We’ve known for some time that when it comes to Confederate heritage, it’s all too often not history, but heritage. Indeed, I’ve seen some bizarre claims and leaps of logic from the very people who think it is a very good idea to have a somewhat off version of the Army of Northern Virginia’s battle flag fly from a pole that’s too short for the size banner being flown (the pole should be closer to 75 feet than 50 feet for a 15′ x 15′ flag, but that would have forced the Flaggers to seek a permit. As it is, when the flag is simply hanging there, the bottom edge will be a little less than 30 feet from the ground.)
But, since we are going to have One Flag Over I-95, I thought we’d have Six Flags Over Confederate Heritage (after all, the Confederates had more than enough flags to do this … perhaps they would have fared better had they spent more time waging war and less time designing flag after flag after flag).
So … what rides would you suggest? Perhaps you can spark a Flagger’s imagination!
(And yes, we know what someone from the state that brings us Disney World and Universal Studios at Orlando will have to say about all this … Kevin, your run will be a short one.)
… aren’t y’all excited?
Well, some people aren’t.
Here we have a city spiked by monuments and perforated by plaques honoring “the glorious dead,” and we have museums and hallowed halls where the proper obeisance may be made to these memories. We are often smothered, at times almost to immobilizing constriction, in the gelatinous embrace of ghosts from that belligerent era. The vicinity’s fields, no less than our psychology, remain torn apart by the conflict. How will this abrupt appearance of a massive Confederate banner be useful to us as a community working to get past an inheritance of rancor and division?
There are even design critics:
The stars are not laid out properly in the blue bars. They’re supposed to be spaced evenly, not empty space, cluster of three stars, small space, one star. Idiots don’t even know how to be good racists!
(Note–Another comment says: This group, without permission, assembled on the steps of the Capitol. When they began to sing and draw attention to themselves, they were forced to leave. By publishing the picture, and initiating all the comments, they have gotten what they craved the most – attention. Was the singing that bad?)
Some commentary is rather pointed.
“We just wanted to make sure that everyone remembered there was a Confederacy, and that they lost,” said Richmond Flagger Clarence Higgins. “Some of my family fought and died in that war, and it’s important to remember they were fighting to keep slavery legal. We should never be allowed to forget our ancestral shame.”
See what happens when Susan Hathaway’s too afraid to talk?
And, finally, Kevin Levin weighs in, and makes someone in Florida very upset.
Oh, the thrill of it all!
The Kurz and Allison series of battle prints remain a favorite with many people, including dust jacket designers. The soldiers are usually neat, the uniforms crisp, and the battlelines long and straight. Some terrain details are off, and a few of the representations leave something to be desired when it comes to historical accuracy (Stonewall Jackson’s shot in broad daylight, for example). The horrors of war are minimized, as dead and wounded bodies are neatly intact, and there’s a minimum of carnage.
And then you come across this:
Sometimes, when we talk about the cult of reconciliation, we might remember that not everyone bought into it.
I’m sure you never expected to read that statement. But it’s true. It’s been true several times.
Back when the Flaggers announced their plan to erect their really big flag along I-95, what did I say?
Show that Confederate pride as only you can. And please surround the flagpole with video cameras that will show us “threats” to the flag suitable for You Tube posting.
I believe they are doing just that.
Now we have a report on what the flag will look like.
I recall saying that at least flying what some call “the soldiers’ flag” — the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia — would at least strengthen the argument that this was about heritage, because it’s the Confederate navy jack that is most often associated with opposition to civil rights for African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s.
Looks like they followed my advice again. Maybe I should declare victory. 🙂
It goes without saying that Chickamauga was one of the toughest battles of the war (as was Stones River). But it remains to be seen as to how important it really was, except insofar as it set the stage for Chattanooga and Grant’s rise to supreme command. Was it simply another one of those missed opportunities that we hear so much about when it comes to the Confederates, or was there something more to it?
You tell me.
You can read what I wrote about the battle of Chickamauga for the Gilder-Lehrman Institute Civil War 150 Scholar’s Blog here.
Over at Kevin Levin’s Civil War Memory there’s been a very interesting discussion about the racial identity of several men who enlisted in a Tennessee infantry unit in 1861 to fight for the Confederacy.
Then, of course, there’s this blast on a Facebook group:
Bearden’s declaration is made without offering any context or understanding of what he’s talking about (which is typical for the “heritage, not history” crowd. A far more thoughtful and complete discussion was offered on Kevin’s blog over two years ago (and, as Bearden “monitors” that blog, to use Flaggerspeak, he can’t very well say he’s not aware of it).
Far more typical of the “heritage, not history” crowd’s response to the discussion about the individuals in the Tennessee unit is Michael C. Lucas, a veteran Confederate heritage advocate, who’s analysis of the discussion was most succinctly expressed in two words: “Eat Crow!!!!”
Makes you wonder about the quality of historical research at this place. And Lucas’s keyboard keys are always sticky when it comes to exclamations. I wonder why.
These examples demonstrate the difference between doing research to learn more and simply citing something out of context in order to score heritage points under the assumption that there are “sides,” and that it’s most important to say “we win/you lose” as if there’s a “we” and that winning and losing (whatever that means) is the goal of historical inquiry. The discussions on Kevin’s blog about Gibson and the Tennessee soldiers are thoughtful, place the topic in context, and seek additional information through research in order to find out what happened. On the other hand, the two Confederate “heritage” cheerleaders somehow see this as a great triumph, although it’s far from clear what they are celebrating.
The expression “Everyman his own historian” comes from Carl Becker’s 1909 presidential address to the American Historical Association. The essay bears reading. One rendering of his argument is that every man (and woman) is his/her own historian, or that we are all historians. Lucas and Bearden remind us of the fact that that does not mean that everyone is good at it.
Readers may find this discussion of Thomas J. Wood at Chickamauga engaging.
I’ve always wondered about the notion that Wood would have obeyed an order he knew was bad out of spite when he knew that men might lose their lives as a result. Then again, Wood shifted his story about Chattanooga a few times as well, in the process missing the whole point about the debate about the assault at Missionary Ridge.