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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  August 17, 2016 4:06pm-5:03pm EDT

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this was to represent all the beliefs and ideals of george washington, and that included, once again, the idea that this nation would exist forever, and that no state had a right to leave it. so how ironic is it that that man's daughter would marry robert e. lee who became the great confederate general and perhaps the man who came closest than any other man in history to destroying the nation that was created in the american revolution. >> for our complete "american history" tv schedule go to c-span.org. next on "american history tv," author and historian david silkenad look at the confederate defeat at the end of the civil war and the idea of southern honor. he explains how generals, politicians and citizens in the north and south viewed the
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concept of honor and how that perception shaped their decisions during and after the war. this hour-long event was part of the annual summer symposium hosted by the gettysburg college civil war institute. david currently serves as a lecturer in american history at the university of edinburgh in scotland. he teaches a wide range of courses in if civil war and reconstruction, civil war memory, and the u.s. south. after beginning his career as a high schoolteacher, he -- in florida, he earned his ph.d at the university of north carolina, chapel hill. he taught at the university -- excuse me, at north carolina state university, and there he published his first book. it is a superb one. "moments of despair, suicide, divorce and debt and civil war era north carolina." it explores the shifting sentiments, both black and white, towards suicide, debt and divorce in the post-civil war
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south. this book received a number of awards. he's got a new book that's coming out. his new book is entitled "driven from home, north carolina's civil war refugees," and should be out in october, published by the university of north carolina press. i'm so pleased that he is here. in fact, his son was a scholarship recipient two years ago and so we know this family very, very well. we're thrilled that you are going to come back. he is going to be speaking about southern honor and southern defeat. southern honor is tossed around a fair amount. usually conjures up the idea of men dueling and shooting each other. it is certainly a much more complex ethic. i'm pleased that david is here to explore that topic with us. david? [ applause ]
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i want to begin by thanking pete for putting together this -- for inviting me and putting together a tremendous program. i am looking forward to this week probably as much as you are. i also want to thank the entire staff here, especially allison, for helping with all of the logistics. shortly after lee's surrender at appomattox, union colonel john t. sprig received an unusual mission from general john pope. he was to travel down the mississippi from pope's headquarters in st. louis to louisiana, and from there travel up the red river to shreveport where he was to demand confederate general edmond kirby smith surrender. using the appomattox terms as a
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template. the trip from st. louis to the confederate trans mississippi capital took nearly a month, far longer than he anticipated. he repeatedly delayed en route before received permission to enter confederate lines. crossing into rebel territory on may 8th, sprig traveled up river via steamboat, sharing the vessel with confederate general simon buckner who had surrendered in 1862 and now served as kirby smith's chief of staff. also on board were several exchanged or paroled soldiers from lee's army who were now headed home. sprig hoped that pope's letter and developments over the past month would make kirby smith's paths forward clear. lee had surrendered on april 9th. johnson had surrendered at bennett place in north carolina on april 26. general canby accepted others in
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ensuing weeks. sprig expected them to bend the logic of events. kirby smith read pope's message closely. although he anticipated its contents he refused to respond immediately explaining that he was scheduled to meet with western confederate governors in marshall, texas, 20 miles west of shreveport. and asked sprig to wait while he consulted with civil authorities. before he left, kirby smith "admitted the force of recent events," and sprig saw him as "a warm and benevolent." when he returned a week later however, kirby smith told sprig he could not surrender. in a lengthy memorandum for colonel sprig, kirby smith articulated his reasoning.
