Men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms deserve our respect. Regardless of how popular or unpopular the war, as in the Vietnam War—all veterans deserve our respect. This includes the South’s Confederate veterans. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, founded in 1896, is one of America’s oldest veterans’ organizations. Although the victor writes and enforces his version of history, there is another side to the story of that unfortunate conflict.
While the politically correct narrative asserts the War Between the States was about slavery, most Southerners did not own slaves – and most Confederate soldiers were not fighting to preserve slavery. In his 2004 book, “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America,” former Virginia U.S. Senator Jim Webb wrote that only 5% of Southerners were slaveholders, and those who fought did so against what they viewed as an invading army. According to the Kennedy twins in their book, “The South Was Right,” of the 5.3 million whites in the South in 1860, only approximately 318,000 (6%) were slaveholders and half of these were aristocratic planters. The rest owned 5 or fewer slaves and usually worked side-by-side with them.
The renowned historian James McPherson in his book, “What They Fought For,” recounts the exchange between a Confederate prisoner and his Union captor where the Yankee asks: “Why are you fighting so hard?” to which the Rebel responds: “Because you are here.” Virginia did not secede from the Union until Lincoln called up troops to invade the South – and if Lincoln had called up troops for the purpose of ending slavery, then he would not have had an army. In July 1861, Congress (minus the Confederate states) passed a “War Aims Resolution” which stated the war was being fought not for “overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States,” but to “defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union.” The resolution intended to retain the loyalty of Unionists in the slave-holding Border States, as well as reassure Northerners who would fight to save the Union but not to free the slaves.
The other side to the story of this history is that our Confederate ancestors were fighting for the same thing our Colonial ancestors were fighting for in 1776: Freedom, the right of self-government, and the right to live under a government based upon the consent of the governed.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans invite you to learn more about soldiers of the South by visiting our website at www.MakeDixieGreatAgain.org. View our 10-minute video and read our articles about Southern Veterans and the truth about the honorable cause for which they fought.
Kemper-Fry-Strother Camp 19
Sons of Confederate Veterans