Hello everyone! A few months ago, I did a post called Fact or Fiction//Which is More Important? Today, I want to turn this into an official Writing Series called Fact or Fiction? It will cover writing myths and history myths. Today, I’m going to tackle five common misconceptions about The War Between the States that I see popping up in most fiction books on the topic. Hope you enjoy!
Myth #1: All Southerners owned slaves/supported slavery.
This is not true and it makes me want to laugh every time I see this pop up. While a book may not come right out and say this, it’s insinuated in popular fiction that all Southerners own slavery. My ancestors are proof this is untrue. In fact, studies show that only about 25% of the Southern population in 1860 owned slaves. (For more statistics on this study, read The South Was Right! and Lincoln Unmasked)
And all southerners did not support slavery, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are prime examples of Southerners who hated the institution. And I’d also like to point out that the Underground Railroad couldn’t have existed without Southern abolitionists. Let’s say you are helping a slave form Florida escape to Canada. You cannot magically jump over the slave holding states (which included Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Ohio, to name a few). You must come through several of these states to get to Canada. You must have food and shelter to make a trip (on foot or hiding in a wagon), and it’s dangerous. There is no way they could have gotten to Canada without help. North Carolina was one of the most active states in the Underground Railroad. So it is ludicrous to assume all southerners were at least supportive of slavery.
Myth #2: Southern soldiers, on average, could not read.
While both the Union and Confederate States had a large population of illiterate people, it’s silly to write a story where none of the Confederates know how to read. It’s insulting. If I’m not mistaken, The South Was Right! covers this claim as well. I read one study that showed that most Southern soldiers could read to some extent. Christ in the Camp makes this fact clear in the large amounts of tracts, pamphlets, books and Bibles they gave to eager southern soldiers. So, while it’s fine to have a grown soldier here and there who can’t read, or one who can’t read well, it’s way over used. Drummers are another matter, as there were a lot of street kids or orphans who had never been to school filling those spots.
Myth #3: The South fought to preserve slavery.
I am fighting not to roll my eyes at this one. It is in almost every book you read about the War Between the States and it is the biggest fallacy of them all. I’ll give you the nut shell of why the South fought, but if you want to read more on this topic, see these posts (Here, here, here and here.) The south would not have fought to preserve slavery. That would have been ridiculous. No woman in her right mind would send her man to war just so she could force another person to work for her. (Okay, so the women didn't literally send their men off to war, but you know what I mean, lol!) That’s insane. The reason the South fought the War Between the States is because their states’ rights were being taken away from them. The government passed taxes that hurt the south to aide the north. I’m not being biased, I’m stating facts. The government had enlarged it’s self past it’s Constitutional boundaries and had made it quite clear that it didn’t care who they had to step on to grab more power…sound familiar? Seems like there was a man named Kind George III who had that same ambition. I don’t care what side you take on the war in your novel. But I do care if it’s historically inaccurate. Even if you choose to ignore these facts, don’t have your southern antagonist citing slavery as his reason to fight. Read what the southern soldiers said they were fighting for. Slavery will not be one of their reasons.
Myth #4: The Emancipation Proclamation freed the Slaves.
Another common misconception, and it mostly stems from the fact that most people have never actually read the proclamation. I strongly encourage you to read it and not just take someone else’s word for it, no matter what angle they take on it, myself included. But basically, the EP was written to keep England and France, who had already outlawed slavery in their countries, from aiding the Confederacy and recognizing us as a nation. In the latter end, they succeeded, but the British and French did help us monetarily and materially, though not to the capacity they would have if not for the EP. The EP states that all slaves held in the seceded states are free, except those who lived in Union held territory. The hypocrisy here is that those are the only slaves he had the power to free, since they were in territory he had conquered. So where is their right to freedom from the “Champion of Abolition?” The shocking truth is that he didn’t care about the ones he could actually help; he just wanted to look good to Europe. He had no jurisdiction over the seceded states as a whole, since they were a separate country, so his proclamation did absolutely nothing. Also, he said, if the states would rejoin the Union by January 1st of 1863, they could keep their slaves. If the war was over slavery, every single state would have jumped at the chance to be back in their beloved former country. But not one took him up on the offer, proving not only that the South was not fighting to keep their slaves, but also that the Union was not fighting to free them.
Myth #5: All the Southern women wore hoop skirts.
I had to slip a fun one in here! 😉 So, yeah, this one’s not true either! Hoop skirts were very impractical for daily life in the south. They are bulky and let’s be honest, you can’t tend your garden like that, lol! The majority of southern woman were middle class and did the cooking, cleaning, gardening and often times helped in the fields as well. If she owned a hoop skirt, she would have worn it to church, weddings and socials. If I had lived during this time, I probably wouldn’t have even owned one. In my books, my main girl character Dixie is from a middle-class cotton plantation family. And she doesn’t own a hoop skirt. Why? Because she lives in the country. There is no where for her to wear one too. In fact, when up in Philadelphia for Christmas, she must borrow one from her cousins for a social. This wasn’t uncommon. Not everyone lived in Raleigh, Richmond and Atlanta. That’s what most people think of when they imagine life in the Antebellum South. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one, lol!
