Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Rent
Rent from BN.com
$9.21
(Save 73%)
Est. Return Date: 06/22/2014
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$19.70
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 91%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (21) from $2.99   
  • New (7) from $5.03   
  • Used (14) from $2.99   

Overview


More than 60,000 books have been published on the Civil War. Most Americans, though, get their ideas about the war&#151why it was fought, what was won, what was lost&#151not from books but from movies, television, and other popular media. In an engaging and accessible survey, renowned Civil War historian Gary Gallagher guides readers through the stories told in recent film and art, showing how they have both reflected and influenced the political, social, and racial currents of their times. Too often these popular portrayals overlook many of the very ideas that motivated the generation that fought the war. The most influential perspective for the Civil War generation, says Gallagher, is almost entirely absent from the Civil War stories being told today.

Gallagher argues that popular understandings of the war have been shaped by four traditions that arose in the nineteenth century and continue to the present: the Lost Cause, in which Confederates are seen as having waged an admirable struggle against hopeless odds; the Union Cause, which frames the war as an effort to maintain a viable republic in the face of secessionist actions; the Emancipation Cause, in which the war is viewed as a struggle to liberate 4 million slaves and eliminate a cancerous influence on American society; and the Reconciliation Cause, which represents attempts by northern and southern whites to extol "American" virtues and mute the role of African Americans.

Gallagher traces an arc of cinematic interpretation from one once dominated by the Lost Cause to one now celebrating Emancipation and, to a lesser degree, Reconciliation. In contrast, the market for art among contemporary Civil War enthusiasts reflects an overwhelming Lost Cause bent. Neither film nor art provides sympathetic representations of the Union Cause, which, Gallagher argues, carried the most weight in the Civil War era.

This lively investigation into what popular entertainment teaches us and what it reflects about us will prompt readers to consider how we form opinions on current matters of debate, such as the use of the military, the freedom of dissent, and the flying of the Confederate flag.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A very valuable book about the influence of Hollywood and popular art on our images of the Civil War."
-Indiana Magazine of History

"A fascinating, informative book. . . . Highly recommended to students and enthusiasts of the Civil War and for those interested in an examination of misinformation in movies and art."
-NewsOK.com

"Illustrates the continued scholarly interest in the Civil War as a thematic resource for American popular culture."
-Journal of Southern History

"A thoughtful, well-researched, and well-illustrated study that helps readers learn how their understanding of the Civil War has been shaped."
-Journal of America's Military Past

"A short and very readable book that should appeal to anyone with more than a passing interest in the Civil War."
-On Point

"Gallagher's analysis of the ways artists and Hollywood film writers have shaped the changing perceptions of the Civil War and its legacy is thought provoking."
-Courier

"A solidly researched and intriguing exploration of the influence of popular culture on public understanding of the war. Anyone interested in the Civil War and the impact of media on historical understanding will find Gallagher's latest book rewarding on many levels."
-Civil War Times

"This seemingly specialized book in fact has broad appeal."
-Centre Daily Times

"Written with Gallagher's customary clarity and vigor, salted with sardonic humor, and laced with expressions of concern about the darker side of Lost Cause adherents' admiration of Nathan Bedford Forrest and contempt for Abraham Lincoln."
-Virginia Magazine

From the Publisher
"Gallagher's analysis of the ways artists and Hollywood film writers have shaped the changing perceptions of the Civil War and its legacy is thought provoking."--Courier

"[Gallagher's] witty, handsomely illustrated book underscores Hollywood's ability to shape perceptions of historical events. Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten is a major contribution to Civil War memory scholarship. It reminds us how past traditions and present concerns shape understandings of the conflict, perhaps as Warren mused, the very essence of American history."--BookPage

"A fascinating, informative book. . . . Highly recommended to students and enthusiasts of the Civil War and for those interested in an examination of misinformation in movies and art."--NewsOK.com

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author


Gary W. Gallagher is John L. Nau III Professor of History at the University of Virginia and author or editor of numerous books, including Lee and His Army in Confederate History and The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten HOW HOLLYWOOD AND POPULAR ART SHAPE WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR
By Gary W. Gallagher
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8078-3206-6



Chapter One A Contested Historical Landscape: The Civil War Generation Interprets the Conflict

