Southwestern Historical Quarterly
more about the Indians of the southeastern United States during the colonial
Archeologzcal & Environmental Consultants Timothy K. Perttula
The Confederate War. By Gary W. Gallagher. (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1997. Pp. viii+218. Introduction, notes, index. ISBN o-674-16o55-X.
The author developed this volume from his Littlefield lectures presented at
the University of Texas at Austin in 1995-1996. He is responding to the argu-
ments of several historians that the Confederacy collapsed because internal eco-
nomic and social problems caused a decline in civihan and military morale. The
introduction summarizes Gallagher's counter view, provides several supporting
quotations, and suggests three themes that will be developed.
In a discussion of popular will, he outlines the arguments for its reduction as a
result of class conflict, disruption of women's lives, and growing religious doubts
about God's view of the Confederacy. Gallagher then shifts the focus to ask "Why
did so many Confederates fight for so long?" (p. 17), while pointing to the high-
er casualty rate for the Confederacy compared to that of the United States in
each of its wars including the Civil War. He argues that critics in some instances
cite limited evidence, and summarizes differing studies. Courageous Confed-
erate attacks in 1864, diaries and letters expressing continued hope of success,
and religious revivals all receive attention as examples of ongoing Confederate
commitment. Finally he suggests that Union advances into the South could stim-
ulate resistance as well as morale problems.
Confederate nationalism has been described in other studies as never fully
developed because of government intrusions into citizens' lives. Gallagher
argues that Robert E. Lee and his successful Army of Northern Virginia became
the primary symbol sustaining Confederate nationalism from 1863 into 1865. In
support he cites the commitment of soldiers, a generation of young officers, and
female relatives, as well as a willingness to consider limited emancipation as a
means of recruiting black soldiers.
The author then explores the Confederates' choice of military strategy. Critics
have suggested the Confederacy spread its armies too widely, or favored Virginia
over the West. Others argued it used up manpower in costly offensives, or
should have turned to guerrilla warfare. Gallagher defends the Davis-Lee offen-
sive-defensive combination as best suited to maintaining public support and
morale, as well as the institution of slavery. He also notes the several Confed-
erate defeats when standing on the defensive, and Union morale problems fol-
lowing Confederate victories on the offensive. Finally, Gallagher argues that
most Confederates after the war believed that had been defeated by a superior
military power, rather than by internal problems.
This is a well-written volume based on both original sources and wide reading
of recent Civil War studies. Gallagher offers thoughtful analyses that will stimu-
late the debate about the causes of Confederate defeat. Some of his arguments
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed December 1, 2015.