Why was cricket's popularity in USA a casualty of Civil War?

Why was cricket's popularity in USA a casualty of Civil War?


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"Cricket was by far the biggest sport [in the USA] in this period," Tim Lockley, an expert in American history at Warwick University, told the Guardian in 1999. "Then the civil war started in 1861, just when it was reaching its peak of popularity. The sport became a victim of that war." (source: History.SE answer)

Why exactly did Civil War have this negative effect on cricket's popularity in USA?


From Wikipedia:

In spite of all this American growth in the game, it was slowly losing ground to a newcomer. In many cities, local cricket clubs were contributing to their own demise by encouraging crossover to the developing game of baseball. After the United States Civil War the Cincinnati Red Stockings brought a talented young bowler from the St. George's Cricket Club in New York to serve as a player and manager of the team. Harry Wright applied the "scientific" batting and specialized placement of fielders that he had learned in cricket to his new sport. This development was instrumental in creating the Cincinnati team's undefeated 1869 season. It also helped to secure the place of baseball as one of the most popular sports in the country.

It may have been during the Civil War that baseball secured its place as America's game. An army making a brief stop at a location could easily organise a game of baseball on almost any clear patch of ground, whilst cricket required a carefully prepared pitch. Baseball began to poach players and administrators from the world of cricket. Nick Young, who served for 25 years as the president of the National League, was originally a successful cricketer. It was not until the Civil War that he took up baseball because "it looked like cricket for which his soul thirsted." It has been suggested that the fast-paced quick play of baseball was more appealing to Americans than the technical slower game of cricket. This natural tendency toward baseball was compounded by terrible American defeats at the hands of a traveling English side in 1859, which may have caused Americans to think that they would never be successful at this English game. By the end of the Civil War, most cricket fans had given up their hopes of broad-based support for the game. Baseball filled the role of the "people's game" and cricket became an amateur game for gentlemen.

So, here we have a few major reasons for the crossover:

  • Many famous cricket players were switching over to baseball. This could be attributed to the next point.

  • Baseball was quicker paced than cricket. Because, there was no clock, there was no defensive batting, making it more exciting.

  • Baseball didn't need a special field. This made it much easier for soldiers to play on the move. Obviously, afterwards, they would bring it home and popularize it.

  • The US suffered demoralizing defeats from European teams.

This page also states that

Baseball suited war-time needs. It was quick, easy to learn, and required little in the way of equipment or facilities. No pitch was needed - just four sacks thrown on the ground, a simple bat and ball.

My opinion is that the third reason had the most effect. With hundreds of thousands being readily able to play baseball instead of cricket, they exerted a large influence of the sports played at home when they returned.


It'a a (partially) false premise. Cricket was popular with Americans (at least those with high social status) long after the Civil War.

While the increasing popularity of baseball did present a formidable challenge to American cricket, the two games existed comfortably side-by-side throughout the 1850s and 60s. It was not uncommon, in fact, for cricket and baseball teams to challenge one another to matches in their rival's sport. (source)

However much the American elite enjoyed playing cricket, the sport never developed the kind of infrastructure that leads to a mass fan base: frequent matches with large crowds and intense rivalries. Baseball, however

… was later blessed by a cadre of brilliant entrepreneurs determined to make it the “nation's pastime.” One such person was A. G. Spalding, star player, manager, league organizer, and sports manufacturer. To call Spalding an impresario or a marketing genius would be a bit of an understatement. He engaged in every part of the game, from promoting star players and intercity rivalries to squelching nascent efforts at labor organization among players. (source)

Even as late as 1911, Spalding saw cricket as the competition. Accordingly, he used its genteel associations as a way to promote baseball:

I have declared that Cricket is a genteel game. It is. Our British Cricketer, having finished his day's labor at noon, may don his negligee shirt, his white trousers, his gorgeous hosiery and his canvas shoes, and sally forth to the field of sport, with his sweetheart on one arm and his Cricket bat under the other, knowing that he may engage in his national pastime without soiling his linen or neglecting his lady…

Cricket is a gentle pastime. Base Ball is War! Cricket is an Athletic Sociable, played and applauded in a conventional, decorous and English manner. Base Ball is an Athletic Turmoil, played and applauded in an unconventional, enthusiastic and American manner.


I think demographics played some part, too. Baseball was very popular in New York, even called at one time "The New York Game." With the large number of soldiers from New York serving in the Federal army, it was widely spread.


The Battle of Fort Donelson took place in early February of 1862. Fort Donelson, located near the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, was a Confederate stronghold backed up by thousands of soldiers. The Union, lead by Ulysses S. Grant, attacked the fort after their initial taking of Fort Henry.

The Union won the battle, and it was a significant victory on their part, as it resulted in the surrender of 12,000 Confederate soldiers and new power in Kentucky and access into Tennessee. The number of casualties? 17,398, mostly Confederates.

Fort Donelson today.


Who, What, Why: How many soldiers died in the US Civil War?

A study suggests a previously widely accepted death toll of the US Civil War may actually be way under the mark. How many did perish in this conflict, fought before the era of modern record-keeping and DNA identification?

The US Civil War was incontrovertibly the bloodiest, most devastating conflict in American history, and it remains unknown - and unknowable - exactly how many men died in Union and Confederate uniform.

Now, it appears a long-held estimate of the war's death toll could have undercounted the dead by as many as 130,000. That is 21% of the earlier estimate - and more than twice the total US dead in Vietnam.

The Civil War began in 1861 when southern slave-holding states, fearing the institution of slavery was under threat in a nation governed by northern free states, seceded from the US after the election of President Abraham Lincoln.

It ended in 1865 with the surrender of the southern, or Confederate forces, to the Union army slavery was officially abolished by constitutional amendment that year.

