The Southern Heritage Preservation Group on Nazis

Recently a poster here deplored the name-calling he claimed went on between various groups in the blogosphere.  The poster in question is a member of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group.

The request seems perfectly understandable. Goodness knows we wouldn’t want to upset anyone.

Gary Adams held forth on this very issue yesterday.

Many of you surely have encountered the comparison of the Confederacy with Nazis, since there is no real comparison I can offer you little as how to proceed except again the truth.

Yet on that very newsgroup, within twenty-four hours of offering this declaration, what do we see on the SHPG’s Facebook page?

Three likes within two hours.  Interesting.

But Kevin’s late to the party, so to speak.  After all, there was this comment yesterday:

Another three likes.

You all will remember Mr. John C. Hall (of Dublin, Georgia) as the member of the SHPG who was obsessed about people’s ancestry, who has made comments about people being Jewish, and who has complained when he is quoted on that score.

Ah, yes, the Southern Heritage Preservation Group … the gift that keeps on giving. What a way to honor Confederate heritage.

Another Sesquicentennial Moment

I wonder how many people will recall the 150th anniversary of this document.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Whereas it has become necessarry to call into service not only volunteers, but also portions of the militia of the States by draft in order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering this measure and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection:

Now, therefore, be it ordered, first, that during the existing insurrection, and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all rebels and insurgents, their aiders and abettors, within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia draft or guilty of any disloyal practice affording aid and comfort to rebels against the authority of the United States, shall be subject to martial law and liable to trial and punishment by courts-martial or military commissions; second, that the writ of habeas corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now or hereafter during the rebellion shall be imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place of confinement by any military authority or by the sentence of any court-martial or military commission.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 24th day of September, A.D. 1862, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.


By the President:


Secretary of State.

Many critics of the Lincoln administration linked this document with the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation as evidence of the administration’s centralizing tyrannical tendencies.  “Discouraging” enlistments, after all, could take many forms, including criticism of the war effort … something that could be expected on the eve of midterm congressional elections, and which one would expect might increase in the wake of the issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation some forty-eight hours earlier.

Was this proclamation wise? Was it necessary? Do Lincoln’s critics have a point?

The Way One’s Mind Works …

Mike Lamb believes that my post discussing secession as a reasonable response offers members of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group an ideal opportunity to trap me … whatever that means.

However for their side, the enemy, he is a “great” historian.  It is for the sake of showing them ALL to be wrong, that their agenda, their teaching of revisionist history is wrong, and that such is destroying not only us but also others, that is the reason to confront him. Plus at the same time it exonerates our ancestors and what they claimed, fought and died for.


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Was Secession a Reasonable Response?

A comment left today on this blog causes me to raise what I think is an interesting question: was secession a reasonable act?

I say yes.

Why?  Simple.  Secessionists made it very clear that their primary purpose in seeking separation and independence was the protection of slavery.  They well understood that so long as they remained in the Union, history was turning against them.  They understood that Lincoln’s reassurances that he would not attack slavery had nothing to do with the fact that slavery as an institution was more vulnerable with the presidency in the hands of Republicans than of Democrats (and, after Stephen Douglas’s waffling on the issue of slavery’s expansion, they were none too sure about the reliability of northern Democrats, either, which explains the walkout of the fire-eaters at the 1860 Democratic convention).

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News and Notes: September 23, 2012

A tour across the net reveals news and views of note:

Countdown to Emancipation

On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.You can read it here.

Much will be written between today and New Year’s Day 1863 about the promise of emancipation.  Some people will correctly remind us of the limited nature of that promise, restricted as it was by geography and the military situation. A few folks will even remind us of Lincoln’s final plea for gradual and compensated emancipation followed by voluntary colonization of the freedpeople. Yet each of these themes explores emancipation looking forward.

In truth, the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is as much a last look backward as it is a step forward. It represents Lincoln’s last attempt to preserve the Union more or less as it was without damaging the institution of slavery any more than had been already done by war and legislation. Properly understood, it is as much a document of reconstruction as it is of emancipation.  It details how white southerners could avoid the impact of emancipation by returning to the Union.

Once more, as at Fort Sumter, Lincoln left to white southerners the choice of what would happen next. It’s worth remembering that the president did so by defining the choices available. In April 1861 it was allowing the reprovisioning of Fort Sumter or war; in September 1862 it was an end to war and reunion with slavery or a continued war that would now target slavery in the Confederacy. In both cases Confederates did not hesitate to make their choice: war in 1861, war in 1862.

Much has been done on the debate in the North over the next hundred days.  It might be worthwhile to recall that the debate in the South was rather short, with Confederate patriots reminding everyone that from the beginning they had warned everyone that Lincoln’s ultimate goal was to destroy slavery. That realization served to strengthen Confederate morale and determination: it complicated the lives of those southern unionists who had tried to keep separate the issues of opposing secession while supporting slavery.

