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Old 12-02-2019, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Brackenwood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSquidworth View Post
Freeing slaves didn't become an aim of the north until around Gettysburg.
The North voted overwhelmingly for the abolitionist candidate, so no.
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Old 12-02-2019, 02:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitey View Post
The North voted overwhelmingly for the abolitionist candidate, so no.
And what... candidates fulfill all their promises? You understand how the government works with congress and all, right? You remember who started the war?
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
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...

Your family history seems to coincide a lot with my family history. My GGG grandmother was full blood Cherokee, and my GGG grandfather was Scots/Irish. They settled in the upper eastern corner of Oklahoma.


Maybe we're related. :-) Or maybe (and more likely) our ancestors knew each other. As far as I know, my ancestors didn't have slaves either.
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Brackenwood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSquidworth View Post
And what... candidates fulfill all their promises? You understand how the government works with congress and all, right? You remember who started the war?
The Republican Party was founded explicitly as the abolitionist party. It wasn't just some side issue they added as dressing to secure a few delegates here and there. The states that chose Lincoln knew exactly what they were voting for and why. That core issue is what gave the Republican Party the political clout to supplant what was, up until then, one of the two major political parties.
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:41 PM
 
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Switching sides was not uncommon. While on guard duty at night a confederate and union soldier may play cards or share a cigarette. If one or the other seemed to be getting a better deal it would entice the other to switch sides. Some confederates made good money by being paid to substitute for a wealthy land owner only to desert and do it all over again. James Horlick an Englishman who came over to fight in the war for the pay wrote to his mother that desertion, something that was quite appalling for an Englishman was common here in the states.
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitey View Post
The Republican Party was founded explicitly as the abolitionist party. It wasn't just some side issue they added as dressing to secure a few delegates here and there. The states that chose Lincoln knew exactly what they were voting for and why. That core issue is what gave the Republican Party the political clout to supplant what was, up until then, one of the two major political parties.
and had Congress legislated the end of slavery that would've been the law of the land. It wasn't up to the president, it was up to Congress. The South had their Congressmen. Up to that point there wasn't a real effort to end slavery in the south, but rather curtail it as new states got admitted.

Lincoln's aim in the Civil War was to keep the country together. It was until after years of fighting that emancipation happened.
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:14 PM
 
Location: Alaska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_in_Mi View Post
I've read that approximately 30% of southern families owned slaves, pre Civil War.
So that would be a reason for Southerners fighting.


Another reason, psychologically, the poor Whites were a rung up in the social hierarchy from slaves.
If slaves were freed, then the Blacks would be on the same social level in comparison to poor Whites.
This may sound far fetched to our 21st century mind, but I think it might have been a big motivator for
Confederacy recruiting. We see modern poor people who are in favor of policies that are against their own best interests ( right to work, Medicare for all, ....), so it's not a leap to assume that in 1860, poor Whites could be motivated to fight to maintain the institution of slavery.
We have a winner.
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:34 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Rhode Island
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Men fight because of social pressure. They're told that unless they defend their homeland they're weak and traitorous and if they come back victorious they'll be heroes- same message they get today.
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Here
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Throughout history, most people have fought for their 'place' -- country, state, region, tribe, and so forth -- unquestioningly. Also, there is usually no shortage of propaganda detailing a laundry list of horrors that will befall 'their people' if they do not. When governments say "It's time to start killing!", most people fall in line somewhere between enthusiasm and acquiescence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kettlepot View Post
Well, I don't have a contemporaneous source for this, but prior to the actual invasion and looting aspects of the war, I believe many non-slave owning Southerners would have fought simply because they didn't want outsiders telling them what to do or how to live.

In fact, having Northern Abolitionists berate them about slavery, probably made many Southerners more adamant to keep it just on the principle of being contrary.
You mean, like passing a law -- such as the Fugitive Slave Act -- which compelled northern states to assist in the returning of human beings (ooops, I meant 'property') to their enslavers? Or ensuring that courts issued rulings which required that slave-owners be allowed to 'visit' or 'transit' free states, with their slaves in tow (ie, allowing them to practice slavery in places where it had been banned), even if their 'transit' or 'visit' lasted weeks or months or years?

Yes, they sure upheld the principle that outside interference was unacceptable, all right...
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:50 PM
 
Location: Tijuana Exurbs
4,073 posts, read 10,607,604 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41 View Post
You mean, like passing a law -- such as the Fugitive Slave Act -- which compelled northern states to assist in the returning of human beings (ooops, I meant 'property') to their enslavers? Or ensuring that courts issued rulings which required that slave-owners be allowed to 'visit' or 'transit' free states, with their slaves in tow (ie, allowing them to practice slavery in places where it had been banned), even if their 'transit' or 'visit' lasted weeks or months or years?

Yes, they sure upheld the principle that outside interference was unacceptable, all right...
I didn't say that this feeling was based on a principle equally applied, just that it was how non-slave owning southern whites might have perceived it.

The OP asked why non-slave owners might have fought. A good portion of these people were poorer and less well educated than those who owned slaves. I think my supposition has merit explaining the motivations of why many of them would have willingly fought in the war.

And this idea that they might have fought just to resist outsiders telling them what to do is not incompatible with the loss of social status argument, and is highly congruent with the "this the home team and I'm fighting for it" and the more legalistic states rights argument. But I think they were more apt to fight based on their gut feelings rather than some kind of reasoned argument.
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