The Lost Cause

MobileBoy

Cadet
Joined
Sep 13, 2005
Location
Mobile,Al
If this has been covered before, forgive me but I think it would be interesting for everyone to weigh in on the quote Lost Cause.Numerous times opinions of mine and others have been merely dismissed as simply Lost Cause propaganda.Therfore , I think a deeper discussion of the issue would be engaging.I'm also honestly a bit jealous that there is no term phrase for what we of the Confederate view consider Northern inaccuracies.Left-wing or Northern bias just doesn't have the same ring to it does it?At any rate my personal feelings are that Confederate mistakes led to the defeat though it is obvious to me that the Union had extreme advantages which contributed to them being victorious.Why recognizing those advantages is offensive to some Northerners I don't understand?That doesn't make the Northern troops any less courageous in my view so I don't get it.The British don't seem to be up in arms over Valley Forge being simply mythology and was THe Lost Cause any less documented.Is it simply that Northeners shared in those difficulties so it's acceptable?That a belief so widely held as the Lost Cause arose from a few fabricated books is honestly laughable to me.It's not like Southeners have shown a pattern in history(in my opinion) of believing fanciful stories anymore so than other Americans.If we in the South today as a whole all believed we had been abducted by UFO's then I could understand the extreme skepticism.
I'll appreciate any and all responses.:beer:
 

nbforrest

Cadet
Joined
Oct 16, 2005
Location
VA
I think that the many Southern writers after the war definently did twist the truth to their own purposes. But no more so than any other writers of history. I agree with you that some Northern writers were just as irresponsible to push their own agendas. I as well have often thought that Southerners are more easily criticized because there is a nice neat phrase that can be tossed at them. Northern writers have no such appelation that can be used. I doubt that this far down the road one will be created. But someone who is in sympathy is not necessarily a Lost Causer. It is just easy to call them that when you disagree with them. Sure, there are neo-Confederates who believe whatever they read. But the Lost Cause is not necessarily a stumbling block. As long as you look at all the evidence, you can see where the Lost Causers diverged and where Northern writers diverged.

Respectfully
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
Thank you NBF and Ashley:

I, too, have been a bit confused as to where the Lost Cause began and where it ended, if ever. (Maybe I should read Pollard -- it's gathering dust.)

Clearly, after the war, some sympathetic writers began painting the Confederacy's loss in terms that reflected their valiant but futile effort to gain liberty from an oppressive and overwhelming element. The same is true of others who put a good vs. evil spin on it from the Union perspective.

But claiming that the Confederacy fought a war it was doomed to lose only creates, in my mind at least, that very large quandary -- why? We have since discovered that the Confederacy had a decent chance of winning its independence. Through what might have been otherwise minor flaws, the chances were whittled or tossed away.

The term, "Lost Cause" is, I will freely admit a bit too handy to toss around, but I consider it no more than shorthand to embrace a much larger (and wordier) concept. I would hope that its use is taken for what it is -- economy of words. We also use words like the south instead of the Confederacy; slaveocracy instead of the political power behind the movement toward secession and independence. Shorthand.

But that is why we are here, isn't it? To sift the grain from the chaff? I'd suggest that the Unionists refrain from using "Lost Cause" loosely, and for Confederate partisans to take such phrases less seriously.

Regards,
Ole
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
My own definition of Lost Cause is not complimentary and IMO only 2-3 members of this site fit the definition of Lost Causer or Neo-Confed. It's a bit long and probably a bit meandering but here goes: A pure unadulterated hate of anything Northern aka not Southern. Which often translates into a rabid hate of the US in general. A strict denial that slavery was anything but good for its victims and most importantly a rabid acceptence and assertion that Lee and a one legged Sgt from Virginia held off the cowardly Union Army for four years. In short a lot of hogwash.

Much of it was started and immortalized by Jubal Early and such shortly after the War ended and it had little bassis in reality or history.

