Why The Sentimentality Toward The South?

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
One of the things I’ve always been curious about (at least in my own experience) during my research of the CW is the persistent feeling of sentimentality I have for the South. I don’t understand why, as I live in SoCal and have never visited, much less lived in the South.

Is it the old agrarian society that brings up images of a simpler life? The fact that the Confederacy was the underdog yet still managed to beat up their opponent before finally being overwhelmed? The sense of southern pride and honor?

Hope this makes sense!
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Yeah, it’s just a sense I get. Nostalgia for a time and place that i have nothing to do with.
My first readings when I was an elementary school youngster was 'The Life of Billy Yank and Johnny Reb'. This probably had some bearing on my own feelings, as well as being in a southern family. Presently, I am a bit divisive over the whole era, and find the Union reports to be much more enlightening and entreating for my heart, but my personal identity still remains with the south. It is difficult to accept and separate myself within the readings I do now.
Lubliner.
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
Because the south was a gentile and honorable society where all was right and good, and like the knights of old the men lived in great houses with their wives and concubines, until Mr Lincoln sent his illegal armies to invade and subdue a peaceful southern nation.
I get what you’re saying. Personally, I am able to set aside these good traits with the stain of slavery in the same way I can see the good of medieval life side by side with the ills of serfdom.
 

Coonewah Creek

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2018
Location
Northern Alabama
I think my "sentimentality" for the Old South lies more in the admiration and respect for the soldiers who fought for it. I always loved this quote from Bruce Catton...

“There is no other legend quite like the legend of the Confederate fighting man. He reached the end of his haunted road long ago. He fought for a star-crossed cause and in the end he was beaten, but as he carried his slashed red battle flag into the dusky twilight of the Lost Cause he marched straight into a legend that will live as long as the American people care to remember anything about the American past." - Bruce Catton
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
All my roots are in the South, though I have never lived there. So I understand feeling drawn to a place that isn't your own - though for me it is where all my family are. I felt a romantic tug towards the South when I was younger. Now I have a more balanced view. I still love Gone With the Wind and can read literature from Southern writers and get misty eyed. But I'm far too aware of how much the horrors of slavery propped up every charming aspect of the life lived in the slave states. And while I think your analogy of the medieval serf society is not a bad one, the slave South to me is different - especially in the Civil War era - as many had begun to turn away from slavery and to expose its cruelties. By the start of the Civil War the South was holding tightly to a discredited and dying system and they were willing to die for it. In my family, several did die for it. I can see the romance of moonlight and magnolias but to me it's just a veneer.
 

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
The sentimentality towards the South of past years is decreasing with each and every day. With the new racial awareness that is sweeping the United States, many of the symbols that identified the South are being removed and erased and people are starting to view the South in a different light, especially the leading figures that dominate its history. That being said, I think one reason some people have a soft spot for the South in their hearts is its culture of politeness, chivalry and the honor of tradition among many of its native residents. Southerners have always appreciated the land they live on and have strong ties to their families, have their own language and ways of speaking that are colorful and imaginative and have a culinary history that produces some of the best food in the United States. Their courage and determination during the Civil War against long odds also won them lots of respect too. Having lived in the South all my life, it's hard for me to say I'm an American before I'm a Southerner just because it's the land of my family and ancestors after they reached America and I have a strong affinity for the region that helped me become the person I am.
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
All my roots are in the South, though I have never lived there. So I understand feeling drawn to a place that isn't your own - though for me it is where all my family are. I felt a romantic tug towards the South when I was younger. Now I have a more balanced view. I still love Gone With the Wind and can read literature from Southern writers and get misty eyed. But I'm far too aware of how much the horrors of slavery propped up every charming aspect of the life lived in the slave states. And while I think your analogy of the medieval serf society is not a bad one, the slave South to me is different - especially in the Civil War era - as many had begun to turn away from slavery and to expose its cruelties. By the start of the Civil War the South was holding tightly to a discredited and dying system and they were willing to die for it. In my family, several did die for it. I can see the romance of moonlight and magnolias but to me it's just a veneer.
The analogy wasn’t great, I admit, as slavery is a far worse reality than serfdom. It’s an unwashable stain from that era that prevents me from fully romanticizing the South during this time period.
 

Pete Longstreet

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
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Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
Great question, I remember the first time I watched the movie Gettysburg, I was sitting there hoping Pickett's charge was successful. Then while watching the Ken Burns series, I wanted Lee to defeat Grant at Petersburg. I can't explain it. I've never lived in the south, have no family in the south and no ties there whatsoever. Yet I have this affinity. I also grew to like General Longstreet. When I sit and think about it, I believe part of it comes from rooting for the underdog. Another reason is I find the Confederacy extremely interesting to read about compared to the Union. The Confederacy fascinates me to no end. Last, is how I feel about the Confederate soldiers and how admirably they fought. In closing, I'll end this post with a quote which explains quite well how I feel:

"I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought."

- General U.S. Grant
 

Coonewah Creek

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2018
Location
Northern Alabama
I think another thing we sometimes forget, regardless of what we all as Americans share in common, is the fact that the Southern people and Southern territory are unique within our shared American history because we, unlike any other section of the United States, have been, defeated, conquered and occupied by our enemy. I think it had to have been a very harsh realization to our Southern ancestors that they had been militarily defeated and, during Reconstruction, had to live under the control of a former "enemy." I don't think that's a condition you can truly empathize with unless you've actually lived it and passed the experiences to your offspring down through the generations...so I'll just throw that thought out there in the "for what it's worth" department...
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Maybe the bonds of affection within families was stronger than up north. Being more rooted to the soil, and keener on hospitality, they were dreamers of immense imaginations. Not that the north wasn't, but the divisiveness or their society seemed greater. In the south, it is hard to find a time to be alone. Up north, I found I could be alone in a vast crowd. It wasn't that they were unfriendly, because they weren't. It was just they acted more reserved. You couldn't have done that in the south. People here don't want anybody left alone. I keep mimicking Jeff Davis, "All we want is to be left alone". It may sound funny, but it is real! We are our worst enemies!
Lubliner.
 
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