The love of the Confederacy
There are two Confederacys, one of history and one of imagination.
The one we deal with today is of imagination.
The one of rebel flags and the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the cult of the dead rebels.
It has little to do with reality.
The real Confederacy was closer to Biafra than Nazi Germany. A poor, break away Republic destined to be crushed by the larger neighbor.
The reason you get people like Jim Webb playing cute and George Allen praising the Confederacy has to do with how the Confederacy was ressurected in the postwar period.It was about race and integration, not history.
But then, like the Wehrmacht, way too much has been made of the Confederacy's military prowess, and far too little of the Union's.
For now, we're gonna talk about the historical Confederacy.
Jesse James got his start in crime as a member of Bloody Bill Anderson's guerrilla band. They murdered people and called it war. Anderson and Quantrill were war criminals by any modern standard.
The confederacy had tremendous desertion rates in the last two years of the war
The Conferderate government often hindered the war effort.
The myth of the Confederacy came about because of the generals who led their larger units, Lee, Jackson, Longstreet. Like the Wehrmacht, there is a cult of competency which is hardly deserved.
It took Bruce Catton, on the Civil War's centenial, and James McPherson 20 years later, to explain what an incredible instrument of war it was. The cult of the "lost cause" was used to cover up tragic mistakes.
Few people describe Pickett's Charge as a tragic mistake of arrogance, which it was. Grant is criticized for Cold Harbor, but Pickett's Charge was pure arrogance. But George Pickett never forgave Lee.
The Union Army adapted to their circumstances and created a modern Army from scratch. It promoted on merit and even chose to break the color bar, coming up with 179,000 black troops which the South could never reach. It's commanders changed the rules of war and were tactically superior after Gettysburg.
The cult of the Confederacy serves to deny some brutal realities. Such as the large and active guerrilla movement in the Appalachians. The hoarding of supplies, the increasing desertion rate as the war went on.
When people talk about Lee or Longstreet, they never tell you how the Union eventually out thought and outfought them. The "bravery" of Confederate troops is always highlighted, despite the desperate battles the union fought.
No one wants to discuss how the South invented the war criminal. Henry Wirtz, the commander of Andersonville was executed. He should have been joined by Nathan Bedford Forrest and Bloody Bill Anderson and Quantrill.
In short,the myth of the Confederacy allowed people to explain away how the North crushed them using far fewer of it's resources than it had. The raging incompetence of the Southern high command and the pettiness of Jefferson Davis was glossed over for years. Because the myth of a noble South was valuable for many reasons.
Even today, the numbers of Southerners who fought for the Union is still downplayed.
They myth of nobility plays into how the Confederacy is seen today
posted by Steve @ 2:01:00 AM