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Southerners would have told you they were fighting for self-government. They believed the gathering of power in Washington was against them. When they entered into that Federation they certainly would never have entered into it if it hadn’t believed it to be possible to get out. Shelby Foote
Any Deep South boy, anyhow, and probably all Southern boys have been familiar with the Civil War as a sort of thing in their conscience going back. I honestly believe that it’s in all our subconscious. This country was into its adolescence at the time of the Civil War. It really was; it hadn’t formulated itself really as an adult nation, and the Civil War did that. Like all traumatic experiences that you might have had in your adolescence, it stays with you the rest of your life, certainly in your subconscious, most likely in your conscience, too. I think that the Civil War had the nature of that kind of experience for the country. Anybody who’s looked into it at all realizes that it truly is the outstanding event in American history insofar as making us what we are. The kind of country we are emerged from the Civil War, not from the Revolution. The Revolution provided us with a constitution; it broke us loose from England; it made us free. But the Civil War really defined us. It said what we were going to be, and it said what we’re not going to be. It drifted away from the Southern, mostly Virginia, influence up into the New England and Middle Western influence, and we became that kind of nation instead of the other kind of nation. Shelby Foote
The answer a southerner would give you as to why are you fighting if you were a northerner, he would say, I’m fighting cause you’re down here. Shelby Foote
Strategically the South would fight a defensive war, and to her accordingly would proceed all the advantages of the defensive: advantages which had been increasing in ratio to the improvements in modern weapons. A study of the map would show additional difficulties for the North, particularly in the theater lying between the two capitals, where the rivers ran east and west across the line of march, presenting a series of obstacles to the invader. In the West it would be otherwise ... Against this stern demand, southern soldiers would fight in defense of their homes, with all the fervour and desperation accompanying such a position. Shelby Foote, The Civil War narrative *****
Whatever truth there might once have been in the Confederate claim that Southerners made better soldiers, or anyhow started from a better scratch because they came directly from life in the open and were familiar with the use of firearms, applied no longer. After six months of army drill, a factory hand was indistinguishable from a farmer. Individually, the Northerners knew, they were at least as tough as any men the South could bring against them, and probably as a whole they were better drilled – except of course the cavalry, since admittedly it took longer to learn to fork a horse in style. McClellan’s men were aware of the changes he had wrought and they were proud of them. ibid.
In the Battle of Shiloh, Union losses were 1754 killed, 8408 wounded, 2885 captured: total, 13,047. Confederate losses were 1,723 killed, 8,012 wounded, 959 missing: total 10,694. Of the 100,000 soldiers engaged in this first great bloody conflict of the war, approximately one out of every four who had gone in battle had been killed, wounded or captured. ibid.
Disaster (for the Confederacy) came in various forms this spring, and it moved to various tempos. In the West it came like fireworks, looming after a noisy rush and casting a lurid glow. Whole states, whole armies fell at once or had large segments broken off by the threat of the invader. Kentucky and Missouri, most of Tennessee, much of Arkansas, North Alabama and North Mississippi were lost in rapid succession, along with 30,000 fighting men, dead or in northern prison camps, and finally New Orleans, Memphis, and the fleets that had been built to hold the river that ran between them. That was how it reached the West. ibid.
As a professional soldier, in touch with every department of the army he commanded, Davis not only recognized the odds his country faced in its struggle for independence; he saw that they were lengthening with every passing month as the North’s tremendous potential was converted into actuality. In that sense, not only was time against him; even success was against him, for each northern reverse brought on a quickening of the tempo of conversion. And yet, paradoxically, it was time for which he was fighting. Time alone could bring into being, in the North, the discouragement which was the South’s chief hope for victory if foreign intervention failed to materialize, as now seemed likely. ibid.
