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Lost Cause Victims - US Grant, Ranger Mosby and James Longstreet


Confederate Ranger John Singleton Mosby,  depicted above, is an interesting case study of "Lost Cause" fratricide (perhaps second only to his southern compatriot Gen James Longstreet (not depicted in Old Glory panels) see further below):

"Not surprisingly, Mosby’s decision to support Grant and the Republicans drew a lot of fire from unreconstructed Confederates. Also not surprisingly, Mosby fired back.
However distant he was from Virginia, Mosby kept in touch with his former comrades and participated avidly in the continuing wars over the war. He wrote his own memoir in addition to his book on Stuart and many articles. Mosby’s letters in the Museum’s library collection were written to Dr. Aristides Monteiro, the surgeon of the 43rd Battalion, and to Joseph Bryan, a young private in the unit who became a powerful Richmond businessman and publisher and husband to one of the Museum’s principal founders. To Monteiro, Mosby vented his scorn for dogmatic keepers of the Confederate flame. From San Francisco in June 1890, Mosby explained to Monteiro why he declined to attend the recent dedication of the R. E. Lee monument in Richmond:
“I would have been given the cold shoulder if I went and probably that old fraud—Jubal Early—who assumes to be a sort of administrator on the Confederate army, would, as he generally does on such occasions, make some insulting allusions to ‘men who have deserted since the war’— meaning those who have voted the Republican ticket. Now while I do not admit that I have deserted the Southerners—just the reverse—yet everyone would apply this allusion to me. The fact is old Early himself was the first man after the war who deserted our people. As soon as he heard of Lee’s surrender he took to his heels and ran away to Canada, instead of doing as I did—staying with our people—taking all the chances—and helping them to recover self-government…..”
Four years later he read accounts of the dedication ceremony for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Richmond. “I notice that [keynote speaker Robert C.] Cave says the charge that the
South went to war for slavery is a ‘slanderous accusation.’ I always understood that we went to War on account of the thing we quarreled with the North about. I never heard of any other cause of quarrel than slavery.”
Such blunt statements about the centrality of slavery to the Confederate cause ran against the grain of the emerging “Lost Cause” school of Southern history, and Mosby suffered the consequences."...Joseph Bryan apparently did not buy his old commander’s view on Grant and the Republican Party. Mosby rejected Bryan’s argument that reconciliation between Northern Republicans
and Southerners was impossible.
“I think the Republican party of the North would have been reconciled to the Southern people when the Southern people were reconciled to them,” Mosby countered. “But that is not the point.Would friendly relations between the dominant party of the North and the South have been a bad thing for the Southern people?…The South tried to get, through [Grant’s 1872 presidential campaign opponent Horace] Greeley,what I wanted to get through Grant. If it was right to get it through Greeley, why wrong to get through Grant?’”
After reading an installment in the serialized reminiscences by their former comrade, Pvt. JohnW. Munson, Mosby complained to Bryan about “the garbled quotation from a dispatch from Gen. Grant to Sheridan. The best way to make a false impression to to [sic] tell a part of the truth.”
In this lengthy October 27, 1905 letter, Mosby explained that “justice to myself & to Gen. Grant” compelled him to publish a reply. Munson’s use of “[t]his isolated extract will create the impression that we were not looked on by the Northern Army as soldiers but as bandits,” Mosby warned.
He then enumerated five reasons why Munson’s statement was misleading. Mosby insisted that Grant had changed his estimation of Mosby’s Rangers— recognizing them as a legitimate and formidable force—before the close of the War, not as a result of Mosby’s personal political support. “Of course I do not expect you to feel toward Grant as I do—but you feel as I feel about our reputation.”
The common ground of defending their unit’s reputation was indeed more comfortable for Mosby and his correspondents. From San Francisco in August 1894 Mosby wrote Monteiro asking him to incorporate into an article that Mosby had written for publication a document that he had just discovered. “I want to show the general exultation over my [reported] death as proof of the general efficiency of our command,” he explained to Monteiro.
He sent to Monteiro on January 30, 1895 installments of an article about the 43rd Battalion’s 1864 duel with Philip Sheridan’s army. Mosby sought to score points against an enemy who wore blue and another who wore gray.
“After you have read both [installments] I want you to write and tell me if you think that I have made out the proposition that our command prevented Sheridan from following up his victories over Early and thereby preserved for 6 months the life of the Confederacy,”Mosby asked Monteiro. “As you know that Early was a most malignant enemy of mine you are probably surprised that no unfriendly feeling is exhibited against him in my article. But when I have really made the best defense of him than anybody has ever made…. I think when you have read my whole article you will say that I have reduced ‘Little Phil’ to the dimensions of Tom Thumb.”
Determined as he was to reduce Sheridan’s stature, Mosby credited his wartime enemies for elevating his own stature. In the same letter to Monteiro, Mosby noted that

