Battle of Appomattox: Understanding General Lee’s Surrender

 

The Battle of Appomattox Courthouse is considered by many historians the end of the Civil War and the start of post-Civil War America. The events of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General and future President Ulysses S. Grant at a small-town courthouse in Central Virginia put into effect much of what was to follow.

The surrender at Appomattox Courthouse was about reconciliation, healing, and restoring the Union. While the Radical Republicans had their mercifully brief time in the sun rubbing defeated Dixie’s nose in it, they represented the bleeding edge of Northern radicalism that wanted to punish the South, not reintegrate it into the Union as an equal partner.

The sentiment of actual Civil War veterans is far removed from the attitude of the far left in America today. Modern-day “woke-Americans” clamor for the removal of Confederate statues in the South, the lion’s share of which were erected while Civil War veterans were still alive. There was little objection to these statues at the time because it was considered an important part of the national reconciliation to allow the defeated South to honor its wartime dead and because there is a longstanding tradition of memorializing defeated foes in honor cultures.

The Events of the Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse

Long story short, the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse was a last-ditch effort by General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to meet up with the remaining Confederate forces to consolidate their efforts. The Greys failed and General Lee surrendered to Grant which effectively ended the war.

For ceremonial purposes, General Lee waited for General Grant in a white uniform. Grant, who suffered from migraines, noticed his headaches end once he and Lee had negotiated a ceasefire. Grant, in his magnanimity, allowed Lee to choose the place of his surrender – Lee famously chose the Appomattox Courthouse.

General Grant’s generosity extended beyond allowing Lee to choose the location of his surrender. Lee’s men were allowed to keep their horses, sidearms, and personal effects, including their mules ­–Grant recognized the importance of the mules for the upcoming plowing season. Grant went so far as to give Lee’s men rations for their journey home. Lee could not have hoped for much more and certainly would have been satisfied with far less.

The terms of surrender were dictated to Grant’s assistant, a Seneca Indian by the name of Ely S. Parker. Lee commented at the time that “It is good to have one real American here,” to which Parker replied, “Sir, we are all Americans.” Indeed, this was perhaps truer than it had ever been in American history.

A particularly poignant moment followed when Lee exited the courthouse and Grant’s men applauded in celebration but were quickly rebuked by their commanding officers. He immediately ordered an end to any celebration, remarking that “The Confederates were now our countrymen, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.”

General Custer and other officers purchased furnishings from the room where the surrender took place as souvenirs. General Grant went out to visit General Lee and other Confederate soldiers. The two sat on the porch of the McLean House, where the two talked before setting off for their respective capital cities. Generals Longstreet and Pickett also made an appearance.

Grant was not the only one willing to make concessions in the name of national unity – the very idea of a ceremony of surrender was anathema to much of the top brass in the Confederacy.

General Joshua Chamberlain, a celebrated figure among some of the most hardcore Unionists, ordered a salute of arms to the defeated Confederates at the surrender, an act that he could justify using the plausible deniability that he was saluting the lowering of the Union flag. His words on the matter are powerful and speak to prevailing moods of the time:

“Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured”

General George Meade is reported to have cried out, “it’s all over,” when he received news of the surrender. While 175,000 Confederate troops remained in the field, they were starving, exhausted, and spread thin. It was all over but for the shouting.

Over 650,000 Americans died in the Civil War, which is the equivalent of six million men today. Because the militaries were organized by location, many towns were left with no young men, only young children, old men, and widows. Part of this can be attributed to innovations in firepower. Due to advances in rifling technology, men had guns that could hit the side of a barn door at 100 yards for the first time in history.

Reconciliation in Post-Civil War America

After the war, most Americans were eager to reconcile with one another, which included the Southern states honoring their war dead with statues and the naming of military bases after Confederate heroes. The idea here is that both sides were Americans, both sides were brave, and both sides fought valiantly in the war. Slavery was de-emphasized because it was a moot issue –slaves had been freed and slavery wasn’t coming back. The nation wanted to move forward.

It is not difficult to separate the cause from the men who fought for it. However, there is little reason to believe that slavery and the dubious “benefits” of which were only enjoyed by a third of the population were motivating factors for the men in the Confederate Army. To put this into perspective, how eager would you be to fight for the holdings of Citibank or Amazon? Slavery was, by and large, an institution for elites, and even the majority of slaveholders were not big plantation owners, but small farmers who owned a slave or two.

