31 December 2008
30 December 2008
I'll have more comments later.
"In a dark warehouse, the 700-pound bronze statue of a Confederate general most people have never heard of lies on its back under plastic wrapping."
29 December 2008
27 December 2008
26 December 2008
~ Paul Johnson on Intellectuals
25 December 2008
Read the rest of this excellent piece at The American Thinker.
24 December 2008
As most of us settle in to celebrate the Christmas holiday with family and friends, I just wanted to take a moment and wish all of you the very best and blessed Christmas ever. For the first time in several years, I will have all 6 of my children and all 13 of my grandchildren together for the holidays at the same time. Many of them will be staying in our home over Christmas. I thank God for His bountiful blessings upon my family over the last year. He's answered many prayers and been most merciful toward us all. Also, thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, linking, agreeing, disagreeing, and debating this past year.
My most sincere wishes for a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Huckleberry Hollow, Virginia.
22 December 2008
But memory and remembering is worthless if you distort it to fit some modern political/social agenda, which is what many historians are doing today. These historians believe we should re-examine historical Civil War "memory" due to the fact that they believe the Civil War has been remembered incorrectly and that we need to be reminded that our "memory" of the Confederacy was framed, for the most part, by bitter ex-Confederates who distorted history for their political agenda. First of all, these moderns assume everyone else is stupid and don't realize that all history is written from a particular point of view and that it is always necessary to filter what's written through the times and political environment in which they were penned. That's a given. But moderns act as if they've discovered some new profound truth when they point this out. They're quite obsessed with it.
Due to this strange obsession, many modern historians overplay this fact (and for their own political agenda, I might add). For example, we often read that the popular images of Confederate heroes such as Robert E. Lee were created solely by "Lost Cause" sympathizers after the war and for the sole purpose to "maintain the old order." What utter nonsense. Actually, that is the new "myth." Lee was considered a hero long before "Lost Cause" ideas took root in the South. And even the interpretation of what the "Lost Cause" meant is twisted by moderns who see nothing but evil in the Old South.
In order to believe what we're being told by many about this "memory" one has to believe that some of the co-conspirators came from the most unusual corners in order to build up this "Lost Cause" image of men like Lee:
“My own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on receipt of Lee’s letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and so valiantly and had suffered so much for a cause.” ~ General Grant on Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
“I turned about, and there behind me, riding between my two lines, appeared a commanding form, superbly mounted, richly accoutered, of imposing bearing, noble countenance, with expression of deep sadness overmastered by deeper strength. It is none other than Robert E. Lee! … I sat immovable, with a certain awe and admiration.” ~ Union General Joshua Chamberlain at Appomattox.
“He was one who, though famous, was not honeycombed with ambition or tainted with cunning or cant, and though a soldier and wearing soldier’s laurels, yet never craved or sought honors except as they bloomed on deeds done for the glory of his lawfully constituted authority; in short a soldier to whom the sense of duty was a gospel and a man of the world whose only rule in life was that life should be upright and stainless. I cannot but think Providence meant, through him, to prolong the ideal of the gentleman in the world . . . It is easy to see why Lee has become the embodiment of one of the world’s ideals, that of the soldier, the Christian, and the gentleman. And from the bottom of my heart I thank Heaven . . . for the comfort of having a character like Lee’s to look at.” ~ Union General Morris Schaff referring to Lee’s surrender at which he was present.
“For not to the Southern people alone shall be limited the tribute of a tear over the dead Virginian . . . we [Northerners] have claimed him as one of ourselves; have cherished and felt proud of his military genius as belonging to us; have recounted and recorded his triumphs as our own; have extolled his virtue as reflecting upon us – for Robert Edward Lee was an American, and the great nation which gave him birth would be today unworthy of such a son if he regarded him lightly. Never had mother a nobler son. In him the military genius of America developed to a greater extent than ever before. In him all that was pure and lofty in mind and purpose found lodgment. Dignified without resumption, affable without familiarity, he united all those charms of manner which made him the idol of his friends and of his soldiers, and won for him the respect and admiration of the world.” ~Excerpt from an editorial in the New York Herald the day after Lee’s death.
