31 August 2010

An Interview With Gary Casteel - "The Dreamer"

Fellow SCV member and friend, Gary Casteel is interviewed in this 2 part video. In the interview, Gary discusses his family history and how a "dumb hillbilly out of the mountains" came to be a sculptor (and I would add a world-renowned sculptor). The interview is actually a few years old. Gary, his wife Leslie, and their daughter no longer live in Lexington - they moved to Gettysburg late last year. One of the most interesting parts of the interview is Gary telling of a prophecy told to him by his Choctaw Indian grandmother. He also shares some of the interesting backstory to his Gettysburg piece of Longstreet. Gary is a talented and fascinating individual.

Part 2 explains the molding part of the sculpting process and discusses the Jefferson Davis - Jim Limber statue Gary did a couple of years ago. That piece was recently dedicated at Beauvoir in Mississippi.

Falling Out Of Favor

Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally - 8/28/2010
"The belief system seems to be spreading that intellectuals are no wiser as mentors, or worthier as examplars, than the witch doctors or priests of old. I share that skepticism" ~ Historian Paul Johnson

So do I. As promised, more coming on this subject in a future post. Stay tuned.

30 August 2010

A Family Of Patriots

Just For Fun

I have a niece who is autistic. And, as a lover of basketball and a Dad, I absolutely love this story. Incredible.

Who Gave Us The Bill Of Rights?

Whether one leans right or leans left, most are grateful for the Bill of Rights - the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Who, or perhaps more accurately, what gave us the Bill of Rights?

28 August 2010

Front Porch Pickin' #11

As always, bringing you the best in Southern Appalachia, Bluegrass, Folk, and Gospel music . . . get your culture here. Some great video in this post too. Hat tip to A Continuous Lean. Some of these roads look awful familiar.

Ghosts in the Hollow from Jim Lo Scalzo on Vimeo.

27 August 2010

The Angel of Marye's Heights - A Review

A Review of the film, The Angel of Marye’s Heights (Right Stripe Media), written and produced by Michael Aubrecht and Clint Ross. Directed by Clint Ross.

This thirty minute Civil War documentary film opens with black and white still shots as a narrator opines that modern day Civil War battlefield visitors need something to relate to “beyond silent cannons, stone statuary.” With this story, viewers get exactly that. Watching the opening credits and listening to the musical score, I got the distinct impression I was about to be treated to a high quality drama about the War Between the States with A list actors portraying the likes of Lee, Jackson, Grant, et al. And though this story contains plenty of drama, it is not a “Hollywood drama”--it is a first class documentary that accurately tells the true account of Richard Kirkland--the Angel of Marye’s Heights.

The film introduces viewers to this incredible story by telling of Kirkland’s background and upbringing on the family farm in South Carolina. From there, the film moves quickly to the opening of the war and, fortunately, avoids falling into the popular trap of suggesting the war was solely over slavery--or solely over state rights. The narrator correctly states that “issues over states’ rights and the institution of slavery became the mainstay of ardent debate and dissension.” From that statement, it moves on, as causes of the conflict are not what this film is about. It was, nonetheless, refreshing to see a contemporary Civil War film avoid over-simplifying the causes that divided our great nation.

As lead-ins to the main story line, John Brown’s raid is discussed, as well as secession and Lee’s decision to decline Lincoln’s offer to command Union forces. The narration explains that Kirkland’s decision to fight for his native South Carolina was based upon the same principles which guided Lee's decision: “to defend its homes and firesides if his duty were called upon.” Kirkland’s decision was not surprising as military service was not foreign to the Kirklands--at least ten of Kirkland’s ancestors had fought for the colonies during America’s War for Independence.

Enlisting with South Carolina’s Camden Volunteers, seventeen year old Kirkland made a choice that would lead to him becoming, in historical memory, immortal--albeit not for the same reasons most Civil War soldiers are remembered. Though certainly a brave soldier, Kirkland would be remembered for an act of mercy, rather than his prowess in battle.

The film does an excellent job of explaining the positions of the Union and Confederate lines during the December 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg and how Union soldiers were exposed to an unmerciful slaughter by the Confederates resulting in what one Confederate soldier described as, “weird, unearthly, terrible to hear and bear the cries of the dying soldiers filling the air -lying crippled on a hillside so many miles from home-breaking the hearts of soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.”

The anguished voices so moved young Kirkland that he petitioned Confederate General Joseph Kershaw for permission to leave his position so that he could offer water to the wounded and dying. Though advised against it, permission was granted and Kirkland loaded as many as a dozen water-filled canteens over his shoulders and began assisting those in need.

The combination of period stills, historical art, modern photography of battlefields, along with the captivating use of motion graphics and 3D digital map imagery; all work together to make this film visually absorbing. The narration and story line moves along at a good pace, keeping the viewer engaged and interested. Add the expert commentary by local historians Michael Aubrecht, John Cummings, and others; and the final result is a first rate documentary. My only criticism is that the film was too short. I was left with the feeling that I wanted to see more. And, hopefully, that is what we will get with future projects from Messrs. Aubrecht and Ross.