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he argued that -- my army was menaced only from a distance. his large and well supplied and extensive country full of resources. unlike lee's worn and exhausted army, his force faced no immediate military threat and had ample food and resources. considering their different circumstances, the terms were not such that a soldier could honorably accept. he explained that an officer can honorably surrender his command when he is resisted to the utmost of his power. given the condition of his army he reasoned that it cannot be said that the duty imposed upon me has been fulfilled to the utmost extent required by the laws of honorable warfare. unlike some of his subordinates who harbored fantasies about the trans-mississippi confederacy continued to fight indefinitely, kirby smith did not hold unrealistic expectations about
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the military prospects before him. however, since he was in a stronger military position than lee, kirby smith believed he deserved better terms. furthermore, he interpreted the federal government's insistence on the appomattox terms as an indication that tended to you had my lie it a a people. kirby smith proposed alternative terms including immunity from prosecution, a full restoration of political rights and the freedom to leave the country unhindered. any less liberal terms kirby smith argued would be contrary to the laws which custom has made binding among nations and military men and would engender continued resistance and rebellion. the word that appears over and over again in kirby smith's memorandum to sprig is honor. his defeat was inevitable but he wanted to ensure that when defeat came it came without necessity of him sacrificing his honor. what i'd like to do today is look at how honor shaped the
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contours of the confederacy's final months, how it influenced the transition from war time to peace time and how it affected the major questions of reconstruction afterwards. for a man of the civil war era the idea of honor possessed a gravitas and level of meaning that have now largely disappeared. for them honor was something to be prized, cultivated and fiercely guarded. if you read the diaries and correspondence of men in the 1840s, '50s and '60s, you will often see a preoccupation with honor that borders on obsession. for all the importance they attached to honor, however, precisely defining it can be difficult. to appropriate supreme court justice stewart's definition of obscenity, they knew honor when they saw it. a few broad generalizations can be made, however. first, honor was primarily about how one was judged by the outside community.
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the community established a set of social paradigms that the man of honor must uphold. honor was fundamentally social in nature. one could not be a man of honor alone on a desert island. second, honor was interwoven with masculinity. while women could be venerated for their virtue, only men could have honor. third, the meaning of honor, the precise rules and values that men needed to uphold, varied based on both geography and social class. for young men attending harvard, for instance -- here we see some young harvard undergraduates from the 1850s -- honor was obtained through self-discipline and restraint. a man of honor was one who was in control of his emotions and the world around him. conversely, poor immigrants in new york's five points might demonstrate that honor through
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their prowess in a tavern brawl or at the gambling table. some of the most interesting and controversial scholarship on honor in the civil war era has looked at the way honor functioned in the south. within the context of a slave society, honor took on a particularly veilance. when the master-slave dynamic functioned as the dominant cultural metaphor, honor became fundamentally intertwined with mastery. men of honor were masters. masters over their slaves. masters over their households. and masters within their community. to challenge a white man's honor was to symbolically make him into a slave. because the metaphorical stakes were so high, southern white men responded viscerally to any challenge to their honor. even minor slights required and immediate and bold response. some historians have linked this profound obsession with honor with some of the distinct features of southern society.
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honor, for instance, helps to explain why dueling, which it essentially died out in the rest of the atlantic world by 1800, continued in the south decades later. while the duel remained the purview of the planter class, poor white southerners who were no less invested in the culture of honor. like their planter counterparts, poor whites responded to challenges to their honor in violence often in the form of what one historian referred to as rough and tumble brawls. the flip side of honor was shame. failing to uphold one's honor had significant social ramifications. dishonorable men were off the -- ostracized from polite society and effectively so showily dead. the greatest fear of southern planters was they would be unmasked. the facade of honor that they worked so hard to project would crumble and they would become socially marginalized. this slide is from florida where
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one florida politicians feels like he's been insulted by another politician who he claims has not given him the due which is -- he needs as an honorable man. when the war came, honor helped drive men into military service in both the north and the south. there was no greater venue than combat to showcase and enhance one's honor. reading soldiers' diaries and correspondents before their first battle, their greatest hope was that they would fight honorably and for many of them their greatest fear was not that they would die on the battlefield but they would behave dishonorably. for northerners and southerners alike, honor extended beyond the individual in concentric circles. they valued and defended honor not only on a personal basis, but they also sought to protect the honor of their families, their communities, their state,
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region and country. when the war came, soldiers manifested similar affinities when it came to protecting their personal honor as a soldier and the honor of their regiment, their army and their nation. their preoccupation with honor helps to explain why soldiers invested so much emotional energy in material manifestations of their honor such as regimental flags, and were willing to die to protect them. by january, 1865, most outside observers concluded that the confederate defeat was inevitable. to be sure, many confederate soldiers whom jason phillips has dubbed die-hard rebels, maintain the confederate victory was just around the corner, even when all the evidence seems just otherwise. a sentiment that confederate president jefferson davis appeared to have shared. for those who saw the writing on the wall, however, they began to calculate how they could end the war without bringing dishonor on themselves and their countrymen. was it possible, they asked them selves, to be defeated without
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sacrificing their honor? abraham lincoln was cognizant that defeating the confederacy and bringing the war to conclusion appealed to senses of honor. if they could be persuaded that ending the war was more honorable than continuing to fight, thousands of lives could be saved. when lincoln met with grant and sherman aboard the river queen at city point in march of 1865, he instructed them to offer generous terms that would not compromise confederate honor. let them surrender and go home, lincoln told them. they will not take up arms again. let them all go, officers and all. let them have their horses with them to plow with. and if you like, their guns to shoot crows with. give them the most liberal and honorable of terms. many confederates also believed that a quick end to the war would be the best way to protect their honor. for most among them was
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confederate secretary of war john c. breckenridge, convinced in early 1865 the confederate defeat was inevitable, breckenridge argued that "the confederacy should not be captured in fragments, but we should surrender as a government, and we may thus maintain the dignity of our cause and secure the respect of our enemies and the best terms for our soldiers." he recognized that surrender carried some risk, particularly for those who might face prosecution for treason. nonetheless, breckenridge maintained that "this has been a magnificent epic in god's name let it not terminate in a farce." jefferson davis, however, steadfastly refused to consider any outcomes short of a complete confederate independence. davis' intransigence grew out of a belief his moral and political beliefs of office precluded surrender when it resulted in his country's demise.