“Lee is the greatest military genius in America.” ~ Union General Winfield Scott.
"[Lee was] without any exception the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth." ~ Teddy Roosevelt
I suppose Grant, Chamberlain, Schaff, Northern Newspapers, Winfield Scott, and Teddy Roosevelt were all part of this conspiracy. Scores of similar quotes could be cited. Of course, Grant, Chamberlain, Schaff, Scott, and The New York Herald can all be credited with helping to START what moderns consider part of the Lost Cause myth. How ironic that Lee's former enemies wanted to help Lee and other Southerners "maintain the old order" after spending 4 years and hundreds of thousand of lives to crush it. Someone's confused.
As a Washington Times piece noted after covering a symposium on Lee in 2007:
Robert E. Lee has been attacked by revisionist historians who have argued that the Confederate commander's reputation was a "postwar mythical creation," a Civil War historian said at a weekend conference in Arlington. "A wretched flood of Lee biographies" has been published in recent years, Robert K. Krick told more than 200 attendees at Saturday's Lee Bicentennial Symposium at the Key Bridge Marriott hotel. "These kinds of books ... offer no new evidence," said Mr. Krick, author of 16 books on the war. The revisionist arguments, he said, consist mainly of "counterfactual blathering." Revisionists have asserted that Lee's reputation was inflated after the war as part of a "Lost Cause myth," said Mr. Krick, who spent three decades as chief historian of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Well said.This is all part of faddish history. It would do us well to remember the words of G.K. Chesterton when it comes to fads:
“You can find all the new ideas in the old books; only there you will find them balanced, kept in their place, and sometimes contradicted and overcome by other and better ideas. The great writers did not neglect a fad because they had not thought of it, but because they had thought of it and of all the answers to it as well.”
It would also be wise to not to forget to remember the truth.
**Update: Some of my friends in the CW blogosphere have become very defensive at criticisms being directed toward their point of view; as if they are above criticism. I realize that many academic historians are used to everyone singing their praises, since many of them are singing from the same songbook. However, they need to realize that when you enter the arena of public discourse, you should be prepared to be criticized. And when you throw stones you should expect someone to occasionally pick a few up and chuck them back at you. And I notice no one countered my argument. Hmmm . . .
"Supreme Knowledge that the Very Finest of Southern Bourbon is REBEL YELL--named for the Cry that chilled the Hearts of the Intruders, brought Joy to the True Believers, and Echoes still in the Hallowed Valleys and Upland Reaches of the BELOVED LAND."
Some readers may have seen the distillery's ads in various Civil War publications. The ads ran a few times in the SCV's Confederate Veteran as well, but after a number of complaints regarding the appropriateness of advertising liquor in the SCV's magazine, the ads were discontinued. A good move in my opinion.
Now, before I go any further, allow me to make clear that I do not partake of anything stronger than hard cider - and that only during the Christmas season (Hiccup.) Though my father enjoyed fine bourbon, it is the primary reason he is no longer with us. When God warned against "strong drink" in Scripture, He did so with good reason. Thus, I want to make it clear that I'm not endorsing the drinking of whiskey, I'm discussing this purely in the historical context. That being said . . .
The following is taken from Rebel Yell's very interesting website and discusses the origin of the bourbon's name:
Passion, commitment, and honor were all infused into the “rebel yell” making it one of the most endearing legends in our country’s history. The “rebel yell” instilled fear in the hearts of many a Federal soldier. Some accounts say it was more intimidating than the sound of gun fire and cannons pounding in the distance.
The practice of a yell, or war cry, certainly predates the Civil War. Civilizations since the beginning of time have contrived similar tactics to intimidate their opponents and make their ranks seem larger than life. Sounds like this are so effective they even work to defend against attacking animals.
