Why The Sentimentality Toward The South?

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
This is a big reason, imo. Reading about how poorly equipped/supplied the Confederates were yet still being able to properly bloody their opponent certainly gives the Rebs an air of glory.

But folks tend to forget we had the majority of experienced officer corps. They think Confederates as a bunch of ragged redneck yahoos when in reality in its time it was probably one of the best trained and disciplined armies in the Western Hemisphere and easily rivaled or was superior to other armies throughout the world, even some European ones, (excepting the great armies of say Britain, and Prussia). The CS Army and navy impressed many a European officer, some from Britain to Austria joining, and they wouldn't have if the "Lost Cause" legends were true. Those guys were hard to impress...

That and the fact it wasn't as ragged as is commonly believed is conveniently forgotten in the Legends of the CSA. Along with how though still a part of the US, the South won the really war of Reconstruction, morphing into the "Solid South" and had all the State's Rights it could ask for for 90 years.

I'm firmly in the Southern/Confederate camp when it comes to the war, but I've no use for the legends and myths about it or anything else when the truth is good enough. Legends and so on ain't nothing but a lie by another name. If the South was truly conquered we wouldn't have so many memorials and monuments to CSA.
 

J. D. Stevens

Corporal
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Location
Deep In The Heart of Texas
My sentimentality for the South pretty much follows along with most of the previous comments made by others on this thread. Being a fifth generation Texan significantly increases my sentimentalism. On top of that, I have about 70 letters written by various ancestors to each other between 1846 and 1890 as they migrated from North Carolina and started a new life in Central Texas. Transcribing these letters increased my sentimentality exponentially, because they gave my ancestors personalities. What they were thinking, how they handled business dealings, their political views, their health, success or failure of their crops, their travels, and how the weather and news of the day impacted them.

Reading back over this comment, I guess it's obvious my Southern sentimentality includes a healthy dose of Southern pride.
 

Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
If i may contribute to that discussion as a foreigner I´d say the attraction of the South lies also in the complexity of the picture.
There are so many contradicting attributes...and it tells a lot about mankind being able to be chivalric and close to criminal, idealistic and utterly selfish at the same time - and sometimes even to see single persons sharing nearly irrenconcilable traits in their personal character. To me the South was always a big enigma I am trying to solve - and I could never come close to finding THE ONE satisfying answer.
 

Tony Z

Corporal
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Location
DuBois, PA
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!
We American people always show empathy towards the underdog, though the “beating up” was more the union not fully coming to grips with the desire for dissolution of said union. If the fight did not come to the doorsteps of the north, would have the will of the union government continue the preservation effort?
 

lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
Maybe the bonds of affection within families was stronger than up north. Being more rooted to the soil,
I think Southerners had closer ties to family and land but not because they had different natures. One result of the War was an economic collapse that kept Southerners from being as mobile as Northerners. People stayed on the family land because they often had to for economic reasons. That lack of mobility helped create strong family and community ties. The devastation caused by war and occupation also suppressed the type of economic growth that would have increased immigration into the South. An already agrarian area lost the ability to transition to manufacturing - thus population growth from outsiders didn't happen as it did in the North.
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
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Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
I've asked myself the same question as the OP. I sometimes wonder why I feel so strongly about the South and its history, and I think for me it's simply the fact that it's my home, and it feels like some parts of it that I value are under threat, causing me to value it all the more. I'm a lifelong South Carolinian, from a family that's either been here or in North Carolina since before there was a United States. This is where my roots are, this is where all my memories are and where my ancestors are buried. I did not grow up being taught the history of the South, but I still absorbed the pride and the independent spirit that I associate with the region.
 
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Joshism

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Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
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?

While I think farming is a very respectable profession, I've never desired to be one. Turning back the clock to a simpler time would take away the computers I use daily, the books I read daily (there would still be books but far fewer and mostly without the amount of resources for research available now), and most of my past and present hobbies. Someone who loves hunting and fishing or handcrafts, and lives without air conditioning, is going to yearn for a simpler time far more than I ever would.

Pride holds no appeal to me. It's frequently stubborn, foolish, and irrational.

Southern honor might have appealed to me in the past, but knowing it was a shell of hypocrisy means It does not.

Most Americans love their underdogs, but I don't. Sometimes underdogs deserve to lose.

I've never been the rebellious type so that holds no appeal to me other.

Almost everyone wants a tribe and to be part of a group identity. They want to feel they belong. For some, that's the South.

Southern Heritage is something you cannot communicate to those who do not have it. In my heart, the south is my home.

All my direct ancestors in the last 200 years were born south of the Mason-Dixon Line yet I was never raised with any sense of Southern pride, heritage, or identity. I was simply raised as an American.
 

RobertP

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
I loved most things about growing up in the South. I didn’t mind the hot summers even before air conditioning, liked the mild winters and beautiful springs. I loved the Gulf beaches before they got so crowded and the easy pace of life. I loved the food and grew up eating a large variety of fresh vegetables when a trip to the farmer’s market was a regular treat. I liked the people across the region from Texas to Virginia where there was an unstated commonality between most southerners based on shared history. I loved their various accents, all soft and pleasant to the ear and clearly identifiable as southern. I grew up in a segregated society but it was easy to develop close relationships with black people, and we had many of those. I liked the common courtesies in everyday greetings and still try to maintain them. Things have changed a lot particularly in the cities, but in the small towns it’s pretty much the same and I like that.
 