Americans began their struggle to define the historical meaning of the Civil War as soon as four years of slaughter ended in the spring of 1865. Their quest frequently took the form of heated debates that continue despite the passage of nearly 150 years. Many of the debates carried out by the Civil War generation focused on details relating to military operations. Some pitted former Confederates against former Federals, as when partisans of Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee engaged in strident exchanges about manpower during the Virginia campaigns of 1864-65. Lee's defenders sought to magnify Union strength and minimize their own. They portrayed Lee as a noble chieftain who struggled against hopeless odds and Grant as a graceless butcher who triumphed only because he could draw on almost limitless men and matériel. Grant's partisans reacted predictably, also manipulating the numbers to insist that there had not been a huge difference in strength and claiming that Grant's superior generalship had been the key to Union victory. Other debates witnessed former soldiers from the same side assaulting each other in print. Most notable of these was theno-holds-barred controversy among ex-Confederates over culpability for the defeat at Gettysburg-along-lived affair that came to center on the actions of General James Longstreet. For their part, Union veterans argued about leadership among their commanders at Second Bull Run, Gettysburg, and elsewhere. Most of these debates-which filled the pages of magazines, memoirs, and regimental histories for several decades after the war-revealed far more about the literary combatants in the postwar years than about the wartime events their prose dissected.

Another set of debates shifted the spotlight to how the war's broader meaning would be interpreted by subsequent generations. Many people North and South cared passionately about how history would judge their actions in a struggle that had sent more than 3 million men into military service (out of a population of about 31.5 million) and claimed more than 600,000 lives. Here the stakes were much higher than in literary jousting over such relatively minor points as whether Longstreet dragged his feet on the second day at Gettysburg. These larger debates brought the poisonous issue of slavery into the picture, both as a precipitant of secession and war and, in the form of emancipation, as a factor that altered the character of the conflict and helped define its aftermath. They raised questions about comparative sectional virtue, moral right, and even divine approbation.

Thumbnail treatments of four major interpretive traditions will provide background for the examination of films and artworks. One of the four formed almost immediately after the war in the South and two others in the North. Among them, the three offered starkly contrasting versions of the Civil War era, and all have modern counterparts that echo their arguments. The fourth tradition appeared somewhat later, won numerous adherents throughout the nation by the end of the nineteenth century, and remains widely evident today.

"A Record of Achievement, Endurance, and Self-Sacrificing Devotion"

What came to be called the Lost Cause school of interpretation arose in the South and contained several elements that have proved to be remarkably tenacious. Former Confederates confronted the postwar world as a people thoroughly beaten on the battlefield but defiantly unapologetic about their attempt to establish a slaveholding republic. The conflict had killed one in four military-age white southern men (American fatalities in World War II would have been approximately 6.5 million, rather than 400,000, if the ratio of dead to total population in the United States had matched that of the Confederacy), left much of the region's economy in ruin, wrought dramatic changes in the landscape, and, most important by far, destroyed the South's slave-based social system. Ex-Confederates sought to take something positive away from their catastrophic experiment in nation-building. They embraced a public memory of the Civil War era that celebrated their antebellum civilization with little reference to slavery, justified secession on constitutional grounds, highlighted their undeniable wartime sacrifice, and insisted that defeat in the face of impossible odds entailed no loss of honor. Refined and repeated endlessly during the post-Appomattox decades, Lost Cause arguments reached a wide audience through participants' memoirs, speeches at gatherings of veterans, and commemorative programs orchestrated by Ladies' Memorial Associations at the graves of Confederate soldiers. Various artworks, including prints published in the North, also celebrated the Confederate struggle, as did a large number of public monuments.

Architects of the Lost Cause hoped to provide their children and future generations of white southerners with what they called a "correct" narrative of the war (women were especially diligent in monitoring school textbooks). Some Lost Cause writers specifically sought to create a published record that would influence later historians. In terms of shaping how Americans have understood the Civil War, former Confederates succeeded to a remarkable degree. One need look no further than Robert E. Lee to find an obvious example of that success. Lee functioned as the preeminent Lost Cause hero. Ex-Confederatescould focus on him and his famous victories without engaging the noxious issue of slavery or some of the messier political and social dimensions of the war. By the second or third decade of the twentieth century, Lee stood with Abraham Lincoln as one of the two most popular Civil War figures. In what must be reckoned a great irony of Civil War memory, Ulysses S. Grant, who did more to forge United States victory than anyone save Lincoln, came to inspire far less admiration across the United States than the principal Rebel chieftain.

