02 May 2015

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

One of my favorite magazines, Garden & Gun, recently posted a piece about a meal in Charleston, South Carolina which celebrated the end of the War Between the States:
At the end of the Civil War, the city of Charleston, South Carolina, was starving. It had been years since even the rich had seen some of the dishes that locally renowned caterer and restaurateur Nat Fuller served to a group of war-weary diners in April of 1865, drawing upon his many connections in and outside the area. But perhaps more surprising than the fare on the table at his restaurant, the Bachelor’s Retreat, was the racial makeup of the restaurant that night. Fuller was a former slave, and he invited both white and black guests to the banquet. The dinner ruffled some aristocratic feathers at the time, and it also served as a modern-day inspiration for two culinary scholars who decided to bring its message of reconciliation into the twenty-first century . . .
You can read the full story here.

01 May 2015

Lee Chapel Has Moved To Richmond

Update: For what it's worth, Kevin blames this all on "So many flags have been removed from various Confederate heritage sites that I apparently mixed them up today." Yes, I'm sure all that giddiness and celebration is bound to cause confusion. [End of update.]

Wow. That must have been quite an engineering marvel. Does Washington & Lee know this has happened?

For those who might not know, the chapel being referred to here is actually known as Confederate Memorial Chapel. Lee Chapel is in Lexington. Confederate Memorial Chapel is in Richmond. (Yankees often get confused about these things.) But it would appear fact-checking took a back seat to the snarky, emotional, celebratory announcement. And as of Noon today, readers of the post would have realized that none of the expert historians even noticed. You just can't make this stuff up.
I sure am glad the educated among us are keeping a sharp eye on those dumb Southern heritage types who are (according to one commenter), still "
extremely good at putting in man hours for volunteer work, such as ground maintenance." Good Lord.

(And that would be "affected", not "effected." Affect is a verb, effect is a noun.)

Kindness & Courage in Baltimore

Mercy and truth, wise as serpents, harmless as doves . . .

29 April 2015

The Cement That Holds Us Together: Historical Consciousness

That cement is cracking. From The Imaginative Conservative:
A culture without memory will necessarily be barbarous . . . In our day, even the academic study of history has begun to yield to such barbarism. For an increasing number of younger historians, the whole point of studying the past is to “prove” that all our inherited institutions, beliefs, conventions, and normative values are arbitrary—mere “social constructions” in the service of ignoble power—and are therefore utterly without legitimacy or authority. In this view, it is absurd to imagine that the study of the past could have any purpose beyond serving the immediate needs of the present . . .
Another twist on Gordon S. Wood's "condemning the past for not being more like the present." Worth the read.

27 April 2015

Did Robert E. Lee Bring Slavery To An Early End?

By rejecting Lincoln's offer to command the Union forces? According to the Virginia Historical Society, he did:
Had Robert E. Lee taken command of Union forces in spring 1861, the war would probably have come to an end more quickly and slavery would most likely have survived it. Lee would have been the hero of the nation, and he could easily have become the eighth president from Virginia. This was in his grasp, but he let it go to preserve his personal honor and to defend his home and his family. Those who argue that he chose to fight for slavery rather than against it, and that this is all one needs to know about Lee, lose sight of the extent of the sacrifice that he made. His decision was not about defending slavery; it was about doing what he thought was right. ~ Virginia Historical Society [Emphasis mine.]
Well put, but no doubt unsettling to those who are preoccupied with "condemning the past for not being more like the present" and who wish to tarnish Lee's good name and status as an American hero and icon. 

So, could one argue that Lee's decision to support the Confederacy ended slavery sooner than it would have had he done what President Lincoln had wanted him to?

How ironic is that?

Where Is Hate, Intolerance & Violence Gaining Ground?

While many academic historians and academic oriented Civil War bloggers are busy chasing inconsequential "neo-Confederates" and the evil Founding Fathers all over the internet, they are ignoring a real problem right under their noses. Why?
The campus is only the latest to be troubled by antisemitic vandalism, and the second in California recently. Three months ago, swastikas were discovered on a Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis, just after that campus voted to divest from Israel.
Story here. As I posed the question in a somewhat related post, I ask again: From where and from whom are students acquiring these attitudes and belief systems? The very institution that claims to be the most tolerant seems to becoming increasingly intolerant - and violent. Surreal, isn't it? Not to mention quite revealing.

26 April 2015

Africa, A.W. Tozer & Robert E. Lee

About seven or eight years ago, a good friend of mine surrendered to a call to Africa to become a missionary. Our church gave him, his wife and their three children a going away party. Many church members gave gifts of all kinds. I gave this preacher several books including Richard Ellsworth Day's Rhapsody in Black: the Life Story of John Jasper. Like Jasper, my friend hails originally from Fluvanna County, Virginia. I thought the obvious connections were fitting. I also gave him a copy of the first book I wrote, The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen.

I've not heard from him in years, but early this morning, I received the following message from this missionary:
I wanted to let you know that I am reading,"The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen". I had misplaced the book and recently found it while here in ______, Africa and God has revealed it to me at the perfect time! My greatest work as a Shepherd is to disciple and I have been studying feverishly Discipleship and THIS book that YOU gave me is timely, powerful, and greatly enjoyable! Thank you so much for your gifts for me and my boys so many years ago!
Wow. What an encouragement. As most history related writers know today, you don't make a whole lot of money from your books. Some, yes, but not a lot. I think most of us do it for the passion that we have and the desire to share our knowledge and interest and preserve the history discovered in our research. But you never really know what kind of impact your books have on folks. 

