Balsa wrote:It was the same thing when poor southern whites (re: the majority) joined the cause of the South against the North. Most of them didn't own slaves, but it's all about aspiration. Not saying that's the only reason, but it played into one of the causes for the South being generally supported (and we can take this to a different thread if you want OMC )
If that was the reason that a poor southern white joined the Confederate army, then you are talking about a minority of a minority of a minority of soldiers that had that as their reason. Confederate enlistments in the army went up like 500% when Federal troops entered into Southern states. It was a complete shock to the majority of southerners that the US Government was actually using force to resolve the conflict.
Several states seceded only after Lincoln called on those states to use THEIR militias to suppress the rebellion. You really have to understand the mindset of these people back then to understand why they would enlist. For nearly all of them, they had never been more than 10 miles from the place they were born, the loudest thing they had ever heard was a thunderclap, the largest animal they had ever seen in person was a steer. All they understand was what was around them in their immediate vicinity. These were extremely simple people, north and south.
Now, take any one of us. Could you imagine burning down your hometown or firing deadly volleys of gunfire at people you grew up with, no matter if their cause was completely contrary to anything you believe in? I'd imagine most people would say no, they couldn't.
I'd say that for Confederate soldiers, their reasons for fighting in the war were ranked as follows:
1. Loyalty to defend "their country" i.e. their home state.
2. Personal reasons i.e. Adventure and Glory/Boredom/Prestige
3. Peer pressure
Put "preserving the Union" into number one and you'd have a list for why Union soldiers fought that war.
I'm reminded of a captured Confederate soldier after Vicksburg being asked by a Union soldier, "why are you fighting this war", and his simple answer was just to say, "because you are down here."
Reasons for fighting regarding slavery, either the abolition of it or preservation of it, probably account for a very, very few amount of soldiers in that war on either side, save for the black Union troops.