Al Arnold Responds

Last night I received the following e-mail from Al Arnold:

Men, thanks for the attention to my ancestor, Turner Hall Jr. I do appreciate the “grain” of truth that you claim I hold to. Yet, I have made no claim to having a full kernel of truth. You are so correct that my ancestor was NOT a SOLDIER. No where in my book do I make that claim. I do explain that use of the word in the context of his story but in no way seek to elevate him beyond his status of a flunkie, slave or orderly. I don’t even take the official term of an orderly and apply it to him. So, as long as you know that I am perfectly find with him being a slave and if there was a term lower than that it would satisfy me well. As I take way more pleasure in a humble disposition than one of high and lofty elevations. I do appreciate your attention to this matter but wanted to make sure that I at least give you my input as you deal with the grains of this story. Again, thank you very much for your attention and know that it is ok as I have made no claim of him being a soldier. That is totally not the point of my book.

Note that my original post said nothing about Turner Hall, Jr.’s actual status.

I’m going to assume that Mr. Arnold is responsible for the title of his book, which is


Thus, if Mr. Arnold did not use the term “orderly,” who did?

I suspect that Mr. Arnold learned of my interest in his book through one of the regular readers of this newsgroup, upon whom I can depend to share what appears here with his friends and associates:

Jesse Sanford and Al Arnold 1

I have no response to claims that Mr. Sanford is in fact a mole planted by me to humiliate Confederate heritage advocates.

The issue of proof remains unanswered. I am eager to see what documentation and other evidence Mr. Arnold has in his possession to support his rendering of the life of his ancestor, Turner Hall, Jr. I am especially interested in how a slave from Mississippi was owned by a Tennessean before making his way over to Virginia. That should be one astonishing tale.

28 thoughts on “Al Arnold Responds

  1. Rblee22468 March 13, 2016 / 4:24 pm

    Arnold entirely misses the point. No one wants to belittle his ancestor, they just want for their to be a factual account of the historical record.

    • Rblee22468 March 14, 2016 / 8:07 am

      I emailed Arnold last night, to give him a heads up about Pace. Included in the emails were screenshots of what seems to be Pace’s warm thoughts on Swastikas and National Socialism from the racist web forum Stormfront, as well as the fact that his group the European American Front is classified by the SPLC as a hate group. He assured me that he’s well aware of Pace’s views. He thanked me for my concern, but said that I didn’t need to send him these things (I guess because he knows about them or knows enough to not be surprised by them.) I think that he thinks it’s ok because Jesus though.

      I get the impression that he rationalizes bad people and things that he encounters in life as being not so bad because, I guess, of his Christian faith.

      Maybe we’ve all been a little too hard about this whole slavery thing, it was a choice after all, or so I’ve heard…

      • Leo March 15, 2016 / 7:00 am

        Mr. Arnold is becoming a very prominent figure in efforts to keep the current Mississippi flag. Greg Stewart and the Mississippi SCV are portraying the current flag as a symbol of racial reconciliation and promoting the black confederate myth at every opportunity. Two modern, self-professed, “black confederates” (Arlene Barnum and Andrew Duncomb) have already toured the state promoting the confederate flag.

        Mr. Arnold’s book just happened to come along at the right time for the SCV to use for their own purposes, and Mr. Arnold appears to be more than happy to go along for his own reasons as well.

      • Leo March 15, 2016 / 7:43 am

        Something else I forgot to add is Mr. Arnold is getting an incredible amount of support and affirmation from the local heritage crowd here in Mississippi. I have traced a glowing review of his book on Amazon back to a Mississippi heritage advocate, and he attracts confederate supporters at his book promotions. If anyone is critical of Mr. Arnold on social media or in local newspapers, the heritage advocates rally to his defense and often pile on his critics.

        If you combine all this with his Christian faith, it may explain why is so forgiving

  2. OhioGuy March 13, 2016 / 7:15 pm

    Anyone who has studied the Civil War in any depth at all knows that it’s hard to make blanket statements about anything as there always appears to be exceptions to even the most astute observations one can make. It is certainly possibly that Turner Hall is one of those anomalies. What I will object to very vehemently is any attempt to paint a picture the depicts a significant segment of the South’s black population as having Confederate sympathies. The evidence from so many primary sources and contemporary secondary sources put the lie to that narrative. As I’ve mentioned before, being as generous as possible, you can find no more than about 2,000 black Confederate soldiers. This compares with more than 180,000 blacks in the US Army (mostly from the South) during the rebellion. Since many of these Confederate blacks, in the latter days of the war, were promised emancipation for their services, one can see even further evidence that very, very few blacks would fight for the Confederacy as originally conceived in 1861. For this reason, I believe, the sentiments of the civilian black population in the South would have reflected an even more lopsided tilt toward the Union than the troop distribution numbers cited. Thus, Mr. Hall’s narrative would represent a rare anomaly and not evidence that any larger conclusion could be drawn from.

  3. Andy Hall March 13, 2016 / 10:58 pm

    I bought Arnold’s book and have now read it. These comments apply to the Kindle version; if the print version differs, someone speak up.