The war devastated the economy and society of the agrarian southern states where most of the fighting occurred, and killed so many Americans it was impossible directly to tally the dead.

"The Civil War left a culture of death, a culture of mourning, beyond anything Americans had ever experienced or imagined," says David Blight, a Civil War historian at Yale University.

"It left a degree of family and social devastation unprecedented for any Western society."

In the 1860s, governments in the US and the Confederacy (the name the southern states took for their secessionist entity) were shoddy record keepers.

They had no comprehensive system of registering births and deaths, and military muster rolls were intended more for tabulating troop strength than recording fatalities.

And in the US Civil War, like all wars, men deserted or defected, bodies sank forever into the mud or were blown to bits or were misidentified, and troops initially listed as wounded in action subsequently perished from their injuries.

Confederate records were largely destroyed in the war's final stages, when the Union army captured its capital Richmond, Virginia.

For more than a century, it has been accepted with a grain of salt that about 620,000 Americans died in the conflict, with more than half of those dying off the battlefield from disease or festering wounds.

All along, however, historians sensed that number underrepresented the death toll.

Nor had any historian undertaken the mammoth task of devising and executing a new count.

That was until December, when historian J David Hacker published a paper that used demographic methods and sophisticated statistical software to study newly digitised US census records from 1850 to 1880.

His finding: An estimated 750,000 soldiers died in the war - 21% higher than the 19th Century estimate.

"We already knew that the war was devastating," Prof Hacker says.

"In one sense, increasing that total by 20% or so doesn't change that story. On the other hand, I'm a demographic historian, and we need to do the most precise job we can at determining what the impact of the war was."

Prof Hacker's findings, published in the December 2011 issue of Civil War History, have been endorsed by some of the leading historians of the conflict.

The publication's editors wrote that his scholarship was "among the most consequential pieces ever to appear in this journal's pages".

Prof Hacker began by taking digitised samples from the decennial census counts taken 1850-1880.

Using statistics software SPSS, he counted the number of native-born white men of military age in 1860 and determined how many of that group were still alive in 1870.

He compared that survival rate with the survival rates of the men of the same ages from 1850-1860, and from 1870-1880 - the 10-year census periods before and after the Civil War.

He controlled for other demographic assumptions, including mortality rates of foreign-born soldiers, added the relatively small number of black soldiers killed, and compared the numbers with the rates of female survival over the same periods.

The calculations yielded the number of "excess" deaths of military-age men between 1860-1870 - the number who died in the war or in the five subsequent years from causes related to the war.

Prof Hacker acknowledges the method must account for a large margin of error, and he declines to make bold claims about its accuracy.

He acknowledges further it cannot distinguish between Union and Confederate dead, between deaths on the battlefield or from illness, nor tally postwar deaths from wounds incurred in battle.

US Civil War deaths therefore could range from 617,877 to 851,066, and he settles on an estimate of 750,000 dead.

"I have been waiting more than 25 years for an article like this one," writes James McPherson, author of the seminal popular Civil War history Battle Cry of Freedom, in a commentary on Prof Hacker's piece.

Prof Hacker's finding "ups the ante on just how destructive the Civil War is", says Joshua Rothman, a 19th Century US historian and director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama.

"The moral weight of the Civil War is so large and the consequences of emancipation loom so large that we forget just how brutal the war actually is. It's good to remember that."

Prof Hacker's figure of 750,000 would translate into about 7.5 million US deaths in proportion to America's current population, Prof McPherson notes.

In proportion to Britain's 2010 population of 62.3 million, it's about 1.5 million people.

Previous to Prof Hacker's work, historians had widely relied on an estimate that 620,000 soldiers died in the war, a figure reached through the combined efforts of two former Union army officers in the late 19th Century.

William Fox and Thomas Livermore based their estimates on battlefield reports, pension filings of Civil War widows and orphans, and other sources that, historians have acknowledged, significantly undercounted the war dead.

It remains to be seen whether Prof Hacker's new estimates will diffuse into mainstream American thinking, supplanting Fox and Livermore's estimates. (The new numbers have already been incorporated into the Wikipedia page on the war.)

In any case, Columbia University historian Eric Foner questions the values of focusing on the death toll of such a horrific period in US history.

"A numbers game gets us only so far in understanding the war's impact on American life," he says.

"There is an ongoing debate about the number of slaves brought from Africa to the New World during the slave trade era - nine million, 12 million, 14 million. Does it really matter when we are assessing the morality of the slave trade?"


Why was cricket's popularity in USA a casualty of Civil War? - History

The Price in Blood!
Casualties in the Civil War

At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and some experts say the toll reached 700,000. The number that is most often quoted is 620,000. At any rate, these casualties exceed the nation's loss in all its other wars, from the Revolution through Vietnam.
The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men. Their losses, by the best estimates:

Battle deaths: 110,070
Disease, etc.: 250,152
Total 360,222

The Confederate strength, known less accurately because of missing records, was from 750,000 to 1,250,000. Its estimated losses:

Battle deaths: 94,000
Disease, etc.: 164,000
Total 258,000

The leading authority on casualties of the war, Thomas L. Livermore, admitting the handicap of poor records in some cases, studied 48 of the war's battles and concluded:
Of every 1,000 Federals in battle, 112 were wounded.
Of every 1,000 Confederates, 150 were hit.
Mortality was greater among Confederate wounded, because of inferior medical service. The great battles, in terms of their toll in dead, wounded, and missing is listed on this site:

The Ten Costliest Battles of the Civil War.

