition the court. South Carolina required a petition to the legislature while Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi did not allow manumission. Texas allowed manumission as long as it was done outside of the state while Maryland and Virginia's manumitted slaves were required to leave the state.
 
Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri did not vote to secede yet there were men from those states that chose to join the Confederate army and in doing so fought against troops from their own state. So even if Virginia had voted not to secede, I can still imagine many joining the Confederate fight.
That may be so - even probably so. It does not negate the point that if Virginia and North Carolina had stayed in, the army they would have formed part of would not have been "abolitionist" and it would not have been "invading" their states. That army would have been headed by R E Lee.
 
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AP Hill came from a slave owning family. Lee did own slaves.
AP Hill had the opportunity to own slaves and turned it down, Lee inherited slaves from the death of his father in law and manumitted them in accordance with Virginia law once the debt of the estate was cleared. Lee wrote letters to his wife on various occasions decrying the ills of the "institution", the earliest in 1854. AP Hill wrote a letter to his brother after finding out that a negro had been wrongly lynched, stating that they need to round up everyone that participated in the outrage and hang every _____ _____ ____ ___ one of them.

Strangely enough US Grant inherited slaves from Julia's father and they were only manumitted at the war's end, in fact Grant personally owned a slave, but freed him in 1859. Not trying to pick a fight, but contemporary to the time, it is more complicated than the prism in which we view it 150 years later.
 
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I am well aware of that to which you were responding and have not called anyone an apologist. What I asked, which might be clear upon the third time of restating, is:

How is it that in defending the thesis that "slavery didn't cause the war", some people point out that the Union was not, until 1864, fighting to end slavery. (That's true). But those same people, in trying to justify rebellion, declare that states seceded because they were violated by an "abolitionist army" - i.e. an army having the purpose of ending slavery.

It's just speaking from both sides of the mouth.

As to the rest, I think everyone except a few are quite happy to agree that:

(A) Individual soldiers of the Confederate armies fought, willingly or unwillingly, for a variety of reasons, many or most having nothing to do with the defense of slavery;

AND THAT

(B) Regardless of those individual motivations, soldiers in the army of the rebellion fought and died in the cause of preserving a government dedicated to the proposition that slavery must be perpetual and should be extended.

Why does it upset some people so much that they endorse (A) only and ignore (B) as if it doesn't exist?

Why the pretense that people who say A + B are in fact promoting B only?
I think that you have actually have the most succinct and correct summation in this thread.
 

brass napoleon

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That may be so - even probably so. It does not negate the point that if Virginia and North Carolina had stayed in, the army they would have formed part of would not have been "abolitionist" and it would not have been "invading" their states.
Which is all irrelevant to the point. The point is that the large number of secessionists slaveholders in Virginia would have fought against that army, whatever words you choose to put in quotation marks to describe it. The result would have been horrendous guerrila warfare in Virginia, with all the dire consequences associated with it. That would have quite naturally been a major concern to the non-secessionist, non-slaveholders.

That army would have been headed by R E Lee.
Actually, no, it would not have been. Lee turned down command of any army that would "invade" the South BEFORE Virginia seceded from the Union.
 
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Eric Calistri

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Strangely enough US Grant inherited slaves from Julia's father and they were only manumitted at the war's end, in fact Grant personally owned a slave, but freed him in 1859. Not trying to pick a fight, but contemporary to the time, it is more complicated than the prism in which we view it 150 years later.
I'm confused by this. Julia's father died in 1873. The claim is Grant "inherited" slaves from him that were freed in 1865???
 
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Lee inherited slaves from the death of his father in law and manumitted them in accordance with Virginia law once the debt of the estate was cleared.
It was not Virginia law that manumitted them, but the terms of the will. Lee did go to court to get the will interpreted to allow him to hang on to the slaves as long as he could.

He had also inherited slaves on the death of his mother 30 years before the civil war.

As you say "it is more complicated than the prism in which we view it 150 years later."


Strangely enough US Grant inherited slaves from Julia's father and they were only manumitted at the war's end
This is false. Grant did not inherit them, since his father-in-law was still alive -- he didnt die until 1873.
 
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No deflection, just found it as I was conducting research on the current thread. I have studied the Civil War soldier for well over 30 years and find that were many reasons. I fall back on McPherson and the letters and diaries that I have personally studied, the majority of enlisted fought for their pards and region, officers were more aristocratic and ideology is prevalent, therefore protection of home and property, including slaves.

The cause of the war was economic, therefore tied directly to the agrarian society and the ensuing "institution" that supported it, slavery. My research in addition to countless others shows that a civilian army, companies raised from towns, regions and counties were honor bound. Those that stayed behind were shunned. 70% of the soldiers did not come from slaveholding families, their letters belie the idea that they were fighting to uphold the institution, from the second year on, April of '62 it's a moot point, since conscription was the reason many joined.