Although there was no official Lost Cause interpretation, several themes stand out as crucial for later explorations of films and artworks. Former Confederates faced the challenge of salvaging honor amid devastating defeat and horrendous human and material loss. Toward this end, they argued that northern numbers and material resources had been too great to overcome and stressed the enormous amount of physical destruction in the Confederacy. The United States had enjoyed an advantage in manpower of approximately two-and-one-half to one, but Lost Cause advocates typically lengthened even those odds. Confederate armies, they insisted, had waged a gallant but hopeless fight that bequeathed to subsequent generations of white southerners a noble legacy. In July 1876, the editor of the Southern Historical Society Papers called for increased attention to this subject. Pronouncing the "relative strength of the Federal and Confederate armies ... a matter of great importance," he suggested that "even our own people are in profound ignorance of the great odds against which we fought, while Northern writers have persistently misrepresented the facts." Few Lost Cause warriors devoted more attention to northern numbers and industrial advantages than Jubal A. Early. A highly influential figure in debates about the memory of the conflict, he characterized the campaign Lee and Grant waged in 1864 as "a contest between mechanical power and physical strength, on the one hand, and the gradually diminishing nerve and sinew of Confederate soldiers, on the other, until the unlimited resources of our enemies must finally prevail over all the genius and chivalric daring, which had so long baffled their mighty efforts in the field." Early's juxtaposing outnumbered Confederates against limitless, mechanistic northern power resonated immediately among vanquished white southerners, and among later generations of Americans as well.

The theme of admirable striving against irresistible United States power found expression in stone as well as in print. In 1903, for example, veterans dedicated an imposing monument on the capitol grounds in Austin, Texas, that underestimated Confederate strength by about 300,000 and overestimated that of United States forces by more than 650,000. The text read in part: "The South, Against Overwhelming Numbers and Resources, Fought Until Exhausted.... Number Of Men Enlisted: Confederate Armies, 600,000; Federal Armies, 2,859,132." Contending against odds of almost five to one, as the Texas memorial would have it (the seeming exactness of the Union figure lends verisimilitude to the invention), set a standard that could be used to instruct later generations. A monument erected in 1909 in Charlottesville, Virginia, offered such a lesson: "Warriors: Your Valour; Your Devotion to Duty; Your Fortitude Under Privations; Teach Us How to Suffer And Grow Strong."

Lost Cause writers understood that slavery posed the greatest obstacle to their constructing a version of secession and war that would position them favorably before the bar of history. They knew their slaveholding society had been out of step with the tide of Western history, and they sought to remove that stigma from their record by presenting slavery as peripheral to the decision for secession and to the establishment of the Confederate nation. They said they had fought in defense of constitutional principles as the true inheritors of a revolutionary tradition that invested great power in the states and localities and viewed central governmental authority with alarm. Among the most prominent Lost Cause writers were Jefferson Davis and Alexander H. Stephens, who had served, respectively, as president and vice president of the Confederacy. Stephens evidently coined the term "War Between the States," which soon achieved wide currency among former Confederates. The two men had become implacable political enemies during the war (Stephens believed Davis exercised too much national power in the course of trying to mount a military effort capable of securing independence), but their postwar writings complemented one another.

Those writings underscore the ways in which Lost Cause figures attempted to rewrite history regarding the centrality of slavery. In the spring of 1861, as the Confederate government began its stormy life, both Stephens and Davis acknowledged slavery's importance to their experiment in nation-building. On March 21, in his famous "Cornerstone Speech," Stephens observed that the new Confederate constitution "put at rest forever all the agitating question relating to our peculiar institution-African slavery as it exists among us.... This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution," Stephens averred, adding without equivocation, "Our new government is founded upon ..., its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth." Shortly thereafter, Davis justified secession on the grounds that Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party planned to exclude slavery from the territories, in turn rendering "property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars." Confronted with this threat to economic "interests of such overwhelming magnitude," added Davis, "the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced."