Some of the great blood baths of the war came as Grant drove on Richmond in the spring of 1864- Confederate casualties are missing for this campaign, but were enormous. The Federal toll:

The Wilderness, May 5-7: 17,666
Spotsylvania, May 10 and 12: 10,920
Drewry's Bluff, May 12-16 4,160
Cold Harbor, June 1-3: 12,000
Petersburg, June 15-30 16,569

These total 61,315, with rolls of the missing incomplete.
The Appomattox campaign, about ten days of running battles ending April 9, 1865, cost the Union about 11,000 casualties, and ended in the surrender of Lee's remnant of 26,765. Confederate dead and wounded in the meantime were about 6,500.
Lesser battles are famous for their casualties. At Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864, General Hood's Confederates lost over 6,000 of 21,000 effectives -most of them in about two hours. Six Confederate generals died there.
Hood lost about 8,ooo men in his assault before Atlanta, July 22, 1864 Sherman's Union forces lost about 3,800.
The small battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, August 10, 1861, was typical of the savagery of much of the war's fighting. The Union force Of 5,400 men lost over 1,200 the Confederates, over 11,000 strong, lost about the same number.
The first battle of Manassas/Bull Run, though famous as the first large engagement, was relatively light in cost: 2,708 for the Union, 1,981 for the Confederates.
The casualty rolls struck home to families and regiments.
The Confederate General, John B. Gordon, cited the case of the Christian family, of Christiansburg, Virginia, which suffered eighteen dead in the war.
The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, in a charge at Petersburg, Virginia, 18 June, 1864, sustained a "record" loss of the war-635 of its 9oo men within seven minutes.
Another challenger is the 26th North Carolina, which lost 714, of its 800 men at Gettysburg-in numbers and percentage the war's greatest losses. On the first day this regiment lost 584 dead and wounded, and when roll was called the next morning for G Company, one man answered, and he had been knocked unconscious by a shell burst the day before. This roll was called by a sergeant who lay on a stretcher with a severe leg wound.
The 24th Michigan, a gallant Federal regiment which was in front of the North Carolinians on the first day, lost 362 of its 496 men.
More than 3,000 horses were killed at Gettysburg, and one artillery battalion, the 9th Massachusetts, lost 80 of its 88 animals in the Trostle farmyard.
A brigade from Vermont lost 1,645 Of its 2,100 men during a week of fighting in the Wilderness.
The Irish Brigade, Union, had a total muster Of 7,000 during the war, and returned to New York in '65 with 1,000. One company was down to seven men. The 69th New York of this brigade lost 16 of 19 officers, and had 75 per cent casualties among enlisted men.
In the Irish Brigade, Confederate, from Louisiana, Company A dwindled from 90 men to 3 men and an officer in March, '65. Company B went from 100 men to 2.
Experts have pointed out that the famed Light Brigade at Balaklava lost only 36.7 per cent of its men, and that at least 63 Union regiments lost as much as 50 per cent in single battles. At Gettysburg 23 Federal regiments suffered losses of more than half their strength, including the well-known Iron Brigade (886 of 1,538 engaged).
Many terrible casualty tolls were incurred in single engagements, like that of the Polish Regiment of Louisiana at Frayser's Farm during the Seven Days, where the outfit was cut to pieces and had to be consolidated with the 20th Louisiana. In this action one company of the Poles lost 33 of 42 men.
One authority reports that Of 3,530 Indians who fought for the Union, 1,018 were killed, a phenomenally high rate. Of 178,975 Negro Union troops, this expert says, over 36,000 died.
Some regimental losses in battle:

Regiment Battle Strength Per Cent
1st Texas, CSA Antietam 226 82.3
1st Minnesota, US Gettysburg 262 82
21st Georgia, CSA Manassas 242 76
141st Pennsylvania, US Gettysburg 198 75.7
101st New York, US Manassas 168 73.8
6th Mississippi, CSA Shiloh 425 70.5
25th Massachusetts, US Cold Harbor 310 70
36th Wisconsin, US Bethesda Church 240 69
20th Massachusetts, US Fredericksburg 238 68.4
8th Tennessee, CSA Stone's River 444 68.7
10th Tennessee, CSA Chickamauga 328 68
8th Vermont, US Cedar Creek 156 67.9
Palmetto Sharpshooters, CSA Frayser's Farm 215 67.7
81st Pennsylvania, US Fredericksburg 261 67.4

Scores of other regiments on both sides registered losses in single engagements of above 50 per cent.
Confederate losses by states, in dead and wounded only, and with many records missing (especially those of Alabama):

North Carolina 20,602
Virginia 6,947
Mississippi 6,807
South Carolina 4,760
Arkansas 3,782
Georgia 3,702
Tennessee 3,425
Louisiana 3,059
Texas 1,260
Florida 1,047
Alabama 724

(Statisticians recognize these as fragmentary, from a report of 1866 they serve as a rough guide to relative losses by states).

In addition to its dead and wounded from battle and disease, the Union listed:

Deaths in Prison 24,866
Drowning 4,944
Accidental deaths 4,144
Murdered 520
Suicides 391
Sunstroke 313
Military executions 267
Killed after capture 104
Executed by enemy 64
Unclassified 14,155

Source: "The Civil War, Strange and Fascinating Facts," by Burke Davis


Spectators Witness History at Manassas

Entertaining Parade. Watching the Federal army advance seemed like the perfect Sunday afternoon diversion. Frank Leslie, The Soldier in Our Civil War

By Jim Burgess, Museum Specialist at the Manassas National Battlefield Museum Hallowed Ground Magazine, Spring 2011

Entertaining Parade. Watching the Federal army advance seemed like the perfect Sunday afternoon diversion. Frank Leslie, The Soldier in Our Civil War

It is a popular, almost legendary, story that innumerable civilians armed with picnic baskets followed the Union Army out from Washington in July 1861 to watch what everyone thought would be the climactic battle of a short rebellion. These naïve citizens, the tale goes, then impeded the Union retreat, adding to the panic. Hollywood representations of Manassas have, unfortunately, perpetuated the notion that large numbers of civilians were actually under fire on the battlefield. Indeed, there were a few, like Gov. William Sprague of Rhode Island, who accompanied Burnside’s brigade and had two horses shot from under him on Matthews Hill. The majority of spectators, however, were well out of harm’s way on Centreville Heights, some five miles from the fighting.