AP Hill and Robert E Lee did not own slaves, why did they fight? What were their stated reasons? Virginia did not succeed until Lincoln's call for volunteers, Baltimore rioted, when Federal troops marched through the city, the rioters were railroad workers, sailors, dock workers and city mechanics. They fought armed Federal troops with sticks and rocks, why, they didn't own slaves.
Based on recent statistical analyses, I believe that your numbers of men from slaveowning families is far too conservative.

As was pointed out, A.P. Hill's father owned slaves and he was fairly apathetic towards the institution. Lee owned slaves throughout his life, first inheriting some from his mother, owned a few in his own right, and was an executor of his father-in-law's estate with slaves included.

Strangely enough US Grant inherited slaves from Julia's father and they were only manumitted at the war's end, in fact Grant personally owned a slave, but freed him in 1859. Not trying to pick a fight, but contemporary to the time, it is more complicated than the prism in which we view it 150 years later.
Grant was given one slave who was freed by Grant in 1859. His wife had the use of slaves owned by her father until Dent freed all of his slaves in 1864 (IIRC). Grant couldn't free those slaves because he had no authority to do so.

R
 

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Why does it upset some people so much to think that there might have been Confederates who were motivated to fight for some other reason than slavery? But I've really quit wondering by this point. They exist, and no amount of evidence or logic will change their mind, and that's that.
That is an interesting question.

I would speculate that while some Confederates did not put the protection of slavery at the top of their lists, somewhere they were aware that for many of them abolition posed a threat to their way of life, even if they didn't own slaves. Some resented the implications of emancipation; others recognized that the abolition of slavery would have an adverse economic impact that would affect them negatively. The question might be the relative importance of slavery in soldier motivations, and that would vary from individual to individual.

I believe that where people get more upset is when one jumps from "my ancestors did not fight for slavery" to "the Confederacy was not about the protection of slavery." That reasoning doesn't work very well. FWIW, that's why I think the argument over "black Confederates" draws so much fire. The fact of the presence of blacks with Confederate forces (and the idea that some blacks, especially free ones, sought service with the CSA in 1861) is one thing: deriving from that fact that thus the Confederacy was not about slavery, that Confederate armies were "integrated," and so on creates the controversy. So you get some people who deny facts because they don't agree with interpretations based on those facts that seem in conflict with other facts about the nature and purpose of the Confederacy.

You see the same sort of reasoning elsewhere. Take the claim that Lee didn't own slaves and so the Confederacy could not have been about the protection of slavery. That claim's based on a lot of ignorance about what Lee himself said as well as the facts of his life.

Confederate soldiers, whatever their motivation, knew that their success in the field would enhance the Confederacy's ability to protect slavery, and that without that purpose there was no reason to have a Confederacy. To argue otherwise is to imply that Confederate soldiers weren't very bright.

There are those who will disagree. No amount of evidence or logic will change their mind, and that's that.
 
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Based on recent statistical analyses, I believe that your numbers of men from slaveowning families is far too conservative.

As was pointed out, A.P. Hill's father owned slaves and he was fairly apathetic towards the institution. Lee owned slaves throughout his life, first inheriting some from his mother, owned a few in his own right, and was an executor of his father-in-law's estate with slaves included.



Grant was given one slave who was freed by Grant in 1859. His wife had the use of slaves owned by her father until Dent freed all of his slaves in 1864 (IIRC). Grant couldn't free those slaves because he had no authority to do so.

R
Far too conservative based upon what analysis? My research indicates that officers most likely owned slaves, but the common grunt or enlisted man did not. I used the 1860 census and Historical Data Systems records of Confederate soldiers, though not spot on, I imagine very close.
 
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That is an interesting question.

I would speculate that while some Confederates did not put the protection of slavery at the top of their lists, somewhere they were aware that for many of them abolition posed a threat to their way of life, even if they didn't own slaves. Some resented the implications of emancipation; others recognized that the abolition of slavery would have an adverse economic impact that would affect them negatively. The question might be the relative importance of slavery in soldier motivations, and that would vary from individual to individual.

I believe that where people get more upset is when one jumps from "my ancestors did not fight for slavery" to "the Confederacy was not about the protection of slavery." That reasoning doesn't work very well. FWIW, that's why I think the argument over "black Confederates" draws so much fire. The fact of the presence of blacks with Confederate forces (and the idea that some blacks, especially free ones, sought service with the CSA in 1861) is one thing: deriving from that fact that thus the Confederacy was not about slavery, that Confederate armies were "integrated," and so on creates the controversy. So you get some people who deny facts because they don't agree with interpretations based on those facts that seem in conflict with other facts about the nature and purpose of the Confederacy.

