Civil War Arithmetic

As many students of the American Civil War know, arithmetic played an interesting role in the conflict. It certainly played a major role in George B. McClellan’s estimates of enemy strength, for example, although the fact is that most Civil War generals (including, for example, Ulysses S. Grant at Shiloh) habitually overestimated enemy numbers (and Grant’s favorite subject at West Point was mathematics).

Although it lasted only four years, the Confederacy endeavored to turn out its own schoolbooks and primers devoid of Yankee influence. Here’s one such example:

From the collections of the Virginia Historical Society

Historians such as James Marten and Anne Sarah Rubin have studied these expressions of Confederate identity, which were quick and easy to produce.

Courtesy Library of Congress.

Today we have evidence that some of these lessons did not stick among those who claim to honor Confederate heritage:

VF when 3 is 50When’s the last time that 3=50? Let’s be kind and count the photographer as Flagger #4. 🙂

BTW, there’s trouble in paradise. Brandon Dorsey of the SCV wants this weekend to be about education, not parades. Perhaps he realizes the Flaggers can’t count.

Dorsey, though, thinks there is an opportunity to better educate the public on the SCV’s viewpoint through lectures.

Today’s symposium, rather than Saturday’s parade, is the centerpiece of the Lee-Jackson Day celebration, he said. He said the SCV is focused on education and is not involved with any of the plans by the Virginia Flaggers.

Though there is a crossover of membership, Dorsey said the SCV doesn’t support some of the flaggers’ tactics.

As one commenter put it, “Glad to hear the SCV has distanced itself from the flaggers.”


27 thoughts on “Civil War Arithmetic

  1. A Hintz January 16, 2015 / 10:37 am

    While I had my difficulties with freshman calculus at W&L, even I know that formula doesn’t add up.

  2. jclark82 January 16, 2015 / 10:37 am

    I think they might be referring to the three’s combined IQ…

  3. Alan January 16, 2015 / 10:59 am

    Now that’s what I call fuzzy math. Even if there’s 500 or 5,000, it won’t change anything, just like the LULZ-cott!

  4. Schroeder January 16, 2015 / 11:15 am

    Poor dears… bless their hearts.

  5. Sarah January 16, 2015 / 11:22 am

    I hear that the local merchants in Lexington are closing up shop right and left, and begging for subsidies because of how hard hit their economy has been due to the boycott. It’s pretty dire straights in Lexington if you are a business owner these days. That makes perfect sense anyway, boycott businesses that had nothing to do with the issue. They’re really showing Washington & Lee who’s boss!

    • Brooks D. Simpson January 16, 2015 / 11:47 am

      Actually, according to other folks business is improving in Lexington. But then sarcasm does not travel well online. 🙂

  6. Alan January 16, 2015 / 11:30 am

    I’ll bet Kyle Rogers of the CoCC is crying a tear in his beer at that pitiful sight. His business Patriotic Flags was probably counting on this event to bring in $20 or $30 extra dollars in flag sales.

  7. The Lamp January 16, 2015 / 12:42 pm

    The news report doesn’t say 50, it says “a few dozen” but it barely looks like that either:

  8. Alan January 16, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    So even the SCV doesn’t want to be linked to the Flaggers? That’s good stuff.

  9. Sarah January 16, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    “Attempts to reach the flaggers for comment were unsuccessful.”

    Silent Susan strikes again.

    I wonder if the SCV still has a bad taste in it’s mouth over the White Nationalist photo ops from the last get together? They were probably waiting to see if the Flaggers doubled down on doopid before they decided to keep their distance. It’s a good idea too because based on the guest list over at the Flaggers FB event, it’s looking like almost a repeat of the SCV event over the summer. Maybe Shane Long can snap another selfie with the “Silent One” this weekend. I imagine she will be able to put together quite a scrapbook.

  10. leo January 16, 2015 / 1:27 pm

    Flagging groups are essentially stupid and void of any real impact beyond hurting their own cause. They are an evolutionary dead-end.

  11. Alan January 16, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    Here’s some math for the Flaggers. In three years time, they’ve raised three flags. At that rate, they’ll overtake Virginia with Confederate Pride in…. Nevermind, it’ll take forever.

    Three years, zero impact, zero flags returned, zero economic impact from boycott. Countless hours wasted.

    • Eek-a-mouse January 16, 2015 / 7:12 pm

      But their new Lexington flag is in a primo location. Lest anyone at Enterprise Rent-a-car or the Hardee’s Drive-thru forget!

      Deo We’ll-pick-you-up!!!!

  12. Sarah January 16, 2015 / 2:10 pm

    Maybe Connie can use some of her photoshop skills and add some Flaggers to that photo? That’s just pitiful. Poor Flaggers.

  13. Al Mackey January 16, 2015 / 6:21 pm

    How incompetent do you have to be for Brandon Dorsey to say he doesn’t agree with your tactics?

  14. Joshua Chamberlain January 16, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    My first impression of their pictures is that there is hardly anyone else walking around besides them. It calls to mind sets in The Walking Dead, with Tripp, Susan, Creech, et al playing the walkers/zombies/flaggers?

  15. Rosemary January 17, 2015 / 9:32 am

    Maybe the flaggers could use some perspective…
    In the wake of terrorist attack in Paris I began watching france24 – an English language, always-on, online news program…. News told by another country illustrates what the United States is today — the biggest fish. We wouldn’t be this if we weren’t the us we are right now.
    So if the flaggers want to get some relief from always-on frustration they could take a look at foreign news and feel a little better, I think. (BTW, immigration issues loom over there, too. Lo and behold, USA seems to have better handle on it. Really!)
    One can google france 24 and select English language version.

