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“Damned North Carolinians” and “Brave Virginians”: The Lane-Mahone Controversy, Honor, and Civil War Memory

From: The Journal of Military History
Volume 72, Number 4, October 2008
pp. 1089-1116 | 10.1353/jmh.0.0140



A dispute arose during the 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania Court House over who had captured three flags from Union forces, Virginians of William Mahone’s division or North Carolinians under the command of James Henry Lane. Over the next four decades, Lane defended his men’s claims with increasingly personal attacks on Mahone. His efforts succeeded only after U.S. Senator Mahone made common cause with Republicans. This article maintains that Lane’s actions can only be understood fully within the context of postwar politics and especially the culture of honor, considerations that must be applied to all post-Civil War sources.

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