Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Preparation and Pursuit

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Preparation and Pursuit

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: A Note of Thanks From Arkansas Troops in Kentucky

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: A Note of Thanks From Arkansas Troops in Kentucky

Monday, December 26, 2011

Southern Cross Of Honor To Be Presented On May 21, 2011 | Arkansas Civil War

Southern Cross Of Honor To Be Presented On May 21, 2011 Arkansas Civil War

Logistical Nightmare For Troops In Summer Of 1861 | Arkansas Civil War

Logistical Nightmare For Troops In Summer Of 1861 Arkansas Civil War

Early Home Front Characters | Arkansas Civil War

Early Home Front Characters Arkansas Civil War

Citizens Continue To Support Arkansas Troops: Winter Is Approaching | Arkansas Civil War

Citizens Continue To Support Arkansas Troops: Winter Is Approaching Arkansas Civil War

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Western Theater Dissent and Wintering

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Western Theater Dissent and Wintering

Last Letter of Henry Wirz submitted by Ruthie Fisher

Last Letter of Henry Wirz submitted by Ruthie Fisher

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Bounty Business

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Bounty Business

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Arkansawyers Learn of New Flag

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Arkansawyers Learn of New Flag

Friends of Jenkins Ferry Battlefield Receives Articles of Incorporation from the State of Arkansas

Friends of Jenkins Ferry Battlefield Receives Articles of Incorporation from the State of Arkansas

Texas Division SCV Files Complaint

Texas Division SCV Files Complaint

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Patriotism on the Home Front

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Patriotism on the Home Front

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: The Ingenuity of the Southern People

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: The Ingenuity of the Southern People

Annual David O. Dodd Service Slated For January 7, 2012

Annual David O. Dodd Service Slated For January 7, 2012

The season of Christmas away from home produced the epitome of homesickness to Civil War soldiers, as in other situations where enforced separation prevailed.

The season of Christmas away from home produced the epitome of homesickness to Civil War soldiers, as in other situations where enforced separation prevailed.

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Arkansas Civil War Christmas Tidings

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Arkansas Civil War Christmas Tidings

Annual David Owen Dodd Memorial Slated

Annual David Owen Dodd Memorial Slated

Civil War’s 150th stirs a trove of memories | Vision to America

Civil War’s 150th stirs a trove of memories Vision to America

Friday, September 9, 2011

150 Years Ago: Citizens Continue To Support Arkansas Troops--Winter Is Approaching

From The Arkansas Toothpick:

Citizens Continue To Support Arkansas Troops: Winter Is Approaching

September 09, 2011By: admin Category: 150th Anniversary Project, arkansas civil war, Arkansas Civil War

Download article as PDF

One hundred and fifty years ago, logistic problems in supplying soldiers with necessary provisions were apparent. As citizens rallied and rose to the challenge, troops expressed their gratitude to those responsible for a variety of logistical support.

In an 1861 newspaper, a Confederate company of soldiers relayed their gratitude to the citizens of Little Rock for the hard work they had done in supplying the Camden Knights, Company B. According to the Arkansas True Democrat, soldiers’ “messes have been supplied daily and bountifully with the luxuries of the gardens; fair hands have prepared them a uniform for the campaign, upon which they are now about to enter, and their camp has often been graced with the presence of those whose cheering smile and encouraging words go so far towards mitigating and relieving the asperities of a soldier’s life.”

The Captain of the Confederate company of soldiers continued in his letter to the Little Rock citizens through the Arkansas True Democrat with a sincere appreciation to the Arkansawyers who were responsible in supplying his troops: “If any incentives were required (other than those presented by the holy cause in which we fight,) to nerve our arms in the coming struggle, it would surely be found in the thought that we are the guardians and defenders of the homes of those who have so generously and patriotically contributed their exertions to promote our comfort and ease; next to those who mourn our absence around our own hearthstones, thoughts of them shall furnish our most cherished recollections in the bivouac, our noblest stimulant to action, when the cloud of battle gathers around us; and may that God whose blessings are promised to the beautiful and good of earth, grant to the noble ladies of Little Rock, a higher and worthier reward than this, our poor tribute of thanks.”

Compared to today’s infantrymen in the U.S. Army, the list of supplies needed for an infantryman in the Confederate Army in 1861 was quite short. Among the various items an Arkansas soldier during the Civil War needed for the impending Winter were: “One good country jeans coat or jacket, two pairs of pants, same material, two good cotton shirts, heavy, two good linsey shirts, two pairs of good linsey drawers, two pairs of good woolen socks, and one pair of first rate shoes.”

This week’s column serves as a tribute to those citizens who put the task of supplying Arkansas troops above their own selfish comforts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lecture: “Civil War Medicine … Why Should I Care?

Lecture: “Civil War Medicine … Why Should I Care?

Surprise! The Civil War Was Not About Slavery | Arkansas Civil War

Surprise! The Civil War Was Not About Slavery Arkansas Civil War

What Would It Take To Get You To Fight?

From League of the South:

What Would It Take To Get You To Fight?

Dr. J. Michael Hill, LS President

(Presented on 30 July 2011 at The League of the South national conference in Abbeville, South Carolina)

WHAT would it take to get you to fight? I’m not speaking figuratively but literally. What would it take to turn you into a William Wallace or a Robert Bruce, an Issac Shelby or a Francis Marion, a Bedford Forrest or a John Pelham, a Michael Collins or a Tom Barry?

Before you answer, ponder some things and count the costs. First, what is so valuable to you that it is indispensable to life itself? Ordered liberty? Loved ones? The place that sustains you and that you call home? The free and unfettered practice of your Christian faith?

These are the things that are important to me, as I suspect they are to you, too. What would my life be without them? Would it be worth living? My answer is “no.” I had rather die than suffer to have these blessings taken from me. And I would also die rather than see my kinsmen deprived of them. Because when I and my kinsmen together are denied these life-giving things, our civilization will die.

Neither man’s law nor his traditions should necessarily keep free men from a solemn defense of these blessings. For what is law or tradition if it seeks not the well being of those it purports to serve? Law becomes tyranny and tradition the justification for it.

WE are not made to live in isolation; rather, we here in the South are a people. Our ancestors came from Europe, but we long ago ceased to be Europeans. We are in a sense Westerners (to differentiate us from the various peoples of the Orient), but that designation is too loose and amorphous. For the last four centuries we have been becoming Southerners. The South is where we make our stand. It is our home.

Our ancestors fought, bled, and died through the ages to give us ordered liberty and prosperity. We come from a long line of fierce and Godly men and women who would not bend the knee to tyranny. Some seven centuries ago (6 April 1320), after the execution of William Wallace and the subsequent triumphs of Robert Bruce, our Scottish ancestors gave us the Declaration of Arbroath, which reads, in part, as follows:

“But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him Who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King and Lord, the Lord Robert [Bruce]. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Macabaeus or Joshua and bore them cheerfully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand. Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

Do you, Southern patriot, understand what you’ve just read? The Scottish people, through their representative who drafted and signed this declaration, extend their most humble thanks to the man—King Robert the Bruce—who drove the hated English from their lands. Moreover, they acknowledge Bruce’s right (and that of his successors) to the throne of Scotland and their fealty to him as King—“we are bound both by law and by his merits . . . .” However, there is a caveat: “Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English . . . .” In other words, should the people of Scotland be betrayed by their leader, they would in no ways be bound to continue to obey or serve him against their own interests. Nor should the Southern people consent to serve those who betray their interests in our own day.

Sadly, our true interests were compromised and sold for a mess of pottage by our so-called leaders a long time ago. For instance, if the South had had real leaders of the people there would have been no second reconstruction known as the civil rights movement. Nor would there have been a Republican Party take-over of Dixie beginning in the 1960s. Nor would we have become a tame and servile economic colony to the interests of international business and banking. No. Had the natural leaders of the South lead us instead of betraying us, then we would be a free and prosperous people in 2011. But because they sold us out for their own pursuit of wealth and power, we must do as the Scottish people threatened to do in the 14th century—we must look to ourselves alone and what resources we can muster at the late and perilous hour.

The prime resource, as it were, is found up here, in our heads. It is the realization that we are no longer “free” in the sense that our forefathers were. Though I do tend toward hyperbole from time to time, I am not exaggerating now. Things may seem normal to some degree, but they are not. Since the fall of 2008, we have been robbed, and not just we who are alive today but our children, grandchildren, and generations of Southerners yet unborn. The American kleptocracy has stolen your patrimony in broad, open daylight, laughing at you all the while. When anyone questioned their tactics, they trotted out the old “financial Armageddon” argument, bolstered by visions of martial law across the land. Our people acted as if they barely noticed and then went back into their self-induced coma. It is truly pitiful to see an enslaved population that believes it is free. They wear their chains as if to make a fashion statement.

There are indeed today few men able and willing to think for themselves and to provide for their family’s needs without some sort of government assistance. Compare an average man off the street in 2011 with a frontiersman from two centuries ago. I’m not talking about comparative skills—rather, I’m talking about attitude. One is dependent and slavish; the other, independent and proud. One makes good fodder for a declining and decadent empire; the other was the raw material for a young and energetic republic. One has no idea what his true God-given rights are; the other knew them and would die defending them. Simply put, one is a sheep; the other a man.

In order to properly and effectively “play the men,” to use a Biblical allusion, and to put up a good fight, we need to remember twelve fundamental rules:

The mantra “Violence [or the serious threat thereof] never settles anything” is patently false. History shows that it indeed does settle many things. Please don’t forget this—your enemy hasn’t.

