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  #101  
Old 10-14-2019, 01:12 AM
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the pre-war and some the postwar of southern society was/is romanticized because it was the closest thing we had to the London "ton" and "the season" which makes for great romance novels like GWTW with the endless balls and parties and the most important decision was what one wore to the horse race or to the biggest dinner party of the year and who filled their dance card ..

even today you can find novels where the barley legal (or younger) plantations owner daughter either swoons over the arranged marriage with the neighbor's son or runs away from it and meets the handsome northerner who worms her way in her heart ......then the 2 males meet in epic battle ect ..... although there are examples in the more "aware" ones have incidents that shows how slavery was bad (usually a character's stopping of an owned woman being raped by her owner )

In the rather large historical romance collection, i inherited it was a tie between the revolutionary war and the civil war on who had the most written on it ... in fact one series started in the first and ended in the second.......
  #102  
Old 10-14-2019, 01:29 AM
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The intended meaning was of course figurative. We are still fighting over some of the basic issues of the Civil War. And that fight involves large portions of the population, not a small number of radicals.
I'll concede that.
  #103  
Old 10-14-2019, 01:39 AM
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Putting aside the morality issue, I think defeat is generally a better source for drama than victory is. So you're going to see more interesting stories about characters who were on the losing side of a conflict. Defeat gives the writer something to write about.
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What about all those WWII movies where the "good guy" (whomever the viewer is meant to identify and sympathize with) wins? Nobody roots for Tom Hank because they know the Nazis are going to win in the end.
I said it was generally a better source for drama. Millions of stories have been told; you're going to find a counter-example for any general rule of story-telling.
  #104  
Old 10-14-2019, 12:29 PM
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I said it was generally a better source for drama. Millions of stories have been told; you're going to find a counter-example for any general rule of story-telling.
I donít think your general rule even holds. People (or at least authors) like an underdog, sure, because itís an easy way to introduce narrative tension. Butóthis is completely in line with your ďmillions of stories have been toldĒ lineóone need not look to the losing side in a conflict to get a heroic underdog. Take, again, Saving Private Ryan. Sure the D-Day landings are successful and the allies win the war, but by focusing the story on a small group of soldiers sent on a dangerous mission through contested territory, weíre allowed to envision characters on the side of moral right facing long odds and possible defeat in detail, even if their side wins in the end.

If you want downtrodden/disadvantaged/forlorn soldiers struggling on against a superior force, you donít need to tell the story of confederates, you could easily tell the story of a group of union soldiers facing defeat (and maybe even being actually defeated) in one of the many engagements that the Union lost. Glory, for instance. Or you could tell a story where Union troops were in a dire situation, but through tenacity and bravery managed to hold on as in the parts of Gettysburg that werenít a love song to the Confederacy.

The Confederacy is unique in that there was a concerted effort on the part of southern propagandists and apologists after the war to tell the story in the most sympathetic light, through an individual lens. There is nothing about the circumstances of the Confederacy that makes especially worthy of attention by story tellers, other than that the Lost Causers did a lot of the leg work in spinning their version of the war and itís causes into one hell of a story. A damn fanciful one at that.
  #105  
Old 10-14-2019, 12:43 PM
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the pre-war and some the postwar of southern society was/is romanticized because it was the closest thing we had to the London "ton" and "the season" which makes for great romance novels like GWTW with the endless balls and parties and the most important decision was what one wore to the horse race or to the biggest dinner party of the year and who filled their dance card ..
.
You could do the same thing with Boston Brahmins or old Dutch families from New York. There was no shortage of idle rich up north
  #106  
Old 10-14-2019, 12:55 PM
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You could do the same thing with Boston Brahmins or old Dutch families from New York. There was no shortage of idle rich up north
And there were zillions of novels, plays, and movies made about them. Not to mention all those old murder mysteries where the action is confined to a snow-bound mansion or a private island in a storm so that one of those present has to be the murderer. Only the well-to-do could afford those. I've read dozens and they were always set in the northeast.

But we don't care about that aspect of society any more as a culture. WWII pretty much destroyed it. The Confederacy is a different animal that still lives and has a current culture that interests many.
  #107  
Old 10-14-2019, 01:04 PM
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The Confederacy is a different animal that still lives and has a current culture that interests many.
Particularly if you (and this is a general you) find the idea of an ordered society where people who look like you are born into a higher social strata, and the wealthiest among them can dispense justice and mercy at their will, as if it is their god-given right to do so. Good luck telling that story, set historically and in America, outside the south.
  #108  
Old 10-14-2019, 01:43 PM
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The south definitely has it with music. Their is no song equivalent in the north to "Dixie". Which was so good the Union made a parody of it. Watch "Dixie - Union Version".


Nobody sings a song in the north glorifying what they did like in the song "I'm a Good Ole Rebel". Where is a song such as "I'm a good Ole Unionist"?

Some others:


I dare you to watch the video to this song "The Irish Brigade" and not get just a little confederate sympathies. Or the song "Johnny Reb" by Johnny Horton.

Watch the video of "The Bonnie Blue Flag" and try not to soing "Hurrah, hurrah, for the southern rights hurrah".

Try "The Ghost of Robert E Lee" by Waylon Jennings.

Then there are just some "nice" songs like
"Christmas in Dixie"" by Alabama.
  #109  
Old 10-14-2019, 01:57 PM
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The south definitely has it with music. Their is no song equivalent in the north to "Dixie". Which was so good the Union made a parody of it.
Then I take it you’ve never heard...

