The American Civil War
Choose one of the following topics as the basis for your paper, which should be approximately 5-7 pages in length (double-spaced). The paper is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, December 4. Papers must be turned in at the beginning of class, as we will be discussing in class your papers as well as the film we viewed in class the previous Friday. Late papers cannot be accepted without penalty unless an extension is approved in advance by Professor McCoy.
This assignment is an exercise in critical analysis that relies on your ability to understand and assess historical interpretations. No matter which topic you choose, your paper will be based on your careful reading and analysis of two books we are reading for the second part of the course: Gary W. Gallagher’s The Confederate War, and Chandra Manning’s What This Cruel War Was Over. Please note that I will not be including study questions for the Gallagher book in the normal “study question” sheets posted on Moodle during the next several weeks, and I will leave it to you to “pace yourself” in reading Gallagher for this paper assignment. You will also need to finish reading the Manning book beyond the chapters assigned on our weekly study sheets—specifically, the final two chapters, pages 180 to 221, which cover the year 1865 and her overall conclusion. Obviously you should leave plenty of time to work on the paper, which means you should tackle this reading on your own, well before the paper is due. Don’t leave it all for the last week of the course! But no worries; I will be reminding/nagging you throughout the month of November. Lucky you!
Good luck, and have fun.
- Gary Gallagher describes Confederate morale, soldier and civilian, as generally very positive between mid-1863 and the end of the Civil War. In what specific ways, according to Gallagher, does his interpretation differ from those of most other historians? To what factors does he attribute these continuing high expectations among Southern civilians and soldiers during a period when hindsight informs us that defeat was increasingly likely and perhaps inevitable? In your judgment, does Chandra Manning’s analysis of Confederate soldiers (in What This Cruel War Was Over) support, refute, or complicate Gallagher’s interpretation of this matter? Whose approach or interpretation do you find more convincing, and why?
- Unlike many Civil War historians, Gary Gallagher argues that the Southern Confederacy was bound together by strong feelings of nationalism. What evidence does he offer for this interpretation? Is he convincing? Why or why not? Chandra Manning addresses this matter from a somewhat different perspective in her book; in your judgment, does her analysis of Confederate soldiers support, refute, or complicate Gallagher’s interpretation of Confederate nationalism during the war?
Gary Gallagher and Chandra Manning’s Interpretation of the Southern Confederacy
In 1861, February, in Montgomery, Alabama, representatives from the lower rank of southern states signed the interim Confederate Constitution and hence, established a new, sovereign nation-state (Kolchin 566). Much further challenging, however, would be the construction of Confederate nationalism. Confederates required a coherent set of philosophies to clarify and substantiate their sovereignty to themselves, to their former nationals to the north as well as the rest of the globe. Only nationalism could substantially justify their status as a sovereign state (Kolchin 568). For the subsequent four years, while they were struggling to attain their freedom, they were also keen to the concern of what made them a distinctive group of persons and reasons why their uniqueness merited political independence (Kolchin 571).
Since the era of the Confederate War, Confederate nationalism emerged as a contentious topic. That fact the Confederates proposition for independence was unsuccessful has made several commentators reluctant to consider the importance of nationalism (Kolchin 573). Many commentators assume that if there indeed existed a Confederate nationalism worth debating over, then Confederacy would indeed have won the battle and created its independence (Kolchin 578). Moreover, since the reason for the entire undertaking was slavery, and for a reason, that slavery had less absolute defenders since 1865, confederate nationalism has frequently been distasteful. In the present times, nevertheless, most historians have started to pay much attention to Confederate nationalism (Reid 78). Rather than instinctively assuming that it must have either been spurious or non-existent, historians such as Gary Gallagher as well as Chandra Manning have commenced to examine Confederate nationalism in its own terms as it attempts to exemplify the southern culture to the universe at large, to history and conceivably to its people (Reid 85). Therefore, to completely comprehend the significance of the Southern Confederacy-one of the essential happenings in the United States history-this paper will offer both Gary Gallagher and Chandra Manning’s interpretation of the Southern Confederacy.
