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Civil War Trust

Dispatches

Letters to the Skirmisher

Why did Southerners who did not own slaves fight in the Confederate army?

There has been a lot of debate on this subject. The historian James McPherson argues that Southerners enlisted in 1861 to fight for liberty and against Northern tyranny. Many Southerners without slaves still believed the North threatened their rights and honor by opposing slavery. They also feared a slave rebellion, which might hurt their families.

The draft and suffering at home did cause many Southern soldiers to stop supporting the war in its later years. Many men forced into the Confederate army complained about fighting to protect the slaves of rich whites.
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