This is not to excuse the institution of slavery which is both morally reprehensible and socially corrosive. We are simply attempting to provide important historical context that is sorely lacking from the current discourse on slavery, the Civil War, and the Confederacy. Much of the current discussion surrounding Civil War monuments in the South is centered around erasing history rather than understanding, appreciating, and learning from it.

Honoring the Confederate dead does not imply support for the Confederate cause. These statues are an acknowledgment of the tragedy of war and the bravery of individuals whose only crime was valuing their homeland and family over abstract principles. Currently, the left is attempting to paint this as simple “Lost Cause” -ism, but nothing could be farther from the truth as honoring the dead does not require accepting the Southern cause as noble or honorable. There were brave and moral men on both sides of the conflict, and each is worthy of reverence and respect for doing what they thought was right. Reconciliation began in the 1880s and 1890s, and during these years, Civil War monuments were built in the North and South alike.

In April of 1898, a statue was completed in Wisconsin of a soldier rescuing downed regimental colors from a fallen comrade. The statue was not greeted with ire by the South, but admiration. A Virginia Congressman wrote a letter to the local paper stating, “a soldier of the Old Dominion in the war between the states, a representative of the suffering and heroic people of Richmond, Va., wishes you success in commemorating your heroic slain.”

Likewise, when Virginia unveiled a large equestrian statue of General Robert E. Lee, largely seen as the embodiment of Southern values, the North did not kick up a fuss but sent similar regards to the city in honor of Lee. The New York Times wrote that “There is no question at all that his conduct throughout the war, and after it, was that of a brave and honorable man.”

The goal was not to justify slavery or rebellion, but rather it was, as President Lincoln put it, to “bind up the nation’s wounds.”

What We Can Learn from the Surrender at Appomattox

Lincoln’s famous remark, “With malice toward none; with charity for all,” largely sums up the prevailing, mainstream attitudes of the time. Americans had just suffered through four years of war that literally tore the country apart. The cliche about “brother against brother” was true especially in the border states that were hardest hit by the conflict, as many families had members on both sides of the conflict.

The war took an immense physical, psychological, and financial toll on the nation. Few were eager to see the conflict extended any further than it needed to be, despite knowing that there was still some work to be done regarding the integration of former rebellious states back into the Union.

The men who were most directly involved in the final battle of the Civil War were not eager to boast or punish the South for their rebellion. Although part of this can surely be ascribed to the fatigue coming from years of open warfare, there is something else going on here that is hinted at by General Chamberlain’s words. There was respect due to any group of brave men who can lose honorably and maintain their dignity, but there is also the knowledge that many of these men were not fighting to preserve slavery.

We will not attempt to pull out the old chestnut that the Civil War was not about slavery. It was about slavery, but it was also about much, much more. The United States prior to the Civil War was effectively a northern industrialized nation and a Southern agrarian nation shackled together. American history between 1776 and 1861 is largely about repeated attempts to cobble these two nations together. The key difference was between industrialized free labor and agrarian bonded labor, but there was a myriad of other social and cultural differences.

It is also worth pointing out that the North did not attempt to use the war to end slavery until several years in and then half-heartedly at that. President Lincoln once famously remarked that “If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

The North fought to keep the Union intact and everything else was just a window dressing. While it would be disingenuous to say that no one in the South was fighting to preserve human bondage, this was not the motivation for all, nor even for most men fighting what they called “The Second American Revolution.”

It is somewhat fashionable today on the left to refer to the Southrons fighting for the Confederacy as “traitors,” but we should examine what we mean when we say this word. To whom does one’s allegiance belong – homeland and family or to the federal bureaucracy? For the lion’s share of Confederate soldiers, their fight was not for slavery but for Virginia, or Mississippi, or Arkansas. Thus, fighting the Union was not an act of disloyalty, but quite the opposite.

During the Civil War, the North and the South shared a common set of political principles that were exemplified in the Constitution. The Confederates copied the Constitution almost word for word, however, they added verbiage to justify and protect slavery and enshrine state sovereignty. Confederate courts even used United States Supreme Court decisions as precedent.

