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 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 04:55 pm
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JG6789
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Mark wrote:
after the war Early's writings espoused the "Lost Cause," by which I mean the theory that the South could not have won the war against the superior resources of the North

Well, I think some Lost Cause writers were inconsistent about this. On the one hand they argue exactly as you say: the South fought as gallantly as could be expected, but were inevitably worn down by superior numbers. In the service of this myth they manipulate figures and cherry-pick estimates that support their assumptions, always low-balling Confederate strength and ludicrously exaggerating Federal numbers. Early, for example, argues that at the outset of the 1864 campaign Lee had less than 50,000 men of all arms while Grant had 200,000. On the other hand, many of the Lost Causers argued—sometimes explicitly, sometimes only implicitly—that Southern defeat was not inevitable. They latched onto “missed opportunities” (like Pickett’s Charge) and then identified principle villains who were responsible for the defeat (Longstreet). One important element of the myth was that Lee was infallible and so failure had to be blamed on someone else.


but that the cause of Southern honor was worth fighting for anyway.

More than that, the standard version of the myth defends the antebellum southern “way of life” and devotes a lot of time attempting to prove that slavery was not the cause of the war. But for people who believe that, the Lost Cause writers spent an awful lot of time and energy defending the institution. As for that, they generally stick to the Positive Good interpretation of slavery, minimizing the violence and brutality associated with the institution.

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