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

It’s predecessor, John Brown’s Body

When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

Tenting Tonight

Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (The Boys Are Marching)

And then of course, there’s my personal favorite, The Battle Cry of Freedom. Down with the traitor, up with the stars! That beats the socks of Dixie any day.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 10-14-2019 at 02:01 PM.
  #110  
Old 10-14-2019, 02:17 PM
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I dare you to watch the video to this song "The Irish Brigade" and not get just a little confederate sympathies.
I quickly recognised that tune as being the old Irish song Rosin the Bow with different lyrics.

It seems that the real Irish Brigade fought for the Union, and the song was originally about the Union Irish Brigade.

There were far fewer Confederate Irish, not enough for a brigade, and they seem to have borrowed the Union song and changed the lyrics.
  #111  
Old 10-14-2019, 03:18 PM
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Then I take it youíve never heard...

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Itís predecessor, John Brownís Body

When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

Tenting Tonight

Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (The Boys Are Marching)

And then of course, thereís my personal favorite, The Battle Cry of Freedom. Down with the traitor, up with the stars! That beats the socks of Dixie any day.
Those are ok. My favorite of those is Battle Cry of Freedom.

But I will take those and go one up with "Dixieland Delight" or another "If heaven Aint Alot Like Dixie" even another "Bury Me in Dixie". Even "Queen of Memphis" by Confederate Railroad.

Then songs like "The Night They Drove Old Dixie down" which I'm not sure what side it glorifies.
  #112  
Old 10-14-2019, 04:11 PM
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If you’re going to whip out contemporary songs, then all bets are off. Regionalism just isn’t quite what it was 150 years ago, though I’ll grant that parts of the south certainly do like to cling to it more than other parts of the country. Which may further speak to the central issue of this thread: is it really because the south is so much more "interesting" or is it because certain other factors are in play, and those factors aren’t necessarily a positive, when viewed dispassionately.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I grew up in the south myself. I even went to a certain southern military school that’s been around since before the Civil War and may or may not still celebrate the day its student body fought, as mere boys, in a pitched battle against the Union army.

But, somehow, I see through all that. Those "boys" were all military age (albeit on the younger side), and if they had really wanted to fight for what they believed in, they could have had their daddy buy them a commission. As it stands, I’d rate them about on par with wealthy chicken hawks who avoided service in Vietnam by joining the reserves. They were the sons of the landed gentry who actually owned slaves, and yet let poorer men do the fighting, sold them on a line they were fighting for their homeland that the Union Army never would have had cause to invade if they hadn’t foolishly seceded over slavery, and then thumped their chests for the rest of their lives about that one battle they fought in where a handful of their buddies got killed. That’s the Confederacy in a nutshell to me. A fine facade, but examined closely, even as an example of flawed protagonists and anti-heroes, it’s not especially unique. You can find flawed men and women everywhere, you can find hypocrites everywhere, and you can find drama everywhere, but I think where you choose to look and who you choose to celebrate can say a lot about you, whether you realize it or not.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 10-14-2019 at 04:15 PM.
  #113  
Old 10-14-2019, 04:53 PM
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Ask the people pushing back on the Confederacy being evil, I think itís important that we examine what they are defending.
You are having the same problems talking about the actual OP as most everyone else in this thread. This is decidedly not about whether one side or the other was evil, more evil, did nasty stuff or was the golden Buddha.
  #114  
Old 10-14-2019, 05:51 PM
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So sorry.
I'd say the south was and is full of colorful characters. But who can tell what an audience will grasp on to and eat up.
I'm still trying to understand that movie 'Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter'
See the problem is you didn't watch Pride, Prejudice and Zombies first.





Amateur.
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  #115  
Old 10-14-2019, 05:53 PM
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If youíre going to whip out contemporary songs, then all bets are off. Regionalism just isnít quite what it was 150 years ago, though Iíll grant that parts of the south certainly do like to cling to it more than other parts of the country. Which may further speak to the central issue of this thread: is it really because the south is so much more "interesting" or is it because certain other factors are in play, and those factors arenít necessarily a positive, when viewed dispassionately.

I mean, donít get me wrong, I grew up in the south myself. I even went to a certain southern military school thatís been around since before the Civil War and may or may not still celebrate the day its student body fought, as mere boys, in a pitched battle against the Union army.

But, somehow, I see through all that. Those "boys" were all military age (albeit on the younger side), and if they had really wanted to fight for what they believed in, they could have had their daddy buy them a commission. As it stands, Iíd rate them about on par with wealthy chicken hawks who avoided service in Vietnam by joining the reserves. They were the sons of the landed gentry who actually owned slaves, and yet let poorer men do the fighting, sold them on a line they were fighting for their homeland that the Union Army never would have had cause to invade if they hadnít foolishly seceded over slavery, and then thumped their chests for the rest of their lives about that one battle they fought in where a handful of their buddies got killed. Thatís the Confederacy in a nutshell to me. A fine facade, but examined closely, even as an example of flawed protagonists and anti-heroes, itís not especially unique. You can find flawed men and women everywhere, you can find hypocrites everywhere, and you can find drama everywhere, but I think where you choose to look and who you choose to celebrate can say a lot about you, whether you realize it or not.
Yeah, you have it down about the "Lost Cause".

I'm only saying they have some good songs.
  #116  
Old 10-14-2019, 10:52 PM
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You are having the same problems talking about the actual OP as most everyone else in this thread. This is decidedly not about whether one side or the other was evil, more evil, did nasty stuff or was the golden Buddha.
Actually, if you had read the thread since it started out in Cafť Society, you'd see that you are mistaken. My point and some other posters is that evil is more interesting, it stands to reason that we would then need to establish that the Confederacy was in fact evil.
  #117  
Old 10-15-2019, 08:25 AM
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"Dixie," embraced as it was by the South, appears to have come from somewhere in Ohio. I'm not very knowledgeable about pre-Civil War American music, but minstrel shows provided popular music on both sides of the Mason Dixon line.

