Sunday, May 14, 2017

High Tech Hunley


As the slow process of excavating the marvel continues, more and more revelations are coming to light about the technical sophistication of the H.L. Hunley, the world’s first successful submarine.

This prompted a U.S. government historian to declare, according to the newspapers, that the discoveries are surprising and that “we” will have to revise our ideas about Confederate technical backwardness.

For anyone who has paid close attention to the War Between the States, the discoveries are not at all surprising. Unlike the government historian, we already knew that Southerners performed miracles of invention, engineering, and production during their fight for independence. But, alas, it is also not surprising that Yankees never seem to be able to overcome their prejudices about the South and continue to think they know everything without even taking a look.

The comments reported go back to the old prewar Yankee mythology that proclaimed to the world that Northerners were innovative and industrious and Southerners were backward and lazy.

It is true. Southerners did not have a lot of factories before the War. For a simple reason—they had better ways of making a living. They did not need them. Northerners had to have factories and had to have them supported by government subsidies and protective tariffs, which could work only because of Southern productivity.

This does not mean that Southerners were backward. Before the War, the South had Matthew F. Maury, who quite literally revolutionized ocean navigation for the whole world. It also had America’s greatest naturalist, John J. Audubon, and many other scientists and inventors. Though he made his career in the North, Cyrus McCormick, who invented the reaper that contributed more than any other single development to the prosperity of the Midwest, was a native of Virginia. Likewise, Richard Gatling of Gatling gun fame was North Carolina born. The Colt revolver, the sidearm that conquered the West, was manufactured in New York—on a design made by Texas Rangers.

It is a fact that during the War, Southerners established factories that provided nearly every thing that was needed for the armies, like the powder manufactory at Augusta. Georgia, under Col. George W. Rains. The two LeConte brothers in Columbia, South Carolina, went from Confederate service to found the sciences at the University of California. There was never any lack of materiel for the Confederate armies. Shortages arose when the railroads were torn up faster than they could be replaced, obstructing distribution. Besides the Hunley, Confederates pioneered in ironclad ships, torpedoes, fortifications, small arms improvement and numerous other areas.

By the way, the most important Northern war invention, the Monitor ironclad, was designed and built not by a Yankee but by a Swedish immigrant, John Ericsson.

Here’s hoping that Yankee observers will continue to “discover” the obvious about us.


  1. Maybe they should try conquering us again just to see what we'd be driven to invent...

    The South was developing though. It's likely we'd have been hit with the same industrialization as the North. But perhaps we'd have then chosen a different path, by which I mean we might have used our government to direct a different path rather than falling into the modern libertarian-socialist dichotomy.

    The North wasn't motivated. They had immigrants fighting for them and had to bully parts of the North to stay in line.

    It's much easier to oppose one's own destruction than to support the destruction of another.

    We all know man is depraved, but the South was in a uniquely virtuous situation. We could have produced a very good adaptation to modern life. We should have been allowed to try.

    1. It's much easier to oppose one's own destruction than to support the destruction of another.

      Well said.

    2. But, what I say on our being in a virtuous position, I really mean.

      I don't like slavery, etc. And I suspect poor Southern whites were held in check to support a system they really didn't want. But most every political system looks like that: Powers balancing.

      Our aristocracy was uniquely virtuous for man. And I really believe we had a good shot at figuring a better path.

      It's like with Sam Francis: Brilliant guy. I believe he died before his prime, before he could offer an alternative movement against the "managerial state". He was in his 50s... What's sad about the South is I expect we in a sense died before we could give the modern world what it really needs.

      You talk well of Vietnam. Well, maybe in spite of Communism (!!) it'll offer the world ideas, a better way.

      You look at any society though: None of them are perfect. Sparta is a rare gem of human achievement, yet it had slavery (other traditions I dislike).

      So, that's my belief: We were snuffed out before we could attempt a leap into the modern world. Our leap would have likely looked different from the North's.

      The racial aspect is important. But the culture and the agrarian profession are what moderns overlook.

    3. I suspect poor Southern whites were held in check to support a system they really didn't want.

      Blacks were an economic threat to them.


      You talk well of Vietnam. Well, maybe in spite of Communism (!!) it'll offer the world ideas, a better way.

      From 1975 to 1982 it was brutal, but the PTB finally gave up trying to enforce the Communist system on the South and they have slowly loosed the chains since then until today it's pretty much free enterprise on the streets and as long as you don't have guns and keep your mouth shut about the system you are OK. Any deviation will bring reprisal. The Communist government is thoroughly corrupt and makes the Thieu government look lily white.

    4. Here is an example of Communist Vietnam doing what Communists do best: :) :(

      Vietnam wants companies to stop advertising on Facebook and YouTube because of 'fake content'

  2. "Blacks were an economic threat to them."

    Yes, that's what I meant. They had to support slavery bc didn't want freed blacks. I read that in the ah George secession declaration I think, their concern about freed blacks hitting wages.

    1. Thanks and one group was about as well off as the other as far as food and lodging.