In truth, many sightseers packed picnic baskets but this was more a necessity than a frivolous pursuit on a Sunday afternoon. Centreville was a good 25 miles from Washington, a seven-hour carriage ride one way. The sightseers would need nourishment during their adventurous excursion and they could not rely on the hospitality of local Virginians, now citizens of a rival nation.

Near Centreville, Capt. John Tidball witnessed a “throng of sightseers” approach his battery. “They came in all manner of ways, some in stylish carriages, others in city hacks, and still others in buggies, on horseback and even on foot. Apparently everything in the shape of vehicles in and around Washington had been pressed into service for the occasion. It was Sunday and everybody seemed to have taken a general holiday that is all the male population, for I saw none of the other sex there, except a few huckster women who had driven out in carts loaded with pies and other edibles. All manner of people were represented in this crowd, from the most grave and noble senators to hotel waiters.”

Congressman Captured. New York Congressman Alfred Ely spent nearly six months in a Richmond prison. Library of Congress

London Times correspondent William Howard Russell observed, “On the hill beside me there was a crowd of civilians on horseback, and in all sorts of vehicles, with a few of the fairer, if not gentler sex . The spectators were all excited, and a lady with an opera glass who was near me was quite beside herself when an unusually heavy discharge roused the current of her blood —‘That is splendid, Oh my! Is not that first rate? I guess we will be in Richmond to-morrow.’ Irritated by constant appeals to borrow his glass, Russell decided to press forward after an officer rode up and exclaimed to the cheering crowd, “We have whipped them on all points.”

Most of the information filtering back from the battlefield was well over an hour old. All that could be seen of the battle from Centreville was gunsmoke rising above the distant treetops. Despite intensifying musketry and artillery fire in that direction, discontent with the view combined with encouraging news from the front emboldened a handful of politicians and others like Russell to venture westward in search of better vantage points beyond Cub Run. Among the notables in this crowd were senators Ben Wade of Ohio, Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, Jim Lane of Kansas, Lafayette Foster of Connecticut, congressmen Alfred Ely of New York and Elihu Washburne of Illinois, as well as soon-to-be-legendary photographer Mathew Brady.

These intrepid individuals found their way along the Warrenton Turnpike to a rise just beyond Mrs. Spindle’s house, a field hospital in rear of Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler’s division. Upon arrival, they joined John Taylor of New Jersey, Judge Daniel McCook of Ohio and a half-dozen reporters who had been the only civilians in this vicinity until these mid-afternoon arrivals.

Nightmarish Retreat. As an overturned wagon clogged roads, civilians and soldiers alike fled in panic. Library of Congress

Ultimately the curiosity-seekers got caught in a stampede of retreating Union troops. McCook desperately raced back to Centreville with his son Charles, who had been mortally wounded while visiting and separated from his unit, as Confederate cavalry attempted to intercept the Union retreat. Photographer Mathew Brady was caught in the congestion at the Cub Run bridge. Congressman Washburne tried in vain to rally the panic-stricken mob of soldiers near Centreville, but most of the civilians joined, if not led, the flight back to Washington and escaped unharmed.

One notable exception was Congressman Ely who strayed too close to Bull Run and became a prisoner of the 8th South Carolina Infantry. Alone among all the politicians clamoring, “On to Richmond!,” Ely was successful he spent the next five months residing at Libby Prison. Only one civilian was killed in the battle, the aged widow Judith Henry whose home was engulfed by the fighting.


The US American Civil War was the greatest war in American history. 3 million fought - 600,000 paid the ultimate price for freedom. And a war for freedom it was. The desire for freedom traveled deeper than the color of skin and farther than the borders of any state.

There are hundreds of thousands of pages of information available through this site. Peruse the Official Record of the war, check out the Battle Map, or view the largest collection of Civil War photos available online.

"The troops. were chiefly volunteers, who went to the field to uphold the system of free government established by their fathers and which they mean to bequeath to their children."
--Official Record (Union Letters, Orders, Reports)

". I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord's side."

The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended: "The general hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country."

"We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for Independence, and that, or extermination"
-- Jefferson Davis

""If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms."
-- Samuel Adams

"What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?"
-- Patrick Henry


How The Civil War Turned Photography From A Novelty Into A Mass Medium

Mütter Museum On June 18, 1864, a cannon shot took both of Alfred Stratton's arms. He was just 19 years old.

Invented in 1824 by Nicéphore Niépce, heliography was the first-ever process invented to preserve an image from the light striking a silver plate, bringing the world the very first documents akin to what we know as photographs. The exposure process still took several days, however, so its utility in documenting events was virtually nonexistent.

A few years later, Niépce began working with Louis Daguerre -- of daguerreotype fame -- who would go on to pioneer the process of photography after Niépce's death in the early 1830s. By the outbreak of the American Civil War some three decades later, pictures of people and events still weren't widespread, but that was all about to change.

Thanks to the advances in camera and photograph processing technology, exposure times required for pictures were vastly reduced to a few seconds in most cases -- or even less. New chemical processes for the capture, treatment, and development of a photographic image were far more cumbersome and delicate than those in place today, but they were refined enough for trained professionals to take cameras into the world and produce the first real documentary photographs anyone had ever seen.

As a result, the American Civil War became the first armed conflict to be extensively documented through photography (with the Crimean War the only possible precursor). Intrepid photographers like Alexander Gardner and Mathew Brady took cameras onto the battlefields of the Civil War and captured its grim realities, stripping the conflict of the romance around war commonly found in earlier periods.

