I have no wish to refight the Civil War for the umpteenth time, but in the course of working on a lesson plan for the NEH I encountered this fascinating document, a letter from Zebulon Vance, governor of North Carolina, which is relevant to some of our recent discussions. Writing to a friend in September 1864, as Sherman was smashing his way through Georgia, Vance drew the following conclusion:
The signs which discourage me more than aught else are the utter demoralization of the people. With a base of communication five hundred miles in Sherman’s rear, through our own country, not a bridge has been burned, not a car thrown from its track, nor a man shot by the people whose country he has desolated. They seem everywhere to submit when our armies are withdrawn. What does this show, my dear sir? It shows what I have always believed, that the great popular heart is not now, and never has been in this war. It was a revolution of the Politicians, not the People; and was fought at first by the natural enthusiasm of our young men, and has been kept going by State and sectional pride, assisted by that bitterness of feeling produced by the cruelties and brutalities of the enemy.