Discussion Most Absurd Civil War Claims

rbortega

Private
Joined
May 4, 2013
What are some of the most absurd claims you have heard or read about the Civil War? This includes the war in general or a particular person or event associated with the conflict. It doesn't matter if you heard someone say it person or read it in a book or on the internet in some form (example: message board and comment section). A couple I have come across over the years include Abraham Lincoln supposedly secretly selling weapons to the Confederacy and Robert E. Lee being an Abolitionist.
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
It may be absurd to me because I have doctorate in economic history, but it may be just ignorance when some of these members predicate that cotton exports were the main economic driver in the USA. They use that export percentage theory that because cotton exports consisted of 50% of USA exports that it held the biggest microeconomic percentage slice on a macroeconomic pie chart. I don't know how they do it, but they somehow confuse export percentages with GDP percentages. If they knew 50% export = 5% of the national GDP they would get somewhere. LOL. It took me 10 years to get a hold of this stuff and some random blogger acts like he or she has clinched it with a 3rd grade economic mistake, and that's what is absurd to me.
 

John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
What are some of the most absurd claims you have heard or read about the Civil War? This includes the war in general or a particular person or event associated with the conflict. It doesn't matter if you heard someone say it person or read it in a book or on the internet in some form (example: message board and comment section). A couple I have come across over the years include Abraham Lincoln supposedly secretly selling weapons to the Confederacy and Robert E. Lee being an Abolitionist.
I'll have to think about it.

But just for the record Lincoln did, indeed, allow trading with the Confederacy as he needed cotton for his industries. He once said "Better give him guns for it than let him, as now, get both guns and ammunition for it." What he meant was that if the Confederacy managed to export the cotton to Europe they'd get guns and ammunition but if the Union bought it maybe they'd not get both. In fact, the Union bought more Confederate cotton than what they managed to get through the blockade. I imagine it's the guns statement that led some to say he secretly sold guns. None of the trade was secret. Now, could the Confederacy have bought the guns Lincoln speculated about ? Certainly but he didn't sell them.

The trade with the Confederacy is mentioned by McPherson in Battle Cry Of Freedom and there's an entire book about it (Trading With The Enemy by Philip Leigh). I didn't find Leigh's book very good but it does document some facts.
 

Mike Griffith

Sergeant
Joined
Jun 22, 2014
What are some of the most absurd claims you have heard or read about the Civil War? This includes the war in general or a particular person or event associated with the conflict. It doesn't matter if you heard someone say it person or read it in a book or on the internet in some form (example: message board and comment section). A couple I have come across over the years include Abraham Lincoln supposedly secretly selling weapons to the Confederacy and Robert E. Lee being an Abolitionist.

Toward the end of the war, if not earlier, Robert E. Lee became an abolitionist. When the Confederacy began to debate emancipation for slaves who served as soldiers in the army in late 1864, Lee publicly threw his weight behind the proposal and also argued that eventually soldiers' families should be freed and that this should be followed at some point by a general emancipation program.
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
The most absurd was that Ben Butler was a "Beast"
Oh please.
He did more for America in the whole than nearly anyone else and had he been good looking, less vindictive, better at PR, had a more reliable brother, didnt jump parties then he could have really been something special.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2016
Location
NH
Trudeau's use of the word "pale" to describe the fighting on the first day's fighting at Gettysburg in comparison to the following two days. That's absolutely untrue, and unsupported by the casualty data Trudeau cites. He's one of the typical professional historians with a major bias against the first day compared to days two or three.
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Claims of astounding marksmanship at great distances that exceed the accuracy capabilities of the weapon. A man sized target at 1000 yards is mighty small. The steep downward angle of the bullet ( very poor ballistics on most CW bullets) at long distances makes allowable errors in range small indeed, shooting either in front of or overhead the target making for a small lethal zone. My shooting match experience is only to 600 yards using a .223 and .308. If the CW sharpshooter's rifle holds an 8 foot group at 1000 yards and a man is 2 feet wide and 5'6' tall then some bullets will strike him, some won't. Luck did indeed play a large roll in fantastic shots, we never hear much about all the misses that were made. Just my humble opinion as a long time shooter.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Toward the end of the war, if not earlier, Robert E. Lee became an abolitionist. When the Confederacy began to debate emancipation for slaves who served as soldiers in the army in late 1864, Lee publicly threw his weight behind the proposal and also argued that eventually soldiers' families should be freed and that this should be followed at some point by a general emancipation program.
Lee's proposal was a very long way from being abolitionist. It was a pragmatic, limited suggestion as to how some slaves could "purchase" their emancipation (and eventually their families') by military service.