    The book is largely a stream-of-consciousness narrative of the author’s beliefs and thoughts on history, faith, culture, and his discovery of his Confederate heritage. Much of Arnold’s discovery of his Confederate heritage seems to have been guided by his friends in the local SCV camp. Detailed discussion of his ancestor, Turner Hall, Jr., occupies only a small section in the center of the book. What Arnold knows or concludes about Hall seems to be entirely based on brief newspaper items from the 1930s and 40s when Hall attended several veterans’ reunions. There are no nineteenth-century documents cited that I see in telling Hall’s story. The connection to Nathan Bedford Forrest seems to be that Hall, in his final years, possessed a sum of Confederate currency that he said was given him by Forrest. Arnold concludes that Hall must have been owned by Forrest at some point before the war, during the future general’s slave-trading days. Arnold speculates that later, while acting as a body servant to two unnamed Confederate soldiers during the war, he encountered Forrest and the general gave him the money “as part of a dynamic relationship that had been forged between the slave master and the slave.”

    Arnold acknowledges that Forrest and Lee did not meet during the war. His source for his ancestor’s service to Lee is a 1940 Hugo, Oklahoma Daily News story that mentions that Hall an orderly for Lee and was present at Appomattox. Arnold speculates that “Turner would have traveled with his Confederate comrades throughout the theater of the war and at some point been introduced to General Robert E. Lee. . . I gather he was likely introduced to Lee as “one of Bedford’s slaves.”

    These issues of substantive content aside, Arnold could have used a proofreader, just for consistency. Frederick Douglass is referred to twice as “Fredrick Douglas.” There is mention of both the “Battle of Brice Crossings” and the “Battle of Brice’s Crossroads.” At least twice he includes a citation to a 1919 manuscript by Charles Wesley, “The Employment of Negroes as Soldiers in the Confederate Army,” and gets both the title of the article and the spelling of the author’s name (“Wesle”) wrong. In one paragraph, Arnold gives the plural of orderly as orderly’s and orderlies.

    Some of it is just plain weird, like when Arnold explains that “Nathan Bedford Forrest was like the one white boy back in the neighborhood that could really jump. . . the Larry Bird of basketball.” He lists Robert Smalls, who stole the steamboat Planter and turned it over to the U.S. Navy, and William Tillman, an African American seaman from New York who led the capture of the Confederate privateer Jeff Davis, in a section called, “Black Confederates on Record.” Arnold says that “slavery existed over three hundred and ninety-six years under the American flag” before being ended in 1865. Some materials cited in the book have parenthetical source notations, but there’s no bibliography or index.

    It’s a very odd book, and much more about Al Arnold’s thoughts and beliefs than about the life of Turner Hall, Jr. It’s similar in some ways to the late Anthony Hervey’s Why I Wave the Confederate Flag, Written by a Black Man: The End of Ni**erism and the Welfare State, although more explicitly grounded in Arnold’s faith and optimism. If that’s your thing, fine, but there’s not much there for a researcher to find useful.

    • OhioGuy March 14, 2016 / 6:55 am

      Listing Smalls and Tillman as black Confederates would be disingenuous at best.

      • Andy Hall March 14, 2016 / 8:48 am

        It happens. Recall that Dixie Outfitters named Clara Barton as a “Heroine of the Confederacy.”

        • OhioGuy March 14, 2016 / 10:44 am

          In that case, I nominate Frederick Douglass as a Confederate hero! 😉

    • John Foskett March 14, 2016 / 7:42 am

      Anybody who uses “jump” and “Larry Bird” in the same sentence wasn’t watching much basketball in the ’80’s.

      • Ken Noe March 14, 2016 / 3:21 pm

        As we all know from “Space Jam,” Larry Bird isn’t white, Larry Bird is clear.

    • terry6400 March 15, 2016 / 7:50 am

      Andy Hall said, “There are no nineteenth-century documents cited that I see in telling Hall’s story. The connection to Nathan Bedford Forrest seems to be that Hall, in his final years, possessed a sum of Confederate currency that he said was given him by Forrest.”

      Andy Hall, “Do you have a primary source for these two gems of speculation, or is Andy Hall the only one allowed to speculate on historical facts?”

      • Brooks D. Simpson March 17, 2016 / 11:53 am

        Andy reported what Mr. Arnold said. Your question is correctly directed to Mr. Arnold. As I’ve made it rather easy to contact him, I’d appreciate it if you contacted him with your question and report back on what he says. That’s what you would do if you really wanted an answer to your question. Thank you.

        • Andy Hall March 17, 2016 / 1:40 pm

          Terry6400 left exactly the same comment, word-for-word, on my blog. I get that it’s supposed to be insulting, but beyond that I’m not sure what the actual question is; in my blog post I wrote what I observed in the book.

          Arnold mentions the money from Forrest several places, but doesn’t clearly source it, as far as I can tell. It may be from a November 1937 clipping from the Daily Oklahoman, but that is reproduced too small to read directly on the Kindle.

