27 thoughts on “The Confederacy: A Libertarian Perspective

  1. Mark August 18, 2013 / 8:08 pm

    I liked it, but the narrow moralism I could do without. We all know the various reasons why total emancipation wasn’t going to happen so I don’t know what good it does to say that would have been better. I don’t view Sherman’s march as an atrocity, and Jeff Davis suspended Habeas Corpus as well. The point isn’t “they did it too”, but that the idea of Libertarian war principles is somewhat problematic. But overall, I like his balanced perspective.

    • Rob Baker August 19, 2013 / 8:24 am

      What are “Libertarian War Principles?”

  2. SF Walker August 19, 2013 / 12:01 am

    Overall, I agree with his balanced perspective, but with the same reservations that Mark expressed. Sherman’s marches in Georgia and the Carolinas weren’t atrocities in themselves, though atrocities were committed during them. It’s interesting that Sherman, who won the war by destroying property, is hated much more in some quarters than generals like Grant, who killed enemy troops on the field by the thousands. If I could have shortened that war by wrecking railroads and burning crops behind enemy lines, I’d have done it without hesitation.

    One can only wonder what a Union war effort conducted by modern-day Libertarians might have looked like–assuming they’d have fought that war at all.

    • David Watson August 19, 2013 / 1:07 pm

      “If I could have shortened that war by wrecking railroads and burning crops behind enemy lines, I’d have done it without hesitation.”

      How about driving out the entire civilian population of a major city at the onset of winter and burning it to the ground (Atlanta)? Funny how you left that out.

      • neukomment August 19, 2013 / 5:45 pm

        Sigh… Here we go again… Uncle Billy did not burn Atlanta. The Confederates burned Atlanta to keep war stuff from coming into Union hands…….

      • Brooks D. Simpson August 19, 2013 / 7:44 pm

        Atlanta’s population was less than 10,000 in 1860. It ranked 99th among US urban areas.

        • David Watson August 20, 2013 / 5:07 am

          “At the outset of 1864, Atlanta has upwards of 20,000 Inhabitants, making it second in population among Confederate-held cities only to Richmond…”
          Decision in the West, Albert Castel, page 70

          Now, back to my original point – do you have an opinion as to the propriety of expelling the residents of any city, whether 200 or 20,000?

          • Brooks D. Simpson August 20, 2013 / 6:42 am

            No, your original point was that Atlanta was a major metropolitan center. It wasn’t.

            War is hell. Ask the residents of Chambersburg. Ask the victims of Fort Pillow. Ask why Hood used the residents of Atlanta as human shields.

            After all, it was a war instigated by people who wanted to protect the institution of enslaving fellow human beings: it’s interesting when those fond of Confederate heritage suddenly grow a conscience when it comes to the discomfort of white people and the destruction of buildings.

          • Rob Baker August 20, 2013 / 8:40 am

            Now, back to my original point – do you have an opinion as to the propriety of expelling the residents of any city, whether 200 or 20,000?

            I do. War, in itself, is immoral. So where is the line, and what does that line matter? Every person has the potential to be an enemy in combat, or industry. Evacuation of a city, better than a killing squad in a city. Regardless, If I, as a Commander, see that an industrial center is providing incredible amounts of supplies for the enemy, then I will be duty bound to expel it. For numerous reasons: 1, it decreases chances of prolonging war, which leads to lives saved in the long run; 2, cripple morale of the enemy combatants, the nation’s will to fight, and the war making abilities; and 3, it increases my troop and home front morale, as well as my nation’s resolve to win. This is war, this is something that was called for and advocated long before Sherman, and for both sides.

            Stonewall Jackson’s invasion plans:

            Not long after getting this command, Jackson proposed to use it to invade the North. He talked grandly about capturing and burning Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and moving all the way to Lake Erie to demonstrate to the North that it could be invaded as easily as it had invaded the South at Manassa.

          • Rob Baker August 20, 2013 / 8:50 am

            Sorry, for the typos. Typing in haste=never a good thing. Citation,

            Clint Johnson, In the Footsteps of Jackson. (p. 57-58)

        • David Watson August 20, 2013 / 5:28 am

          To quote from Sherman’s own memoirs regarding his Army’s departure from Atlanta on November 15, 1864:
          “Colonel Poe, United States Engineers, of my staff, had been busy in his special task of destruction. He had a large force at work, had leveled the great depot, round house, and the machine-shops of the Georgia Railroad, and had applied fire to the wreck. One of these machine-shops had been used by the rebels as an arsenal, and in it were stored piles of shot and shell, some of which proved to be loaded, and that night was made hideous by the bursting of shells, whose fragments came uncomfortably, near Judge Lyon’s house, in which I was quartered. The fire also reached the block of stores near the depot, and the heart of the city was in flames all night, but the fire did not reach the parts of Atlanta where the court-house was, or the great mass of dwelling houses.”

          (The fire in fact did spread to many dwellings and churches.)

          For an illustration:


          “Behind us lay Atlanta, smouldering and in ruins, the black smoke rising high in air, and
          hanging like a pall over the ruined city.”

          Now, we can argue about exactly how much of Atlanta burned in November, but there is no doubt it was burned on Sherman’s orders.

          Free advice: Next time, read a book before you post a smug, condescending, and incorrect response.

