I have always thought
the Yankees had something to
do with it, he said
Adapted from Why the Confederacy lost by by G. S. Boritt and James M. McPherson (1992) New York : Oxford University Press.
Mr. Boritt wrote:
Most interpretations fall into one of two categories: internal or external. Internal explanations focus mainly or entirely on the Confederacy, and usually phrase the question as “Why the South Lost.” External interpretations look at both the Union and Confederacy, and often phrase it as “Why the North Won.”
To illustrate the difference between an internal and external interpretation, let us look at the battle of Gettysburg as a microcosm of the larger issue.
Most of the controversy that has swirled endlessly for the past 128 years has focused on the issue of why the Confederates lost that battle — an internal explanation. Contemporaries and historians have blamed almost every prominent Confederate general at Gettysburg for mistakes that lost the battle:
Among them Robert E. Lee himself for mismanagement, overconfidence, and poor judgment;
Jeb Stuart for riding off on a raid around the Union army and losing contact with his own army, leaving Lee blind in the enemy’s country;
Richard Ewell and Jubal Early for failing to attack Cemetery Hill on the afternoon of July 1st and again for tardiness in attacking on the 2nd;
And above all, James Longstreet for lack of cooperation, promptness, and vigor in the assaults of July 2nd and 3rd.
It was left to George Pickett to put his finger on the problem with all of these explanations.
When someone asked Pickett after the war who was responsible for Confederate defeat at Gettysburg, he scratched his head, and replied: I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.
Someday maybe I will be able to write a History of the United States.
When I get to the chapters on the 21st Century, I will try to answer the questions of What Happened to the United States.
I will scratch my head and reply, “I’ve always thought Donald Trump had something to do with it.”