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"TMP and the Myth of the Lost Cause" Topic


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31 Oct 2017 2:33 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to TMP Talk board


5,038 hits since 30 Oct 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 1:41 p.m. PST

A couple of years back, War Artisan, put me on to the "Impediments of War" Podcast hosted by Prof. Gerald J. Prokopowicz of ECU.

Listening to a recent episode, linked below I was struck by horrible sinking feeling:

link

You don't have to listen to the whole show, although I would recommend the show. In point I want to get across is in the first 15 minutes.

Academic historians, those teaching at the University level, have given up on the Myth of the Lost Cause 50 years. Yet I find, disturbingly TMP still seems to be full of support for this idea.

By the myth of the Lost Cause I mean a literary and intellectual movement that describes the Confederate cause as a heroic one against great odds despite its defeat. The beliefs endorse the virtues of the antebellum South, viewing the American Civil War as an honorable struggle for the Southern way of life, while minimizing or denying the central role of slavery.

I would like to thing that our readership and contributors where better educated that the masses who are " base, common, and popular." And yet, what do I find. The Myth seems more firmly entrenched here that in the average Americans whom I have met. So,my question is simple, why is this the case?

For myself I would sooner believe more true things than false ones so I reject the myth. If you deny the centrality of Slavery to the conflict I would be interested to know why.

Glengarry531 Oct 2017 1:55 p.m. PST

I'm Canadian and so not a subscriber to the Lost Cause Myth but I would suggest that this is an example of defensive identity politics from southerners who feel disrespected by the rest of the United States. Those "smug elites" who Trump rails at. Identity politics of all kinds require people to defend the indefensible, and often the ridiculous, in order to be a part of the group. It's not surprising that wargamers who are obsessed with history (and on visiting the east coast I discovered Americans are obsessed with the ACW) would have an opinion on the Lost Cause.

Cleburne1863 Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 2:02 p.m. PST

TMP? You should see Facebook.

MajorB31 Oct 2017 2:14 p.m. PST

One would indeed like to think that our readership and contributors were better educated than the masses.

dBerczerk31 Oct 2017 2:21 p.m. PST

Americans are obsessed with the ACW? Really?

I was not aware. I best get to reading up on it -- would not want to miss out.

andysyk31 Oct 2017 2:23 p.m. PST

Depends where you get your education and how you interoperate it.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian31 Oct 2017 2:33 p.m. PST

Yet I find, disturbingly TMP still seems to be full of support for this idea.

And you deduce this, how? Seems a most unscientific observation. Certainly, the TMP staff do not support such an idea.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 2:33 p.m. PST

TMP? You should see Facebook.

Doesn't really crop up among my friends Old Boy.

And you deduce this, how? Seems a most unscientific observation. Certainly, the TMP staff do not support such an idea.

With due respect to Our Dear Leader, I deduced it from reading the ACW Board for 9 years. The latest 600+ posts on the removal of statuary would seem to bolster my case.

I also note that the Editorial Staff do not take any steps to stop the Myth either.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 2:41 p.m. PST

Minefield….

Trajanus31 Oct 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

Personally, I would find the whole thing more troublesome if it went unchallenged on TMP. I have yet to see a thread go by unquestioned, mainly due to those here knowing their history and where to find it.

Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and indeed Talk Radio, have become the Pandora's Box of the modern world, giving free access to anyone pushing any type of view, as the price of free information exchange and the making of a few individuals with little or no sense of responsibility, fabulously rich in the process.

As for the Statues thread, I abandoned that as soon as became obvious that some individuals were pushing their own agenda having latched onto a prize opportunity presented by the OP and I had said my history bit.

If there is a TMP point to be made, Administration wise, I would suggest that it's content, past a certain point, should have qualified for having it pulled from the ACW board, through moving into political and personal opinion and it been directed elsewhere.

