Mike the Mad Biologist

Some Civil War Blogging

Sadly, too many Americans are probably unaware that the anniversary surrender of the Confederate rebels at Appomattox happened a few days ago. I’ve found three posts I highly recommend. First, Tony Wikrent:

One thing I really would like you to take away from this diary is a basic sense of how the United States, as a self-governing democratic republic, cannot long tolerate oligarchic and aristocratic ideas in its body politic. This is becoming an increasingly urgent issue for us today, because the American conservative movement today is basically a replica of the slavery-defending, anti-free labor, government-hating, insurrection minded, treason-breathing, violently inclined Confederacy. And, I want you to be able to instantly recognize and rebut the false histories that neo-Confederates have created.

Wikrent details (it’s a long post, but well-written and worth the read) how the majority of southern whites did not want to secede from the Union–or die for wealthy slave-owning plantation masters–and were dragged into war, often through legislative chicanery.

Then, driftglass has a good post–and the lead graphic is worth the click alone. And by way of driftglass, we come across this classic by the late* Steve Gilliard:

The robbers of the post-war period were not heroes in any sense of the word. Jesse James was, in modern parlance, a war criminal. He rode with Bloody Bill Anderson, who specialized in terroizing Kansas farmers. The guerilla war in the Mississippi River area was about as violent as the partisan struggle in Yugoslavia. You had groups of people killing their neighbors.

What is the image we get of this war? Take the Outlaw Josey Wales. A great movie, but historically, quite wrong. Wales would have been a confederate guerrilla who probably murdered hundreds of people, farmers, women and `children, destroyed towns. In short, a 19th Century Arkan. He would have been quite unsympathetic to people living at the time.

Then, you have Ride with the Devil, which had a black slave fighting with Quantrill’s guerillas. Which is about the same asx a Jew fighting with the 2nd Das Reich division with a yarmulke on. Impossible isn’t the word. These folks killed black slaves when they could. They hated blacks for racial and economic reasons.

What Hollywood has done is moderate the viciousness of the south and the war they fought. The noble struggle crap was revisionism promoted to hide the same of their racial war of conquest.

Gilliard also quotes from this now extinct post:

It was an armed revolution led by a planter class that could not tolerate restrictions on the “right” to transfer its human property into the territories.

It was a “Cause” centered in the states most dependent on slavery, made possible by a secession bitterly opposed by poor white farmers in much of the region, and imposed on them by the narrowest of margins.

It was a rebellion whose success entirely relied on the calculation that the people of the North would not sacrifice for abstractions like the Union and Freedom.

Its inevitable defeat plunged the South and all of its people into a century of grinding poverty, isolation, and oligarchical government. Its heritage has been used again and again to justify racism and every other sort of reactionary policy.

I look at Appomattox and see the end of a disastrous folly that killed over 600,000 Americans, maimed far more, and made life miserable for those of my ancestors who survived the Planters’ Revolt. No romance. No victory-in-defeat. Just carnage and destruction in a bad cause made no better by the good men whose lives and futures it claimed.

It is far past time for southern pride–which I share to an almost painful extent–to attach itself to everything, anything, other than those four disastrous years that ended at Appomattox Court House.

Read them all, and remember. Because the past isn’t dead. The past isn’t even past. Or so said some writer dude.

*Gilliard was one of the best writers on the internet, period. Tragically, he was killed by a hospital-acquired infection after needed surgery.

Comments

  1. #1 Rob Jase
    April 14, 2011

    Thanks, these will give me some good reading material for tonight.

  2. #2 Confederate Soldier till the bitter end
    April 14, 2011

    A few fact to clear things up:

    1) It was the North who invaded the South and declared war.
    2) The South had no choice but to fight back. States rights had been violated. Secession from the Union should have been allowed. Savery would have ended regardless of this pointless attack on sovereign Americans in the Southern States.

    If you wish to belittle soldiers, then how about mao, Che, and all the other marxist mass murderers that the left wingers hold so dear?

    I say the South should have fought harder. I say they should have gathered 300,000 men and stormed the capitol, and most of the populated banking cities and sluaghtered norther troops in their sleep at night. They way they fought was pathetic. An all out no holds barred anything goes bloodbath would have served the Northern aggressors right and would have taught them a lesson in minding their own business. They attacked first.

    The South did really well though. They were outgunned, out numbered and had far less resources, yet it still took the northern agressors 4 years to defeat them.

  3. #3 enigma32
    April 14, 2011

    Confederate Soldier till the bitter end is a funny poe. You did a good job with that; nobody with three brain cells would take you seriously, but yet you encapsulated those stupid confederate wannabes who have nothing better to live for. And I was laughing my ass off… till the bitter end.

  4. #4 Confederate Soldier till the bitter end
    April 14, 2011

    Judging by your name, you still have alot of ass to laugh off. You would be a perfect candidate for Biggest Loser.