You see the same sort of reasoning elsewhere. Take the claim that Lee didn't own slaves and so the Confederacy could not have been about the protection of slavery. That claim's based on a lot of ignorance about what Lee himself said as well as the facts of his life.

Confederate soldiers, whatever their motivation, knew that their success in the field would enhance the Confederacy's ability to protect slavery, and that without that purpose there was no reason to have a Confederacy. To argue otherwise is to imply that Confederate soldiers weren't very bright.

There are those who will disagree. No amount of evidence or logic will change their mind, and that's that.
Completely agree, there is no doubt the war was fought for economic reasons, therefore the supporting pillar of the agrarian South, slavery, but as to the thread and the reason the individual soldier fought..........
 
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It was not Virginia law that manumitted them, but the terms of the will. Lee did go to court to get the will interpreted to allow him to hang on to the slaves as long as he could.

He had also inherited slaves on the death of his mother 30 years before the civil war.

As you say "it is more complicated than the prism in which we view it 150 years later."



This is false. Grant did not inherit them, since his father-in-law was still alive -- he didnt die until 1873.
He was responsible for them and the farm, his father in law was no longer capable and thus farm was transferred
 

brass napoleon

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That is an interesting question.

I would speculate that while some Confederates did not put the protection of slavery at the top of their lists, somewhere they were aware that for many of them abolition posed a threat to their way of life, even if they didn't own slaves. Some resented the implications of emancipation; others recognized that the abolition of slavery would have an adverse economic impact that would affect them negatively. The question might be the relative importance of slavery in soldier motivations, and that would vary from individual to individual.
But for that to be the case, the war would have to have been a war of abolition. I think most people on this forum will agree that at least prior to 1863, it was not. The slaveholders tried to convince non-slaveholding Southerners that it was, but there was plenty of evidence available to them that it was not. "To argue otherwise is to imply that Confederate soldiers weren't very bright."
 

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But for that to be the case, the war would have to have been a war of abolition. I think most people on this forum will agree that at least prior to 1863, it was not. The slaveholders tried to convince non-slaveholding Southerners that it was, but there was plenty of evidence available to them that it was not. "To argue otherwise is to imply that Confederate soldiers weren't very bright."
Southerners were rather explicit that they thought a Union victory would damage if not destroy slavery. There's plenty of evidence about that, too.

They saw confiscation legislation passed in 1861 and 1862 by the USA as moves in that direction. We're the ones that reduce the threat to slavery to the Emancipation Proclamation. They knew better.
 

brass napoleon

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Southerners were rather explicit that they thought a Union victory would damage if not destroy slavery. There's plenty of evidence about that, too.

They saw confiscation legislation passed in 1861 and 1862 by the USA as moves in that direction. We're the ones that reduce the threat to slavery to the Emancipation Proclamation. They knew better.
Yes, there was very certainly a long-term threat to the institution of slavery and the secessionists made it very clear that's why they were seceding. And that certainly would have been a major concern to slaveholders whose wealth was largely in slaves, and who looked to pass that wealth down to their children and grandchildren. But for non-slaveholding Southerners that was generally not a concern. Which is why the slaveholders tried to foist it off as an immediate threat, which, in the absence of war, it very clearly was not.
 

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I'm going to stop you right there, since you're basing your entire argument on this premise. How do you know there would be no "abolitionist army" moving through Virginia? More importantly, how would THEY know there would be no "abolitionist army" moving through Virginia? Lincoln had just called up 75,000 troops to combat insurrectionary forces. Those insurrectionary forces were in South Carolina. It seems very logical that those 75,000 troops would have to move through Virginia to get to South Carolina.
Not to mention, the examples of Kentucky and Missouri and Maryland.
 

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I find that this begs the question about what was their concern over the "Yankee Invader".

When US Troops entered Virginia in May 1861, crossing the Potomac from DC and occupying Alexandria, The Charleston Mercury newspaper reported "The abolition invaders have at last crossed the Potomac, and now occupy Virginia soil."

In June 1861 when General Beuregard was trying to rally the people of Northern Virginia to help him reply the "invader" he declared that Lincoln had "thrown his abolition hosts among you"

In June 1861 the Richmond Dispatch referred to the US Army as "the abolition hordes"

etc.etc.
Terming the Union side as "Abolitionists" or "The Abolition Forces" is quite common in the OR. Searching volume XIV for "abolition" reveals the following results:



