I find this kind of thinking (regarding the "Lost Cause" movement and Governor McDonnell's proclamation recognizing the sacrifices that Virginians made for their "country" in the Civil War) to be odd, at least:
Southerners of both parties, and both races, have moved toward a different, and better, more complete understanding of the Civil War in the last 10 years. There is a widespread sense that the war, and individual choices within it, need to be respected on all sides. Virginians are making progress on one of the most important, and elusive, of social goods -- true historical understanding.A learned member of academe, I'd bet. The idiocy is a dead giveaway.
Let us hope that in the sesquicentennial we can see and hear some of these new voices of understanding as we remember the Civil War. It is time to set aside the Lost Cause views.
One thing seems clear: It is no longer the 1950s, and that era's Lost Cause views on the Civil War should be discarded once and for all. [emphasis mine]
How does this guy "respect all sides" and, at the same time, demand that one side be "discarded"?
Here's what's going on. What this former University of Virginia history teacher really means is this: Agree with me and show my opinion the respect that it deserves because it is the only opinion that deserves respect, and I respect you for agreeing with me.
What kind of muddled thinking is that?
- - -
On a separate note, I've also got an historical bone to pick with this "historian." He writes:
The idea that the Confederates were, according to [Governor] McDonnell, "overwhelmed by insurmountable numbers and resources" is partially true and one of the central tenets in the Lost Cause. To be sure, at the end of the war the North had more black men in uniform (more than 180,000, most of them formerly enslaved) than the Confederacy had in its largest two armies combined, and the Union's total army exceeded 1 million men. But the North's resources were not always so great and the war did not necessarily turn out the way it did because of resources and numbers. [emphasis mine]In fact, the North's resources were always so great and the war did necessarily turn out the way it did because of resources and numbers. From one of the most respected and renowned Civil War historians to ever walk this earth, the late Shelby Foote:
"I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back... If there had been more Southern victories, and a lot more, the North simply would have brought that other hand out from behind its back. I don't think the South ever had a chance to win that War."
The more industrialized economy of the North aided in the production of arms, munitions and supplies, as well as finances, and transportation. The table shows the relative advantage of the Union over the Confederate States of America (CSA) at the start of the war. The advantages widened rapidly during the war, as the Northern economy grew, and Confederate territory shrank and its economy weakened. The Union population was 22 million and the South 9 million in 1861. The Southern population included more than 3.5 million slaves and about 5.5 million whites, thus leaving the South's white population outnumbered by a ratio of more than four to one. The disparity grew as the Union controlled an increasing amount of southern territory with garrisons, and cut off the trans-Mississippi part of the Confederacy. The Union at the start controlled over 80% of the shipyards, steamships, riverboats, and the Navy. It augmented these by a massive shipbuilding program. This enabled the Union to control the river systems and to blockade the entire southern coastline. Excellent railroad links between Union cities allowed for the quick and cheap movement of troops and supplies. Transportation was much slower and more difficult in the South which was unable to augment its much smaller rail system, repair damage, or even perform routine maintenance. [source]To the U. of Virginia historian's point - "the North's resources were not always so great and the war did not necessarily turn out the way it did because of resources and numbers" - I wouldn't confuse the South's misguided belief that the war was winnable with the thought that the war was indeed winnable. It most certainly wasn't. Despite what they wanted the outcome to be, southerners had no chance of winning the Civil War. Ever.
To support the argument that the North "kept one hand behind its back" , consider this:
* With the beginning of the Civil War, the number of New York baseball teams begins to drop, from sixty-two in 1861 to only twenty-eight at the end of the war in 1865.
* 25 Dec. A baseball game staged by the 165th New York Volunteer Infantry draws a crowd of forty thousand.
* Saratoga Springs, New York, becomes the center of U.S. horse racing with the opening of its flat track.
* New Yorker James L. Plimpton invents four-wheeled roller skates. Roller-skating will become a fad not only in the United States but also in Europe.
* Eddie Cuthbert of the Philadelphia Keystones steals the first base in a game with the Brooklyn Atlantics.
* 10 Feb. Huge crowds flock to the wedding of General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, both thirty-two inches tall. P. T. Barnum had publicized the event heavily.
* Congress passes a bill at the urging of Frederick Law Olmsted to preserve California’s Yosemite Valley as the first national scenic reserve.
* Chicago names Lincoln Park, which will grow to encompass more than one thousand acres.
* A new baseball rule abolishes the practice of awarding an “out” when a fair ball is caught on the first bounce.
* Although baseball is still an amateur sport, gambling surrounds the games and star players are often paid surreptitiously. Al Reach, who draws a regular salary for a Philadelphia club, becomes the first openly professional player.
* The first running of the Travers Stakes is held at the Saratoga racetrack in New York.
All this as the war ravaged the South. Life went on.
Barring the circumstance that the North might have sued for peace, the South was destined to lose. Make no mistake about it.