Never underestimate your enemy but always make him underestimate you. There are some advantages to being perceived as “dumb Southerners . . .”

Educate yourself –don’t be content to be part of the herd. Learn useful things. Stupid, lazy people are not free people.

Don’t take anything for granted. Things are not always what they seem. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to be the same as today. Your own personal and family routine can be disrupted quite easily. Do you have a contingency plan?

Be a leader—don’t be a sheep (unless Christ is your Shepherd). Generate your own solutions instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you. How many times have I gotten a phone call from a League member who complains that nothing is happening in his area? What do I tell him . . . ?

Get tough, mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The weak will surely perish. Don’t be afraid to be seen as a dissenter. Speak your mind—you’ll find people will respect you for it and will listen to what you have to say. Be willing to take risks. And most importantly, don’t take counsel from your fears. This is what the enemy expects you to do in the face of his superior strength (so he thinks). Disappoint him . . .

Don’t engage the enemy on ground of his own choosing. Don’t accept his labels—“domestic terrorist,” “right-wing extremist,” “racist,” “anti-semite,” etc. These terms are meant to shame and marginalize you. Know you own mind and laugh them off. This is quite unsettling to the enemy. Once he sees that you don’t wish to be accepted into his “society,” then he loses a major weapon (ostracization) to use against you.

Be unpredictable. If the enemy expects you to do “A,” then do “B.” Be creative with this category . . .

Pay heed to your experiences in all things. If something works, use it. If something fails, abandon it. If something is necessary, keep it; if it proves useless, get rid of it. This includes the mental as well as the physical. Don’t allow useless sentiments or junk to rule you. Get rid of anything that is a drag on your ability to be an effective warrior for Southern independence.

Know hope. You will make mistakes. Just don’t make big ones that cannot be overcome. Don’t give in to cynicism, defeatism, or nihilism—they will assure your ultimate destruction. Be realistic but never abandon your sense of optimism and hope for the future. Never fall victim to complacency—you can always do better.

He who is willing to die for a cause will defeat one who isn’t. Always act as if you are fighting in the last ditch for the survival of all you hold dear. The enemy does intend on killing you and taking all you have. He has made this fight personal—you had better take it that way.

We are already at war—we just don’t know it. One instance: Immigration. This is not just a matter of policy. It’s a matter of our very survival as white men and women of European Christian stock on this land we call the South. It is a zero sum game—we win or they win. There is no middle ground for compromise. Losing means that my grandchildren will grow up in a third world country. Multiculturalism and diversity means “we” cease to exist as a viable and prosperous people. Another instance: the criminal banksters—led by Bernanke and Geithner--and their politician-whores in Washington, DC, are in the process of stealing the wealth of the Southern middle and working class. We should have already considered this a declaration of war against us, for how can a man survive if he is robbed of his very sustenance. And the whole scheme is being pulled off under color of law. If this does not make you want to fight, then you don’t belong in our organization.


ON March 23rd 1775, in Virginia, the largest colony in America, a meeting of the colony's delegates was held in St. John's church in Richmond. Resolutions were presented by Patrick Henry putting the colony of Virginia "into a posture of defense...embodying, arming, and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient for that purpose." Before the vote was taken on his resolutions, Henry delivered his most noteworthy speech, imploring the delegates to vote in favor. I will now quote part of that very familiar speech; however, I will stop before the most famous part—the last four paragraphs. I’ll leave those for you to ponder on your own.

Now, Mr. Henry:

“This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?

. . . Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation -- the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motives for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies?

No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer on the subject? Nothing.

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free -- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending -- if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!”

May God give us the courage He gave to our Southern colonial and Confederate ancestors to resist tyrants in the cause of Christian liberty. May God bless you and may He save the South!

Dr. J. Michael Hill, of Alabama, is President of The League of the South and the author of Celtic Warfare and Fire & Sword. He is also a frequent lecturer on Southern cultural issues. [contact him]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Benton, Arkansas: Ceremony To Honor Eight Confederate Soldiers

From The Saline Courier:

Ceremony to honor 8 Confederate soldiers

June 24, 2011


Lynda Hollenbeck

Eight of Saline County’s 278 Confederate soldiers who died far away from home defending a cause they believed in will be memorialized a special event Saturday.

Monuments for the eight whose bodies were not returned to their families for burial will be dedicated in a ceremony at Glidewell-Leech Cemetery off Dogwood Drive in Benton.

The public is invited to the 10:30 a.m. event.

Members of the David Owen Dodd Camp 619, Sons of Confederate Veterans, are sponsoring the dedication of the newly created Confederate memorial section at the local cemetery. This is one of several observances being held in conjunction with the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration.

Anthony Rushing, spokesman for the SCV, said the David Owen Dodd Camp hopes to acquire markers for all of Saline County’s Confederate veterans who did not receive a proper burial.

He noted that three of the soldiers to be memorialized — who were brothers — are: 1st Sgt. Coke Witten, who was killed in the Battle of Dug Gap, Ga., on May 8, 1864; Staff Sgt. Wilkerson Witten, who died of illness in Hudson, La., on April 30, 1863; and Pvt. Benton Witten, who died of illness in a hospital at Point Lookout, Md., on Nov. 13, 1863.

“A fourth brother fought with Union forces and survived the war,” Rushing said of that situation that often was the case in this war that divided family loyalties.

Others to be honored in Saturday’s grave-marking tribute are:

•Sgt. James M. Forsythe, who died in Corinth, Miss., on Nov. 10, 862; Pvt. Henry S. Forsythe, who died in a POW camp in Douglas, Ill., on Aug. 23, 1862; and Pvt. William M. Forsythe, who was killed in the Battle of Pilot Knob, Mo., on Sept. 276, 1864.

•Pvt. Thomas J. Elrod, who died in Panola, Miss., in June 1862; and Pvt. George Dixon, who died in Shubuta, Miss., in July 1863.

Rushing said a descendant of the Wittens, Mary Lewis of Norman, Okla., will be attending Saturday’s ceremony.

Rushing is a descendant of the Forsythes.

Information about the soldiers and events taking place in their lives was gleaned from letters exchanged among the brothers and other relatives, Rushing said.

“There are 150-200 letters that were written starting before the Civil War to the 1900s between all these brothers and cousins and other relatives,” Rushing said.

“Martha Roark, a sister of the Witten brothers, was the great-great aunt of Mary Lewis, and she had saved many of the letters,” Rushing said.

All of the Wittens and the Forsythes lived in what is now the Sardis community, Rushing said. “They settled in Hurricane and Owen townships,” he said.

“Roark gave the land for the Sardis United Methodist Church,” he said.

“Later, Mary Lewis got some of the letters the soldiers had written and other relatives had other relatives,” he said.

Rushing previously chronicled the correspondence of many of these soldiers in an account published by The Saline, the publication of the Saline County History and Heritage Society.

“I took digital copies of the letters with me when I served in Iraq with the National Guard and worked on them in my spare time,” Rushing said.

A history buff all of his life, Rushing’s interest in this project is heightened by the fact that the three Forsythes are his great-great uncles. “They were brothers to my great-grandfather, Wiley Forsythe of this area,” he said.

Rushing expressed appreciation to Ruth Mitchell, who owns the Glidewell-Leech Cemetery site in Benton.

“She’s allowed us to put these markers up,” Rushing said. “We hope to make it look something like a national cemetery because we’re trying to get a marker for every one of the Saline County men who fought for something they believed in, but died somewhere else. They are either buried far from their homes in unmarked graves, maybe buried in a mass grave or maybe never were buried anywhere.

“Their families didn’t ever get their bodies returned to bury as they chose,” he added. “It was a different day then.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Truth About The "Civil War" Is Still Guarded By Modern Gate-Keepers, Most Recently, Veterans Today

From Pragmatic Witness:

Truth about the Civil War still guarded by modern gate-keepers – most recently VETERANS TODAY

Last week I commented on a post which appeared on Veterans Today entitled, Lies About the U.S. Civil War 150 years later, by David Swanson.

As of the next day my comment was not there, obviously, due to the content it contained and the embarrassment it would most likely cause the author since he’s only writing part of the truth.

Below is Mr . Swanson’s article in full for my readers, then following is my comment – areas marked in RED I disagree with Mr. Swanson

Lies About the U.S. Civil War 150 Years Later

April 12, 2011 posted by David Swanson · 7 Comments

By David Swanson

Tuesday marks 150 years since the start of the U.S. Civil War. Newspapers everywhere are proclaiming it the deadliest war in U.S. history, the costliest U.S. war in terms of the loss of human life. That claim, like most things we say about the Civil War, is false.

Most humans, it will surprise our newspapers to learn, are not U.S. citizens. World War II killed 100 times as many people as the U.S. Civil War, with World War I not far behind. U.S. wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq are among those that have killed far more human beings than the Civil War killed.

The South, we’re told, merely wanted independence; slavery had nothing to do with it. Of course, this is nonsense. The South wanted independence to support slavery.

The North, we’re told, merely wanted to free the slaves; power, empire, profit, and politics had nothing to do with it. Of course, this too is nonsense. The war was well underway before Lincoln “freed the slaves.” Actually he did not free those slaves whom he actually could free in the border states, but only those he could not free unless the North won the war.

Grand Army of the Republic

Freeing the slaves, like bringing democracy to Iraq or saving the Jews from Hitler, was a belated justification for a war that had other motivations. Adding that moral mission to the war helped keep European nations from backing the South and helped keep Northerners killing and dying in sufficient numbers.

