The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat
Harvard University Press
Gary W. Gallagher
If one is to believe contemporary historians, the South never had a chance. Many allege that the Confederacy lost the Civil War because of internal divisions or civilian disaffection, others point to flawed military strategy or ambivalence over slavery. This book argues that we should not ask why the Confederacy collapsed so soon, but rather how it lasted so long. The book re-examines the Confederate experience through the actions and words of the people who lived it, to show how the home front responded to the war, endured great hardships and assembled armies that fought with spirit and determination. This portrait of the period highlights a sense of Confederate patriotism and unity in the face of a determined adversary. Drawing on letters, diaries and newspapers of the day, the author challenges current historical thinking by showing that Southerners held not only an unflagging belief in their way of life, which sustained them to the bitter end, but also a widespread expectation of victory and a strong popular will closely attuned to military events. The book also claims, in contrast to the beliefs of many historians, that the South's offensive-defensive strategy came very close to triumph. To understand why the South lost, Gallagher says we need look no further than the war itself - a long struggle with enormous loss of life and property and the final realization by the Southerners that they had been beaten on the battlefield.
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