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Becoming Confederates

Paths to a New National Loyalty

Gary W. Gallagher

Publication Year: 2013

In Becoming Confederates, Gary W. Gallagher explores loyalty in the era of the Civil War, focusing on Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal A. Early-three prominent officers in the Army of Northern Virginia who became ardent Confederate nationalists. Loyalty was tested and proved in many ways leading up to and during the war. Looking at levels of allegiance to their native state, to the slaveholding South, to the United States, and to the Confederacy, Gallagher shows how these men represent responses to the mid-nineteenthcentury crisis.

Lee traditionally has been presented as a reluctant convert to the Confederacy whose most powerful identification was with his home state of Virginia—an interpretation at odds with his far more complex range of loyalties. Ramseur, the youngest of the three, eagerly embraced a Confederate identity, highlighting generational differences in the equation of loyalty. Early combined elements of Lee's and Ramseur's reactions—a Unionist who grudgingly accepted Virginia's departure from the United States but later came to personify defiant Confederate nationalism.

The paths of these men toward Confederate loyalty help delineate important contours of American history. Gallagher shows that Americans juggled multiple, often conflicting, loyalties and that white southern identity was preoccupied with racial control transcending politics and class. Indeed, understanding these men's perspectives makes it difficult to argue that the Confederacy should not be deemed a nation. Perhaps most important, their experiences help us understand why Confederates waged a prodigiously bloody war and the manner in which they dealt with defeat.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-7

The seeds of this short book lie in my examination of Stephen Dodson Ramseur as a case study in the development of officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. I undertook that military biography more than thirty years ago, tracing the young North Carolinian’s rise from lieutenant to major general in just more than three years. In the course of reading Ramseur’s voluminous correspondence, ...

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CHAPTER ONE: Conduct Must Conform to the New Order of Things: R. E. Lee and the Question of Loyalty

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pp. 8-34

Robert E. Lee should not be understood as a figure defined primarily by his Virginia identity. As with almost all his fellow American citizens, he manifested a range of loyalties during the late antebellum and wartime years. Without question devoted to his home state, where his family had loomed large in politics and social position since the colonial era, he also possessed deep attachments...

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CHAPTER TWO: He Died as Became a Confederate Soldier: Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s Easy Embrace of the Confederacy

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pp. 35-56

Stephen Dodson Ramseur typifi ed a cohort of young men from slaveholding families who made an early and zealous commitment to the idea of a Confederate nation. Reared during the increasing sectional tensions of the 1840s and 1850s, Ramseur developed a powerful sense of southern identity that guided his actions during the secession crisis and into the war years, more than did...

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CHAPTER THREE: Consistent Conservative: Jubal A. Early’s Patriotic Submission

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pp. 57-82

Jubal Anderson Early seemingly defines staunch Confederate national loyalty. As an important general in the Army of Northern Virginia, he participated in nearly all the great battles of the Eastern Theater, became widely known for his anti-Yankee rhetoric, and proved willing to lay a hard hand on northern civilian property. Following the war, he assumed a position in the front rank of Lost ...

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CHAPTER FOUR: For His Country and His Duty: Confederate National Sentiment beyond Appomattox

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pp. 83-92

Robert E. Lee and Jubal A. Early occupied critical positions in the story of how Confederate national sentiment persisted in the postwar decades. Stephen Dodson Ramseur, mortally wounded almost six months before Appomattox, was relegated to a secondary though still noteworthy place in the narrative. All had been committed nationalists, demanding collective sacrifice to establish...


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pp. Image 1-Image 16


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pp. 93-108


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pp. 109-118

Further Reading

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pp. 119-120

E-ISBN-13: 9780820344973
E-ISBN-10: 0820344974
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820344966
Print-ISBN-10: 0820344966

Page Count: 152
Illustrations: 12 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures
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OCLC Number: 842891738
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Becoming Confederates

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Causes.
  • Patriotism -- Confederate States of America -- Case studies.
  • Change of allegiance -- United States -- Case studies.
  • Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870.
  • Ramseur, Stephen Dodson, 1837-1864.
  • Early, Jubal Anderson, 1816-1894.
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