The Myth Of The Lost Cause Essay

This essay has a total of 1372 words and 5 pages.

The Myth Of The Lost Cause

Following the defeat of the Confederacy and to lift the morale of a shattered people
momentum gathered to enshrine the Myth of the Lost Cause which would transform the
Southern soldier living and dead, into a veritable hero.In order to come to terms with
defeat and a look of failure in the eyes of God, Southerners mentally transformed their
memories of the antebellum South. It became a superior civilization of great purity which
had been cruelly brought down by the materialistic Yankees.At the head of this revival was
the memory of Stonewall Jackson, closely followed by Robert E. Lee (who would rise to the
prominent position following his death in 1870). Other generals of the Confederacy who had
died during the war followed, as did those who would pass on later.D.H. Hill, a friend of
Longstreet published LAND WE LOVE, a magazine devoted to Literature, Military History and
Agriculture. In 1869 Hill sold out to a Baltimore periodical, NEW ECLECTIC, which in the
same year became the SOUTHERN MAGAZINE, official organ of the SOUTHERN HISTORICAL
ASSOCIATION. In 1871 it changed its name to the SOUTHERN MAGAZINE and together with a
later periodical, SOUTHERN BIVOUAC kept the memory of the War alive and fresh in the
public mind. Filled with poems and stories of loyalty to the LOST CAUSE sent in by
veterans. Hill was Stonewall Jackson's brother in law and he filled the magazine with
stories, anecdotes and poems of the now legendary general. Other Confederate heroes
received their share of attention from a flood of material supplied by readers
commemorating Southern dead and using religion to explain the defeat. Book - writing was
prolific in the ‘70s & ‘80s mainly from veterans but much on the romanticism of the
Cause from women.The most prominent of the writer of the period was John Esten Cooke, who
was related by birth and marriage to virtually all the prominent families of Virginia he
helped enshrine the Confederate dead into chivalric knights and symbols of the LOST CAUSE.
Cooke's impressive literary output polarized Southern perceptions of the War transforming
the stigma of defeat into a badge of honour that Confederate veterans could wear proudly.
His portrayal of the War as a wonderful adventure, in which participation was an
honour.When Lee died on 12 Oct. 1870 he was one of a significant number of Confederate
heroes running second to Jackson. Lee's prominence changed quickly though when a group of
his former staff officers and subordinates set about enshrining his memory in Southern
history. Lee's admirers built up Lee by attacking Longstreet and implying that he (Lee)
was Jackson's closest friend. Once the faults and failures Lee had been criticised for
during the war were shifted to Longstreet. Lee emerged as a sort of snow-white, pure hero
that Southerners embracing the rationale of the LOST CAUSE had come to expect. After Lee's
death an argument arose over possession of his remains and the glorification of his
memory. The Lee Memorial Association of Lexington and the Lee Monument Association of
Richmond fought publically for support. Jubal Early headed the Richmonders and Lexington
was led by William Pender, Lee's former artillery chief. By 1872 Pendleton and Early began
to cooperate and over the next 20 years they carried out a carefully planned character
assassination of former Lieutenant General James Longstreet. By using this tactic they
focused first the South and then national interest on the Battle of Gettysburg creating
the myth that it was the turning point of the War.Early had failed as a soldier but was to
prove the pen mightier than the sword. Early had fled to Canada following the surrender
fearing Federal retaliation after ordering the burning of Chambersburg, PA during a raid.
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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