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as davis told one associate, the confederate constitution does not allow him to treat for his own suicide. when it finally came time for confederates to lay down their arms, questions of honor were at the forefront. confederates hoped to surrender in such a way as to minimize any lasting shame, while union officials cognizant of how dearly rebels protected their honor sought to minimize the dishonor that surrender would entail. when we look at grant's conduct, it is clear that he understood how profoundly confederates held their honor and went to great lengths not to offend lee or his men. he wanted them to see that defeat did not necessarily mean they were without honor, and that reunification could take place without a lasting shame looming over their heads. grant's understanding of the role of honor had in the army of northern virginia helps to explain why he did not demand lee's sword, for instance, or why he ordered his men to halt any celebrations that might offend or embarrass the defeated
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confederates. in his memoirs, grant noted that "when news of the surrender first reached our lines, our men commenced firing a salute of 100 guns in honor of the victory. i had once sent word, however, to have it stopped. the confederates were now our prisoners and we did not want to exalt over their downfall." this illustration is probably the first published illustration of the meeting of lee and grant. published by currier and ives and they published different versions of it. it appears to be for sale in new york less than a month after the surrender. for those of you who have seen the actual artifacts in the smithsonian or read the surrender recognize almost everything about this image is wrong. they didn't sit at the same table. those aren't what the chairs looked like. that's not what the wallpaper looked like. grant's uniform is wrong.
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there are lots of details about this that are completely off. what i like about this image though, i think it sort of tells us something about the way the war ended, or at least one version of the way the war ended. here are two men sitting at a table having a conversation as equals. they're having a conversation as equals at the point in which they are the most unequal. lee's army is broken, grant's army is not. if they walk out of this table without an agreement, bad things are going to happen to lee's army. but here at least for this moment they are meeting as equals. this i think is a more accurate depiction of what happened. this is a painting which is now housed at the virginia historical society, painted around 1920. i often show this painting to my students and ask them, especially these are british students that may not know the civil war iconography as well as people in the audience -- who is the victor in this painting?
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and if you didn't know that grant is the victor, you would have thought that lee is the person who is going to walk out of here cheering. i think it says something about what confederates thought or former confederates or southerners thought about the end to the war several decades later. the magnanimous tone expressed by grant and other union generals may have had unintended consequences. some confederates went home believing that since their honor was intact, they could continue to proclaim confederate values even after the confederacy itself ceased to exist and that surrender did not necessarily mean defeat. as confederate general richard taylor, son of president zachary taylor and jefferson davis' brother-in-law, told a subordinate, you will explain to your troops that a surrender will not be the consequence of
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any defeat, but is simply, so far as we are concerned, yielding upon the best terms and with the preservation of our military honor to the logic of events. even more disturbingly, alabamian colin a. battle noted appomattox was not the surrender of principles that notionable man could bear, but a surrender which honor was earned and the moral grandeur of the south rose to heights unknown before. returning home after the surrender, colin established the knights of white carnation, a terrorist organization that predated the klan. although appomattoxing marked the beginning of the end for the confederate nation, being rebels left with their commitment to confederate values of white supremacy and southern distinctiveness intact and
