The Contradictions of Shelby Foote

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wausaubob

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What Shelby Foote is referring to is that what was experienced in Mississippi as a disaster, coincided with a strong episode of population and productivity growth in the US.
The US exported grain to Britain, increased the population, sent railroad equipment to California, while fighting the war.
As for David Porter, he finished the war as a naval officer in a navy of 670 ships. The Confederates had two ships. One was off burning New Bedford whaling ships in the North Pacific, and the other did not make it across the Atlantic to find an open port which it could protect.
 

Fairfield

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In all fairness to Shelby Foote, he is a story-teller and a popularizer. He never pretended to be a scholar. However, he is enough of a historian to be frank. He has no contradictions--both statements in the OP are accurate.
 

wausaubob

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In all fairness to Shelby Foote, he is a story-teller and a popularizer. He never pretended to be a scholar. However, he is enough of a historian to be frank. He has no contradictions--both statements in the OP are accurate.
He was a story teller, but every story had a point. Lincoln or Grant would have understood the stories very well.
 
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wausaubob

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One hand behind its back was a short hand way of saying the US was fighting with unlimited manpower and uncontested naval superiority.
 

wausaubob

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Both sides were starting near zero. The Confederacy was very innovative and tactically skilled. But the US was a heavy freight train on a downhill section of track, and there were no curves ahead.
 

Ole Miss

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The South had a fine chance to win by combat if she had decided to really get in there immediately, not just crack a few kneecaps and send them home chastised. Jackson was a prophet when he advocated black flag warfare - he knew what Sherman knew, that once the industrial North got bit hard enough they would gear up and steamroll the cotton farmers like putting a crease in a pair of trousers. But, that does not mean the North was an inexhaustible juggernaut. They had geared up to go all out, with all they had, to win - that kind of a burst usually exhausts a lot of resources and men very quickly. This is what was beginning to happen when Grant came east and changed things dramatically.

As much as I admire Shelby Foote and enjoy his series, I have to say such comments are in the 'victim' camp. The South never had a chance - the North beat somebody who couldn't fight back, the bullies! The North had one hand behind their back - the South was doomed, the North had overwhelming men and resources. Foote was not a Lost Causer, but that ideology was taught heavily throughout the South for generations, especially Foote's.
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Diane I am amazed by your insight into the South and the Southern way of thinking! I swear you are a Southern Belle at heart. Being able to balance Foote and Faulkner is difficult but they represented that generation of grandchildren who had grown up with both the veterans and the generation of the post-war and the mixture of their views and opinions.

The Lost Cause belief that was held so tightly by the veterans was sustained through the early 20's but gave way to the depression in the 30's. The post WW II Dixiecrats were short lived but gave way to Southern Democrats who gained political clout during the next 40 years or so which brought about the use and display of the CBF again and clashes with those marching for civil rights.

Fortunately, the South lost this struggle as they had the ACW, and our people and nation are better off with this removal of last vestigage Jim Crow
I always take into consideration Shelby Foote's generation when reading his wonderful work. His grandparents remembered the war in their old age - not his parents or himself. He related talking to old men on their porches in Mississippi about riding with Forrest - and it was clear these stories had the double magic of aged distance and childhood fantasy. Then there's the real world that wasn't so great. Faulkner was a good friend who talked much about the decay of the South after the Civil War, and the impact that event had on the region. The South was almost dormant, still stunned, when Foote was a child.

The South had a fine chance to win by combat if she had decided to really get in there immediately, not just crack a few kneecaps and send them home chastised. Jackson was a prophet when he advocated black flag warfare - he knew what Sherman knew, that once the industrial North got bit hard enough they would gear up and steamroll the cotton farmers like putting a crease in a pair of trousers. But, that does not mean the North was an inexhaustible juggernaut. They had geared up to go all out, with all they had, to win - that kind of a burst usually exhausts a lot of resources and men very quickly. This is what was beginning to happen when Grant came east and changed things dramatically.

As much as I admire Shelby Foote and enjoy his series, I have to say such comments are in the 'victim' camp. The South never had a chance - the North beat somebody who couldn't fight back, the bullies! The North had one hand behind their back - the South was doomed, the North had overwhelming men and resources. Foote was not a Lost Causer, but that ideology was taught heavily throughout the South for generations, especially Foote's.
Diane I am amazed by your insight into the South and the Southern way of thinking! I swear you are a Southern Belle at heart. Being able to balance Foote and Faulkner is difficult but they represented that generation of grandchildren who had grown up with both the veterans and the generation of the post-war and the mixture of their views and opinions.

The Lost Cause belief that was held so tightly by the veterans was sustained through the early 20's but gave way to the depression in the 30's. The post WW II Dixiecrats were short lived but gave way to Southern Democrats who gained political clout during the next 40 years or so which brought about the use and display of the CBF again and clashes with those marching for civil rights.

Fortunately, the South lost this struggle as they had the ACW, and our people and nation are better off with this removal of last vestigage of Jim Crow laws.
I knew you had a southern accent!
Regards
David
 
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RobertP

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I'm glad this five year old thread was resurrected.

Some of the recent comments are very "interesting" to say the least.
Lots of fondly remembered names in this old thread.

That said, may dad’s father figure as a boy (his own father had died when he was two) was his Confederate vet grandfather. So he heard first-hand what that generation believed about the South’s odds in the war. He though that the only chance they had was to do everything possible to drive a stake in them early and even though a Mississippian went to his grave hating Jeff Davis for not enthusiastically trying to exploit the victory at 1st Manassas.
 
