Virginia Historian Said The Confederates Were Wimps

(December 30, 2016) As I continue through the YouTube Civil War lectures posted by Columbia University’s Eric Foner I came to one in which Foner quotes another historian as essentially saying that Confederate supporters were wimps. Foner opines on the University of Virginia’s Armstead Robinson who Foner says was a “good historian”:

[Robinson] taught in the South [and gave lectures to] the [United] Daughters of the Confederacy…[In criticizing a Southern lack of will Robinson said,] ‘Giving up after four years? The American Revolution lasted eight years! How could you give up after four years? That’s ridiculous! What kind of war is that?

Once again Foner cites a statement that demeans Confederates but he omits facts that contradict the implications of the statement. As the table below indicates, he fails to mention that the number of American soldiers killed during the Revolutionary War was less than 1% of the white population. In contrast, the number of Confederate soldiers killed during the Civil War was 5.5% of the white population of the Confederacy. (By comparison, American deaths in World War II approximated 0.3% of the country’s population.)


Taken as a percent of the white population, Confederate Civil War deaths were six-times larger than American soldier deaths during the Revolutionary War even though the Civil War was only half as long. If the Southern loss ratio were applied to the present American population the number of killed soldiers would be over 17 million.

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4 thoughts on “Virginia Historian Said The Confederates Were Wimps

    1. Phil Leigh Post author

      Although I enjoy much about Foner’s lectures, it is hard to avoid concluding that he promotes sectional hatred toward the South.

  1. josepharose

    That’s a very good point, of course. And it’s not just a question of casualties. The military situation made it impossible for the Confederacy to have continued fighting. Maybe Foner just considers it a throw-off line that sounds good, but it doesn’t withstand scrutiny.

    1. Phil Leigh Post author

      I am enjoying Foner’s lectures, but I am also discovering that he is evidently the source of a lot of unfair opinions toward supporters of the Confederacy.


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