Black Confederates in Cartoons

There’s been some chatter about black Confederates lately, although in retrospect new efforts by certain scholars to revisit the issue have proved less than persuasive even those scholars’ rather flawed handling of evidence. Indeed, in some quarters their efforts were subject to ridicule.

The same can be said of what some people thought of black Confederates at the time. Take the image above, from Harper’s Weekly. It raises the question of what would happen if black Confederate infantry regiments took the field. Could they be relied upon to hold their positions or to launch attacks? After all, it’s one thing for a single black man to wield a weapon under duress; but what would happen if several hundred of them, grouped together, were armed so that they could protect themselves? Who would be more at risk: the Yankees or their fellow white Rebs?

CSA Black Enlistment Cartoon 1

London’s Punch reminded readers that both sides were compelled to recruiting blacks in part because of the faltering spirit of whites. With volunteering down, both sides resorted to conscription; when that proved unsatisfactory, where else were they to go?

CSA black enlistment cartoon 2

Indeed, Punch looked at the issue in 1863, before either Patrick Cleburne or the Confederate Congress considered enlisting blacks. The cartoon flipped the concept of “brother versus brother,” so often used to refer to whites, to suggest that blacks really had no interest in fighting each other. Punch speculated that black soldiers on both sides might not prove reliable combat soldiers, although the record of blacks who donned Union blue proved that wrong.

CSA black enlistment 3

And then, of course, there is more recent commentary.

CSA black enlistment cartoon 3

Happy birthday, Peter Carmichael.

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.”

Flagger Fabrications: Fakes in Pensacola

On Christmas Eve the Pensacola Flagger held a second flagging outside “the old Escambia County Courthouse.” She wants you believe that her numbers doubled, which is not all that hard, seeing as she alone attended her first flagging event. Here’s her fellow Flagger:

“I was joined by a visitor, an experienced flagger, from out of town (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Captain Kirk!) and he was impressed by the friendliness of the people.” So says the Pensacola Flagger.

Of course, this is because the “Flagger” in question at best does not want to reveal his identity (come to think of it, there are no pictures of the Pensacola Flagger actually flagging, either … just pictures of her walker, calling to mind Garry Trudeau’s use of symbols to represent people in Doonesbury).

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Misuse of the Confederate Battle Flag: Two Examples

I know that some people believe it is very important to highlight misuses of the Confederate battle flag, or, as we’re so often told, “the soldiers’ flag.”

In the words of another blogger, I couldn’t agree more, and nothing could please me more than to highlight two recent examples.

First, take a look at this representation of wartime Richmond, Virginia:

wartime Richmond flag

OMG. The Confederate battle flag did not fly above the state house. Rather, it would have been one of the national flags. Wow. What a mistake. But not everyone knows it. We need to teach those people about the proper history of the Confederate battle flag.

And then there is the recent matter of the display of the Confederate battle flag in a “flags that flew over Florida” display in Pensacola, Florida:

pensacola flags

No, no, no, no. Again, one of the Confederacy’s national flags might have done the trick, but the CBF never flew over the state. Some Confederate soldiers from Florida may have waived the mighty banner, but, as anyone knows, that’s different.

Thankfully the folks in Pensacola have decided to take down that flag. No word on whether it will be replaced.

People, it’s time that y’all learned the proper way to display the Confederate battle flag. Any questions?