Confederate soldiers would scream the war cry as they engaged in battle, or whoop and holler in joyous victory. Other times it was used as a chant along the trail to boost moral and unify the ranks. Troops would hear it lofting in the breeze as other militiamen marched across the fields in the distance. One account states General “Stonewall” Jackson came out of his tent, leaned on a fence and said “that’s the most beautiful sound in the world”. (Read the rest of the commentary here.)
And, speaking of that "most beautiful sound in the world" if you, like me, would prefer the audio version of the Rebel Yell, you may actually purchase it exclusively from the Museum of the Confederacy:
"Nothing captures the imagination of the students of the Confederacy more than the famous Rebel Yell. Contemporary accounts are filled with references, and whole books have been devoted to it. Yet few people know how the famous shout actually sounded. This new cd, produced by the Museum of the Confederacy, presents the real sound—the yell that inspired Johnnie Reb and sent chills up the spine of Billy Yank." Interested? Click here. I think I'll be buying one.
I recall reading that a Union soldier, observing his comrades fleeing in wide-eyed panic from the "rebel yell" at Chancellorsville said his former unit resembled "close-packed ranks rushing like legions of the damned."
Why didn't the yankees have a "yell?"
**Update: Thanks to a reader for referring me to this very interesting YouTube clip.
21 December 2008
20 December 2008
I see that the Curator of African-American & Community History for the North Carolina Museum of History, Mr. Earl Ijames, is back in the news. Mr. Ijames was recently the keynote speaker at a new Confederate monument dedication in North Carolina. (Pictured here. Mr. Ijames is seated to the right with the hat on.)
A news story quotes Mr. Ijames as saying:
"We need to present a more balanced history," he said, adding that the black Confederate soldier has been lost to history. "They never got recognized, but we are starting to change that," Ijames said.
He is courageous in speaking out about this controversial subject and bringing a unique perspective to the debate.
Note that Biden's "significant investment" and scare tactics are meant to soften up the opposition for the coming tax increases and massive government spending. Obama's comment that economic recovery "will take years" is meant to lower expectations to his impossible campaign promises and to deflect criticism when things do in fact get worse; which will happen in large measure due to more government regulations, taxes, and FDR type public works programs. It's going to be a wild ride.
19 December 2008
18 December 2008
Interestingly enough, the December issue featured a "puff piece" interview of Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer by CWT editor, Dana Shoaf. In the interview, Holzer made the bold claim that Lincoln "freed the slaves." Even Holzer admitted that view was a "bit simplistic." Yes, just a bit--and that admission coming from a scholar. At least Holzer's honest admission is refreshing.
He also made the incredible claim that Lincoln could "pick up an ax with his thumb and forefinger and extend his arm out." Right, and our 16th President was also able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I know I've read this claim elsewhere (the one about the ax), but I find it extremely difficult to believe; as I think anyone who has ever picked up an ax would. (I'm curious, has anyone ever validated that claim to any extent? I'm also curious if Mr. Holzer has ever picked up an ax.)
But no challenges from the editor on these claims, or from the academic CW blogosphere. Ah, but wait, the February issue included these charming comments about Southern icon and hero, Robert E. Lee on the cover:
"Long lost letters show he favored slavery and fought like hell to keep it."*
No such flattering comments about Lincoln emblazoned on the December issue cover even though, in reality, there was little practical difference in Lincoln's views on race and Lee's. Yes, there is evidence that Lee wanted to maintain the institution of slavery, thinking it the best that could be hoped for at the time, yet he also offered conflicting opinions about slavery's morality. And I believe Lee's views were--as were most 19th century Americans--just that: conflicting. While Lee expressed his view that slavery might be the best that could be hoped for at that particular point in our history, Lincoln had a much more progressive and admirable idea--deport all blacks back to Africa. (I'm being sarcastic, of course. And yes, I have to make that clear.) For their freedom? No. He simply wanted to rid America of blacks. Did that little factoid make the CWT cover, like the intentionally provocative statement about Lee? No. Why not? Lerone Bennett, Jr., social historian and former Ebony editor, offers one possible reason:
"Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own priests and acolytes, most of whom have a vested interest in [him] and who are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him." ~ Lerone Bennett, Jr., Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, p. 114
One CW blogger, commenting on the Lee piece, made sure to point out that "serious students" would welcome the Lee piece and that it was a "more sophisticated" essay. Of course, any essay that trashes Southern heroes is "more sophisticated." (Where was the sophistication in the Lincoln article?)