It is indeed disheartening that some choose to cling to a view that Slavery was either no, or a retrospective, cause of the War. Or that at the very least those State's Rights being fought for were not first and formost the Right to hold slaves and see that practice extended to other Territories.

It is possible to disprove that argument or lack of knowledge with documentary evidence. What it is not possible to do is deal in that manner with some of the opinions and personal commentary tucked within those 600+ posts.

whitphoto Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 3:05 p.m. PST

I have never had much of an interest in ACW gaming (or anything black powder really), and lately have even less of an interest. Glad I have those boards turned off.

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 3:34 p.m. PST

There is an ACW statue removal discussion? Hmm, missed it, gladly.

Today's MSM is hitting on John Kelly for similar statements held in disrepute. Let me just say that nobody is going to be convinced by anybody to change his mind. This runs too deep to sway back and forth with popular opinion. If someone believes that there really still is "the cause" and that it is "not dead", then I guess we have a problem. How big or enduring remains to be seen.

PJ ONeill31 Oct 2017 3:41 p.m. PST

In my gaming, it is less about "celebrating the Southern cause" and more about picking the underdog.
From the original post- "The latest 600+ posts on the removal of statuary would seem to bolster my case."
…Is your case that being against the removal of historical statues equates to supporting the Lost Cause ?

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 3:44 p.m. PST

people like the underdog (in hindsight) almost no matter what. Look how many people try to admire the the wermacht in isolation from the holocaust.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 3:53 p.m. PST

Is your case that being against the removal of historical statues equates to supporting the Lost Cause ?

No. But if you do have time you'll find enough posts on "the war was about States Rats" or "the war was for preserving the Southern way of life".

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 4:03 p.m. PST

I think a lot of gamers use it (and other wars) as a reason to push toy soldiers around without giving a second thought to the socio-political-economic factors leading up to secession.

Lucius31 Oct 2017 4:14 p.m. PST

There is an insufferably smug flipside to the myth of the Lost Cause.

And that is the myth that the war was caused by slavery, and nothing but slavery, and that every Northerner(when not hanging black Navy personnel in New York, and then rioting against the draft so violently, that the city had to be shelled by Federal ships) went to war for the sole purpose of ending slavery.

Bruce Catton said it best – there are lots of reasons why America had a civil war. The issue of slavery, however was the one issue that made political compromise on the others impossible.

Sobieski31 Oct 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

I wonder if it isn't that people fond of the Cavalier cause, with popular images of a gallant aristocracy in broad-brimmed hats and with loyalty to a conservative tradition, don't half-unconsciously transfer their affections to another doomed elite they like to see through the same eyes. Thus they are trying to refight the War of the Three Kingdoms in the War of Northern Aggression.

Must add, I'd hesitate to class most wargamers (I emphasise that "most" isn't "all") as educated. Far too many are devoted to amazingly tenacious prejudices and notions rehashed from "Boys' Own" or the worst Victorian histories; while what they do to English is the stuff of nightmares (a major reason why I gave up on WRG, inter alia).

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 4:32 p.m. PST

Well, while I live in Canada my great-great-grand pa and his brother wore Union blue, so I do not buy into the Lost Cause stuff

Actually, I always wondered why some of our American cousins put up statues and named Army bases after traitors to the Republic

Personal logo A sea that raged no more Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 4:37 p.m. PST

picture

Korvessa31 Oct 2017 4:43 p.m. PST

Lucius kind of beat me to it, but to add:
The ACW is very complicated and not as simple as a fight over slavery.

Some random thoughts:
Slavery is bad
Racism is bad
A president who puts himself above the law is bad
The ends do not always justify the means
If you think it was only about slavery then explain the quote from Lincoln on his monument.
Why didn't Lincoln free the border states in his address if he was so opposed to slavery?
I don't think most of the soldiers were fighting for the same thing the politicians did

I think it is as Taras Bulba told his son:
You were both wrong. And you were both right.