So that’s it for this first post on Fact or Fiction! I hope you enjoyed it!
Have a blessed day!
It's about time I do another book review and this is one of my very Favorites! I first read this book when a friend loaned it to me and oh! I've read it...maybe three times so far? I don't often have time to reread a book, so...yeah, this is a good one!
Book Review//Iron Scouts of Confederacy by Lee McGiffin
(A gift from my parents following a trip to the homeschool book fair 2016)
This is a gem! I absolutely love this book! It’s probably my favorite Civil War book ever! And the best part is that it’s a novelization of a true story! The book follows the war years of young Ben Fane, a boy who is self-conscious about his short stature, but in the Confederate Army, he finds his height isn’t a curse! Along with his brother Gant and good friend Shelby Harris from Texas, Ben does his part to make a difference! We also meet many interesting Southern heroes, among them, Major John Mosby, Gen. Wade Hampton and Major Heroes Von Borcke. Through the many adventures (and misadventures!) of the Iron Scouts, their faith in God is tested and strengthened.
Historical Accuracy – Five stars here! I’m not an expert on the War Between the States, but I have researched this era quite a bit, and I found nothing amiss in McGiffin’s text.
Content – Amazing! Very descriptive and interesting. The Author is very good at keeping your attention. No romance, but I do think there were a couple of words I marked out in my copy, but I can’t remember so it must not have been anything major 😊 I do recommend a parent reading it before little ones since it is a war book and you are the best judge of what may be upsetting to them.
Favorite Scene – The scene where Ben and Heroes Von Borcke have to hide from the yankees in a widow’s house. Very entertaining 😉
Overall – Like I said, this is one of my all-time favorites. If you are studying the War Between the States, you need this in your library. Great for Homeschoolers too! In fact, I originally heard about it in a Homeschool catalog, and a friend had it in her history and let me borrow it. After reading it, I knew I needed to get my own copy! It is available through Amazon, Rainbow Resources, and Christian Liberty Press.
Something to think about: Do you reread books? What is your favorite book to reread? If you have a blog, write a post about your reread favorite! If you don't have one, tell a friend!
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
2 Timothy 2:4
(King James Bible)
Have a Lovely Day!
Hey! Thanks for checking out my History Page! I hope you found the first blog post helpful! Today we will continue with the question, "What did the South fight for?" looking at two more sections of this topic.
First of all, what is secession? What does it mean to secede? Here’s a definition that seems comprehensible to me.
According to the Declaration of Independence (A secession document), governments,
“derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and, “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” Also, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations… evinces a design to reduce the people under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Simply this: When your government becomes corrupt, you have the right to revolt (or breakaway) from that government and restore the rightful government to power. This was the mindset of the Patriots, and this was the mindset of the Confederate Patriots. Thus, each state took a vote and acted accordingly. Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri’s secession votes were crashed by invaders sent by none other than Abraham Lincoln. Otherwise, there would have been fourteen seceded states instead of eleven.
When Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Their reason for leaving the Union was clear: Abraham Lincoln had said he was in sympathy with the money loving Union factory owners and would pass and uphold laws to protect their interests while passing and upholding unlawful taxations (without representation) on the Southern states. He wasn’t interested in the good of the WHOLE country, only a portion of it. And so, South Carolina seceded.
When a President makes it clear that he is only interested in caring for part of a country and not the whole, he is not a leader, but a tyrant, seeking his own agenda and not the good of the people. He encouraged the division of the people, which brings us to our next question…
Who Declared War on Whom? Many people believe the “Civil War” began at Fort Sumter on April 12th, 1861. But this is not the case. The war began on May 6th, nearly a month later, when Abraham Lincoln declared it on the south. He called for troops from each of the un-seceded states to march on the “rebellious” states.
The response he got from the two remaining Southern states was not what he had anticipated. Virginia seceded. North Carolina Gov. Zebulun Vance replied, “You will get no troops from North Carolina,” and his state seceded on May 20th.
Abraham Lincoln, by asking these states and the northern states for a coercive force, encouraged further division between the North and South. His actions were reminiscent of a certain King, less than 90 years prior, King George III of England. He encouraged his soldiers to fight British Colonists over what? Money and Power. Lincoln encouraged conflict between the Northern and Southern citizens over what? Money (Tariffs) and Power (Strong Federal Government). But in the History books, King George’s name is spoken with distaste and dishonor, while Abraham Lincoln’s is spoken with high praise and honor, though undeserved.
(Just a side note: both Abraham Lincoln and King George offered slaves their freedom in return for helping to put down the “rebellions”. While some did just that, the majority of the slaves loved their masters and their families too much to take up arms against them. Not advocating slavery. Just stating a fact :) )
Thanks again for stopping by! If you have any questions about what we've covered so far, see my contacts page :) or even better, buy my book!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.