Page 185
• ... at Bees Creek Hill, 4 miles from Coosawhatchie, Colonel Johnson was informed that a portion of the Abolition forces was land- ing at Seabrook Island, in his rear, a point which indicated an attack up ...
Page 187
• ...XXVI.] SKIRMISH AT COOSAWHATCHIE, S. C., ETC. 187 70 or 80 men. The next morning not a sign of the Abolition fleet was to be seen in the npper waters of Broad River. I have the honor to remain, very ...
Page 213
• ... the briga- dier-general commanding the following report of the engagement of this battery with the Abolition fleet, which took place yesterday, the 1st instant: At 7.45 a. m. the battery was attacke ...
Page 216
• ...ort. I arrived at my mortar battery a few minutes after 9 a. m. arid immediately opened fire on the Abolition fleet. At 10.40 a. in. my platform gave way, and I was compelled to remove the planking an ...
Page 227
• ... the arrival at Jacksonville of five gunboats and transl)orts, and the landing of a large number of Abolition troops, said to be negroes. I immediately issued orders by telegraph and ex- press trains ...
Page 259
• ...the sunken Keo- kuk as a monument of their attack and discomfiture. In this the first trial of the Abolition iron fleet against brick fortifica- tions and their first attempt to enter theharbor of Ch ...
Page 261
• ...fer for such information as is not included in this report. * I have also to transmit herewith two Abolition ensigns obtained from the Keokuk, a~ she lies off Morris Island Beach, by Lieutenant Glass ...
Page 264
• ...TILI~ERY, Fort Sumter, April 13, 1863. CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report: The Abolition iron-clad fleet, consisting of the frigate New Ironsides and eight monitors, appeared in s ...
Page 286
• ...newall Jackson, just from Nassau, was fired into last night and chased ashore on Long island by the Abolition. ists. She was set on fire at daylight by her captain, and will prove a total loss. Her pa ...
Page 292
• ... body will proceed by the Stony Creek road over the Hospa Bridge. Should the greater portion of the Abolition forces proceed over the ilospa Bridge, a courier will be dispatched by the road from Camp ...
Page 299
• ...R, s. c. 299 have visited the scene and made investigation of the facts connected with the recent Abolition raid upon the Combahee River and. the atro- cious conduct of the enemy engaged in it, and ...
• ...nemy. (See Exhibit B.~ llisspecial attention was very soon thereafter called to an extract frGIn an Abolition paper giving intimation of some projected raid by the enemys forces from Hilton Head~ He w ...
Page 310
• ...ited the scene and made a thorough investigation of the facts connected with the recent raid of the Abolition forces at Bluffton, on the South May River, aiid the wanton and wicked destruction of valu ...
Page 639
• .... W. MERCER Commanding District ol Georgia, Savannah, Ga.: GENERAL: There are indications that the Abolition commander at Port Royal may undertake some raid into the Third Military District. In view ...
Page 730
• ...l a large l)ortiou of whose population was (lisloyal to our Goveriimnemmt. Time result was that the Abolition fleet receive(l our newspapers as well as other limfor- ination as regularly as our owim c ...
Page 755
• ...LESTON, S. C., January 25, 1863. General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector Oeneral, Richmond, Va.: Abolition fleet at Hilton Head reported four frigates, four gunboats, and forty transports; latter a ...
• ... G. T. BEAUREGARD. CHARLESTON, S. C., January 25, 1863. Brig~ Gen. H. W. MERCER, Sarannak, Ga.: Abolition fleet at Hilton Head reported four frigates, fonr gunboats, and forty transports. Be on al ...
Page 795
• ...body will proceed by the Stony Creek road over the ilospa Bridge. Should the greater portion of the Abolition forces proceed over the ilospa Bridge, a courier wiLl be dispatched by the road from Camp ...
Page 836
• ...e not renewed anything like a complete sys- tem of defenses for Savannah must go by the board. The Abolition programme for the day is not being carried out, I sup- pose. Yours, truly, H. W. MERGER. [ ...
Page 962
• ...ecure a hearing. If this is permitted the advantages of such intercourse will be entirely with the Abolition forces and we will be debarred from them. An opportunity is now presented of briuging the ...
Appendix

Page 1015 - Appendix
• ...partment, dated October 7, inquiring concerning the truth of the state- ment of William II. Seward, Abolition Secretary of State, as follows: An attack by the fleet, made on the 7th of April last, up ...
• ...d~, & c. These would probably have fouled the screws, besides producilzig other effects, but no Abolition iron-clad came within 300 yards of them. 2d. After passing the fire of the batteries. But ...
 
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Yes, there was very certainly a long-term threat to the institution of slavery and the secessionists made it very clear that's why they were seceding. And that certainly would have been a major concern to slaveholders whose wealth was largely in slaves, and who looked to pass that wealth down to their children and grandchildren. But for non-slaveholding Southerners that was generally not a concern.
I disagree. Slavery was much more than just an investment of wealth. I quote Zeb Vance earlier who stated in a 1860 speech why it would concern non slaveowners
 
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