The photographers who braved the Civil War battlefields blazed the trail for the next century and a half of photojournalists. Furthermore, they ensured photography's position as an indispensable mass medium able to transmit its message to the illiterate as easily as to the most well-read.


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Why was cricket's popularity in USA a casualty of Civil War? - History

Vessels in the Taiwan Straits, July 20, 2017. Photo:CGTN

It would seem to some that a US war with China over the island of Taiwan appears imminent.

Considering the congestion of hostile forces in, above, and below the Taiwan Straits and South China Sea, conflict could explode by accident or design. Once blood is drawn, the US will have few options. If the US elects to fight China over the island of Taiwan, then it will lose.

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) independence hubris is fueled by US cabinet-level China hawks and Congress' bipartisan, bicameral Taiwan Caucus. The DPP has rejected political reunification in one China and dismissed the "one country, two systems" model under which both Taiwan and Hong Kong have gotten rich. Encouraged by US trivialization of the three joint communiqués, the DPP parades a sense of entitlement, taking for granted an umbrella of protection with full knowledge of the dire consequences for the US

The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) may not have been intended to give birth to Taiwan's renegade secessionists, but it has done exactly that.

The DPP's champions in the US Congress dismiss omens of fanatical China grit on the topic of Taiwan. China-bashing and Taiwan-coveting rhetoric forms an echo chamber reminiscent of the groupthink-led American Friends of Vietnam (AFV) lobby that pressured the US to commit to the Vietnam War killing 60,000 American patriots before the US disgracefully abandoned its ally.

But the Chinese are different. China's history of the whole-of-society commitment to core national security priorities is legendary. The rebellions and unrests in the 19th century cost millions of Chinese lives. Twentieth century Chinese civil war losses ranged between 5 and 8 million, and 360,000 Chinese died in Korea, while routing and humiliating US and UN forces. In each case, the dynasties emerged stronger.

The US Congress' interests in Taiwan are deeply conflicted, better said corrupt. The reciprocal relationship between defense lobbyists, industry contributions, and a Caucus Member's reelectability is well documented. The bipartisan support for increasing arms sales to Taiwan and even larger defense expenditures on the US Indo-Pacific Command are logical and transparent as all parties profit from the tension and war.

Many Americans assume China's citizenry longs for a liberal democracy like that on the island of Taiwan, and that war will trigger popular revolt. But the Taiwan question is not an ideological dispute. Rather it is a raw and painful open wound in China's civilizational identity. Today, US othering of Chinese only fuels a fierce nationalism in its 1.4 billion citizens. China has a traditional self-narrative wherein the preservation of face and enforcement of sovereignty are inseparable.

All the while the balance of power has shifted fundamentally. The US would be wise to regard China as a peer superpower, if only due to her casualty-tolerance - China's decisive advantage in any fight with the US. China also shares a binding mutual defense treaty with North Korea, and the depths of its friendship and security bonds with Russia should never be underestimated.

The US can think whatever it wants about China's ideology, culture, Xinjiang and Hong Kong policies, and sovereign claims to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and surrounding seas. But, whether the US likes it or not, those are ultimately China's internal affairs.

As for DPP claims of the Province of Taiwan's non-Chinese identity, they are historical fiction. Fate made them Chinese just as fate made us Americans. We also know that the free will choice to carve out a territory and people from an existing nation incurs a steep price, one the Confederacy paid not long ago.

The US has never paid an existential price for violating another nation's sovereignty, leading to our smug sense of military invincibility. However, with Taiwan being a core Chinese priority, that would be a fatal miscalculation. Still, the US counts on regional allies to share the pain. Yet some will have blood debts to pay if they engage in China's civil war. For example, India was bloodied badly in the 1960s for testing China's territorial resolve. Japan's humiliating 50-year occupation of Taiwan and the Rape of Nanjing also remain fresh, unforgettable wounds for China. The US allies will definitely think twice before militarily intervening in China's unresolved civil war and internal affairs.

The US could advise Taiwan's secessionists to peaceably accept "one country, two systems" and cease its "independence" ambitions. If they don't stop their rhetoric, the US president could rescind the TRA, as baiting China to force reunification is of the DPP's own choosing. If Congress obstructs TRA recension, the US president could order all national security agencies to stand down in cross-Straits conflicts, keeping our powder dry for actual existential threats in the future.

In the end, the prosperous Taiwan people will make every effort to wag the American dog. But Taiwan's fate poses no existential threat to the US, and the US should not fall into the trap of paying for their hubris with American blood. However, in view of the violent political polarization of the US at home, an ill-advised foreign war with no path to victory would only serve to accelerate America's decline.


Myth of the Lost Cause-America’s Most Successful Propaganda Campaign

The Myth of the Lost Cause was a constructed historical narrative on the causes of the Civil War. It argued that despite the Confederacy losing the Civil War, their cause was a heroic and just one, based on defending one’s homeland, state’s rights, and the constitutional right to secession.

MYTH OF THE LOST CAUSE

The Myth of the Lost Cause may have been the most successful propaganda campaign in American history. For almost 150 years it has shaped our view of the causation and fighting of the Civil War. As discussed in detail in prior chapters, the Myth of the Lost Cause was just that—a false concoction intended to justify the Civil War and the South’s expending so much energy and blood in defense of slavery.

Contrary to the Myth of the Lost Cause, slavery was not a benign institution that benefitted whites and blacks alike. It was a cruel institution maintained by force, torture, and murder. It thrived on the exploitation of black labor and on the profits made from sales of surplus slaves. The latter practice resulted in the breaking up of black families and the absence of any contract of marriage between slaves. Masters’ rapes of slaves resulted in additional profits, a whitening of the slave population, and white marital discord, which was “remedied” by idolization of white Southern womanhood.

