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    Categories: General KnowledgeHistory

10 Surprising Facts About The Confederacy

I made this list in order to clear up some misconceptions people had about the Confederacy. This is not a comprehensive list of facts about the Confederacy; I picked a few that I thought most people wouldn’t be familiar with. Overall, I intended for this to be a fun and informative list, and not to start a North versus South debate.

10
Battle Names

Union troops were primarily city and town dwellers. They named battles after natural objects near the scene of the conflict. Confederate troops were, chiefly, from the country and named battles after impressive artificial (man-made) objects near the scene of the conflict. The battle of “1st Manassas / Bull Run”: The Union army named the battle “Bull Run” after a little stream near the scene, called Bull Run, and the Confederate army named the battle “Manassas” because of the Manassas railroad station located nearby. There were at least 230 actions that were known to have more than one name. In “Ball’s Bluff / Leesburg”- The Union troops noted the steep 100-foot-high bank rising above the Potomac on the Virginia shore, and the Confederate army noted the nearby city of Leesburg, Virginia. “Pea Ridge / Elkhorn Tavern”: Elkhorn was a nearby tavern and Pea Ridge was the name of a crest of the Ozark’s Ridge.

9
Geography

The states included in the Confederacy were: (in order of secession) South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. Geography proved an overall advantage in the south. The Confederacy spread over more than 750,000 square miles (1,942,500 square km), much of it beyond the reach of good roads or rail lines. The Confederate States of America claimed a 3,500-mile (5,630km) coastline, and contained nearly 200 harbors and navigable river mouths. Most of the interior portion consisted of arable farmland, though much was also hilly and mountainous, and the far western territories were deserts. The highest point (excluding Arizona and New Mexico) was Guadalupe Peak in Texas, at 8,750 feet (2,667 m). Texas shared an open border with Mexico – features that rendered a truly crippling Union blockade nearly impossible.


8
Capital

At a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, the seven seceding states created the Confederate Constitution, a document similar to the United States Constitution, but with greater stress on the autonomy of each state. Jefferson Davis was named provisional president of the Confederacy until elections could be held. The Alabama State Capitol served as the capitol of the Confederate States of America until May 26, 1861, when the capital was relocated to Richmond, Virginia, as part of the deal to get Virginia to secede from the Union. In August, 1861, President Davis and his young family moved into the White House of the Confederacy, in Richmond. The house was abandoned during the evacuation of Richmond on April 2, 1865. The capital was then moved to Danville, Virginia. The city was the seat of the Confederate government for only eight days, April 3-10, 1865.

7
Money

Confederate money began to be circulated in April, 1861. Throughout the next 4 years, approximately $1.7 billion worth of currency was issued. Most of the Confederate money was made using offset printing and lithographic processing because there were few skilled engravers in the South. Confederate money featured a number of unique images such as: mythological gods, African-American slaves and naval ships. One bank note did feature George Washington. Due to Union embargoes, precious metals were difficult to come by in the South. This was also impacted by the fact that most of the general metals were being used in the war effort. Despite this, the Confederacy was able to produce a one cent piece and a half dollar. After the war, much of the paper currency was destroyed. Only a few examples of Confederate currency still exist, making it highly valuable.

6
First and Only President

Jefferson Davis (June 3, 1801- December 6, 1889) was a West Point graduate who had commanded a regiment in the war with Mexico, and later served as Secretary of War. He took his oath as provisional president on February 18, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama. He became the constitutional president on March 11, 1861, in Richmond, Virginia. Unlike the United States, which allowed for indefinite re-election (until the passage of the 22nd Amendment in 1951) of both the President and Vice President after a four-year term, the Confederacy gave these offices six year terms, but the President could not be re-elected.

His presidency ended May 5, 1865. On May 10, 1865, federal troops captured him at Irwinville, Georgia. From 1865 to 1867 he was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. Davis was indicted for treason in 1866, but the next year was released on a bond of $100,000, signed by the American newspaper publisher Horace Greeley and other influential Northerners. In 1868, the federal government dropped the case against him. His grave is in Richmond, Virginia.


5
Flags

There are actually several different designs for the confederate flag. The flags differed depending on which region they was used in, and the regiment they represented. The most recognizable is the Confederate Battle Flag which represented the Army of Northern Virginia. The Confederate Battle Flag is also known as the “rebel flag” or “Dixie flag”, and incorrectly referred to as “Stars and Bars”. The Confederate Battle Flag never actually represented the Confederate States of America, CSA, as a nation. The state flags of Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee are all based on Confederate flags. The flag of North Carolina is based on the state’s 1861 flag, which dates back to the Confederacy and appears to be based on the first Confederate flag. The first official flag of the Confederacy, called the “Stars and Bars,” was flown from March 5, 1861, to May 26, 1863 – it is pictured above.

4
Prisoner exchange

Both the Confederacy and the Union had horrid prisons, which produced retched, disease-ridden and emaciated prisoners. Neither side deliberately set out to maltreat prisoners, but prisons set up in haste were often without proper shelter and soon took in twice the amount of prisoners they were designed to contain. Arrangements were made hurriedly to deal with unexpected masses of men. The first government-sanctioned exchanges took place in February, 1862, but it was not until July 22, that a formal cartel detailing the exchange system was agreed to by the two governments. Under this agreement, all prisoners were to be released – either exchanged or paroled – within 10 days of capture. Though the North refused to allow regular exchanges to take place, sporadic limited exchanges occurred.

3
First Draft

The first general American military draft was enacted by the Confederate government on April 16, 1862, more than a year before the federal government did the same. The compulsory draft was viewed as a violation of the people’s rights, which is the very reason they went to war in the first place. Under the Conscription Act, all white men between 18 and 35 were liable for a three year term of service. The Act also extended the terms of service for one-year soldiers to three years. In September, 1862, the age limit was raised to 45. Men who worked as druggists, civil officials, railroad or river workers, telegraph operators, or teachers were exempt. 92% of all exemptions came from North Carolina and Georgia – mostly through fraud.

