Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag!


We are now close to the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the events that led to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Southerners are getting ready to commemorate the secession on 20 December, 1860 of South Carolina, the first state the leave the Union, following the election in the previous November of Abraham Lincoln as president.

The event is to be marked by a ball, with guests expected to appear in formal wear, black tie or of the period itself, or even in pre-war militia uniform. There will also be a re-enactment of the signing of the Ordinance of Secession, with Glenn McConnell, acting president of the South Carolina Senate, playing the part of David Jamison, who chaired the 1860 convention that agreed on secession.

Other events are to follow in the course of the coming year, including a re-enactment of the swearing in of Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama on February 11, 1861, an occasion to be heralded by rifle and cannon salutes.

According to a press report that I read at the weekend, civil rights groups are greeting these commemorations in a mood of outrage. Dr Lonnie Randolph, president of the South Carolina branch of the NACCP, the black civil rights group, has gone so far as to liken the coming Charleston ball to a ‘Holocaust gala.’ His organisation is planning protests, accusing the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, the body behind many of the planned commemorations, of trying to ‘rewrite history.’

Replay history, I would have thought, rather than rewrite it. There seems to be such nonsense here, a reminder of the pressure to have the Confederate stars and bars removed from state flags in the South. Yes, of course, slavery is an issue, one I dare say that still leaves a sense of grievance with some people, but the Civil War was about so much more. If anything it’s the key event not just in the history of the South but the whole of the United States, one that deserves to be remembered without rancour.

Still, when it comes to rancour, the South has its own justifiable grievances, things that are not often displayed in the way that slavery is displayed. I personally cannot perceive William Tecumseh Sherman, whatever military necessity he pursued, other than as a callous man, one who led a campaign of rapine through Georgia. If his was a war against the capacity to make war it was also a war against women and children. He may not have been directly responsible for the excesses of his troops both during and after the siege of Atlanta but he set a mood that saw wilful destruction, looting and rape, of black women as well as white.

OK, you have me; I’m biased; my sympathies are all for the South, not really a secret because I’ve made this perfectly plain in related blogs, most recently in Daughter of the Confederacy. I will repeat, though, that I think slavery was an abomination and secession an error but I simply cannot rid myself of an abiding affection for the residual romance of the Old South, based on my love, from long experience, of the New South in general and Georgia in particular. The old Confederacy has every right to remember and celebrate its past, with affection as well as regret. So, here’s to the memory of the Bonnie Blue Flag, to the memory of Mars Robert, Stonewall Jackson and Old Pete. Let’s hear it boys!

37 comments:

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  3. Bonnie Blue, The Battle Flag of Texas.

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  4. It's a blog commemorating an historical anniversary. Nothing more.

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  6. Secession, if you want to put it like that, is already well underway. We did not secede; they did. Nothing about England is pathetic, apart from the fact that the country has sacrificed itself for too long, sending tax subsidies to an ungrateful Celtic fringe.

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  9. We do not 'crush' people in England; it is not our way; it has never been our way. The Serb militia you so admire are quite good at 'crushing', though.

    I will repeat any remark I make, to anyone I chose, especially when there is an implied threat of ‘repercussions’ if I do. Not there, though; I don't like soccer, and Scottish soccer seems more repellent, more sectarian than most. On a point of information I think you will find the words somewhat altered. It's not God Save the Queen but God save our Team. Bored and tired, I'm off to bed.

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  11. I think people tend now to forget that the centenary was marked by the violence and conflict of the Civil Rights Movement, and followed by a further massive erosion of State's Rights. It will be interesting to see what changes might be precipitated as memories are stirred once more.

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  12. Adam, I was under the impression that there were several irregular units, units like Martić's Police. I certainly don't believe that it was all regular Yugoslav forces.

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  13. Calvin, yes it will be, though so much of the passion of the Civil Right's movement seems to have died away.