It is unlikely that the current rift in the United States can be reconciled in the same way as the Civil War. America’s two main political factions – let’s call them liberals and conservatives for simplicity’s sake – do not share a common set of political principles or social goals which leaves no room for compromise.

The men who fought in the Civil War had less animosity toward one another than leftist college students have toward Confederate soldiers today. If the brave men there that day at Appomattox Courthouse weren’t angry enough to stop the former Confederates from honoring their war dead, how can we take seriously the caterwauling of far-left students and activists? The attack on Confederate war monuments and history has nothing to do with outrage over events taking place 150 years ago and everything to do with attacking and erasing American history and heritage.

Battle of Appomattox: Understanding General Lee’s Surrender originally appeared in The Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

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  1. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Good post. Thank you.

    • #1
  2. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    On my first visit to Appomattox Court House (maybe 20 years ago) I was struck by the human dignity the soldiers showed each other. 

    • #2
  3. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Ammo.com: General Grant’s generosity extended beyond allowing Lee to choose the location of his surrender. Lee’s men were allowed to keep their horses, sidearms, and personal effects, including their mules ­–Grant recognized the importance of the mules for the upcoming plowing season. Grant went so far as to give Lee’s men rations for their journey home. Lee could not have hoped for much more and certainly would have been satisfied with far less.

    This clause of Grant’s terms probably did more than anything to help heal the defeated Army of Northern Virginia:

    This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.

    None of men could be tried as traitors, though this provision was tested a bit.

    • #3
  4. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    A young man doesn’t join up on the side of his youthful comrades and community, and do everything that necessarily follows up to the things he is compelled to do in combat and just after, mainly because of his philosophy, but because of more localized and concrete social connections.

    In fact, most men young enough to join up haven’t any philosophy all that could overrule personal, localized, concrete connections.  Most never will, however long they live.

    • #4
  5. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    One of the cleverest thing Grant did was to guarantee that those surrendering were “not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they observe their paroles, and the laws in force where they may reside” until properly exchanged. Since the Confederate government was dissolving there was no way they could be properly exchanged. It was effectively a lifetime amnesty for those in the Army of Northern Virginia (including one Rafael Semmes, who commanded a Marine Brigade in the Army and had once commanded Sumpter and Alabama). 

    By doing this Grant checked the capability of Congress to seek vengeance on those who served in the Confederacy. He also helped forestall postwar guerilla resistance to Federal authority. It is one thing to take to the hills and fight to the death as a proscribed rebel, facing imprisonment or execution. It was entirely a different thing if you were given legal amnesty so long as you behaved and lived your life as you had previously. Most of those in the Army of Northern Virginia chose to go home and live their lives as they had previously.

    • #5
  6. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    There was a particularly (I thought) memorable episode of The Rifleman related to this.

    It’s called “The Sheridan Story.”

     

     

     

    • #6
  7. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    This post contains some significant errors.

    The surrender at Appomattox Courthouse was about reconciliation, healing, and restoring the Union. While the Radical Republicans had their mercifully brief time in the sun rubbing defeated Dixie’s nose in it, they represented the bleeding edge of Northern radicalism that wanted to punish the South, not reintegrate it into the Union as an equal partner.

    The Radical Republicans only gained power in Congress after the Southern states enacted Black Codes in 1865-66 which effectively reduced the newly freed slaves back into servitude, along with a wave of violence and terror against blacks.  Effectively the southern states wanted reunification as though nothing had changed with the war.  It was the South’s rejection of “healing” or perhaps its unique definition of the term that prompted the reaction in the north.  It was the enactment of the Black Codes that led to the failure of Lincoln’s desire to “let them up easy”, not the Radical Republicans.

    There was little objection to these statues at the time because it was considered an important part of the national reconciliation to allow the defeated South to honor its wartime dead and because there is a longstanding tradition of memorializing defeated foes in honor cultures.

    Regarding the statues predominantly erected in the late 1880s through the first two decades of the 20th century, after Reconstruction ended.  As far as the new Americans who were black and constituted more than 40% of the population of those states, they had no voice.  In fact, along with honoring the wartime dead the statues were just another reminder of the inferior status of blacks.  And to truly understand the political nature of the statues erected to honor the leaders of the Confederacy you will note the lack of statues to General Longstreet, certainly a hero, but who became a Republican after the war and actually preached true reconciliation.

