Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty

Overview


In Becoming Confederates, Gary W. Gallagher explores loyalty in the era of the Civil War, focusing on Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal A. Early—three prominent officers in the Army of Northern Virginia who became ardent Confederate nationalists. Loyalty was tested and proved in many ways leading up to and during the war. Looking at levels of allegiance to their native state, to the slaveholding South, to the United States, and to the Confederacy, Gallagher shows how these men represent responses ...
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Overview


In Becoming Confederates, Gary W. Gallagher explores loyalty in the era of the Civil War, focusing on Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal A. Early—three prominent officers in the Army of Northern Virginia who became ardent Confederate nationalists. Loyalty was tested and proved in many ways leading up to and during the war. Looking at levels of allegiance to their native state, to the slaveholding South, to the United States, and to the Confederacy, Gallagher shows how these men represent responses to the mid-nineteenth-century crisis.

Lee traditionally has been presented as a reluctant convert to the Confederacy whose most powerful identification was with his home state of Virginia—an interpretation at odds with his far more complex range of loyalties. Ramseur, the youngest of the three, eagerly embraced a Confederate identity, highlighting generational differences in the equation of loyalty. Early combined elements of Lee's and Ramseur's reactions—a Unionist who grudgingly accepted Virginia's departure from the United States but later came to personify defiant Confederate nationalism.

The paths of these men toward Confederate loyalty help delineate important contours of American history. Gallagher shows that Americans juggled multiple, often conflicting, loyalties and that white southern identity was preoccupied with racial control transcending politics and class. Indeed, understanding these men's perspectives makes it difficult to argue that the Confederacy should not be deemed a nation. Perhaps most important, their experiences help us understand why Confederates waged a prodigiously bloody war and the manner in which they dealt with defeat.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Once again, Gary Gallagher, the master essayist on the Civil War, has given us wonderful food for thought on the nature of Confederate nationalism. Through three cross-generational test cases—R. E. Lee, Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal Early—Gallagher penetrates the thicket of state versus national loyalty in the Confederacy and emerges with some fascinating insights about the nationalizing power of slavery and the war and the persistence of Confederate national sentiment in the postwar years."—Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee

"These three powerful portraits, painted with bold strokes and evocative detail, bear the unmistakable marks of Gary Gallagher's mastery of the historical craft. The decisions made by these men help us understand the decisions all white southerners faced in the era of the Civil War."—Edward L. Ayers, author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863, winner of the Bancroft Prize

"In this slim volume, based upon his 2011 Lamar Lectures delivered at Mercer University, Gary W. Gallagher offers major new insights into how we should understand the Civil War soldier and his core motivations. . . . At one level, Gallagher offers valuable interpretive capsule biographies of the lives of three celebrated Confederate officers: Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal A. Early. Even readers familiar with all three men will find new nuggets in each chapter. But in a broader sense, Becoming Confederates proposes a template for assessing the behavior of the Civil War participants, both military and civilian."—Matt Gallman, Civil War Monitor

"While Gallagher’s examinations of this trio of men are interesting enough, it is the broader argument for which they serve as a base that is the true value of the book: namely, that the Civil War was not a conflict between regional entities (i.e., North vs. South), but rather between fleshed-out nations—'the United States versus the Confederacy'. . . . An excellent addition to Civil War scholarship." —Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
A University of Virginia history professor examines the shifting loyalties of three Confederate generals in this lecture-based tome. Gallagher (The Union War) writes in crisp, academic prose of the dynamic allegiances of Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur (only 27 when he was killed in battle), and Jubal Early as they went from being American citizens to prominent Rebel belligerents. The author explodes the idea that Lee’s primary loyalty was to Virginia by citing his “stalwart nationalist stance,” which “departed radically from state rights advocates,” and he quashes the misconception that Lee nobly surrendered without anger. Ramseur was similarly onboard with secessionist ideologies, whereas Early harbored misgivings about whether “resisting the government instituted by our forefathers” was truly the right path. While Gallagher’s examinations of this trio of men are interesting enough, it is the broader argument for which they serve as a base that is the true value of the book: namely, that the Civil War was not a conflict between regional entities (i.e., North vs. South), but rather between fleshed-out nations—“the United States versus the Confederacy.” He even goes so far as to provocatively argue that a “southern nation existed before Lincoln” and the official secession movement. An excellent addition to Civil War scholarship. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820345406
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2013
  • Series: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures
  • Pages: 152
  • Sales rank: 683,574
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Gary W. Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many books on the Civil War, including most recently The Union War and Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Chapter One
Conduct Must Conform to the New Order of Things: R. E. Lee and the Question of Loyalty 8

Chapter Two
He Died as Became a Confederate Soldier: Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s Easy Embrace of the Confederacy 35

Chapter Three
Consistent Conservative: Jubal A. Early’s Patriotic Submission 57

Chapter Four
For His Country and His Duty: Confederate National Sentiment beyond Appomattox 83

Notes 93
Index 109

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