on January 2, 2008
A mythos of invincibility was the source of the diehard experience of a significant proportion of Confederate military forces refusing to give up even though they suffered serious reversals and did not have the resources to ever overcome these. Decisive defeat at Gettysburg and Sherman's march through the South culminating in the capture of Atlanta were two such reversals coming after a couple of years of warfare during which the South had never managed to gain the upper hand despite some successes in early parts of the War.
"Elements that supported Confederate notions of invincibility--religion, stereotypes, combat, rumors, camaraderie, and more--formed the fabric of the diehard experience." Phillips--assistant professor of history at Mississippi State U.--treats these different facets of this mythos of invincibility with cultural study of the Southern states, reading of historical circumstances, military analysis, and also letters, battle reports, and newspaper stories both feeding into the myth and subtly questioning it. Demonization of Northern troops played with a belief in the superiority of the Southern soldier. Rumors trumped facts, as when reports circulated that New Orleans had been retaken. Slanted or incomplete newspaper articles were seized upon as gospel. Confederate soldiers deified their generals; and many generals and field officers developed strategies for prolonging combat as long as possible when a rational, objective assessment of circumstances would lead to the conclusion that defeat was inevitable.
Phillips' book is engaging and illuminating for bringing together diverse material in support of his topic; and in so doing, bringing out new perspectives on always interesting subjects such as cultural differences between North and South and the course of the Civil War.
on July 7, 2015
Diehard Rebels by Jason Phillips is a must read for any student of US History, especially those with an interest in the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras. The insight offered in this book will illuminate many of the challenges faced by anyone trying to understand Southern Culture today.
I found this book in the gift shop at the Chickamauga Battlefield. It's well worth taking the time to read, and it's well worth the money.