Regardless of who said what when, the war did end slavery and was therefore justifiable. Or so we’re told. Yet, every other nation that ended slavery did so without a civil war. Similarly, we justify the American war for independence because it brought independence, even though Canada and countless other countries achieved independence without war. If we had used a war to create public schools, we would denounce critics of that war as opponents of education.

To seriously justify a war, however, would need showing that anything it accomplished could not be accomplished without all the killing, wounding, traumatization, and destruction. What if the North had allowed the South to secede and repealed the fugitive slave law? What if an independent North had used trade, diplomacy, and morality to pressure the South to end slavery? Would slavery have lasted longer than the Civil War raged? If so, we are still talking, at best, about a war to hasten the end of slavery.

Even if the war was really launched for national power, to keep states together in a nation for the nation’s sake, we are all better off as a result. Or so we’re taught. But is it true? Most Americans believe that our system of representative government is badly broken, as of course it is. Our politicians, bought and sold, are directed by corporate media outlets, and controlled by two political parties than the citizenry.

One reason it’s difficult to bring public pressure to bear on elected officials is that our nation is too darn big. Most U.S. citizens can’t join a protest in their nation’s capital if they want to. A resistance movement in Wisconsin can’t very well spread to other key cities; they’re all hundreds or thousands of miles away.

In the years that followed the “preservation of the union,” the United States completed its conquest of the continent and began building an overseas empire, driven in large part by pressure from the same interests that had profited from the Civil War.

Secession has as bad a name as socialism, but Wisconsin could secede, ban foreign (U.S.) money from its elections and create government of, by, and for the people by next year. A seceded California could be one of the most pleasant nations to live in on earth. Vermont would have a civilized healthcare system already if not for Washington, D.C. Yes, the North helped end Jim Crow in the South, but the South did most of that on its own, and we all helped end Apartheid in South Africa without being South Africa.

In the absence of practical representative government, we won’t do much else on a national scale that we are proud of. We now, in the United States, imprison more people of African descent than enslaved here at the time of the Civil War, and it is national policies, completely out of the control of the American people, that produce that mass incarceration.

Those who fought in the Civil War, regardless of the politics or results, were heroes. Or so we hear. But most of the men who killed and died were not the generals whose names we know. They were soldiers, lined up like cogs in a machine, killing and dying on command.

The vast majority as with soldiers on both sides of all wars prior to late-20th century conditioning, avoided killing if possible. Many simply reloaded their guns over and over, fetched supplies for others, or lay in the dirt.

Killing human beings does not come easily to most human beings, and many will avoid it — unless properly conditioned to brainless killing — even at risk to their own lives. To be sure, many killed and many who did not kill died or lost their limbs. There was much bravery and sacrifice and even noble intention. But it was all for a tragically pointless exercise in collective stupidity, lunacy, and horror. Reassuring as it is to put a pretty gloss on a tragedy like this, we would be better served by facing the facts and avoiding the next one.

A century and a half after this madness burst forth, the United States has established a permanent military and permanent war-time, with military bases in over 100 other countries, multiple major wars, and numerous small-scale secretive wars underway. Our weapons industry, born out of the Civil War, is our biggest industry, the world’s biggest arms supplier, and the source for the armaments used by many of the nations we fight our modern wars against.

The civil liberties, the right to habeas corpus, everything that Lincoln temporarily stripped away for the War Between the States, also known — quite accurately — as the War of Northern Aggression, has now been stripped away for good-by Justice Department lawyers and prostituted pundits pointing to Lincoln’s example.

The legacy of the Civil War has been death, destruction, erosion of democracy, and the propaganda that produces more of the same. Enough is enough. Let’s get our history right. Let’s glorify those years in our past during which we did not all try to kill each other.

About the writer: David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie”


My comment to Veterans Today:

The south had every right to secede according to the Constitution when their very way of life was threatened as does any state today . At this time the south was extremely rich with boundless resources of cotton and immense fields of agricultural profit and the north coveted that wealth and sought control of those resources through any means possible. The only solution was to raise a war and use slavery as the excuse.

Below is an article written by the Webmaster at American Civil War. I’ve read dozens of articles about these very topics then there is a modicum of truth on the nature of the War of Northern Aggression against the South. The deceitful disclosure about the south are untruths to obfuscate the fact that it was Jewish involvement that brought the slaves to America, not to mention, that the North had as many slaves if not more at one time than did the south.

This is not to say that slavery was a good idea or that the institution should have continued, this is a blame game and the south has always been the down trodden. Slavery is a human stain on America that will never be forgotten, however, lets all remember who the cause of this horrible calamity was thereby shifting the blame to those directly responsible.



Was the War Fought Over Slavery

North and South

The war was fought over Southern independence, not over slavery. Lincoln said repeatedly the war was not being fought over slavery. In August 1862, over a year after the war started, Lincoln wrote an open letter to a prominent Republican abolitionist, Horace Greeley, where, he said he did not agree with those who would only “save” the Union if they could destroy slavery at the same time. Lincoln added that if he could “save” the Union without freeing a single slave, he would do so (Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862, published in the New York Tribune).

In July 1861, after the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) had been fought, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution, by an overwhelming majority, that declared the war was not being fought to disturb slavery, nor to subjugate the South, but only to “maintain the Union” (i.e., to force the Southern states back into the Union). A few months later, in September, a group of Radicals visited Lincoln to urge him to make compulsory emancipation a war goal. Lincoln declined, telling the Radicals, “We didn’t go into the war to put down slavery, but to put the flag back” (Brodie, Thaddeus Stevens, p. 155; Klingaman, Abraham Lincoln and the Road to Emancipation, pp. 75-76). Later on, about halfway through the war, the Radicals and other Republicans succeeded in making the uncompensated abolition of Southern slavery a secondary goal of the war. However, the primary purpose of the federal invasion was always to destroy Southern independence.

The war itself really had nothing directly to do with slavery. It’s true that issues involving slavery were the most important factors behind the first wave of secession, but secession and the war were two separate events, and four of the Southern states did not secede over slavery. As noted earlier, secession was a peaceful, democratic process. The seceded states posed no threat to the federal government, and they had no intention of trying to overthrow the government. The Confederate states wanted to live in peace with the North and offered to pay their share of the national debt and to pay compensation for all federal forts in the South.

There are not very many photographic images of slaves before the American Civil War. Slave owners were not all that interested in spending money to photograph their slaves. The first large number of slave images comes with the Civil War. This Matthew Brady photograph was od laves on the Aiken s plantation, probably about 1862. Aiken s Landings was on the James River. The Penknsular Campaign was fought here (1862). This woukd have been before the Emacipation Proclamation (1863). We are not sure what the building in the background was. The Aiken s plantation mansion was alarge brick building.

If the Southern states had not seceded, there would have been no war and slavery would have continued. If the Southern states had surrendered when Lincoln issued his call-up for an invasion force, there would have been no war and slavery would have continued. If Jefferson Davis’s first announcement as Confederate president had been that the Confederacy was going to abolish slavery, Lincoln and the Radicals still would have invaded the South. If the Confederacy had informed Lincoln at any point during the war that it was going to start an emancipation program, Lincoln would not have suddenly called off the federal invasion. The issue was Southern independence, not slavery.

The reaction of the Northern abolitionists to the proposal of fellow abolitionist Moncure Conway is further proof the war was not fought over slavery. At least a few of the abolitionists were Republicans, and nearly all of them strongly supported the Radicals. Conway, however, was a pacifist. Yet, at first Conway reluctantly supported the invasion of the South. “But,” notes Jeffrey Hummel, “the increasing bloodshed sickened him.” So, when Conway was in England in 1863, he proposed to a Confederate envoy that if the South freed the slaves the abolitionists would oppose the war. Conway also said he would support continuation of the Confederacy as long as the Confederacy abolished slavery. Strangely enough, leading abolitionists had selected Conway to go to England to convince the British that the war was being fought to free the slaves. However, when Conway’s proposal for Southern independence coupled with abolition became public knowledge, most abolitionists reacted with outrage and withdrew their support from him (Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, p. 206).

To most Southerners, independence was more important than the continuation of slavery. This is not surprising, since less than 10 percent of Southern citizens actually held title to slaves, and since 69-75 percent of Southern families did not own slaves (John Niven, The Coming of the Civil War: 1837-1861, Arlington Heights, Illinois: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1990, p. 34; Divine et al, editors, America Past and Present, p. 389; see also the 1860 Census). Early in the war, James Alcorn, a powerful planter-politician from Mississippi, began to talk openly about emancipation. Duncan Kenner, one of the most powerful slaveholders in the South and a chairman in the Confederate Congress, urged that slavery be abolished. Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s most famous general, believed slavery was evil and favored gradual emancipation. The Confederate secretary of state, Judah Benjamin, and Governor William Smith of Virginia, also supported ending slavery.

By late 1864, Jefferson Davis himself prepared to abolish slavery to gain European diplomatic recognition and thus save the Confederacy, which shows that independence was more important to him than preserving slavery.

A Confederate soldier captured early in the war expressed the South’s reason for fighting in simple yet eloquent terms. He wore a ragged homemade uniform, and like most other Southerners he didn’t own any slaves. When his Union captors asked him why he was fighting for the Confederacy, he replied, “I’m fighting because you’re down here” (McPherson, The Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 311, emphasis added).


WW~Notes: We have since learned that a vast majority of southerners did not own slaves. It was the wealthy Jewish plantation owners who had cargos of slaves shipped over on Jewish Dutch owned vessels of filth, over crowding, sickness and depravity.

