What Was In The Mind Of Most Of The Confederate Soldiers As To Why They Were Fighting And Willing To Die?

Zack

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In order to understand why non-slaveholding, poor whites fought for the Confederacy we must first recognize that the South in the Antebellum Period was a deeply, deeply divided land. It was divided along racial lines, class lines, economic lines, and social lines.

Wealthy political and social leaders of the South were terrified that poor whites would wake up to the realization that the Antebellum system would never, ever allow them a route to prosperity. Part of the reason for Confederate collapse in fact was the dawning realization amongst poor whites that they were being asked to fight for a system that did not and would not benefit them. Poor whites allying themselves with slaves to overthrow the slaveocracy was likely, second to slave revolt, the darkest nightmare of the Southern elite.

Prior to the war, poor whites and wealthy whites rarely crossed paths in any meaningful way. In fact, wealthy whites held a deep disdain for the poor up to and even including seeing them as a separate, inferior race. One pro-slavery advocate explained to James Henry Hammond that, “the assumed position of equality [for white men] even in the limited sense which we adopt is plainly a false one.” In “The Women’s Fight” Thavolia Glymph writes:

The view of poor white people as an altogether different and “cowardly” “race” of people that women like Mary Johnstone, Susan Blackford, and Kate Stone shared evoked the proslavery ideology espoused by men like Daniel Hundley who declared that poor whites constituted a biologically distinct race. For Hundley, they were “about the laziest, two-legged animals that walk erect on the face of the Earth” and possessed of “a natural stupidity or dumbness of intellect that almost surpasses belief.” He located these traits in their “blood.” They were the sort of people Johnstone had claimed she would have no trouble “shooting,” though she might “much regret the necessity.”

When the realities of war forced these two spheres to intersect, a lot of friction and hostility occurred. For example, when planters fled from encroaching Union armies to poorer districts they were met with disdain from poor whites who resented their presence and feared that the slaves that were forced to accompany their owners into exile would stage a violent revolt. Living as a refugee in Texas, Kate Stone wrote off the derision of poor whites as “envy, just pure envy.” Mary Elliott Johnstone said of the “ignorant natives” that they were “too cowardly a race” to induce fear, even in the face of threats against her husband, Andrew. In 1862 a fellow refugee noted that “the country people here are planning to attack Mr. Johnstone’s house” because they objected to his “bringing up his negroes from the plantation saying it would raise the price of provisions. A hundred men swore to put him and his people beyond the state line.” They were thwarted in 1862. But in June 1864 a number of poor whites attempted again to take Andrew Johnstone prisoner. A fight broke out, and Andrew Johnstone was murdered.
 

Zack

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In “The Women’s Fight” Thavolia Glymph devotes a chapter to poor Southern women that touches on some of these issues that drove poor, white Southern men to enlist. She writes:

The call to protect the South’s ‘domestic sanctuaries’ engaged white men and women across class lines in the fight to defend the South and slavery. It encouraged white men to demonstrate their support by enlisting in the Confederate army and white women to spearhead the fight on the home front. Recruiting handbills called on white men to defend slavery and promised that in doing so, they fought for their hearths and the honor of their wives and white daughters. Only this kind of multi-pronged appeal could convince so many poor and nonslaveholding men to enlist and poor white women to endure the sacrifices that the absence of their husbands and sons entailed. It made the bid to establish a proslavery nation more manageable and likely to succeed. As Barbara J. Fields argues, a Confederate call for white southerners to fight for slavery would have been poor propaganda and make it harder to create a sense of Confederate nationalism. “‘We will never be slaves’ was good secessionist propaganda. ‘We must never let them take our slaves’ would have been poor propaganda and the secessionists knew it.” Or, in the words of Harold D. Woodman, “Proslavery writers could hardly be expected to defend the peculiar institution on the ground that it made the planters rich. In the face of obvious Southern economic backwardness and poverty, such a position would be tantamount to an argument for abolition in the eyes of anyone other than the favored planters.” In places like Augusta and Staunton, Virginia, where more than half of the young men who enlisted in the early months of the war were farmers and laborers, such arguments would have been fatal to the cause. By the end of the war, however, too many such men were “hiding out in the hills,” sometimes for years, “not daring to stay about their homes on account of the murderous threats & crimes of the brigand secesh” to avoid conscription agents and Confederate guerrilla units. And too many of their wives were helping them hide.