Gary Gallagher Concerning the Southern Confederacy
Gary Gallagher seeks to create the fact that the southern Confederates represented a strong sense of nationalism. One remarkable point that is emphasized by Gary Gallagher is the historian David Potter’s concept that “attribution of nationality encompass a permission for the practice of independence for individual determination “and that historian is thereby loathed to impart a sense of nationalism within a group “of whom he ethically disapproves” (Gallagher 69). Gary Gallagher then links this David Potter’s philosophy to the Southern Confederacy historiography for the fact that the historian is destined to criticize of a nation established to protect chattel servitude (Gallagher 71). Nationalism has commonly alluded to a significant force on the basis of the Second World War. Japan, Italy, and Germany all felt scorned by the foundation of peace in 1919, and a sense of national pride established which obligated revenge. If historians will feature nationalism to genocidal Nazism, then why would they refute it to racist Confederates? Gary Gallagher then makes odd arguments after illustrating the historiography of the lack-of-nationalism concept. According to Gary Gallagher, these historians assumed the fact that “the Southern Confederate by large numbers represented a solid sense of identification with their state “and that “these individuals accepted defeat since the Union militaries had invaded their land and obliged their armies to surrender” (Gallagher 73). These declarations are all that Gary Gallagher provides as evidence; he is “supposing that solid national identity was present within the Civil War” and endeavors to define its character (Gallagher, 76). However, in my opinion, Gary Gallagher does not convincingly explain what led to his postulation. He argues that “the assumptions in his book were derived from the letters of approximately more than three hundred women and men” (Gallagher 81). However, this is hardly a definitive sample size to reach such conclusions.
Gary Gallagher furthermore judged terminologies such as “our country” to serve as evidence of the Southern Confederate nationalism (Gallagher 83). In my view, this is flimsy reasoning because it is impossible to detect how deeply the Confederates felt or detect if they were communicating in a technical logic. Besides, it is easy for an individual to admit nationalism within a letter; however, this leaves a fundamental question answered which is what actions did such people take when the circumstance became challenging? Moreover, depending on Gary Gallagher, diaries and letters so profoundly fail to capture conduct, which I consider is the essential aspect of detecting the people’s honest emotions. The perfect example of this controversy is that of a female autobiographer who inscribed that “slaveholders will not quietly yield their assets and hopes and permit a sullied race to be positioned at one stroke on a level with them” (Gallagher 86). She further emphasized that by “faith in the cause we can never be defeated” (Gallagher 91). She declared nationalism, however, when individual-sacrifice was needed, she would not behave by supporting freedom. The one instance where Gary Gallagher makes a comprehensively documented scenario for the Confederate nationalism exclusively applies to a small section of the population, “slaveholding traders who attained maturity throughout the 1850s” (Gallagher 97). To what degree these people’s feelings can be generalized to the whole population is argumentative.
Lastly, Gallagher argues that since the Civil War lasted for just approximately its whole history, its characteristics was strongly infused with aggressive and hence, masculine representation (McCardell 46). Therefore, a significant number of the Confederates frequently defined their national objective with respect to noble and brave men safeguarding their families, children, and women from the northern threat (McCardell 48). Besides, the most often exhibition of ladies’ Confederate nationalism was in the sense of loyal supporters of their husbands (McCardell 57). Thus, the massive portraits of ladies stoically waving handkerchiefs as their fathers, sons, and spouses went to battle (McCardell 61). Gallagher, for instance, reminds the readers that military symbols and military fortunes were fundamental components of Confederate distinctiveness. As Confederates well understood, their trial in nation-creation would fall or stand at the battlefield. Therefore, they anxiously followed updates from the front (more precisely) and lionized the soldiers and army commandants who secured Confederate triumphs (Escott 54). There did not exist any national symbols more useful as compared to the figure of Robert E. Lee together with his military group of Northern Virginia (Escott 63). Robert Lee grew to become an essential figurehead than any other leader, even than Jefferson Davis (the then President); more than any other person, Lee became synonymous with the Confederate state itself (Gallagher 103). Even though these portraits were indeed based on reality, the majority of the ladies took active responsibilities in the construction and growth of Confederate nationalism (Gallagher 111). As has been factual in several contemporary wars, the practical requirements of intense battle gave ladies opportunities to take part in public debates concerning the war struggle as well as the nature of the Confederacy and to facilitate links with the national government which would have been impossible in peacetime (Gallagher 123).
