If the average confederate soldier thought of slaves he thought of them as a symbol of wealth he would never have. Despite this the majority of them volunteered to fight, in many cases paid their own expenses and provided their own weapons. They left their families behind to tend farms which could not be managed effectively without them and later many of them lost the land they had fought for and ended up as renters or sharecroppers on their own farms in the aftermath of the war. Despite these hardships they volunteered in great numbers and marched off to fight for a cause they were sure was righteous.
There were two things which the pundits in the newspapers of both the North and the South agreed on at the time of the war. The first was that it was a "poor man's war and a rich man's fight", in the sense that the poor would pay the price in blood for rewards which would mostly go to the wealthy classes. The other was that on the issue of moral principles alone the south was probably in the right. Many northern politicians admitted that on the precedent of the Revolutionary War the South had some validity to its claim that it had the right to secede from the union just as the colonies had been entitled to separate themselves from Great Britain. But at the same time they argued from the perspective of Liberalism which was the powerful new political movement of the era, which said that the general welfare of all the states and all of the people was best served by preserving the union and that the "greatest good for the greatest number" was the best way to protect the rights of individuals, through a stronger federal government directly defending the rights of citizens against abusive state governments. They argued that the south had dominated the government for decades on the basis of captive slave votes and corrupt slave money and that the election of 1860 was a revolution against that "slave power conspiracy." In truth those wealthy bankers and land owners had held southerners as much in thrall as northerners and the real struggle was between economic systems more than geographical regions, but most of those who fought on both sides had very little awareness of htis.