Yet, lest we NOT forget that it was the African tribal leaders at war with other tribes that sold their own African brothers and sisters into slavery in the first place. Secondly, Jewish slave traders made certain to warn the few goyim white owners that Africans were below even human beings they were animals and treated as such. This is where the stigma began about blacks being inferior to whites on many levels caused by who – THE JEWS!

An excellent film I would recommend everyone to watch is BAND OF ANGELS with Clark Gable, Yvonne DeCarlo and Sidney Poitier. You will not find more truth about what happened in the south after the Civil War than in this film. There was never another one like it made by Hollywood.


Postscript: We all might remember that even today we are still slaves yet it is much more appealing considering the ammenities. Slavery of the human race never ended it just changed position and focus over the last century.

The U.S. [Civil War] [sic] As A Theological War: Confederate Christian Nationalism And The League Of The South

Published in Canadian Review of American Studies - Issue 32:3, 2002

To see more articles and book reviews from this and other journals visit UTPJOURNALS online at

The US Civil War as a Theological War: Confederate Christian Nationalism and the League of the South


Edward H. Sebesta and Euan Hague


Formed in Alabama in 1994, the League of the South is a nationalist organization that advocates secession from the United States of America and the establishment of a fifteen-state Confederate States of America (CSA) – four states more than seceded during the US Civil War (1861–1865), the additional states being Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland (Southern Patriot). With over ten thousand members, the League professes a commitment to constructing this new CSA based on a reading of Christianity and the Bible that can be identified as “Christian nationalist.” This position is centred upon what we identify as the theological war thesis, an assessment that interprets the nineteenth-century CSA to be an orthodox Christian nation and understands the 1861–1865 US Civil War to have been a theological war over the future of American religiosity fought between devout Confederate and heretical Union states. In turn, this reasoning leads to claims that the “stars and bars” battle flag and other Confederate icons are Christian symbols and the assertion that opposition to them equates to a rejection of Christianity.

The theological war thesis originated in the Southern Presbyterian Church of the mid-nineteenth century, its advocates including Robert Lewis Dabney (1820–1898), professor at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson’s army chaplain; James Henley Thornwell (1812–1862), President of South Carolina College, later professor at Columbia Theological Seminary; and Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818–1902), founding editor of the Southern Presbyterian Review, professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, and later pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. Following the Civil War, the Southern Presbyterian Church published biographies of and writings by Dabney, Thornwell, and Palmer. This work remained outside the more mainstream “Lost Cause” apologetics for the Confederacy (see Pollard; Osterweis, Romanticism and Myth; Gallagher and Nolan). Thus, it comprised a marginal body of literature until Southern Agrarian Richard M. Weaver (1910–1963), Christian Reconstructionist Rousas John Rushdoony (1916–2001) and Presbyterian leader C. Gregg Singer (1910–1999) revived interest in these writings after World War II. Subsequently, Sprinkle Publications of Harrisonburg, Virginia, reprinted texts by Southern Presbyterian clergymen dating from the Civil War and postbellum period and academic historians, such as Eugene Genovese, reappraised these works in the 1980s and 1990s.

Utilizing original publications by nineteenth-century Presbyterians and Internet postings by the League of the South as the resources for our analysis, our explication will examine the roots and development of the theological war thesis. We argue that the theological war thesis originated in texts by theologians who between them contended that the Confederacy comprised an orthodox Christian nation, at times intertwining this religious viewpoint with, amongst other things, defences of slavery, denunciations of public education and mass schooling, and proposals to maintain a hierarchical and unequal society. There is not space to examine every publication in this chronology and tradition, although as other authors have pointed out, interpretations of Christianity and its connection to the Civil War and Biblical justifications for slavery are numerous (see inter alia Stanton; H. Smith; Wilson; Webster; Webster and Leib, “Whose South”and “Political Culture” ; Harrill; Genovese, Slavery, “James Thornwell,” Slaveholders’ Dilemma, Southern Tradition, ”Marxism,” “Religion,” “Consuming Fire”; Farmer; Fox-Genovese and Genovese, Religious Ideals, “Divine Sanction,” “Social Thought”; Miller, et al.).

Tracing the theological war thesis from its origins to the turn of the twenty-first century, we show how the belief that the Confederacy was an orthodox Christian nation has gained increasing circulation and acceptance. Once a marginal revisionist reading of the Civil War, we contend that groups as diverse as the Sons of Confederate Veterans heritage organization, Christian Reconstructionist bodies such as the Chalcedon Foundation, and the League of the South now generally accept the theological war thesis. Reaching a broad audience at conferences, through publications and on web sites, one of the League’s founding directors, Steven Wilkins, continues to develop theological interpretations of the Civil War. Operating within this historical trajectory, therefore, the League of the South has utilized the theological war thesis to promote a Christian nationalist commitment to constructing a new Confederate States of America.

Interpretations of Christianity by the far right in the United States are numerous (e.g. Trelease; Chalmers; Wade; Barkun; D.H. Bennett; Bushart et al.), but the Christian nationalism of the neo-Confederate movement in general, and the League of the South in particular, have been little studied. Similarly, recent assessment of Confederate flag disputes has noted the League’s presence but does not examine its wider theoretical, political, and religious worldviews (e.g. Webster; Webster and Leib, “Whose South” and “Political Culture”; Leib, “Heritage versus Hate” and “Teaching Controversial Topics”). Therefore, in this article we explore how the message currently promoted by the League of the South revives mid-nineteenth-century Confederate writings that understood the US Civil War to be a theological war between Northern heresy and Southern orthodox Christianity.

The League of the South

The League of the South was founded on June 25, 1994 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and held its first national convention in Charleston, South Carolina five months later (Sebesta 55–84; “Southern League News”; Hodges). By 2000, the League counted over 9000 members, having ninety-six chapters in twenty states (Southern Poverty Law Center). In March 2000, police estimated between 2000 and 3000 participants at the group’s “Declaration of Cultural Independence” rally in Montgomery, Alabama (Hall and Roston; Reevers). In addition to its “Dixienet” web site (see McPherson), the League supports the political action web sites Free Alabama and Free Mississippi, and administers an Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History. The League publishes a bimonthly newsletter, Southern Patriot, and distributes numerous video and audio cassettes about the history and development of the United States. Members participate in lectures, conferences, summer schools, and an annual convention. Concisely summarizing some of the organization’s key beliefs on its Dixienet web site, the League’s president since its foundation, Michael Hill, recently stated:

Why do the left-liberals rage against the ‘traitorous’ South and its traditional culture and symbols? The stock answer has been because all that the South stands for – orthodox Christianity, honor, hierarchy, loyalty to place and kin, patriarchy, and respect for the rule of law – represents an obstacle to the left-liberals’ lust for power. This is a correct assessment, but it is only one side of the coin …. The treason of the Left involves such unconstitutional and immoral enormities as globalism – the selling-out of American national sovereignty to international agencies and interests; radical egalitarianism; feminism; sodomite rights; abortion; Third-World immigration; gun control; hate crime legislation (always meant to be used against whites); judicial tyranny; burdensome taxation; multiculturalism and diversity (code words for anti-white, anti-Christian bigotry); the universal rights of man; and other manifestations of a new brand of politically-correct totalitarianism. (Treason n. pag.)

Although not initially defining itself as a religious movement, from the outset the League of the South postulated the idea of an orthodox Christian South. Its manifesto pledges to “Defend the historic Christianity of the South,” advocating the creation of an orthodox Christian nation-state (Hill, “Christian Southerners”; Murphy). In his essay “Christian Southerners,” Michael Hill declares that since its inauguration the League has pushed for “the establishment of a republic based on the Christian principles of our Confederate ancestors” (1). Further, Hill argues that Christianity was as central to the Confederacy during the Civil War as “Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and Davis” (1). Claiming to continue this Confederate tradition, Hill states that his organization represents “true Southerners” who comprise an “Orthodox Christian” people (“Montgomery” 20). The League thus characterizes its present struggle for Southern independence as a confrontation between Southern Christian principles, which they themselves represent, and anti-Christian positions argued to be those of the United States mainstream (Hill, “Montgomery” 20). The League instructs its members that the Civil War was a theological war between the Christian South and the heretical North that resulted from a wider ongoing American national conflict between orthodox Christianity and heresy that continues to this day (see Wilkins, Theology; Woods, Copperheads). Hill identifies Confederate heroes as “uncompromising defenders of the orthodox Christian faith,” and interprets the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of Christianity and Western civilization (“Christian Southerners” 1, “Real Symbolism”). Opposition to the Confederate States of America is thus interpreted as a rejection of Christianity, a stance reiterated by Hill, who explains: “we intend, God willing, to advance the traditions of the Christian South against the secularising and globalising trends of the modern age” (“What a Way” 2). The cause of the Confederacy is both reconfirmed and maintained by the League of the South as a strategy to secure Christianity in the United States against perceived current threats.

The position promoted by the League of the South at the turn of the twenty-first century that the South is a Christian nation under threat is not new. Many of these sentiments originated in the mid-nineteenth century and, in the following section, we review some of these historical precedents.