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reinforced. in the surrenders that followed at bennett place and other sites, union and confederate generals used a share vocabulary distinguished between honorable and dishonorable surrender that had been established at the beginning of the war. major robert anderson was praised as a hero at ft. sumpter for his bravery prior to surrender, only capitulating after suffering from heavy bombardment and with no prospect of victory or escape. other officers such as david twiggs and dixon miles were vilified when they surrendered their men prematurely. this paradigm of the honorable surrender helps explain why kirby smith could not bring himself to surrender under the same terms that had been acceptable to robert e. lee. lee, like robert anderson, found themselves in a position where continuing to fight would only show further blood. that phrase shows up over and over again in surrender negotiations. smith had not yet reached that threshold where he could reasonably order his men to stack arms. in his comparative study of
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defeat, wolfgang sleepenbush argues that one of the most unusual features of the civil war was how quickly southerners developed a rationale to explain defeat. he notes that most nations usually take a generation before a consensus narrative develops about why and how they lost. but confederates seem to arrive at a common explanation almost as soon as the war is over. as historian michael o'brien has observed, "certainly few cultures are better prepared ideologically for the disaster of war." many explanations have been posited for this. my personal favorite is that the southern obsession with scotland helps explain why the defeat came so quickly. go with me on this. it actually makes some sense. like scotland, southerners saw themselves as a distinctive region within a larger political union. voraciously reading novels of walter scott and poetry of robert burns, southerners had a
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ready vocabulary to describe how one could fight, lose decisively, and yet remain heroic and honorable. that's basically the entire narrative of scottish history. mark twain was overstating the case when he claimed that the civil war would not have happened if southerners had not read walter scott's novels. but the southern obsession with scotland which is everywhere once you start to look for it, may have helped them understand how defeat and honor were not irreconcilable. one of the earliest articulations of an explanation for confederate defeat came in the form of lee's farewell address. on the evening of april 9th, the same day that he surrendered to grant, lee assigned his aide, charles marshall, with the inevitable task, how to concisely and how to explain the defeat. and thank the troops for their
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commitment and sacrifice. when by 10:00 a.m. the next morning, marshal finished his words, it would become a sacred text. here we see a copy of lee's order, and later a reproduction. it was reproduced many, many times in the 100 years since. lee praised them for their sacrifice after four long years of war. their defeat came from overwhelming numbers and resources. they had fought honorably and their defeat did not tarnish their honor one iota. they can return home with their heads held high.
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one of the conspicuous features of lee's farewell address is the absence of a scapegoat. for lee the union's superior resources were the beginning and end for his explanation of defeat. other confederates however did seek to place blame. while many committed lee's words to memory they tried to forget what general thompson told his men when he surrendered them in jackson port, arkansas. unlike lee's written farewell address which was copied by clerks and distributed to corps commander who disseminated through the army. thompson addressed his troops in person telling nearly 5,000 confederate soldiers i now come to surrender you and hope you will make better citizens than you have soldiers. [ laughter ] thompson claimed they had been defeated because they lacked the honor to fight bravely. i know there are some gentlemen here, he told them.
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and i know there are some damn sneaky cowardly dogs. not unsurprisingly, many of thompson's soldiers rejected this claim that they were without honor, and one pleaded with thompson to talk to us like gentlemen, sir. at the outburst, thompson doubled down threatening to whip the next man to interrupt him. not unsurprisingly, thompson's soldiers left the surrender feeling embittered and angry that their commander challenged their honor at the moment of their defeat. whether they were praised like lee's troops, confederate soldiers had to return home to confront the material reality of defeat. for these men their defining experience is that everything turned out other than they had hoped. they had gone off to fight believing that they would return victorious. the degree to which the return home forced them to confront their failure varied tremendously. while the whole confederacy faced defeat, destruction i think as we all know was distributed unevenly.