Yes, the North had it's own version of a Lost Cause, and it is no more noble. But it hasn't had the proponent the Lost Cause has, and it hasn't really worked it's way into popular history the way the Lost Cause has.
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Here are some examples of what I consider to be Lost Cause beliefs.

1- Denial that slavery had anything to do with secession. This is the biggest factor in my book.
2- Grant was a bumbling drunken idiot who only won because he had superior numbers.
3- Believe that there were tens of thousands of black confederates.
4- Declare that Lincoln, Sherman, and Sheridan are all war criminals while sweeping under the rug any Confederate atrocities.
5- Turn Lee and Jackson into superhuman God like figures and bash Longstreet. If Stonewall hadn't died the south would have won the war.
6- If the Union won a battle it was only because they had superior numbers and were the receivers of reb mistakes while if the Confederates won a battle it was because they displayed better leadership. In other words, not willing to give credit where credit is due and I see this most often in relation to Grant's Vicksburg Campaign.
7- The Union army was nothing more than a mercenary force bent on destruction, rape, and pillage.
8- The Union were the aggressors in spite of the fact that the south fired the opening shots at Sumter, confiscated United States civil, monetary, and military property, and broke Kentucky's neutrality.
9- Lincoln was a dictator for taking on additional powers such as suspending the writ of habeus corpus. Meanwhile, Jeff Davis suspended the writ of habeus corpus too.
10- Lincoln, and not the Constitution, created a strong centralized government.
11- Twisting certain Lincoln quotes about race/slavery to somehow prove that slavery was not a cause of secession.
12- State that certain southern born writers like William C Davis are traitors to the south because they accept slavery's role in creating the Confederacy.
13- Boycott Coke and say they are anti-southern because the company came out against the '56 Georgia flag.

I may think of more that I always see neo-confederates repeating on message boards and websites.

Why recognizing those advantages is offensive to some Northerners I don't understand?

Stating an Union advantage is not what is offensive. It's how people use those facts that is irritating.

Individuals often use an advantage, such as numbers of Union men under arms, as a way to denigrate leaders such as Grant as somehow having poorer generalship.

Because he didn't have to deal with shortages that Lee dealt with he would never have beaten Lee if the two armies were evenly matched.

I never hear anyone start complaining about Lee being outnumbered until a discussion of the Overland arises. This is when Lee started losing.

If numbers were an absolute assurance of victory then how come it took until 1864 to finally start breaking Lee's army? It's because prior commanders in the east didn't display the kind of generalship that Grant did.
 

william42

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Evansville, Indiana
Good thread here. I've really been sort of foggy on what the term means. I really wasn't familiar with the phrase "lost causers" until I began reading the board back in Feb. Up until then I thought that the phrase "lost cause", simply meant that the "cause", which was southern independence, was lost when the south lost the war. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the phrase seems to apply to southerners who insist on their version of the war, or events, or causes of events, as correct and indisputable no matter the evidence to the contrary which might be presented to them.

If that's the case then there are probably some northerners who could possibly be called "lost causers" in that they too would disregard any facts or evidence that might conflict with their version of events. But since the north didn't lose then "lost causers" wouldn't apply, so if I'm understanding the thread correctly, there's no suitable term for them, at least for now. But I think being that there probably are those from the north who insist on not accepting certain facts or assertions that the rest of us can agree on, "us" meaning both northerners and southerners, then we need to come up with a term for them, too....like "the blinded", or "ostrich heads" or something like that.

Sorry for picking the subject apart but it helps me get it clearer in my own mind. It's a great thread and thanks again for starting it, Mobileboy.

Terry
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
William:

I'm going to skip over your next two posts so you don't think I'm picking on you.

I'd also like to see a term for Neo-Unionists who can't get past some early misinformation, 'tho I must confess I don't see a lot of that here.

I'll add my thanks to Ashley with yours. Now stand back, we're about to get suggestions -- with hissing fuses.