James Henley Thornwell, Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Robert Lewis Dabney and the Origins of the Theological War Thesis

During and after the US Civil War, several prominent Southern clergymen defined the conflict and political debate with abolitionists as a theological struggle between Christian orthodoxy and anti-Christian forces, the former comprising the Confederacy, the latter referring to the Union. Many clergymen in the South supported secession, delivering sermons and producing pamphlets championing the Confederacy (Snay; Wakelyn; Fox-Genovese and Genovese, “Social Thought”). Within the clergy, however, historians Simkins and Roland argue that it was members of the Presbyterian denomination who were widely considered to be “the intellectual elite among Southern churchmen” (158). Presbyterian chaplains including South Carolina Theological Seminary Professor James Henley Thornwell, New Orleans Presbyterian minister Benjamin Morgan Palmer and Confederate pastor Robert Lewis Dabney engaged in reviews of the Civil War from a theological perspective. Often published by the presses of the Presbyterian Church, a body of literature developed that asserted the Civil War had been an attack on a Christian South by heretical and atheistic forces of the North. Some contemporaries in the Presbyterian Church condemned this position. For example, Robert Livingston Stanton (1810–1885), Professor in the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Danville, Kentucky at the time of the Civil War, states Thornwell gave “eloquent voice to the cause of treason” and that Palmer also was articulate in his support for slavery, secession and, thus, “treason” (161, 171). Others, in contrast, supported the stances taken by Presbyterian leaders like Thornwell and Palmer, such as Frederick A. Ross (1796–1883), a Presbyterian minister in Tennessee and Alabama for over fifty years (Ross n.pag.; Rogers 112–124).

Texts by Thornwell and Palmer, many of which have recently regained scholarly attention (see, inter alia, Genovese; Farmer), are amongst those that became key elements in the theorization of a Christian Confederate nation and the theological war thesis. Between 1871 and 1873 the Presbyterian Committee published the complete works of James Henley Thornwell and in 1875 a secular press distributed Benjamin Morgan Palmer’s biography of Thornwell (Thornwell; Palmer). In turn, Johnson’s biography of Palmer reproduced the New Orleans chaplain’s 29 November 1860 Thanksgiving sermon, given in Louisiana three weeks before South Carolina became the first state to secede. Here Palmer argued that slavery “has fashioned our modes of life, and determined all our habits of thought and feeling, and moulded the very type of our civilization” and further explained that it was a religious duty to “defend the cause of God and religion” and, in particular, “to conserve and to perpetuate the institution of domestic slavery” (qtd. in Johnson, Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer 209–210). Condemned by Robert Livingston Stanton as being “steeped in sin, guilt, and crime” for its exhortation of secession to maintain slavery, Palmer’s sermon subsequently became a central text of the theological war thesis (169).

Many contemporaries of Thornwell and Palmer sought to assert that the Confederate soldier was more pious than his Union counterpart. For example, Confederate chaplain William W. Bennett explained in 1876 that the Confederate soldiers he observed were Christians and contrasted Bible-reading Confederate troops with card-playing Union soldiers. Further, Bennett noted that the “religious sentiments” of Confederate supporters were “deep and strong” and that amongst the troops, “there have been fewer departures from the great cardinal doctrines of the Scriptures than among any other people in Christendom” (23). Both Bennett and another Confederate chaplain J. William Jones who served under Robert E. Lee, composed catalogues detailing a revival of Christianity throughout the Confederate army. Although these texts do not advocate that theology was the main issue of the war, they became important sources of evidence for subsequent authors to maintain that in contrast to the Union, the Confederate States comprised a nation of Christians.

Arguably the most significant early advocate of a theological perspective of the Civil War was Robert Lewis Dabney, who has been described by Simkins and Roland as a clergyman who, “[f]or three decades after the fall of the Confederacy in lectures and in books … energetically expounded the dogma that … the Civil War was a Christian struggle of a justified South against a wicked North” (405). In 1865 Dabney published The Life and Campaigns of Lieut. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson), in which he argued for secession, states’ rights and described some Civil War campaigns. The primary purpose of this text was to extol Jackson as a Confederate hero and an extremely pious Presbyterian Christian soldier. Soon after, Dabney wrote on the theological meaning of the Civil War in A Defense of Virginia and Through Her of the South. Utilizing Biblical passages to defend slavery and refute abolitionist arguments, he claimed that slavery was a necessary good for what he called the “depraved” lower classes. Dabney asserted in support for Confederate secession that “it is only the relation of domestic slavery as authorized by God, that we defend” (Defense 99). Further denouncing abolitionism as “infidel” and “anti-scriptural,” Dabney believed that the Bible legitimated slavery, and thus opposition to slavery was tantamount to rejecting Christianity (Defense 22; see also H. Smith).

Shortly before his death in 1898, Dabney’s works were collected into four volumes and published by the Presbyterian Committee of Richmond, Virginia. Throughout his work, the minister condemned human equality and women’s rights as leading to the destruction of the family and, thereafter, of society. Dabney also attacked the immorality of Union soldiers in the Civil War, opposed public schooling (especially of African-Americans) and honoured Confederate leaders, justifying all his positions by Biblical interpretation. In the essays “Geology and the Bible” and “A Caution Against Anti-Christian Science,” for example, Dabney challenged that modern science and development of the theory of evolution were “anti-theological” and that amongst future generations this would result in “a nascent contempt for their father’s Bibles” and irreparably damage the South’s “Christian households” (“Caution” 118, 122). He further contended that governments were legitimate only if they derived from the will of God (“Civic Ethics” 303–305). Dabney wrote prolifically, regularly commenting on philosophical and theological topics and was consistently, and virulently, hostile towards African-Americans. If allowed social equality in the South, Dabney argued, African-Americans would “mix the blood of the heroes of Manassas with this vile stream from the fens of Africa” which would weaken the genealogical purity of Confederate blood and thus reduce the once heroic Virginians to a position of servility (Defense 353). Subject of a biography in 1903 (Johnson), by the end of his life, Simkins and Roland assert, Dabney was afforded “[l]ittle attention” by his contemporaries, being an advocate of archaic conceptualizations of “chivalry and religious conservatism” (7).

Restricted largely to Southern Presbyterian venues, this “theological war” literature was less significant in popular politics than more general Lost Cause apologetics (e.g. Pollard). Yet, since the mid-1960s conservative scholars and activists, at times operating within religious circles, have re-evaluated and republished these marginal writings. Indeed, in a recent preface to Dabney’s The Practical Philosophy, Douglas F. Kelley, Professor of Theology at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, identifies the nineteenth-century theologian as a “prophet [who] foresaw the life and death struggle that would take place between secular totalitarianism and Christian liberty in America in the latter part of the twentieth century” (n. pag.). As the comment by Kelley suggests, a trajectory from Southern Presbyterian conservative authors such as Dabney to others writing in the late twentieth century can be ascertained and it is to this, therefore, that we now turn.

Richard M. Weaver, C. Gregg Singer, Rousas John Rushdoony and the Revival of the Theological Civil War in the 1940s–1960s

Dabney and the other Southern Presbyterians were largely forgotten as the twentieth century progressed and an industrial “New South” developed. Following the 1925 Scopes Trial and the 1929 Wall Street Crash, however, scholars began to question the viability of the South’s cultural and economic position and many looked to alternative models of Southern society. King argues that an “anti-New South spirit” pervaded intellectuals including John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Donald Davidson, and Robert Penn Warren who felt that attacks on Southern religiosity during the 1925 trial over the teaching of theories of evolution in public schools were unjustified (53). One result was publication of the symposium I’ll Take My Stand in 1930 by this reactionary group who became known as “Southern Agrarians” (King). In this text, contributors looked back to and defended conservative traditions of the South. Their initial essay, “A Statement of Principles,” argues that “[r]eligion can hardly expect to flourish in an industrial society” because religious faith involves submission to God’s creation of nature and industrialization simplifies nature, turning it into commodities and rendering it artificial (xxiv). To the Southern Agrarians, the regeneration of a religious South mandated a rolling back of the industrialization that occurred in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Although not a contributor to this volume, Richard M. Weaver (1910–1963) is associated with the Southern Agrarians because he espoused a conservative philosophy, anti-Modernism, and was connected to leaders of the movement such as Ransom and Davidson while at Vanderbilt University (Kreyling; Malvasi, Unregenerate South). In particular, Weaver’s posthumously published work focused on the South, constructing it as a pious agrarian region standing in opposition and contradiction to a modern industrial North (e.g. Southern Tradition at Bay, Southern Essays).

In 1943 Weaver outlined his contention that the Civil War was a clash between an orthodox Christian South and a heretical North, asserting that

Southern people reached the eve of the Civil War one of the few religious people left in the Western World. Into the strange personnel of the Confederate Army … poured fighting bishops and prayer-holding generals, and through it swept waves of intense religious enthusiasm long lost to history. (“Older” 248)

Weaver further explained that the Confederate military was a Christian army, claiming that, “Confederate captains not only were conscious of being the standard bearers of chivalry; they also regarded themselves as distinctly a Christian soldiery” (Southern Tradition at Bay 208). Thus establishing that there was a theological dimension to the Civil War, and focusing on the Confederate army and “Southern people” as “distinctly … Christian,” Weaver’s work facilitated a revival of theological examinations of the Civil War and serves as a connection between the modern neo-Confederate movement and the Southern Agrarians of the 1930s (see Genovese, Southern Tradition; Malvasi, Unregenerate; Landess; Bradford, Remembering). Indeed, Kreyling identifies just such a trajectory extending from the Agrarians and Weaver to Michael Hill and the League of the South (178).