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some soldiers were lucky enough to return home unscathed, resuming their prewar life with little interruption. many more, however, found the transition to peace time did not come easily and they could see their failures all around them. some returned home to find that their farms had been destroyed. physically and emotionally disabled veterans had to cope with the fact that their bodies could no longer do what they once did. soldiers who had lost limbs worried that they would be unable to work or support their families. thousands more suffered from persistent ailments brought on by four years of hard soldiering, chronic diarrhea, rheumatism, dysentery. debilitating conditions that made resuming a normal life extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible. others had injuries that were not visible to the eye but caused former soldiers to be committed to insane asylums by the droves. as the south experienced what one north carolina newspaper
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described as a suicide epidemic among its veterans. to be sure, the trauma of war exacted a heavy price on both union and confederate soldiers. but northerners could at least gain some solace from the fact that their sacrifice had contributed to victory, while former rebels could only look down at their empty sleeve and be reminded of their defeat. defeat also brought uncertainty. confederates had a clear vision of what victory would mean. they knew that they would have their independence and slavery and white supremacy would be maintained. defeat opened up a whole range of possible futures. many of which former confederates dreaded. when union officials talked in summer of 1865 of making treason odious, what did that mean? would they be imprisoned? would they lose their lands, as they had lost their slaves? what power would they have at the ballot box? ultimately, what badges of
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dishonor would the union make them wear as a consequence of defeat? for men of honor such uncertainty was almost as bad as being unmasked. if one could not control present or the future, how can one claim to be a master? some former confederates could not live with this looming uncertainty. fearing what would happen if he were taken into federal hands, florida governor john milton killed himself in april 1865 proclaiming that "death would be preferable to reunion." so, too, did a virginian, edwin ruffin. he was a prominent antebellum, he had gone to charleston in april of 1861 to participate in the bombardment of fort sumpter. on june 17, 1865, ruffin supposedly draped in the ft. flag shot himself rather than face the dishonor of living under union occupation.
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proclaiming in his diary his hatred to yankee rule. here we see him in his uniform and the page -- last page from his diary. you can read there where he talks about his unmitigated hatred for yankee rule. diane sumerville tells me wrapping himself in the flag probably didn't happen but it was invented by one of his descendants, but it is too good a part of the story to leave it out entirely. confederate nationalists like ruffin could only see ruin in a future without slavery and southern independence. while few southerners followed his example by ending their lives, many felt the overwhelming dishonor of defeat. for instance, one virginia soldier upon hearing of lee's surrender noted in his diary, if this -- if this of true is indeed a death blow to our cause in the state and perhaps the whole confederacy. i cannot describe my feelings on this sad occasion. this is really awful. what an immense loss of life and property and all for naught.
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and what is to be our future doom? some of those who felt dishonored by defeat believe that they would only regain their honor through violence. they could not respond violently against the union soldiers, but they could target recently emancipated african-americans. many former confederates saw their honor slipping away with every advance made by the former slaves. because of the complex way in which honor and white supremacy were intertwined, they interpreted black activism ranging from building their own churches and schools, to political mobilizations, as a direct affront to white supremacy and to their honor. from h fresh from appomattox, north carolinian julian boasted -- his words -- that he horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds because she had publicly insulted and maligned his southern lady. while white southerners like do not need much justification to prompt violence against
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african-americans, the shame of defeat and the lingering culture of honor provided a framework for racial violence of reconstruction, violence that erupted in the memphis and new orleans massacres of 1876 and prompted the foundation of the klan, a terrorist organization committed to defending the honor the of south. viewed from this perspective, the political and social struggles of reconstruction drew upon white southerners' profound sense of dishonor brought upon by defeat. only by violently resisting and rebuilding white supremacy in a post-war context could they hope to restore their honor. rebuilding their honor also helped form the core of the lost cause, the robust mythology that helped to sustain the white south. the name lost cause came, as i imagine most of you know, from an 1866 history written by richmond journalist edward pollard. a pro-slavery ideologue, he had in 1859 written a book
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advocating the re-opening of the african-american slave trade, pollard saw in the confederacy the embodiment of his values and aspirations. although often critical of the davis administration, pollard was a true believer in the righteousness of the confederate cause and was convinced that confederate victory was inevitable. when the davis administration fled richmond in april 1865, pollard remained behind and watched the city burn. according to the "new york times," berated the occupying union army by putting on a "very bold front and talking rather defiantly." when it came to explain confederate defeat in his book, pollard picked up on many of the themes lee had suggested in his farewell address. the south, he argued, had manifested greater virtue and valor in the late war. the exhibitions of generalship, chivalry, humanity and all the normal noble sentimentalism has
