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23 June 2020


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Harry C -

Don't blame Lee for invading Maryland and Pennsylvania. That strategy was devised by Jeff Davis and his Secretary of State Judah Benjamin. They had hoped that foreign recognition and support for the Confederacy would be made stronger by a military victory on Northern soil. During the same time frame Richmond authorized Generals Bragg and E.K. Smith to invade Kentucky, which BTW also failed. They (Richmond) also thought the invasions might spark uprisings in Maryland and Kentucky.

Why did Lee go along with it? Cutting the critical B&O RR was one very good reason. Another was that he needed resupply and the farms of Virginia had been devastated. So why not feed his troops by devastating some northern farmland? Lastly he was undoubtedly emboldened by his many victories so far and he had a well deserved contempt for Union generalship.


Col, thanks! I long ago became aware I’m a more cynical fuck than most. I’ve endeavored over the decades to balance that with faith, hope, love... and utilitarianism and science. It’s hard work.

When I model current conditions the cynical analysis projects outcomes more accurately than the romantic. It’s hard to go far wrong if one leans more to critical (even cruel) reasoning than ideology. Ideology is like pharmacology... you really need expertise & oversight to play around with it ... it can be deadly.

Thank God for family... the beauty of children & grandchildren. I’ve counseled them, “think about how to preserve the planet for generations we will never know (I’m conservative)” and “meanwhile, figure out how to get us off the planet & thrive (classic liberal).

Boomers are flailing-about because our time is coming to an end and we want certain things to happen before we check-out. How selfish. Trump & Biden are exemplary. Those protesting in the streets (Chalk Brigade, Hawaiian Shirt Commandos & all in between) are aiming at the wrong targets ... each other. Cheers,

Barbara Ann


Excellent points, really great comment. If only more people had the ability to see past the stench, as Jesus did.

A war waged on the dead is distasteful enough, but this war is not really about statues and to my sensibilities it is at least as disgusting as the institution of slavery.


Technically, and only in the most technical sense, was it not Lincoln who committed treason as defined by section 3 of the third article of the constitution? He was without doubt a patriot, however.



Yes. He was a centralizing nationalist who had been quite willing to sell out the slave both in the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the 1st Inaugural.



IMO the opposite was true. Lee argued long and hard for Davis' approval for both invasions. He was seeking to bring about a decisive general and climactic battle on the model of Austerlitz or the like. I cannot stress too strongly how ill prepared he was for senior command. His poor performance early in the war demonstrates that. But then, with the exception of a very few like Halleck and Jackson, they all were. They studied more about drawing and sketching at WP than they did about war. Marching around a parade ground giving orders to cadets does not create great commanders. Many of today's generals are equally badly prepared for combat command. They have lived lives filled with budgets, procurement and sucking up to the boss.


Barbara Ann

"as disgusting as the institution of slavery." An easy bit of sanctimony in this day and age. You are aware that slavery is an age old human institution? Perhaps you should consider Paul's Epistle to Philemon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_to_Philemon


Missing from most discussions is the effect federal tariff policy was going to have on different regions. Most of the federal revenue at that time was via tariff, income taxes not existing then. The majority of that tax spending was not located in the South, though much of the revenue generated came from ports located there, much of it due to Southern spending on equipment, mostly agricultural, built overseas. The South was a mostly agrarian society while the North was in the midst of industrialization. The increased cost of imports would have aided the idustrialized North, in part by blocking cheaper imports from Europe.

The same polarity in wealth distribution decried today existed then, and it was the wealthiest who were going to be impacted by such legislation. Southern plantation owners, who represented a minescule percentage of people, but a majority of the wealthly elite (outside of commerical familes on the coast), were going to be hit hardest. The northern industrial, banking, and commercial interests were similarly distributed population wise. They, however, were going to personally benefit immensely by proposed policy. We see something similar today with tariffs being reimposed on Chinese imports. Elites - tech companies, manufacturing (to include pharmaceutical concerns), banking (acess to capital and commissions generated thereby), 'hollywood' centric entertainment and social media firms, Universities and Colleges (foreign national enrolment, thier preferential treatment in non-humanities studies), and major sporting francieses, the NBA in particular, generate far more of their wealth now, or are projected to soon, in China and the Asia-Pacific region than in the US. Add in the firms which have outsourced major labor costs, especially in IT, to H1B and similar visa program applicants.

Most of these people whether temorary or permanently here have little cultural affinity to the US, its foundation, history or legal traditions. They, in their millions, are counted in census rolls, thus congressional seat redistribution, and in social costs - not just educational and other social services - but disparate costs due to displacing native born labor, impacting wages, hiring, training and developing people, educational curriculum, teaching rate (especially where language proficiency is low) and other factors, most of which have little impact on elite members of society. Immigration of low skilled workers to the North East had a similar affect then, though there was at least a tenative sharing of a common cultural background as these immigrants were almost uniformly Christian, of one denominaton or other, whether practicing or not.

A century and a half ago the frontier was still open, which served as a relief valve for exodus of the discontented, the adventurous, and those willing to create a new future in a new place - with their own toil, sweat, tears, blood and yes, money. There was also a great deal of fraud, mismanagement and general corruption, as well as a low level war against the remaining indian tribes. The inevitable creation of additional terrirtories and their admission into the United States which was going to change the political power balance in both houses of Congress, with inbound immigration to the Northern states and territories added into the mix. The inability of congress to reach a negotiated compromise on those economic and cultural issues was the major factor that lead to the disolution of the Union. It was ideological duplicity and intransigence which led to Sumter, Lincoln's call for volunteers, the second secession vote in Virginia, followed by five more states voting to leave the union, and all the rest.

