“A Rich Man’s War and a Poor Man’s Fight”


There’s no question but that a lot of what’s going on today reminds me of the Cotton Kingdom, the principality of sorts that tore our country apart over 150 years ago in a terrible Civil War. The Cotton Kingdom had a relatively small group of people—we’re talking about white men, of course—who owned almost all the wealth of the South in the form of land and slaves devoted to growing King Cotton. They got richer and richer while the rest of the South stayed poor. Remind you of something?

One of the reasons the South lost the war (thank God!) was because its industry lagged well behind that of the North. The army didn’t have enough guns and ammunition, and since the mills that made cloth were all in the North, clothing and blankets were in short supply, let alone proper boots. You’d think the lords of the Cotton Kingdom would have thought of all that before they sent their soldiers off to war, but given most of those soldiers were expendable poor whites I guess it never crossed their mind.

It’s true that some of the planter class fought and died in the war—myself included, if you consider my father’s 1,000 acre cotton farm a plantation—but mostly the Confederacy drafted poor white men, those “common men” I talk about so much, to fight the war on their behalf. And don’t ask me why, but those common men bought it lock, stock and barrel, or at least most of them did for a while, until close to the end when “A rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight”became a popular saying. They died like flies defending their homes and farms from the Yankee invasion, despite the fact that most of their holdings were mere crumbs (there’s that word again) compared to the wealth of the Cotton Kingdom’s plantations.

I’ll have more to say later regarding people’s misconceptions as to who their friends and enemies really are, along with the age-old problem of whose children are sent off to die when there’s a war—and the ramifications of both for America’s military in the 21 st Century.

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