Blues and Jazz were rooted in the South, especially New Orleans (home of both Louis Armstrong and W. C. Handy) but their popularity exploded all over the country after the turn of the century. The introduction of radio circa 1925 was quite the leveler of regional tastes and favorites, though Northern music of the early 1900s was more informed by Jewish and eastern European influences, like Polka and Vaudeville (although many Northern cities became hubs of Jazz and Blues too), while Southern music had more Black and Irish origins. Both were swell, but the edge goes to the South.
  #118  
Old 10-15-2019, 08:35 AM
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Villains are often more fascinating than heroes, so it's possible. Let's face it, who was more colorful and fascinating, Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader?
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  #119  
Old 10-15-2019, 11:32 AM
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But I was thinking of SS uniforms.
Well yeah, with Hugo Boss himself designing the uniforms, they were going to look good.
  #120  
Old 10-15-2019, 11:54 AM
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Siding with Bo here. The Union had just as many if not more "characters" and such as the traitors did. Popular culture has just fixated on the losers because they were still around and noisy.
There is something compelling in the narrative of a failed cause, though. An element of tragedy, in the literary sense, if not the moral sense. People love "Macbeth," even though Macbeth failed and was the bad guy. The South gives you the failure element and a lot of moral questions to explore. (I am fascinated by the number of otherwise intelligent SDMB posters who struggle with the concept of the OP.)

The Union's obvious great story is Grant, a failure in everything that wasn't being a soldier but the greatest general in the history of America, who led the most brilliant and audacious campaign in his country's history, and who was a person of tremendous moral strength, working and succeeding in a military culture that was politicized to an extent barely comprehensible today. It would make an incredible HBO series.
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  #121  
Old 10-15-2019, 12:26 PM
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The Union's obvious great story is Grant...
But there are a lot of other great Union stories as well. Lincoln is an obvious example. The Underground Railroad provides a wealth of fascinating stories with a compelling narrative. The black regiments in the Union army are a source for good stories. Frederick Douglass, Robert Smalls, William Jackson, Alexander Thomas Augusta, and many others are all great characters.

There are interesting stories on both sides. For those arguing that the Confederate stories are more interesting, why? What specifically is more interesting about them? Don't just identify people you think are interesting - what makes them more interesting than people on the Union side?

In my opinion, it ties back to the glorification of the South mentioned many times in this thread, and the diminishment of stories centered around blacks. The "people like villains" argument is fine when you're talking about fiction, but people are less fond of real-life villains, unless they relate to them on some level.
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Old 10-15-2019, 12:54 PM
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But there are a lot of other great Union stories as well. Lincoln is an obvious example. The Underground Railroad provides a wealth of fascinating stories with a compelling narrative.
Okay, UNTOLD story. We've had good stories about the other Union experiences.

Well, we need a Robert Smalls movie pretty badly. I think that would make a better movie than a TV show but what do I know.

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In my opinion, it ties back to the glorification of the South mentioned many times in this thread, and the diminishment of stories centered around blacks. The "people like villains" argument is fine when you're talking about fiction, but people are less fond of real-life villains, unless they relate to them on some level.
But no one in this thread is glorifying villains or whitewashing the South. In fact, no one has said the villains on an individual level are more interesting. The losing side provides a narrative device that's interesting to explore.

It's just not true people aren't interested in the wrong side of a real life thing. Movies about Germans in WWII have included popular and critically acclaimed films. "Letters from Iwo Jima" was a much better and more appreciated film than "Flags of Our Fathers." People love movies and shows about real life criminals.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Lost Cause bullshit has contributed to the volume of stuff about the Confederacy, of course.
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  #123  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:46 PM
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I've gotten into Warhammer 40,000 novels. I generally focus on Chaos vs Imperium, and almost always enjoy the Chaos-themed novels more. If both sides clash, such as a novel between Alpha Legion (traitors, nominally Chaos) and Imperial Fists (Imperium), I prefer reading the traitor side. (Usually. I found I really liked the loyal Raven Guard.)

I think the South has better PR in terms of their heroes. Not being a scholar of the Civil War, I only hear that the South had better generals, and the North destroyed large parts of the South, but was (of course) heavily outnumbered and outcompeted economically. I don't know about the first one. General Lee was a good general, and so was Stonewall Jackson, but both had their flaws. For some odd reason the best Union generals seemed to serve in the west, while the best Southern generals served in the east... which was the more important part of the conflict. General Grant was moved east. And General Johnson, the Southern general who kept losing, served all over the place.

Focusing on the stories of daring mean a reader is not focusing on the battle for the "right" to keep slaves.
  #124  
Old 10-16-2019, 09:44 AM
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I think a lot of it is due to a handful of reasons:

1. Evil is compelling. Take Nazi Germany for example. What was going on there is so far outside the pale, that it piques people's curiosity. Everyone knows how being on the side of the good guys works (in general), so the other side is fascinating.

2a. Unconventional thinkers/unconventional behavior is also compelling, especially if it's proposed that it's why that side is so successful. It's why most people prefer reading about the Israelis in the Arab-Israeli wars of last century. Outnumbered, outgunned, and they managed to stomp the Arabs anyway. Same thing for the Germans in WWII- they took on multiple countries who conventional wisdom of the time said they shouldn't be able to defeat, and did so handily and quickly. Lee is a perfect example of this- he outmaneuvered the Union forces repeatedly, and was generally good in the actual battles themselves, letting the Confederates give a better account of themselves than the numbers would indicate.

2b. Winning victories through weight of numbers, good execution and stellar logistics is very successful, but very boring. It's basically the flip side of 2a. Grant won, but in a way that was singularly uninteresting. Same with Eisenhower, Zhukov, etc...

