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Old 12-02-2019, 06:03 AM
 
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Does anyone have a good historical grasp on why non-slave owning soldiers fought for the South. What were some of the contemporaneous accounts given other than to protect the institution of slavery? Given that poor whites seemed to be one or two rungs above the slaves on this social ladder why did they fight? I know compulsion was one reason but you would think that being 'free' would allow them to move on.

As a side note I was thinking of this when listening to a lecture on a book called - "White Trash: The 400 Year History of Class in America"

Very interesting lecture - if interested:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cPII2l-K4s
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:28 AM
 
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The Confederacy did use the draft, but there were a great many soldiers who volunteered. One reason that the Southern common man fought: the war crimes of Sherman, Sheridan, et al. I had an ancestor who lived in North Carolina during the war. As Sherman's soldiers passed through her area, they destroyed her house and her crops. Afterwards, without the compassion of neighbors, she and her children would have starved.
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:59 AM
 
Location: bold new city of the south
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TedF0ster View Post
The Confederacy did use the draft, but there were a great many soldiers who volunteered. One reason that the Southern common man fought: the war crimes of Sherman, Sheridan, et al. I had an ancestor who lived in North Carolina during the war. As Sherman's soldiers passed through her area, they destroyed her house and her crops. Afterwards, without the compassion of neighbors, she and her children would have starved.
My ancestors came from Florida and Georgia. Like most Southerners, we owned no slaves, we attacked no one, we fought to repel invading armies.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:30 AM
 
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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.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:32 AM
 
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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.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:37 AM
 
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Because, for some, the concept of state was greater than the concept of country. In addition, while the average common soldier was not a slave owner, there was still a social hierarchy which placed the lowest and ignorant white person above any person of color. There is a reason labor unions were not wanted in the south.

Southern apologists and Lost Cause myth believers aside, the war was not supported by everyone in the south (just like it was not supported by everyone in the north.) This is an interesting book on southern troops in the US Army

https://www.amazon.com/Lincolns-Loya.../dp/1555531245
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TedF0ster View Post
The Confederacy did use the draft, but there were a great many soldiers who volunteered. One reason that the Southern common man fought: the war crimes of Sherman, Sheridan, et al. I had an ancestor who lived in North Carolina during the war. As Sherman's soldiers passed through her area, they destroyed her house and her crops. Afterwards, without the compassion of neighbors, she and her children would have starved.
Well, Sherman's March wasn't until 1864, and Sheridan's greatest raid was in 1864 as well. At this time the CSA was mobilizing home guard units and drafting a lot of bottom of the barrel folks so, what motivated them from 1860-1864 (aside from the conscription acts beginning in 1862)?
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe from dayton View Post
Because, for some, the concept of state was greater than the concept of country. In addition, while the average common soldier was not a slave owner, there was still a social hierarchy which placed the lowest and ignorant white person above any person of color. There is a reason labor unions were not wanted in the south.

Southern apologists and Lost Cause myth believers aside, the war was not supported by everyone in the south (just like it was not supported by everyone in the north.) This is an interesting book on southern troops in the US Army

https://www.amazon.com/Lincolns-Loya.../dp/1555531245

Thank you for the link. Very interesting.
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiloh1 View Post
Does anyone have a good historical grasp on why non-slave owning soldiers fought for the South. What were some of the contemporaneous accounts given other than to protect the institution of slavery? Given that poor whites seemed to be one or two rungs above the slaves on this social ladder why did they fight? I know compulsion was one reason but you would think that being 'free' would allow them to move on.

As a side note I was thinking of this when listening to a lecture on a book called - "White Trash: The 400 Year History of Class in America"

Very interesting lecture - if interested:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cPII2l-K4s
Wow. Fascinating. I watched the whole 50 minutes of it.

Stuff I didn't know:

- England was purposely sending their lowest classes, the vagrants and ne'er do wells, to the American colonies to get rid of them and to establish a work farm adjunct to Britain

- The eugenics movement was going on as strong here in the US as it was in Germany leading up to Hitler taking power
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:41 AM
Status: "I got you, babe (and sometimes that's the ****** trouble)!" (set 8 days ago)
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
12,757 posts, read 7,820,602 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TedF0ster View Post
The Confederacy did use the draft, but there were a great many soldiers who volunteered. One reason that the Southern common man fought: the war crimes of Sherman, Sheridan, et al. I had an ancestor who lived in North Carolina during the war. As Sherman's soldiers passed through her area, they destroyed her house and her crops. Afterwards, without the compassion of neighbors, she and her children would have starved.
And all of Sherman's excesses occurred within a year of the close of the war, long after the enthusiasm for armed action had passed. It was not until the time Grant began his bloody march through the Wilderness and on to the siege of Petersburg, that the draft (which mostly affected predominately-Irish immigrants in a handful of large cities) became an issue.
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