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been largely on the confederate side, he said. the defeat of the confederacy occurred largely because of the superiorioty of union numbers, although pollard also placed significant blame at the feet of jefferson davis. moreover he argued that defeat did not dishonor the south. even though the confederacy was defeated, the honor, their men and their cause had not. the confederates had gone out of this war with the proud, secret, deathless, dangerous consciousness that they are the better men. pollard's pronouncement that defeat did not mean dishonor had long legs. more than 50 years later, the dedication of the unity monument at bennett place, the site of johnson's surrender, julian carr, who i mentioned earlier had boasted about whipping an african-american woman, delivered a speech entitled "peace with honor." he told the audience that no
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confederate soldier has ever surrendered or been asked to surrender the principles for which he fought. defeat, he argued, had only brought honor to the confederacy. we lost, he told them. but we won. thank you. [ applause ] pete tells me everyone needs to come to the microphone if they have questions. >> did you notice any discernible difference between the post-war reactions of lee's veterans who had last order and thompson's veterans who were insulted by him? did that carry over into
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reconstruction? >> well, i think it's hard to follow each of them specifically, but lee's status among his soldiers only was elevated after his conduct at appomattox. you read post-war accounts of being there and seeing him, they're overwhelmingly glowing. whereas thompson, as you would imagine, they didn't have any nice things to say about him, one way or another. the extent to which that carried down is hard to explain. >> this is a vaguely formed question so forgive me. i work down at harvard square national historical park. we get a lot of visitors. when we tell them how these soldiers that surrendered there, they were paroled and they're
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sort of largely left to their own devices and they're eventually exchanged for confederate soldiers. people walk away from that story, they're like, man, i guess honor really meant a lot more back then than it does now. that's sort of like their main takeaway. i thought this was a fascinating talk. so i'm not sure exactly what i'm asking, but like is there more that visitors should take away about 19th century honor? >> you are talking about this very interesting period in the history of the war in which they have a prisoner exchange system and this is mostly in sort of mid-1862 through mid-1863. the way it worked essentially was that after you were captured in battle or captured in the surrender like at harper's ferry, you would be within ten days paroled on your honor not to fight again until you were exchanged for an equal number of soldiers on the opposite side. and it appears that 99% of the soldiers on both sides upheld this. that when they said, i pledged on my honor that i am not going to fight until i have been
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exchanged, i have not been exchanged, therefore, i am not going to fight, they actually pushed back sometimes when their officers said, oh, maybe we want you to go fight against native americans in the west. they said no, we're not supposed to fight, we're not going to do that. i think that speaks to the way in which soldiers on both sides valued their honor. in fact, that kind of system would work. i can't think of another war in which you would parole enemy soldiers and tell them promise not to fight again until we exchange you, we trust you. i can't think of another war in which that happens with that number of soldiers. >> you explained very well the very sensitive nature of lincoln and the north in terms of awareness of the importance of honor and dictate surrender terms to try to not be overly aggressive in that way. could that have been a mistake, do you think, in terms of encouraging later some of this
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horse whipping and lost cause kind of stuff that sort of followed? >> counterfactuals are always fun. any answer works. i think the alternative though, if you imagine had lincoln gone and told grant, told sherman, push for really hard terms. that would have made it that much harder for lee to surrender, for johnson to surrender, for these various other confederates to surrender. the war would have lasted months. longer. thousands more lives would have been lost. so doing the calculus on short-term benefits, long-term effects, that's very hard to do. >> hi, brooke simpson. i'm going to follow up on that question there. therefore, peter carmichael, without his scarf, indicated that we shouldn't talk about issues of inevitability, that there are all these other
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choices. but what you are indicating here in fact is that, like it or not, respecting the right of confederates to save face at the end of the war simply promoted a spirit of resistance. and on the other hand, to disregard that imperative would in fact have embittered confederates even more. so this does open up the question of, well, then what kind of war termination strategy would have led to a much more compliant ex-confederate citizenry when it came to the objectives of the conflict realized during reconstruction? >> sure. you know i think confederates responded, if you look at the individual soldiers, they responded to surrender in different ways. if you look at lee's army, in the days before the surrender,
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some of them leave because they determine the war is over and they are worried about what happens were they to surrender. some say i don't want to surrender, i'm going to somehow make it to texas and continue to fight. if you look at what happens in texas, a part of kirby smith's army says, even though everyone else has surrendered, we're not going to surrender. we'll go off to mexico and fight for somebody in mexico, even though they aren't quite sure who they'll fight for but they figure they'll fight for somebody and regain their honor that way. on the other hand, i think many soldiers responded to the end of the confederate soldiers responded at the end of the war with relief that the war had ended, that they could go home, that this cause which i think many of them realized was doomed months earlier, that they were able to have a peaceful and relatively easy transition. i have a hard time figuring out what lincoln could have done and what grant could have done differently that would have yielded a better result.