3. People like the underdog, even when they're the bad guys. Everybody knows the Confederates (and Nazis) were far outclassed by their opponents both in sheer numbers of troops, but also in production capacity. So it's compelling to see how they fought facing such long odds, while reading about the US/Soviet fight always has a bit of the idea that even had the Germans won a particular battle, the Allies would have just moved up 2 more units and kept the attack going. Same thing for the Union v. Confederates... by the time of the surrender, the Union armies outnumbered the Confederates between 2:1 and 3:1. Even at Gettysburg, the Union outnumbered the Confederates at about 10:7, and it was a near-run thing anyway. That's interesting. Reading about the Union winning because they outnumbered the Confederates by a large amount isn't interesting.
  #125  
Old 10-16-2019, 10:15 AM
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If so many people didnít think of the Confederates as heroes fighting a worthy cause, they wouldnít be so frequently depicted as such. Never mind the under dog or the appeal of evil. They have a great many admirers who donít even see the evil in what they were fighting for, and the rest of us have been so poorly served by our education system that we sometimes find it difficult to articulate why ourselves.
  #126  
Old 10-16-2019, 12:55 PM
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I don't know... there's a tendency to gravitate to the things I mentioned above, even when you KNOW that side is the bad guys. I mean, nobody really thinks the Nazis were the good guys, but in a lot of ways, they're interesting because they managed to keep fighting far beyond when most observers and other armies would have collapsed. And earlier in the war, they punched way above their weight, defeating other opponents very handily and quickly. And that all of it was done in service to a frankly insane and evil ideology makes it even more interesting- the question "WHY?" comes up a lot.

Meanwhile, if you look at the US war efforts, they were rarely marked by strategic or tactical brilliance (it did happen, but it wasn't the standard), but rather by extraordinary industrial coordination and efforts and amazing logistical feats- for example, the US managed to just basically grind the German Luftwaffe into dust over Europe by using the bombers as bait to bring up their fighters, and then use our superior numbers to crush them. Not exactly a brilliant tactic, but a successful and valid one. And that sort of thing is pretty much the way the US wins wars.
  #127  
Old 10-16-2019, 12:56 PM
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..
I think the South has better PR in terms of their heroes. Not being a scholar of the Civil War, I only hear that the South had better generals, and the North destroyed large parts of the South, but was (of course) heavily outnumbered and outcompeted economically. ...
Shelby Foote is one of the reasons for this. His books, altho well written, ad pretty definitely Southern in sympathies.
  #128  
Old 10-16-2019, 01:14 PM
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I don't know... there's a tendency to gravitate to the things I mentioned above, even when you KNOW that side is the bad guys. I mean, nobody really thinks the Nazis were the good guys, but in a lot of ways, they're interesting because they managed to keep fighting far beyond when most observers and other armies would have collapsed. And earlier in the war, they punched way above their weight, defeating other opponents very handily and quickly. And that all of it was done in service to a frankly insane and evil ideology makes it even more interesting- the question "WHY?" comes up a lot.
Just how many movies are out there depicting Nazi-era German heroes as being good, devoted Nazis? While there may be a few prominent examples that have escaped my notice, it seems to me the hero in such movies is always a subversive, or at least someone with serious doubts about Nazi ideology. Confederates, on the other hand, are often portrayed sympathetically, having no doubts about "the southern case" (which they insist is states rights, not the perpetuation of slavery) and when they lose we’re supposed to feel sorry for them and the good they weren’t able to do, not as if they were wasting their efforts in support of an evil cause like those who died or were misused fighting for the third reich.

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Meanwhile, if you look at the US war efforts, they were rarely marked by strategic or tactical brilliance (it did happen, but it wasn't the standard), but rather by extraordinary industrial coordination and efforts and amazing logistical feats- for example, the US managed to just basically grind the German Luftwaffe into dust over Europe by using the bombers as bait to bring up their fighters, and then use our superior numbers to crush them. Not exactly a brilliant tactic, but a successful and valid one. And that sort of thing is pretty much the way the US wins wars.
I do not grant either of your premises, that the Nazis were particularly brilliant on a tactical level, or that the US and its allies were or have been generally less capable tactically (during or since WWII).

Germany's successes early in the war can be uniformly attributed to conducting preemptive strikes against peoples who didn’t want and weren’t prepared for war. Beyond that, I don’t see anything particularly brilliant about their tactics. The fact that the US has significant industrial capability that far-outpaced theirs, and that the USSR was so much more vast with so much more manpower to draw on, shows just how bankrupt Hitler's strategy was. It says nothing about the tactical ability of US forces, and I think you’re looking back on the history of WWII through a very distorted lens. A lens which, by the way, has been every bit as subject to myth-making as the Confederate cause (see, for example, "the Rommel myth" or "the myth of the clean Wermacht"), albeit with even more baggage than the slave-holding Confederacy had.

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  #129  
Old 10-16-2019, 02:04 PM
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Just how many movies are out there depicting Nazi-era German heroes as being good, devoted Nazis? While there may be a few prominent examples that have escaped my notice, it seems to me the hero in such movies is always a subversive, or at least someone with serious doubts about Nazi ideology. Confederates, on the other hand, are often portrayed sympathetically, having no doubts about "the southern case" (which they insist is states rights, not the perpetuation of slavery) and when they lose weíre supposed to feel sorry for them and the good they werenít able to do, not as if they were wasting their efforts in support of an evil cause like those who died or were misused fighting for the third reich.


..
Germany's successes early in the war can be uniformly attributed to conducting preemptive strikes against peoples who didnít want and werenít prepared for war. Beyond that, I donít see anything particularly brilliant about their tactics. ...
Right. The "good Germans" in films are almost always not dedicated nazis.