Following Weaver, others revisited the interpretation that the Civil War was a theological war. One of these was C. Gregg Singer (1910–1999), a professor at the Atlanta School of Biblical Studies in 1977 and, after 1987, at the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Singer, Theological; F.J. Smith 65). Writing during the Civil Rights era, Singer explicitly contended that the Civil War was a theological war between a Christian orthodox South and a Unitarian heretical North, stating that the

Southern Presbyterian Church saw [the US Civil War] as a humanistic revolt against Christianity and the world and life view of the Scriptures … Thornwell, Dabney, and their contemporaries … properly read abolitionism as a revolt against the biblical conception of society and a revolt against the doctrine of divine sovereignty in human affairs. (Theological 86–87)

As the leader of Concerned Presbyterians, Inc., a dissident faction that condemned heresy in the Southern Presbyterian Church, Singer played a prominent role in establishing the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) as a distinct denomination in the 1970s. Distancing the PCA from other Presbyterians in the United States, this organization envisaged itself as a successor to the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (PCCSA), a denomination that had also formed in response to perceived heresy. Positioning itself to be the legitimate inheritor of the PCCSA legacy and that of its leading theologian James Henley Thornwell, whose writing the PCA reprinted, the PCA drew a direct connection between their denomination and the PCCSA stating an intent to “follow the pattern of the Assembly of 1861” (Richards 227; Winter; F. Smith). Singer further claimed that the PCA continued a legacy dating beyond the PCCSA to “Old School” Presbyterian orthodoxy (“Story” 3–6).1

As Singer was working to establish the PCA and its historical connections, another religious leader was arguing for the Christian orthodoxy of the antebellum South. Rousas John Rushdoony (1916–2001), founder of the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965, initiated the Christian Reconstructionist movement in the United States that advocates the establishment of Biblical republics under the rule of God’s law or “theonomy.” The people who would administer these republics would be those whom Christian Reconstructionists considered to have correctly orthodox interpretations of Christianity and would, amongst other things, introduce capital punishment for myriad offences (Clarkson; M.R. Rushdoony). Rushdoony argued that the early American Republic was a decentralized Protestant feudal system and an orthodox Christian nation that was destroyed by the Civil War (Nature 4–6). Union victory, in Rushdoony’s interpretation, was a defeat for Christian orthodoxy and paved the way for the rise of an unorthodox Social Gospel in the postbellum United States. Elsewhere, Rushdoony has condemned public education and contended that the Civil War was not about slavery, but the consolidation and centralization of federal government power (This Independent Republic 71, 111). Rushdoony has also attacked the current US electoral system as giving too much influence to minority groups and argued that US society should have a civic order based on inequality and social division (Nature 13).

By the mid-1960s, therefore, Weaver, Singer, and Rushdoony had to varying degrees reasserted that the Confederate states fought to preserve orthodox Christianity in the face of Union abolitionism and that the Civil War was a theological war over the future direction of the United States. Publishing at the height of the struggle for Civil Rights in the United States, these authors argued that civil rights were anti-Christian, that inequality is God’s intended order, and they drew on Thornwell, Dabney, and their contemporaries to provide a historical and religious justification for this position. The role of these men in wider conservative and Christian Reconstructionist groups resulted in their proposals finding a broad audience amongst the religious right in the United States. Through these networks, advocates of “orthodox” Christianity began to converge with supporters of Confederate nationalism and as leaders of pro-Confederate and “orthodox” Christian organizations likely began to recognize that their mutual aims could unify supporters into larger, more active groups, the thesis of a theological war continued to widen its appeal.

Republishing Southern Presbyterian Confederate Writings in the 1970s

Describing the beginning of his publishing business to Byron Snapp in Southern Partisan, Lloyd Sprinkle explained that in 1975, following a conversation with a Presbyterian pastor who asked him for a copy of Robert Lewis Dabney’s Life and Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson, he decided to reprint titles that were long out of print. Selling 2000 copies of Dabney’s biography of Jackson within a year, and 30,000 by 1994, Sprinkle today continues to receive orders from throughout the United States and has since reprinted numerous other works by Confederate Southern Presbyterians including Thornwell and Palmer. Simultaneously, Banner of Truth Trust based in Edinburgh, Scotland and Carlisle, Pennsylvania also reissued many of these titles (see Appendix). Praising them in reviews, Rousas John Rushdoony recommended these reprinted editions in Chalcedon Foundation publications. For example, Rushdoony applauded Dabney’s defence of slavery and an anonymous reviewer of William W. Bennett’s Great Revival stated in Chalcedon Report that, “What is now needed is a historical study of the Christian efforts at reconstruction which men like Robert E. Lee, and countless other veterans, then began” (“Book Notices” n. pag.).

Rushdoony’s promotion of Sprinkle’s reprints brought them to the attention of the wider Christian Reconstructionist movement in the United States. The republication and promotion of these Southern Presbyterian Confederate works led to their discussion and review in magazine articles, books, audio cassettes, videotape sets, and other pro-Confederate theological and political venues. By the end of the 1970s, therefore, Sprinkle, Rushdoony and others had republished and reinterpreted the historical record and, based on the evidence of a few atypical nineteenth-century texts, claimed the 1861–1865 Confederate army to be populated by theologically driven Christian Reconstructionists fighting to preserve their orthodox Christian nation against heretical Union troops. Subsequently, the higher profile of these nineteenth-century authors, particularly James Henley Thornwell, attracted academic attention.

Towards a Theological Metaphysics of the Confederacy: Academic Writings in the 1980s and 1990s

In a Southern Partisan interview in 1985, the prominent American historian Eugene Genovese announced that his research was increasingly focused on religion in the Old South. Proposing some of the ideas that would occur in subsequent publications, Genovese drew upon conservative scholars such as Weaver to argue, “the Old South should be understood fundamentally as a religious society” in which “the defense of slavery was religiously grounded” (“Partisan Conversation” 37–38). Starting with a reappraisal of Thornwell, Genovese contended that “Thornwell’s defense of slavery may be seen as an extended footnote to his defense of Christian orthodoxy” and thus must be seen as part of a wider theological perspective and understanding of the South and the Civil War (Foreword ix). Presenting Thornwell to readers in a review of “[t]he God-fearing, Bible reading, hymn-singing Confederate army,” Genovese assesses Southern conservative thought in which “a straight line runs from him [Thornwell] to the Agrarians” (“James Thornwell” 17, 21).

Previous academic assessment of Confederate Presbyterian theologians had been sporadic (see, inter alia, Bishop; Rogers; H. Smith), but Genovese’s intervention and James Oscar Farmer’s award-winning re-assessment of Thornwell’s The Metaphysical Confederacy, stimulated further re-examinations of such “formidable southern theologians” (Genovese “Marxism” 91, Slaveholders’ Dilemma, Southern Tradition, and Consuming Fire; Farmer; Freehling).2 Pertinent to these analyses were three major themes: the theological Civil War and contrast between orthodox Christian South and non-orthodox North; re-evaluations of modernity from the perspectives of Thornwell and his contemporaries; and, complaint about the neglect of Southern intellectual history. To give a brief example of each, Genovese asserts the centrality of Christian orthodoxy in the antebellum period, suggesting that the consequence was inevitable political division between Union and Confederacy:

The political ramifications of southern Christian theology were enormous. For at the very moment that the northern churches were embracing theological liberalism and abandoning the Word for a Spirit increasingly reduced to personal subjectivity, the southern churches were holding the line for Christian orthodoxy. (“Marxism” 92)

In turn, Farmer suggests that today’s Americans with their “collective anxieties about the kind of civilization we have created” can admire the Old South (3). Further, for Genovese, Farmer’s assessment of Thornwell, “clears away a great deal of the rubbish that has long distorted the writing of southern history… put[ting] to rest the bias and silliness that declare the intellectual history of the Old South inferior to that of the North” (Foreword vii). Alongside advocating a theological basis for the Civil War, Genovese’s recent analyses imply that this conflict continues to have relevance to late-twentieth-century society (see, for example, “Religion”). Pre-empting criticism of this suggestion as being continued anti-Southern bias in US historical scholarship, Genovese asserts that Presbyterian thinkers such as Thornwell and Palmer who tried to balance demands for progress with orthodox Christianity and a hierarchical social order dominate the Southern intellectual tradition (see Slaveholders’ Dilemma and Southern Tradition). Extending his “straight line” of Southern thought to the late twentieth century, Genovese identifies conservative historians including M.E. Bradford, John Shelton Reed, and Clyde Wilson, a League of the South director, as intellectual inheritors of and successors to “the Southern Tradition,” as are publications Southern Partisan and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, the latter edited by another League of the South director, Thomas Fleming (see Genovese’s Southern Tradition and Southern Front).

