Southern Compasson

The history of the Lost Cause is something I find to be very intriguing.  Never had I heard of this, nor did I ever take much of interest in Civil War Memory.  That being said, this class opened my eyes to thinking about the many ways all historical events are remembered. For example, how do Japanese citizens view their role in World War II? Or better yet, how does Russia teach their youth to think about the Cold war?

As for the Civil War, I must admit that I have kind of developed a bit of compassion for those in the South.  Let me make it clear that in no way shape or form am I condoning their efforts to protect the institution of slavery.  But I am however, fascinated with the fact that the underdog was able to put up so much of a fight and how even during the worst of times, they were still able to keep their spirits up.  The Killer Angels novel sold it for me when General Pickett is celebrating and “whooping” after learning that it would be up to his division to take the ridge on the final day of battle. [1]

Another example as to why I’ve taken an interest in the efforts of the Confederacy is one I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion.  General Lee is without a doubt one of the most fascinating figures of the Civil War.  The way he prayed and relied on God to guide the course of the war suggests more than just character but also a devout Christian true to his cause.  The scene in the novel where General Lee confronts Jeb Stuart about his failed attempt to carry out orders is also something that grasped my attention.  Especially when he said “you were my eyes. Your mission was to screen this army form the enemy cavalry and to report any movement by the enemy’s main body. That mission was not fulfilled” and “luckily we escaped disaster.”[2]   I guess the reason it was so interesting to me is because of the way I pictured this event in my head.  He just seemed so calm despite the fact that his General failed to obey orders in specific hour of need.  Also, now that I have developed this interest towards General Lee, I am sure that I will continue to study this individual on a more personal level.

[1] Michael Shaara, Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War (New York: The Modern Library, 2004), 285.

[2] Shaara, 253.

1 comment
  1. magaliq said:

    As a history teacher, I know I am supposed to love everything about the Civil War, but I had found myself bored with the acceptable curriculum in the school. I now feel as you do, that I can look at the South with a set of fresh eyes. I have always been more interested in the social history, and now I see that I can still teach the social history as well as teaching about battles.

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