No, France was totally "ready". They even had the "phony war" to set up. They were just prepared to re-fight WW1.

The Germans did mostly invent the Blitzkrieg or real tank tactics. They also mostly invented close support by dive bombers and aircraft. Those were brilliant.
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Old 10-16-2019, 05:44 PM
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Had this discussion with someone a while back:

The discussion was, in fiction/cinema/the arts/historiography, which side of the Civil War was more interesting. The consensus seemed to be that, while the Union was the morally right side, it was the drier, less colorful, less entertaining side, and much more businesslike, and that for the arts, the Confederates were the ones with the more interesting story to tell and more fodder for entertainment or more intriguing stuff to read about.

Wonder how the Dope feels.
I know it's kind of an older thread, and frankly haven't really read the responses, but I saw a show a while ago where they talked about how, usually, the winner writes the history and the loser, basically, is screwed. This is generally the case. Except in this case. In the US Civil War, it was the losers who wove the narrative. There were a variety of reasons for this, but the bottom line is the whole lost cause narrative was manufactured by the South to make the South look better, and make the North look like the bad guy. The show I was watching was a documentary on Grant, and basically was looking at the narrative about Grant that is generally accepted verse the reality of the man, and why that is. And what struck me was how that narrative had been manipulated by the losers of the war to paint Grant as a drunk, incompetent who just threw bodies at the South until he won by sheer manpower, not by any sort of skill, just a grinder who ground down the South. As opposed to the narrative about Lee being a genius, gracious in defeat who lost because of folks like Grant, who just threw bodies at him until he finally was forced to give up.

So, the basic answer to the OP is, the fiction of the lost cause and the narrative that most Americans think of wrt the Civil War paints the South as being more interesting and captivating, and the North as being plodders who just won because they had more bodies, but that narrative itself is bullshit that was crafted specifically to make the South look better than it was and the North worse.
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Old 10-16-2019, 06:53 PM
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I know it's kind of an older thread, and frankly haven't really read the responses, but I saw a show a while ago where they talked about how, usually, the winner writes the history and the loser, basically, is screwed. This is generally the case. Except in this case. In the US Civil War, it was the losers who wove the narrative. There were a variety of reasons for this, but the bottom line is the whole lost cause narrative was manufactured by the South to make the South look better, and make the North look like the bad guy. The show I was watching was a documentary on Grant, and basically was looking at the narrative about Grant that is generally accepted verse the reality of the man, and why that is. And what struck me was how that narrative had been manipulated by the losers of the war to paint Grant as a drunk, incompetent who just threw bodies at the South until he won by sheer manpower, not by any sort of skill, just a grinder who ground down the South. As opposed to the narrative about Lee being a genius, gracious in defeat who lost because of folks like Grant, who just threw bodies at him until he finally was forced to give up.

So, the basic answer to the OP is, the fiction of the lost cause and the narrative that most Americans think of wrt the Civil War paints the South as being more interesting and captivating, and the North as being plodders who just won because they had more bodies, but that narrative itself is bullshit that was crafted specifically to make the South look better than it was and the North worse.
I've read that many Nazi German commanders who were involved in the Eastern Front also wrote memoirs or painted a similar post-war picture after WWII about their war against the Soviets - that the Soviets won the war in a very "crude" way - simply by hurling bodies at the Germans endlessly until they won.

To be sure, I think some of the Union/Soviet strategy can be characterized that way, but it's a useful narrative for the losers - "we had brain, they had brawn, but we lost."
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Old 10-16-2019, 06:58 PM
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The more interesting question to me is what this fascination says about those who have it. What is there about them that they find the Confederacy in all its glossy glorification so interesting?
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:14 PM
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I've read that many Nazi German commanders who were involved in the Eastern Front also wrote memoirs or painted a similar post-war picture after WWII about their war against the Soviets - that the Soviets won the war in a very "crude" way - simply by hurling bodies at the Germans endlessly until they won.

To be sure, I think some of the Union/Soviet strategy can be characterized that way, but it's a useful narrative for the losers - "we had brain, they had brawn, but we lost."
The difference, however, is that the German's weren't able to control the narrative. Exactly the opposite. The Soviets (and the US and to an extent the UK) did actually do a lot to spin that narrative, because, frankly, they were on the winning side. And we played along with some of that for various reasons I won't get into. In the case of the South, however, the WERE able to craft their own narrative that essentially re-wrote a lot of the story, especially the battlefield parts, and the Lee verse Grant narrative. Which, to answer your OP again, is why it seems the South is/was more interesting than the North.
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  #134  
Old 10-16-2019, 11:20 PM
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The difference, however, is that the German's weren't able to control the narrative. Exactly the opposite. The Soviets (and the US and to an extent the UK) did actually do a lot to spin that narrative, because, frankly, they were on the winning side.
Scroll up a bit and read some of the earlier replies. You may be shocked to learn that, even as I agree with you (that itís a self-serving narrative and not necessarily representative of the reality) people in this very thread are making that very argument, even with regard to the Nazis, as if the Allies won just because they had (in the case of the US) greater industrial infrastructure, and that the Germans were unequivocally the superior fighters at the tactical level.
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Old 10-17-2019, 12:23 AM
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Scroll up a bit and read some of the earlier replies. You may be shocked to learn that, even as I agree with you (that itís a self-serving narrative and not necessarily representative of the reality) people in this very thread are making that very argument, even with regard to the Nazis, as if the Allies won just because they had (in the case of the US) greater industrial infrastructure, and that the Germans were unequivocally the superior fighters at the tactical level.
Well, vs the USA they were at first as they had hardened veterans and we didnt. But we learned fast.