The South was not 100% wrong and the North wasn't 100% right.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 4:54 p.m. PST

I'm going to go agnostic on this one. While I think it's true that, had a thousand southern landowners followed Washington's lead and freed their slaves with the passing of their generation, we wouldn't have had the Civil War in its historic form, I don't see a lot of contemporary evidence that northerners enlisted in a great anti-slavery crusade or that small farmers in the south enlisted and fought to maintain the plantation system. But that seems to be the present orthodoxy.

As for naming bases and such, consider the alternatives. The US basically let the south keep its pride as long as it was understood that we were all Americans together henceforth. And so regiments that marched with Stonewall Jackson hit the beaches on D-Day, and the Battle Flag flew over front line positions in Korea and base camps in Vietnam.

The British took a very different attitude toward Irish rebels, and the Russians toward Ukrainian separatists. Same with Spain and Catalonia. How's that been working out for them?

dBerczerk31 Oct 2017 5:04 p.m. PST

I am unaware of any U.S. Army bases named after traitors to the Republic.

I do know of several bases named after brilliant American soldiers who accomplished incredible battlefield feats with extremely limited resources under very trying circumstances.

AzSteven31 Oct 2017 5:23 p.m. PST

I do know of several bases named after brilliant American soldiers who accomplished incredible battlefield feats with extremely limited resources under very trying circumstances.

And then there's Fort Bragg… :)

Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 5:57 p.m. PST

+1 Piepenbrink

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian31 Oct 2017 6:02 p.m. PST

With due respect to Our Dear Leader, I deduced it from reading the ACW Board for 9 years. The latest 600+ posts on the removal of statuary would seem to bolster my case.

If you claim you can deduce the thinking of TMP's readership based on posts by a handful of people on a specific board, I think you should open a psychic hot line.

I also note that the Editorial Staff do not take any steps to stop the Myth either.

Do you really want the TMP staff to enforce 'correct thinking' on the forums? As I have said before, there is no forum rule against 'being stupid.' TMP link

wrgmr131 Oct 2017 6:02 p.m. PST

+1 79PA
+1 Lucius and Bruce Catton

I see it as an issue of greed, money, position and power. These bring about a particular lifestyle which many landowners in the south did not want to give up.
JMHO

Ottoathome31 Oct 2017 7:50 p.m. PST

I always thought "the lost cause" was hogwash.

The more I find people bleating on about the "Lost cause" here in a silly hobby like war games and trying to trash the Civil War Period and make people guilty for playing it, so they can pontificate on their own moral superiority, the more I begin to like it.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 8:11 p.m. PST

I agree with Otto. "Virtue signaling" is always a turnoff.
Luke 18:11

jdpintex31 Oct 2017 8:12 p.m. PST

I never believed in the whole lost cause thing.

I just don't like Yankees.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 8:19 p.m. PST

I do know of several bases named after brilliant American soldiers who accomplished incredible battlefield feats with extremely limited resources under very trying circumstances.

And then there's Fort Bragg… :)

Is there a correlation between the competence of the general and the importance of the base named after him? It's not exact, but still…
I always thought the Army was showing an odd sense of humor there.

Dn Jackson31 Oct 2017 8:19 p.m. PST

" If you deny the centrality of Slavery to the conflict I would be interested to know why."

Possibly because there was slavery throughout the western hemisphere and, eventually, ended everywhere. Only one country fought a civil war and it seems odd that not everyone did if slavery was so divisive?

Also, there were several times civil war almost erupted in the US prior to the ACW, and those times it was the differences between the sections that caused the crises. David McCullough wrote a biography of John Adams and it was clear their was almost civil war during his presidency. Not to mention New England seriously contemplating secession during the War of 1812.