Ah yes, us poor dumb Southerners and Lee worshipers so appreciate our elitist "serious and sophisticated" yankee friends "edjycatin'" us. Lord knows we don't dedicate any time to serious study about "de wah", after all, "we'uns is too busy makin' moonshine, marryin' our sisters, and fryin' possum."
Does the Holzer interview fall into the "more sophisticated" realm, what with the Lincoln as Superman anecdote and his hatred of slavery presented as gospel?
As I noted in an earlier post, many professional historians, Mr. Shoaf included, often get the facts wrong themselves. Please don't lecture the rest of us on "sophistication" and "serious" study. Some of you take yourselves just a little too seriously.
No one would deny that both Lee and Lincoln held views on race that the vast majority of Americans would today consider racist. They were men of their times. But, despite the continuous denials from academic historians, their views on race are presented in much different ways: Lee always the evil slaveowner, Lincoln the great emancipator. Very serious. Very sophisticated.
Thanks for suffering my rant. Regularly scheduled programming will now resume. Now where'd I put that jar of corn liquor . . . ?
*The Lee piece was by Elizabeth Brown Pryor, whose recent Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters is all the rage among CW academics. I'm reading it now, very slowly, and will offer my opinion at some future point. Suffice it to say that thus far, I've found that Ms. Brown's interpretations and conclusions about Lee are really nothing new for those coming from her perspective. Some of her conclusions are factually wrong and, in my opinion, a bit misleading. I'll have more to say later.
17 December 2008
16 December 2008
"Go to Bed Early - One study suggests that the most creative part of our sleeping occurs in the first half of the night, during slow-wave sleep. So if you need an answer to a solution and are short on time, it's best to go to bed early and get up early, rather than to stay up late." ~ From the UK Times Online
Complete story here.
I think I'll go take a nap.
13 December 2008
12 December 2008
Case in point: I cannot imagine, growing up in the 60's and '70's, hearing of blood-sucking (literally) teenagers forming a club and conspiring to murder one of the members' parents - brutally stabbing him repeatedly and leaving him to die. But that happened recently. No shock. No huge headlines. No outrage. No call for banning "Goth" clothing, etc in schools. Just a collective yawn.
My God, what have we become?
Complete story here.
11 December 2008
"What happens when an elderly Coptic priest takes to the airwaves and the internet to confront Islam? Death threats, conversions, and a global following. Meet Zakaria Botros, WORLD's 2008 Daniel of the Year."
Read this fascinating story here.
Listen to this NPR interview here.
It's important we remember all of our history. As the author notes, "history has been so hidden."
*This book was published in 2005 and you can read a review of the book here. . . "it is an effort to counter-balance a myth about Northern virtue." (Emphasis mine.)
Why does this myth yet flourish?
"In his life and career in Illinois, President-elect Barack Obama has crossed paths with some notable figures who have drawn scorn and scrutiny."
Where were they before the election? We know the answer, don't we?
10 December 2008
This is an excellent piece about the state of higher education in America, the elites who run it, and what it's producing. Hedges, a self-proclaimed atheist who holds a seminary degree from Harvard, brilliantly diagnoses the elitist attitude in higher education and its rotten fruit. I highly recommend it. (The article, that is.) Of course, I don't agree with all of Hedges analysis but, overall, it is a brilliant piece about all those who think they're the smartest people in the room (and the blogosphere).
