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The Great Task Remaining Before UsReconstruction as America's Continuing Civil War$
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Paul A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823232024

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823232024.001.0001

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Rebels In War and Peace: Their Ethos and Its Impact

Rebels In War and Peace: Their Ethos and Its Impact

(p.154) 9 Rebels In War and Peace: Their Ethos and Its Impact
The Great Task Remaining Before Us

Jason K. Phillips

Fordham University Press

This chapter considers the following questions: First, why did some Confederates need “so much cumulative evidence” before they admitted defeat? In other words, how did diehards sustain optimism and justify persistence in the last years of the war? Second, why does the perseverance of these Rebels matter? What can diehards reveal about the South; what mark did they leave on the region and its war legacy? The solid divide between Civil War and Reconstruction scholarship tends to separate these intimately linked questions, labeling one Confederate history and the other New South history, relating the former to the military and the latter to political science. This chapter combines such issues within a larger study of invincibility and defeat, faith and disbelief, and war and peace. The answers offered here are necessarily brief, but they illuminate a misunderstood group and encourage scholars to transcend the prevailing war and postwar typology. If historians are to understand white Southern culture during the “middle period,” they must tackle the same challenge that haunted their subjects—namely, how did Southerners try to overcome the chasm of defeat. Only then can history appreciate which elements of the Old South informed the New and which perished in the crucible of war.

Keywords:   Civil War, Confederates, defeat, Southern culture, Old South

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