Rebels In War and Peace: Their Ethos and Its Impact

Jason K. Phillips

in The Great Task Remaining Before Us

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780823232024
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240494 | DOI:

Series: Reconstructing America

Rebels In War and Peace: Their Ethos             and Its Impact

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This chapter considers the following questions: First, why did some Confederates need “so much cumulative evidence” before they admitted defeat? In other words, how did diehards sustain optimism and justify persistence in the last years of the war? Second, why does the perseverance of these Rebels matter? What can diehards reveal about the South; what mark did they leave on the region and its war legacy? The solid divide between Civil War and Reconstruction scholarship tends to separate these intimately linked questions, labeling one Confederate history and the other New South history, relating the former to the military and the latter to political science. This chapter combines such issues within a larger study of invincibility and defeat, faith and disbelief, and war and peace. The answers offered here are necessarily brief, but they illuminate a misunderstood group and encourage scholars to transcend the prevailing war and postwar typology. If historians are to understand white Southern culture during the “middle period,” they must tackle the same challenge that haunted their subjects—namely, how did Southerners try to overcome the chasm of defeat. Only then can history appreciate which elements of the Old South informed the New and which perished in the crucible of war.

Keywords: Civil War; Confederates; defeat; Southern culture; Old South

Chapter.  8523 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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