Despite the stories of slaves’ happiness and contentment, whites maintained militias because they were in constant fear of slave revolts and slave escapes. They also hired slave-catchers to capture and return runaway slaves—and also to snatch free blacks off the streets both North and South. The tens of thousands of prewar runaway slaves and the hundreds of thousands of slaves who fled to Union lines during the Civil War were a testament to slaves’ dissatisfaction with their lives under the peculiar institution and their desire for freedom.

Many of the same people who argued that slavery was a prosperous and benevolent practice rather inconsistently contended that the Civil War was unnecessary because slavery was a dying institution, a proposition that became a classic component of the Myth of the Lost Cause. The historical record, however, belies this notion. The booming cotton-based economy, the rise in slave prices to an all-time high in 1860, the amount of undeveloped land in the South, and the expanding use of slaves in manufacturing and other agriculture-related industries all indicated that slavery was thriving and not about to expire. Southerners had only begun to make maximum use of their four- to six-billion-dollar slave property and were not about to relinquish voluntarily the most valuable property they owned. If slavery was a dying institution, why did Southern states complain about the possible loss of billions of dollars invested in slaves, fight for the expansion of slavery into the territories, cite the preservation of slavery as the reason for secession, claim that slavery was necessary to maintain white supremacy, and conduct the war in a manner that placed greater value on slavery and white supremacy than on Confederate victory?

In addition to the economic value of slavery, there was the social value to consider. The institution was based on white supremacy and provided the elite planter class with a means of mollifying the large majority of whites who were not slave-owners. In addition to aspiring to become slave-owners, these other whites could at least endure their low economic and social status by embracing their superiority to blacks in Southern society.

As of 1860, therefore, slavery was a thriving enterprise. It benefitted only whites, treated blacks in a sub-human manner, and promised to return great profits and social benefits for whites for years to come.

A primary tenet of the Myth of the Lost Cause is that slavery was not a primary cause of the Civil War—that war instead was brought about by a desire and clamor for states’ rights. Late-war and postwar apologists for the Confederacy have consistently maintained that slavery had little or nothing to do with secession. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The United States had been embroiled in disputes over slavery ever since the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were modified, at Southerners’ insistence, to protect and preserve slavery. The Missouri Compromise of 1820, with its focus on slavery in the territories, was the first major indication that the North-South split on the issue was widening. During the 1830s, with the rise of abolitionism in the North, slave revolts (and perceived slave revolts) in the South, and the growth of the Underground Railroad to aid runaway slaves, sectional differences became more heated.

In the 1850s the pot boiled over. The multi-part Compromise of 1850 contained a strengthened fugitive slave provision that caused consternation and defiance in the North and then anger in the South when many Northerners flaunted it. Stephen Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 voided the Missouri Compromise and opened all territories to the possibility of slavery. Northern reaction to that “popular sovereignty” law was so strong that a new Republican Party was formed to oppose any extension of slavery to the territories.

Guerilla warfare between pro- and anti-slavery settlers broke out in Missouri and Kansas. When President James Buchanan in 1857 supported a fraudulent pro-slavery Kansas territorial constitution, Douglas opposed him and split the Democratic party into Northern and Southern wings. Just days after Buchanan’s 1857 inauguration, the Supreme Court issued its notorious Dred Scott decision. The Southern-dominated court said Congress could not prohibit slavery in any territories (as it had done in 1787, 1789, 1820, 1850, and 1854) and that blacks were not U.S. or state citizens and thus had no legal rights.

All these developments, along with the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858,1 set the stage for the presidential election of 1860. Slavery in the territories was virtually the only issue in the race. Republican Lincoln wanted slavery in none of them, Southern Democrat John Breckinridge wanted slavery in all of them, Northern Democrat Douglas wanted the issue decided in each territory by popular sovereignty, and Unionist John Bell ducked the issue. Lincoln, of course, won. Despite his assurances that he would take no action against slavery where it existed, Lincoln was labeled an “abolitionist” by many Southern leaders. The seven states of the Deep South seceded before Lincoln took office.

The seceding states made their motives clear in many ways. The Southern press, congressmen, and state leaders railed against Lincoln’s election because they believed they were going to lose the control of the federal government that they had held since 1789. The presidency had been dominated by Southern and Southern-sympathizing presidents (including Buchanan and Franklin Pierce in the 1850s), presidents had nominated Supreme Court justices sympathetic to slavery, and Southerners had consistently dominated Congress through seniority, the Constitution’s “three-fifths” clause, and other means. Southerners were disturbed that a Republican central government would not aggressively support slavery, that Northern states would be better able to undermine the fugitive slave law, and that “free” states would eventually end slavery by amending the Constitution. It was not the concept of states’ rights that was driving them to secession but the fear of losing control of the federal government and thus the ability to support slavery and compel Northern states to do so as well.

One clue that slavery was a cause of secession is found in the 1860 census, which shows that the seven states that seceded before Lincoln’s inauguration had the highest numbers of slaves per capita and the highest percentage of family slave ownership of all the states. The four states of the Upper South that seceded after the firing on Fort Sumter had the next-highest numbers. Finally, the four border slave states that did not secede had the lowest numbers of slaves per capita and the lowest percentage of family slave ownership of all slave states.

But the best evidence that slavery was the driving force behind secession is the statements made by the states and their leaders themselves at the time, including the official state secession convention records, secession resolutions, and secession-related declarations. They railed against “Black Republicans,” the supposedly abolitionist Lincoln, the failure to enforce the Constitution’s fugitive slave clause and federal fugitive slave acts, the threat to the South’s multi-billion-dollar investment in slaves, abolitionism, racial equality, and the threat blacks posed to Southern womanhood. These documents make it clear that slavery was not only the primary cause of secession but virtually the only cause.

