Civil War Arithmetic

As many students of the American Civil War know, arithmetic played an interesting role in the conflict. It certainly played a major role in George B. McClellan’s estimates of enemy strength, for example, although the fact is that most Civil War generals (including, for example, Ulysses S. Grant at Shiloh) habitually overestimated enemy numbers (and Grant’s favorite subject at West Point was mathematics).

Although it lasted only four years, the Confederacy endeavored to turn out its own schoolbooks and primers devoid of Yankee influence. Here’s one such example:

From the collections of the Virginia Historical Society

Historians such as James Marten and Anne Sarah Rubin have studied these expressions of Confederate identity, which were quick and easy to produce.

Courtesy Library of Congress.

Today we have evidence that some of these lessons did not stick among those who claim to honor Confederate heritage:

VF when 3 is 50When’s the last time that 3=50? Let’s be kind and count the photographer as Flagger #4. 🙂

BTW, there’s trouble in paradise. Brandon Dorsey of the SCV wants this weekend to be about education, not parades. Perhaps he realizes the Flaggers can’t count.

Dorsey, though, thinks there is an opportunity to better educate the public on the SCV’s viewpoint through lectures.

Today’s symposium, rather than Saturday’s parade, is the centerpiece of the Lee-Jackson Day celebration, he said. He said the SCV is focused on education and is not involved with any of the plans by the Virginia Flaggers.

Though there is a crossover of membership, Dorsey said the SCV doesn’t support some of the flaggers’ tactics.

As one commenter put it, “Glad to hear the SCV has distanced itself from the flaggers.”