Setting the Stage
To understand the past you have to look at the past the way the people who lived in the past looked at it. It was the present to them just as today is our unfortunate present. So-called historians and journalists judging the past by the goofy standards of today falsify history and feed us political propaganda. They aren't seeking truth. Read the words of the people of the past, study the conditions of their lives and make up your own mind.
by Gene Kizer, Jr.,
Charleston Athenaeum Press
Lieutenant T. J. Cureton of Company B, the Waxhaw Jackson Guards, fought all three days at the Battle of Gettysburg in the famous Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment. They were nearly wiped out the first day and survivors were in Pickett's Charge two days later on July 3, 1863.
Cureton describes the charge that third day in a letter after the war stating that Union artillery opened on them "a half mile of the works" but Confederate lines "crossed the lane in splendid order when about two hundred yards from their works the musketry opened on us."1
By the time those North Carolina boys got to within forty yards through booming cannons, smoke and murderous fire with dead and mangled bodies all around "our regiment had been reduced to a skirmish line" but still kept "closing to the colours."2
Through the confusion he heard a cry from Davis's Mississippi Brigade to the left and turned to see it wiped off the face of the earth by artillery fire like "chaff before a 'whirl wind'"3
He sums it up:
[T]he gallant old 26th Regiment had sixty-seven muskets and three officers present on the night July 3 1863 of the eight hundred and fifty carried in the fight July 1st 1863.4
Death 'reigned with universal sway' in the War Between the States.5
In the book This Republic of Suffering, Death and the American Civil War, historian Drew Gilpin Faust writes:
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the United States embarked on a new relationship with death, entering into a civil war that proved bloodier than any other conflict in American history, a war that would presage the slaughter of World War I's Western Front and the global carnage of the twentieth century.6
Dead soldiers in the War Between the States
were equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined.7
Faust writes that 620,000 died. Those are the long-accepted figures of Union officer William F. Fox who, in the 1890s, counted losses regiment by regiment.8
Fox knew his numbers were low because of incomplete records from the devastated South and other problems with undercounting.
Fox's numbers were updated in 2011 by historian J. David Hacker who analyzed census records for three decades, the decades before, during and after the war, using techniques such as comparing female survival rates with male, to come up with a range of 650,000 to 850,000 deaths. The midpoint, 750,000, has become widely accepted. James McPherson calls that number "plausible."9
That number is more horrifying when one considers that there were only 31.4 million people in the country when the war started.10
Compare the 750,000 dead of the War Between the States with the 419,400 dead of World War II out of a national population of 132,164,569.
Consider the carnage. Faust quotes historian James McPherson:
[T]he overall mortality rate for the South exceeded that of any country in World War I and that of all but the region between the Rhine and the Volga in World War II.11
Historian Phil Leigh writes:
At least five percent of the white population of the eleven Confederate states, from which the government drew her soldiers, were killed during the Civil War. If America were to go to war presently and suffer the same death ratio [as the South], the number of killed would total seventeen million. That is more than forty times the number of American deaths during World War II.12
Leigh is making the point that:
Given the magnitude of such losses, nobody with common sense could believe that the prime motive to erect and display memorials to seventeen million dead . . . would be anything other than to honor their memory.13
The War Between the States was not only bloody, it changed our government forever. It is commonly referred to as the central event in American history.
We went from the republic of the Founding Fathers in which states were supreme and sovereign,14 to a consolidated national government that was supreme over the states.
Southerners had wanted their states supreme and sovereign forever: States' Rights. The Preamble to the Confederate Constitution makes that clear:
We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America. (Bold emphasis added)
But Northerners wanted the federal government supreme. They were the "Federals" in the war.
They wanted to control the country's economy, banking, money, commerce, taxes, tariffs and wealth by controlling the federal government.
Federal legislation giving Northerners monopolies, bounties and subsidies for their businesses that were always paid out of the national treasury had made them rich and powerful. Georgia's declaration of causes for its secession had accurately stated:
The material prosperity of the North was greatly dependent on the Federal Government; that of the South not at all.15
Yet, Southerners were producing the wealth of the country with their agriculture. Southern agricultural commodities "accounted for close to 82% of [the] U.S. export business"16 in a global plantation economy. Cotton alone was over 60% of U.S. exports in 1860.