The germans did "invent" the blitzkrieg and close support bombing, but the allies invented carpet bombing, etc.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:22 AM
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Scroll up a bit and read some of the earlier replies. You may be shocked to learn that, even as I agree with you (that itís a self-serving narrative and not necessarily representative of the reality) people in this very thread are making that very argument, even with regard to the Nazis, as if the Allies won just because they had (in the case of the US) greater industrial infrastructure, and that the Germans were unequivocally the superior fighters at the tactical level.
The Germans had the defensive position and short supply lines, which were in themselves major advantages. The Americans overcame these by manufacturing and distributing more war materiel than was ever considered possible. Whatever the relative value of the soldiers, it's difficult to envision a way the Allies could have won were it not for the "arsenal of democracy."

I agree with you that little brilliance was shown by forces on either side, except in certain specialized situations, but the raw Americans troops thrown into the war after the Germans had two years of a learning curve were at a distinct disadvantage until they became fighters and the officers learned what modern war meant. Of course the public perception of the war was going to be affected by that reality.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:57 AM
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Germany's successes early in the war can be uniformly attributed to conducting preemptive strikes against peoples who didn’t want and weren’t prepared for war. Beyond that, I don’t see anything particularly brilliant about their tactics.
There is a fair amount of evidence the Germans were, on a tactical level, superior to Allied troops in general. Granted, in many cases this is a matter of experience.

That said, to characterize the Allied advantage as purely numerical is also not correct. Once can waste numbers, as the Soviet experience early on demonstrated. The Allies had to use their industrial advantages in an intelligent manner, and did so.

Indeed, it is clearly the case that the difference between the two sides in warmaking capacity was made even greater by poor German industrial planning; the Germans did not, until much too late in the war, have a broadly coherent approach to managing a war economy. The Allied approach was generally much smarter in every respect, and not just in producing lots of stuff; the deployment of technology was also more efficient and better oriented to realistic solutions in matters of importance. Consider how much the Germans spend on V-2s, which were scary but made little difference to anything, versus the effort the USA put into artillery computer fire control for the Army, which cost way less than the V2 but provided American forces with fire support of such remarkable superiority that German commanders were expressing their alarm even before Normandy. This is especially remarkable when you consider that just a couple of years before, US Army artillery was shitty. Building a war-wining artillery arm isn't just a matter of having lots of guns; that won't work. It's a complex system, and they built and perfected it REALLY well, and really fast.

Of course, numbers mattered too - the US could build more guns and provide more ammunition, and more those guns and shells with motor transport. But they were better used, rather than just clustering up.
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  #138  
Old 10-17-2019, 08:15 PM
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Shermans march to the sea was a war crime that mirrored the slash and burn German invasion of the USSR. History rarely lends itself to simple black or white interpretations.
Sherman's March had its horrors, like everything in war, but it was primarily directed at the property of the propertied class, with the express intent of sparing the lives of the war-fighting class (young poor men on both sides), at which it was fairly successful.

Sherman deliberately and repeatedly turned down opportunities to smash the scratch forces that hovered near his march, themselves unable to strike due to the disparity in force.

The propertied class retaliated by exaggerating the crimes of Sherman's bummers. Even Shelby Foote, generally regarded as a South-friendly historian if not an outright Southern apologist, bemusedly recounted a tale of the Daughters of the Confederacy in...was it Charleston or Savannah, I forget...proudly displaying their ancestral antebellum (pre-war) homes, then telling him Sherman had burned everything thereabouts to the ground. Clearly both things could not be true, but this cognitive dissonance made no impression upon the good ladies.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:21 PM
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Building a war-wining artillery arm isn't just a matter of having lots of guns; that won't work. It's a complex system, and they built and perfected it REALLY well, and really fast.

Of course, numbers mattered too - the US could build more guns and provide more ammunition, and more those guns and shells with motor transport. But they were better used, rather than just clustering up.
Airborne and opposed amphibious operations too. What a lot of people miss, I think, is that the forces used by the Allies to achieve victory in some of the most significant engagements of the war, both in Europe and the Pacific, were largely untested in combat prior. And yet pre-invasion training was effective enough to allow them to go up against alerted, dug-in, and often veteran Axis troops and accomplish the mission, decisively, from the get go. For instance, the 101st Airborne Division, including the storied 506th airborne regiment and its Easy Company, had never been in combat prior to jumping into France ahead of D-Day. Similarly, the 5th Marine Division that led the assault on Iwo Jima had been assembled and put ashore under fire without prior combat action.

Yes, they were better supplied, but then being able to work out he logistics to supply sustained operations overseas is itself nothing to scoff at, and required significant ingenuity. In fact, the Navy nerd in me marvels at how the US Navy innovated the means to conduct sustained overseas operations without benefit of friendly ports to draw back on for thousands of miles in some cases prior to the war, and then put it into effect to beat back the vaunted IJN even before the USN received the benefit of its superior industrial capacity (let’s not forget, the Japanese held a numerical advantage at Midway, and could have had an even more decisive advantage if they hadn’t bungled their operational plan and sent a third of their available carriers to put on a side show in the Aleutians).

I say again, the fact that the Allies had the advantage of being better supplied after the initial Axis successes (successes they spent years building up to and, again, fought against opponents who had badly wanted to avoid a war) doesn’t say anything about the tactical ability of the allied forces that ultimately won the war (that is, it can hardly be used to smear them, the fact that they also had "more"), it only highlights just how intellectually bankrupt the Axis powers were at the strategic level.

