My poor Buzz followers have been inundated with quotes from Drawn with the Sword, by James M. McPherson. The latest quote that I wanted to share however, was rather too long for a Buzz post, so I decided to share it with all of y’all!
… Confederates regarded themselves as the true heirs of American nationalism, custodians of the ideals for which their forefathers of 1776 had fought. It was the Yankees who had repudiated these ideals. When the Black Republicans took over the government, Southerners departed to form a new government that would conserve the genuine heritage of the old America. Confederate nationalism was American nationalism purified of maligned Yankee domination. That is why the Confederate money and stamps portrayed great Americans; that is why the Confederate Constitution retained most provisions of the United States Constitution. The South, said Jefferson Davis in his first message to the Confederate Congress after Fort Sumter, was fighting for the same “sacred right of self-government” that their revolutionary fathers had fought for. “Thank God! we have a country at last,” said Mississippian L. Q. C. Lamar in 1861, a country “to live for, to pray for, to fight for, and if necessary, to die for.”
It is true that the rhetoric of Confederate nationalism did not contain as many references to abstract symbols or concepts like flag, country, Constitution, and democracy as did Union rhetoric. But Southerners felt a strong and more visceral commitment – to defense of land, home, and family from invasion by “Yankee vandals.” In this sense, Confederate nationalism was if anything stronger than its Union counterpart. In their letters and diaries, Southerners expressed a fiercer patriotism, a more passionate dedication to “the Cause,” a greater determination to “die in the last ditch” than Northerners did. As the Confederate War Department clerk John Jones expressed it in his diary in 1863, the Southern people had far more at stake in the war than Northerners. “Our men must prevail in combat, or lost their property, country, freedom, everything… On the other hand, the enemy, in yielding the contest, may retire into their own country, and possess everything they enjoyed before the war began.” A Union officer who was captured in the battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864, and spent the rest of the war in Southern prisons, wrote in his diary on October 4 that from what he had seen in the South “the End of the War… is some time hence as the Idea of the Rebs giving up until they are completely subdued is all Moonshine they submit to privations that would not be believed unless seen.” Without question, the Southern people persisted through far greater hardships and suffering than Northern people experienced. Northerners almost threw in the towel in the summer of 1864 because of casualty rates that Southerners had endured for more than two years. In the light of this, it seems difficult to accept the thesis of lack of will stemming from weak nationalism as a cause of Confederate defeat.
There. That was kind of long! Please rip it to shreds or politely discuss it in the comments. FYI, I prefer the latter method.
DISCLAIMER: I am just quoting a book here, and that I did my best to be true to the original text (with typing this long excerpt, I’d be surprised if there aren’t some small, accidental variations). Feel free to point out any misspellings or incorrect punctuation, but know that I will refer back to the book and may reply by either ignoring your (no doubt perfectly good, and probably more correct) suggestion or by simply saying that that’s how it is in the book. Thanks for understanding. 🙂