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i think invariably when you are dealing with the end of a war, you have to be very careful you aren't giving away the victory. that you aren't making the victory worth nothing, but especially in a civil war where you are trying to reunite with the former enemy as citizens, offering an open hand is probably the best way to do that. i think that's sort of the essence of lincoln's policy and grant's policy. >> we've talked about "honor" and the kkk and the terror that they rained on the south. are there any examples of southerners acting in what we
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could consider in an honorable way and defending african-american rights or tried to stop the kkk? >> that's -- i think if you look at the south after the war, you do have obviously the figures who decide that they are going to sort of challenge black freedom any way they can, whether it is the challenge black freedom through enacting black codes, or through terrorist organizations like the klan. you do have lots of white southerners, former confederates, who recognize that the end of the war actually had some consequences and the best strategy forward was not to resist emancipation but to try to figure out a way to embrace it. for more details i would actually refer you to elaine parsons' really excellent new book on the klan which only came out a few months ago.
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think will answer that question far more detailed than i have done for you here. >> yes, sir. >> bob roemer from massachusetts. massachusetts. you place tremendous emphasis, almost exclusive emphasis, on honor as a cause of all the who are horrors of racial violence and reaction during reconstruction. it seems to me that's kind of oversimplified. >> i would agree with you. sir -- in limited time i had, i was using that as a lens for helping explain some of it. it is a multi-causal explanation for violence in reconstruction is probably a more accurate one. >> i think that as you overlooked simple racism, and desire for power, and everything else. >> i think those things are fundamentally connected though. i think the way in which they thought about honor, the way in
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which they thought about race, the way in which they thought about power, those i think in the minds of many white southerners in the mid 19th century are so connected ideas that distinguishing them i think is almost impossible. so i agree with you that what i'm doing here is taking a particular slice here to try to explain some of the features of reconstruction. but we have a whole week here to understand reconstruction. yes? >> hi. tying a little bit off of that last question, you talked a little bit about white superiority or being tied to honor. was there any significant difference in the reactions of poor white southerners versus flat land slave owners? >> so one of the ways in which -- if you think about the antebellum south, one of the ways slave owners appealed to non-slave owners and got them to support slavery as a political institution, was they told them,
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look, you are in some ways equal to us, because you are white. that as long as there are slaves, they will be the mud sill of society and we, as white people, will be men of honor and be the dominant political and economic and social race in the south. and, therefore, you as a poor white southerner, somebody who doesn't own slaves, you should support us and support slavery even if you don't own slaves yourself, even if it may not be in your immediate economic best interests to do so. and i think that racial solidarity continued during ant after the war and helps explain why, for instance, so many non-save holding whites were eager to fight for the confederacy and explains much of what happened after the war, too. >> thank you. >> sir? >> lewis kaban from media, pennsylvania. this question is about the
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indians who fought for the confederacy. >> sure. >> stand wattee was the general who surrounded the last of the confederate forces. and he was out west. how did the indians -- they had a sense of honor, do you know anything about that? >> so he i believe is a cheshgy? cheshgy? cherokee? correct me if i'm wrong. so, you know, if you look at the cherokee, what the chair he can did in the 1830s and -- early 1820s and early 1830s is to a large extent they already assimilated into white southern culture. the strategy that the cherokee embraced concerning white settlement in the south was to try to assimilate to the extent they could, whether that's religiously, whether that's their naming practices, the thing about some of the important cherokee chiefs in this period, a guy named john
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ross which is about as non-cherokee-sounding a name as you can imagine, and owning slaves. right? many of the cherokee are slave owners. that strategy didn't work out so well for them in the short-term if you think about the trail of tears, but they had assimilated far more than most native americans to southern white culture. and i think that's part of the reason why the confederacy sought their aid in the war and i think it is part of the way -- so i think they're sharing at least a similar moral framework to other southerners in that respect. >> thank you. >> hi. i'm elizabeth robertson and i'm from reedsville, north carolina. i personally believe that this idea of southern honor still kind of continues on in the south today. and i was wondering if you could answer why and how that continues and what are the positive and negative effects of that? >> oh, geez.
