The Confederate War By Gary Gallagher Essay

The Confederate War By Gary Gallagher Essay

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Most of the narratives written about the Civil War in America state that the fall of the Confederacy was because of their low morale as well as internal divisions. However, The Confederate War by Gary Gallagher makes a counter argument, he gives evidence that the Confederate morale was fairly high throughout the war. Gallagher argues that the defeat came from the battlefield rather than the home front. He believes that Confederate civilians were mostly confident up until Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Gallagher divides the book into four section, Popular Will, Nationalism, Military Strategy, and Defeat, to defend his argument. His thesis argues that, “Contrary to what much recent literature proclaims, defeat in the military sphere, rather than the dissolution behind the lines, brought the collapse of the Confederacy. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox convinced virtually all Confederates that their attempt at nation-making had failed” (11).
Gallagher first examines the popular will of the Southerners by asking why the Confederacy fought for so long. Many of the current evidence suggests that conflicts with class, religious doubt about slavery, and disillusionment of the war were the demise of the Confederacy. However, Gallagher argues against these notions by pointing to the hardships suffered and persistent optimism to prove that there was a popular will. The religious revivals of the South continued on throughout the war and many Southerners maintained the belief that slavery had a divine support and God was on their side. Towards the end of this chapter, Gallagher points to historians Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene Genovese, who argue there was a wide difference and range of opinion in certain classes of the South. Spe...

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...s book by saying until historians can explain why the Confederate people poured their resources into a cause influenced so heavily by slavery, the history will be incomplete.
The Confederate War is a well written book with an interesting argument that relies heavily on personal accounts as backup. Gallagher confronts many historians and their theories with evidence as to why he disagrees. He opens a discussion about the Confederate strategy as well as their will to win the war. There are many primary documents used throughout the book to back his claims as well as photographic evidence. Gallagher suggests that future historians focus on the relationship between the home front and the battlefield to better understand the state of mind during wartime. Overall, this is a straightforward, enjoyable, easy to read book that gives a well-balanced argument to consider.

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