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Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
I've asked myself the same question as the OP. I sometimes wonder why I feel so strongly about the South and its history, and I think for me it's simply the fact that it's my home, and it feels like some parts of it that I value are under threat, causing me to value it all the more. I'm a lifelong South Carolinian, from a family that's either been here or in North Carolina since before there was a United States. This is where my roots are, this is where all my memories are and where my ancestors are buried. I did not grow up being taught the history of the South, but I still absorbed the pride and the independant spirit that I associate with the region.
That just about covers it for me born in Virginia.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
I loved most things about growing up in the South. I didn’t mind the hot summers even before air conditioning, liked the mild winters and beautiful springs. I loved the Gulf beaches before they got so crowded and the easy pace of life. I grew up eating a large variety of fresh vegetables when a trip to the farmer’s market was a regular treat. I liked the people all across the region from Texas to Virginia where there was an unstated commonality between most southerners based on shared history. I loved the various accents, all soft and pleasant to the ear and easily identifiable as southern. I grew up in a segregated society but it was easy to develop close relationships with black people, and we had many of those. I liked the common courtesies in everyday greetings and still try to maintain them. Things have changed a lot particularly in the cities, but in the small towns it’s pretty much the same and I like that.
I think this is beautifully stated. I was trying to think of ways to express a degree of gentility and politeness that I have often witnessed in the near south and deep south: Hat tipping. Door holding. Being addressed as "sir" by much older men. Exquisite manners displayed by many children. And manners of speech that I love. One statement I heard in Virginia has stayed with me for decades. I doubt I will ever hear it put so politely by one of my fellow Missourians. A retired army office had made an afternoon courtesy call at my brother's house in Charlottesville (I guess that's what retired army officers do in Charlottesville.) As he left, he said in his broad accent: "Thank you for the tea. It was very refreshing." It doesn't look like much in print, but it made a strong impact to my ears.
 

A. Roy

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Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Hat tipping. Door holding. Being addressed as "sir" by much older men. Exquisite manners displayed by many children. And manners of speech that I love.

I've been thinking about a response to this post, and your observation clicks with my experience. Many of us here still commonly call each other "Sir" or "Ma'am," and it's not unusual for a waitress or store clerk to call me "Sweetie" or some other endearing name.

Roy B.
 

RobertP

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
I've been thinking about a response to this post, and your observation clicks with my experience. Many of us here still commonly call each other "Sir" or "Ma'am," and it's not unusual for a waitress or store clerk to call me "Sweetie" or some other endearing name.

Roy B.
Yep. Even as an adult you often get addressed as “baby” or “darlin” in New Orleans and much of south Louisiana.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
I don't think any one area of the country has a monopoly on (or even a relative advantage in) courtesy. Small-town Ohio is still as courteous as it can get (while still being plenty up-front about stuff... plain-spoken people indeed); I was favorably impressed with New England hospitality, and I've heard good things about the Pacific Northwest.

I think if one compares a small Southern town with, say, New York City or Chicago, of course you're going to find differences-- but how much of that is truly regional and how much is urban culture versus small-town life? I'd wager that, if you compare courtesy in an Upstate New York burg with metro Atlanta, you might think the Northerners have it all over the Southerners in politeness.
 

Georgia Sixth

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Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
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
It's hard to top that quote from Grant. Like you, I perpetually find myself wanting the underdog to pull it out. For Buell not to show up in time at Shiloh. For Granger not arrive and spare Thomas from also being routed at Chickamauga. For Lee to actually hit both ends of the fish hook simultaneously. And on and on. But then I consider what confederate success would have meant and I recoil, and go waiiiiiiiit a minute there. Emancipation, good. Union, good. CSA goals, not so much.

My warm and fuzzies however are only for the guys stuck in battle, for the people left to fend for themselves on the home front and for the enslaved people finally seeing liberation come...and for those in areas that were never conquered and could only dream until the war finally ended. I have nothing but the highest regard for the freed slaves. That they resisted the natural impulses for revenge is truly inspirational.

I think what rivets me is the realization that most southern people were sucked into a maelstrom they could not avoid. The carnage and destruction were coming their way, regardless if they remained unionists or regardless if their state seceded only in reaction to Lincoln's call for troops to go override the choice of the original seven secessionist states by force and regardless if they were enslaved -- they met with violence frequently too.

The one great thing we did lose with confederate defeat was the idea that there are firm limits on what the federal government has a right to do. Deference to the states has continually eroded since, and we find ourselves increasingly in all-or-nothing political fights, much to our peril. Too much "states rights" is a bad thing (see secession) but the flat lining of "states rights" may ultimately have the unintended consequence of tearing asunder the nation once again. Let's pray history does not repeat!
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
I’ve been afraid that Covid and wearing mask would eventually turn us all, Southerners, into Yankees? I hope not.

I’ve heard the proclamation about how each day, fewer have an infinity for the South. Few months ago a Black couple came to my house interested in some Rental property I have. We started a conversation, they were from NYC. Guy looked like he could play a lineman in the NFL. They had moved here 2 years ago. They were Conservatives and NYC values caused them to relocate. So, many who move here do so, Because of the South. Told them we were Glad to have them. They left as Friends.

I have Nothing to apologize for. Slavery was terrible. It wasn’t the only National Sin we have had. And yes, it was a National Sin.
 
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