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  15. There most certainly were numerous irregular units quite distinct from "the official Yugoslav army"; the decentralised nature of the Yugoslav "homeland defence units" (ie supplementary forces to the more centralized and Serb-dominated JNA) made that almost inevitable. (Marko Attila Hoare's "How Bosnia Armed" is probably the best text on this available in English so far)

    I heartily recommend watching the documentary "Serbian Epics" made by the Polish film-director Pawel Pawlikowski for the BBC in 1992 to see some of these militias in action in the mountains above Sarajevo - including a shot of the notorious Russian bad novelist (and later National Bolshevik) Eduard Limonov taking aim and firing at the city. The point at which Radovan Karazdic's mother rebukes him for going over the top in his call for a genocide of "Turks" (which is to say: Yugoslav Bosnian Muslims) is also of note. In any case anything approximating a Yugoslav state military ethos is decidedly absent. And of course there were worse, elsewhere, especially in eastern Bosnia (Foca and the like).

    Anyway back on topic. I too am won over by the romance of the South, the land of gentlemen and belles. But all good things seem to come to an end.

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  16. Adam, no I don't want to talk about those things, utterly beside the point. I said there were Serbian irregulars; you said there were not. There clearly were. Tito was a communist bandit, a murdering communist bandit.

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  18. David, yes, thanks; that's a trap I fall into regularly! Anyway, I hope you are well.

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  21. Dominic, alas, we are such stuff as dreams are made on. :-)

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  22. Did you know Lee, in his own handwriting, in his own account book, kept a list of run away slave girls, and paid six times the normal bounty to catch and return and torture of one young girl? (whipping was only the start of the ordeal

    Did you know Lee was obsessed with the white -looking infants born to his mullatto slave girls? He kept track of the escaped girls who took their white -looking babies with them. Did you know that?

    Lee's bounty hunters captured some of the girls -- and their babies.

    What did Lee do with the white looking infants?

    We don't know for sure - yet. But more is coming out as his hand written account books are studied and scholars dare to reveal more of this very violent time.

    But we know Lee got rid of these white looking infants somewhere --because in his list of slaves later, the white looking infants were gone. Where did they go? Lee was obsessed with capturing them and their mothers earlier -- would he just ignore them after that? Let them run away again, and not mention it?

    What did he do with those white looking babies?

    We know that white looking baby GIRLS brought good money -- not that Lee would do this -- because they were sold to men who resold them to prositution houses in the deep south, especially in New Orleans, where white looking girls could make the owner a lot of money.

    Did you know Lee tortured 13 and 14 year old girls (well, he had her tortured, while he stood by and screamed "hit her harder".) I think you should re-evaluate your Lee worship. Of course he had the men tortured, but it was a shock to learn Lee had girls tortured, and personally stood by screaming at them while they were tortured.

    See the book " Reading the Man" which gives glimpses of Lee's Hunting Lists -- lists Lee himself wrote.

    It's time we faced up to the fact the torture and rape and terrorizing of the slave women and girls was a very real phenomenon, including in genteel places like Lee's plantation

    http://leepapers.blogspot.com/

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  23. American civil war ? Oh well, where do all these second and third world countries get modern weapons to inflict these atrocities on each other? First world nations . Many are members of the United nations security council and such. They try to install goverments friendly to their financial interests and often finance both sides of a conflict just to sell their armaments.With these enablers, the carnage will never stop. This does however offer a means of population controll but there are more civilized methods to achieve this as well. Humans are basically upright apes in conflict with their dual nature as there is a lot of good in the world as well. The "Lord of War" was a good movie on the international arms trade.

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  24. Anastasia

    I have a few points to mention because you and the other participants have so many.

    On the matter of the celebrations I recalled President Reagan when he pitched the “Ceremonial First Pitch” of the season’s opening baseball game in 1981 and declared: “Americans know how to have fun. Let it begin.”

    The ceremonies that you refer to are traditional, as is the annual reenactment of a North versus South in mock battle to commemorate the old days annually in our town of Andersonville in the first week of October. It is for fun and nothing else; if it does prove anything it is that whatever rancor did exist has long since gone with the winds.

    The NACCP protestors are rapidly making themselves irrelevant because they represent a bunch of loud-mouths with bad manners and no knowledge of the origins and effects of slavery or any other relevant matter. They saw Obama as their Messiah and when he dropped them as soon as he had them eating out of his hand they lost all contact with reality. Look at their comparisons and pity them.

