The CSA was a bid to form an independent nation out of a region that had a common enemy and some collective regional identity. But the CSA comprised many sub-cultures (a few of them didn't want to be there), and it had a leadership that sometimes confused self-interest with public policy. It had its fair share of charlatans and profiteers and criminal opportunists. It had some brilliant generals and a great many men in uniform who would be the pride of any army in human history. It was committed to 18th century republican values that were incompatible with fighting a modern war, and it had internal social conflicts that the war aggravated.
In nearly all of this it was entirely like the American Revolutionaries. The colonists in 1776: one-third for independence, one-third against, one-third uncommitted. That must be the standard for legitimacy, or else our United States lacks it. The CSA fought a much larger enemy than George III, mostly on its own soil, without a Dutch loan or a French fleet to aid it, and the majority, in spite of internal divisions, put up a herculean effort, won spectacular victories, made shift with what little it had, and held out till the place was literally gutted and blood-drained by its foe.
The four-year history of the CSA is not necessarily the place to seek an example of the values Southerners sought to uphold. Any nation fighting for survival from the cradle, invaded and blockaded all its life, doesn't get a chance to express the finer points of democracy and civil culture. If all we knew of Americans was how they actually behaved from 1776 to 1783, we wouldn't think much of our sense of "democracy" or commitment to "personal freedom."
~ Douglas Harper