This careful wording of the propaganda seems to have worked, as the sentiment that Southern men were fighting to avoid becoming slaves to Northerners appears repeatedly in letters and diaries. James McPherson quotes some of them in “For Cause and Comrades”:

“Sooner than submit to Northern slavery, I prefer death,” wrote a slaveowning officer in the 20th South Carolina. The son of a Mississippi planter dashed off a letter to his father as he rushed to enlist: “No alternative is left but war or slavery.” Subjugation was the favorite word of Confederate recruits to describe their fate if the South remained in the Union or was forced back into it. “If we should suffer ourselves to be subjugated by the tyrannical government of the North,” wrote a private in the 56th Virginia to his wife, “our property would all be confuscated . . . & our people reduced to the most abject bondage & utter degradation.” Thus “every Southern heart” must “respond to the language of the great Patrick Henry in the days of ’76 & say give me Liberty or give me death.” He met death at Gettysburg.

McPherson continues:

The opposites of independence and liberty were “subjugation” and “slavery.” These two words continued to express the fate worse than death that awaited Confederate soldiers if they lost the war. “If we was to lose,” a Mississippi private wrote to his wife in 1862, “we would be slaves to the Yanks and our children would have a yoke of bondage thrown around there neck.” An enlisted man in the 8th Georgia was “ready to fight them 50 years rather than have them subjugate so noble a people as we are.” And a Texas cavalryman who rode with Forrest agreed that the issue was “either subjugation, slavery, confiscation” or “victories, glorious, and free.”

These soldiers were using the word
slavery in the same way that Americans in 1776 had used it to describe their subordination to Britain. Unlike many slaveholders in the age of Thomas Jefferson, Confederate soldiers from slaveholding families expressed no feelings of embarrassment or inconsistency in fighting for their own liberty while holding other people in slavery. Indeed, white supremacy and the right of property in slaves were at the core of the ideology for which Confederate soldiers fought. “We are fighting for our liberty,” wrote a young Kentucky Confederate, “against tyrants of the North . . . who are determined to destroy slavery.”
 

Zack

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In her book “Masterless Men,” Keri Leigh Merritt outlines the powerlessness of the poor whites and the extent to which their lives were controlled by slaveholders. Terrified that poor whites would forge an alliance with slaves against the slaveowners, slaveholders in the Antebellum South used every means at their disposal to oppress the poor white class and force them into the fold. For example, by 1860 slave patrols in Alabama were authorized “to apprehend any white person who may be found . . . consorting with slaves, or loitering about negro cabins.” Even without a slave patrol, “any three freeholders or slaveholders” could arrest a white person who was seen to be sympathetic to slaves in any way.

Slaveholders shamed or bullied poor whites into voting certain ways or otherwise suppressed the vote. There is even evidence to suggest that the secession votes would have or even did fail in several states but for manipulation by slaveholders. Georgia’s secession initiative for example may have actually failed by 1,000 votes. And when war came, these same tactics were used to drive men into the army.

Merritt argues: “Rather than simply choosing to support the Confederacy, most poor whites doubtless felt they had little or no choice but to support the war effort because they were largely at the mercy of the slave owners. Because the master class completely controlled the southern legal system, they rendered poor whites essentially powerless. Slaveholders could coerce the poor to join the Confederate Army with the threat of jail time for vagrancy or some other trumped up charge. Other poor whites fell victim to vigilante ‘justice’ or were simply banished from the region.” She continues, “There was certainly no strong sense of Confederate nationalism in the early part of 1861. Even after the Montgomery Convention, when the Deep South delegates attempted to moderate their extreme views concerning slavery to appeal to the states in the Upper South, poor whites were not enthusiastic about fighting to protect the interests of slaveholders. Despite not agreeing (or even identifying with) the Confederacy, however, large numbers of Southerners obviously did not defect into the Union Army. Instead, a type of silent rebellion erupted, as many non-slaveholders showed no support for the slaveholders’ cause.”
 

Zack

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Los Angeles, California
So how to account for the 3/4 of all enumerated white males who served in the Confederate Army? The volunteers of 1861, per Joseph Glatthaar’s research, were largely those directly linked to slavery. As for the rest, Merritt writes, “Given the illiteracy and semi-literacy of the majority of the poorer Southerners, certainly some of them were too uninformed - or deliberately misinformed - to make an intelligent decision about whether or not to support the Confederacy. Fed lies about racial uprisings, impending black domination, and the North’s supposed plan to affect these ends, impoverished whites had few (if any) resources at their disposal to understand the possible implications of secession and war.” Conscription brought many others into the Confederate army against their will.