    My heart, like yours, is in Dixie but I have learned two read all sides of stories.

    Southern Secession was a bad idea and the first shot fired from Fort Sumter South Carolina was an ill-conceived act of provocation. I read somewhere once in the days before computers that there was hard and tough negotiations after that shot. Some in the North suggested that they would not go to War if the South would court-martial the offender.

    Jefferson Davis is said by many writers to have tried to stave off war and agonized with his military friends who had trained with him and in the end only reluctantly accepted the Southern Presidency because he felt, and his Northern Friends agreed that the South would be safer in the hands of Davis after the war than with anyone else. There were many issues that lead to the war; slavery was but one of them.

    Now we need to go to Sherman. I would like to reserve my comments until after your review of ‘Sherman’s March’ because I would like to hear your feelings about him after that book. Consequently I want to handle only one aspect of the Sherman Campaign at this point and that is the one on the rumors of a ‘rape campaign’ by his troops.

    Rape is common in War in uncivilized societies, often with consent and I will agree that sexual activity will increase under certain circumstances such as in the Sherman Campaign. But America was a civilized society though many soldiers were never vetted.

    Overall however Sherman was a disciplined militarist [his own forces some adored almost worshipped the guy] but most were afraid of his wrath. Reports of rape by Sherman’s troops are highly overrated and I have not seen one authentic report of a “raping campaign” of civilians by the Northern Troops on their March to the sea. If anybody makes a serious claim of such behavior I would like to see the source material.

    Looting and the march “to end the war” I would like to discuss with you afterwards but you are probably aware of the fact that when you submitted your Post yesterday it was also the day of Pearl Harbor 69 years ago. I want to use the opportunity, with your kind permission, to refer to a Post by another Blogger Friend:

    http://crockettlives.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/remember-pearl-harbor/

    Bob Mack runs a fine Site and moderates submissions. If you do submit a comment mention my name and he will print it.

    The reason for this request is that there is an analogy between the two wars that will feature in Anastasia’s review on the March. There is a comment by me and several from other supporters that will tell you all something about me and it will save me the time of repeating myself.

    Overall Anastasia, you have done yourself proud again. I don’t think that all the other references to other wars and other topics in any manner distracted from the central theme that you presented so well.

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  25. Seeker, thanks for your contribution. No, I did not know any of that, information which appears in none of the biographies I have read about Lee. I would certainly need a lot of convincing because, on the face of it, this looks like an attempt to blacken the character of a widely respected figure in American history. But I have an open mind and I will certainly look at the matter, at the evidence, if there is evidence, and not speculation and hearsay.

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  26. Ike, please don’t misunderstand me here: I wasn’t for a moment suggesting that Sherman deliberately encouraged a ‘raping campaign’, or that he lost control of his soldiers in the way that the Russians did in Germany in 1945, merely that it was a by-product of new forms of total war that he introduced in his march to the sea.

    I would be delighted to have a look at the Pearl Harbor blog.

    Thanks so much for your overall contribution, for giving me some fresh insight, and for adding to my ever growing reading list! Sherman will march into the Impdom in the New Year; that’s a promise. :-)

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  27. I've studied the War Between The States for 25 years,& have never encountered ANY of the allegations mentioned by Seeker. Sounds to me like Uncle Tom's Cabin as rewritten by Weekly World News.

    Bob Mack

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  28. Ana, I posted this link on Ike Jakson's site, regarding Andersonville prisoners on the ill-fated Sultana. Thought you might be interested as well. http://genealogytrails.com/main/events/sultanadisaster.html

    Bob Mack

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  29. Anastasia

    I left a special comment for you re Sherman’s March in my Post on him in:

    http://ikejakson.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/book-review-%e2%80%93-a-short-summary-of-%e2%80%98sherman%e2%80%99s-march%e2%80%99-by-richard-wheeler/

    This is just to make sure you get it.

    Good hunting.

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  30. Ike, I'll come and look in a bit. Even if that book is no longer available to buy there will be a copy in the university library.

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