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wausaubob

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As someone like @leftyhunter might point out, the US Civil War was a not foreign, overseas, or imperialistic war. As the US army and US navy advanced, they were subtracting territory and cities from the Confederacy and adding strength to the US. The people added back to the US, spoke English, were mostly Christians or Jewish, and had experience with democratic elections. When they were black Americans they realized quickly that the US armed forces were not willing to enforce slavery with any enthusiasm.
That's why the adherence of the 5 border areas, plus Washington, D.C. was so important. Wilmington, DE, Baltimore, Wheeling and Charleston, Covington, KY, Louisville and St. Louis, they were just stitched back into the US economy very easily.
 

wausaubob

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As far as foreign enemies of the US, unlike the US Revolutionary war in which both the French and the Dutch resented British dominance in North America, and unlike the Vietnam war, in which the Vietnamese received substantial material assistance from China and Russia, by 1860, the British, Canadian and northern US were mixed up both demographically and economically. And a large part of the male population of Ireland, Scotland and England had moved to the US between 1844 and 1860 because land was cheaper and a man could vote in the US in both state and national elections.
 

wausaubob

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The Midwest population grew from 9M to 12.9M during the Civil War decade. A rate of 42%. The country as a whole grew at about 22% in terms of population. In what way was the Midwest exhausted or discouraged by the Civil War? The people there could have created a new nationalist party at any time.
 
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wausaubob

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The US completed a transcontinental railroad 49 months after the end of the war. It wasn't a particularly economical investment, more a demonstration of national strength. But it did accelerate growth in the west, between 1870 and 1880. The key being the President Lincoln was a railroad man. He was going to give the railroads whatever they wanted, under the power granted by Congress to confiscate whatever he could not get through co-operation.
If there was a military industrial complex in 1860, it was the railroad industry, the iron makers of Pennsylvania, the locomotive manufacturers of Philadelphia and Paterson, and the rapidly growing, but not yet centralized coal industry. How was the Confederacy going to defeat that?
 

wausaubob

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The US was absolutely dominant in naval construction and naval manpower. Individual naval commanders and individual naval vessels caused a lot of problems for the US. But the bulk of the naval officers were strongly nationalistic and loyal, and most of the international naval manpower was strongly anti-slavery based on the view that the British had already won the contest to suppress the slave trade.
 

wausaubob

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It was the navy that produced the breakthroughs, at Port Royal, at Fort Henry, then at Forts Phillip and Jackson, and then by passed Island No. 10, and swept away the under powered Confederate defensive fleet at Memphis in a matter of an hour.
 
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Here are the top 20 cities in terms of population as recomputed by 1866. In fact, almost all the manufacturing capacity of the US was in these cities. Especially New York/Brooklyn/Newark and Philadelphia were dominant.
As the US was fighting the war, the army in Virginia was a short train ride from home. Most of the navy was a few days from New York city. The armies in the west were never far from home and were active in a countryside that was comparable to home.
 

leftyhunter

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As far as foreign enemies of the US, unlike the US Revolutionary war in which both the French and the Dutch resented British dominance in North America, and unlike the Vietnam war, in which the Vietnamese received substantial material assistance from China and Russia, by 1860, the British, Canadian and northern US were mixed up both demographically and economically. And a large part of the male population of Ireland, Scotland and England had moved to the US between 1844 and 1860 because land was cheaper and a man could vote in the US in both state and national elections.
Actually France sent their Navy and Army to fight against the British and the Spanish sent their Navy as well. Definitely see the battle of Yorktown. The Dutch sent financial aid to the Colonial Rebels.
Also the British were fighting simultaneously in North America and the Indian Subcontinent. The Indian Subcontinent was by far the more lucrative prize for the UK.
Vietnam received substantial aid as well as 100k Chinese troops to man anti aircraft guns. See " John Van Paul a bright and shining lie" David Halbertsm".
Leftyhunter
 

Rhea Cole

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I found reading through this thread very interesting. These days, Shelby Foote is recognized as what he said he was, a story teller. He never claimed to be an historian. I always enjoy grazing through my falling apart taped together paperback copies of his books. That being said, a sober historical perspective tempers my enjoyment. One of my books has red post it notes sticking out from it. They mark the places where Foote references events that either did not happen or did not play out as he understood them. Almost a century of scholarship has refined our understanding of events in the Civil War that he had no way of knowing. For example, Foote's repetition of debunked Lost Cause tropes would not hold up to scrutiny, today. That being said, nobody ever questions his sincerity or marvelous storytelling ability.
 
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Ole Miss

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@Rhea Cole a very well thought out and written post! Foote was a gifted author and story teller and not a historian. Yet his trilogy of the Civil War is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the war. Bell I Willey was one of the few historians I have read that matched Foote's writting style so easy to read and learn so much.
@wausaubob very informative posts!

Regards
David
 

Fairfield

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The US was absolutely dominant in naval construction and naval manpower. Individual naval commanders and individual naval vessels caused a lot of problems for the US. But the bulk of the naval officers were strongly nationalistic and loyal, and most of the international naval manpower was strongly anti-slavery based on the view that the British had already won the contest to suppress the slave trade.
Off topic, but you may be forgetting the Confederate privateers. Wikipedia states that the impact of the privateers was so great that "the American flag virtually disappeared from international waters". Maine's shipping was decimated by the privateers (Maine had substantial shipping operations at the time); some writers hold that Maine's shipping has never really recovered.
 
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