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Shek
07 Oct 09,, 12:31
I heard an interesting thesis yesterday about the Confederacy as a modern day Sparta, where there was a need and culture for strong state militia to ensure that they could keep their slave population in check, just as Sparta dominated their helots. The parallel is fascinating and I was wondering if anyone out there had come across a book that explored this parallel?

Station 22
07 Oct 09,, 16:18
That is news to me and I live in the Heart of Dixie.

Shek
07 Oct 09,, 17:03
Station,

The comparison isn't a direct/fully equivalent one. There's certainly no academies for boys or a requirement to kill a slave to enter manhood. The thesis that I was asking about was one where the requirement to perpetuate a landed slave owning aristocracy necessitated the ability to marshall force against potential slave revolts (e.g., the slave population in SC was greater than the white population). Thus, there was a need for strong state militias that created a more martial attitude, an attitude that served the Confederates well against the North.

As far as never hearing it, I'd offer that I think it'd probably be less likely to hear it in the South given the sensitivity to any narratives that revolves around slavery. The narrative that the North and South fought for morally equivalent reasons, while inaccurate, was necessary to move the country forward and heal the wounds between white Americans.

Doomarias
07 Oct 09,, 19:50
Did you southerners also practice the mentoring of young warriors by older warriors, not only in the arts of combat, but of love as well. LOL just pulling your chain.

Shek
07 Oct 09,, 20:04
Did you southerners also practice the mentoring of young warriors by older warriors, not only in the arts of combat, but of love as well. LOL just pulling your chain.

Nice :biggrin:

Ironduke
18 Oct 09,, 03:44
I can't find any readily information online about the size of the Southern militias. Were they proportionally larger than the militias in Northern states?

Albany Rifles
19 Oct 09,, 15:44
I can't find any readily information online about the size of the Southern militias. Were they proportionally larger than the militias in Northern states?


I think we need to understand the role of militia forces in antebellum America. While militias existed well into colonial periods they were formalized in the Uniform Militia Act of 1795 and later amended prior to the War of 1812 and again in the 1820s. The laws stated "An Act to Provide to call Forth the Militia to Execute the Laws of the Union, Suppress Insurrection and Repel Invasions." So to note while the militia had a 3 part mission, the role of military action was tertiary. It was intended as primarily a force on call to answer to the governor of the state to maintain order and discipline. In that light the Southern states had a perceived higher need in order to suppress any slave insurrection. However, in New York, the governor called oput the militia several times in the 1850s to suppress rioting between rival gangs (remember Gangs of New York?) But militias were only intended to be a shorterm manpower augmentation to civil authroity. And militia call ups were limited by law not to exceed 90 days.

Furthermore, as a military force, the militia system was seen to be ineffective. The Mexican War showed that Volunteer forces, raised to a more professional standard and for a longer term of service, were better suited for combat operations. And per a lot of state constitutions the militia was to ONLY operate within the US. This made them useless for the wars as time went on.

As the Era of Good Fellings gave away to the post Mexican War period of expansionism, the specter of increased slavery came ot the for. As a result, militia forces were raised by factions. Missiouri had 2 competing militias, The Home Guard which was pro Union and the State Guard whcih was pro Southern. Both forces would form the backbone for the volunteer forces in service for their respective armies.

Finally, recall that each state of what would become the Confederacy had a military college or academy which was supported by state tax dollars. The purpose of these academies was to provide leadership of their militias. Whiel there were some academies in the North, there were no where near as many.

So to your question...The northern militias usually were called out to put down civil unrest (gang wars) or tensions with the British or Indians (Black Hawk War). The Southern states militias were called out to respond to mob violence (New Orleans, Memphis) as well, protect the border (Spanish Florida), Indian Removal (Georgia State Militia) but also for slave insurrection (Nat Turner Rebellion, Louisiana Slave Rebellion of 1811, Black Seminole Rebellion, John Brown's Raid).

zraver
20 Oct 09,, 01:56
Something else that might be related and important is economics. The South was woefully underdeveloped compared to the north and wealth was based on land. This left second plus sons of the plantation owners with little to inherit and like other landed aristocrats military service was a solution. Certainly it seems as if an inordinate amount of pre-civil war officers hailed from the South.

One major difference however is that Sparta was compulsory military service with death or reduction to Helot status (and then death by Helot murder) at every step of the way if one failed. No southern white could be put in bondage and reduced to slave status.

The closest thing we have to the Spartans in the modern/semi modern world might be the Prussians, Janniseries, medieval nobility and the Samurai. All model parts of Spartan life but not others.

Albany Rifles
20 Oct 09,, 13:57
Something else that might be related and important is economics. The South was woefully underdeveloped compared to the north and wealth was based on land. This left second plus sons of the plantation owners with little to inherit and like other landed aristocrats military service was a solution. Certainly it seems as if an inordinate amount of pre-civil war officers hailed from the South.

One major difference however is that Sparta was compulsory military service with death or reduction to Helot status (and then death by Helot murder) at every step of the way if one failed. No southern white could be put in bondage and reduced to slave status.

The closest thing we have to the Spartans in the modern/semi modern world might be the Prussians, Janniseries, medieval nobility and the Samurai. All model parts of Spartan life but not others.

A student at Michigan State may say they should be included in the list!:))

Shek
08 Jun 10,, 03:08
Here's a book that explores slave patrols and examines their connection to the militia, Slave patrols: law and violence in ... - Google Books (http://books.google.com/books?id=WC7andkrJNcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=confederate+slave+patrols&source=bl&ots=MjZDoWWyAb&sig=ad_jsLWDjK6gL4CUzCyR1aWTV7s&hl=en&ei=gqQNTLTRJoOoNv3CobYE&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=confederate%20slave%20patrols&f=false)