    After the war, most Americans were eager to reconcile with one another, which included the Southern states honoring their war dead with statues and the naming of military bases after Confederate heroes.

    This is written as if immediately after the war military bases were named after Confederates.  That’s incorrect.  The first installation named was in 1917 and all were named in WW1 or WW2.  Were there some Union veterans, like Chamberlain, who emphasized reconciliation?  Yes.  But if you are familiar with the literature you’d know that were also a lot of Union veterans left very bitter about those who fought on the other side.  And they weren’t all heroes – Braxton Bragg?  As a side note, most of the Southern public schools naming after Confederates was done in the 1950s and early 1960s as a gesture of defiance against the extension of civil rights to blacks.

    While it would be disingenuous to say that no one in the South was fighting to preserve human bondage, this was not the motivation for all, nor even for most men fighting what they called “The Second American Revolution.”

    It was certainly not the motive for those southerners drafted by the Confederacy, a draft that started in 1862, a year before the draft began in the North.  I agree that the motivation of those who volunteered on both sides were mixed.  You state the fighting to preserve slavery was not the motivation for “most” men, an assertion which has two problems.  First, most of those who volunteered had multiple motivations, including preserving slavery and second, the precise mix and relative strength of those motivations is still a subject of debate.

    We will not attempt to pull out the old chestnut that the Civil War was not about slavery. It was about slavery, but it was also about much, much more.

    Slavery is the “but for” regarding secession.  The South didn’t secede over tariffs in the 1830s.  It was the loss of its hold on the Presidency and Congress that threatened not only the preservation of slavery in the existing states, but the expansion of slavery that many believed was essential to the future of the special institution.

    This is not to excuse the institution of slavery which is both morally reprehensible and socially corrosive. We are simply attempting to provide important historical context that is sorely lacking from the current discourse on slavery, the Civil War, and the Confederacy. Much of the current discussion surrounding Civil War monuments in the South is centered around erasing history rather than understanding, appreciating, and learning from it.

    I also oppose removing monuments to the Confederate dead (I have no problem renaming military bases), but you leave out the most important historical context of all.  Reconciliation between whites in the South and North was purchased at the cost of a century of repression for blacks and we are all paying for that now.

    • #7
  8. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    The use of aggregates in historical accounts is always problematic, but I find it instructive, when thinking about the post-Civil War scene, not to speak of ‘the South’, or even ‘the Southern elites’, but of ‘the Democratic Party’. The newly-enfranchised were solidly Republican, and elected from among themselves many local, State and Federal representatives. The Democratic Party conspired to prevent the democratic process from working, with all manner of procedural tricks, and the KKK and others of the Democratic Party’s direction action wing undertaking horrific acts of domestic terrorism.

    Grant was almost certainly right to treat Confederate soldiers as honorable opponents. But one can wonder how much injustice could have been avoided had he declared the Democratic Party an illegal organisation and permanently prevented it from poisoning the American body politic.

    (The astute reader will have noted that the Democratic Party has not really changed its playbook all these years later.)

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Ammo.com: Honoring the Confederate dead does not imply support for the Confederate cause. These statues are an acknowledgment of the tragedy of war and the bravery of individuals whose only crime was valuing their homeland and family over abstract principles.

    Amen!

    • #9
  10. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor
    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ!
    @Majestyk

    It is not difficult to separate the cause from the men who fought for it.

    I’m not sure who believes this aside from some Neoconfederates – I mean, if you need the definitive explanation of what the South’s cause consisted of, look no further than Alexander Stephens’s infamous “Cornerstone Speech“:

    But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization… … Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science.

    Emphasis mine.

    The Civil War was fought over slavery. Full Stop. If you disagree, you are literally disagreeing with the words of one of Secession’s chief authors, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

    It is somewhat fashionable today on the left to refer to the Southrons fighting for the Confederacy as “traitors,” but we should examine what we mean when we say this word. To whom does one’s allegiance belong – homeland and family or to the federal bureaucracy? For the lion’s share of Confederate soldiers, their fight was not for slavery but for Virginia, or Mississippi, or Arkansas. Thus, fighting the Union was not an act of disloyalty, but quite the opposite.

    Quite the opposite? Let me get this straight: If taking up arms against your nation and shooting its soldiers dead – engaging in an insurrection, if you will – is not a traitorous act… what is? The Founders knew this to be true when they took up arms against the British and that if they lost the consequences would be dire for them, personally. They were traitors, from the perspective of the British Empire.

