Why the South Lost the Civil War?
The book explains the authors’ perspective regarding the defeat of South during the civil wars and rejects the traditional analysis of most historians. The authors dismiss the interpretation that Northern economic supremacy defeated the South. They believe that such kind of idea disregards the Confederacy’s capability to survive through its own fast industrialization. Moreover, they also disagrees the famous states-rights thesis of Frank L. Owsley, which sustains that the Confederacy’s central government which are ineffective because of the malfunction of the state governors to cooperate with Jefferson Davis.
Why the South Lost the Civil Wars emphasizes the fact that Southern governors are “allowed the energies and resources of the states to give considerably to the Confederate war endeavor” (Beringer et. al., 457). Moreover, the authors ignore the attack-and-die argument of Perry D. Jamieson and Grady McWhiney showing that a Celtic heritage led Confederates to slay themselves in frequently brutal tactical assaults. For them, purely military reflections are throw aside as they reiterated; “[f]or the Union to conquer the Confederacy, it required more than military victories” (Beringer at. al., 107). Thus, for the authors, the Confederacy was merely too enormous and too well-equipped for the Union to defeat it through the use of traditional military tactics.
In overall, the book offers an original and interesting interpretation that appreciably contributes to an important historical discussion of “Why the South Lost the Civil War?” The authors primarily introduce the concepts and ideas of shallow nationalism that for them is the major issue of the defeat of Southerners. As they explain, shallow nationalism is the reason why South gave up their huge armies in the battle field, not succeeds to resolve guerilla war and accepted their postwar destiny. For the authors, this kind of defeat is not based on human mistakes, major incidents or strategic errors. These are caused by the shallow nationalism that lived in the Confederacy. Although several historians will disagree upon the principles that the authors presented, their decision to re-evaluate Confederate defeat in shed of current understandings are still notable.
Beringer, Richard, et al. Why the South Lost the Civil War. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986.