Former US Senator from Virginia, Secretary of the Navy and author James Webb has written and spoken extensively about his own Ulster-Scots (often referred to by the rather confusing term ‘Scots-Irish‘ in the United States) ancestry. On page 211 of his book Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America he writes about how US historians (such as Bruce Levine, for instance) often view the US war against the South almost strictly in terms of a Northern moral crusade against slavery. This lies behind much of their opposition to Southern symbols, the Senator notes. However, he points out that most of the men who actually fought for the Confederacy came from what he terms the ‘Scots-Irish heartland’ (centred around Appalachia). In this area slavery was not a dominant institution, though the region was influenced by the plantation system and culture of the Lower South. Webb argues that cultural and historical factors most strongly motivated Southerners from the Appalachian heartland of the South to resist US invasion. He writes:
What many historians miss – and what those who react so strongly to seeing Confederate battle flags on car bumpers and in the yards of descendants of Confederate veterans do not understand – is that slavery was emphatically not the reason that most individual Southerners fought so long and hard, and at such overwhelming cost. Slavery may have been the catalytic issue from a governmental perspective, and its moral dimensions may have motivated many Northerners, but other factors, some cultural and some historical, brought most of the Confederate soldiers to the battlefield. And that was particularly true among the communities in the Scots-Irish heartland that provided the bulk of the Confederate Army’s manpower.