Special Opinion by Charles Landis
In the ES News, May 24, 2019, guest columnist Daniel Fountain writes about why he thinks some still get indoctrinated in the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. He argues it is because the United Daughters of the Confederacy and others have been untruthful about the history of the Confederacy. Mr. Fountain is a history professor, and he should have been more truthful.
There was no referendum on decision of Southern states to secede from the Union. 854 men, mostly wealthy plantation owners, were selected by the state legislators to attend conventions to decide on secession. 697 voted for and 157 voted against; thus a small group of rich and powerful men (697) decided for 9 million mostly poor people, not the voters.
My grandfather and five of his sons joined the Confederate Army. They had no vote in secession or to fight. Like most, all they knew was South Carolina fired on a Union fort in Charleston, and Lincoln had mobilized 15,000 troops and was going to invade the South. Slavery had been accepted for over 250 years, was legal under the Constitution, and the Supreme Court (Dred Scott) said slaves were property. Note. Until the Revolutionary War ¾ of the immigrants were indentured or bonded, and many did not live much beyond the indenture period. Some of my ancestors (from Palatine) came to America in boats where the death rate was higher than on slave ships.
My grandfather was severely wounded at Petersburg, and three of his sons were killed. There is a memorial to my grandfather, as captain of the Granville Graves of North Carolina, and the other fallen soldiers. My grandmother and three of daughters (aunts) were among the Daughters of the Confederacy who helped erect this and other memorials. One of my aunts went on to become administrative assistant to General Omar Bradley when he headed the Veterans Administration. There are countless testimonials to all the good works she did on behalf of veterans of every war from the Civil War to World War II and after. (Including FDR, General Bradley, and awards from veteran organizations).
Yes, slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War, but the primary purpose of Lincoln was to preserve the Union. Lincoln only freed slaves in states in rebellion. HE did not believe the black man was the equal of the white man. He was a segregationist.
A quarter of the Union Army were mercenaries from Germany, Ireland, and Scandinavia. My ancestor’s homes were looted and razed, their crops destroyed, and I have a letter written by grandfather telling of the hardships during the occupation reconstruction. They fought because they were being invaded. Period.
The memorials are not for the Lost Cause but for veterans and all the lost blood.