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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.

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Since the beginning of this course, I have been extremely intrigued with the way American views in regards to the Civil War differ from place to place.  The heroic efforts of those fighting for both flags should not ever be forgotten.  That being said, I find it very fascinating how both the novels and the films continue to depict individual characters throughout the war.  This is especially true in both the novel The Killer Angels and the film Gettysburg.

The parts I found to be most interesting included the ways the novel and the film portray the leaders of both the North and South.  Of particular interest to me is how the novel and film portray General Lee as this GODLIKE figure despite his errors at Gettysburg.  On that same note much of the class argued that the film “humanizes” the characters in the story. My views differ whereas I argue that the characters, or leaders of the story are portrayed as more than human.  One quote that stands out to me from both the film and the novel comes from Colonel Chamberlain when he corrects his Lieutenant (his younger brother) for calling him by his first name.  When the Lieutenant makes the claim that General Meade “has his son as his adjutant.” Colonel Chamberlain responds by saying, “That’s different.  Generals can do anything. Nothing quite so much like God on earth as a general on the battlefield.”[1]

On a similar note, the story goes above and beyond to make General Lee this GODLIKE figure with the power to inspire his men despite the overwhelming odds opposing him.  Again the part that stands out the most to me is after the second days battle when Lee is riding his horse among the ranks of his men as they cheer and salute him.  Many reach out to touch his hand as though he was something more than a General.  This takes place after their second defeat in the battle itself and yet the spirits of the soldiers remain high.

On the other side of the battle, the Union soldiers view their leader (General Meade) as his predecessors as “idiots not fit to lead a Johnny Detail.”[2]  Of course this quote comes from a man who is questioning the efforts of the officers, especially because of the fact that he and his men are considered “mutineers.”  Nevertheless, it is strikingly odd that the soldiers of the Confederacy, despite the outcome view their leader as GODLIKE whereas the Union soldiers are the exact opposite still considering the outcome.


[1] Michael Sharra, The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War (New York: The Modern Library, 1974), 25.

[2] Sharra, 23.

When considering the South’s effort to withdraw from the Union prior to the onset of the attack at Fort Sumter in the spring of 1861, the question comes to mind as to whether or not the Southern states possessed the right to secede at all?  Did the Southern states have the right to secede from the Union?  Because the United States Constitution in no way, shape or form refers to the threat of secession and or whether the states may or may not, the South did possess the power to do so assuming that the Tenth Amendment protected the rights of individual states in dealing with issues not clearly referred to in Article Four (the article designated to listing the powers of each states in the Union) of the Constitution itself.

According to David W. Blight’s book Race and Reunion, Jefferson Davis’ personal memoir stated, “The South’s action was merely to protect its natural rights against the tremendous and sweeping usurpation, the unlimited and despotic power of the federal government.”[1]  The South, feeling threatened by the idea that the newly elected Republican President aimed to remove the institution of slavery, threatened secession while relying on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution to justify their actions.  Dixie’s Daughters written by Karn Cox states that, “The South fought the war not in order to preserve slavery, but rather to preserve the Constitution, specifically the Tenth Amendment, protecting states’ rights.”[2]  However, the specific right the South aimed to protect was in fact the ability to own slaves.

In addition, the Tenth Amendment states, “All powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”[3]  Again, since the law of the land failed to mention or address the issue of secession, the Tenth Amendment itself was put in place to protect state rights.  In doing so, the right to secede was an issue promised to the states.  Also, Thomas Jefferson’s famous words near the end of the Declaration of Independence stating that it is the right of the people “in the long of train of abuses and usurpations, it is their right, it is their duty, (the right of the people) to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for their future security.”[4]  Being that the South felt oppressed and bullied to conform to the policies of the government they considered out of control, they did possess the necessary rights to withdraw from the Union.  That being said, what the South considered to be an abuse of power by the North was an unjust response to a moral issue opposing their own beliefs.  In essence, their justification for seceding was a response by an immoral group of individuals to a moral issue in need of correcting.


[1] David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001), 259.

[2] Karen L. Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (Florida: University Press of Florida, 1999), 12.

[3] Solomon M. Skolnick, American History Pop Quiz (New York: MJF Books, 2005), 157.

[4] Solomon M. Skolnick, American History Pop Quiz (New York: MJF Books, 2005), 128.