While there is no doubt that slavery played a major part in the starting of the war, to claim it was the main, or only, reason for the war shows a complete ignorance of American history prior to 1860.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 8:21 p.m. PST

OMG, there is a Fort Custer.
I just Googled it.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 8:30 p.m. PST

If you doubt the paramount importance of slavery in the Civil War, look up (old school talk for "Google") the reasons why each Confederate State seceded. Google their Declaration.

Oh, heck. Let me do one for you. Here's South Carolina.
link
Slavery. It's all about slavery. Nothing else. States could, and did, grumble about tariffs and "internal improvements", but all they did was grumble. It was slavery that did it.
South Carolina would have sent troops to preserve the Union if New England seceded during the War of 1812. (I forgot why they wanted to. Must have been important.) The Union forever! Until it was about slavery.
"States rights", my ass.

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 8:34 p.m. PST

+ 1 to Fredrick and Winston. When the northern states passed laws freeing slaves that made it to their territory, those solid states righters from the South took them to court and the northern laws were declared unconstitutional.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 8:45 p.m. PST

I understood that Fort Bragg was named after Captain Bragg, whose battery helped to stop the Mexican attack at Buena Vista.

The folks who wrote "1066 and All That" characterized the English Civil War as between the Roundheads, who were "right but repulsive" an the Royalists, who were "wrong but wromantic." Yes, I see views of the American Civil War as moving in that direction, though with people like Lincoln and Louisa May Alcott on the Northern side, the "repulsive" bit is hard pressed to catch on.

Grelber

McKinstry Fezian31 Oct 2017 9:32 p.m. PST

+1 Winston

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 9:57 p.m. PST

There is a nice site called the Blue Fez. Some of you may want to check it out. By the way, I post on both, but I try never to cross the streams -- it was dangerous for the Ghost Busters and it's not a practice we should encourage here.

Secsesh Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 10:26 p.m. PST

The centrality of slavery to the Civil War is a very arguable position. Prominent Southern leaders said defense of human bondage was what it was all about (for a very good summary see Bruce Levine's Confederate Emancipation). There were many points of friction but its seems the casus belli that pushed the South over the line to rebellion was the matter of ownership of humans. Even those other issues like economic and social conditions that provided the tinder can be attributed to the economic and social distortions caused by the plantation economy. Plantations were hard on the soil so the planters needed to push west to open up new lands; and they needed to maintain a system of slavery in North America given that their wealth was tied up in the humans that had become their investment focus instead of industry and infrastructure. And small farmers in the South too benefited from the caste system. Human ownership represented an aspiration of upward mobility, and their whiteness gave them membership to the ruling caste. Joseph Glatthaar's "General Lee's Army" I recall does some good analysis of ANV and while the percentage of slave owners seems at face value small, when you factor in the sons etc who came from slave families (who would otherwise not be listed in census etc as "slaveowners") and others who benefited from the slave system (e.g. tradesmen and small farmers who hired slaves) you have a much higher percentage with a vested interest in human bondage. Mr Glatthaar also shows how this percentage of "beneficiaries" was at its greatest early in the war and then declined during the war, indicating that the most enthusiastic defenders of slavery enlisted early to fight their cause.

For years I have avoided posting on the Civil War and I am not sure why I bit this time. I guess I have had one trip down South too many (and the prospect of another coming up) listening to in-laws espouse Lost Cause ideology even as I point to their East Tennessee ancestors who fought and died in Blue.

Trajanus31 Oct 2017 10:52 p.m. PST

Winston,

Thanks for doing my customary job with a Declaration link, I'm more than tired of doing it.

The New England states were more than hacked off that the British blockade was costing them money and no one else seemed to care, least of all Madison.

Trajanus31 Oct 2017 11:03 p.m. PST

+1 for "Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia – A statistical portrait of the troops who served under Robert E. Lee" by Joseph T. Galatthaar.

If you don't fancy reading it Search him on You Tube where there's his lecture on the subject of "Why the Confederacy Lost" which covers a lot of the same ground.