EDIT: I stand corrected (see @19thGeorgia post #15 below). Lee, apparently, did forsee an eventual ending of all slavery in return for military service. Which is still, however, a far cry from being "an abolitionist."
 
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Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Hoboken living, CNY raised
One of the most absurd things about the Civil War was how the Northern Soldiers marched down South to free the slaves. Really?Preserving the Union had nothing to do with it?
I have a theory I can't back up with hard data that the majority of modern Civil War animosity is a belief that everyone in the North fought the war to end slavery, and everyone in the South fought the war to preserve slavery, making it a moral crusade. This prompts a defensiveness that makes it difficult to bridge a gap there.

Slavery's role in prompting conflict is well documented and central to the narrative, but it being a central issue in secession doesn't mean that the individual soldiers fought for that reason.
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Hoboken living, CNY raised
Toward the end of the war, if not earlier, Robert E. Lee became an abolitionist. When the Confederacy began to debate emancipation for slaves who served as soldiers in the army in late 1864, Lee publicly threw his weight behind the proposal and also argued that eventually soldiers' families should be freed and that this should be followed at some point by a general emancipation program.
That's manumission, not abolition.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
There is that story about a woman who was impregnated by a bullet that passed through the scrotum of a soldier. This story came up twice this week.

[1] "House" TV episode, Dr. House was treating a woman who he falsely claimed she had an immaculate conception as a result of mutation of chromosome. He then added the only other event was this example that happened during the Civil War.

[2] While flipping through Amazon Prime videos(Or Youtube?), it was pulling up these short movies about Civil War battles, heroes and/or stories. There was one about this incident that happened supposedly at Vicksburg or maybe the Vicksburg campaign. The episode said it was written and produced by local historians. Really cheesy acting.

The first time I heard about it was in a publication on the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Champion's Hill. They local historians published a softbound book and this story was included in it. It was a long, detailed story but I don't recall if it provided any names.
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Lee's proposal was a very long way from being abolitionist. It was a pragmatic, limited suggestion as to how some slaves could "purchase" their emancipation (and eventually their families') by military service.
From Lee's letter, Jan. 1865:
"the best means of securing the efficiency and fidelity of this auxiliary force would be to accompany the measure with a well-digested plan of gradual and general emancipation. As that will be the result of the continuance of the war, and will certainly occur if the enemy succeed, it seems to me advisable to adopt it at once, and thereby secure all the benefits that will accrue to our cause."
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
What are some of the most absurd claims you have heard or read about the Civil War? This includes the war in general or a particular person or event associated with the conflict. It doesn't matter if you heard someone say it person or read it in a book or on the internet in some form (example: message board and comment section). A couple I have come across over the years include Abraham Lincoln supposedly secretly selling weapons to the Confederacy and Robert E. Lee being an Abolitionist.
1.That the Confedrate Army was heavily intergrated and had tens of thousands of African American troops.
2.Slaves were loved by their masters and delighted to be slaves.
3. Southeners fought to pay less tarriff's but our posters have no idea what they bought or what percentage of their income went into paying tarriff's.
Leftyhunter
 

TnFed

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
One of the most absurd things about the Civil War was how the Northern Soldiers marched down South to free the slaves. Really?Preserving the Union had nothing to do with it?
East TN supplied more Union soldiers than Minnesota, Delaware or Rhode Island. That said, I seriously doubt you would find many abolitionist..if any...in the bunch. The 1st TN Infantry USA had a Colonel ...Robert K. Brown...a slave owner. I had an ancestor in the unit when it was mounted and designated the 1st East TN Mounted Infantry. Uncle didn't want to be afoot.
As for some place we like New England, I dont know. Guessing, it was not a large percentage of abolitionist, though I am sure there were some.
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
One of the most absurd things about the Civil War was how the Northern Soldiers marched down South to free the slaves. Really?Preserving the Union had nothing to do with it?
Northern soldiers had more than one motivation. Freeing slaves was a motivation for soldiers from Maine (and perhaps other New England states).
 
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