“the truth is the North has always given our command more credit for the damage done them than the South has. This is owing to the extreme jealousy that existed towards us in our army. I can say, like Hannibal, that my history has been written by my enemies. The best testimony in our favor are the dispatches of Grant, Sheridan and Halleck.”

This ironic interrelationship between the historical reputations of Mosby and his wartime foes is consistent with what historian Joan Waugh noted in her prize-winning book on U.S. Grant. Mosby’s insistence on the effectiveness of his unit’s operations anticipated the the case that Daniel Sutherland makes in his prize-winning book on guerrilla warfare."

"IN POSTWAR LETTERS JOHN MOSBY DEFENDED THE REPUTATION OF HIS RANGERS— AND OF ULYSSES S. GRANT," BY JOHN M. COSKI, Historian and Director of Library & Research Museum of the Confederacy Magazine, Spring 2010

Italicized phrase above is also quoted in "How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War," by Herman Hattaway, Archer Jones, University of Illinois Press, 1983, p. 622

"...In common with most Southern soldiers, I had a very kindly feelings towards General Grant, not only on account of his magnanimous conduct at Appomattox, but also for his treatment of me at the close of hostilities. I had never called on him, however. If I had done so, and if he had received me even politely, we should both have been subjected to severe criticism, so bitter was the feeling between the sections at the time. General Grant was as much misunderstood in the South as I had been in the North. Like most Southern men, I had disapproved the reconstruction measures and was sore and very restive under military government; but since my prejudices have faded, I can now see that many things which we regarded as being prompted by hostile and vindictive motives were actually necessary, in order to prevent anarchy and to insure the freedom of the newly emancipated slave.
I had strong personal reasons for being friendly with General Grant. If he had not thrown his shield over me in 1865, I should have been outlawed and driven into exile. When Lee surrendered, my battalion was in northern Virginia, a hundred miles from Appomattox. Secretary of war Stanton invited all soldiers in Virginia to surrender on the same conditions which were offered to Lee's army, but I was excepted. General Grant, who was then all-powerful, interposed, and sent me an offer of the same parole that he had given Gen. Lee. Such a service I could never forget. When the opportunity came, I remembered what he had done for me, and I did all I could for him." -
Mosby, John Singleton. The Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1917

see also
"Hell Is Being Republican in Virginia: The Post War Relationship Between John Singleton Mosby and Ulysses S. Grant," by David Goetz, Xlibris, 2012


"....In discussing Longstreet's postwar fate, Piston analyzes the literature and public events of the time to show how the southern people, in reaction to defeat, evolved an image of themselves which bore little resemblance to reality. As a product of the Georgia backwoods, Longstreet failed to meet the popular cavalier image embodied by Lee, Stuart, and other Confederate heroes. When he joined the Republican party during Reconstruction, Longstreet forfeited his wartime reputation and quickly became a convenient target for those anxious to explain how a "superior people" could have lost the war. His new role as the villain of the Lost Cause was solidified by his own postwar writings. Embittered by years of social ostracism resulting from his Republican affiliation, resentful of the orchestrated deification of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet exaggerated his own accomplishments and displayed a vanity that further alienated an already offended southern populace. Beneath the layers of invective and vilification remains a general whose military record has been badly maligned. Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant explains how this reputation developed--how James Longstreet became, in the years after Appomattox, the scapegoat for the South's defeat, a Judas for the new religion of the Lost Cause."
"Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History," by William Garrett Piston, University of Georgia Press, 1987

"If you want to know how the Lost Cause syndrome got its start and how Longstreet to his shock became the designated failure of the Confederacy, this is a revealing book. Old Pete survived his crippling wounds incurred by bullets during his great counter attack in the Wilderness but the ink from "Old Jube's" (Jubal Early's) pen created greater harm and anguish to Longstreet as Early effectively destroys his reputation. Early holds a tight grasp of southern history and the Southern Historical Society making sure that no one dared write anything about the War of the Rebellion without his approval....." - Amazon, review by Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on August 22, 2003