There would be other Shilohs, other Sharpsburgs, other terrors. Men in their thousands now alive would presently be dead; homes so far untouched by sorrow would know tears; new widows and new orphans, some as yet unmarried or unborn, would be made – all, as Lincoln saw it, that the nation might continue and that men now in bondage might have freedom. In issuing the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation he had made certain that there would be no peace except by conquest. ibid.
It was tough. There were little things. They made regular 25-mile marches. I made two or three 25-mile marches in the army and I was broken down for days after it. They made them frequently, and when you were issued a pair of shoes in the northern army, they weren’t left foot and right foot, they were the same foot. You wore them into being a left-foot shoe or a right-foot shoe. And when you imagine making 25-mile marches with inferior footwear, let alone barefoot, the way many Confederates were, it’s unbelievable the way they could function. ibid. Men at War essay
It’s my belief that the war in the West is at least as important as the one in the East ... The Union victory at Fort Donelson, for example, lost all of Kentucky for the Confederacy, and most of Tennessee. It saw the emergence of Grant and Bedford Forrest. It was when the northern juggernaut began to roll, and the battle of Shiloh was an attempt to stop it, a desperate attempt to stop it that failed. Shiloh was the first big battle – the first great bloody battle ... The generals didn’t know their jobs, the soldiers didn’t know their jobs. It was just pure determination to stand and fight and not retreat. ibid.
More credit is given to Confederate soldiers: they’re supposed to have had more elan and dash. Actually I know of no braver men in either army than the Union troops at Fredericksburg, which was a serious Union defeat. But to keep charging that wall at the foot of Marye’s Heights after all the failures there’d been is a singular instance of valor. It was different from southern elan. It was a steadiness under fire, a continuing to press the point. ibid.
These men seem larger than life in what they could endure, especially if you know anything about the medical attention they got. It was so crude, the lack of anaesthetics, all those things. It’s almost unbelievable that men could perform over a period of four years. Anybody could go out and perform some afternoon. These men kept it up year after year. ibid.
Things began to close in on the South more and more. There was scarcely a family that hadn’t lost someone. There was disruption of society. The blockade was working. They couldn’t get very simple things like needles to sew, very simple things. And the discouragement began to settle in more and more with the realization that they were not going to win that war ... The political leaders did everything they could, especially Jefferson Davis, to assure them that this was a second American revolution ... But the realization came more and more that victory was not going to come. And especially that they were not going to get foreign recognition, without which we wouldn’t have won the first revolution ... A realization came that defeat was foreordained. Mary Chesnut, for instance, said, ‘It’s like a Greek tragedy, where you know what the outcome was going to be. We’re living a Greek tragedy.’ ibid.
I can tell you who lost it – the South lost the war. But I’m not sure anybody won that war. It’s a tragedy ... On the face of it, the North won the war. But the bill for winning it was huge in human values, not to mention human lives. ibid.
The Civil War was really one of those watershed things. There was a huge chasm between the beginning and the end of the war. The nation had come face-to-face with a dreadful tragedy ... And yet that’s what made us a nation. Before the war, people had a theoretical notion of having a country, but when the war was over, on both sides they knew they had a country. They’d been there. They had walked its hills and tramped its roads ... They knew the effort that they had expended and their dead friends had expended to preserve it. It did that. The war made their country an actuality. ibid.
The South – they’re not exactly known for their forward thinking down there. Boardwalk Empire: Emerald City s1e10, Nucky to Margaret, HBO 2010
We’ve had cloning in the South for years. It’s called cousins. Robin Williams
The Klan was able to claim a membership of no fewer than five million people. Its objects of hatred had now broadened from blacks to include Roman Catholics, Jews, all foreigners and organised labour. The Klan became an integral part of Southern life. Great Crimes & Trials s2e25: Ku Klux Klan, BBC 1994
I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold doesn’t crouch over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce. The heart of the North is dead, and the fingers of cold are corpse-fingers. D H Lawrence, letter 15th August 1928
The word hillbilly first appears in print in 1900. The image I think goes back before that. Dr Anthony Harkins, associate professor Western Kentucky University