It is also worth remembering that the summer of 1860 was unusually dry and hot, leading to severe drought and food shortages. The threat of famine was very real by the spring. Slaveholders were able to grow a bumper crop and were fine, but poor whites suffered. Before the outbreak of war, the drought continued to exacerbate the conflict between poor whites and slaveholding/wealthy whites. Once war came, some may have enlisted out of desperation, needing the money from army pay or the expected land traditionally granted to veterans.

Of course, there are also those who enlisted enthusiastically. Priorities change when war spreads across the land. Some might have hoped that allying themselves with the wealthy slaveholders would prove game-changing. Some bought into the propaganda about rapacious hordes of Northern immigrant mercenary soldiers burning and plundering their way across the south. Others were too young - or deliberately misinformed as seen above - to understand what was really happening and so enlisted for the adventure of it all.
 

Zack

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In an interview about the book, Keri Leigh Merritt answers the enlistment question outright: https://networks.h-net.org/node/411...r-interview-keri-leigh-merritt-masterless-men

Interviewer: As a final question, you make an incredibly groundbreaking argument about Confederate soldiers. Why do you think poor whites join the Confederate armies? And, what will your argument mean for future scholarship on southern soldiers?

KLM: Well, thank you, but I do not see it as truly groundbreaking. Much of what I am saying has been said before by other historians (in fact, my chapter on the Civil War is largely synthetic). But the histories written about this issue – either works published prior to the 1950s or the recent spate of scholarship from people like David Williams, Charles Bolton, and Victoria Bynum – have yet to be incorporated into the broader narrative of American history. And that’s a detriment to US history. We need to understand that the Confederacy was brought down not just by Northerners, but also by the enslaved themselves, as well as anti-Confederate and Unionist white Southerners.

Anyhow, support for the Confederacy varied greatly among non-slaveholders, with divisions based upon numerous factors: rural/urban, Upper/Lower South, slave societies/societies with slaves, and ties to slaveholders. Class mattered – many landholding yeomen DID believe that one day they could own slaves, and some rented slaves. But for many cyclically-poor landless whites, especially in the Cotton South, there was no desire to fight and die to protect slave property.

Attempting to frighten poor whites into supporting disunion, slaveholders predicted an impending race war following emancipation. Without slavery, masters cautioned, poor whites would become impoverished peons, the social equals of blacks. Still, despite slaveholders’ racist rhetoric, many poor whites objected to the Confederate cause, but slave owners used threats of imprisonment, vigilante violence, and even death to impress the poor into service.

Both historians and (quantitative) political scientists agree that most Southerners volunteering during the early years of the war were slaveholders, or they made a living off of slavery somehow. Still, though – there WERE poor whites who chose to join the Confederacy, almost always for materialist reasons. I’ve identified four main explanations as to why poor whites would sign up to fight: (1) FORCE, accounts of poor men forced at the point of bayonets, or who were arrested for vagrancy and then forced to join were common; (2) PAY, already trapped in cyclical un- and under-employment, a soldier’s pay was a steady and decent wage. Plus, poor boys – many of them only fourteen or fifteen years old - could earn good-to-excellent, often life-changing pay for substitutions; (3) LAND, prior to the Civil War, veterans had always had the chance to get land for their service; (4) HONOR, these were white men with no honor, and fighting to protect one’s home is a quick and surefire way to gain honor.

Poor whites were forced to join the Confederate Army en masse after the Conscription Act of 1862. Then the “Twenty Negro Act,” exempting the richest slaveholders and inflamed class tensions. These two Acts led to massive defections/desertions of both the poor and middling classes in 1863-64, ultimately adding to the Confederacy's defeat. Whether Unionist, anti-Confederate, or just completely apathetic, non-slaveholding whites – along with the enslaved and the Union – ultimately added to the Confederacy's demise.


Indeed, James McPherson came to the same conclusion about honor in “For Cause and Comrades,” writing that “A good many Confederate soldiers also cited the obligations of duty. But they were more likely to speak of honor: one’s public reputation, one’s image in the eyes of his peers.”
 

