“Restore the Honor!”

One of the pet phrases of the Confederate heritage group known as the Virginia Flaggers is “Restore the Honor! Return the Flags!” The target of this declaration is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, because the Virginia Flaggers hold that institution accountable for the removal of Confederate flags outside the Memorial Chapel back in 2010. Never mind that that other groups, including the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, were complicit in that decision. No one forced the SCV to sign that agreement.

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Research Exercise: The Forgotten Black Confederates

We hear a great deal about the debate over the military service of African Americans, slave and free, in the Confederate army. Usually this debate focuses on identifying individuals and defining their service. Were they soldiers? Were they enrolled? Were they serving the Confederacy or simply their masters? Did they really have any choice? We have far less to go on when it comes to describing motivation, leaving people to rely on speculation that tends to reinforce their own prejudices and preferences.

That this discussion is marred by fabrication, distortion, and ignorance doesn’t help matters.

But most people acknowledge that near the end of the war that a handful of African Americans did make their way into Confederate service as soldiers under the terms of legislation passed in 1865 by the Confederate Congress and implemented by the Davis administration and Confederate military authorities. Reports exist of two companies of blacks forming part of a battalion that saw action at Petersburg. But that’s just about it. Information is scarce about these men. Who were they? Where did they come from? Under what terms did they enter Confederate service? What happened to them?

You tell me.

Connie Chastain Outs Karen Cooper and Valerie Protopapas

Largely overlooked in the recent fracas concerning the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to cease celebrating Lee-Jackson Day as a city holiday was a squabble about the birthplaces and backgrounds of members of the city council. Some people expressed outrage that several council members were not true southerners. The loudest cries came from Pensacola. Continue reading