In short, we might do well not to anticipate January 1, 1863 as we reflect upon September 22, 1862. Much happened within the next one hundred days that deserves examination on its own merits, and without peeking ahead to what we now know happened.

Gary Adams of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group Lies Yet Again … Really

Not all that long ago I highlighted how the stumbling Gary Adams, the self-proclaimed Jeopardy fact checker, renowned plagiarist, and leading light of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group (otherwise known as the gift that keeps on giving), managed to mangle the story of the Hampton Roads Conference of 1865 by claiming that references to the Thirteenth Amendment at that meeting was in fact the proposed Corwin Amendment, not the amendment that destroyed slavery forever.  Adams and his friends at the SHPG, who read this blog on a regular basis, attempted to sidestep Adams’s mistake.  Now, however, it seems that Adams knows that something’s wrong.  Perhaps a recent commenter here alerted him to his error, for once more Adams attempted to offer his version of the Hampton Roads Conference.  This time, however, he offered the following remark:

To continue the dialog next Lincoln made a comment that the Confederates could soften the blow (of emancipation) by ratifying the amendment (I had presumed everyone knew since the first 13th was never ratified that the conversation was on and about the 2th or what most consider was the only 13th amendment), clearly I was wrong, it is on the current 13th amendment. 

Yet as recently as September 12, 2012, Mr. Adams offered the following:

Corwin Amendment (First 13th Amendment)

“In an unusual move, Democratic President James Buchanan signed the Corwin Amendment on March 3, 1861, his last day in office (the Constitution does not require presidential approval for proposed amendments). It was ratified by only two states—Ohio on May 13, 1861, and by Maryland on January 10, 1862—and therefore fell far short of the necessary three-quarters majority of states in order to become part of the U.S. Constitution. Had it achieved ratification, the Corwin Amendment, which protected slavery, would have become the Thirteenth Amendment”. (In 1861 there were 34 States so it would have only taken 26 states to secure the amendment, now consider the Northern Slave trade, New York large slave population and how blacks were viewed; it is clear they could have secured the right to have had slaves). If the war had been over slavery the South could have at any time rejoined the Union passing the amendment securing her slaves, and even though Lincoln repeatedly made that offer (The last time on February 1865 on the ‘River Queen’ outside Fort Monroe, when both Seward and Lincoln again made the offer return pass the amendment and keep your slaves) they refused.

Adams has offered this same bizarre argument before, and several times within the past month.

It’s always the cover up, isn’t it?  Adams always proclaimed that the amendment in question was the Corwin Amendment … until today.  Then, instead of showing some integrity and courage and saying that he was wrong, he attempts to claim that he was misunderstood, and that his meaning was obvious.

Sorry, Gary, that dog won’t hunt.

Once more we have evidence that the spokesperson for these self-proclaimed defenders of Confederate heritage lacks both intelligence and integrity.  However, one must still wonder whether he holds the intelligence of his fellow heritage advocates in contempt (surely anyone could see that first he bungled the story, then he lied about bungling it) or that he rests secure in the knowledge that they share his utter disregard for the truth.  So much for southern honor.

As I’ve said before, the SHPG is the gift that keeps on giving … and Gary Adams is that group’s Santa Claus.

James L. Denton and Jordan H. Snow Nearly Meet at Shepherdstown, 150 Years Ago

Much is made of the supposed fact that George B. McClellan failed to pursue Robert E. Lee after Antietam.  True, McClellan did not renew the offensive on September 18, for which he has come under criticism in some quarters.  I’m not so sure: reading the letters and recollections of Union soldiers as they viewed the field that day suggests that many of them did not have the stomach to attack again and risk exposing themselves to a second meat grinder so soon.

Lee commenced withdawing on the night of September 18, and McClellan soon followed along.  No sooner had Confederates crossed the Potomac at Boteler’s Ford than lead elements of Fitz John Porter’s V Corps began showing up on the northern bank.  A Confederate rearguard action proved unsuccessful, leaving its commander, William N. Pendleton, to report to Lee that the Yankees were coming.

Lee turned to A. P. Hill to save the day again, and on September 20 several Confederate brigades advanced to eliminate the Yankee beachhead.  Among the brigade commanders was James H. Lane, formerly colonel of the 28th North Carolina, who had just assumed command of the brigade following the death at Antietam of its commander, Lawrence Branch.  As Lane’s men reached the field he changed direction and led them to the left of the Confederate line.  Among those men was Jordan Snow, my wife’s direct ancestor.

It was just as well for future events that the 28th North Carolina moved as it did.  Otherwise it would have continued advancing along the Charleston Road (now the Trough Road), where it would have encountered the Union left flank, anchored by Gouverneur K. Warren’s brigade, which was seeing its first significant battle action since it had been overrun at Second Manassas some three weeks previous.  Among the soldiers who had joined the brigade since that time was none other than my direct ancestor, James L. Denton, a member of the 5th New York.  If anything, the two men were closer on this day than they were on September 17.