As the states of the Deep South were in the process of seceding, moderates in Washington—especially Border State representatives—launched negotiations. The primary “compromise” proposals were those of Kentucky’s Senator John Crittenden. All of them related to one issue: slavery. In fact, they were all aimed at enhancing protections for slavery and alleviating slave states’ fears about threats to it. There could be no question about what was causing secession and driving the nation toward war. Republicans, urged by Lincoln not to reverse the results of the presidential election, defeated Crittenden’s pro-slavery proposals.

Pro-slavery and pro–white supremacy arguments were made by commissioners sent by the Deep South states to urge each other, the Upper South, and border states to secede. The commissioners first advocated for quick secession so the earliest seceding states were not alone they also pushed for an early convention to form a confederacy. Their letters and speeches contained the same pro-slavery and pro–white supremacy arguments as their states’ secession documents, and they often were embellished with emotional appeals about the horrors the South would suffer if slavery was abolished.

Confederate leaders made similar statements in defense of slavery in the early days of the Confederacy. President Jefferson Davis described the formation of an anti-slavery political party in the North, praised the benefits of slavery, and concluded that the threat to slavery left the South with no choice but to secede.

Vice President Alexander Stephens said that slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederacy, Thomas Jefferson had erred in stating that all men are created equal, and the Confederacy was based on equality of whites and subservience of blacks. After Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, Robert E. Lee described it as a “savage and brutal policy.”

The Constitution of the Confederacy was similar to that of the United States but added provisions for the protection of slavery. Tellingly, it even contained a supremacy clause conferring final legal authority on the central government, not the states. That provision and the extra protections for slavery reveal the seceding states’ priorities.

After the Confederacy’s formation and the firing on Fort Sumter, four Upper South states (North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas) joined the Confederacy, having been entreated to do so by the Deep South on the basis of slavery. Statements of their leaders demonstrate the major role that slavery played in their leaving the Union.

One of the more fascinating indications of the Confederates’ motivation was their failure to deploy virtually any of their three and a half million slaves as soldiers. Adherents of the Myth of the Lost Cause, in order to minimize the role of slavery in secession and the formation of the Confederacy, have alleged that thousands of black soldiers fought for the Confederacy. That did not happen. The evidence reveals instead that although Confederates used blacks as laborers and officers’ “servants,” they could not countenance the arming and related emancipation of slaves.

It was clear to certain Southern military leaders that the outmanned Confederacy needed to resort to slaves as soldiers if they hoped to have a chance of success. Just after the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, General Richard Ewell recommended to President Davis the arming of slaves. Davis, has just proclaimed that secession and the Confederacy were all about slavery, rejected the idea.

The need for such an approach became more obvious as a result of the huge rebel casualty counts in 1862 and 1863. Thus, on January 2, 1864, Major General Patrick Cleburne submitted to General Joseph Johnston a well-considered proposal to arm and free slaves. The reaction from Davis, Alexander Stephens, General Braxton Bragg, and most other senior Confederates was extremely hostile. The word “traitor” was bandied about. Cleburne, one of the rebels’ best generals, was never promoted to lieutenant general or corps command.

By late 1864, the Confederates had suffered irreplaceable casualties in Virginia and Georgia, lost Atlanta, lost Mobile Bay and then Mobile, and lost the Shenandoah Valley. Their fate had been sealed by the November reelection of Lincoln, the steel backbone of the Union. That event was followed by the loss of Savannah, as well as the twin disasters at Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee. Therefore, Davis and Lee belatedly began to see that without using slave soldiers the Confederacy was certainly doomed.

Nevertheless, their moderate proposals to arm and free slaves were fiercely resisted by politicians, the press, soldiers, and the people of the South. The opponents made it quite clear that the proposals were inconsistent with the reason for the Confederacy’s existence and the supremacy of the white race. They feared such an approach would lead to black political, economic, and social equality and invoked the ever-reliable doctrine of protecting Southern womanhood.

In early 1865, Sherman marched virtually unimpeded through the Carolinas, Grant tightened his grip on Richmond and Petersburg, and tens of thousands of Union troops were transferred into the Eastern Theater. Despite the increasingly desperate situation, Davis and Lee’s weak proposal to arm slaves was barely passed by the Confederate Congress. Since it did not provide emancipation for slaves and required consent from states and slaves’ owners, the measure was next to worthless. Its implementation was laughable—two companies of black medics were assembled in the Richmond area. The Confederate Congress and people had made it clear that they would rather lose the war than give up slavery.

Slavery hampered Confederate diplomacy and cost the South critical support from Great Britain and France, even though these powers, dependent on Southern cotton and happy to see the American colossus split in half, had good economic and political reasons to support the rebels. When the reality of the slavery problem on the international front finally sank in, last-minute, half-hearted, blundering efforts to trade emancipation for diplomatic recognition failed.

Slavery and white supremacy similarly hampered Confederate efforts to swap prisoners of war with the Union. Since the rebels were greatly outnumbered, they should have been eager to engage in one-for-one prisoner swaps. When blacks began fighting for the Union, however, Davis and Lee refused to exchange any black prisoners on the grounds that they were Southern property. Blacks lucky enough to survive after capture (many did not) were returned to their owners or imprisoned as criminals. Lincoln and Grant insisted that black prisoners had to be treated and exchanged the same as whites. Because the North benefitted militarily, it did not hesitate to stop all prisoner exchanges when Davis and Lee would not back down.

The evidence, then, is overwhelming that, contrary to the Myth of the Lost Cause, the preservation of slavery and its concomitant white supremacy were the primary causes of the Southern states’ secession and their creation of the Confederacy.

