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"The Confederacy Never Enlisted My Affections"

Joseph Waddell

Joseph A. Waddell wrote a rich history of Augusta County, Virginia: Annals of Augusta County, Virginia - From 1726 to 1871. Trained as a lawyer, he came to dislike the profession and eventually became co-editor and co-owner of one of the local newspapers, "The Staunton Spectator." His history of Augusta County included his diary kept during the War Between the States. He made the following entry on 14 April 1865:

Staunton, VA, Friday, April 14, 1865. We heard last night from an authentic source that Gen. Lee has certainly surrendered himself with his army. His address to his men states that the surrender was made in consequence of the immense superiority of force against him and the consequent uselessness of shedding more blood. He returned to Richmond, having been paroled with all of his officers and men. . . . A call has been made by Gen. Lilly for soldiers to meet at Lexington and Staunton to proceed South. I presume that very few will respond as the cause is generally considered useless. Arthur Spitzer has got back -- He marched three days and two nights, on the retreat from Petersburg, with nothing to eat but a can of corn. -- Says he saw men on the road side dying from hunger. . . .
For several days past the people of this town and county have been appropriating all the public property they could find -- wagons, old iron picks, . . . -- distributing the assets of the Confederate States. What a termination! I am surprised by the general composure -- even very complacency. But while I felt an intense indignation against the North, the Confederacy never enlisted my affections or compliance. I never ceased to deplore the disruption, and never could have loved my country and government as I loved the old United States. Yet our cause seemed to be the cause of state rights and involved the question whether or no the people should choose a government for themselves, or have one imposed upon them. With our fall every vestige of State rights has disappeared, and we are at the mercy of a consolidated despotism. . . . There is much religious interest in our Church. Meetings every afternoon for more than a week. . . .The weather is delightful.

Note that Waddell, while expressing his love for the old Republic and his disdain for the Confederate government, embraced the cause of states rights and considered a Union victory "despotism." Waddell's comments illustrate the rather complicated and nuanced (even contradictory), positions held by many white Southerners; particularly those in the upper south.

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