Discussion Five Myths

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matthew mckeon

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Folks were raised with certain images and stories and they can't let them go. It's very human.

In Carol Reardon's Pickett's Charge she describes how the Battle of Gettysburg was commemerated in the decades after the battle. There were a perennial debate about how far to take reconciliation, and plenty of Union vets who weren't happy with the Lost Cause narrative. Chamberlain was very much a reconciliationist.
 

matthew mckeon

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Folks were raised with certain images and stories and they can't let them go. It's very human.

In Carol Reardon's Pickett's Charge she describes how the Battle of Gettysburg was commemerated in the decades after the battle. There were a perennial debate about how far to take reconciliation, and plenty of Union vets who weren't happy with the Lost Cause narrative. Chamberlain was very much a reconciliationist.
Reardon also quotes a thoughtful veteran looking over the old battlefield years later, and observing that his memory and the present field didn't match. The field had been changed, and he had changed as well.
 

W. Richardson

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And many others... William.
@O' Be Joyful yes indeed there are/were many myths taught in school, but when I spoke of being taught Lincoln myths, I was referring to the EP, and that "the great emancipator" set all slaves free with the EP. It was a military necessity. I am not saying it was worthless, for it was not, the EP, for what it was truly intended for, was a great success.

Only to later learn in life, that "the great emancipator" was as racist as they come, and was a self-proclaimed white supremacy.

But as you stated "And many others", Lee, Jackson, Forrest, Stuart, Grant, Sherman.........all had their reputations advanced by some myths.............I do believe we all were taught a "mythical" history at times..........lol

Respectfully,
William

One Nation,
Two countries
Confed-American Flag - Thumbnail.jpg
 
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O' Be Joyful

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But as you stated "And many others", Lee, Jackson, Forrest, Stuart, Grant, Sherman.........all had their reputations advanced by some myths.............I do believe we all were taught a "mythical" history at times.

Indeed William, indeed. But, we here are far more serious about this subject than the Average Joe. It requires an interest and a fascination with history to truly learn about the intricacies of such. For example, I no longer view Sherman in the same way as I did when I joined this forum. I began to question many, many of my previous thoughts about him thanks to many here. The onus is upon the individual to be open to opposing views and be willing to question their own.

Myths like sports records are made to be broken.

Greg
 

Crazy Delawares

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Curious if you have any feel for the percentage of the participants of the fisticuffs at the reunions...…

I was under the impression no one has claimed there was no one upset on either side at the surrender or postwar, but had the impression Chamberlain was commenting on the general mood between both sides during the surrender, I've never taken it as to imply there were no hotheads still maintaining ill feelings, but that it wasnt the general mood between the two armies during the surrender.
In all honesty, I do not. I believe the ill feelings were probably in a very small minority. (Maybe with the help of some spiritous libation?😉)
 
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archieclement

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And that is why you use as many sources as possible.

But things written closer to the events are simply better than tings written decades later.
We don't have the issue of loose of memory and the writer as a person is closer to who he was when the things happend.
I might agree in many cases, accounts written by people actually there, very well may be better then reinterpretations written a century later by people who were never there or even experienced the era........
 
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rpkennedy

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In all honesty, I do not. I believe the ill feelings were probably in a very small minority. (Maybe with the help of some spiritous libation?😉)
I would argue that ill feelings were more prevalent than many believe. The GAR couldn't endorse the Gettysburg reunions because so many of their members objected to allowing their former enemies to participate. To my mind, that's pretty telling.

Ryan
 
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O' Be Joyful

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I would argue that I'll feelings were more prevalent than many believe. The GAR couldn't endorse the Gettysburg reunions because so many of their members objected to allowing their former enemies to participate. To my mind, that's pretty telling.

Ryan
To further expand, from an article by Carol Reardon, which I will snip from and one can view it in full at the link:

