Richard Lee Montgomery
“If the private soldier be a true man, there is something of moral sublimity in his conduct that attracts our highest admiration. And yet how apt some people are to forget him. There is no star on his collar, no glittering ornament on his arm; but his plain gray jacket may enclose as noble a heart as ever throbbed in a human breast, or thrilled with patriotic devotion on the day of battle. In sleepless vigilance he paces his sentinel watch during the long hours and gloom of night, while the quiet stars shed their soft light on his musket, or the storm and rain beat pitilessly down on his shivering body and weary head. Look at him in battle at his gun, begrimed with powder, weary, hungry, almost exhausted, yet the fire gleams in his fearless eye as he rams home the charge, or sights his piece at the foe. ‘Forward’ is the command along the line, and you can see him as he brings his musket to a charge and dashes on to the very muzzles of the death-dealing guns to win the day or die in the attempt.”
William W. Bennett, A Narrative Of The Great Revival Which Prevailed In The Southern Armies During The Late Civil War (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1877), 24.
The Confederate Private Soldier
“In doing what thousands of Southern women did on behalf of the sick and wounded, one Virginia woman achieved success in a unique manner and received a commission in the Confederate army with the title of Captain. At the outbreak of the war, women in every station in life vied with one another in giving to their cause and country. If the individual were wealthy, she gave all she had, her services, and herself; if she were in humbler circumstances, the sacrifice was the same.
After the first battle of Manassas it was found that the Confederate Government had not provided sufficient hospital accommodations, and a call was made upon private individuals. Miss Sally L. Tompkins volunteered to help, and secured the use of Judge John Robertson's house on Main and Third Streets, Richmond. She immediately established a hospital there for sick and wounded soldiers. In the course of time, the civil authorities regarded this as an irregular proceeding, for other private hospitals had been placed under the direct supervision of the Confederate Government. Miss Tompkins, however, wanted to maintain her own hospital and seriously objected to giving up what she had so carefully planned at her personal charge and expense. Moreover, as she had already earned the gratitude of so many soldiers and their families, she was powerfully seconded in her struggle for local independence,—in what may be termed a feminine phase of State Rights!”
Matthew Page Andrews, The Women Of The South In War Times (Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company, 1920), 127-128.
Eliza Frances Andrews
“Here General Jackson, rising in his stirrups, and casting his bridle reins upon the neck of his steed, with an emphasis which seemed to thrill throughout the brigade, said: In the Army of the Shenandoah you were the First brigade; in the Army of the Potomac you were the First brigade; in the Second Corps of the army you were the First brigade; you are the First brigade in the affections of your general; and I hope by your future deeds and bearing that you will be handed down to posterity as the First brigade in this our second War of Independence. Farewell I For a moment there was a pause, and then three loud and prolonged cheers rent the air. It was followed by three and three more. Unable to stand such evidence of affection any longer, General Jackson waved farewell and galloped away. The different regiments returned slowly to their quarters, and thus ended a scene not often witnessed, and which makes upon spectators impressions not easily eradicated.”
Mary Anna Jackson, Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson by His Widow (Louisville: The Prentice Press, 1895), 202.
Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
John William Jones
Chaplain, Army of Northern Virginia
“When the news of the secession of Virginia reached the quiet little town of Lexington, Virginia, nestled among the Blue mountains, some of the students of Washington College at once raised a secession flag on the dome of the college building’. (They had done the same thing some days before, but the faculty had unanimously voted that it must be taken down, as Virginia was still in the Union.) The next morning, the president of the college, Rev. Dr. Junkin (the father-in-law of the afterwards famous ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, but an ardent Union man all through the war), called a meeting of the faculty to ask what they proposed to do about the breach of discipline on the part of the students, as he regarded it, in again raising the flag on the college. Professor White voiced the sentiments of the faculty and of the whole State when he at once said, ‘Virginia has now acted, and the boys are right. I say let the flag wave, and, for myself, I propose to fight under it, and to use my influence to induce our students to do the same.’”
J. William Jones, Christ In The Camp Or Religion In Lee’s Army (Richmond: B. F. Johnson & Company, 1887), 21-22.
Elizabeth Avery Meriwether
“With a treachery blacker than Benedict Arnold's, knowingly, deliberately, these two men, Seward and Lincoln, determined to change the American Government from a free Republic to an imperial despotism. During the first month of Lincoln's Presidency the question of war or peace was freely discussed in the Cabinet. Few members were in favor of war. Chase strongly opposed war. Chase always had been a disunionist; he welcomed disunion and wanted to let the South possess the peace and independence that was hers by right. Not one single member of the Cabinet was ignorant of the fact that an attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter would be the first blow of war. In a discussion of this question in the Cabinet, Seward said: ‘The attempt to reinforce Sumter will provoke an attack and involve war. The very preparation for such an expedition will precipitate war at that point. I oppose beginning war at that point. I would advise against the expedition to Charleston. I would at once, at every cost, prepare for war at Pensacola and Texas. I would instruct Major Anderson to retire from Sumter. Lincoln preferred to open the war at Sumter. If there is a man in America so ignorant as to believe the falsehood put forth by these unscrupulous men that the South began the war, that Lincoln was averse to war, that he called for 75,000 armed men to protect Washington City, let him consider the story found in Miss Tarbell's Life of Lincoln, page 144, Vol. II, Medill, of the Chicago Tribune, tells the story, and Miss Tarbell puts it in her book. It is a very valuable item of history, for it kills the old, old lie so often told that the South began the war of the 60's.”