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[ laughter ] >> or like a short overview at least. >> all -- yeah. our -- ah -- my expertise is in the 19th century, not the 21st. so i would say that if you're looking for, you know, continuities between the south in the 19th century and the south today i think, you know, if one looks at the amount of violence in the south, the preoccupation with firearms, for instance, i think some of that can be tied even if it is only in a transgential way, southern ideas to honor in the 19th century that have survived, thinking about the honor of one's family and the kinds of ideas are still present at least in some parts of the south today. so, you know, i'm very hesitant to draw any direct connections between events yesterday and events 150 years ago, but i think you're -- i think you touched on something that is probably there, there is some remnants of the southern culture
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of honor that remains. luckily there aren't that many duels anymore, but thank you. >> david rosen from alexandria, virginia. to what extent was the culture of honor shared through the military, given that both sides, senior military leadership came from -- >> sure. >> -- the same experience? >> i think one thing they taught at west point was honor. i think one of the reasons why, you know, grant and lee and sherman and all these guys have a common vocabulary about honor is their common military service. if you look at most of the main generals as all of you know on both sides were trained at west point, or trained at military academies that base their curriculum on west point. and therefore i think some of that common experience about what it means to be an officer
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explains why they're able to shear this kmorn common vocabulary about when can someone surrender honorably and when can someone not surrender honorably. this happens all the time. if you think of ft. sumter, they're having letters back and forth, they're sharing the common military experience, the common experience in the army and common experience at west point. i think there is -- that's a huge part of why they're able to sort of speak with the same language. >> hello. my name is aaron. i'm from california. do you think that the honor that a soldier, like a lower ranking soldier felt was brought upon that soldier by a higher ranking commander, or do you think that it was more based on the individual's idea? >> so honor, i think, at least the way i formulate it today is primarily about how one is seen by one's community.
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and so i think for an individual soldier that is -- what other soldiers in your regiment thought about you, if they thought you fought bravely that was of tremendous importance. all right? but recognition from superior officers about your bravery, your conduct or your honor i think was very important to soldiers as well. so if they had a conversation with lee, for instance, they would tell that story over and over again for the rest of their lives. and sort of conversely i think a lot of soldiers felt a great deal of honor and pride in whoever their commanding officer was. soldiers who fought with lee were extraordinarily proud to have fought under him. soldiers who fought under other generals were somewhat less proud about -- depending on who they were. it works in a fairly complex way about how an individual determines how their honor is formulated. >> thank you. >> i guess we have one last question here.
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>> i'm shawn mcgary from turnersville, new jersey. i was wondering, after the war with the reintroduction of the confederate states into the union how the competing senses of honor between the north and the south played a role in the politics of the country as a whole. with the reintroduction of the confederacy of the congress, how some of these better reforms in the reconstruction period even came about? >> geez. i got the hard effort question last. okay. so i think there are debates that are going on in the north about -- beginning of reconstruction really throughout reconstructi reconstruction, about how much they're going to make union victory mean something, how much they're going to make the badges of dishonor, if you will, how much are you going to make those stick on former confederates. when the confederates elect representatives to congress in the fall of 1865, fact that the union representatives say we're not going to recognize the new members of congress.
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how much are you going to make the responsibility for the war rest upon southerners' shoulders. if you think about the -- the burdens placed upon white southerners for instance by the 14th amendment, and by military reconstruction i think some of that is in large part an effort -- part of the debate, the outcome of the debate about how much you want to dishonor former confederates and how difficult that's going to make reintegration of the country. thank you. [ applause ] american history tv airs on c-span3 every weekend, telling the american story through events, interviews and visits to historic locations. this month american history tv is in primetime to introduce you to programs you could see every weekend on c-span3.
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our features include lectures in history, visits to college classrooms across the country, to hear lectures by top history professors, american artifacts takes a look at the treasures at u.s. historic sites, museums and archives, real america, revealing the 20th century through archival films and newsreels, the civil war, where you hear about the people who shape the civil war and reconstruction, and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies to learn about their politics, policies and legacies. all this month in primetime and every weekend on american history tv on c-span3. when american history tv continues during this congressional break special, photos of emancipation during the civil war. that's followed by a discussion of the politics behind reconstruction after the war. and how the end of the civil war was being explained and redefined at the time.
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thursday on american history tv primetime, the 40th anniversary of the national air and space museum. the celebration took place in july with the current museum director, retired general jack daley and a look at exhibits on the start of aviation and into space exploration. it begins tomorrow night at 8:00 eastern. next, amherst university of history barbara krauthamer talks about before and after emancipation. krauthamer discusses the legacy of emancipation and explains how freed african-americans used photography as a means of independence and self-expression. diggs, she goes over the change and depictions of african-americans through photography, and its relationship to the perception of african-americans in the post-war unid

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