And Southerners were paying 83% of the country's taxes while 80% of the tax money was being spent in the North.17
To show what was truly at stake in the country just before the war, contrast these Northern and Southern statements within three weeks of each other starting with Georgia Senator Robert Toombs who gives us a perfect analogy - the North as a suction pump sucking money out of the South - via
bounties and protection to every interest and every pursuit in the North, to the extent of at least fifty millions per annum, besides the expenditure of at least sixty millions out of every seventy of the public expenditure among them, thus making the treasury a perpetual fertilizing stream to them and their industry, and a suction-pump to drain away our substance and parch up our lands.18
Here is The Daily Chicago Times in abject panic December 10, 1860, a week before South Carolina's secession convention was to convene:
In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, with all its immense profits. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue, and these results would likely follow. If protection be wholly withdrawn from our labor, it could not complete, with all the prejudices against it, with the labor of Europe. We should be driven from the market, and millions of our people would be compelled to go out of employment. (Bold emphasis added)19
The title of the editorial above is "The Value of the Union," which shows why the Union was the lifeblood of the North. It had given them all their wealth and power. Without it their economy was dead. (to be continued - scroll down for NOTES)
A Comprehensive Summary of
The Last Words
The Farewell Addresses of Union and Confederate Commanders to Their Men at the End of the War Between the States
by Michael R. Bradley
Prologue, Setting the Stage, by Gene Kizer, Jr., Part Two of Four
1 Letter from T. J. Cureton to Colonel J. R. Lane, 22 June 1890, Lane Papers, in Archie K. Davis, Boy Colonel of the Confederacy, The Life and Times of Henry King Burgwyn, Jr. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985), Appendix, 351.
4 Ibid. The Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment covered itself in glory at Gettysburg. William F. Fox, in Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, states that it suffered "the severest regimental loss during the war."
5 Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering, Death and the American Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), xiii. The statement was made by a Confederate soldier.
6 Faust, This Republic of Suffering, xi.
8 William F. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War (Albany, N.Y.: Joseph McDonough, 1898).
9 Rachel Coker, "Historian revises estimate of Civil War dead," published September 21, 2011, Binghamton University Research News - Insights and Innovations from Binghamton University, http://discovere.binghamton.edu/news/civilwar-3826.html, accessed July 7, 2014. See also Bob Zeller, "How Many Died in the American Civil War?", January 6, 2022, https://www.history.com/news/american-civil-war-deaths, accessed 3-8-22; and Jennie Cohen, "Civil War Deadlier Than Previously Thought?", https://www.history.com/news/civil-war-deadlier-than-previously-thought, accessed 3-8-22.
10 The United States Census Bureau on their website lists 31,443,321 as the population of the United States in 1860 according to the "Eighth Census under the Secretary of the Interior." https://www.census.gov/history
/www/through_the_deades/fast_facts/1860_fast_facts.html, accessed 3-7-22.
11 Faust, This Republic of Suffering, xii. She cites James M. McPherson, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) pp. 3, 177, n. 56.
12 Phil Leigh, "Ketanji Jackson and the Confederate Flag," Civil War Chat,
14 The Treaty of Paris at the end of the Revolutionary War stated in Article 1: "His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that he treats with them as such; and for himself his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof." (Emphasis used by Christopher Memminger in the "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union," adopted December 24, 1860 in S.C.'s secession convention, from where this quotation was taken.).
15 Report on the Causes of the Secession of Georgia adopted by the Georgia Secession Convention, Tuesday, 29 January 1861, in the Journal of the Georgia Convention, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900); reprint, Historical Times Inc., 1985, Series IV, Volume 1.
16 Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War (Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2020), 114.
18 Robert Toombs, "Secessionist Speech, Tuesday Evening, November 13" delivered to the Georgia legislature in Milledgeville November 13, 1860, in William W. Freehling and Craig M. Simpson Secession Debated, Georgia's Showdown in 1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 38.
19 Daily Chicago Times, "The Value of the Union," December 10, 1860, in Howard Cecil Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession, Vol II (Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1964), 573-574.