The two men's postwar memoirs told a different story. In A Constitutional View of the Late War between the States, a tedious two-volume work published in 1868 and 1870, Stephens did his best to push slavery into the background. He claimed that the "war had its origin in opposing principles ... a strife between the principles of Federation, on the one side, and Centralism, or Consolidation, on the other. Slavery, so called, was but the question on which these antagonistic principles, which had been in conflict, from the beginning, on divers other questions, were finally brought into actual and active collision with each other on the field of battle." Davis took a similar tack in his two-volume memoir titled The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. He asserted that the South waged war solely for the inalienable right of a people to change their government-to leave a Union into which, as sovereign states, they had entered voluntarily. "The truth remains intact and incontrovertible," Davis stated, echoing Stephens, "that the existence of African servitude was in no wise the cause of the conflict, but only an incident."

Where Lost Cause writers engaged slavery, they did so with an eye toward proving African Americans had demonstrated great loyalty to their masters amid the war's upheaval. Memoirs and histories of Confederate military units abound with examples of slaves assisting wounded masters, helping white women and their families on farms and plantations, and spurning Yankee invaders. The pages of Confederate Veteran, the official magazine of the largest Confederate veterans' organization, offers ample evidence of this dimension of the Lost Cause version of the war. One representative article in the Veteran discusses a proposed monument, to be erected in either Montgomery or Richmond, that would pay tribute "to the memory of the old-time Southern negro. The loyal devotion of the men and women who were slaves has had no equal in all history." Beyond individual examples of such "loyalty," Lost Cause advocates usually insisted that slavery as an institution had "Christianized" and otherwise benefited the African American. "In his native land he has never reached the dignity of a civilized being, and he has never been civilized until transplanted into slavery," wrote one former Confederate. "Whatever of eminence any individual of the race has attained, is due directly or indirectly to the civilizing influence of the institution of slavery. It was the master of slaves who accomplished the greatest missionary success and the progress of his ward since is due to the training and influence of the past."

Robert E. Lee took the place of slavery at the center of much Lost Cause literature. This centrality continued a trend that by the war's midpoint had seen Lee assume the position of being by far the most important Confederate figure. During and after the war, white southerners often compared Lee to George Washington, and between 1863 and 1865 Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia had functioned as the Confederacy's most important national institution. Lee represented the best card the Lost Cause writers could play in seeking a sympathetic audience. Widely praised even in the North as a self-effacing Christian gentleman, Lee had won almost all of the Confederacy's great military victories. He sometimes contended against odds as great as two to one, which allowed Lost Cause warriors to cast him and his soldiers as stalwart heroes engaged in a valiant but hopeless struggle. Stonewall Jackson, a deeply religious and personally idiosyncratic subordinate of enormous talent, usually stood at Lee's right arm. The Lee-Jackson partnership, which lasted just eleven months, between June 1862 and May 1863, inspired Lost Cause authors and speakers to search for superlatives that conveyed the duo's greatness. The final act of their collaboration closed with Jackson's death in the wake of southern victory at Chancellorsville and became one of the iconic moments of Confederate remembrance.

Yet it was not enough to praise Lee and Jackson. Lost Cause adherents often deprecated Grant in the course of assigning military virtue to their heroes. In 1878, for example, a piece in the Southern Historical Society Papers mounted a shrill attack on Grant in response to the Union general-in-chief's observation that he "never ranked Lee as high as some others of the army." The Overland campaign of 1864 left Lee's utter supremacy beyond doubt, suggested the author of the piece indignantly: "Lee foiled Grant in every move he made, defeated him in every battle they fought, and so completely crushed him in that last trial of strength at Cold Harbor, that his men refused to attack again ... and the government at Washington would have been ready to give up the struggle if its further prosecution had depended alone on 'the great butcher.'" Such assertions overlooked the fact that Confederate casualties during the six-week campaign had been proportionately heavier than Grant's and that by mid-June Lee faced the type of siege at Petersburg he most feared.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten by Gary W. Gallagher Copyright © 2008by The University of North Carolina Press.Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction     1
A Contested Historical Landscape: The Civil War Generation Interprets the Conflict     15
Going But not Yet Gone: The Confederate War on Film     41
Emancipation and Reconciliation But not the Union: Hollywood and the North's Civil War     91
Brushes, Canvases, and the Lost Cause: The Ascendancy of Confederate Themes in Recent Civil War Art     135
Epilogue     209
Notes     213
Acknowledgments     259
Index     261

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)