Hedges' comment that the "learning around minutely specialized disciplines, narrow answers and rigid structures that are designed to produce certain answers" is especially applicable when it comes to the study of the *Civil War. Just cruise around the blogosphere and read the academic sites related to the study of the war - they are all singing off the same song-sheet (though off key), discussing the same "minutely specialized disciplines", walking in lockstep orthodoxy and rarely disagreeing among themselves regarding the causes of the CW, the results of that war, and the various personalities involved in the conflict. They are so predictable.
I'll have more to say on this piece later.
*(The same could be said about the study of Western civilization and American history in general.)
09 December 2008
"Several words relating to royalty and Christianity have been removed from the latest Oxford Junior Dictionary and replaced with terms such as 'broadband.'" ~ Story here.
“He said, when he entered upon his duties at West Point, the spiritual condition of the Institution was deplorable — no sense of religious obligation — but few professors of religion among the cadets — and not more than one, if one, among the professors. Skepticism, in its varied forms, was prevalent among officers and cadets, and his labors for some time seemed to be in vain. He finally determined he would combine, with his pulpit ministries, the distribution of religious tracts, leaving them in the rooms of the cadets while they were at drill. They would be as ‘bread cast upon the waters,’ and would return ‘after many days.’ The answer came sooner than he expected.”
Initially sparked by the conversion of [West Point] Cadet Leonidas Polk, the revival would impact a number of other cadets as well, including Robert E. Lee, Albert Sydney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnson, and Jefferson Davis. The story has lots of fascinating twists and turns—too numerous and involved for a blog post—but one of the most interesting aspects of this revival was the conversion of a cadet by the name of Martin Parks. . .
Read the rest of this fascinating story here.
(Image depicts West Point in 1859.)
"We came out of prison as we had gone in, holding in the same just scorn and detestation the despotism under which the country was prostrate, and with a stronger resolution than ever to oppose it by every means to which, as American freemen, we had the right to resort." Story here.
08 December 2008
07 December 2008
"Shenandoah Valley native Richard Williams maintains this lively blog with its focus on the Valley and its importance to the Civil War." ~ CWPT
Though a small thing to most, I consider that a true honor.
06 December 2008
Those familiar with the Museum of the Confederacy move may recall the MOC's consideration of the old Lexington/Rockbridge County Courthouse in Lexington as a potential site. I was in favor of that move and believe (as did many others) that it would have been a perfect fit for Lexington and provided a boon to the local economy - both in jobs and low impact tax revenues. However, the rather short-sighted, politically (correct) motivated Lexington City Council made sure that never happened. (With the current economic downturn, I'll bet they wish they could make that decision over.) Interestingly enough, several months ago, as city workers were going through the old court house, this 75 year old flag was discovered tucked away in storage. Our local camp, The Stonewall Brigade, #1296, was contacted and asked if we wanted it. Of course, we did and gladly accepted the flag. As you can see, it is in amazingly excellent shape.
The flag originally belonged to the now defunct Frank Paxton Camp which was formed in the early 1900's. The camp grew out of the Lee-Jackson Camp, United Confederate Veterans. These two organizations worked together and annually sponsored a Confederate Memorial Day each May. The Paxton Camp eventually survived the Lee-Jackson UCV as the old veterans died off. The camp's most notable activity was its annual sponsorship of a Lee-Jackson Day event which usually featured a well known speaker and a formal dinner. Speakers for the event included famous historians and politicians such as Dr. W.G. Bean and Delegate B.G. Locher, among others. The Paxton Camp held its meetings in the "old" Rockbridge County Courthouse on Main Street. The exact date the camp ceased to function has not been determined yet, but it probably was in the 1950s. The camp evidently left its ceremonial items at the courthouse and this flag was recently found in a dusty storage space. All items were being cataloged in the existing courthouse in preparation for a move to the new facility.
