The Persistence of Myth in Confederate Heritage

As people reflect on William T. Sherman’s march through the Carolinas, it stands to reason that some folks hold dear to myths about the march, especially when it comes to certain claims about Yankee atrocities. So, for example, we aren’t surprised to see that a Confederate heritage blogger points to a famous letter, offering it without comment or analysis, as if the letter speaks for itself.

The document in question, as you might recall, was supposedly a letter from a Union officer, Thomas J. Myers, composed on February 26, 1865, at Camden, South Carolina. It professed to detail exactly how the Yankees went about their business of looting and destroying property. You can find it here, in the first of two posts that appeared on this blog in August 2012. Both that post and a followup post about another letter on the same topic examined certain troubling facts about both letters.

Note that these posts were published in August 2012. The post in question from Defending the Heritage appeared in November 2013.

Now, what are we to conclude from this? After all, we all know that certain folks who embrace Confederate heritage visit this blog often. They did not contest the discussion of the letter. They simply continue to embrace it as true. This suggests that to “defend the heritage,” one has no problem ignoring history, or fabricating it … as the fellow who runs Defending the Heritage has done before. So, are they stupid, ignorant, or dishonest? Or some combination of the above?

You tell me.

7 thoughts on “The Persistence of Myth in Confederate Heritage

  1. Jan Dresler March 1, 2015 / 6:27 am

    In my humble opinion, I would say, that the combination covers it well.

    Sometimes I really wonder how much stupidity, there is south of the M-D line……is it the hot weather or is it something in the water ?….I dont’ know…..but I really wonder….. 😉

    Kind regards from Denmark

    • Brooks D. Simpson March 1, 2015 / 1:14 pm

      Most white southerners really don’t bother with this nonsense. However, as your comment suggests, their decision not to contest the role of Confederate heritage advocates as “true Southerners” tends to contribute to a rather unfavorable stereotype of southern intelligence. That’s unfortunate, and the result feeds the bizarre paranoia of Confederate heritage advocates. Here’s an example:

      “Simpson … would love to see Southerners replaced in the South by others from elsewhere.”

      It takes a rich and cracked imagination to conclude that. One wonders why someone needs to feel that way … what is the issue in their own lives, the source of their insecurity and unhappiness? We set aside the notion that many southerners are black, because the writer cares only about white southerners. I guess she doesn’t believe that blacks can be southerners, perhaps because they don’t embrace Confederate heritage the way “true Southrons” do.

  2. Rob Baker March 1, 2015 / 10:57 am

    Some simply live in ignorant bliss. These sorts of people don’t really know any better. Take for example George Puvis. He was brought up on a Lost Cause narrative that not only went unchallenged their whole lives, but positively reinforced. When letters like this emerge, they only reinforce a “truth” which to them requires no context or analysis.

    Others however, which are some of the most vociferous Confederate advocates, do engage in the distortion and manipulation of the past to reinforce that belief. Robert Mestas is a great example of that.

    • Brooks D. Simpson March 1, 2015 / 1:06 pm

      This is why some people honor Mr. Mestas. He does their dirty work, and they proclaim it’s history.

  3. John Foskett March 1, 2015 / 1:36 pm

    They should spend their time reading authenticated documents, such as the Rachel Cormany diary recounting the visit by the ANV to Chambersburg in June, 1863, a good year before the even more notorious visit by Early, McCausland, et al. in 1864. As to the latter, they can read the report in the OR by Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson, who served under McCausland. What Justice Holmes said in Buck v. Bell.

  4. Leo March 2, 2015 / 12:41 pm

    Most Southerners are too busy with daily life to worry too much about the “southern heritage” crowd. This allows the squeaky wheel to get all the grease in the form of media attention. It is unfortunate these buffoons on the margins of modern society garner so much attention, and you are correct it feeds the negative southern stereotype. However, they are a stereotype and should be regarded as exactly that. These fools are not the arbiters of who is and isn’t “Southern” anymore that the Tea Party decides who is a “True American”.

    I have Confederate ancestors on both sides of my family. It’s an interesting fact to me, but it doesn’t define me.

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