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E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
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Thursday, June 23, 2005
War concentrates the mind. A little while ago I posted about Senator Robert Byrd's infamous statement just after WWII that he would rather die a thousand times and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt than serve in the military with a Negro at his side. When ARC and Mrs ARC visited us recently, we talked about changing racial attitudes in the Southern states of the USA, and we ended up talking about the American Civil War. Mind you, us four could turn a conversation on the price of geranium to the American Civil War.
I persuaded ARC to look me up some quotes when he got home. He writes:
The senator you quote seemed surprisingly out of touch with the attitudes of Confederate soldiers of eighty years earlier, let alone more recent views.Defeat overtook the Confederacy before it could enact these measures for its main armies, although there were a few instances of black soldiers fighting for the South as part of militia units.
What motivated them is a fascinating question. Look out for a future post.
I find the American Civil War interesting because it was the first modern war, yet its cause was a revenant from the ancient world: slavery. (The most recent, although not the last, modern war also represents a conflict where archaic patterns of society look to modern weapons as their instrument of rejuvenation.) I never quite got over the suprise I had when I first twigged that chattel slavery had coexisted with steam trains. Either something on TV or a book made some mention of "slave carriages" and I thought, that can't be right! My childhood imagination could cope with the idea of slavery in association with togas and temples and chariots, but people who had trains and telegraphs and newspapers should have known. And so they should.
In the rest of his email ARC turned to the subject of the unusual way in which he became interested in the American Civil War as a child. That story touched on so many ideas that I want to talk about more that I felt it deserved a post of its own. Scroll up.