Little mentioned also is the economic destruction and enduring Southern poverty as a result of the war and reconstruction. A state of poverty not alleviated until WW2. Not surprisingly the same regional animosity, now coupled with a Coastal and ideologicly segregated elite, is helping drive a stake through the heart of Union now. The founding mythos is purposely being destroyed, along with the visible symbols of union, war and reconciliation, and joint endeavors of a people with a common bond, by the ideological heirs of 'Northern Agression'. The elites who stand to gain - China centric businesses, entertainment and social media firms, internationalists and authoritarians of all stripes, are marching down the same road today, only the toll will be much worse as everyone knows there will be no Christian like R.E. Lee to serve as an example to those who lose, but plenty of Benjamin Butler's, carpetbaggers, scalawags and assorted cultural marxists to join in the reformaton and "re-education" of a defeated people.

Barbara Ann

Indeed it is easy and I am aware of using a contemporary Western moral paradigm, especially with the institution alive and well today, in places like Libya.

I am certainly not a presentist who seeks to apply this paradigm retrospectively over all of history. Such people would be well advised to practice this exercise in reverse and ask themselves what historic cultures would make of the moral absolutes we cherish in our 'enlightened' & progressive society today. But this requires humility and a respect for the moral tastes of others - something few seem capable of these days.

My aim was to point out the hypocrisy of those who profess a distaste for slavery, while simultaneously advocating the extermination of a culture in which the institution was present - especially one which has many features worthy of admiration, as so eloquently described by Babak.


Barbara Ann

What success I had in life was largely derived from a taste for comprehension of other people's cultures on their own terms. That does not mean that one should "go native." You have to understand other cultures from the outside looking in. That has been my approach to ante bellum Southern culture. In the end I am not a Southerner and they let you know that this is true. The numerous Northerners who fought loyally for the South fascinate me.

Barbara Ann

Both your tastes and abilities are highly unusual Colonel, more's the pity.



"... the capital city was used for temporary conduct of state affairs and then people went back to their home counties for the rest of the year."
That's a pretty keen observation. A few state legislatures are still run that way, mostly out West.


Centuries to go debating The Civil War. As it should. What was done, by commission or omission. If you think the CW is complicated,
go to Wiki page on "Ukraine history". Mind boggling. War for decades before the Czar even heard about it. Wow. If you dare, hit
the "talk" tab for raging debates over goings on such as 941 AD.
I don't think they'll ever straighten it out.

Soon Bill Gates statues will replace those
of Jefferson, Lincoln, Lee. They just hauled Davis out of the rotunda here in KY. No protest or fanfare. After all he LOST.

Jefferson's republic likewise seems lost.
Lincoln's emancipation legacy revealed as paltry political strategy.

If Russia is an example, we will tear down
a lot more. They renamed whole cities. Burned the history books.

But not all of them. Somewhere in dusty attics some remained.
Waiting to be printed again. Solzhenitsyn's "200 Years" as case
in point.

Historians have a theory that youth mass violence is inversely
proportional to their exposure to, & involvement in...mass war.
Since we don't have mass casualties anymore, it may be the new norm.

Let them riot or give them an enemy to kill. Let them riot
or kill them, which will enrage their grieving parents to all out
revolt. Older people that know how to really make things go BOOM.

50 years ago when I was a kid, city storefronts had steel rolldowns & fireproof masonry walls, by code. What did they know then that has been forgotten? Cities= crowds= mobs= riots, occasionally.
When it's over roll up & open up.

Posted by: HARRY C |


Colonel Lang -

I think you are right in your opinion of General Lee. And you are probably right that his 1863 Gettysburg Campaign was his own idea that he pushed on Richmond.

On the other hand everything I have read about Jeff Davis points to his micromanagement style and his refusal to delegate responsibility. Even Southern historians such as William Cooper and Allen Tate acknowledge that. Cooper's bio of Davis implies that the idea of General Lee's 1862 Maryland Campaign came from Davis and his cabinet. There was increased Confederate diplomatic activity with Europe leading up to and during Lee's invasion of Maryland.

The 'Heartland Offensive' by Generals Bragg & Kirby Smith invading Kentucky happened at the same time as Lee's 'Maryland Campaign'. This leads me to believe that both were directed by Richmond. Lee had no authority to command either Bragg or Kirby Smith. And Smith's Army of Kentucky was organized just prior to the Heartland Offensive, which indicates it was constituted at the direction of Davis. Lee was never made General-in-Chief of all Confederate armies until January 1865.


Harry C -

" Lincoln's emancipation legacy revealed as paltry political strategy."

Yes it was. But it was also a not-so-paltry foreign policy strategy. It forever put a stake in the heart of the South's hope for support by England and France.


"Personally, it's fascinating to me that such a short period in US history is so heavily represented in the identity of the population."


The war did not last long as wars of independence go, mainly because the South did not resort to guerrilla warfare. However, more Americans lost their lives in it than in any of our other wars. The war decided the secession and slavery questions once and for all, and set a unified American state on the road to empire. The South is the only region of the US to be subjected to occupation by a foreign, or "foreign" army. The war created a new nation with its own heroes, which of course is now routinely compared to Nazi Germany. And because of the ongoing discontent among the black population, the war continues to live in modern memory as some of the US's older international conflicts have not.


You mentioned fascination w/ antebellum southern culture.
What about postbellum?

Dirt Mississippi girl. Subliminal "yodel". Where did she learn it?
Subtle backup vocals said by some to be Loretta Lynn.

Accompanied by (her) hound dog:

Country music. Tearjerkers. Soft power. Unspeakable sadness that
inundates the landscape.


Harry C

Post comments once. No comment.



There's a book about Civil War Espionage called Civil War Spy And the Women He Left Behind. The name of the spy was George Pittman. Pittman was a Confederate Officer.

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