Reminiscences of a Rebel

As I was browsing Project Gutenberg, the title of this book lured me in. It sounded exciting, and that the author had got up to all kinds of naughty shit. So I was a little disappointed to see on the first page of Reminiscences of a Rebel that the author, Wayland Fuller Dunaway, said that rebel really wasn't the right title for him. However, that disappointment was short-lived, as this is an interesting personal account of the American Civil War, written by one of the losers. Reading it, I became sympathetic to the cause of the Confederacy, given the disputed election of Abraham Lincoln and invasion of the South by the North. I have literally next to no knowledge about this period, so it was interesting again to read the thoughts of one of the participants. He comes across as a knowledgeable, intelligent person, who signed up to fight only because his homeland was invaded. However, his own words will do his cause more justice than I ever could, and accordingly a selection will follow. I found this to be an enjoyable read, and really a good introduction to the Civil War. I definitely want to find out some more.

  • I had no time to become frightened, but I was angered by being pursued on my native soil by men who had no right to invade it.
  • There was neither constitutional nor statute law that justified the invasion of the South by armies from the North.
  • I took the liberty of causing a company to fire a volley into the house and that put a stop to the murderous villainy.
  • When prejudice is overcome by gnawing hunger, a fat rat makes good eating, as I know from actual and enjoyable mastication.
  • Three men tunneled out from Block No. 1, only to find themselves surrounded by Yankee soldiers. Captain Cole, a portly man, became jammed in the passage, and was somewhat like Abe Lincoln's ox that was caught and held on a fence, unable to kick one way or gore the other.
  • Withdrawal from the Union was the right of the Southern States, as appears from the history of the making and adoption of the federal constitution; and great was the provocation to use it. It is not, however, always wise,—either for persons or communities,—to exercise their rights. Secession in the year 1860 was a hot headed and stupendous political blunder,—a blunder recognized by the majority of the people of Virginia, who refused to follow the example of her southern sisters until there was forced upon her the cruel alternative of waging war either against them or against the States of the North. Though secession was a grievous error, nevertheless the war that was waged by the Federal Government was a crime against the constitution, humanity, and God. But now, as we view the present and retrospect the past, who may say that all has not turned out for the best?
  • It is a singular fact that while the war was in progress the acts of secession were considered null and void, and the Southern States were declared to be parts of an indissoluble union, but when the war had ended they were dealt with as alien commonwealths and conquered territories.
  • The Southern people did not go to war—war came to them. Not to gain military glory did they fight, although this meed must be awarded to them. Nor was the perpetuation of African slavery the object for which they took up arms, for in Virginia nineteen-twentieths of the citizens owned no slaves, and there was perhaps the same proportion in the other States of the Confederacy. They simply resisted subjugation by a hostile government whose right to rule them they denied.


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