CATenWolde01 Nov 2017 12:28 a.m. PST

My general impression is that – while it is incredibly frustrating and I sometimes get drawn in myself – there seems to be only a small core of actual supporters of the Lost Cause here, and a much larger number of opponents who actually know their history well. However, the opponents get tired of the fight much more quickly, and tend to cycle through such threads in succession, while the more "energetic" supporters hold on tight and seem capable of superhuman feats of internet pugilism.

Thus is the internet. Only firm forum moderation can keep such vocal but objectionable minorities in check, and "firm forum moderation" is the Lost Cause of TMP. ;)

Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2017 1:59 a.m. PST

there is no forum rule against "being stupid"

I daresay Gone Fishing will be surprised. . .

TMP link

Trajanus01 Nov 2017 2:54 a.m. PST

Have to agree with Christopher, the Statues thread is a case in point.

Gone Fishing Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2017 4:12 a.m. PST

Ah yes. I seem to have been the first to act in such a way on TMP…and was jailed forthwith.

Oh, and I ain't sayin' nothin' about this one!

Ottoathome01 Nov 2017 5:49 a.m. PST

I am waiting for the Dainty Doilies who get their knickers in a twist about the alleged "Lost cause supporters" in civil war, war games to move on to the even greater absurdity that all gamers who play World War Two Germans are in fact crypto-Nazi's, anti-semites, and holocaust deniers.

It's coming, smug self-righteousness has an unappeasable appetite.

muggins01 Nov 2017 6:07 a.m. PST

Lucius – "Bruce Catton said it best there are lots of reasons why America had a civil war. The issue of slavery, however was the one issue that made political compromise on the others impossible."

What kind of compromise was there on slavery? The only compromise was that it had to be ended. That's it.

The idea that there is a smug 'BOTH SIDES' aspect to the Lost Cause is laughable. Never thought I'd read about 'virtue signaling' outside of alt-right subreddits, but here we are.

mad monkey 101 Nov 2017 6:07 a.m. PST

Trajanus:
"The New England states were more than hacked off that the British blockade was costing them money and no one else seemed to care, least of all Madison"

The Civil War was all about de money. New England was going to leave because of the 1812 war interfering with their finances, same with the South. Take away slavery and the south heads down to economic ruin. So yeah, they fought it.

In the end, wealth/resources are what wars are fought over. Ideals are just covers.

Dave Woodchuck01 Nov 2017 6:15 a.m. PST

I'm lucky enough to have old letters from family history to see why people fought. My grandpa in the 10th Maine fought because the South shot first. My grandpa in the New York Cavalry (12th?) fought for adventure. My grandpa in the 1st Florida fought to keep his slaves (same with the one in the 2nd Florida), and a grandpa in the 33rd Alabama fought because the Union invaded and he didn't like that.

Lots of reasons people fight. Some good, some bad. You just gotta take the good that you can from it. I hope that I can show the toughness and resilience of my ancestors, but hopefully in service of a better cause.

Legion 401 Nov 2017 6:37 a.m. PST

I understood that Fort Bragg was named after Captain Bragg, whose battery helped to stop the Mexican attack at Buena Vista.
I too believe that is correct, as well.

And there is a Ft. Lee and A.P. Hill, I've been there ! huh? And yes, they were Generals/soldiers of the CSA.

And IMO, the whole paradigm of "the lost cause" is a lost cause. For a number of reasons.

Regardless, I think we all can agree :

Slavery is bad
Racism is bad

I am waiting for the Dainty Doilies who get their knickers in a twist about the alleged "Lost cause supporters" in civil war, war games to move on to the even greater absurdity that all gamers who play World War Two Germans are in fact crypto-Nazi's, anti-semites, and holocaust deniers.
Yes, I've run across this here on TMP before. It is another TMP/internet phenomena(?) AFAIK. In some cases if you don't state you are not a Nazi, etc. before you mention anything about Nazis, etc., you must be a supporter … huh?

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