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Old 12-02-2019, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post
It's also been forgotten that before the Civil War, the United States viewed itself as a much looser confederation of individual states which, in the absence of large-scale enterprises, standards, and "internal improvements" were presumed to have greater autonomy. Robert E. Lee was a competent and conscientious officer, but when queried, he explained upon a number of occasions that his first loyalty was to Virginia.
^This. One of the best single-volume reads on the Civil War is Jay Winik's April 1865. One phrase that sticks out from the book was something to the effect of "Before the war, people said, 'The United States are...', while after the war, the phrase was 'The United States is...'." I think that tells us a lot.
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
^This. One of the best single-volume reads on the Civil War is Jay Winik's April 1865. One phrase that sticks out from the book was something to the effect of "Before the war, people said, 'The United States are...', while after the war, the phrase was 'The United States is...'." I think that tells us a lot.
I've come across the above expressed as - Before the war, it was these United States. After it was "The United States."

There isn't a singular motive, 750,000 fought for the South and each one had his own reasons. Some were genuine enthusiasts who saw the war as the greatest adventure opportunity they would ever be handed. Some fought because they were more afraid of what would be said of them if they didn't, than they were of whatever awaited them on the battlefield.

What I suspect was the most common motivation was the same impulse which has us still rooting for our college's sports team three decades after last being a student there. It is the home team uber alles mentality which informs and drives so much of our lives. There is right and wrong, and then there is the group of people, or a specific territory, which we view as within our circle of primary interest. Right or wrong, we defend that perimeter because it is our perimeter.

The phenomena I reference is the same thing we get manipulated into in stories or movies. In The Godfather, why were we rooting for the Corleones as opposed to any of the other groups of thugs? Because the film was made from the Corleone point of view. They became our mobsters and the Tattaglias and Barzinis were the evil outsiders attacking the home team.
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:47 AM
 
Location: The Carolinas
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The same reason a good many settlers fought the British: they didn't appreciate someone far off and of different cultural norms telling them what to do.
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:48 AM
 
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I can tell you why some of MY ancestors fought for the confederacy.


They were Cherokee who were forcefully removed from their homes and forced to walk the Trail of Tears by the U.S. Government.


"In 1838 Cherokee people were forcibly moved from their homeland and relocated to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. They resisted their Removal by creating their own newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, as a platform for their views. They sent their educated young men on speaking tours throughout the United States. They lobbied Congress, and created a petition with more than 15,000 Cherokee signatures against Removal. They took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that they were a sovereign nation n Worcester vs. Georgia (1832). President Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court decision, enforced his Indian Removal Act of 1830, and pushed through the Treaty of New Echota.
In 1838 Cherokee people were forcibly taken from their homes, incarcerated in stockades, forced to walk more than a thousand miles, and removed to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. More than 4,000 died and many are buried in unmarked graves along “The Trail Where They Cried.”
https://www.cherokeemuseum.org/archi...SAAEgIi9_D_BwE


1861, the Civil War starts. The Federal gov. leaves a very very bad taste in their mouths, and continues to harass citizens in Indian Territory.


That's why MY ancestors fought for the confederacy. Your mileage may differ.
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Old 12-02-2019, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassybluesy View Post
I can tell you why some of MY ancestors fought for the confederacy.


They were Cherokee who were forcefully removed from their homes and forced to walk the Trail of Tears by the U.S. Government.


"In 1838 Cherokee people were forcibly moved from their homeland and relocated to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. They resisted their Removal by creating their own newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, as a platform for their views. They sent their educated young men on speaking tours throughout the United States. They lobbied Congress, and created a petition with more than 15,000 Cherokee signatures against Removal. They took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that they were a sovereign nation n Worcester vs. Georgia (1832). President Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court decision, enforced his Indian Removal Act of 1830, and pushed through the Treaty of New Echota.
In 1838 Cherokee people were forcibly taken from their homes, incarcerated in stockades, forced to walk more than a thousand miles, and removed to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. More than 4,000 died and many are buried in unmarked graves along “The Trail Where They Cried.”
https://www.cherokeemuseum.org/archi...SAAEgIi9_D_BwE


1861, the Civil War starts. The Federal gov. leaves a very very bad taste in their mouths, and continues to harass citizens in Indian Territory.


