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It has been postulated that desertion was the primary cause of Lee's defeat. I'll stop short of primary. It certainly didn't help. Looking at desertion a bit deeper, we might observe that the Rebs weren't getting fed or paid and more than many were needed at home.Good question, Ole. I think that the Southern boys understood war enough to realize the end was near and Sherman was the straw that broke the camels back.
I've tried to read the desertion rate as those disaffected with the cause, but I'm drawn to the reality that they were actually compelled to go home to plant and to see that their families had something to survive on until harvest.
To be kind, some had slaves to provide that service, but most didn't.
Next question: did Sherman's March through Georgia have anything to do with the desertion rate?