Arguing that Marxism fails to adequately address religious interpretations of history and that Marx misrepresented the Civil War and the South, Genovese becomes more explicit in his acceptance of the theological war thesis, stating that although “it remains commonplace to assume that no honest Christian could be a slaveholder, much less regard slavery as a divinely sanctioned institution,” nineteenth-century Southern slave-owners were Christians who believed slavery was Biblically acceptable and thus the abolitionist declaration that slavery was a sin, “was a call to holy war” (“Religion” 74–75; “Marxism”). As a result of such differing theological interpretations of the sinfulness of slavery, argues Genovese, “southerners and northerners were emerging as separate peoples,” a division that induced the Civil War (“Religion” 75). Genovese proceeds to appraise the theological Civil War thesis, repeating that the North was succumbing to heresy while the South retained orthodox Christianity. Quoting Thornwell’s assertion that rather than abolitionists opposing slaveholders during the Civil War the major division was radicals against Christians, a quotation repeated in Southern Partisan in 1996 (see below), Genovese concludes with a theological interpretation of the Civil War as a “holy war” because “northerners and southerners … disagreed on the essentials of Christian doctrine and morality” and, as a result, “held incompatible visions of … social relations” (“Religion” 84). Indeed, Genovese suggests Thornwell and his contemporaries may have been correct in their interpretation of US society:

The free market, especially the market in labor power, with its radical individualism and rejection of all forms of slavery, provided the northern counterpart to the Abramic household envisioned by proslavery southerners. Soon enough, the Confederacy did in fact face the wrath of God, or at least the wrath of the Yankees, but we may wonder if Thornwell, Palmer, Pierce, and other southerners who pushed for an official Christian Confederacy did not have the last grim laugh. For they had warned that if the Union, based on free labor, the marketplace, and radical democracy, prevailed the ground would be cut from under the churches – that, inexorably, political and social democracy would generate overwhelming pressures for ecclesiastical democracy and, through it, for theological liberalism and eventual unbelief. Southerners insisted that the dissolution of the family, the collapse of social order, and the repudiation of any concept of legitimate authority must inexorably proceed in step with the eclipse of Christian orthodoxy, which could be sustained only by organic social relations. We may breathe a sigh of relief at the defeat of their proslavery cause. But from our vantage point of our own day, can we, in all honesty, pretend that they had not in fact read the sign of the times? (“Religion” 82)

In this and in his other work on the topic, which there is not space here to review fully, Genovese infers the existence of an antebellum orthodox Christian South and seeks to explore how white elites theologically interpreted slavery and defeat of the Confederacy. Futher, Genovese notes that he must “bypass the black religious experience” despite its “considerable impact” on such questions (“Religion” 84). In the past fifteen years, therefore, Genovese and Farmer, amongst others, appraise theological interpretations of Southern history and have arguably rehabilitated proslavery Christian theologians of the mid-nineteenth century. Their central focus on Thornwell is advantageous as, having died in 1862, he did not leave a postbellum legacy of vividly racist writings as Dabney and Palmer did (Haynes). Consequently, we suggest that bringing the ideas of Thornwell and, to a lesser extent, Palmer and Dabney, into mainstream historical venues implies scholarly sanction of the theological war thesis.

The Theological War in the 1990s: Steven Wilkins and the League of the South

In the last quarter of the twentieth century the theological war thesis and its associated advocacy of a Confederate Christian Southern nationalism found its appeal growing not only within academic discussion, but also in Confederate heritage venues such as Southern Partisan magazine and conservative religious publications such as Chalcedon Report. Since its interview with Genovese and publication of his interpretations of Thornwell’s thought in the mid-1980s, Southern Partisan regularly outlined the theological Civil War and orthodox Christian South theses. For example, a 1991 essay by the prominent conservative historian and pioneer of the current neo-Confederate movement, M.E. Bradford, portrayed the Confederate military as a Christian army and their enemies as heretics. Bradford explained: “in defeat and in the bondage of enemy occupation, Southerners could think of themselves as people called out to a special witness, a righteous nation surviving in the midst of modernity, sealed forever in its covenant by defeat and freedom from the besetting ambitions of the victorious, progressive North” (Theology 25). Indeed, such became the prominence of theological interpretations of the Civil War within neo-Confederate circles that League of the South member and professor of History at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, Mark Malvasi recently argued that the contention that the antebellum South was an orthodox Christian nation is “axiomatic,” before proceeding to maintain that current US society is failing due to a lack of Christian faith (Christianity 30).

Replicating these arguments, Christian Reconstructionist authors such as Joseph C. Morecraft, have drawn upon nineteenth-century Southern Presbyterian sources and others reviewed above, particularly Dabney and Weaver, to promote the theological war thesis and maintain that during the Civil War a heretical North attacked a Christian South (Morecraft “Maddest,” “Dabney”). Such an opinion marks a significant shift in the editorial position of the Chalcedon Report. In a 1996 issue devoted to the Civil War, the Chalcedon Foundation balanced articles that promoted neo-Confederate viewpoints, including comment by League of the South director Steven Wilkins, with those opposing them. Five years later, following a series of articles solely supportive of neo-Confederate perspectives, Steven Wilkins castigated Barry Anderson, a dissenter who criticized the presence of neo-Confederate essays in Chalcedon Report. Wilkins joked that Anderson was unable to think clearly, perhaps after “being trapped in a mob of half-crazed females at the shopping mall” (Anderson and Wilkins 26). Recent support by the Chalcedon Foundation for the League of the South’s Christian nationalism is also evident in the fact that it recently posted the League’s March 2000 “Declaration of Southern Cultural Independence” on its web site. In this Declaration, Steven Wilkins and his colleagues state:

The national culture of the United States is violent and profane, coarse and rude, cynical and deviant, and repugnant to the Southern people and to every people with authentic Christian sensibilities.… they have called good evil and evil good; they have everywhere substituted the opinions of men for the decrees of God. (4)

Collaboration between the Christian Reconstructionist movement and the League of the South has also increased, evidencing a growing overlap in the historical, political and theological perspectives of participants in both organizations. This indicates a conflation of conservative, neo-Confederate and Christian nationalisms into a potent reinterpretation of United States history, one centred upon the thesis that the Confederate states were a bastion of orthodox Christianity standing in the face of the heretical Union states. For example, Otto Scott, a regular contributor to both Chalcedon Report and Southern Partisan, has argued that civil rights and anti-apartheid activists detrimentally re-enact abolitionist policies and that nineteenth-century Transcendentalism was a heretical philosophy followed by the Union during the Civil War (see “Transcendentalism,” “Heresy,” Lifeboat, Secret). Such opinions enabled Scott to speak at the League of the South’s second annual National Conference (held 2–3 June 1995) and co-produce video sets outlining neo-Confederate political, theological and historical interpretations of the Civil War with League of the South directors Steven Wilkins and Clyde Wilson.

In addition to his role as a director of the League of the South, Steven Wilkins is arguably the most prominent member of the current neo-Confederate clergy. A member of the PCA, and resident instructor at the R.L. Dabney Center for Theological Studies based in Monroe, Louisiana, Wilkins writes for almost all the religious publications and groups that advance neo-Confederate and Christian nationalist ideas, interpreting the historical development of the United States as following a heretical trajectory that culminated in the defeat of the Christian Confederate states in the Civil War. Wilkins asserts, in a manner reminiscent of Genovese’s assessment, that the cause of the Civil War was theological incompatibility between North and South, the former having “rejected Biblical Calvinism” (Wilkins, America 142). “[T]he War Between the States,” Wilkins contends, was “a true revolution. The foundations of western culture were being broken up and overthrown … Their purpose was not merely to destroy slavery … but to destroy Southern culture” (“Southern Culture” pt. I, 11). Wilkins continues, claiming, “There was radical hatred of Scripture and the old theology [and] Northern radicals were trying to throw off this Biblical culture and turn the country in a different direction” (“Southern Culture” pt. I, 11). The ultimate result of the Civil War, concludes Wilkins, was a Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution (ratified 1868) that trampled States’ rights and created an overly powerful and unconstitutional Federal government because it gave citizenship to freed slaves and guaranteed that Federal rather than State government protected the rights of all citizens (America 150). Elsewhere, Wilkins has defended slavery and the discriminatory Reconstruction era “Black Codes” of Southern states (e.g., America 136–137, 148). Writing with Douglas Wilson, Wilkins has claimed that “the Word of God” and Biblical Christian orthodoxy are currently threatened by feminism, gay and lesbian rights, and legalized abortion (11). To shield Christianity from these perceived threats, Wilkins and Wilson utilize a theological analysis that leads them to simultaneously build an argument that defends slavery as Biblically justified. In turn, Wilkins has maintained that, “The War Between the States was a war between two different world views: The old way of Biblical Constitutionalism and the ‘new’ way of Humanistic Centralism” and, therefore, slavery was a mere “pretext” used by the Union to force the South into “political subjugation and economic destruction” (America 138).

Wilkins also writes for the Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, recently reassessing Dabney’s works, arguing that Confederate leaders are ideal role models of Christian masculinity, and reiterating the theological war thesis (e.g. “Dabney’s ‘Defense of Virginia’”and Character). Lamenting that the modern Southerner is failing the South and Christianity because “things which once marked the South are no longer present,” Wilkins decries:

[t]he erosion of Biblical Christianity that has occurred over the last century has left the South a bare shadow of its former self. Many Southerners are now realizing what has been lost in cultural terms but fail to realize the true cause for this loss. It has not been caused by the opposition of the liberals … It has been caused by the rejection of the historic Christian Faith of the Reformation. (Christianity 13)

The solution to this lack of orthodox Christian faith, for Wilkins, is that residents of the South recover their religious tradition and reinstate this in a revived Confederate States of America. Indeed, Wilkins is optimistic about this proposal, perhaps signaling the growing popularity and power of neo-Confederate and Christian orthodox movements at the end of the twentieth century:

Until only a few years ago, it looked as if the vision of the fathers of this nation had died out completely and the legacy of reconstruction would be our nation’s epitaph. Today, there are hopeful signs that God’s people are waking up to the call of restoring true liberty in Christ to this nation and all its institutions. (America 150)

In the 1990s, therefore, through increased collaboration between Confederate heritage and Christian Reconstructionist groups, many of which counted the same people as members, the theological war thesis became a standard position in the mainstream Confederate nationalist movement which centred upon the League of the South following its formation in 1994. Consequently, the League of the South became active in debates over the locations of Confederate flags in the late 1990s. One of the bitterest contests occurred at the South Carolina Capitol (Webster and Leib 271–299). On 11 December 1996 at a South Carolina meeting of Christian ministers, Baptist Bobby Eubank spoke in support of the Confederate flag’s position above the state’s Capitol (“Baptist Convention” 5). Subsequently published as a paper titled, “The Moral Defense of the Confederate Flag: A Special Message for South Carolina Christians,” the oration was distributed at religious meetings (Gaulden A1; Young B1). It was also reprinted in Southern Partisan where the authors were described as “Fifteen Ministers” – a deliberate evocation of the 1863 address by ninety-six ministers of the Confederate States giving their reasons for supporting the Confederacy and titled, “An Address to Christians throughout the World” (see Fifteen Ministers; and Stanton).3 Southern Partisan heralded the opinions of the Fifteen Ministers as a call “for a return to orthodoxy and an understanding of the cause for which Confederate Christians fought,” urging readers to, “find out how you can help in this crusade” (1).