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  #140  
Old 10-18-2019, 11:37 AM
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Germany's successes early in the war can be uniformly attributed to conducting preemptive strikes against peoples who didn’t want and weren’t prepared for war. Beyond that, I don’t see anything particularly brilliant about their tactics. The fact that the US has significant industrial capability that far-outpaced theirs, and that the USSR was so much more vast with so much more manpower to draw on, shows just how bankrupt Hitler's strategy was. It says nothing about the tactical ability of US forces, and I think you’re looking back on the history of WWII through a very distorted lens. A lens which, by the way, has been every bit as subject to myth-making as the Confederate cause (see, for example, "the Rommel myth" or "the myth of the clean Wermacht"), albeit with even more baggage than the slave-holding Confederacy had.
As you said before. But which is pretty clearly not true. I think the problem here is approaching the topic from the socio-political direction so discomfort with acknowledging German (or Confederate) tendency to superior tactical ability, because it would somehow be seen as sympathetic to them in the socio-political realm.

Which is obvious in the point about 'clean Wehrmacht', which has nothing to do with tactical skill of the Heer (ie the army, Wehrmacht refers to the German forces as whole; the army was up to its neck in the 'field' aspect of the Holocaust in the East whereas the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine not as directly in general). The hard fact of life is that tendency of German infantry and armor to be tactically superior to Western Allied, and more so Soviet, units combat power for combat power, had nothing to do with who was the good guy. But it's quite clear in a non-socio-political reading of the detailed military history of WWII.

Including very obviously in the Western Desert. Not as a function of one individual, Rommel, but German combined arms mobile warfare proficiency was clearly superior to British in that campaign, not to mention the green US forces in Tunisia. Nobody IMO can read two sided accounts of the desert campaigns in detail and fundamentally reject that judgement. The Allies won the campaign with superior material strength as a function of winning the logistics war to supply the theater.

Likewise air contests were in a part a matter of numbers. German fighter units were more effective than Allied, no denying that IMO with again two sided facts in the details. Also this tactical superiority tended to increase after 1940, so wasn't a function of overall Allied unpreparedness. It went away in the late 43-mid 44 time frame under relentless absolute attrition of experienced German pilots, with an increasing contribution in 1944 from fuel shortages and lack of safe training areas. USAAF and RAF fighter units were clearly more effective in general than German by second half of 1944, though Soviet ones not necessarily all the way to the end, based on cases where both sides' actual air combat losses are known, not going by claims of either side, nor top down totals wastage of a/c to all causes.

Same kind of thing with what the Confederates did overall on land battlefields per unit of combat power. I don't think it's really debatable as a *military history* topic. It was clear, and generally lasted until the CSA as a whole was collapsing. And USA in the Civil War more than WWII was scraping the bottom of the manpower barrel by 1864 so typical Union infantry manpower quality was declining, CSA too, but that made it harder for the Union to close the gap, though it did manage to get rid of a lot of the incompetent field grade and general officers it was more heavily saddled with than the Confederate armies. And Union cavalry was actually better than Confederate by the end (general organization development, better horses, and the technical innovation of breech loading and repeating carbines were notable in Union cavalry, not enough to be a significant factor infantry). Also the CSN was simply too lacking in resources to be directly compared to the USN. But it was more than anything an infantry war (artillery played a smaller role than in previous smoothbore black powder conflicts and far less than the WW's) and Confederate infantry was more effective for most of the war. Doesn't mean they were the goods guys, two pretty much unrelated things as other wars also show.

Last edited by Corry El; 10-18-2019 at 11:41 AM.
  #141  
Old 10-18-2019, 07:42 PM
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If Sherman's actions were a war crime, so were many US actions in WWII, such as the bombings or Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki (which is admittedly arguable). While these cities had some military value, they were targeted, and large numbers of civilians were killed, largely to destroy the morale of the enemy. This was the primary motivation of Sherman's actions.

Sherman's orders instructed that homes and other property should only be destroyed in areas that showed hostility to the advancing army, such as guerrilla attacks, burning bridges, etc., and that horses, mules, and wagons should be taken preferentially from the rich, who were hostile, rather than the poor who were neutral or friendly. Now these orders in practice were often ignored, but Sherman did not order indiscriminate destruction.
I'm not a Civil War expert, and I'm not necessarily saying Sherman was wrong. Just that that was the general perception, that Sherman mainly attacked peoples' homes, rather than military targets. (And it still is, among your, "THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!!!" types)

War isn't supposed to be pretty.

Last edited by Guinastasia; 10-18-2019 at 07:43 PM.
  #142  
Old 10-18-2019, 08:06 PM
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Even if you say the South were monsters you still must admit that most of the interesting stories would have come from the South, and that's also a great opportunity to explore those monsters. I mean if you want to explore the horrors of slavery, well that was in the South and much more interesting than a freedman in the North, the life of camp prisoners in Andersonville and all the suffering that ensued, a very early submarine the Hunley, I mean that's a whole story unto itself.

The South was in a state of chaos and rapid change which is always more interesting to see how people adapt.
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  #143  
Old 10-18-2019, 10:01 PM
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I know it's kind of an older thread, and frankly haven't really read the responses, but I saw a show a while ago where they talked about how, usually, the winner writes the history and the loser, basically, is screwed. This is generally the case. Except in this case. In the US Civil War, it was the losers who wove the narrative. There were a variety of reasons for this, but the bottom line is the whole lost cause narrative was manufactured by the South to make the South look better, and make the North look like the bad guy. The show I was watching was a documentary on Grant, and basically was looking at the narrative about Grant that is generally accepted verse the reality of the man, and why that is. And what struck me was how that narrative had been manipulated by the losers of the war to paint Grant as a drunk, incompetent who just threw bodies at the South until he won by sheer manpower, not by any sort of skill, just a grinder who ground down the South. As opposed to the narrative about Lee being a genius, gracious in defeat who lost because of folks like Grant, who just threw bodies at him until he finally was forced to give up.