Zack

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So where does that leave us in summation. It is an over-simplification to say that the enlistment of poor Southern whites and secession of majority non-slaveholding states means that their position was somehow less identified with slavery. Race-baiting was part and parcel to Secessionist and Confederate propaganda. Definitions of hearth and home as well as images of rapacious Northern hordes were built from the propaganda and messaging of the slaveholding class. If nothing else it’s standard us vs. them mentality useful when constructing a national identity. But the drumbeat of secession told poor whites that Northern Black Republicans wanted to destroy their homes by fire and “miscegenation.” See Apostles of Disunion for these arguments, and note that in all cases huge crowds gathered to watch the commissioners speak and cheered the words with thunderous applause. I'll offer excerpts from one such speech as an example of the rhetoric used:

Lincoln's election was "nothing less than an open declaration of war, for the triumph of this new theory of government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans," Hale wrote. "The slave-holder and non-slave-holder must ultimately share the same fate; all be degraded to a position of equality with free negroes, stand side by side with them at the polls, fraternize in all the social relations of life, or else there will be an eternal war of races, isolating the land with blood, and utterly wasting all the resources of the country."

What Southerner, Hale asked, "can without indignation and horror contemplate the triumph of negro equality, and see his own sons and daughters in the not distant future associating with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality?" Abolition would surely mean that "the two races would be continually pressing together" in the South, and under these circumstances "amalgamation or the extermination of the one or the other would be inevitable." Could "Southern men submit to such degradation and ruin?" Hale knew the answer: "God forbid that they should."


But for many poor white Southerners the Confederate project offered nothing to them. Those who were not interested in the race baiting propaganda stayed home unless conscripted or otherwise manipulated into joining. Many deserted. Others hid out in the woods and mountains. The South was not a united front at any point during the Civil War and internal dissension was a constant issue. It is important to remember that in a not insubstantial number of cases the answer to the question, “why did non-slaveholding Southerners fight” is “they didn’t.” And for those that did, the issues were complex, multifaceted, and varying, and the undercurrent of race-baiting and slavery likewise cannot be ignored.
 

Piedone

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Oct 8, 2020
Your post was very informative and especially the books you are referring to seem highly interesting to me - I will definitely buy both and read them soon.

Without any deeper knowledge I cannot contest your position but somehow I am suspicious that the poor whites of the South are a bit too much generalized here.

Please don‘t misunderstand me: I also read about appalling uneducated Southerners but always got the impression that this was not the case everywhere in the South (yet I have no statistical data to support that impression).

I am also quite convinced that a lot of pressure and manipulation was exerted on poor Southerners to support the Confederacy - but I am somehow in doubt about too many poor Southerners forced or bullied into the ranks - as I read more than once that the desertion rates were quite similar in the Union and the confederate army most of the times. Also I wouldn‘t expect people that were bullied into the service to fight as well as southern troops often did - even under at times poor leadership and often appalling conditions.

I deem it possible that your picture of poor whites in the South is correct - but only to a certain extent, I am suspecting that not all of the non-slaveowning people were that illiterate and dependant and suppose that this picture maybe is more applicable to regions where plantation-slavery was dominant?

I am quite convinced that preventing race-equality was a prime motivation for poor whites in the South but - as hard as this may sound - regarding the western tradition of racism in the 19th century this attitude wasn‘t that uncommon then I fear.

Maybe reality wasn‘t that unambiguous (as it seldom is...)?

But as I said before I am unfortunately not informed enough and am basing my assumptions just on the books and sources I have read - but I am just more of a general reader.
 
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Zack

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Los Angeles, California
Your post was very informative and especially the books you are referring to seem highly interesting to me - I will definitely buy both and read them soon.

Without any deeper knowledge I cannot contest your position but somehow I am suspicious that the poor whites of the South are a bit too much generalized here.

Please don‘t misunderstand me: I also read about appalling uneducated Southerners but always got the impression that this was not the case everywhere in the South (yet I have no statistical data to support that impression).

I am also quite convinced that a lot of pressure and manipulation was exerted on poor Southerners to support the Confederacy - but I am somehow in doubt about too many poor Southerners forced or bullied into the ranks - as I read more than once that the desertion rates were quite similar in the Union and the confederate army most of the times. Also I wouldn‘t expect people that were bullied into the service to fight as well as southern troops often did - even under at times poor leadership and often appalling conditions.

I deem it possible that your picture of poor whites in the South is correct - but only to a certain extent, I am suspecting that not all of the non-slaveowning people were that illiterate and dependant and suppose that this picture maybe is more applicable to regions where plantation-slavery was dominant?