The Frank Paxton Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans was named after General Elisha Franklin "Bull" Paxton who was Stonewall Jackson's hand picked successor to command The Stonewall Brigade. Paxton and Jackson were both deacons of the Lexington Presbyterian Church, but the two fell out at the outset of the secession crisis. Paxton became an ardent secessionists early in the conflict, while Jackson remained a unionist. This created some friction between the two men but things changed quickly when the war finally came. Paxton became Major of the 27th Virginia Infantry under Stonewall's command. Paxton earned the nickname "Bull" because of his large size and demeanor. As a strict disciplinarian, he lost his position when new officers were voted in by their respective commands in 1862. Jackson was not content to let Paxton go and assigned him to be his chief-of-staff and adjutant general. When General Jackson was promoted to division command, he personally recommended that Frank Paxton take his place as commander of The Stonewall Brigade. General Paxton led the brigade at two major battles, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. While Jackson lay mortally wounded he learned that his old friend Frank Paxton had been killed. Paxton's death became obscured by the death of his famous friend just a few days later. Both men are buried near each other in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington.
(Special thanks to Stonewall Brigade Commander Brandon Dorsey for much of the text posted here and to John Ocheltree for the photo.)
05 December 2008
04 December 2008
Read the rest of this excellent piece here.
*(Can anyone imagine a Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jim Thorpe, or a Teddy Roosevelt sitting around in Bermuda shorts, saying, "Like, hey, man, I'm down with that" or "Dude, where's my Wii?" As the writer of this piece notes, American manhood has truly lost its way.)
I'm pleased to be able to say that I'm one of Homeschooling Today's contributors. My wife (mostly) and I homeschooled 4 of our 6 children. Our oldest daughter (a certified teacher) is homeschooling her 4 daughters . . . the tradition continues and we expect most of our other children will follow suit. If you are able to, I highly recommend homeschooling. In doing so, you can avoid the police patrolling the halls, the Darwinist philosophy and moral relativism being crammed down the throats of your children, drugs, violence, revisionist history, and the rest of the moral bankruptcy of our public school system. But, hey, at least prayer and the Bible have been expelled from of our schools. That's worked out real well, hasn't it?
03 December 2008
02 December 2008
Whether that actually happened, I do not know. It would appear, however, that the new statist, Soviet-like Capitol Visitor's Center may have received some inspiration from this line.
"We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution."
Hail, Caesar. Story here, Comrades.
Listen to the first program to get the full scope, but don't miss this second half.
(The image is of the Carter House which was at the center of the battle.)
01 December 2008
Yes, the self-esteem gurus of modernity have done a fine job. Of course, this is the natural outcome of moral relativism. It would seem, day by day, we are seeing an accelerated breakdown of societal norms.
Sobering story here.
(If the link does not go directly to the audio, just search "Battle of Franklin" at the FOF site for daily broadcasts.)
Evidently, the reporter assumes it's sacrilege to display such an ad in an issue dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln - that's the real "issue" here.
James McPherson also weighs in stating that he would have "protested" had he known about the ad beforehand. Right. So now we're going to have historians protesting ads with Confederate flags? What's next, a boycott of Kunstler, Strain, et al? What utter silliness. As other CW bloggers have pointed out, McPherson's articles regularly appear in magazines featuring ads with products displaying the Confederate flag in much less tasteful ways than this. I agree with one blogger who said that that McPherson's comment is "truly remarkable." If McPherson's position in the future is to boycott such magazines, he will find his writing opportunities greatly diminished. I also agree that displaying the Confederate battle flag on bikinis and the like is tasteless at best and disrespectful at worst.
The magazine's editor said running the ad was "a little uncomfortable." Really? Not enough, though I suppose, to return the check, hmmm?
Though I would not wear a ring like the one displayed, it is not disrespectful or tasteless. I could also see a similar ring design using the Unites States flag, either Civil War period or modern.