Deep Thoughts By H.W. Crocker III (3)

This week’s installment takes us to the end of Part I in Crocker’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War.  With Fort Sumter fired upon and Lincoln’s call for troops issued, Crocker leaves us with this little gem about the South and a looming war:

It was its martial prowess–its men born to the saddle and to arms, the military tradition of its aristocrats, and the raw-boned rebel yell of its small farmers, workingmen, and frontiersmen in which the South trusted.  It had never claimed to be an industrial power like the North.  It had disdained Northern efficiency in favor of manners and charm.  Yet when Lincoln’s armies crossed the Potomac, the South was ready with serried ranks of armed, equipped, and uniformed men led by more than competent generals.  The Federals would find that Southern fighting prowess was no trifling matter. (35)

Indeed.  Well, there you go.  Another installment from a book written for people who have very little interest in history.

14 responses... add one

Hmmm…when I read the “raw boned rebel yell” phrase I heard, for some reason, dueling banjos in the background.

The slavocracy disdained efficiency in favor of charm? That doesn't compute. Oh, right. Computers are efficient. Nevermind.

It's unfortunate that historians tend to emphasize the extent to which slavery bolstered notions of freedom and liberty in the South and forget that it also brought out their “manners and charm”. :)

“The great evil of Northern free society, insisted a South Carolina journal, is that it is burdened with a servile class of mechanics and laborers, unfit for self-government, yet clothed with attributes and powers of citizens. A Georgia newspaper was even more emphatic in its distaste: Free Society! We sicken at the name. What is but a conglomeration of greasy mechanics, filthy operatives, small fisted farmers and moon-struck theorists?…The prevailing class one meets with (in the North) is that of mechanics struggling to be genteel, and small farmers who do their own drudgery, and yet hardly fit for association with a Southern gentleman's body servant.”

From: Battle Cry of Freedom.

I guess the southern view of the small farmer was different depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon you were on.

Actually, this is an excellent example of Civil War memory. It reduces the military history of the war to the Eastern theater; it omits the word “slaveholder” from the profession of Confederate soldiers (see the Virginia monument at Gettysburg some time); it overlooks the extent to which slaveholders were, in fact, businessmen; it equates “the Confederacy” with “the South,” overlooking dissent; and relies upon worn stereotypes of the conflict. However, if the armies of the United States encountered “serried ranks of armed, equipped, and uniformed men led by more than competent generals” when they moved south to subdue a rebellion, well, then, don't tell me the Rebs were undersupplied or betrayed by Longstreets, Pemberstons, and Braggs.

At one point Crocker argues that the war was a foregone conclusion, which directly contradicts the passage quoted. It has been absolutely hilarious to watch Richard Williams in his dog and pony show try somehow to justify his endorsement of the book. It seems he has done everything but look at the book.

I've been collecting passages for my Civil War Memory course next trimester. The book cover alone is going to be interesting for the class to analyze.

What exactly is politically incorrect about this volume? It seems to pander to every preconception and prejudice of “Lost Causers” … surely to be truly “politically incorrect”, there should be plenty of incorrectness to go round.

History can be (re-)written humourously or satirically. The only classic I can think of is “1066 and all that” by two English gentlemen called Sellars and Yeatman.

That is a legitimate question. I think all it means to say “politically incorrect” is that it empowers those people who believe that the study of history has become overly politicized. It's published by Regnery which publishes mainly conservative authors, many who are worth reading. This, however, is a cartoonish understanding of the war for those who don't read much and who may feel defensive about it. It's a way to stand up against the boogey man of academia.

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