    From our perspective we consider them to be “Patriots” and “heroes…” because they won.

    The South lost. Losing a war has consequences. One of the consequences is that you don’t get to pretend to have been heroic for shooting and killing the soldiers of the nation you were rebelling against. It may be that the soldiers who actually engaged in these actions were simply “following orders” but as we’ve seen from history, people simply “following orders” can engage in monstrous cruelty and have afterwards been held accountable by people who determined they probably should have known better.

    Even so: In the interest of fostering amity, the North made the entirely sensible calculation to not rub the South’s noses in their own mess to the extent they might have deserved, but this doesn’t mean that the amnesty was universal or anything but grudging: Captain Henry Wirz was tried, convicted and executed for this role in fostering the deplorable conditions at the Andersonville Prison Camp (where some 13,000 Union Soldiers perished) – which is quite something to think about. 13,000 American soldiers were starved or died from disease while in the custody of (what was at the time) a hostile power; this at time when America’s population was 1/10 of what it is today.

    We (appropriately) overturned half the world over 3,000 people being murdered by foreigners in 2001, so what makes people think that the South should have been treated more nicely than it was? Wirz himself even pioneered the Nuremburg defense, intoning before his hanging “I know what orders are, Major. I am being hanged for obeying them.” Not an apology. Not a twinge of regret for the deaths of legions of men.  Far from being “honorable,” Wirz was absolutely contemptible. Which is not to say that every single Confederate or Union soldier acted with the utmost honor during the conflict, but that the bowdlerized image of the antebellum South conjured up by many Lost Cause enthusiasts whitewashes its hideous reality. I can’t blame them for wanting to do this; I’d be ashamed as well if I thought I had any responsibility for it.

    For this and many reasons, I have no issue with removing Confederate war memorials from public places of high honor. Could they be at a graveyard or a museum? Certainly. But in the center of a public square in the middle of an American city? No. Absolutely not. The Confederacy lost. There are no participation trophies for losing the game of war. Add in that you lost a war fought in defense of chattel slavery, a matter which even divorced from modern moral considerations was in its own day thought to be such a moral outrage that people fought the bloodiest conflict in American history to end it.

    There’s a reason why Arlington National Cemetery was placed in Robert E. Lee’s back yard – so that every day he walked out his door he could survey the vast slaughter he oversaw and (hopefully) reflect upon it ruefully. Place his statues there, as that is his greatest legacy.

    • #10
  11. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):
    The Civil War was fought over slavery. Full Stop. If you disagree, you are literally disagreeing with the words of one of Secession’s chief authors, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

    I suppose one could say that secession was done to preserve slavery, and the CW was fought to prevent that secession. But six of one, half-dozen of the other. It was all about slavery.

    • #11
  12. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor
    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ!
    @Majestyk

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):
    The Civil War was fought over slavery. Full Stop. If you disagree, you are literally disagreeing with the words of one of Secession’s chief authors, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

    I suppose one could say that secession was done to preserve slavery, and the CW was fought to prevent that secession. But six of one, half-dozen of the other. It was all about slavery.

    Correct – if the South was fighting to preserve slavery via secession, the North was fighting to prevent secession. But no matter how you slice this, slavery is at the bottom of the pie.

    • #12
  13. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    I believe Phil Sheridan purchased the table and presented it to Custer.

    • #13
  14. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):

    Every American at the time of the Revolution, like one at the time of the Southern secession, had a unwelcome and painful choice of being loyal to one polity and disloyal to another farther from his affections, or the converse.

    No other choice was available.

    You assert that this choice of actions changed after the fact, when one side won.

    It didn’t.  At the time of decision, no opportunity was available that did not involve betrayal of a former profound personal connection.  The end of the war had absolutely no effect on that truth.

    • #14
  15. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor
    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ!
    @Majestyk

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Every American at the time of the Revolution, like one at the time of the Southern secession, had a unwelcome and painful choice of being loyal to one polity and disloyal to another farther from his affections, or the converse.

    No other choice was available.

    You assert that this choice of actions changed after the fact, when one side won.

    It didn’t.  At the time of decision, no opportunity was available that did not involve betrayal of a former profound personal connection.  The end of the war had absolutely no effect on that truth.