Elizabeth Avery Meriwether (Pseudonym, George Edmonds), Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South, 1861-1865 (Memphis: A. R. Taylor & Company, 1904), 160-161.
John Ogden Murray
Major, Seventh Virginia Cavalry
“War was now upon us. Its iron hand was raised to crush the Confederacy. All promises had been broken by the Northern leaders; the tie that bound us as a union broken by the treachery of the fanatical North. Mr. Lincoln had called for troops to coerce the South back into an unbearable union. On May 6, 1861, the Army of the Confederate States was lawfully established in lieu of the provisional army, and war was on."No man," said an eminent writer, "unless it was Washington, was ever placed in a position so fraught with danger, so burdened with cares and responsibilities, as was Mr. Davis when he became President of the Confederacy." With this writer I most heartily concur and go further and say no man could have filled the position and performed the duties of the office better than Mr. Davis. His name v/ill be revered by all Southern men, women and children. His place will be high upon the scroll of fame; no name will be written in truthful history above that of Mr. Davis. His grand character, genial nature, honesty of purpose, adherence to principle, made him the idol of our people. And the day will come when in the whole country Jefferson Davis will be held as the greatest American patriot that ever lived.”
J. Ogden Murray, Three Stories In One: The Statesman, The Confederate Soldier, The South’s Peerless Women Of The World (Richmond: Whittet & Shepperson, Printers, 1915), 37-38.
“Some put Jackson as a military man above Lee; but this is a mistake, also. I think Lee was the greatest commander to plan a campaign, and Jackson was the greatest lieutenant to execute it—that Lee and Jackson formed a combination which has never been equalled in military warfare. General Lee never failed when he had Jackson to execute his orders. He often failed after Jackson's death, for want of his presence.”
Eppa Hunton, Autobiography of Eppa Hunton (Richmond: The William Byrd Press, 1930), 86.
Push play before reading.
“Virginia promptly answered to the call, and produced the required soldiers; but they did not rally under the Stars and Stripes. It was to the Stars and Bars, the emblem of the South, that Mr. Lincoln's Virginian soldiers tendered the oath of military allegiance. The flag of the once loved, but now dishonoured Union was lowered, and the colours of the Confederacy were raised in its place.
Since that memorable epoch those color’s have been baptized with the blood of thousands, to whose death in a cause so righteous the honour and reverence that wait upon martyrdom have been justly awarded”
Belle Boyd, Belle Boyd: In Camp And Prison, Volume 1 (London: Saunders, Otley & Company, 1865), 46-47.
Joseph Tyrone Derry
Private, Company A, Sixty Third Regiment, Georgia Infantry
“In 1860 and 1861 there were many in the North who did not believe in the right of the government to coerce a State. Even the New York Tribune, a leading organ of the Abolitionists, declared that ‘if the cotton States wished to withdraw from the Union, they should be allowed to do so;’ that ‘any attempt to compel them to remain by force would be contrary to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and to the fundamental ideas upon which human liberty is based;’ and that ‘if the Declaration of Independence justified the secession from the British Empire of three millions of subjects in 1776, it was not seen why it would not justify the secession of five millions of Southerners from the Union in 1861.’ Again, the same journal declared that it would ‘let the Union slide’ rather than to ‘compromise with the South and abandon the Chicago platform.’ Many prominent Northern men in public speeches expressed themselves as opposed to coercion. Is it any wonder, then, that many in the South hoped for peaceable secession?”
Joseph Tyrone Derry, Story of the Confederate States or History of the War for Southern Independence (Richmond: B. F. Johnson Publishing Company, 1895), 102.
“I recall one night particularly when I had been beguiled into reading until a late hour the charmed pages of Dickens s ‘Tale of Two Cities.’ It was about one o clock and all the household were fast asleep; when far down Main Street I heard the clattering of many hoofs, and the shouts of soldiery. I rushed to my father s door, and called him. He dressed with all haste, and buckled on his sword and pistol, which lay always ready to hand. Then he calmed and quieted the terrified women and children who had been aroused by the noise. A moment we waited, as the sounds came nearer and nearer. We were sure the Yankees were upon us and I must confess that for the first and only time during the war I felt terrified. As the troops came in sight they slackened their pace and to our joy, we found it was a company of Fitz Lee’s Cavalry clattering through the town and for pure mischief rousing the sleeping inhabitants. How we cheered them when we saw the ‘red heart’ gleaming on their grey coats, and knew that we could go to our beds in peace and sleep safe and sound with Fitz Lee’s men on guard!”
