About Brooks D. Simpson

American historian.

News and Notes, April 16, 2014

Ah, the pause that refreshes …

  • Many of you were interested in what Jim DeMint had to say about emancipation. I was not.
  • Kevin Levin had some interesting observations about the impact of the sesquicentennial. I’m never sure how one measures such things. What was the impact of the bicentennials of 1776 and Lincoln’s birth in 2009? Hard to tell.
  • Al Mackey wants to draw your attention to a stunning presentation.
  • As for more stunning presentations, check out what Jill Titus of Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute has to say about the upcoming June 2014 conference:
  • This week Connie Chastain thought it was proper to post profane and ugly lyrics on her blog, just as one time she posted pictures of mostly unclad women. For the record, I don’t know Goad Gatsby and I don’t select his playlist. I think he’d be far more effective with clean lyrics (maybe he should add The Battle Cry of Freedom and John Brown’s Body/Battle Hymn of the Republic). However, it seems to me that he has as much right to do what he does as the Flaggers have to do what they do, and if he’s violating any laws or ordinances, then by all means, ask one of Tripp Lewis’s friends in uniform to have a talk with him. Connie, by the way, apparently still¬†has no problem with¬†atrocities, racism, bigotry, and violence against women. When her buddy John C. Hall Jr. uses the same language she claims to deplore in rap lyrics, she says nothing; recall that she once defended Pat Hines from antiSemitism … really? Same goes for Connie defending Hall’s antiSemitism. Maybe she can spend some time telling us how her views differ from those of Glenn Miller.

On Cross Burnings and Stone Mountain

Recently I came across this image featured on a Confederate heritage Facebook site:
CSA BF cross
The cross, of course, is a powerful image, especially on a week such as this one on the Christian calendar. Then again, so is this:
cross burning 1989 Stone MountainThe practice of cross burning by the Ku Klux Klan is a case of life imitating art. The Reconstruction KKK did not practice cross burning. Rather, the idea first appeared in Thomas Dixon’s 1905 book about the Reconstruction KKK, The Clansman:
Dixon fiery crossDixon’s book was made even popular a decade later with the release of the film Birth of a Nation:
Birth burning cross
Later that year, when Leo Frank was captured and accused of murdering Mary Phagan, a group of viligantes, modeling themselves on the Reconstruction KKK, seized Frank from prison and lynched him on August 17, 1915. Several months later, on November 25, 1915, these self-styled “Knights of Mary Phagan” met atop Stone Mountain, Georgia, where they burned a cross to mark the refounding of the KKK. The practice soon became a trademark of the KKK, which, unlike its Reconstruction namesake, became a national organization, so cross-burning was not limited to the South.

Nevertheless, it would be Stone Mountain where the first cross burning by the KKK took place. Present at the event was the grandson of Nathan Bedford Forrest. The man who owned Stone Mountain, Samuel Venable, soon granted the KKK access to the mountain, which became a popular site for cross burnings.

This video was reportedly taken at Stone Mountain, Georgia (as opposed to the state park) in 2009:

In 1916 the effort to mark the face of Stone Mountain with a massive carving of Confederate leaders commenced. The original design looked like this:
Stone Mountain original designAfter some delays, in 1923 fundraising began in earnest to mark Stone Mountain as a focal point of Confederate heritage; the federal government assisted the effort by minting a Stone Mountain half dollar in 1924:
Lee Jackson Stone Mountain coin
However, it was the United Daughters of the Confederacy that took the lead in providing for the memorial, although the Klan had input into the design as well. The original sculptor, Gutzon Birglum, better known for his work on Mount Rushmore (as well as the statue of Phil Sheridan at Washington’s Sheridan Circle), was a Klansman, but that proved insufficient motivation, and he quit the project in 1925. After three more years the project ground to a halt, and not until 1964 did work resume. By that time the state of Georgia had purchased the site, ejecting the KKK from further involvement.

In 1970 the United States Postal Service issued a stamp featuring the monument:
Stone Mt StampOne wonders whether today’s visitors to Stone Mountain realize the site’s history, especially the role that the KKK played in making the site a modern-day Confederate shrine … including these recent visitors:

Karen Cooper and Susan Hathaway

Karen Cooper and Susan Hathaway

Billy Bearden

Billy Bearden

Southern Nationalists and the Crimea Crisis

Southern nationalists are divided as to where they stand on the situation in Crimea. Southern nationalist Connie Chastain offers this statement:
Ukraine
Meanwhile, the League of the South supports Russia’s acquisition of Crimea through a referendum, because it’s a secessionist movement. Indeed, I’ve heard that Dr. Michael Hill has invited Vladimir Putin to address the League at its next national meeting.

Another Flagger Supporter … Another Racist?

The Virginia Flaggers have proudly embraced Confederate heritage blogger Jerry Dunford as one of their own, and he in turn has celebrated their cause with some powerful prose (if that’s what you think typing in ALL CAPS means).

So what did Jerry have to say about black people recently?

Abraham Lincoln , did not like blacks, did you know this, and he wanted them gone from our American soil. He wanted them some way exported back to Africa, and I agree with he desires, as I think he was correct in his thinking, as the Black man in general is a troublemaker, and has harmed the cultures of every nation they have existed in. Progress in any black land is at a standstill, disease is higher, culture is shameful, unwed motherhood, fatherless children, and crime is much higher than in non black nations, and those that have very few black citizens. Ask the Pope, as God, use facts, not opinions, and you will see this is true, and Lincoln was correct in his observation then, just as Thomas Jefferson and others had observed and so stated many years prior to Lincoln. I wish this was not true, but it is.

