"Scott feels, she says, that we (Southerners) have courage...consummate horsemanship, and endurance of pain equal to the Indians, but that we will not submit to discipline...If it could all be done by one wild desperate dash, we would do it; but he does not think we can stand the long black months between the acts, the waiting~ We can bear pain without a murmur, but we will not submit to being bored...Even the high officers share these qualities: they have carried into the army the same disposition that has made the young men fight so many duels.. They mostly belong to the same social world, and they know each other too well. They are touchy and jealous of one another. If they don't like the way they are treated, they are apt to get angry and sulk, and to try to get themselves transferred..."
In the introduction Edmund Wilson says, "In this government, the fatal incapacity of the Southerners for agreeing or working together becomes even more apparent than in the conduct of the war itself. The passion for independence which with masters of a subject race so often takes the form of wrongheadedness, of self-assertion for its own sake, of tantrums, this self-will that has made an issue, and that is now making a cult of states' rights, is now provoking certain elements to rebel against the Confederacy itself...The great irony is that the recalcitrance of the Southerners against any sort of central control, which has led them to secede from the Union, is also--since they refuse to submit to the kind of governmental coercion that will enable the North to win--obstructing their success with the war...The big planters will not allow the government to interfere in any way with their Negroes, even to send them...to work on fortifications."
Self-will run riot. Slavery is the epitomy of that, men who used a race to unquestionably serve themselves. "The father, presiding at dinner, as 'absolute a tyrant as the Tsar of Russia,' with his constantly repeated axioms and his authoritarian tone..." The author, Mary Boykin Chestnut, a well-to-do Southern woman who rubbed elbows with the who's who of the South writes, "My very soul sickened," after seeing a girl sold at auction. "Men and women are punished when their masters and mistresses are brutes, not when they do wrong...God forbid us, but ours is a monstrous system, a wrong and an iniquity! Like the patriarchs of old, our men live all in one house with their wives and their concubines; and the mulattoes one sees in every family partly resemble the white children. Any lady is ready to tell you who is the father of all the mulatto children in everybody's household but her own." "I hate slavery...A magnate who runs a hideous black harem with its consequences under the same roof with his lovely white wife, and his beautiful and accomplished daughters. He holds his head as high and poses as the model of all human virtues to these" poor women...From the height of his awful majesty, he scolds and thunders at them as if he never did wrong in his life."
I have barely begun this edited down 547 page true "Diary from Dixie" but am struck by its bold truth already. This book definitely stirred the pot by a woman who told it all much like Harriet Beecher Stowe's book did for the North. War is horrid, but perhaps a civil war is the worst of all. Combine civil war with slavery, and evil is present. Blood had to be shed. Our church pulled away from Methodism to take a stand against slavery prior to the Civil War and became a part of the underground railroad. Sadly, slavery around the world and even in our own community exists. Sin.