Cover image for Southern invincibility : a history of the Confederate heart
Southern invincibility : a history of the Confederate heart
Sword, Wiley.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 432 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E468.9 .S97 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An exploration of the traditions and nature of Southern pride, a belief that Southerners have a different character from the rest of the nation, examines the impact of this thinking on the conduct and results of the Civil War.

Author Notes

Wiley Sword is the author of several Civil War histories, He has won the Fletcher Pratt Prize for the best book of Civil War history and has been nominated for the Pulitzer, Parkman, Bancroft, and Western Heritage prizes. He lives in Bloom-field Hills, Michigan.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

If perception is reality, the Southern perceptions before, during, and after the Civil War have had a significant impact on the reality of Southern regionalism. Sword, the author of several Civil War histories, examines the roots and consequences of the Southern sense of cultural uniqueness. He makes extensive use of the recollections of individual Confederate soldiers and civilians. The effect is frequently dramatic and moving, particularly when individuals find their dreams of glory running smack up against the squalor of war. Yet one wonders if Sword buys too easily into the southern sense of uniqueness. After all, recent research has shown far less solidarity and far more desertions in Confederate armies than has been previously indicated. It is also irrefutable that most Confederate states had active Unionist sympathizers who harried the war effort. Unfortunately, Sword has neglected their voices in his study. Still, despite a somewhat one-sided view, this is a frequently fascinating glimpse at the genesis and durability of such Southern myths as Confederate "valor" and the "lost cause." --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

If Confederate defeat was inevitable, why did white Southerners go to war in 1861? Part of the reason, according to Sword, is because they thought themselves superior to their Yankee counterparts. The author of several battle and campaign studies, Sword explores how this miscalculation shaped the morale of Confederate soldiers and civilians and how this perception was eroded until by the end there was nothing left to do but accept defeat. Portraits of Confederate soldiers and civilians reinforce Sword's argument that they failed not because they lacked the will to win but because they underestimated their opponent. Whether the notion of Southern invincibility was limited to supporters of the Confederacy (there were a sizable number of white unionists) is not explored. Ironically, claims of Southern cultural and ideological superiority resurfaced after Appomattox as a way to cope with the pain of failureÄgiving rise to the distorted view of the past known as the Lost Cause Myth. For public and academic libraries.ÄBrooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Nathaniel H. R. Dawson and Elodie ToddSarah MorganHenry King Burgwyn, Jr.Nathaniel H. R. Dawson and Elodie ToddFred FleetSandie PendletonHenry King Burgwyn, Jr.Sarah MorganSandie PendletonFred Fleet
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1. An Ominous Circumstancep. 4
2. Holding Fast to the Familiarp. 8
3. A Curse to Any Landp. 15
4. Secession Rather Than Dishonorp. 21
5. Virginia and the Spirit of the Timesp. 29
6. The Pending Confrontation with the Selfp. 37
7. "Am I Not Fighting for You?"p. 41
8. "Don't Mind My Tears, They Don't Mean Anything"p. 61
9. "Wonderfully Changed in My Sentiments"p. 66
10. An Ornament of the Confederacyp. 78
11. "We Think Every Southerner Equal to Three Yankees at Least"p. 88
12. "I Attribute All to the War"p. 94
13. "Nothing Is New with Wise's Gardeners"p. 109
14. A Legacy of Adversityp. 117
15. "I Intend to Do As Well As I Can"p. 130
16. Lee and Jackson, and Their Invincible Armyp. 145
17. "All Will Turn Out for the Best"p. 155
18. Gettysburgp. 169
19. "They Haven't Got Us Nearly Whipped--Yet"p. 184
20. "A Peace That Passes Understanding"p. 196
21. Coping with the Animalp. 201
22. An Army of Lions Led by an Assp. 212
23. "It's Hard to Maintain Patriotism on Ashcake and Water"p. 229
24. Doing the Unthinkablep. 242
25. Beating Their Own Brains Outp. 256
26. "Suffering Somewhat in the Good Cause"p. 268
27. "I Know Something about It Now"p. 283
28. "Tennessee, a Grave, or a Free Home"p. 293
29. Sherman's Sentinelsp. 308
30. To Justify a Reasonable Hope of Successp. 317
31. "Unless You Come Home, We Must Die"p. 328
32. The South Shall Rise Againp. 337
33. "Words on a Tombstone"Henry King Burgwyn, Jr.
"Everybody Cried, but I Would Not"Sarah Morgan
"Dealing with Adversity"Sandie Pendleton
"Do Not Shrink from the Battle of Life"Fred Fleet
Epiloguep. 356
In Explanationp. 362
Reference Notesp. 365
Bibliographyp. 400
Indexp. 411