Saturday, April 24, 2021

Dunst review of Seidule book on Robert E. Lee way off base

In Stars, Bars, and Memoirs, Robert Dunst of the Los Angeles Review of Books writes about the book Robert E. Lee and Me by Ty Seidule and states the following:

Second, Seidule shows that the myth hinges on the obviously false portrayal of the “obedient servant” or “happy slave.” It is telling, he notes, somewhat angrily, that literally zero enslaved Blacks fought as Confederate soldiers.

Although basically a correct factual observation, the inference drawn is incorrect. Confederate leaders absolutely,positively did not want to have African Americans as fighting soldiers. This was most vividly demonstrated by the Cleburne proposal (to have black soldiers), which not only was rejected but also effectively buried from further discussion. Refer to the article "That Extraordinary Document" by Steve Davis in Civil War Times Illustrated, page 14 (December 1977). link:
See also IPBiz Were there African American soldiers for the Confederacy?

The Dunst book review also contains the text:

The next tenet of the “Lost Cause” argues that the Confederacy was doomed from the start because the Northerners simply had more materiel — that the Yankees’ might had triumphed over the Southerners’ right. This is not true, as Seidule points out in prosaic terms: both armies saw desertion rates of over 10 percent. The South was not physically outmatched; they were just beaten.

While believing that the Civil War was about slavery, IPBiz also believes that the Confederacy "was doomed from the start." The only hope the Confederacy had was foreign recognition (which became unlikely after the Emancipation Proclamation) or Northern disallusionment. In the planning for the Gettysburg campaign, Lee was relying on the latter, and recognized that failure at Gettysburg would lead to a drawn out, losing situation for the Confederacy because of lack of resources. Cleburne, in his document of January 1863, recognized that the deficiency of resources would lead to defeat. An argument about "desertion rates" does not negate this reality. Moreover, even if the "desertion rate percentage" argument were valid, it would more adversely impact the Confederacy, which had fewer soldiers in uniform. That is merely the war of attrition thought attributed to Grant's Overland Campaign, or later to airplane fighting in World War I or II.

In passing, note the post on "alternate histories" of the American Civil War. Yes, "the" Winston Churchill did write one (a different Winston Churchill wrote a Civil War novel).

Divided We Stand: “Confederate” and Civil War Alternate Histories


Post a Comment

<< Home