I am quite convinced that preventing race-equality was a prime motivation for poor whites in the South but - as hard as this may sound - regarding the western tradition of racism in the 19th century this attitude wasn‘t that uncommon then I fear.

Maybe reality wasn‘t that unambiguous (as it seldom is...)?

But as I said before I am unfortunately not informed enough and am basing my assumptions just on the books and sources I have read - but I am just more of a general reader.

Thank you for the kind words. It is a very complex topic. I would note a few things:

--- "Poor whites" are just a subset of "non-slaveholding whites"

--- One need not be illiterate to be taken in by propaganda or be manipulated by the slaveholding elite.

--- I agree that racism was very common throughout the country, though Southerners fighting against racial equality does not automatically mean that Northerners were fighting for it.

--- Conscripted soldiers do find ways to motivate themselves in the ranks (such as fighting for their comrades)
 

Zack

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As mentioned, in the Army of Northern Virginia by Joseph Glatthaar's calculation only 10-15% of the soldiers themselves owned slaves, but bear in mind that many were 19-21-years-old, too young to own anything. If we look at those that came from families that owned slaves:

37.2% of soldiers came from slave-owning families

An additional 7.2% lived in a household that owned slaves, though they and their families were not themselves the owners

That adds up to 44.4%

Of this 44.4%:
9.4% owned 1 or 2 slaves
13.2% owned 3-10 slaves
7.7% owned 11-20 slaves
6.9% owned 20+ slaves
7.2% as stated lived in a household that owned slaves, though they personally did not.

So 55.6% of soldiers did not come from a slave-owning home.

But don't take this statistic at face value.

It is important to remember that slaveowners had made themselves an integral part of society. Aside from what has already been laid out, slaveowners lent slaves out to other, poorer farmers for various jobs. The idea was to make even those who did not own slaves invested in the system. Furthermore, some who did not own slaves were in fact an overseer or the son of an overseer, and therefore directly involved in slavery. Many others stood to inherit slaves or had close relatives who owned slaves that could be "borrowed." Finally, slavery was the number one way to climb the social ladder in the pre-Civil War South. Those who did not own slaves wished to some day, because the addition of a slave increased productivity and income.

When it comes to desertion rates, Glatthaar found that:
---The average wealth of a Confederate deserter was about $730 either personal or combined personal and family wealth
---The average wealth of a Confederate non-deserter was about $1350
---21.2% of deserters either owned or lived with family that owned slaves (so 78.8% did not)
---39.2% of non-deserters either owned or lived with family that owned slaves
---26.2% of deserters came from slaveholding households (so 73.8% did not)
---46.7% of non-deserters came from slaveholding households

In other words, poor, non-slaveholding white men made up the majority of deserters from the Confederate army. And slaveholding white men (either personally or through family) were over-represented in the army compared to the general population of the South.

The Glatthaar book in question: https://www.google.com/books/edition/General_Lee_s_Army/py_MFhZf9qIC?hl=en&gbpv=1
 

NedBaldwin

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I think that sometimes in conflicts, some people arent focused on facts or philosophies but instead on the anxiety of change and they fight to keep things the way they were. For them, growing up life was structured around a legal, economic and social order and then along comes an outside threat that could tear down the way it was and replace it with god knows what
 

Zack

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I know it's a fictional portrayal but Cold Mountain got it right. If you didn't want to fight the choices were to disappear into the West, go North and take an oath to the Union, or leave the country. As the war dragged on it would be even harder for able bodied men to avoid service if they had found a way up to that point. I know that various occupations had a dispensation so you could join one of them. The poor and uneducated in the North didn't fare much better. That is not to say that some who served had high morals and patriotism.
Screen Shot 2021-05-20 at 2.48.04 PM.png


Speaking to this point, Flat Rock, North Carolina, which is where the murder of Andrew Johnstone occurred, is not that far from Cold Mountain. Asheville was also a destination for wealthy refugees from South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and anywhere else the Union was encroaching. Obviously the blue line is following modern roads.
 

