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The Cause Lost

‘Mythology about the South and its leaders – and the Civil War as a whole, incidentally – commenced the moment the war ended, if not before.’

We have come a long way in interpreting the Confederacy, yet traditional history does little to dispel the myths and long-held beliefs surrounding the Civil War and the leaders of the Confederate States. And whilst widely-believed events pertaining to the victories and defeats of the South can be found widely throughout biographies, literature, TV and film, they are often far from accurate, or omit the truth altogether.

One such gap between fact and fiction can be exemplified in the perception of the Confederacy’s president, Jefferson Davis. Many of his personal correspondences offer us an insight into the fundamental issues he suffered whilst forging relationships with his generals, for which the South’s move for independence undoubtedly suffered.

Similarly, a cold, hard look at Stonewall Jackson soon exposes him as far less than the demigod that others would have us believe. Also misunderstood was the extent of the war west of the Appalachians. Largely ignored by historians until recently, the lack of appreciation for its scale does not make the level of its destruction any less real.

William C. Davis’ collection of essays, written over twenty years, unveils the truth from underneath the fa├žade of the history books and explores the impact of dispelling those myths on our understanding of the entire Confederate story.

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