    Wannabe? I live in Mississippi. My ancestors fought for the confederacy. I still fly my rebel flag high and proud till the better end. Too bad you are too far away to see it and enjoy it.

  5. #5 Interested foreigner
    April 14, 2011

    Interesting comments. Wasn’t the South defeated by being too limited in its war aims? They wanted to repeal the invaders and keep their territory intact. However, the only way they could win against such a potentially vast industrial complex as the North was, would have been to invade and capture Washington and force an armistice.
    The South had to win before the North could organize its huge industrial potential and much greater manpower. They failed to do this, so were beaten.
    Part of the limitation was a lack of unified command – they should have formed a war council and appointed a single commander. That and not utilizing their own heritage shown in the Revolutionary War of mobility, aimed firepower and outflanking seems amazingly remiss! The generals on both sides had studied the wrong military textbooks and not taken cognizance of their own military culture.
    I agree slavery would have been overturned eventually. Even before the Civil War I have seen evidence of a growing realization in the South that paid workers are far more productive and economical than slaves. And the slaves themselves were aware of the successful (eventually) revolts in the 1830s in British colonies.

  6. #6 portable stages
    April 15, 2011

    and want to stay. Maybe have some cards or board game they can play. Also make sure everyone has travel arrangements to get home. Hope this helps a little. Have a good party!

  7. #7 From the 9th NH and 20th ME:
    April 15, 2011

    Can’t speak to the post’s reference to violently inclined confederate leaders, but please don’t assume the North’s conscription policies relied on the intrinsic appeal of Union and Freedom.

  8. #8 FrauTech
    April 15, 2011

    “how the majority of southern whites did not want to secede from the Union–or die for wealthy slave-owning plantation masters–and were dragged into war, often through legislative chicanery.”

    I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. I would more liken the general southern populace’s support of the war with the support of the Bush tax cuts by lower and middle class conservatives. Or why they freaked out about Obama and the supposed $250,000 “rich” ceiling which of course never got implemented anyways. The rich and the powerful are often able to convince the poor and powerless that they have a better than good opportunity at making it themselves into the ranks of the rich and powerful. Thus because they might someday make $250k (even though statistically their chances are < 1%) they oppose these changes. Similarly, poor white men in the south (1) foolishly hoped they could one day become rich landowners and wanted to benefit from the slavery system and (2) enjoyed not being the lowest members in society. There was still a clear line where no matter how poor or uncivilized or uneducated they were, they were not slaves. Once the war was over, they had to make this a purely racial issue so that there was still some class in society they could hold themselves above. And it’s remained the same ever since. I sort of wish we’d let them secede. They’d be a third world country right now, kind of like Mexico 2.0, and we wouldn’t have to deal with all their leftovers of racism and anti-christian attitudes that let poor people suffer and workers be abused.

  9. #9 Frautech
    April 15, 2011

    less than 1%. The poor whites in the south wanted to perpetuate slavery and the status quo because (1) they hoped to become landowners and slaveholders themselves some day and (2) they enjoyed not being the lowest on the totem pole. After the civil war, they had to resort to pure racism as a justification for why they were poor or uneducated or unhealthy. The same game the then democrats and now republicans have been playing whereby they pit poor people against other poor people rather than having us all realize a minimum standard of care that could be provided by our government is reasonable. I kind of wish we’d let the south recede so that they could be a third world country (Mexico II!) and we wouldn’t have to deal with their leftover racism, anti-christian attitudes towards helping the poor and destitute, and willingness to have incredibly poor working conditions and destroy workers lives.

  10. #10 NJ
    April 15, 2011

    csttbe @ 2:

    A few fact to clear things up:

    1) It was the North who invaded the South and declared war.

    Considering that this comment was posted two days after the commemoration of the sesquicentential of the Confederate assault on Fort Sumpter that represented the start of hostilities, this represents a most perfect Poe…

  11. #11 Frautech
    April 15, 2011

    Those evil colonialist white capitalist rich men should have been executed for being white and rich. Everyone knows that white rich capitalist colonialist men never provide jobs for anyone. Everyone knows that poor black/latino/all other except white people downtrodden socialist union members provide jobs for people.

    There is no such thing as a rich man providing jobs. That is capitalist colonialist rich white man propoganda. The rich white man are racists becuase they do not give away their wealth to other races. We all know the rich white men owe all other races all of their money. Let’s get them rich white capitalist colonialist men before they destroy the world!

  12. #12 NJ
    April 15, 2011

    Hey, spammer! You forgot to include the link in your name last post!

  13. #13 BaldApe
    April 15, 2011

    It’s worth noting that Northern industrialists wanted to keep the Confederacy from seceding to ensure the flow of cotton to their factories. The South fought to keep slaves and the North fought to maintain the supply of the produce of slaves.

    Wealthy people sending poor people to kill each other to protect their economic interests. Same as it ever was.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.