    That’s not true at all. Plenty of Royalists fled to Canada and back to Great Britain at the end of the Revolutionary war.

    Obviously, data about this is somewhat sketchy as there were no public opinion polls, but the rough breakdown of the populace that we see in any political contest seems to have been in play: 1/3 in favor of Revolution, 1/3 in favor of remaining British and 1/3 apathetic.

    There are plenty of personal letters sent by Southern soldiers that indicate they were rather enthusiastic about the opportunity to fight for the Confederacy – and I’m sure that there were no small number of people in the South who reluctantly went along, and labored away knowing full well that to question their neighbors would have marked them as a “traitor…” but a traitor to the Confederacy and its Cornerstone.

    • #15
  16. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):
    That’s not true at all. Plenty of Royalists fled to Canada

    This is only confirming evidence for my point. They fled and abandoned their property and position only because of their fear of the consequences of their choice of which of two loyalties to betray.  

    • #16
  17. Ammo.com Member
    Ammo.com
    @ammodotcom

    Stad (View Comment):

    Ammo.com: Honoring the Confederate dead does not imply support for the Confederate cause. These statues are an acknowledgment of the tragedy of war and the bravery of individuals whose only crime was valuing their homeland and family over abstract principles.

    Amen!

    I feel the same way about every man who fought and died for his country. The men eating $#!% in the trenches are never the ones who created the policies which landed them there in the first place.

    • #17
  18. Ammo.com Member
    Ammo.com
    @ammodotcom

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    This post contains some significant errors.

    I greatly appreciate you bringing these to my attention. I will relay your post to the writer so he may consider all your points!

    • #18
  19. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):
    The South lost. Losing a war has consequences. One of the consequences is that you don’t get to pretend to have been heroic for shooting and killing the soldiers of the nation you were rebelling against.

    The heck you don’t . . .

    • #19
  20. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    What the OP elides is that the CSA was created for the purpose ratifying race-based chattel slavery among its member states. It was a leap backward in liberty that explicitly rebuked the Declaration’s claims about equality under God and the law.

    Its success would have doomed millions of American Blacks to live under a government that–rather than making an uneasy peace with an existing evil–positively endorsed, protected, and encouraged slavery’s growth and considered it as an essential part of its society.

    In short, it would have the 1619 Project true, at least for one part of the country.

    • #20
  21. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    In addition to the issues Gumby Mark and Shawn ably pointed out, I wanted to take issue with two claims in the OP. First:

    Ammo.com:

    During the Civil War, the North and the South shared a common set of political principles that were exemplified in the Constitution. The Confederates copied the Constitution almost word for word, however, they added verbiage to justify and protect slavery and enshrine state sovereignty.

    It did much more than that.

    Whereas the US Constitution makes no mention of race in terms of slavery, the Confederate Constitution repeatedly defined slavery in explicitly racial terms (e.g., it refers to “negroes of the African race,” “negro slaves”, etc.). And rather than “enshrine state sovereignty” in this regard, it mandated that slavery be legal in all its territories:

    Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3

    The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

    In other words, free territories were not allowed into the Confederacy and no Confederate state was allowed to abolish the practice.

    • #21
  22. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    Second:

    Ammo.com:

    The North fought to keep the Union intact and everything else was just a window dressing. While it would be disingenuous to say that no one in the South was fighting to preserve human bondage, this was not the motivation for all, nor even for most men fighting what they called “The Second American Revolution.”

    The issue was clearly on the mind of those who passed and ratified state articles of secession, many of which clearly describe the preservation of slavery as the primary motivation for leaving the Union.

    Here’s how Mississippi opened its Articles of Secession:

    In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

    Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

    Not to be outdone, here’s how  Georgia described the matter in the opening paragraph of its Articles of Secession:

    The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.

    And here’s Texas, in a perverse allusion to the Declaration of Independence, concluding its justification for secession:

    […] In view of these and many other facts, it is meet that our own views should be distinctly proclaimed.

    We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

    That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.

    Think about that last one. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wanted to list slavery as among the injustices inflicted on Americans by the British crown that justified secession. Just 85 years later, his imitators would cite threats to slavery as their primary reason for leaving.

