Henry Steele Commager and Richard Morris note below the advantages held by the new American Confederacy in 1861, the most important of which was “that the South did not have to win on the field of battle in order to achieve independence, for it could afford to lose all the battles and all the campaigns and still triumph as long as it was prepared to settle simply for independence with no demands on the Union except the elementary one that it let the Sisters depart in peace.”
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Old World Nationalism of the South
“Nationalism has been a perennial theme in American historiography, but surprisingly enough historians have devoted but scant attention to the analysis of Southern nationalism. Yet the brief and tragic experiment of the Confederate States of America with nationalism provides a laboratory scarcely less interesting than that provided by the American States between 1774 and 1789.
Because historians are camp followers of victorious armies, most of them take for granted the triumph of the first American bid for nationalism and the failure of the Southern. Yet on the surface at least, the Old South of the fifties and sixties boasted more and more persuasive ingredients of national unity than had the American States in 1774.
For the South – and the Confederacy – had, among whites at least, far greater ethnic homogeneity than had the United States of the 1770s, for less than one percent of the population of the Confederate States was foreign born. It acknowledged a greater degree of religious unity than could be found in the original States – for outside Maryland and Louisiana the whole of the Southern population was not only Protestant but evangelical.
By modern standards it confessed pronounced class differences, but by its own standards it could boast that it was a classless society, for all whites could claim membership in an upper class: here was a principle of social philosophy which speedily took on the authority of a moral and a religious principle and provided the South with one of the most powerful of all the forces making for national unity – a common ideology.
Nor, for all its inferiority in population and resources, was the Confederacy without military advantages: a territory more extensive than any which had ever been conquered in the whole of modern history; interior lines of communication; a long military tradition and superior military leaders; and a not unreasonable expectation of a foreign intervention which could rescue the South as French and Dutch intervention had rescued the new United States during the Revolutionary war.”
(The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865, Emory M. Thomas, Commager/Morris, editors, Harper & Row, 1979, excerpt, pp. xi-xii)