'Ifs' Defeated the Confederates at Shiloh

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

I'm listening to this panel discussion of the Civil War which took place 1999. It's amazing how many of the questions are basically looking for paths to victory for the Confederates. "If Lee had done XXXX at Gettysburg, could he have won?" It's interesting enough, but it's the kind of question that--as a black person--I don't have access to. 


Perhaps, I have it wrong but I always detect a bit of longing whenever that question is posed. To me it's like asking, "What could that drunk-driver have done to kill not, just your parents, but you and your kids also?" I guess that's hyper-emotional. Perhaps it's like the Russian contemplating how Hitler could have succeeded. I don't know. I make no pretense of objectivity. It's just how it feels.

That said, James Roark and William Cooper really deftly handled a question about what scholars could do to restore "respect for the Confederate flag." Roark made a great riposte by contrasting the waving of the Confederate Flag with claims  of Southern hospitality.

EDIT: Yeesh. The lectures are great, but skip ahead to the questions. Last question--"Did white Southerners get a bad rap for slavery?" Drew Faust crushed that one, though.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/11/ifs-defeated-the-confederates-at-shiloh/66846/