That's why MY ancestors fought for the confederacy. Your mileage may differ.
If one reads more deeply into the actual story, what emerges is that the displaced tribes were primarily interested in settling internal tribal scores, and not at all interested in which side, North or South, prevailed in the struggle. Their divisions were not industrialists vs cotton planters, or strong central government vs state sovereignty, their divisions were full bloods vs mixed bloods, and followers of those who resisted the relocation (followers of Stand Waite among the Cherokees) vs those who cooperated with it (followers of John Ross.) Among the Creeks, thousands of pro-Union followers of Chief Opothleyoholo fled north towards Kansas. When pursued and fought by the South leaning Creeks, the result was most of the pursuers deserting their ranks and joining with the refugees. More than half of the original pro-South Cherokees wound up fighting for the North.
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Old 12-02-2019, 12:39 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
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The Missouri Governor called out the State Guard to defend the (supposedly neutral) border state from a widespread Federal invasion and occupation so members of the Missouri State Guard found themselves on the Confederate side whether they wanted to be or not. Some were eventually merged into the Confederate army while many others just went home or eventually joined the Union. Missouri was the only state that went for Stephen Douglas in 1860 (followed closely by Bell) so it was not wildly secessionist at the early stages of the war.
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
If one reads more deeply into the actual story, what emerges is that the displaced tribes were primarily interested in settling internal tribal scores, and not at all interested in which side, North or South, prevailed in the struggle. Their divisions were not industrialists vs cotton planters, or strong central government vs state sovereignty, their divisions were full bloods vs mixed bloods, and followers of those who resisted the relocation (followers of Stand Waite among the Cherokees) vs those who cooperated with it (followers of John Ross.) Among the Creeks, thousands of pro-Union followers of Chief Opothleyoholo fled north towards Kansas. When pursued and fought by the South leaning Creeks, the result was most of the pursuers deserting their ranks and joining with the refugees. More than half of the original pro-South Cherokees wound up fighting for the North.

Not mine.


Mine fought with Stand Watie. Some of my ancestors were forced to leave through the front door as white Georgia neighbors came through the back, taking things and saying "These are mine now."
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babe_Ruth View Post
Mark: based on primary source letters I've read, I'd say your assessment is pretty fair.
Southerners believed individual states were sovereign, & each reserved the right to leave a (voluntary) Union. They believed Lincoln's forceful retention of the Union was an encroachment on their liberties.. And the War was ultimately an invasion of their sovereign, seceded states.
First verse of 'The Bonnie Blue Flag' states their basic feelings..

I think a lot of modern students confuse (or deliberately conflate) the causes of secession w/the cause of war. Secession had a lot to do with preserving state control over slavery. But there hypothetically could have been peaceful secession, the South fought when they realized Lincoln would use lethal force & (from the Confederacy's perspective: an invasion) to hold the Union together. Average Confederate soldier viewed himself as a defender of his state's rights/border.

As I said, I think the motivation that many if not most ordinary southerners had for fighting was that they had been attacked and were defending their homes.

This is different than believing that the Civil War occurred because of a belief that individual states were "sovereign" . I doubt most people even understood the most basic notions of government or the social contract. I don't want to be drawn into another discussion (we've had several on this forum) of whether states constitutionally can choose to secede. I don't believe they can.

Defending slavery was the major reason the ruling classes in the South had for being drawn into the Civil War. In fact, some of the states that seceded from the Union literally had that written into the statements they issued when they seceded from the Union. Texas is one example of that. Anyone who doubts what I say ought to ask themselves a simple question. Did any of the eleven southern states who seceded and formed the Confederacy abolish slavery on their own? The answer is that none did in the four years the Civil War was going on. It took the War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment to end slavery.

Having said that, I still find it hard to excuse some of the abuses carried out against the southern population by Union soldiers. There was not a need to burn Atlanta or cut a fifty mile wide path of destruction to the see as Sherman's Army did. Nor, was there a need to utterly pillage and destroy farms and plantations during the conflict. Had these things not occurred, I think Reconstruction could have been easier process with fewer recriminations for everyone involved.
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:39 PM
 
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Not all non-slaveholding whites were "white trash" or uneducated. A Scots-Irish branch of my family lived near the Oklahoma border, about fifteen or twenty miles south of Fort Smith, Arkansas. They were small farmers and my g-grandfather was a teacher, as had been my g-grandmother prior to her marriage. They sent many of their children, including the girls, to college. But as far as I can determine, they had no slaves.

One of their young sons enlisted in the spring of 1861, at Fort Smith, then in Confederate hands, along with a number of other young men, one soon to be his brother-in-law, in the Confederate artillery. I expect they were seeking adventure and wanted to see a bit of the country, typical still of many young enlistees.

They certainly got their wishes, but not as they had expected. My g-uncle saw action at Pea Ridge, Chickamauga, the Battle of Atlanta, and the Battle of Richmond, KY, not too far from my present-day home. He survived and lived a long and peaceful life after the war - my late mother remembered him well.

Another young son, having witnessed the aftermath of a nearby bloody skirmish in the early fall of 1863, also enlisted as soon as he turned 18 - but in the Union Army, in 1864. As far as I can determine, he never saw action, for he died in an army hospital in Little Rock soon after he turned 19....and on the day Lincoln died.

On that same day, the remainder of the large family was on a steamboat slowly making its way from southern Ill, (where they and other civilians from western Arkansas had been sent by the Union Army which had meanwhile recaptured Fort Smith for protection from killer bushwhackers [and starvation, as both armies had taken their foodstores and livestock and left them with nothing but whatever small game their young sons could find in the nearby woods]) down the Mississippi and eventually up the Arkansas River to Fort Smith and home.

