A book “Civil War” enthusiasts should all read from 1866

I saw a post awhile back discussing Jefferson Davis, President of the CSA, and it mentioned a book written by Albert Taylor Bledsoe and published in 1866. Bledsoe was a priest and a professor who attended West Point and fought in the War of Southern Succession for the Confederacy. He wrote in defense of the South following the war, and since he was supporting the losing side he is criticized for attempting to justify the South where supposedly there is no justification and rewrite the causes of the war. However, I would question why people are so quick to dismiss something written in 1866, only one year following the end of the war, as being without merit while they apparently find merit in more recent books attempting to justify condemning the South. Whatever side of the argument you fall on, is it not worth reading to see what his arguments were?

Luckily, there is a scanned copy of the book available online for free! It’s in the Making of America digital library from the University of Michigan (go Blue) and can be found here:

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moa/aew5150.0001.001?view=toc

Not sure if it’s worth your time? I’ll include Bledsoe’s preface here for you to decide for yourself if you find it interesting:

“It is not the design of this book to open the subject of secession. The subjugation of the Southern States, and their acceptance of the terms dictated by the North, may, if the reader please, be considered as having shifted the Federal Government from the basis of compact to that of conquest; and thereby extinguished every claim to the right of secession for the future. Not one word in the following pages will at least be found to clash with that supposition or opinion. The sole object of this work is to discuss the right of secession with reference to the past; in order to vindicate the character of the South for loyalty, and to wipe off the charges of treason and rebellion from the names and memories of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sydney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, and of all who have fought or suffered in the great war of coercion. Admitting, then, that the right of secession no longer exists; the present work aims to show, that, however those illustrious heroes may have been aspersed by the ignorance, the prejudices, and the passions of the hour, they were, nevertheless, perfectly loyal to truth, justice, and the Constitution of 1787 as it came from the hands of the fathers.

The radicals themselves may, if they will only read the following pages, find sufficient reason to doubt their own infallibility, and to relent in their bitter persecutions of the South.

The calm and impartial reader will, it is believed, discover therein the grounds on which the South may be vindicated, and the final verdict of History determined in favor of a gallant, but down-trodden and oppressed, PEOPLE.”

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