2
Equal Pay

The confederate Congress specified that black soldiers were to receive the same pay as the white soldiers. The Union army’s black soldiers were paid less than the white soldiers. A black soldier in the Union army would have been paid $10 a month with a $3 clothing fee taken out, leaving the soldier with $7 a month. White soldiers were paid $13 a month and were not forced to pay a clothing allowance, which is almost twice as much as the black soldiers. By contrast the Confederate army paid their privates of both races $11/month until 1864. Equal pay for both races in the federal army did not come into effect until June 1864. The Confederate Army also authorized a salary for black musicians in 1862.

1
Slavery

In 1864, the Confederate States began to abandon slavery. There are some indications that even without a war, the Confederacy would have ended slavery. Most historians believe that the Confederacy only started to abandon slavery once their defeat was imminent. If that were true then we are to believe that the CSA wanted independence more than they wanted to hold on to slavery. The CSA’s highest ranking generals, Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston were not slave holders and did not believe in slavery. And according to an 1860 census, only 31% of families owned slaves. 75% of families that owned slaves owned less than 10 and often worked beside them in the fields. The Confederate Constitution banned the overseas slave trade, and permitted Confederate states to abolish slavery within their borders if they wanted to do so. Slavery wasn’t abolished until 1868, 3 years after the war. Thus Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware still had slaves.

View Comments

  • Just found this site with its interesting reading. As somewhat of a side issue, I read somewhere that before the Civil War, 85% of the population were of British/Irish stock mainly, but after the Civil War the % went down to around 25%. I have many photos taken in the Civil War and can never forgot all those dead men pictured and have read the book 'Andersonville'. That should have cured most folks of the 'heroism' of war. Just my thoughts without getting into further auguments. Just an old Okie.

  • Hey FimCriticOne-Why don't you take your inane vitriol and overblown sense of moral indignation and shove it straight up your Yankee ass?Put on your tassled loafers,adjust your Lacoste golf shirt and take a lap around your all-White neighborhood in your Volvo.You sir,are a self-important blowhard.You still aren't going to be picked for the black guys team down at the Y-let it go...

  • Regarding number 1: If you read the Confederate Constitution, it wouldn't have "ended slavery". The usage is ending enslavement. At the time, the confederacy needed people to fight and they didn't care about the color of the person as long as they fought. The constitution would have prevented free people of color from being enslaved, forced into slavery. Very different from ending slavery. The slave trade at this point had ceased to be lucrative, but there were enough slaves in the US to provide "breeding stock" (god I hate that phrase) for slavery to continue. Slavery was the only point of contention that there could be no compromise. Revisionist historians try to make this go away, but both Lincoln and Davis said, in their state of the union and inauguration speeches respectively, that the "ownership issue" was the only area that would not be resolved. It is worth mentioning that John Adams knew that this would be an issue in the future and he campaigned for it to be addressed in the US Constitution, but it was too hot and issue and Jefferson had it nixed.

  • Stephanie Roberts, you homeschooled idiot. Your list is fiction. Find me one black confederate soldier. Just one, give me a name. You can't because there aren't any. MYTH. Again, Stephanie if you hadn't been face down in your brother's lap and gone to school instead, you would know this as fiction. Putting up a picture of a black soldier from WWI, just doesn't cut it. Your explanation about geography, makes absolutely no sense. Take your KKK bed sheet, off stopping kissing your brother, and go get your GED. You might learn something.

  • Here is another article on why the South seceded, which cites documentation: http://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths-about-why-the-south-seceded/2011/01/03/ABHr6jD_story.html

  • Interesting list, with a decided pro-Confederacy slant! Here are some examples of pesky little facts that may interfere with the reasoning of this author: Fact 9 - No, the coastline did not render the blockade impossible. In fact the blockade became increasingly effective and was strangling the confederate economy by the end, when only the most skillful blockade runners were able to make it through. And as for Texas' shared border with Mexico... let's just say that the events of the 1830s and 1840s reduced the motivation on the part of Mexico to trade with Texas. Besides, by 1863 the Mississippi was in Union hands, and traffic between Texas and the rest of the Confederacy was more difficult. Fact 4 - Yes, prisons were bad in both the North and South, but casualties for Southern troops held in the North were much lower. Do a little research on Andersonville prison in Georgia! Also, the reason the North cut off prisoner exchanges was because the South refused to relinquish blacks caught in Union uniforms, so Lincoln cut off all prisoner exchanges (a bold and risky move, it gave the Copperheads a powerful issue to use against him in the 1864 election). Fact 2 - Equal pay for black privates? The North enlisted 180,000 black soldiers, and did pay them less. There are few reliable sources of ANY black soldiers enlisted by the South, outside of personal aides for officers and the odd musician or laborer. In fact, President Davis had forbidden the use of slaves as combatants and only relented weeks before the war ended. Besides, Confederate money was rendered worthless by inflation, so in effect no Southern soldiers were getting paid regardless of race. Fact 1 - The South was not on the verge of ending slavery, in spite of what Southern apologists might claim. The supposed Union abuses that led to secession and the outbreak of war were mostly related to slavery (other than the occasional dispute over tariffs or infrastructure spending), and it was the chief issue that drove the two halves of our nation apart. While most of the men actually bleeding on the battlefield were not fighting for or against slavery (some Union troops were even slave owners from the border states), it can be argued that without slavery there would have been no war.

  • "When the Yankees Came" by Stephen Ash, is a well researched depiction of the Confederate perspective during the Civil War.