Most of the Union forces, including Warren’s command, withdrew in the face of superior Confederate numbers, although the 118th Pennsylvania, nicknamed the Corn Exchange Regiment, had a particularly tough time of it. The regiment failed to withdraw and soon found itself badly outnumbered: among the Confederate attackers were Lane’s men. Nevertheless, the clash was not without its significance, for it convinced Robert E. Lee, who had contemplated a recrossing of the Potomac to resume his operations north of that river, to remain south of it in Old Virginny.

Liars and Fools at the Southern Heritage Preservation Group

I was amused but certainly not surprised when Kevin Levin revealed that members of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group, led by none other than famed plagiarist and fumbling Jeopardy fact-checker Gary Adams, had chosen to comment once more on something they knew nothing about … namely Kevin’s new book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

One member of the group warns his fellow members:

I don’t know if some of you are aware of this, but a few of you are doing more damage than good at times. Be aware the enemy is watching and are ready to use anything you say against us all. I’m just a member here but I see comments that only make the group look like fools and ignorant.

And no one makes the group look more foolish and ignorant than its own leadership.

As the SHPG has announced that it has taken up the task of educating others, rest assured that as they mention various groups, there will be those who take it upon themselves to highlight the foolishness and ignorance of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group.  Such folks will never run out of evidence to support that proposition, because, after all, the SHPG is the gift that keeps on giving.


Death and the Civil War (The American Experience): A Review

This evening PBS broadcasts The American Experience‘s production of Death and the Civil War.

Over the past several years we’ve become more aware of and sensitive to the brute fact that many people died during the American Civil War.  We’ve had upward adjustments of the total human toll of the war, as well as renewed attention given to deaths among civilians. Drew Gilpin Faust’s fine The Republic of Suffering placed renewed focus on how American culture addressed this challenge; so has the work of other historians, including Mark S. Schantz, J. David Hacker, James Downs, and Megan Kate Nelson (as well as Bernadette Loeffel-Atkins, who’s written on mourning rituals).

The folks at The American Experience drew heavily on Faust’s study in crafting their own presentation of this topic (click here for an explanation of why this topic proved compelling, and here, where Ric Burns offers his own perspective). The presentation feels oddly familiar, with the camera focusing on various images or panning across artifacts presented as if one was looking at a desk or inside a tent (which helps explain why some images are shown in their frames, to show us images as the people at the time would have viewed them).  Various voices read letters; there is the usual array of talking heads, some familiar, some less so, reflecting thoughtfully on the themes of Faust’s book and other recent scholarship (such as the risks slaves took with their health and well-being by seeking freedom).  That the formula is familiar makes it no less effective, although at times one is rather conscious of the process.

As I watched, I grew increasingly aware that this was not simply an effort to educate the mind but also to move one’s sensibilities. Between the dramatic reading of letters, the background music, and the recreated scenes (no humans appearing), the viewer is transported to the harsh reality of death and loss in their imagination, with photographs reminding us of the slain and the maimed.  The effect called to mind the shock and disbelief described in the writings of Union officers and soldiers as they surveyed the scene before them west of Antietam Creek on September 18, 1862, precisely 150 years before the airing of this reflective essay.  One is almost numbed by the result.

One of the themes of specific interest to me is how the folks at home came to terms with the crude facts of death on the field of battle (even if we know that far more men died of disease).  Some people travelled to the front in an effort to recover the remains of loved ones; others made arrangements to have the remains brought to them.  At the same time photographs brought home not the chaos of combat but its consequences in images that at times were explicit, at other times pastoral, and on occasion staged.

At Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute last June I concluded a tour of the action at Little Round Top by taking my group to the national cemetery, where I pointed out the final resting places of several men who gave the last full measure on that hillside one July day in 1863.  I wanted members of my group to understand that for all of the tales of heroism and debates over who did what, that these men were just as much (and perhaps even more) heroes than Warren and  Chamberlain (other heroes, including Vincent, Hazlett, Weed, and O’Rorke, perished as well, after all). Yet that cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated to the Union dead, who predominate (although there are several known cases of dead Confederates buried in the cemetery).  The Confederate experience is slighted in this presentation; so is the western theater.  On the whole, this is about the death of soldiers, not civilians, although there is acknowledgement of the risks assumed by African Americans.  Airing as it does a week after the eleventh anniversary of the events of 9/11, we might have expected that a more creative approach could have taken Faust’s book as a point of departure and not as the essential framework of the presentation.

I well recall some twenty-two years ago, when Ken Burns’s treatment of the Civil War aired, that Burns lavished particular attention on the aftermath of battle, as if to remind us of the cost of glory.  Ric Burns now focuses on that cost and what Americans made of it.  It is a worthwhile reminder of the difference between commemoration and celebration as we contemplate what happened 150 years ago.  I recommend that you watch it, and if you do, watch it with your undivided attention as you consider what you hear, see, and feel.

Check here for broadcast times in your area.