They arrived back at their battered but intact farm just in time to learn of the assassination and used my g-grandmother's black shawl to drape the front porch as a sign of mourning - bushwhackers were still infesting the area, and with a son in each army, the family was viewed with suspicion.

I am not sure how they eventually learned of their Union soldier son's death. I have tried to find his grave in the Little Rock National Cemetery, but only found the grave of a young man with a slightly different surname - but identical dates and given name. I suspect either a clerical error, or a deliberate name-change took place.

I am fortunate to know much of the family's story during the terrible war years, thanks to yet another young son who was in his early teens during the war - too young to enlist, but old enough to take detailed notice of what was happening around him. In early old age, he told these stories in a local newspaper column, copies of which were passed down the family and are now in my possession (I have shared them with the local history museum).

So - there are no easy, pat answers as to why non-slaveholders enlisted in the Confederate Army. The stories of my slaveholding Virginia ancestors, who also were Confederates, are very different from those of my Arkansas family - my g-g-paternal grandfather, a Confederate officer, took his enslaved "body servant" Isaac with him for the entirety of the war. Once freed, Isaac remained in the same community, where he drew a Confederate pension, successfully practiced a trade - and eventually entered politics, supported by my g-g-grandfather, who became very civic-minded in his later years and did much to heal the wounds of the war.

As previously noted in this thread, each enlistee had an individual reason for enlisting, but common reasons included loyalty to their state and region, determination to throw "invaders" out of their homeland, fear for their families, especially later enlistees previously living in battle zones or heavily contested areas, losses experienced by civilians resulting in severe hunger and deprivation, and of course, seeking adventure and wanting to be viewed as a patriotic hero, and a desire for self-determination.

No doubt some fought to preserve slavery, usually voiced as "our way of life" rather than in harsher (but more accurate) tones. But there's no evidence of that in this non-slave-holding maternal branch of my family (which has very long generations, explaining why I am only a couple of generations removed from my Civil War veteran great uncles).

Same reasons apply today...
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buddy5 View Post
My ancestors came from Florida and Georgia. Like most Southerners, we owned no slaves, we attacked no one, we fought to repel invading armies.
Union armies weren't invading armies. They were reclaiming the southern United States from traitors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
Its really very easy.

Most of the Civil War was fought in southern states on southern territory.

I suspect most southerners felt the yankees were simply foreign invaders that needed to be repelled. In short, many southern soldiers were fighting to preserve their homes and their farms in the same way that Russians fought to preserve their homes from invading Germans in World War II. So, slavery did not directly enter into it for a very large number of confederate soldiers.

Add into this that the behavior of many northern soldiers left much to be desired. Its one thing to follow orders and march into someone's territory. Its another thing to systematically loot their farms and take all their food and personal possessions because a war is going on. Much of the destruction was unnecessary and totally capricious. Why kill all of a farmer's hogs and cattle when you already have enough food to meet the needs of your army? Why take his silverware and china when such acts do not aid the war effort? Much of the bitterness that followed the Civil War did not result from the Union Army marching into southern states. It resulted from wanton and unnecessary acts of theft, looting, and destruction that took place during the march south. Sherman's March through Georgia was one example of something that did not need to occur. It had little to no military value.

It was simply done to punish people who had sided with the Confederacy during the war.
IIRC the looting and destruction from the Union armies escalated as the war dragged on. This was done on purpose... to wear the population out. If the population stopped supporting the war, the war would end sooner. Remember; everyone thought initially it'd be over quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitey View Post
Eh, no. There was a concerted and often bloody effort not just to preserve the institution of slavery but to expand it into territories that had not yet adopted it. Southerners weren't interested in maintaining it merely on a rebellious whim.
Freeing slaves didn't become an aim of the north until around Gettysburg.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babe_Ruth View Post
Mark: based on primary source letters I've read, I'd say your assessment is pretty fair.
Southerners believed individual states were sovereign, & each reserved the right to leave a (voluntary) Union. They believed Lincoln's forceful retention of the Union was an encroachment on their liberties.. And the War was ultimately an invasion of their sovereign, seceded states.
First verse of 'The Bonnie Blue Flag' states their basic feelings..

I think a lot of modern students confuse (or deliberately conflate) the causes of secession w/the cause of war. Secession had a lot to do with preserving state control over slavery. But there hypothetically could have been peaceful secession, the South fought when they realized Lincoln would use lethal force & (from the Confederacy's perspective: an invasion) to hold the Union together. Average Confederate soldier viewed himself as a defender of his state's rights/border.
The South was the first to use force. That's not voluntarily leaving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adams_aj View Post
The same reason a good many settlers fought the British: they didn't appreciate someone far off and of different cultural norms telling them what to do.
DC wasn't far from the border. The South had representation. So nothing like the Revolutionary War.

The Southern upper class knew that at some point slavery wouldn't exist anymore and so they dragged the south into a war over it. The lower classes like usual were cannon fodder easily swayed by propaganda. The Confederacy was the first to use the draft when their original soldiers who signed up initially for 12 months woke up one day and were told by their government "guess what! we've extended it to three years because we said so!"
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