These three essays explore various aspects of the mythology of the Lost Cause. The first two essays discuss how James McPherson and Gary Gallagher have devoted their academic careers to debunking this pervasive distortion of Civil War history. The third essay is a broader look at the entire field of Lost Cause historiography.
“James McPherson and the American Civil War”
James McPherson has devoted his academic career to writing accessible, but scholarly, historical prose. This essay traces his career with particular emphasis on his efforts to debunk the mythology of the Lost Cause and some of the historians who have influenced him.
pdf link: osullivan_mcpherson_pdf
“Gary Gallagher and the American Civil War”
Gary Gallagher is one of the most prolific debunkers of the Lost Cause myth in the academic world. In this essay I discuss how Gallagher takes on many aspects of the myth with particular attention to the military aspects of the Lost Cause.
pdf link: osullivan_gallagher_pdf
“The Lost Cause Myth in American History Writing”
In the popular mind the mythology of the Lost Cause has best explained the history of the Civil War for the last 150 years. Within the last half century or so, historians have shown the Lost Cause to be a web of distortion, that, although it remains attractive to many people, is easily contradicted with scholarly research. This essay summarizes some of the most prominent scholarship on the subject of the Lost Cause. I have identified four periods into which the development of this mythology can be divided.
pdf link: osullivan_lost_cause_pdf