This doesn’t sound much different than Connie Chastain, who helps the Flaggers with their website. Heck, Jerry’s about as articulate as Connie. And, so long as the Flaggers welcome such support, it’s reasonable to conclude that they really don’t mind these sorts of expressions … and some may actually agree with them.

Maybe that’s what they really mean by “restore the honor” …

Confederates, Nazis, and Obama Haters: Who Links Them Together?

Why, I’ll show you:

Hall FB page

That’s right … and see this explanation from our hero:

HALL nAZIS 2

I doubt David Grove will link to this one, either. :)

Note: Seems Mr. Grove now knows that just because he won’t link to something doesn’t mean it’s not circulated …
Grove Hall
He can now return to moderating a Facebook group that’s as much about conservative politics as it is about a slice of the Confederate heritage movement.

Quotes of the Week: April 6-12, 2014 (A Fort Pillow Remembrance)

Here’s what one defender of Confederate heritage had to say about the sesquicentennial of Fort Pillow:
Hall on Forrest

Yup, this fellow.

And, thanks to Andy Hall, we have a description of what happened to the defenders of Fort Pillow:

All the wounded who had strength enough to speak agreed that after the fort was taken an indiscriminate slaughter of our troops was carried on by the enemy with a furious and vindictive savageness which was never equaled by the most merciless of the Indian tribes. Around on every side horrible testimony to the truth of this statement could be seen. Bodies with gaping wounds, some bayoneted through the eyes, some with skulls beaten through, others with hideous wounds as if their bowels had been ripped open with bowie-knives, plainly told that but little quarter was shown to our troops. Strewn from the fort to the river bank, in the ravines and hollows, behind logs and under the brush where they had crept for protection from the assassins who pursued them, we found bodies bayoneted, beaten, and shot to death, showing how cold-blooded and persistent was the slaughter of our unfortunate troops.

Of course, when a work is carried by assault there will always be more or less bloodshed, even when all resistance has ceased; but here there were unmistakable evidences of a massacre carried on long after any resistance could have been offered, with a cold-blooded barbarity and perseverance which nothing can palliate.

Something to think about when we are told that it’s all about “restoring the honor.”

April 12, 1864: Massacre at Fort Pillow

Battle_of_Fort_Pillow
Today, 150 years ago, Confederate forces under Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked Union forces at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, along the Mississippi River. What happened next has been a matter of controversy ever since.

Watch and listen as some descendants of soldiers who fought that day reflect on their ancestors’ experience. And here’s one historian’s reflections on the battle and its legacy.

To this day there are two critical issues that spark much controversy:

(1) Was there a massacre of black soldiers?
(2) What responsibility does Forrest bear for the behavior of his men?

All too often, these arguments are blurred, to the point that I’ve seen arguments that since Forrest wasn’t responsible for the behavior of his men, there was no massacre at Fort Pillow. However, it’s rather easy to argue that. regardless of what Forrest desired or ordered, there was a massacre of black soldiers, and there’s a great deal of documentation to support that point of view.

When it comes to Forrest’s responsibility (or culpability), I’ll simply note that one cannot claim that William T. Sherman is a war criminal without accepting that Nathan Bedford Forrest is a war criminal. After all, Sherman did not issue orders calling for the raping of women or the destruction of property outside the laws of war. Nor did he issue orders for the destruction of Columbia in February 1865. One can hold him accountable for (a) the orders he issued and (b) his actions (or inaction) in punishing his own men for violations of the law of war. One would have to hold Forrest to the same standard, unless you think the destruction of property is a greater crime than cold-blooded murder … or whether you think crimes against white people bother you more than crimes against black people, especially those wearing the uniform of the United States armed forces. Once you say that Sherman must be held responsible for the actions of his men, you must say the same for Forrest.

Some Flaggers and Their Friend … Brian Pace

You’ve heard it before: those darn bloggers are going after the Virginia Flaggers by suggesting that they are friends with white supremacists. What falsehood! How unfair!

Really?

Take the case of one Brian Pace. Mr. Pace is a southern nationalist. He runs an online store and has a website. He’s been involved in Mississippi politics, where his presence became an issue with some Republicans. And here’s what he’s said on a message board about the Ku Klux Klan:

WhiteCSA My Name Is Brian Pace A

WhiteCSA Our Klan Movement A

WhiteCSA Our Klan A

And whom might Brian Pace count among his friends?

Susan Hathaway Friend A

Tripp Lewis Friend A

Billy Bearden Friend A

This should come as no surprise to anyone … although we await more non-denial denials, just as we heard them when we highlighted the links between the Virginia Flaggers and Matthew Heimbach.

Lost Cause Historical Practice

Some people claim that the term “Lost Cause Myth” and “Lost Cause Historiography” are inventions devised by certain “anti-southern” folks who are also usually described as “left-wing academics.” One example of such a complaint can be found here.

And yet that very example suggests why there’s something to the understanding of the “Lost Cause Myth” as an exercise in avoidance and amnesia as practiced by certain people. Look, for example, as this quote from Grant’s Memoirs about his meeting with Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865:
OVB Appomattox Grant

Now let’s look at what Grant actually said:

What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.

(emphasis added)

I wonder why that was omitted.

UPDATE: The blogger in question rather begrudgingly admitted his mistake in a non-apology apology. However, using his own standards for editing quotes, I’ve rendered his admission as follows: “So, yes, I did omit much of this particular quote…. I should have included an ellipsis to indicate this was not a complete quote. That was admittedly sloppy on my part.”

That’s better.