Camp Herndon, Va.
August 17, 2000
All Civil War Buffs:
Well, it seems as if I have another email from my English student friend that I would like to share with you.
I've decided to change the title of my work. The lines I know are blurred between myth and reality and in a way I find this interesting. You said the Internet was merely a tool of a southern pride that has existed even before the United States existed and I really think I believe this. I've just finished reading a wonderful book titled 'The Lost Cause' a recent publication from an academic in the UK but also a book from the University of Oklahoma simply entitled 'The Confederacy' from the early sixties. I know it sounds weird but the economic side of things actually turned out to be very interesting. Also some Congressmen, Toombs and another who I fail to remember (how unscholarly!) and the vice president Stephens all sulked off to Georgia and vehemently opposed Davis' efforts to introduce a war economy. However, on numerous web sites I have found the aforesaid Stephens listed in the 'Halls of Fame' etc. Have people come to label men heroes because of their time and place rather than their deeds? Maybe I am woefully wrong about this man, perhaps there was another side to the story (there usually is). This book also highlighted N.Carolina's possession of 92,000 uniforms in storage when Lee's army was literally rotting at Petersburg. Is this true? If so why?
Another thing before I go. Black Confederate servicemen. It is well known that during the early years of the war attempts to muster blacks fell onto legislative wasteland, and it is well known that by 1865 the Confederacy through lack of resources eventually enabled Blacks the right to wear grey. But were any exclusively black regiments formed? If there were did these men fight well? I mean all this would fly in the face of many academic assumptions. Your thoughts on this tender subject would be appreciated. Finally before I go who was your favorite Civil War general? I know this is one of those questions your probably asked millions of times but I'd be kind of interested to know. For the record my favorite would have to be Bragg. No, just kidding before you smash your monitor! Stonewall Jackson is my preference - the oddball genius whose Valley Campaign was a true show case of skill. Was there ever an army that could A) march as much B) Fight as much and C) keep up its morale in the face of such overwhelming odds? No references to Alexander's Greeks here!
I have read about the uniforms and also about some weapons in Georgia, but cannot vouch for the validity of the stories. However, I would suspect that they are true. This may sound strange but the very thing the South was fighting for, "States Rights", was the thing that was almost their undoing. It is nothing short of a miracle that Jefferson Davis was able to hold the Confederacy together and fight a war on a national scale at the same time. Unlike the Union to the North, each state in the Confederacy was fiercely independent. Most only wanted their soldiers to fight in their state and it took some doing to get permission for them to fight elsewhere. Thus the uniforms you refer to were for the North Carolina soldiers. Additionally, Davis, unlike Lincoln, could not "nationalize" the railroads, the telegraph, or any other industry. When he, meaning the Confederate Government, needed something, permission had to be gotten from the appropriate state Government. It was only through Davis's superior political skills and prowess that he was able to pull it off. I often wonder because of this just how long the Confederacy would have lasted had they won the war. I personally would have given them 2 years tops.
As far as Alexander Stephens goes, in my opinion, he was a fine politician and served both Davis and the Confederacy very well. His writings of the times have been studied quite a bit. As a matter one of my first cousins did a senior thesis on his speeches a few years back. On Toombs, he was a "Georgian" through and through. A good politician, for his state, and not a bad soldier. Remember it was he and his "Georgians" (about 400 of them) that anchored the right of Lee's line at Antietam. They were the ones that held off Burnside's entire Ninth Corps at the lower bridge for so long. That bridge and the fight there became famous in history as "Burnside's Bridge".
Now to the Black Soldiers wearing gray. There were no Black regiments in any Confederate army. This was against the law until the Confederate Congress approved it in March 1865 (Lee surrendered in April 1865). However, there were apparently quite a few black soldiers in various regiments throughout the armies. I have several places on my website that address this issue. If you go the Confederate States of America page (you find a link to this on the first page of the website), and when you get to that page go to the following links, "Blacks Who Fought For The South" (this is newspaper article that I found), "Confederate Negro Enlistments"(This is an article written shortly after the war that discusses the entire issue of Blacks in the Confederate army), and finally, "Proposal For Negro Enlistments" (This may very well have had lasting effects on a fine general's career).
You asked about my favorite general of the war; that would have to be Robert Edward Lee! I think Benjamin Hill said it best about Lee not too long after the war, "He possessed every virtue of the great commanders, without their vices. He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guilt. He was a Caesar without his ambition; a Frederick without his tyranny; a Napoleon without his selfishness; and a Washington without his reward. He was obedient to authority as a servant, and loyal in authority as a true king. He was gentle as a woman in life; modest and pure as a virgin in thought; watchful as a Roman vestal in duty; submissive to law as Socrates, and grand in battle as Achilles."
I hope this helps, and as always these are my opinions only.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,.....
As one can easily see, the saga continues. What I have attempted to do with these emails is to show a central theme of the "state"being the sovereign entity and the Confederate government itself being a place where the states could come together and decide on the best course of action for the confederation. It is always difficult trying to explain to someone the entirely different approaches to the "central" government when discussing the U.S.A. vs the C.S.A.
Anyway, Ya'll take care and I'll see ya in the room!
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Dick (a.k.a. Shotgun)