    • #22
  23. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

     

    Ammo.com:

    The North fought to keep the Union intact and everything else was just a window dressing. While it would be disingenuous to say that no one in the South was fighting to preserve human bondage, this was not the motivation for all, nor even for most men fighting what they called “The Second American Revolution.”

    The issue was clearly on the mind of those who passed and ratified state articles of secession, many of which clearly describe the preservation of slavery as the primary motivation for leaving the Union.

     

    But even if those people who did the articles of secession, were actually on the fields of battle, they would be a miniscule share of the total.

    • #23
  24. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But even if those people who did the articles of secession, were actually on the fields of battle, they would be a miniscule share of the total.

    In the cases of Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia, the articles were approved by a referendum of voters.

     

    • #24
  25. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But even if those people who did the articles of secession, were actually on the fields of battle, they would be a miniscule share of the total.

    In the cases of Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia, the articles were approved by a referendum of voters.

     

    In other words, by those who showed up.  I can think of several reasons why people would be more determined to vote FOR secession rather than against.

    • #25
  26. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor
    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ!
    @Majestyk

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But even if those people who did the articles of secession, were actually on the fields of battle, they would be a miniscule share of the total.

    In the cases of Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia, the articles were approved by a referendum of voters.

     

    In other words, by those who showed up. I can think of several reasons why people would be more determined to vote FOR secession rather than against.

    That’s bad news for the people who failed to show up to vote against it, then:

    “Was that darn Secession Referendum today? Gosh. I have to hang the laundry but I’m sure it will turn out OK.”

    • #26
  27. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But even if those people who did the articles of secession, were actually on the fields of battle, they would be a miniscule share of the total.

    In the cases of Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia, the articles were approved by a referendum of voters.

     

    In other words, by those who showed up. I can think of several reasons why people would be more determined to vote FOR secession rather than against.

    That’s bad news for the people who failed to show up to vote against it, then:

    “Was that darn Secession Referendum today? Gosh. I have to hang the laundry but I’m sure it will turn out OK.”

    Also depends on how concerned you might be that secessionists might show up at your house with torches etc.  Y’know, kinda like BLM/Antifa/etc today.

    • #27
  28. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But even if those people who did the articles of secession, were actually on the fields of battle, they would be a miniscule share of the total.

    In the cases of Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia, the articles were approved by a referendum of voters.

     

    In other words, by those who showed up. I can think of several reasons why people would be more determined to vote FOR secession rather than against.

    That’s bad news for the people who failed to show up to vote against it, then:

    “Was that darn Secession Referendum today? Gosh. I have to hang the laundry but I’m sure it will turn out OK.”

    Also depends on how concerned you might be that secessionists might show up at your house with torches etc. Y’know, kinda like BLM/Antifa/etc today.

    If we stipulate that you’re right, it only makes the case against the CSA stronger.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But even if those people who did the articles of secession, were actually on the fields of battle, they would be a miniscule share of the total.

    In the cases of Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia, the articles were approved by a referendum of voters.

    In other words, by those who showed up. I can think of several reasons why people would be more determined to vote FOR secession rather than against.

    That’s bad news for the people who failed to show up to vote against it, then:

    “Was that darn Secession Referendum today? Gosh. I have to hang the laundry but I’m sure it will turn out OK.”

    Also depends on how concerned you might be that secessionists might show up at your house with torches etc. Y’know, kinda like BLM/Antifa/etc today.

    If we stipulate that you’re right, it only makes the case against the CSA stronger.

    Against the CSA, sure.  But my point was that many and perhaps even most of the actual “boots on the ground” didn’t necessarily support slavery, nor should we assume that was why they – as individuals – were fighting.  Remember it’s also commonly figured that maybe 1/3rd of the people of the American Colonies (or however you want to label it) were actually for independence from England; the other 2/3rds – a sizable majority – were either actively opposed, or basically indifferent.  And I don’t see any reason to conclude, without much stronger evidence, that the individual troops fighting on the Confederate side were specific supporters of slavery, even if their “leaders” were.  Maybe some actually even wrote letters expressing that view, but unless you can find ALL the letters from ALL the soldiers and the majority express that view, I wouldn’t believe it, no matter how inflamed the writers of the Articles Of Secession may have been.

    • #29
  30. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    Where you been all this time?  Are you new?

    Not complaining. Welcome to the war, we’re on the same side. 

    • #30