Were Confederate mistakes papered over deliberately by the lost cause writers?


Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
The story is that the Confederates fought better, but were defeated by superior northern resources. Most posters here don't agree with that. Was the emphasis on how brilliant Lee was and so on developed to cover up for Confederate mistakes?

Many white southerners were angry after the Civil War, partly due to the casualties and economic losses. Some of that anger was directed toward Yankees and blacks. However, there was also anger towards planters, fire eaters, and the Confederate political leadership, particularly Davis. Many southerners were unhappy about losing the war, as well as many wondering why the war was started.

Most people in the south were aware of blunders in the war. Was part of the lost cause myth attempts the opposite of the truth, designed to make excuses for losing the war? Did later generations believe what was initially self-serving excuses?
May 2013
The answer is yes. Just stroll down Monument Avenue in Richmond where the leaders of the Confederacy are deified. Its hard to admit it was all in vain. Add to that the admitted snobbery of Virginians and you have the perfect cocktail. "We Virginians modestly admit our superiority to citizens of all other American states." Virginias Dabney (1901-1995)

[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_Avenue]Monument Avenue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]


The video takes you on a tour of the monuments traveling from west to east towards downtown. The cannon marks the second line of Richmond's defense network. The Arthur Ash Monument created a ruckus when it was put up.
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Jun 2014
The Army of Northern Virginia did lose a war of attrition; and it is also true that numbers had a great deal to do with it.

The Overland Campaign where the Army of Northern Virginia and Confederacy fell apart involved much higher union casualties in all of the major engagements.

General Pope's example shows what would have happened had Grant actually been inept; he was a great general but he did win via attrition.

According to the book Victor not Butcher, the National Park Service, and Battle Cry by McPherson Grant's army had very significantly higher casualties.

This was of course not how Grant intended to conduct his campaign, unfortunately Lee matched him too much to be easily outwitted as had Grant's opponents elsewhere.

What the lost cause did was wrongly try to paint everything with that brush; and create notable absences and omissions.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
Superior Union resources were probably necessary, but they were not sufficient. After the war, someone told Grant that he only won because of superior numbers, to which Grant replied that he understood several men had the opportunity before he did. A lot of Confederate military mistakes were ignored as opposed to deliberately papered over, but this was true during the war. The population was largely in the east, so the press on both sides focused on battles there, paying little attention to Union victories in the west. Lee's mistakes were sometimes ignored, but more often the Lost Cause shifted the blame to other men.

On the political front, Jefferson Davis became the focus for blame, and usually deserved it. The conditions of his imprisonment led to Davis being somewhat of a martyr, and 15 years later he wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Since Davis was incapable of admitting a mistake, justified his actions or blamed failure on things beyond his control.