So, the basic answer to the OP is, the fiction of the lost cause and the narrative that most Americans think of wrt the Civil War paints the South as being more interesting and captivating, and the North as being plodders who just won because they had more bodies, but that narrative itself is bullshit that was crafted specifically to make the South look better than it was and the North worse.
The problem with the Lost Cause narrative is that it opens up some wider questions. If the Confederate cause was doomed to inevitable defeat due to the economic advantages of the United States, then why did the southern states secede? Southerners can't claim it was a matter of principle and that they'd rather do down fighting rather than surrender - because as it turned out, they were willing to surrender and stop fighting.

If the south was truly led by geniuses, shouldn't they have been saying in 1860, "Listen, we all agree this sucks. But we also agree we can't win a war against the rest of the United States. They've just got too many guns. So we should buckle down and make the best deal we can. There's no sense trying to fight a war we can't win and getting three hundred thousand good southerners killed for no purpose."

Some ex-Confederates specifically refuted this idea when the Lost Cause narrative was being formed. They argued that the war had been winnable. But if a winnable war was lost, then somebody has to be to blame. And a lot of finger pointing was the result. There were people who blamed Davis or Lee or Johnston or Bragg or Longstreet or Jackson or Stuart or Joe Brown.
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Old 10-18-2019, 11:28 PM
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The problem with the Lost Cause narrative is that it opens up some wider questions. If the Confederate cause was doomed to inevitable defeat due to the economic advantages of the United States, then why did the southern states secede?
...

If the south was truly led by geniuses, shouldn't they have been saying in 1860, "Listen, we all agree this sucks. But we also agree we can't win a war against the rest of the United States. They've just got too many guns. So we should buckle down and make the best deal we can. There's no sense trying to fight a war we can't win and getting three hundred thousand good southerners killed for no purpose."
Many southerners might and I'd guess probably did believe that they'd not be able to defeat the North in battle. But if they could hold on long enough, the Yankees would tire of things and let them be.
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Old 10-19-2019, 11:57 AM
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Many southerners might and I'd guess probably did believe that they'd not be able to defeat the North in battle. But if they could hold on long enough, the Yankees would tire of things and let them be.
Right. The Confederacy didn't really believe the Yankees would fight an actual war to keep them in the Union. From their perspective, the North didn't have the martial culture of the South and was filled with immigrants who didn't have any stake in a war. They also believed, with good cause, that the North would not fight for Negros or hurt themselves economically by cutting off their supplies of cotton, tobacco, and other crops that the North didn't grow.

They weren't so deluded that they thought no battles would be fought, but even there they thought they had the advantage. By seceding, they instantly captured all the federal forts and armories in their states. If the North were going to fight, it had to go all the way to the South and fight them on their turf, with long supply lines and no familiarity or support among the people. They were looking at the last war, the pre-industrial Mexican War, as their guideline, not a technological frenzy of industries, railroads, telegraphs, ironclads, and observation balloons. It would all be over by Christmas, in the cliche used in so many wars.

Lincoln was a complete unknown and totally untested. He didn't have control of his own party, let alone the government and the people. He wasn't expected to be a factor. If he had any sense at all, the South believed, he would just give up and let the fait accompli be. The South had right on their side, State's Rights and all that malarky. They held the winning hand in every way.

And most of the people in the North thought exactly the same way, although a parallel set of short-sighted hotheads also believed that they could easily defeat the South without for one minute thinking the reality through. Reality didn't set in until 1863, when it became obvious that the war would go on until the South was ground into pieces. By that time, the South was in full war mode and psychologically could not surrender and admit defeat. So they got ground into pieces, were extremely bitter that the North didn't just give in and let them have their way, and were determined to recast reality so that they were the good guys. Lincoln had to become a villain. If he just let them go, all the horrors would have been avoided. The war was his fault; he spoiled everything. QED.
  #146  
Old 10-19-2019, 09:58 PM
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A Confederate nation never existed. No country recognized the states waging the War of Southern Treason, which (according to UK reporter WH Russell) was fomented by Carolinians anxious to return to rule from London. Leaders of the Confederacy were oath-breaking traitors. Life in the feudal South was brutal for about all but the very rich. Romanticizing antebellum ls pernicious mythology. Why do we let the losers write history?
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:43 PM
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Why do we let the losers write history?
Yeah! If we slaughter them all to the last literate man and woman they wouldn't be able to write anything!

  #148  
Old 10-19-2019, 11:31 PM
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A Confederate nation never existed. No country recognized the states waging the War of Southern Treason, which (according to UK reporter WH Russell) was fomented by Carolinians anxious to return to rule from London. Leaders of the Confederacy were oath-breaking traitors. Life in the feudal South was brutal for about all but the very rich. Romanticizing antebellum ls pernicious mythology. Why do we let the losers write history?
Great Britain wrote history after losing the war another group of slave owning traitors started. Who was going to stop them?
  #149  
Old 10-20-2019, 12:12 AM
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Great Britain wrote history after losing the war another group of slave owning traitors started. Who was going to stop them?
Great Britain definitely wrote the definitive history on the revolutionary war; that's why we all consider George Washington to be a traitorous rebel today. Oh, wait. No we don't.
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Old 10-20-2019, 03:30 PM
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Then songs like "The Night They Drove Old Dixie down" which I'm not sure what side it glorifies.
That song is definitely a masterpiece. I wouldn't say it really glorifies either side, but tells the story from the point of view of a humble Confederate soldier. It has that rare quality of sounding a hundred years older than it is.

Interesting, it was written by a half-Jewish Canadian guy.
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