Ole
 

MobileBoy

Cadet
Joined
Sep 13, 2005
Location
Mobile,Al
Thanks Everyone,
Porter your list was excellent . 1- Denial that slavery had anything to do with secession. This is the biggest factor in my book.
( If anyone believes this they aren't merely a Lost Causer they're an idiot period.)
2- Grant was a bumbling drunken idiot who only won because he had superior numbers.
(There is a fine line on this one.He wasn't a drunken idiot to be sure.He did win due to superior numbers.His tactics were dictated by his advantages.He was smart enough to see his strenghts and exploit them.He would have been smart enough to adjust his strategy were the circumstances different without doubt.He had steel resolve no doubt and he was a fighter.He was impressive in the West in my opinion.Without his victories a stalemate was probable in the West and the Northern citizens possibly lose the will to continue.Not to mention he fought agressively where other Union generals were slow to move.I do believe if Lee had an equal number of troops Grant loses.However,without Grant in the war the Union may have been split.His aggressiveness doomed the Confederacy.If he started the war in the East he probably gets canned in my opinion.If you combine the strategic strengths of other Union commanders with Grants will you would have a general for the ages.
3- Believe that there were tens of thousands of black confederates.
There would have been were the CS politicians supportive to the idea though for the life of me I'll never understand why.
4- Declare that Lincoln, Sherman, and Sheridan are all war criminals while sweeping under the rug any Confederate atrocities.
They were war criminals to me as were some Confederate men as well.It's easy to judge when you haven't seen the devastating gore of war though.
5- Turn Lee and Jackson into superhuman God like figures and bash Longstreet. If Stonewall hadn't died the south would have won the war.
I'm guilty here somewhat for sure.I'm glad we had Longstreet but to me most of his glory comes from his opposition to Lee's bad decisions at Gettyburgh and his quote defensive mindset and the what if lovers.

6-If the Union won a battle it was only because they had superior numbers and were the receivers of reb mistakes while if the Confederates won a battle it was because they displayed better leadership. Excellent point on that issue.In other words, not willing to give credit where credit is due and I see this most often in relation to Grant's Vicksburg Campaign.
7- The Union army was nothing more than a mercenary force bent on destruction, rape, and pillage.Yes not a fair characterization at all many were great poeple.
8- The Union were the aggressors in spite of the fact that the south fired the opening shots at Sumter, confiscated United States civil, monetary, and military property, and broke Kentucky's neutrality. Guilty here because they invaded crossing state lines.War was coming anyway regardless of Sumpter in my opinion.
9- Lincoln was a dictator for taking on additional powers such as suspending the writ of habeus corpus. Meanwhile, Jeff Davis suspended the writ of habeus corpus too.
Lincoln was a dictator but you're right J Davis gets a free ride from poeple for doing many of the same things.
10- Lincoln, and not the Constitution, created a strong centralized government.
He layed the foundation for the government to not be restricted by the Constitution and prepared the way for the future.He isn't solely responsibile though by a long shot.
11- Twisting certain Lincoln quotes about race/slavery to somehow prove that slavery was not a cause of secession.Slavery was the tallest tree but war was because of secession not slavery.
12- State that certain southern born writers like William C Davis are traitors to the south because they accept slavery's role in creating the Confederacy.Innocent on that count for sure.
13- Boycott Coke and say they are anti-southern because the company came out against the '56 Georgia flag.I love coke but a softdrink company that gets involved in politics?Southeners drink coke with vigor so not many of us are guilty there.
Regards,
Ashley
 

JohnW in E.TN

Corporal
Joined
Jun 7, 2005
Location
upper E. Tennessee
ole said:
Thank you NBF and Ashley:

I, too, have been a bit confused as to where the Lost Cause began and where it ended, if ever. (Maybe I should read Pollard -- it's gathering dust.)

Clearly, after the war, some sympathetic writers began painting the Confederacy's loss in terms that reflected their valiant but futile effort to gain liberty from an oppressive and overwhelming element. The same is true of others who put a good vs. evil spin on it from the Union perspective.