Zack

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Excerpt of letter from James Bell of Alabama to his son Henry Bell who had enlisted in the Confederate Army. Letter dated
April 27th​ 1861. James Bell was an ardent Unionist.​

"I received A letter from you and Andrew Lowirmore this morning and was glad to hear that you are well but it was disgusting to me to think that I had Raised A Child that woud Cecede from under the government that he was bornd and Raised under it is Something Strane to me that people Can forget the grones and crys of our fourfathers in the Revoloutin So quick. Henry just think back to the time when our forefatherse walked over the frozened ground bare foot leaving ther blood on the ground when fighting for the liberties that you have enjoyed ever Since you hav had a being in the world God forbid that I ever Should even be Cald a Cecessionist. I had jest as Soon be Cald a tory, as to Comit treson ganst the government that was Sealed with the blood of my fathers. the Scripture informs us that a House Devided against its Self Cannot stand. The Scriptures informs us that the Isralites divided in to Northism & Souhisn’s and She was in bondage in less than ten years. Henry you are out in a Ceceding Country and tha have got you puft up with Cecessionism as tight as a tode. I dont see what you nede to care for you hant got no Slaves. All tha want is to get you puft up and go to fight for their infurnerl negroes and after you do there fighting you may kiss ther hine parts for a tha ceare. Henry you wrote that if we was in a inlighten Country that we could see better. I want you to understand that we ant in a hethen Land or wasent until Ala went out of the union and this ant any nigher a hethern Land than that. Thare is as Smart men in this Country as thare is in Mississippi and as intellagent gentlemen as lives anywhere. henry may time hasten to Roll around when you can se your own intrest and turn your Back upon the Cursed question Caled Cecessionism and Return like the prodigal Son and then Come over and we will kill the fated Calf."

https://freestateofwinston.org/bellletters.htm
 
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View attachment 401408

Speaking to this point, Flat Rock, North Carolina, which is where the murder of Andrew Johnstone occurred, is not that far from Cold Mountain. Asheville was also a destination for wealthy refugees from South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and anywhere else the Union was encroaching. Obviously the blue line is following modern roads.
This is a likely location for the novel I think. Good sleuthing!
 

Jantzen64

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Aug 10, 2019
Fascinating topic, and thanks for all the detailed information. Ironically, I have Glatthaar's book but haven't read it. Shame on me. Though not based on my own study, I have to give some credence to NedBaldwin's observations in post 110, given it does seem to be an inherent part of human nature to fear change. Also, in risk of being accused of being lazy and not doing my own investigation ( :wink: ), how do these historians treat the question of whether the average soldier viewed himself as responding to an "invasion" - i.e., that their homes etc were being invaded by what they perceived was a foreign/unfamiliar army from a farway part of the country? Given the increase in heated rhetoric coming from the period "media", I can't help but think many folks simply came to think of anyone from the North as "foreign."
 

lurid

First Sergeant
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Jan 3, 2019
I've said it before: there is as much or more fixation on race today than there was during the war. A lot of this attempt to assign slavery as a motivation, even when the men themselves say otherwise, is projecting a modern bias back on to that generation and refusing to believe what they said.

That's why some have a problem realizing that it was possible for those men to be white supremacists, and yet have motivations for going to war that had nothing to do with race or slavery. Both things can be true of that generation, and often were.

I've gone through a lot of monument dedications and documentation, and comments about race occur in a minority of what I've seen so far. It is far from a predominant reason for the existence of those monuments.

Of course there is a much fixation on race these days because everyone in that era accepted everyone's position in life. How were blacks going to decry racism in a society that censored them? How were slaves going to decry racism? It was an Anglo-sphere that those folks were living in during the 19th century, and it was cluttered with Anglophiles. If you read your history on racism and slavery the Anglos enslaved people because of skin color. Racism was accepted in that era, north and south. But for the most part, racism is not accepted today, even if a lot of the motives are subject to ridicule. The majority of people back then were white supremist, that's what they were taught from their environment. They were products of their environment, which I'm sure some people inherently overcame their white supremacy, but how many? Who knows? It's that classic Nature vs. Nurture argument. It is too vast to be exact.

You are partially correct when stating the reasons for why some of the southern men fought. The state has total authority over its people, and that's why they have conscriptions and drafts for people to fight for the governments cause. I joined the military right after high school because I wanted to earn college funds from the GI bill and other reasons not related to war, but we went to war in the Middle East for whatever reason, other than my own reasons. But I went to the war and fought for the governments reasons and simultaneously fought for my own reasons. The southern men fought to protect their homes and other reasons but they still fought to sustain slavery. There is no getting around that one, no matter how you try to spin it. But I agree, I would be worried about my family, friends and home if a war was conducted in my backyard. Most definitely...
 
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