What Civil War myth would you like to correct most?

kepi

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2015
Location
United States of America
In my short time as a member here, I have looked over quite a few past posts and found several conversations and exchanges relating to myths about the Civil War or facts people just have wrong. This got me to thinking about which myth or incorrect bit of information people here may find the most troublesome, so here is my question for the group:

What Civil War myth, legend, or generally incorrect information would you like to dispel most in American popular culture? (YOU MAY ONLY PICK ONE)

Let us PLEASE be nice to each other, as I have seen this topic can get out of hand.
Thank You.
 
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Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
It always makes me feel sad to think that (to name only one of the Confederates who died too young) died at not quite twenty-one.

What madness makes a twenty-one year old commander of sixteen guns?

The fact Joseph Latimer was up to it isn't the point. The Boy Major fought and died like a man, but barely got to live as one.

We can say the same for many others, of lesser rank but no less courage. He comes to mind because the picture of him I'm looking at makes him look so d--- boyish it makes me want to cry.

So maybe this is a myth to correct: That boys fought in the ACW. No, whatever age the were, they were all men, d---it. Especially those too young to die so soon.
 

dvrmte

Major
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Location
South Carolina
Yes, the young ones get to all of us, but think of those in their 30's whose death resulted in a widowed wife and orphaned children. Companies were often composed of many who were related, when casualties were heavy, there might be many from the same families killed in one battle. It brings to mind one of my wife's ancestors and his brothers, they were all in their late twenties or early thirties, married with children. Everyone of them died in the war; one from disease at Charleston; another was killed at Sharpsburg, and the other was blown up at the Battle of the Crater.
 

hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
Yes, the young ones get to all of us, but think of those in their 30's whose death resulted in a widowed wife and orphaned children. Companies were often composed of many who were related, when casualties were heavy, there might be many from the same families killed in one battle. It brings to mind one of my wife's ancestors and his brothers, they were all in their late twenties or early thirties, married with children. Everyone of them died in the war; one from disease at Charleston; another was killed at Sharpsburg, and the other was blown up at the Battle of the Crater.

Thank you. That was a very personal and sad story that made the war all the more real for me. And that's a good point- I can't imagine the pain that the mothers and children went through as their husbands, their fathers, their own children never came back home.
 

hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
Kids make the best soldiers. You tell a bunch of older men to fix bayonets and charge for glory and if your lucky all you'll get is some nasty stares.

And that's the sad part isn't it. They all thought they were chasing after something glorious. War does look so glorious from a distance until the bullets start flying.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Kids make the best soldiers. You tell a bunch of older men to fix bayonets and charge for glory and if your lucky all you'll get is some nasty stares.

I seem to remember a soldier in the Army of the Potomac saying in a letter how eager he was for his first battle and then afterwards saying he and the boys who survived were never eager again.

When I was home in Columbus, Ohio, on emergency TDY, I had to work at the recruitment center while I was resolving some personal issues at home. I was a Sergeant First Class (SFC/E-7) at the time, doing things like weighing packages to be mailed and other menial tasks during my time there. I got to talking to one of the recruiters there and he told me all of the services liked to recruit kid right out of high school because they all thought they "were bullet-proof and invincible."

I also remember a film on the history channel about the soldiers who were going to hit the beaches on D-Day who were briefed that there would be a certain percentage of them killed in action when they hit the beaches under fire. An old soldier, who was telling this story, said he was 21-years old at the time and when he heard this, he said he looked around at all the other men who were there with him and thought, "I wonder which of these poor basta**s is going to get killed?" never thinking it would be him.

Youth, how wonderful a feeling and how sad that old men usually decide if they are going to risk their young lives and have them die for their bad decisions.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Joined
May 18, 2005
Location
Spring Hill, Tennessee
At this point I believe you are just arguing for the sake of arguing. If I posted any opinion or fact you would flog it.
The Black Hawk War lasted 6 months, not one day, but that doesn't matter. all that matters is that we agree with you
Northerners could not fight, they had no military history, the indians just moved out before they showed up, thier life was so pampered the only way they won was to bring in the Irish and keep them drunk.
You win.

Not intended to rile you up. I - in fact - agreed with all of your points excepting that the south didn't have a long military history. That is the sole point I wanted to make. It wasn't a denial that the north did have a long military history as well. But, I'll take the "win" and run :running:on that note!
 

damYankee

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
Not intended to rile you up. I - in fact - agreed with all of your points excepting that the south didn't have a long military history. That is the sole point I wanted to make. It wasn't a denial that the north did have a long military history as well. But, I'll take the "win" and run :running:on that note!
As the south and the north were both members of one nation, the point is moot., Nathanial Green in his letters to G. Washington complained incessantly about the challenges he faces getting to Southerners to stand and fight the British.
Of course there is that famous Southern Col. Sanders.
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
Reading letters of men who did not survive the war is a chilling thing, especially when you get to know them through those lettres & diary entries. They really were not that much different than us. The same wants and needs, the same loves and hates. Reading them is like reading letters from your friends & yourself today.

A Texan I quoted replied to a young private who called Shermans men "Devils" & I paraphrase. "Oh if only it were so; they are merely men who bleed as you or I; they are men of flesh and blood and iron convictions."

It caught me in the gut such that that influenced the title of my book. They were men doing things we can only hope that if we were in the same fix we could and would do.

I wish the myth that every soldier in the war was a brave hero would go away and be replaced with the understanding that they were men who were every bit as frightened as anyone else would have been.
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
Every generation has those that make that generation the "greatest generation." Men willing to stand up and put their life on the line for something greater than themselves. Even more so when they KNOW what might happen and they keep standing up to the line when needed. Those are MEN. Those who would ridicule or denigrate them after the fact... not so much.
 

hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
I wish the myth that every soldier in the war was a brave hero would go away and be replaced with the understanding that they were men who were every bit as frightened as anyone else would have been.

Great, great post. Courage and heroism are not the things that fearlessness is made of; it's sometimes simply swallowing your tears and terror and charging forward. These were not the marble men of history books but living, breathing human beings. And lord if that doesn't make the story much more meaningful.
 
Joined
May 18, 2005
Location
Spring Hill, Tennessee
Great, great post. Courage and heroism are not the things that fearlessness is made of; it's sometimes simply swallowing your tears and terror and charging forward. These were not the marble men of history books but living, breathing human beings. And lord if that doesn't make the story much more meaningful.

As goofy as it sounds, the old black and white movie "The Red Badge of Courage" is really a great tool at grasping that concept. Not at all authentic in equipment and the likes, but a great book and movie that relates that idea.

Edit: I would love to see a remake of that movie with authentic repro uniforms and great actors!
 

hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
As goofy as it sounds, the old black and white movie "The Red Badge of Courage" is really a great tool at grasping that concept. Not at all authentic in equipment and the likes, but a great book and movie that relates that idea.

Yeah, that's what I've heard. I think that the Killer Angels- despite it's historical inaccuracies- is another one that relates the same idea.
 

Georgia Sixth

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
Yes, the young ones get to all of us, but think of those in their 30's whose death resulted in a widowed wife and orphaned children.

This reminds me of a letter I read once from a Union soldier after the battle of Prairie Grove. He witnessed a young woman with several kids in tow, searching over the battlefield for her husband. Sadly, she found him among the dead. The scene that ensued clearly rattled the young Fed, and he certainly had no taste for the "glory" of war after that.
 
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