On May 30, 1894, tens of thousands of former Confederates gathered in Richmond for the unveiling of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on Libby Hill. It was not the monument itself that would cause so much friction; rather, it was the words of the day's orator, Rev. R. C. Cave, that sparked a national debate and stirred the embers of sectional animosity, violating the unspoken truce of Reconciliation. In the course of his address, Cave spoke the standard lines about soldiers' bravery and devotion common at every monument dedication, be it Union or Confederate. But he went further that day, delivering what many northern writers described as a eulogy for the Confederacy. Appomattox had not been a divine verdict against the South, he argued; instead it had been the triumph of the physically strong. Going beyond the traditional Lost Cause message of overwhelming northern resources, he intoned that "brute force cannot settle questions of right and wrong." "The South was in the right," he maintained, noting that "the cause was just; that the men who took up arms in her defense were patriots." And yet he still went further, denouncing the character, motives, and actions of the North and suggesting that it was southerners, not northerners, who had been more devoted to the Union. "Against the South was arrayed the power of the North, dominated by the spirit of Puritanism," he intoned, "which … worships itself and is unable to perceive any goodness apart from itself, and from the time of Oliver Cromwell to the time of Abraham Lincoln has never hesitated to trample upon the rights of others in order to effect its own ends." When he was finished, newspapers reported that the crowd leapt to their feet in thunderous applause.
As news of Cave's remarks made its way northward, a storm of denunciation flowed from every corner of the nation. From newspapers in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon, came headlines of "Unreconstructed Rebel" and "The Rebel Yell is Heard: Treason Preached at Richmond's Monument Unveiling." The Washington Post declared Cave's statements out of place in this "era of reconciliation," reminding southerners that Union soldiers had recognized the "valor, the devotion, and the fine manhood of the Confederates" and tried to spare "them every possible humiliation in their defeat." Surely the South would denounce such brazenly treasonous speech, the paper observed. A handful of southern papers did dismiss Cave's remarks as ill-conceived and hardly representative of the South, but many southern newspapers either reprinted his speech without any commentary or explicitly endorsed him. And each time they did, northern papers responded in turn. With each salvo, the conflict continued to escalate.
(snip)

The real battle, however, erupted not between newspapers but among veterans. In early June 1894, the Columbia Post GAR of Chicago wrote to the Lee Camp of Confederate Veterans in Richmond; the letter was republished in northern newspapers. Two years earlier, the Columbia Post had travelled to the former Confederate capital, where they enjoyed "the hospitality and generous welcome" of the Lee Camp. But upon hearing of Cave's oration they were outraged. The Columbia Post informed the Lee Camp that on the very day Cave had delivered his oration, they had joined with Confederate veterans in Chicago to decorate the graves of Confederate prisoners of war without mentioning the cause of the conflict or its final settlement. Certainly, they felt, the Lee Camp that had so graciously hosted them would not endorse Cave's statements. "If the sentiments uttered by Rev. Cave … and [the] 'tremendous applause' from the audience assembled there, be the true sentiments of the average ex-Confederate veteran," they noted, "then will it indeed be hard to ever heal the breach between 'brothers of one land,' engendered by that awful conflict, and the generous action of our Union veterans seems truly wasted." Invoking Reconciliationist sentiment as a way to contest Cave's combative Lost Cause rhetoric, the Union veterans noted that, "While anxious to look with pleasure upon these reunions in your sunny South land, we cannot but regret such disloyal sentiments as these, and must protest in the name of the fallen of both sides." In the estimation of the GAR, the Confederate veterans' insistence on defending Cave's statement displayed a new surge of rebel disloyalty, more than thirty years after secession.

Finally, in July—more than a month after the unveiling—the Lee Camp responded to the Columbia Post. Expressing shock at the post's response to Cave's speech, the Confederate veterans observed that while they did not suspect "any purpose on your part to provoke sectional controversy or add fuel to the dying embers of sectional hate; but such seems to be its natural tendency." The Lee Camp proclaimed itself unable to understand how Cave's words could be interpreted as "disloyal" and affirmed his contention that Appomattox had settled the military questions but not the Constitutional ones. "Physical might cannot determine the question of legal or moral right," they observed. They noted that both sides had erected monuments to their respective causes, and that they too had laid flowers on the graves of their former foes. But most importantly, the camp noted that Cave had not spoken on Memorial Day or a monument unveiling at a battlefield in which both sides were meant to be honored. Instead, "his oration was delivered at the unveiling of a monument to the private soldiers and sailors who died in behalf of the Southern cause, in resistance to an armed invasion of their native land, and in defense … of their personal liberties and constitutional rights." It was therefore right, they argued, that "he should also refer to and vindicate 'the cause for which they fell.'"
This was the crux of the matter. Confederates believed that they were free to observe, defend, and memorialize their cause when speaking only to other Confederates. For them, the Lost Cause was the primary memory of the war. When they came together at Blue-Gray reunions or battlefield dedications, they were willing to embrace Reconciliation and remain silent on the issues of causality and consequence. But when honoring their cause among their brethren, they would not be silent. And the same held true for Union veterans. They, too, espoused not only the righteousness of the Union cause—and in many instances, Emancipation—at GAR functions and monument dedications, but they readily held that the Confederate cause had been wrong and without moral worth.
07.jpg
Caption: Union veterans at the 1913 Gettysburg reunion. Contrary to many images of veterans shaking hands over the proverbial bloody chasm, many veterans elected to spend their time with their comrades, not their former enemies. Courtesy of the Gettysburg National Military Park (2693), Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
 
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Crazy Delawares

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I would argue that ill feelings were more prevalent than many believe. The GAR couldn't endorse the Gettysburg reunions because so many of their members objected to allowing their former enemies to participate. To my mind, that's pretty telling.