          I did, however, find a short item in the Ardmore Daily Ardmoreite of June 26, 1938, that mentions Hall’s upcoming trip to the Gettysburg reunion. In that article, Hall is quote was saying he had belonged to the “family firm of Gen Nathan B. Forrest.” Whether the wording “family firm of” has significance in sorting out Hall’s relationship with Forrest, I don’t know. I hate trying to parse quotes like that, but the fact is that virtually everything Arnold asserts about his ancestor is teased our of fragmentary quotes and passing mentions of that sort.

          The Daily Ardmoreite item, BTW, does not mention Lee at all.

          • chancery March 17, 2016 / 5:47 pm


            1. Thank you for saving me the trouble of posting on your blog to ask terry6400 what the heck his question meant.

            2. More importantly, thank you for taking a bullet for the rest of us by actually reading that book.

        • terry6400 March 17, 2016 / 6:28 pm

          I find it very difficult to have a meaningful dialog with anyone on these blogs. The almost complete absence of Confederate viewpoints are telling.

          Confederate viewpoints must prove with primary sources and first person evidence and exhibit zero speculation to emphasis a point, but the Yankee experts on southern history can speculate to high heaven.

          Why do Yankees accept the Yankee version of history as the only correct version? Why do Yankees spend so much time trying to prove Confederate viewpoints wrong? Are you afraid of the Confederate viewpoint?

          I once heard the SUV Commander-in-Chief say, “There’s two sides to this story, and both sides deserve to be told.”

          • Brooks D. Simpson March 17, 2016 / 9:46 pm

            It appears that you are reluctant to contact Mr. Arnold. You also seem reluctant to evaluate the evidence. Is that part of the “Confederate viewpoint” you endorse? And I would love to hear about the “multiple correct versions” you imply exist. Is there one where Lee wins at Gettysburg?

          • OhioGuy March 17, 2016 / 10:02 pm

            No, but I believe there is one rebel version where the war was not started because the South was worried about the election of Lincoln and what it meant for the future of slavery. In this fable, the was started because the South was upset at some damn tariff and wanted to exert states’ rights to prevent Yankee Imperialism. This myth was taught for years in the schools of the North because Rebel post-war propaganda was better than the Yankees could muster. Now, after years of stupidity, the Yankee Nation is getting its act together and resisting this Southetn revisionist history. We are finally telling the truth as best we can understand it. It’s high time the Confederate Heritage crowd started to do the same.

          • John Foskett March 18, 2016 / 7:20 am

            The problem is that you think this is about “viewpoints”, It’s not. It’s about facts. Take the whole “black Confederates” issue. “Viewpoints” are worthless. Photographs, official rosters, first-hand eyewitness accounts, original correspondence/orders – those start to involve facts. And therein lies the problem – there is an absolute dearth of facts to support the “viewpoint” that meaningful numbers of blacks chose to serve in the Confederate armies or were even allowed to do so.

          • Shoshana Bee March 19, 2016 / 11:57 am

            Yankee version? Confederate version? This is scary close to the people who discuss the Civil War and insert “We” for the “Confederate side”. This indicates a frightening lack of objectivity and a misplaced emotional investment that is so inappropriate to the study of history.

          • Brooks D. Simpson March 19, 2016 / 12:30 pm

            Terry’s brought no facts to the table concerning Turner Hall, Jr.

  4. Rblee22468 March 14, 2016 / 7:56 am

    I think one of the big points Arnold tries to make is that while he recognizes that he, himself is black, that because of his Christian faith, he forgives the sins of slavery. I think in a way, a kind of twisted way, he is trying to say that even though he accepts that slavery was wrong, and a bad thing, it’s no big deal because Jesus. That’s my interpretation at least. If that’s the case, Adolf Hitler wasn’t so bad because Jesus. Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t so bad because Jesus. Charles Manson, not so bad because Jesus. Instead of applying it to people, I think he’s trying to apply his personal forgiveness to an event because Jesus. I think he’s just trying to blanket the entire history of the dark and regrettable practice of human bondage under a protective cloak of Christian Faith. I don’t mean this to be offensive to Christianity in any way, it’s just my interpretation of what he’s trying to convey. Slavery = Not so bad cuz Jesus. I could be wrong though.

  5. Rblee22468 March 14, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    Not quite on topic but if anyone knows of a primary source for the quote of Confederate Captain Thomas Bedford in this document, I’d appreciate a link:

    Click to access TheBattleOfBullRun.pdf

    • Mike Musick March 14, 2016 / 2:07 pm

      RBLee: The “document” you link to appears to be an imaginary, fictional attempt to portray a Confederate perspective on the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas. This is also true for the Union soldier and the correspondent for the (likewise fictional} “Washington Patriot” newspaper in the same publication. Alas, author Gitlin lacks a feel for the diction of the period, though one can see what he is trying to do in representing different takes on the same battle.

      • Rblee22468 March 14, 2016 / 3:16 pm

        Gotcha. I thought he was quoting a real person. Explains why I can’t find anything.

      • Mike Musick March 14, 2016 / 5:34 pm

        I note, belatedly, that this text (on Bull Run) is catalogued as juvenile literature, so presumably the author is endeavoring to re-cast 19th century prose style into something that young people in the 21st century will readily understand.

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