God and General Longstreet: The Lost Cause and the Southern Mind,  by Thomas L. Connelly and Barbara L. Bellows, Louisiana State University Press, 1995


 "...few major figures in American history have been so denigrated and disgraced as Grant. How did this happen? A big part of the answer can be found in the successful campaign by historians sympathetic to the Confederacy’s “Lost Cause.” ......... they portrayed Grant wrongly as only a drunken butcher general and as an enfeebled president who pandered to Radical Republicans, presiding over, as Dunning contended, “the darkest page in the saga of American history.” These distortions still thrive in countless history textbooks and classrooms, in movies and on television shows, as well as on popular websites..."
How the “Lost Cause” poisoned our history books - Professor Joan Waugh
"U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth," by Joan Waugh, University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

"Let Us Have Peace: Ulysses S. Grant and the Politics of War and Reconstruction," 1861-1868", by Brooks D. Simpson, University of North Carolina Press, 1991


I have seen doubts about the following quote actually having been said by Lee.  Some assert it is"suspicious".. even a backhanded compliment.  An interesting point is made that Lee's most trusted aide, Colonel Marshall gave a eulogy at Grant's funeral, "...the message he gave was that Grant was knightly and noble and General Lee thought so also."
However, let us assume for arguments sake, that Lee WAS the noble, flawless, almost saintly figure "uninterested in slavery or white supremacy, became an important part of the Lost Cause mythos that began forming before his death and solidified after the end of Reconstruction. -
see also
How Did Robert E. Lee Become an American Icon? By James C. Cobb | HUMANITIES, July/August 2011 | Volume 32, Number 4

Now, would such a magnanimous tribute be out of line with the humble Lee?  No matter, here is the quote I once used to end my thesis paper on Grant as a "maneuverist" warrior....

"Within a few weeks of Grant's death, a member of General Lee's staff said to a friend, who had mentioned Hancock's high opinion of his old chief:
"That reminds me of Lee's opinion of your great Union general, uttered in my presence in reply to a disparaging remark on the part of a person who referred to Grant as a 'military accident, who had no distinguishing merit, but had achieved success through a combination of fortunate circumstances.' General Lee looked into the critic's eye steadily, and said: 'Sir, your opinion is a very poor compliment to me. We all thought Richmond, protected as it as by our splendid fortifications and defended by our army of veterans, could not be taken. Yet Grant turned his face to our capital, and never turned it away until we had surrendered. Now, I have carefully searched the military records of both ancient and modern history, and have never found Grant's superior as a general. I doubt if his superior can be found in all history.'" ​
"General Grant: Great Commanders," by James Grant Wilson, D. Appleton and Co., 1897., pp. 366-367

If you don't buy that line from about:

"Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university." - Robert E. Lee

After one of the faculty at Washington College in Virginia (now Washington & Lee University) had spoken insultingly of Ulysses S. Grant, as quoted in Lee the American (1912) by Gamaliel Bradford, p. 226

Let us have peace then, of a sort, by concluding with an excerpt from Joan Waugh's LA Times interview, "Joan Waugh on Grant's and Lee's 'gentlemen's agreement' ending the Civil War, Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2015

"Lee's birthday is still a holiday in some Southern states, but Grant is all but forgotten except for the "who's buried in Grant's tomb" jokes. What happened?

My theory is it's the towering influence of the historians of the Lost Cause, the romantic depiction of the Confederacy. That's influenced generations of academic historians as well. The diminishment of the importance of the Union cause, [contentions] that Grant was a brutal general, a corrupt Reconstruction president. For Lost Cause historians, “corruption” was trying to make the South a place for blacks and whites to live in peace with some kind of social equality — that affected Grant's reputation.

In addition, post-Vietnam, we have seen military figures treated as if they were criminals, especially in movies about the Civil War, where Northern officers and troops are portrayed as simply out for murder. The most influential Civil War film of all time is “Gone with the Wind.” I love it, but it's a perfect brief for the Lost Cause.

I think Grant's reputation is undergoing a profound change [for the better] in academia. I don't know that it will ever reach popular culture. He has been so dismissed, yet you have a two-term president, elected by a large majority in 1868 and an even larger one in 1872, who was considered a success on many levels. As Reconstruction has had a tremendous change in academic literature since the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, it was bound to happen to Grant as well."

Thank you, Joan Waugh.....and Candace Scott, my favorite US Grant Amazon reviewer and the developer of the treasure-trove US Grant Homepage......for fighting the long war with eloquence on Grant's behalf....