But claiming that the Confederacy fought a war it was doomed to lose only creates, in my mind at least, that very large quandary -- why? We have since discovered that the Confederacy had a decent chance of winning its independence. Through what might have been otherwise minor flaws, the chances were whittled or tossed away.

The term, "Lost Cause" is, I will freely admit a bit too handy to toss around, but I consider it no more than shorthand to embrace a much larger (and wordier) concept. I would hope that its use is taken for what it is -- economy of words. We also use words like the south instead of the Confederacy; slaveocracy instead of the political power behind the movement toward secession and independence. Shorthand.

But that is why we are here, isn't it? To sift the grain from the chaff? I'd suggest that the Unionists refrain from using "Lost Cause" loosely, and for Confederate partisans to take such phrases less seriously.

Regards,
Ole



Ole,

A well reasoned and judicious post. Remember my pm to you a few weeks ago? Ditto.

Regards,

John W.
 

william42

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Evansville, Indiana
Ashley, thanks for your response to Admiral Porter's post. I was very interested to read it because I don't believe I've yet read any post from a southerner that has addressed the issue so specifically. There may be others on the board that I've missed. I'm not sure.

It's great to know where you stand on those talking points that Porter presented. What percentage of southerners that you know share your viewpoint as opposed to the "lost cause" view? I would be interested to know. Thanks again for your post and thanks to Admiral P. as well.

Terry
 

JohnW in E.TN

Corporal
Joined
Jun 7, 2005
Location
upper E. Tennessee
Admiral_Porter said:
I never hear anyone start complaining about Lee being outnumbered until a discussion of the Overland arises. This is when Lee started losing.
- I believe that this was where the war of attrition finally began to take its toll. Grant could replace the men he lost. Lee couldn't.

If numbers were an absolute assurance of victory then how come it took until 1864 to finally start breaking Lee's army? It's because prior commanders in the east didn't display the kind of generalship that Grant did.
- This is true, but in all fairness, doesn't it also show Lee's skill and occasional brilliance in fighting these prior commanders?

I personally admire Grant, not so much for his generalship, but for rising up from poverty and adversity, to achieve what some would consider greatness. From his point of view, he saw what needed to be done, and he did it. Simple as that.

Regards,

John W.
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
doesn't it also show Lee's skill and occasional brilliance in fighting these prior commanders?

I have never said otherwise. I believe Second Manassas, not Chancellorsville, is his true masterpiece.
 

MobileBoy

Cadet
Joined
Sep 13, 2005
Location
Mobile,Al
Terry,
Just about all Southeners I know who take a real interest in the war share my sentiments.There are some neo-Confederates I know who simply basically spew the South is good and the North is bad on every issue.Thank God that they're in the minority.A common theme by those is Southern farm boys versus Northern city boys.That is widely the perception throughout the South.They don't realize a huge portion of the Union army was made up of farm boys.Also the innaccurate stereotype that the Confederacy had all of the smart commanders is a common misconception made by the uninformed.Other than a couple of stars the South had no better leadership.There may have even been more quote good Union officers than Confederate ones.At any rate the Confederacy had plenty of poor military commanders which many poeple in my opinion overlook.I also think some neo-Confederates tend to view the Confederate soldiers as more courageous than their Union counterparts which is sad.Lee is probably overrated as well.I think he was the best but he certainly wasn't without his flaws.Fredericksburgh for example could have been won by Bragg or basically any of us.I also think Jackson's input led to many of LEE's quote masterpieces.Second Manassas was Jackson's plan.If Lee had ordered an attack earlier by Longstreet the Army of the Potomac may have been annihlated.I'm also not sure if Chancelorseville was Lees idea or Jacksons.I think it was Jacksons.Sorry to get off of the subject.Lincoln is not well liked by most Southeners in general.Oddly enough many blacks hate Lincoln.He was a racist but for his time he wasn't nearly as racist as most of the population.
Regards,
Ashley
 
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