Common Confederate Soldiers and their Cause
Anyone silly enough to believe that 1,000,000 poor farm boys faced death to propagate slavery for the less than 1/3 of the populace that owned them, is a fool. The North had slaves too, and they weren’t freed by the emancipation proclamation. Only southern slaves were. It’s well documented that they were just as brutal to their slaves as southerners. It was was an American problem, not a confederate/southern one. It is a fact that the average Yankee soldier was not risking his life to free slaves and the average Rebel soldier was not risking his life to keep slaves in chains. In fact, a majority of studies indicate that less than one-third of white Southern families owned any slaves. The enlisted service men in general, aside from idealists, came from the poorest of the Southern population. In many parts of the south, particularly in the State of Texas, German immigrants made up a large majority of the populace. These German immigrants found the concept of slavery repulsive and they had a strong conviction that owning people was wrong. And yet, many of these men joined the armies that fought for the Confederacy because their homes, families and way of life were threatened. They weren’t fighting for slavery, they were fighting against foreign invasion and the incursion against their faith. The Confederate army was comprised mostly of volunteers, but about 21% of the Confederate armies were manned via conscription.
The concept that most of these poor, non slave owning Confederate soldiers fought was love of and freedom for their home states. The Confederacy overall, had come to the belief that the United States government no longer represented their interests, and that they needed their own nation in order for their States to be afforded freedom and prosperity, rather than have their lives dictated by Northerners with whom they didn’t identify, and who continually taxed them and levied tariffs on their products making the dream of prosperity fade more and more with each passing congress session. It’s been relayed that Yankee soldiers interviewed a handful of poor, non land or slave owning Confederate soldiers. The Yankee soldiers asked them why, as poor Confederates they were fighting… What skin could they have in the game? The reply from the Confederate captives was, “Because you’re down here.”.
the North is mythologized as going to war to free the slaves. The plain fact is that the North went to war to hold the union together. President Abraham Lincoln was personally against slavery, but in his first inaugural, he made it clear that placating the Southern states was more important. Quoting himself in other speeches, he said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”. It wasn’t until the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 which left slavery intact in the North and in border states that hadn’t seceded that ending Confederate slavery became an official Yankee aim.
Many point to the State governments reasons for secession, such as in it’s declaration of secession, Mississippi explained, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world … a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.” In its justification of secession, Texas sums up its view of a union built upon slavery: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but remember two things. First: these were the reasons listed for secession, and not for the war. Two separate things altogether. Second: these are wealthy, land owning government representatives that wrote the articles of secession, not the poor soldiers that fought and died. The reasoning between the two classes of people differed greatly as night and day. Therefore; the reason that a state seceded says nothing for why a Confederate soldier fought and died, nor did secession cause the war. The war was caused because the Yankees refused to relinquish their grasp on sovereign states and their properties, territories and military bases, followed by Yankee invasion of Southern States. The Confederate soldiers fought and died for their nation, their freedom, their homes, their families, their way of life, and the flag of the Confederate States of America. And that, not the slavery of the wealthy governing officials, is their history, heritage and legacy.