Adherents of the Myth of the Lost Cause contend that the South could not have won the Civil War because of the North’s superior industrial, transportation, and manpower resources. Although the Union did have those advantages, its strategic burden was far heavier than the South’s. The Confederacy occupied an enormous territory (equivalent to most of western Europe) that had to be conquered in order for the North to claim victory and compel the rebellious states to return to the Union. A tie or a stalemate would amount to a Southern victory because the Confederacy and slavery would be preserved. The Union, therefore, had to go on the strategic and tactical offensive, for every day of inaction was a minor victory for the Confederates (a fact that too many Union generals failed to comprehend). Offensive warfare consumes more resources than defensive warfare. In addition, widespread use of new weaponry—rifles, rifled artillery, repeating weapons, deadly Minié balls, and breechloaders instead of muzzleloaders—gave the tactical advantage to the defense in the Civil War.

The Confederacy’s scarcity of manpower also militated in favor of staying on the strategic and tactical defensive. Had the South done so, making the North pay a heavy price for going on the offensive, it might have undermined Northern morale and ultimately Lincoln himself. Davis, Lee, and other rebel leaders always knew that the 1864 presidential election in the North would be critical to their success, but they pursued a costly offensive strategy that had ended the South’s prospects for military victory (or even stalemate) by the time Lincoln faced the voters.

If Lincoln had lost the 1864 election to a Democrat, especially George McClellan, the Confederacy likely could have obtained a truce, the preservation of slavery, and perhaps even independence, at least for portions of the South. McClellan had demonstrated his extreme reluctance to engage in the offensive warfare necessary for a Union victory and had shown great concern for Southerners’ property rights in their slaves. The possibility of a Democratic victory in 1864 was by no means far-fetched. Until the end of that summer, Lincoln, like nearly everyone else, thought he was going to lose. Had the South fought more wisely, it might have so demoralized the voters of the North—who were already divided over controversial issues like emancipation, the draft, and civil liberties—that they would have given up on the war and Lincoln.

The primary author of the South’s imprudently aggressive approach to the war was, of course, Robert E. Lee. Though the Myth of the Lost Cause-makers insist he was one of the greatest generals of all time, Lee’s actual record left much to be desired. First, he was a one-theater general apparently more concerned with the outcome in Virginia than in the Confederacy as a whole. He consistently refused to send reinforcements to other theaters and harmfully delayed them on the one occasion when he was ordered to relinquish some troops. Again and again, his actions indicated that he did not know or care what was happening outside his theater. For example, when he initiated the Maryland (Antietam) campaign of 1862, he advised Davis to protect Richmond with reinforcements from the Middle Theater, where rebels at the time were outnumbered three to one.

Second, Lee was too aggressive—both strategically and tactically. His Antietam and Gettysburg campaigns resulted in about forty thousand casualties the South could not afford, including the loss of experienced and talented veterans. Gettysburg also represented lost opportunities in other theaters because Lee kept his whole army intact in the East to invade Pennsylvania. Again and again, Lee launched frontal assaults that decimated his troops—Mechanicsville, Malvern Hill, Antietam (counterattacks), Chancellorsville (after Jackson’s flanking assault), the second and third days at Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Fort Stedman at the end of the war. Lee’s losing, one-theater army incurred an astounding 209,000 casualties—more than the South could afford and fifty-five thousand more than Grant’s five winning armies suffered in three theaters. Lee’s other weaknesses included poor orders, failure to control the battlefield, and deliberately inadequate staff.

Realizing that Lee was in need of exculpation, his advocates decided to make James Longstreet their scapegoat. They argued that Gettysburg cost Lee the war and that Longstreet was responsible for that loss. Gettysburg alone did not cost the war, and Longstreet played a relatively minor role in Lee’s defeat there. Lee should have sought a defensive battle instead of attacking an entrenched foe. Lee’s major errors in the Gettysburg campaign were his vague orders allowing Jeb Stuart to roam the countryside when Lee needed his scouting and screening abilities, his failure to mandate taking the high ground when he had the numerical advantage on the first day of the battle, his frontal assaults (against Longstreet’s advice) on the second and third days, his failure on all three days to exercise battlefield control, and his failure to coordinate actions of his army’s three corps, which made three uncoordinated attacks over the last twenty-four hours of the battle. Longstreet’s supposedly delayed attack on Day Two (when Lee personally failed to adequately reinforce the attack) pales alongside Lee’s performance as the cause for Confederate defeat at Gettysburg.

Since Grant ultimately defeated Lee, adherents of the Myth of the Lost Cause had to denigrate Grant in order to exalt Lee. They attacked the Union commander as a drunk and a butcher who won only by brute force. There is little evidence that Grant did much drinking in the Civil War and none that it affected his performance. The “butcher” epithet implied that he heedlessly sacrificed his own men in irresponsible attacks on the enemy. As the earlier casualty tables show, Grant’s armies incurred a total of 154,000 casualties in three theaters while imposing 191,000 casualties on their opponents. Recent historians who have closely examined both Lee’s and Grant’s records and casualties have concluded that if there was a Civil War butcher, it was not Grant.

Anyone contending that Grant won solely by brute force has failed to study his victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga. His brilliant Vicksburg campaign continues to be studied around the world because of the deception, celebrity, and concentration of force with which he baffled and defeated his opponents. The only three armies that surrendered between Sumter and Appomattox all surrendered to Grant. He was clearly the best general of the Civil War and one of the greatest in American history.

The last aspect of the Myth of the Lost Cause is that the North won by waging “total war.” This allegation fails to distinguish between “hard war,” which involves a destruction of enemy armies and enemy property of all sorts, and “total war,” which additionally involves the deliberate and systematic killing and rape of civilians. Total war was often waged long before the Civil War and was waged again in the twentieth century. The Civil War, however, which saw some localized and vicious guerilla warfare, was not a “total war” on the part of anyone—certainly not the Union.

The Myth of the Lost Cause, then, is a tangle of falsehoods. It should no longer play a significant role in the historiography and Americans’ understanding of the Civil War.

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Comments:

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