The tension mounts as excited readers look in eager anticipation to see what will be the top nine moments in Confederate heritage this past year. First, we go to Florida …
Number 9: The Tussle at Olustee
Fooled you, didn’t I?
February 20, 2014, marked the 150th anniversary of the battle of Olustee. A chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans decided that it would be a good idea to commemorate the service of the United States volunteers who fought there, including the famed 54th Massachusetts. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans didn’t like the idea. Apparently it’s important to remember the service of soldiers who fought against the United States of America (in which case the SCV will have to decide between honoring Nazi Germany or Al Queda next) but it’s wrong to honor the service of people who fought for the United States of America, which casts an interesting light on the SCV’s version of American patriotism.
H. K. Edgerton spoke out powerfully against the idea (so much for his interest in honoring military service with his faux uniforms):
This is an army that came here raping, robbing, stealing, killing and murdering our people. The kinds of things that happened here under the sanction of Abraham Lincoln were for these men to commit total warfare against innocent men, women and children who could not defend themselves.
Our people? Why, H. K., are you forgetting that the 54th Massachusetts, composed of African American soldiers, were in fact members of “your people”? Note that H. K. doesn’t express any disgust about the “raping, robbing, stealing, killing and murdering” of enslaved African Americans, who, after all, are H. K.’s own people. Why, H. K., you might read a description of what happened at Olustee before you declare your opposition to war crimes.
Never tell me that Confederate heritage advocates are interested in honoring the service of American soldiers. They are only interested in honoring the service of certain American soldiers, and refuse to honor the service of those soldiers who fought for the United States between 1861 and 1865. But they insist that you honor the service of the men who tried to kill United States soldiers.
It’s a heritage of hate … but you knew that.
Number 8: President McConnell of the College of Charleston
I have to tell you that I found the controversy surrounding the installation of South Carolina lieutenant governor Glenn McConnell as president of the College of Charleston to be a bit boring and predictable. The usual suspects lined up in the usual ways, and in the end it didn’t make much difference … indeed, it was predictable.
But it was no more predictable than the actions of Confederate heritage activists in other instances. I suspect that with the arrival of the end of the sesquicentennial in 2015 fewer and fewer people will care. I hope more people care about …
Number 7: The Disappearance of Lilly Baumann
In May 2014 the Virginia Flaggers received a lot of publicity, only it wasn’t for a flag raising. It was because of reports that someone connected to the Flaggers was being sought in connection with the disappearance of a young girl, Lilly Baumann.
The Flaggers and their spokespeople first tried to deny that they knew anything about the whole affair or its participants, although their own photographs told a different story.
Maybe this was just a coincidence, right? But then there was this:
That’s Susan Hathaway holding little Lilly Baumann.
The Virginia Flaggers, their defenders, and spokespeople immediately went into heritage defense mode, which meant attacking other people. They showed no interest in helping to find a little girl who was missing, a clear sign of their priorities. For all their social media energy and savvy, they simply didn’t give a damn about Lilly Baumann.
The December holidays are upon us, and we pray and hope that Lilly Baumann is found safe and secure and returned to her father in Florida.