This Is Where Confederate Loyalists Fled To After The Civil War

There are lots of ways to handle losing. Whether it's a game, a company, or a discussion with another human being who, like you, deserves respect, there are choices. Shake hands and congratulate the winner. "You played/negotiated/spoke better. Well done." Conversely, there are different ways to win: "Thank you for the game." "You made some fair points." "Let's get together again and talk." Or there's always "it wasn't a loss, it was a strategic retreat," or "you cheated," or "this is not over yet!" For instance, the American Civil War.

The late Charlie Daniels had a decent hit in 1974 with "The South's Gonna Do It Again." It would have provided a proper ear worm for Confederate forces and loyalists in 1865 after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Post-war conditions were not ideal in the southern states. Most of the war had been fought on Confederate soil, and it showed. Agriculture and infrastructure were devastated. Thousands of lives had been lost; other lives were irretrievably damaged. Economic opportunity was nearly nonexistent.

Robert E. Lee disagreed with those who fled the South

Some people went West to start over. There was land to be settled for displaced Southerners. More than one writer has suggested that part of the controversy in Tombstone, Arizona, between the Earps and the Cow-boys was that the Earps and their backers were Northerners — Virgil and James had both fought in the Union army — and as Casey Tefertiller writes in Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend, "the ranchers and cowboys of southern Arizona were mostly Democrats of Southern origin or sympathies." (Doc Holliday, Earp ally and son of Georgia, was an exception.) But not everyone who remained loyal to the defeated Confederacy — the noble "Lost Cause," celebrated by poets like Father Abram Ryan, per the Alabama website — even stayed within the freshly reunited United States. Slavery was abolished. The cause was lost. The war was over — but that didn't have to mean the end. They were facing a military occupation by Northern troops in the wake of the conflict, what some called the "War of Northern Aggression."

A few prominent Confederates argued against an exodus, Robert E. Lee among them. But others were determined to take their ball and leave not only the game, but the country.

Brazil offered a chance to preserve the Southern way of life after their devastating defeat

One group, eventually numbering a couple of thousand, tried to establish a colony in Mexico, says the Abbeville Institute — "New Virginia." Others headed for British Honduras. Slavery had been abolished in both countries, however, and so a much more attractive — and popular — option was Brazil.

It was there that the majority of the 10,000-20,000 expatriate Confederates tried to establish new homes. Slavery was still legal, and areas were right for growing cotton, particularly in Sao Paulo. There were government incentives as well. As History reports, Brazil's Emperor Don Pedro II had been a Confederate ally during the war. He openly encouraged Confederates to emigrate there, subsidizing their transportation costs, offering cheap land (22 cents per acre), and easing citizenship.

It worked for a while, for a few. The displaced Southerners brought new agricultural techniques (new to Brazil, anyway) and varying crops (watermelons, pecans). Some brought slaves with them, illegally; others purchased slaves once they arrived. Says Luciana da Cruz Brito, professor of history at the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia, ""I have no doubt that they came to Brazil because of slavery."

Slavery was still legal in Brazil

It didn't work for everyone. Language was a problem — Portuguese was (and is) the predominant language in Brazil — and conditions were not quite as rosy as the Emperor had painted them in his newspaper ads enticing immigration. They weren't coming to already-established plantations; once again, they had to carve their farms out of the wilderness. As All That's Interesting explains, the Southerners began to drift away from their original colonies. With the end of Reconstruction, and the growth of Jim Crow segregation laws, the South was attractive once again to the expatriate racists. Many returned, perhaps with the misplaced hope that the South would, indeed, do it again.

The Confederados, per History Daily, are a presence in Brazil to this day, known as the "Fraternidade Descendência Americana," says Vice. They organize regular celebrations of Southern culture and history, and as Historynet tells us, "They see themselves as Brazilians, but also as distinctly American — the last Rebels of the Civil War."