When I first read this message from my friend, I was immediately reminded of something A.W. Tozer wrote and which hangs on my office wall as a daily reminder:
The printed word may lie unnoticed like a seed through a long winter, only to burst out when a favorable time comes and produce an abundant crop in belief and practice. ~ A. W. Tozer
I've had enough encouragement today to begin thinking seriously about my next project(s).

24 April 2015

Spring in the Shenandoah Valley - 2015

My view this fine spring mornin'. Near Natural Bridge, Virginia.

There may be a lovelier country somewhere--in the Island Vale of Avalon, at a gamble--but when the sunlight lies upon it and the wind puts white clouds racing their shadows the Shenandoah Valley is as good as anything America can show ~ Bruce Catton

23 April 2015

Who Teaches College Students To Spit On Veterans?

*Update - different and better video and report. More details here.

And to urinate on the American flag? Certainly they're not picking up those attitudes from what they're being taught in class, are they? No, of course not. Had they spit on my WWII grandfather or my WWI grandfather while they were in their prime, those cowards would have been taught something they're obviously not learning from academia.

Cooking For the Southern Gentleman

22 April 2015

Charlottesville Civil War Roundtable

Last night, I had the privilege of speaking to the Charlottesville Civil War Roundtable in Charlottesville, Virginia. The topic was, of course, my latest book on The Battle of Waynesboro. It was a delightful evening with good attendance (30-40 folks) and seemed to be enjoyed by all. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the CCWRT for the invitation and the meal - the crab cakes were delicious!

20 April 2015

Quote For The Week (Year, maybe?)

Most young men today are too selfish to risk life and limb for Honor, Country, and the Transnational Petrochemical Industry. They waste the best years of their lives studying history at fancy universities, when they should be creating history as tough-as-nails commandos who shoot first and ask questions never. After high school graduation Hemingway applied for the military, not some effete liberal arts college. (Ultimate proof that an English degree is worthless.)
Definitely LOL. From all places, The Huffington Post: 9 Ways To Live Like Hemingway

19 April 2015

This Day In History

Lexington Common, 19 April 1775

By artist Don Troiani.

18 April 2015

Civil War News Reviews My Latest Book: "The Battle of Waynesboro"

. . . a well-written, profusely illustrated and compelling account of the Battle of Waynesboro and the community’s life before and after the fight. . . . Williams’s masterfully constructed volume will appeal to readers interested in the Shenandoah Valley or civilians’ wartime and postwar experiences. ~ Professor Jonathan A. Noyalas
Those interested can read the complete review here.

17 April 2015

The Benefit of a College Degree

Does this attitude sound familiar?
"I'm in the news sweetheart, I will f-----g sue this place."
“That’s why I have a degree and you don't."
"That's all you care about is taking people's money…with no education, no skill set. Just wanted to clarify that."
"Why? Because I have a brain and you don't?"
"I'm on television and you're in a f-----g trailer, honey."
"Lose some weight, baby girl."
That was just part of it. What a nasty, arrogant, self-centered human being. You've probably already heard about this, but just in case you've not, go here

This is just one example of why employers are becoming less and less concerned about prospective employees having a degree. It proves very little any more.

14 April 2015

Life Goes On - Diary Entry of Joseph Waddell: 14 April 1865 (Edited)

Joseph Waddell
Joseph A. Waddell wrote a rich history of Augusta County, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia - From 1726 to 1871. Trained as a lawyer, he came to dislike the profession and eventually became co-editor and co-owner of one of the local newspapers, "The Staunton Spectator." His history of Augusta County included his diary kept during the Civil War. 150 years ago today, he made the following entry:
Staunton, VA, Friday, April 14, 1865.

We heard last night from an authentic source that Gen. Lee has certainly surrendered himself with his army. His address to his men states that the surrender was made in consequence of the immense superiority of force against him and the consequent uselessness of shedding more blood. He returned to Richmond, having been paroled with all of his officers and men. . . . A call has been made by Gen. Lilly for soldiers to meet at Lexington and Staunton to proceed South. I presume that very few will respond as the cause is generally considered useless. Arthur Spitzer has got back -- He marched three days and two nights, on the retreat from Petersburg, with nothing to eat but a can of corn. -- Says he saw men on the road side dying from hunger.
. . .
For several days past the people of this town and county have been appropriating all the public property they could find -- wagons, old iron picks, . . . -- distributing the assets of the Confederate States. What a termination! I am surprised by the general composure -- even very complacency. But while I felt an intense indignation against the North, the Confederacy never enlisted my affections or compliance. I never ceased to deplore the disruption, and never could have loved my country and government as I loved the old United States. Yet our cause seemed to be the cause of state rights and involved the question whether or no the people should choose a government for themselves, or have one imposed upon them. With our fall every vestige of State rights has disappeared, and we are at the mercy of a consolidated despotism. . . .

There is much religious interest in our Church. Meetings every afternoon for more than a week. . . .The weather is delightful.
Note that Waddell, while expressing his love for the old Republic and his disdain for the Confederate government, embraced the cause of states rights and considered a Union victory "despotism." Waddell's comments illustrate the rather complicated and nuanced (even contradictory), positions held by many white Southerners; particularly those in the upper south.