The Fifteen Ministers summarize the major points of the theological war thesis, arguing for a Confederate Christian nation. They identify nineteenth-century Confederate leaders and troops as being Christian leaders and a Christian army, before asserting that the culture of Bible belt and religious conservatism in the South stem directly from the Christianity of the Confederate army. The Fifteen Ministers also demand that the Confederate battle flag be recognized as a Christian symbol, namely the Cross of St. Andrew (see also Slimp 12; Jennings). Quoting James Henley Thornwell, the Fifteen Ministers reassert that the Civil War was between Confederate Christianity, namely “the friends of order and regulated freedom” and Union “atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, Jacobins” (qtd. in Fifteen Ministers 18). Soon after, League of the South member Thomas E. Woods published a detailed account of the theological Civil War argument in Southern Partisan. He asserted that the theological conflict is continuing today and that struggles against liberalism, big government and the New World Order comprise “Christendom’s Last Stand” (26).

These essays in the widely distributed magazine Southern Partisan mark a general acceptance of the theological war thesis amongst the Confederate heritage community. Indeed, such is the current prominence of the orthodox Christian Confederacy argument that the once less outspoken Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) recently reprised the theological war thesis in their publication, Confederate Veteran. Alister C. Anderson, SCV Chaplain-in-Chief, wrote a series of essays forwarding these ideas, arguing that defending Confederate symbols is akin to fighting the Devil and that “the Sons of Confederate Veterans … will not succeed in defending our Southern heritage until we as individuals submit to God’s authority and offer Him ourselves, our souls and bodies as living sacrifices for His providential plans” (“Chaplain’s Comments” vol. 4, 60).4 Continuing in a subsequent issue, Anderson further stated: “My brother compatriots I ask you to remember that we are soldiers in the Army of God and are organized along the military lines of our soldier ancestors” (“Chaplain’s Comments” vol. 6, 60). Succeeding Anderson as SCV Chaplain-in-Chief, John Weaver made national headlines when recounting his view that slavery is Biblically justified; also, his column in Confederate Veteran, quoting both Thornwell and Singer, has upheld the theological Civil War thesis and recently argued that “the Confederate flag represents biblical government” ( J. Weaver “Chaplain’s Comments” vol. 6, 64 and vol. 5; Firestone A14).

Conclusion: Confederate Christian Nationalist Theology and the League of the South

In this paper we have argued that the neo-Confederate nationalist organization the League of the South advocates a Christian nationalist position and proposes a revived Confederate States of America. Examining the League of the South’s rhetoric, in particular that by its president Michael Hill and director, Steven Wilkins, we have shown that this is founded upon the theological war thesis, an interpretation of the 1861–1865 US Civil War that understands the conflict to have been a struggle between the orthodox Christians of the Confederacy and the heretics of the Union. This belief originated within sections of the Presbyterian Church during the Civil War and the immediate postbellum period amongst some of its prominent clergymen including James Henley Thornwell, Benjamin Morgan Palmer and Robert Lewis Dabney. Largely marginalized, these ideas advocated that slavery was God-ordained and that opposition to slavery comprised, therefore, opposition to God.

Although some support for the theological war thesis was evident amongst Southern Agrarians such as Richard Weaver, it was during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s that C. Gregg Singer and Rousas John Rushdoony drew upon nineteenth-century Presbyterian precedents to again argue that the Civil War was a religious struggle. Academic reappraisal of the Presbyterian theologians, in particular Thornwell, followed in the 1980s and 1990s with the work of Eugene Genovese and James Oscar Farmer, Jr. With the theological war thesis gaining attention in both academic and Christian Reconstructionist venues, some proponents began to engage with those interested in Confederate heritage. One such individual was Steven Wilkins who restated the theological interpretation of the Civil War in numerous publications in the late 1980s and 1990s and became a founding director of the League of the South when the organization was inaugurated in 1994. By the turn of the twenty-first century, therefore, this once peripheral interpretation of the Civil War as a theological struggle between orthodox Christian Confederate states and heretical Union states has gained credibility and adherents, becoming intertwined with wider Confederate heritage and conservative Christian opinion. Consequently, groups as diverse as the Chalcedon Foundation, Sons of Confederate Veterans and, as we have concentrated upon here, the League of the South, now advocate that the US Civil War was a theological war.


We would like to thank Carrie Breitbach and the anonymous referees for their advice and comments.

1 The Presbyterian Church split in 1837 into “Old School” and “New School,” the more conservative and doctrinal “Old School” becoming most prominent in the South (see, inter alia, Genovese, “Religion”; F.J. Smith; Richards).

2 David Brion Davis’s 1995 review of Genovese’s recent assessments of the South in the New York Review of Books elicited a strong response from Genovese (see Kreyling). Farmer’s book about Thornwell won the Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History.

3 Writing during the Civil War, Stanton states this “Address” was signed by ninety-six ministers. The Fifteen Ministers, writing in 1996, state that ninety-eight ministers signed the 1863 “Address.”

4 Confederate Veteran publishes six issues each year. Each issue is listed as a volume (1–6). Thus the magazine currently numbers its editions vol. 4, 1999; vol. 6, 1999, etc. No months are given as publication dates.

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Original publication date Author Title Date of Initial Reprint Publisher

1860 Benjamin Morgan Palmer The Theology of Prayer 1980 Sprinkle Publications

1875 Benjamin Morgan Palmer The Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell 1974 Banner of Truth Trust

1876 Benjamin Morgan Palmer & J. W. Alexander The Family in its Civil and Churchly Aspects 1981 Sprinkle Publications

1875 James Henley Thornwell The Collected Works of James Henley Thornwell (4 vols.) 1974 Banner of Truth Trust

1876 William W. Bennett A Narrative of the Great Revival which Prevailed in the Southern Armies 1989 Sprinkle Publications

1887 J. William Jones The Memorial Volume of Jefferson Davis 1993 Sprinkle Publications

1887 J. William Jones Christ in the Camp or Religion in the Confederate Army 1986 Sprinkle Publications

1906 J. William Jones The Life and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee 1986 Sprinkle Publications

1866 Robert Lewis Dabney The Life and Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson 1975 Sprinkle Publications

1867 Robert Lewis Dabney A Defense of Virginia and through her of the South 1991 Sprinkle Publications

1870 Robert Lewis Dabney Evangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures on Preaching 1999 Banner of Truth Trust

1871 Robert Lewis Dabney Systematic Theology 1996 Banner of Truth Trust

1890 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions Vol. 1 Theological and Evangelical 1982 Sprinkle Publications

1890 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions Vol. 1 Theological and Evangelical 1967 Banner of Truth Trust

1891 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions Vol. 2 Evangelical 1982 Sprinkle Publications

1891 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions Vol. 2 Evangelical 1982 Banner of Truth Trust

1892 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions

Vol. 3 Philosophical 1996 Sprinkle Publications

1892 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions

Vol. 3 Philosophical 1982 Banner of Truth Trust

1897 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions Vol. 4

Secular 1994 Sprinkle Publications

1897 Robert Lewis Dabney The Practical Philosophy 1984 Sprinkle Publications

1999 Robert Lewis Dabney Discussions

Vol. 5 Miscellaneous 1999 Sprinkle Publications

1898 Robert Lewis Dabney Christ Our Penal Substitute 1985 Sprinkle Publications

1898 Robert Lewis Dabney & Jonathan Dickinson The Five Points of Calvinism 1992 Sprinkle Publications

1903 Thomas Cary Johnson The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney 1977 Banner of Truth Trust

1906 Thomas Cary Johnson The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer 1987 Banner of Truth Trust

1867 Judith B. McGuire Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War 1996 Sprinkle Publications

1868 Alexander Stephens A Constitutional View of the War Between the States, its Causes, Character, Conduct and Results 1994 Sprinkle Publications

1888 Thomas Nelson Page Two Little Confederates 1994 Sprinkle Publications

1891 Thomas Nelson Page Among the Camps 1995 Sprinkle Publications

1891 Mary Anna Jackson The Life and Letters of Stonewall Jackson 1995 Sprinkle Publications

1893 Susan Pendleton Lee Memoirs of William Nelson Pendleton, Rector of Latimer Parish, Lexington, Virginia; Brigadier-General C.S.A., Chief of Artillery 1991 Sprinkle Publications

1895 Mary L. Williamson A Confederate Trilogy for Young Readers 1989 Sprinkle Publications

1895 Joseph T. Derry Story of the Confederate States 1996 Sprinkle Publications

1901 Charles L. C. Minor The Real Lincoln: From the Testimony of his Contemporaries 1992 Sprinkle Publications

1910 Randolph H. McKim A Soldier's Recollections: Leaves from the Diary of a Young Confederate 1996 Sprinkle Publications

1911 Henry Alexander White Southern Presbyterian Leaders 2000 Banner of Truth Trust