          • Brooks D. Simpson August 20, 2013 / 6:47 am

            So, you quote Sherman in quote of your contention, then say he was wrong. Interesting.

            It’s unclear why you’ve chosen the pose of condescending troll. The only thing I had posted was a statement as to Atlanta’s population in 1860. That was neither smug, condescending, nor incorrect. You managed all three, however, and have made claims for which you offer no support,

            Since you have a problem reading for content or in accurately rendering responses, I thank you for your participation. You may continue trolling elsewhere.

          • Jimmy Dick August 20, 2013 / 6:53 am

            The fire wasn’t set deliberately to destroy Atlanta. That was only one completing the destruction of usable facilities to prevent the Confederates from using them for purposes of continuing their illegal rebellion. The main fire was set by the Confederates and it is the one that resulted in the destruction of Atlanta.
            You are as do most heritage folks, trying to obscure the facts with a side argument that fails to sustain your main point.
            Had you used critical thinking, a skill that requires training to use your brain beyond a kneejerk reaction, you would have realized your statement was erroneous. Brooks was right and you are still wrong. So why don’t you go learn some history and forget the heritage stuff?

      • SF Walker August 20, 2013 / 2:52 am

        By supporting and encouraging the rebellion, those people chose their own destiny.

      • Michael Confoy August 20, 2013 / 1:05 pm

        What Sherman’s army did to that den of succession, Columbia, SC was even cooler and well deserved.

  3. TF Smith August 19, 2013 / 8:15 am

    They would have had an earnest group discussion and then all gotten high…

    All kidding aside, the “there were no heroes in this war” statement pretty much sums up this individual’s inability to asses human behavior in times of great danger and stress…

    Granted, it’s just trying to cover for Sen. Paul, but bottom line, libertarianism comes down to the “parlor pink” equivalent of anarchy.

    About the most one can say to that is “grow up”…

    • SF Walker August 19, 2013 / 10:39 am

      Exactly. For example, Lincoln had to use harsh measures such as suspending habeas corpus to ensure Washington, D.C.’s safety because the situation demanded it–Maryland was a slave state with active secessionists in its population. Davis’s crackdowns were done for similar reasons. The man in the video is viewing these actions apart from the context of the situation.

  4. Patrick Young August 19, 2013 / 8:22 am

    I don’t have a lot of experience with Libertarian admiration for the Confederacy beyond the Pauls but I do know that many Libertarians despise the 14th Amendment. I wonder if they read back from the 14th and decide that the root cause is Lincoln.

    • SF Walker August 19, 2013 / 10:47 am

      Libertarians come in many flavors, but certainly many of them seem to view the Confederacy as an exercise in self-determination and liberty, which is pretty simplistic—it hardly paints the whole picture. Their hatred of the 14th Amendment is curious indeed. I wasn’t aware of that.

    • Mark August 20, 2013 / 1:36 pm

      I am not a libertarian but am aware that many are avid supporters of the 14th Amendment, both the due process and privileges and immunity clauses (the latter of which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 1873). It was the first generation of progressives that disliked the 14th Amendment, in particular the due process clause, because in their view it unduly interfered with the ability of individual states to regulate.

  5. Ben Allen August 19, 2013 / 10:59 am

    Allow me to punch some holes into Jason Kuznicki’s argument:

    This libertarian obviously hasn’t read Noah Andre Trudeau’s excellent study of the March to the Sea. He intended only to destroy buildings that had been aiding the Confederate armies, or as form of reprisal against a hostile populace in accordance with the notion of collective responsibility—“a devastation more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility.” He also put limitations on foraging, but was resigned to the fact that his order was impossible to sufficiently enforce. Foragers were not allowed to take all the forage, but “to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.”

    As for the rampant inflation in the Confederacy, it was due to a lack of centralization that these libertarians support. Richmond was forbidden from levying internal taxes; and no one wanted to adopt any legal tender (it infringed on individual liberty, they argued), so all levels of governments printed their own currency, drowning the South in a sea of paper money and therefore inflation. In contrast, inflation in the North was kept at a healthy wartime level of 80 percent (the South’s was 9,000) in part of because of the Internal Revenue Act, with its “illegal” income tax, as well as the Legal Tender Act. Not only do libertarians make terrible historians, they make terrible economists as well.

    • TF Smith August 21, 2013 / 9:09 pm

      Cripes, he hasn’t read Marc Wortman’s “The Bonfire” which I found (of all places) in the airport bookstore at Hartsfield the last time I went through there.

      These people are way past the “moonlight and magnolias” stage of lunacy and into the realm of the Flat Earth Society…it’s like a cargo cult for them.

      Anyone have a reaction to this, in terms of “Southern Heritage”?

      They have another song, “Slave to the South” that is worth listening to…


    • Flamethrower August 24, 2013 / 11:05 am

      Would the Confederacy’s rampant inflation have anything to do with not being set well on the world market in accordance with Wall St. too?

  6. Bob Huddleston August 20, 2013 / 7:46 am

    I wonder what Jason and David think of Robert E. Lee ordering the burning of Richmond as he evacuated it in 1865. I guess *that* destruction is OK.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 20, 2013 / 8:07 am

      Well, if David thinks Sherman’s a war criminal, then he must also think Lee is a war criminal.

  7. Earl Cripe February 5, 2014 / 6:07 pm

    am curious why the damned yankee above, uses my last name for his cuss word?

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