  16. John Foskett January 17, 2015 / 11:26 am

    ” It certainly played a major role in George B. McClellan’s estimates of enemy strength, for example, although the fact is that most Civil War generals (including, for example, Ulysses S. Grant at Shiloh) habitually overestimated enemy numbers (and Grant’s favorite subject at West Point was mathematics).”

    True dat. But the others used an addition button on their calculators – McClellan used multipliers or exponents. And the overstated result didn’t cause Grant to spin into “analysis paralysis” and panicked requests for massive reinforcements the way it did to the other guy.

  17. Sarah January 17, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    From the Backsass Chatterbox:

    “17 Jan 15, 01:37 AM
    Connie: Almost 250 VaFlagger posts or comments at XRoads since the Flaggers were founded.”

    “17 Jan 15, 01:38 AM
    Connie: Most of them made-up crap meant to smear, denigrate, intimidate, silence, harass, persecute.”

    “17 Jan 15, 01:38 AM
    Connie: What difference would it make if Susan made a “statement” about the unauthorized reprint? You people who hate her smear and slash her no matter what she does.”

    Connie Chastain has been throwing around the word “smear” like it’s candy for children on Halloween. So what is a smear? According to the definition provided by my Iphone, a “smear” is:

    “damage the reputation of (someone) by false accusations; slander.”

    Now we know that Connie is going to have problems with this one, so let’s give her a hand. Connie, the key word here is “false”.

    I’m glad Connie wrote “most of them”, because that means she is admitting that “some of them” aren’t “made-up crap”. Unfortunately, Chastain has declined to cite “any of them” that are “made-up crap”. We have to wonder if this is because “none of them” are? You all know the answer to that one.

    No, I think Connie knows darned well there’s been no smearing, just a bunch of facts she and the “Silent One” can’t refute. How unfortunate.

  18. Sarah January 17, 2015 / 3:09 pm

    More from the Backsass Chatterbox:

    “17 Jan 15, 01:28 AM
    Connie: Did the LOS actually do any signing up? Did they show up? Get the facts before you gossip.”

    It’s true, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about whether or not the White Nationalists who indicated they were coming the Flaggers event in Lexington this weekend. Even though that’s true, they did indicate they were coming, no one has any proof that they showed up. For all we know it was all talk. It’s ok to ask why the Flaggers wouldn’t distance themselves from these White Nstionalists, but let’s be rational here. We can’t just go smearing them by saying White Nationalists showed up when we don’t have any reason to believe that’s true. The Flaggers probably lucked out and they didn’t come after all. Just imagine what a bullet they will have dodged if that’s the case. Let’s just wait and see.

    • Jimmy Dick January 17, 2015 / 7:30 pm

      What does she have to say about the SCV dissing the flaggers? That is more telling than anything. Here the flaggers run around waving CBFs and putting them up in the air, but when it comes time to make real decisions and actually discuss things the flaggers are not invited or allowed to be part of the discussion even in a controlled environment like the one the SCV set up.

      Maybe the SCV doesn’t want to associate with people who aid and abet kidnappers or hang out with the League of the South and associated racists. According to Ben Jones, the SCV is opposed to racism. His silence on the subject has been deafening lately.

  19. Alan January 17, 2015 / 3:12 pm

    @ Sarah

    What I don’t understand is if they are being slandered, that is, people are telling lies about them that are damaging their reputation, why aren’t they taking legal action? That’s an easy win for them if there are lies being peddled about them.

  20. chancery January 18, 2015 / 7:12 pm

    Professor Simpson,

    Thanks for linking to excerpts from Rubin’s fascinating book (“Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868”). I liked this quotation, at p. 33, from a Confederate geography primer:

    “[Northerners] are refined and intelligent on all subjects but that of negro slavery, on this they are mad.”

    Funny thing; the excerpts available on Google Books don’t include the word “tariff.”

  21. Sarah January 19, 2015 / 10:04 am

    Whilst surfing around looking for info on this past weekend, I found this:

    “League of the South members attended the annual pilgrimage to Lexington Va. Lexington is the final resting place for two of South’s greatest men, Robert E Lee and Thomas Stonewall Jackson. League members attended the wreath laying service at the Jackson monument in Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. There were many Southern People in attendance, The League of the South, The Virginia Flaggers, The SCV, The UDC, SCV Mechanized Cavalry, Order of the Confederate Rose, and many people who support their Southern Heritage.”

    It’s Southern Heritage, not hate, and they are just restoring the honor by not voicing any concern over White Nationalists being there with them.

    While we’re talking about restoring the honor:

    Clearly their utmost concern is protecting their symbols, and they do that by using them as saddle blankets for horses and clothing for dogs. Keepin’ it classy!

  22. Sarah January 19, 2015 / 10:46 am

    Also, if you follow the link from the piece One People’s Project did on this past weekend, you will find that the example used for Flagger groups is Connie Chastain’s West Florida Flaggers. Coincidence?

    “There’s also the “heritage movement” which is centered on the SCV and various flagger groups. This faction is focused exclusively on defending Confederate memory and generally eschews interest in contemporary issues. The vast majority of these people are Rainbow Confederates who oppose modern day secession. They are not Southern Nationalists, but there is so much overlap in these circles that including them in the broader “Southern movement” is warranted here.”

    I think it’s interesting that the piece posted by Occidental Dissent notes the significant amount of cross pollination between White Nationalism and Heritage Groups. Might this explain why Connie has called herself a Southern Nationalist?

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