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The Life of Lieutenant General Richard Heron Anderson of the Confederate States Army by Richard Heron Anderson

The Life of Lieutenant General Richard Heron Anderson of the Confederate States Army

C. Irvine Walker



"O, all-preparing Providence divine,
In thy large book what secrets are enrolled
What sundry helps doth thy great power assign,
To prop the course which thou intendest to hold ?
What mortal sense is able to define
Thy mysteries, thy counsels manifold?
It is thy wisdom strangely that extends
Obscure proceedings to apparent ends."

The shot which dropped on Fort Sumter from the Confederate gun on the morning of April 11, 1861, awoke the people of the United States, and its echoes will go rumbling down all future ages. It changed the destinies of our country. It struck off the swaddling clothes from the infant United States and made it, nationally, a man. It made a Nation of an agglomeration of State atomies. How little did the Confederates realize its import.

"There's a destiny that shapes our ends,
Rough hew them how we will."

The Confederates had purposes, "rough-hewed" perhaps, but Providence shaped them otherwise. God knows best what is for our good. May the eventualities of the War tend for the good of our country. The United States owes the Confederacy a huge debt.


This debt was the natural evolvement from the act of secession and the consequent War of coercion. In the development of Nations, events produce results and such results are often not such as were intended. The Confederate States were moved by a patriotic spirit, in defence of their State and popular rights, to withdraw from the Union. Such was their intention. The result to the United States was to change its government from a federal republic of sovereign States into a strong centralized Nation one far better fitted for development and particularly as a World Power. The Confederates, of course, did not fight for this, but the measures necessary to make the coercive War successful, brought about this result.

This Nation is now engaged in a worldwide war. Is it possible that the old federal republic would have been able to do this? It may have repulsed invasion, but it never would have been able and most likely not willing to offensively participate in such a struggle. Had the governmental methods of 1861 been continued, the Country never would have had the ability to take part in a grand upholding of the highest right of man freedom. The secession of the Southern States, and the resultant war, by their natural evolution, brought about a revolution which has made this Nation what it is today. If the old Federal system, destroyed by the withdrawal of the Southern States, had continued in existence, our National weakness would have been scoffed at by the great Powers of the World, and this Country could never have become a World Power, with a great destiny in shaping the fortunes of all mankind. The world is today engaged in a terrific struggle for free government, the right of the people to govern themselves. The very principle for which the Confederates so gallantly fought, but alas, had not the strength to defend. The principle lives, though the Confederacy is dead! This struggle comes of the worldwide advance of progressive idea, government by the people, for the people, inaugurated by our eternal Declaration of Independence. The United States is the leading Democracy of the World, and her proper place is beside the other great free Nations, struggling against the socalled "God given rights of royalty to rule." How could she have taken this stand without national power? That National power was the legitimate consequence of the struggle to crush the Confederacy, the secession of whose States brought all this to pass. Therefore the conclusion is just and correct, that the secession of the Southern States was the actuating cause, unintentional though it was, of the present virility and grandeur and power of the United States. How did this give this wonderful material strength? By the development of our illimitable resources, possible only under the changed character of our government and so changed by the War. Never could the political theories of 1861 have made such results possible. All great advances in civilization, culture and even religion, have been made in bloodshed. We, of the South, have paid a heavy penalty, but it is hoped that our children may enjoy the blessings of the vigor, self-reliance and self-support which our sufferings have brought to our Country.

So the South has the consolation of knowing that however unintentional, their action in seceding, made possible the United States of today, and that is the debt the Country owes to the Secessionists.

C. Irvine Walker, The Life of Lieutenant General Richard Heron Anderson of the Confederate States Army (Charleston: Art Publishing Company, 1917), 56-58.


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