D. Giraud Wright, A Southern Girl in ‘61: The War-Time Memories of a Confederate Senator s Daughter (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1905), 167-167.
James Cooper Nisbet
Captain, Company H, Twenty First Georgia Regiment
“As a rule, the private soldier voted against secession but believed in State's Rights. His love of section was stronger than any feeling he entertained for the Union of States. Many Union men turned cold to the Union after the John Brow’s Raid. Not because it was an attempt to bring on a war between the races; but because of the mer in which Brown's death was received by the anti-Southern states. He was regarded as a martyr. By certain fanatics he was almost deified. From this fact Southern Union men drew grave conclusions. "If" they reasoned "our liberties and rights are to be preserved, it must be out of, not in, the Union."After enlisting in the Confederate Cause the private soldier was not furnished by his government with adequate clothing or rations.His pay, eleven dollars per month, is depreciated currency, was not equal in the average of four years to $3.00 per month in gold.He did not own slaves; nor hope to do so. But he believed in the right to hold negro slaves as a thing established by Biblical endorsement.In a well-organized regiment he soon became imbued with esprit du corps and it is now conceded that a better fighter than the Southern private the world never saw.Had he been lacking in intelligence, bravery, endurance, or patriotism, we could not have resisted, for four years, the strongest Government, financially and numerically, in the world. A Government, moreover, having all of Europe from which to recruit its ranks. The ‘high private’ in his own eyes, was the defender of the women, children, and property of the South, against savage invasion. When and where did he ever falter in his duty?”
James Cooper Nisbet, Four Years On the Firing Line (Chattanooga: The Imperial Press, 1914), 66-67.
“I used to have some Christian feeling towards Yankees, but now that they have invaded our country and killed so many of our men and desecrated so many homes, I can't believe that when Christ said " Love your enemies," he meant Yankees. Of course I don't want their souls to be lost, for that would be wicked . . .”
Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (D. Appleton & Company, 1808), 149.
“The common soldier had enlisted, not to establish the right of secession, not for love of the slave, — he had no slaves, —but simply to resist the invasion of the South by the North, simply to prevent subjugation. The soldier of the rank and file was not always intellectual or cultivated. He cared little for politics, less for slavery. He did care, however, for his own soil, his own little farm, his own humble home; and he was willing to fight to drive the invader from it. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not stimulate him in the least. The negro, free or slave, was of no consequence to him. His quarrel was a sectional one, and he fought for his section.”
Sara Pryor, Reminiscences of Peace and War (New York: MacMillan Company, 1905), 320-321.
“After the fall of Fort Sumter, the war spirit of the North, and Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops to invade the South, obliterated all hopes of an adjustment of the difficulties, excepting through war. The tone of many of the Northern papers was appalling. Some advocated an immediate ‘On to Richmond,’ and urged Lincoln to devastate the South for daring to leave the ‘best government the world ever saw.’All the States that were hesitating immediately joined us. Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland, did not act promptly enough, and the Federal authorities prevented their ever doing so.We were much rejoiced when many of the highest officers in the United States army resigned and joined us. Report said that General Scott wavered, and for some time we expected him also. A wag, writing from Washington, said that one of the most beautiful sights to behold was General Scott taking the oath. He took it before his morning bath, before breakfast, before dinner, and in public at least once a day, so that the very sight of his loyalty inspired confidence and made the people happy.The pibroch was sounded from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, from the Atlantic to the Gulf ; and from prairies, mountains, and glens, the summons was answered with an alacrity that dispelled all doubt as to the South's being a unit, notwithstanding her difference before the coercive measures were adopted by the North.”
Kate Cumming, Gleanings From Southland: Sketches Of Life And Manners Of The People Of The South Before, During And After The War Of Secession, With Extracts From The Author’s Journal And An Epitome Of The New South (Birmingham: Roberts & Sons, 1895), 24-25.
Robert Edward Lee
“All that the South has ever desired was that the Union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved and that the government as originally organized, should be administered in purity and truth.... I did only what my duty demanded. I could have taken no other course without dishonor. And if it were all to be done over again, I should act in precisely the same manner.”
Gamaliel Bradford, Jr., Lee The American (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1912), 46.
Mildred Lewis Rutherford
“They do not tell that General Grant, a slaveholder, was put as leader of the Northern Army and General Lee, who had freed his slaves, as the leader of the Southern Army, but they do say that the war was fought to hold the slaves yet do not tell that only 200,000 slaveholders were in the Southern Army, while 315,000 slaveholders were in the Northern Army.”
Mildred Lewis Rutherford, Truths of History: A Fair, Unbiased, Impartial, Unprejudiced and Conscientious Study of History. Object: To Secure a Peaceful Settlement of the Many Perplexing Questions Now Causing Contention Between the North and the South (Athens, Georgia, 1920), iv.
Brigadier General Eppa Hunton
Confederate Quotes & Narratives
From Primary Sources