Memorable Quotes from the Civil War

Lincoln didn't want to make slavery an issue
"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that . . . My paramount object in the struggle is to save the Union, and is not to either save or destroy slavery"

Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862
(The Emancipation Proclamation was issued a month later, effective January 1, 1863)

Davis considered the Confederacy The Legitimate America
"I believe throughout his life Jefferson was dedicated to his conception of what America was and ought to be. He considered himself an absolutely loyal patriot. The Confederacy in his mind was an attempt to save what he considered the legitimate America. He considered himself and his fellow Confederates to be the true descendants of the founding fathers."

- William J. Cooper, Historian at LSU, on Jefferson Davis

Major General Patrick Cleburne CSA"I am with the South in life or in death, in victory or in defeat . . . I believe the North is about to wage a brutal and unholy war on a people who have done them no wrong, in violation of the Constitution and the fundamental principles of government. They no longer acknowledge that all government derives its validity from the consent of the governed. They are about to invade our peaceful homes, destroy our property, and inaugurate a servile insurrection, murder our men and dishonor our women. We propose no invasion of the North, no attack on them, and only ask to be left alone."

- Major General Patrick Cleburne C.S.A.

General Lee was an honorable and respected opponent "He possessed every virtue of the great commanders, without their vices. He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guilt. He was a Caesar without his ambition; a Frederick without his tyranny; a Napoleon without his selfishness; and a Washington without his reward. He was obedient to authority as a servant, and loyal in authority as a true king. He was gentle as a woman in life; modest and pure as a virgin in thought; watchful as a Roman vestal in duty; submissive to law as Socrates, and grand in battle as Achilles."

"The Character of Lee" From the Address of the Honorable B.H. Hill before the Georgia branch of the Southern Historical Society at Atlanta, February 18, 1874.)

We must remember the majority of Southerners did not own slaves and most certainly did not fight so others could own them. "The real answer is quite simple. The South was fighting because it was invaded."

- Francis W. Springer

The following comments were made in letters to President Andrew Johnson, and can be found in the Papers of Andrew Johnson.

"We have much to say in vindication of our conduct, but this we must leave to history. The bloody conflict between brothers, is closed, and we 'come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.' The South had $2,000,000,000 invested in Slaves. It was very natural, that they should desire to protect, and not lose this amount of property. Their action in this effort, resulted in War. There was no desire to dissolve the Union, but to protect this property. The issue was made and it is decided."

- Sterling Cockrill, planter from Courtland, AL, 18 Sept. 1865

Lt. General John B Gordon
". . . It will be a glorious day for our country when all the children within its borders shall learn that the four years of fratricidal war between the North and South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperiled liberty: that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood."

- Lieutenant General John B. Gordon, CSA

Only at the moment when Lee handed Grant his sword was the Confederacy born; or to state matters another way, in the moment of death the Confederacy entered upon its immortality."

- Robert Penn Warren "The Legacy of the Civil War, 1961"

Stonewall Jackson had a sense of humor
At a dinner party, Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson was asked if he was the one who had made the remark about Union General Pope. "What remark was that?" asked the general. An orderly responded, "You know, the one about Pope's announcement he was going to make his saddle his headquarters, and then you are supposed to have said, "I can whip any man who does not know his headquarters from his hindquarters. Stonewall sheepishly smiled and kept eating.

The first U.S. General to use the Scorched Earth policy
"The Government of the United States has in North Alabama any and all rights they may choose to enforce in war, to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything . . . because war does exist there, and war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact . . . Next year their lands will be taken; for in war we can take them, and rightfully too; and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives." ". . . To the . . . persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better."

- Gen. W. T. Sherman (Union Army)

The 33rd President of the United States
". . . They tried to make my uncle Harrison into an informer, but he wouldn't do it. He was only a boy . . . They tried to hang him, time and again they tried it, 'stretching his neck', they called it, but he didn't say anything. I think he'd have died before he'd said anything. He's the one I'm named after. And I'm happy to say that there were people around at the time who said I took after him."

- President Harry S. Truman, speaking about what the Yankee "Redlegs" did to his uncle, at age thirteen during the 'War Between the States'.

"Sometimes I examine myself thoroughly and I will always come to the conclusion that I am not such a bad man at last as I am looked upon. God will give me justice if I am to be punished for the opinions of other people, who do not know my heart I cant help it. If I commit an error I do it without bad intention. My great crime on the world is blunder, I will get into scrapes without intention or any bad motive. I call upon my God to judge me, he knows that I love my friends and above all others my wife and children, the opinion of the world to contrary notwithstanding."

- Stand Watie to his wife Sarah C. Watie on April 24th 1864. Watie was a Cherokee Indian and leader of the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles, CSA. He fought on - - long after the South had surrendered.