Saturday, January 27, 2007

Neo-Confederate Fictions: Brilliant military leaders and patriotic Confederate nationals.

Neo-Confederates like to go on and on about their "Brilliant" military leaders. However, I would like to point out that the Confederate armies lost the war. Now, some might think that losing a war is a small technical detail in evaluating military competency, but I think that winning a war is a criteria that you could use to judge military commanders at war.

Now the cry of the Neo-Confederates has been that the Confederate armies were outnumbered. Being outnumbered is certainly no advantage. However, it isn't a insurmountable obstacle either. Alexander the Great, defeated Persian armies in battle many times the size of his army. The Swiss triumphed over the armies of the Austrians. The Dutch won against the Habsburgs. The Vietnamese won against the United States.

Prince Eugene de Savoy defeated armies much larger than his much to the chagrin of Louis XIV and others and is considered great.

Great military leaders overcome odds, that is where they get the reputation as being "great." Average military leaders meet the expectations set by the odds.

It seems that Robert E. Lee was rather clueless on the idea of fighting a defensive war and squandered the Confederacy's military resources in battle, when he could have just sat tight.

A lot is spoken and written about Gettysburg and Pickett's charge, and it being the "high water mark" of the Confederacy. This "high water mark" comment is a real sign of the lack of comprehension of what war is about. Was Moscow the "high water mark" of Napoleon's French Empire? But supposing Lee had won the battle of Gettysburg and the American armies retreated. What would be next? Well another battle with the American armies which he might lose or suffer further casualties. Or would he have to retreat back to Virginia before the American army trapped him in Pennsylvania and capture him and his army?

Patriotism in the Confederacy

Wars cost money. Loads of it, lots of it, vast quantities of it. The American government knew it and went to raise it through taxes. Congress added tariffs to provide the funding for American war bonds around the beginning of the war. Later the income tax was added. With this cash flow there could be credit. You can borrow money when you have an income.

The Confederate government didn't raise taxes. They decided to print money. You can print loads of paper money, lots of it, vast quantities of it. You can reset the plates and add a zero or zeros. However, it is very inflationary and you add zeros in a race against its depreciating value.

Taxes would have required the use of the Confederate currency to pay them so money put into circulation would come out, and an income from taxes would allow the issuing of bonds, to raise funds without printing money. However, with runaway inflation, you are not going to get anyone to purchase bonds, when they are going to be worthless.

Inflation doesn't fall evenly on the population. It hit people who are paid wages and have their wealth in savings and cash on hand. Landowners and slave owners would have their wealth without the burden of taxation.

There is an expression "Put your money where your mouth is." The Confederates, despite all their bluster and oratory and blather about honor, weren't going to dig into their pockets to pay taxes for the war.

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