Ryan
Hm, did not know that about the GAR. Interesting. Thank you!
 

Frank Watson

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Chamberlain composed this a good 36 years after the event. Contemporary accounts don't support it.

You composed this a good 154 years after the event, so by your own logic, we should discount your statement even more than you discount Chamberlain's account.
 

Busvette

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As far as Chamberlain and the salute. Gordon did write of this and Chamberlain mentioned it as stated later. JLC spent a considerable part of the post war years defending his decision to order the salute. Many were very critical of him for bestowing any honor to the confederates.. It would seem to me where Chamberlain was concerned about his place in history he would have corrected the record for his own reputation.
 
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thomas aagaard

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You composed this a good 154 years after the event, so by your own logic, we should discount your statement even more than you discount Chamberlain's account.
Chamberlain is a primary source. What we write here is not. Two completely different types of sources.
 

matthew mckeon

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You composed this a good 154 years after the event, so by your own logic, we should discount your statement even more than you discount Chamberlain's account.

Harper Lee, in conducting interviews in a murder case only a few years old noted people's propensity to repeat rumors, fabricate, put themselves into the center of events, to exaggerate. She remarked dryly "I am disappointed in the veracity of these witnesses."

I was paraphrasing an essay by William Marvel. If you read the letter Chamberlain wrote to the missus the next day, he doesn't mention saluting, but the V Corps having their arms "at the shoulder." He also describes his feelings towards the defeated Confederates.

So based on Chamberlain's contemporary account, and the lack of any one else noting a salute, I think Marvel has good evidence to discount saluting by Union troops, although the Union were silent in a way the Confedertes saw as respectful.
 

James N.

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… 1. The Emancipation Proclamation was not a significant and game changing measure.
1. The Emancipation Proclamation was not a significant and game changing measure.

Any decent level of research will tell you otherwise!
As I recall from my issue, the cover states something more like Lincoln and his EP didn't free any of the slaves, which by itself is of course true. I don't remember the actual article saying anything like it not being significant or changing though. The rub of course - and no doubt source of any mythmaking - is that NO slaves were freed by the EP alone, but by failure of the South to take the warning, followed by appropriate Federal military action.
 
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matthew mckeon

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As I recall from my issue, the cover states something more like Lincoln and his EP didn't free any of the slaves, which by itself is of course true. I don't remember the actual article saying anything like it not being significant or changing though. The rub of course - and no doubt source of any mythmaking - is that NO slaves were freed by the EP alone, but by failure of the South to take the warning, followed by appropriate Federal military action.
The myth is that the EP was insignificant, according to the article.
 

oakhill1863

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I don't have his book from about 1905 in front of me, but didn't Edward Porter Alexander have something to say about this?

The Appomattox issue, I mean.
 

Kurt G

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According to 'Fighting for the Confederacy" Alexander left Appomattox about 9:00AM on the 12th with a party of mixed Federals and Confederates headed to Burkeville , so he didn't witness the formal surrender .
 
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John S. Carter

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In the latest issue of Civil War Monitor, five well known Civil War historians offered what they thought were the five more persistent myths about the Civil War.

1. The Emancipation Proclamation was not a significant and game changing measure.

2. Grant had a "free hand" after he took command of the Union armies in 1864.

3. The South couldn't have won the war.

4. The Civil War was the first "modern" war.

5. The stories of reconciliation around Appomattox, like Chamberlain's men "saluting" the surrendering Confederates.
This is not a responce to the above but a theory that seems to be more essential than those'
One you missed; The war was started by abolitionist in the North,it was started by influential Southern politicians who for generations had desired a separate nation and those in the West who feared that the Confederacy would control the Mississippi River, Then that Southern politicians for generations desire for a nation of the South and to maintain their rights of self government as to property and its movement,Then there is the question of POWER which the South had enjoyed and the thought that they were about to loose it with the North,East and West now in position to become the power and the South becoming the minority. One last the West feared the control of the Mississippi at Vicksburg and down to New Orleans as they did with the Spanish or French to maintain free flow if war came they would fight to maintain free access./ THANK YOU
 

John S. Carter

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In the latest issue of Civil War Monitor, five well known Civil War historians offered what they thought were the five more persistent myths about the Civil War.

1. The Emancipation Proclamation was not a significant and game changing measure.

2. Grant had a "free hand" after he took command of the Union armies in 1864.

3. The South couldn't have won the war.

4. The Civil War was the first "modern" war.

5. The stories of reconciliation around Appomattox, like Chamberlain's men "saluting" the surrendering Confederates.
3 If all factors had been equal and if McClellan would have been elected in
' 64 ..Then again IF is not a factor in any outcome just IF!
 
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