Chandra Manning’s interpretation of Confederate Nationalism during the War
Chandra Manning refutes the argument that the Southern Confederacy was bound together by intense feelings of nationalism. On the contrary, Chandra Manning believes that the controversy that the Confederates were safeguarding home and hearth should be comprehended ultimately as the defense of slavery and not nationalism (Manning, 221). A small number of southerners envisioned that the battle would escalate to the point in which “Yankee” invaders penetrated the Confederacy (Sheehan-Dean 104). Consequently, letters comprising “pledges to safeguard the loved ones and households embellished a conception more than described the combat” (Manning, 226). Chandra Manning concludes that Confederates were resolute to safeguarding their belongings as a manifestation of their comprehension of “freedom” (Manning, 281). The non-slave owners did not, however, have to possess slaves to fathom the necessity of the conflict because their freedom was assured exclusively with ever-lasting slavery of the black southerners (Sheehan-Dean 112). According to Chandra Manning, the establishment of slavery assured notions of freedom because it would ensure the existence of white egalitarianism as it mitigated the amalgamation of the other races (Escott 69). Chandra Manning emphasizes that, “the non-slave owning Confederate battle men marched to war to defend slavery since they thought that their survival, as well as that of their families together with the social order, relied upon the continuity of enslavement…they also believed that if not, other races posed a precariously insoluble challenge” (Manning, 232).
Chandra Manning further emphasizes that the Confederate armies perceived enslavement via the lens of religion as well as what they supposed was God’s divine order (Manning, 243). The “Northern abolitionism not only exhibited heresy and danger to home and families, but also amounted to a communal earthquake which would upset each social relation,” explains Chandra Manning (Manning, 245). Throughout the book, Chandra’s also exploited newspapers and diaries to support her arguments. Her sources further capture a wide range of the political, social and economic spectrum. However, Chandra Manning’s Confederates are hyper-sensitive to enslavement and are animated by a vow to preserve racial and political status quo.
Manning conclusions can be described as reductionist owing to its tendency to interpret a scope of what seem to be particular reasons for joining the defenses as an extrapolation of one crucial motivation. While both sides believed to be fighting for freedom and their comprehension of the Revolution, Confederate ideas could not be separated “personal interests, or from slavery” (Manning, 252). Manning offers sufficient proof of the manner in which several opinions can be comprehended within the framework of slavery. According to Manning, “Servitude played numerous roles which non-slave proprietors believed to be essential for themselves and their families” (Manning, 256).
In light of the above facts, it is clear that Gary Gallagher strives to craft the fact that the southern Confederates characterized a solid logic of nationalism. To explain his argument, Gary Gallagher relates David Potter’s theory to the Southern Confederacy historiography for the fact that historians are destined to disapprove of a nation established to defend chattel servitude. In Gary Gallagher’s opinion, the historians have assumed the fact that the Southern Confederate by large numbers signified a solid sense of identification with their nation and that these individuals accepted defeat since the Union militaries had invaded their region and forced their armies to submit. Gary Gallagher moreover considered terminologies such as our country to act as evidence of the Southern Confederate nationalism. I believe this as insubstantial reasoning for the reason that it is difficult to discover how deeply the Confederates felt or detect if they were communicating in a technical sense. Additionally, Gary Gallagher argues that a substantial number of the Confederates commonly defined their national objective with respect to honorable and brave men protecting their families, children and women from the northern threat. He then offers an example of Robert Lee who grew to become a dynamic figurehead than any other leader, even than Jefferson Davis (the then President); more than any other person. According to Gary Gallagher, Robert Lee became identical with the Confederate state itself.
On the contrary, Chandra Manning disproves the argument that the Southern Confederacy was bound together by intense feelings of nationalism; instead, she believes in the case that the Confederates were protecting home and hearth and should be understood ultimately as the defense of slavery and not nationalism. She further accentuates the facts that the Confederate militaries perceived enslavement via the lens of religion as well as what they supposed was God’s divine. Lastly, Chandra Manning believed that the formation of slavery guaranteed concepts of freedom because it would warrant the existence of white egalitarianism as it alleviated the amalgamation of the other races.
Bonner, Robert E. Mastering America: Southern Slaveholders and the Crisis of American Nationhood. Cambridge University Press, 2009: pp. 112-231.
Escott, Paul D. The Confederacy: The Slaveholders’ Failed Venture. ABC-CLIO, 2010: pp. 67-112.
Escott, Paul D. After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nationalism. LSU Press, 1992: pp. 53-99.
Gallagher, Gary W. The Confederate War. Harvard University Press, 1999: pp. 68-126.
Manning, Chandra. “What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers.” Slavery, and the Civil War (New York, 2007) 12 (2007): 221-271.
McCardell, John. The Idea of a Southern Nation: Southern Nationalists and Southern Nationalism, 1830-1860. New York: Norton, 1979: pp. 45-78.
Kolchin, Peter. “The South and the World.” The Journal of Southern History 75.3 (2009): 565-580.