Long Gray Lines: The Southern Military School Tradition, 1839-1915

Long Gray Lines: The Southern Military School Tradition, 1839-1915

Long Gray Lines: The Southern Military School Tradition, 1839-1915

Long Gray Lines: The Southern Military School Tradition, 1839-1915

Synopsis

Challengin assumptions about a distinctive "southern military tradition" in higher education, Andrew demonstrates that southern military schools were less concerned with preparing young men for actual combat than with instilling in their students broader values of honor, patriotism, civic duty, and virtue.

Excerpt

The Civil War proved a severe test for the military schools of the South. As the war swept institutions, customs, and individual fortunes before it, military education retained a precarious toehold on the southern landscape. By the spring of 1865 individual schools and academies had suffered destruction by Union armies, were occupied by federal troops, or had been forced to close as their faculties and students had gone off to war. Few were ready to resume classes in the fall of 1865, and during Reconstruction, federal authorities allowed fewer still to issue weapons to their cadets. If the southern military school tradition were to survive, military school leaders would have to convince a new generation of southern state politicians that their institutions had produced and could again produce excellent soldiers and noble citizens. They would have to accomplish this in an era when state budgets were frugal, the economy was poor, and memories of the South's most recent military experience were painful and bitter. Their survival depended largely on their ability to point out the contributions of the schools and their alumni to the Confederate war effort and their later service in civilian life.

The military colleges and their alumni did indeed contribute much to the Confederacy. The military schools of the South rushed to the defense of the new Confederate nation in 1861. Thanks to them, when the guns began firing, the South had a rather large cadre of men trained in the rudiments of soldiering and boasted thousands of graduates and ex-students from some ninety-six military college programs who had at least some familiarity with military drill and the duties of junior officers. The South enjoyed an overwhelming majority over the North in . . .

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