The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936 Page: 103
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The Confederate Exodus to Latin America
the newspapers and periodicals devoted to the region, interest in
Middle America during the decade and a half preceding the Civil
War was fully as great as interest in the far West. Indeed, in
this era the fingers of "manifest destiny" pointed southward as
frequently as westward, though most so-called "American" his-
torians have not yet discovered the fact. All the forces that
impelled in one direction also impelled in the other; hence the
unanimity of interest.
The means by which the southerners acquired a knowledge of
and an interest in Middle America were many and varied. The
adventures of a great host of prospectors and the daring exploits
of the filibusters, such as William Walker, afforded sensational
materials for dozens of books and hundreds of magazines and
newspapers that had circulation in all parts of the country.
Moreover, the forum, the pulpit, and the platform contributed
their parts in saturating the atmosphere with news from the
southland. The post-bellum southerners would have had short
memories had they forgotten all. They did not forget all.
Largely romantic, this ante-bellum interest of the South in
the tropics carried over to post-war days, when it was trans-
formed into practicability. The transforming force was the state
of complete desperation that came over the South following the
surrender at Appomattox. Nothing short of living in the South
at the time could fully explain this unhappy state; but a cur-
sory examination of conditions there will furnish a partial ex-
Wreck and ruin, desolation and starvation covered the land
from Virginia to Texas. A battleground for contending armies
throughout the war, Virginia had been converted from a garden
into a desert. Marching armies had left the beautiful and fer-
tile Shenandoah Valley a waste; Sheridan's "barnburners" had
stripped it so bare that "a crow could not fly over it without
carrying his rations with him."3 Between Richmond and Wash-
ington only heaps of ashes and solitary chimneys remained to
tell the story of death and destruction; between Alexandria and
Charlottesville the country was "horrible to behold."4 Around
"Southern Historioal Society Papers, XXVIII, 98.
4New York Tribune, July 17 and 20, 1865; Alexander H. Stephens,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936, periodical, 1936; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101095/m1/117/: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.