R E Lee

The Why and the How of the War
Between the States

Chaplain Kentucky Division, U.C.V., Once of Claiborne Guards, Co. K.
12th Regt. Miss. Vol. Inft., Army Northern Virginia, and Later of Capt.
Quirk’s Scouts, Morgan’s Kentucky Cavalry

Ego, verum amo, verum volo mihi dici: Mendacem odi!—Plautus

New York and Washington

Copyright, 1907, by

First Published in December, 1907.


Who have been faithfully taught the Truth of History, the Nature of our Government, and the Love of our Country; in whom I trust to transmit these precious things to coming generations, as they may have the power, for their own sake, and for the honor of those, who at home, in council chambers, legislative halls, hospital wards, prison cells and on hard-fought fields, have taught and toiled, sorrowed and suffered, bled and died, to maintain and establish them.



The matter here presented to the reader was first given as a “Memorial Day” Address, before Confederate Veteran Camps, and Chapters of the Daughters of the Confederacy, in several cities and towns. Its original use has modified its final form; whilst to embody more of historic fact, and so enhance the permanent value, its limits have been largely expanded.

There are many and worthy “Lives of Lee,” and some excellent “Histories of the United States,” and still more abundant “Sketches of Battles and Minor Engagements,” with almost innumerable “Narratives of Generals,” and of “Commands and Campaigns.” Many of these are large and expensive, too heavy for handling and too costly for wide circulation, and their readers are correspondingly few and well to do. This is quite unlike any of those. We have also able and elaborate discussions of the Federal Constitution, with their ample deductions learnedly and long drawn out; but little read and less understood. This is not at all like those. It is as simple, I hope, as short, and makes for truth as much as it lacks of beauty.

We have many other books—some of them, like the down-easter’s razors, “made to sell,” and therefore to suit all sorts of readers all the world over. I am not concerned that this little book shall please everybody. It was made to vindicate but one side. The only important question is, Does it do so? My ambition is to state facts, not to get money. I cheerfully leave conclusions to my readers. They may strike, if they will but hear me!

The historical items recorded here are more or less involved in the solution of questions which have arisen as to the rightfulness of secession; the origin and conduct of its cause; the character, motives and sentiments of the people who espoused and defended it, as well as of those who forced them to fields of blood. I thought to give these facts in form so cheap, and style so terse, as to bring thSm within the means and times of our busy men and women. I have tried to condense and yet comprehend; to be clear, yet not “too dear” for the common people’s purse.

“History, as written, if accepted in future years, will consign the South to infamy,” says Honorable J. L. M. Curry. The truth, the only antidote for the poison of falsehood, should be set to work at once, or the evil effects will become incurable. No time is to be lost. Soon the cemetery will hold us all. What shall be then thought of our cause and conduct will depend upon what we leave in the books of our era. Books live on. They should not misrepresent us or our dead. But think of the stream pouring from the press, a stream so strong and so full of ignorance of us, and of prejudice against us—think of the political interests, and sectional rivalries, and financial superiority, and numerical preponderance, and commercial advantages, and the immense Governmental influence, all combined upon the successful side—will posterity ever know who we were, or why we fought? It all depends upon what they read. This book is a soldier’s small contribution of something reliable and readable.

It may not be quite needless to say in this place (though I certainly came near forgetting to say it), that the sentiments expressed in this book or justly inferable from it, are such as befit a Confederate soldier’s discussion of war times and topics, and might not have been denied or dissembled without the guilt of insincerity or hypocrisy, qualities hated of God and man.

To have given for every statement my authority, and credit for every fact related, to every author consulted, would have made very unsightly pages, and diverted at most interesting moments, the reader’s attention. Due acknowledgment is made in another place in a printed list of “sources,” and also by the frequent use of quotation marks throughout the text.

I wish to close this prefatory note without other remark, save a saying that I judge worthy in itself, and well suited to my work, from the pen of Rev. Thomas E. Bond, M.D., of Baltimore. “Truth for her own sake—without calculation of probabilities, or hope of results; Truth, solitary, friendless, impotent, on her way out of the world; Truth at the bar of Pilate, dead on the Cross, still in the grave—Truth, always and everywhere, is the one thing to be sought and kept, defended and clung to. Whenever you see a lie rampant, hit it; wherever a truth down, give a hand to it. There is no nobler work in this life than to help the TRUTH.”


October 4th, 1907.
Lexington, Kentucky.


I. A Confederate Memorial Address
II. That Conflict Was Plainly a People’s War
III. Upon Our Part, It Was a Justifiable War
IV. It Was a Great War
V. It Was a Hopeless War


Jno. R. Deering