See the film. You won't be disappointed.

Why Historic Heroes Are Necessary

Some of Iggulden's comments reminded me of why I wrote the book about Stonewall Jackson and his black Sunday school class.

A Dangerous Book

The way boys and men, used to be . . .

I'm sure some of the child psychologists who are the so-called "experts" on child-rearing will have a meltdown over this book. All the more reason to buy it.

Making History

Though not the type they had "hoped" for . . . 

"Obama must know that if he doesn't address this, he will be the president who drove us toward a debt crisis. And so too must Congress, for both have now participated in the most fiscally irresponsible government in American history."

From U.S News & World Report (of all places)

I have been promising, for quite some time now, a lengthy post on issues related to what Zuckerman touches on in this piece.

I also have some other great posts coming in the days ahead:

  1. A review of the documentary, The Angel of Marye's Heights (later this evening or by tomorrow morning) 
  2. A post about Fort Early in Lynchburg, Virginia
  3. Some news about an endangered battlefield here in Virginia.

Stay tuned.

For Would-Be Authors

"Before I became an author myself, I held an inflated estimate of the number of copies the typical book (bestselling or otherwise) sold. I also thought the author earned more per book than he really does. In my experience, the general public shares the misconceptions I once held. Now for the terrible truth."

I could have written those words myself. But I didn't. Thomas E. Woods, Jr. did. If you are thinking about writing a book, or in the process of writing one, read the piece - then get back to work.

Refuting The Refuters

"There are a growing number of people on the internet chat rooms and message boards who do not believe that Richard Kirkland did anything special at Fredericksburg that would earn him the nickname, 'The Angel of Marye’s Heights,' and a large statue on the Fredericksburg Battlefield."

Fellow history blogger, Michael Aubrecht provides a link and an introduction to a response for those who doubt the veracity of the Kirkland story. The response is authored by retired NPS historian, Mac Wyckoff.

See previous related post.

Image from Mort Kunstler's site. "Angel of Marye's Heights
Sgt. Richard Kirkland, Fredericksburg, Va., Dec. 14, 1862."

26 August 2010


I was scanning some old family photos the other evening to send to my brother and thought I'd share a few of them with my readers - all 3 of you. The first photo is of my grandfather, Fred S. Busic, somewhere in North Africa during WWII. He's standing beside a "jeep" he built from spare parts he scavenged from around the base; including, if my memory serves me correctly, parts from an old Indian motorcycle. How neat is that? The second photo is of him getting ready to go for a spin in his creation. And the third, taken some time in the late '60's or early '70's, I scanned from an old Polaroid he snapped himself. It is his "man cave" - his desk (which I still use) where he listened to the radio, tinkered on old watches, made belt buckles, smoked pipes, rolled his own cigarettes, and dished out daily advice to yours truly. Note the Great Seal of the Confederacy hanging above his desk. It now hangs on my home office wall over the same desk. I still have a lot of those other items as well: the solid brass Virginia Metalcrafters Army cannon, the reference books/manuals, and the brass VM goblet/pencil holder. My brother has the collection of pipes. Here's a tribute I wrote to my grandfather at the Art of Manliness. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

The Democratization Of Academia . . .

is already here.

"Centuries ago, being a Renaissance man was a pursuit preserved solely for the well to-do. It was only the upper-classes who could afford private tutors and expensive books. Today, happily, the spread of technology has placed the goal of being a true polymath within any person's reach. A citizen of the modern age can spend a lifetime educating himself on everything from philosophy and religion to cooking and music, all without ever spending a dime. In fact, Bill Gates recently predicted that in five years, people will be able to get a better college education online for free than at a traditional university." 

I actually think Mr. Gates is five years behind the times.

More here

25 August 2010

Jesus & BBQ - Only In The South

Another short film documentary about Southern culture. Brought to you courtesy of Ole Miss. Y'all gotta watch this. A great story. Inspiring.

Shelter From The Storm

Courtesy of the Unites States Marine Corps. One of my readers, Doug Hill, sent me this photo along with these comments:

"Taken on Saturday of Pakistani flood victims seeking the refuge of a Super Stallion. With such a beautiful backdrop and the vivid colors adorning this Muslim family, there sits a patient, gigantic, metallic grasshopper of a war machine that could hardly be uglier, bearing the name of arguably America's toughest warriors. The Ugly American, the empirical American, imposing his might and will on the weak and the innocent around the world."

(Photo from U.S. Department of Defense website.)

Dishonoring Our Fathers & Bankrupting Our Children

One of the things I'm most passionate about is the 5th commandment:

"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which The Lord thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12)

It is one of the reasons I routinely hold certain academics in such disdain. They so often attempt to come off (unconvincingly) as being so much smarter and wiser than the accumulated wisdom of the ages. It makes me sick. Pure juvenile hubris on display. Spoiled children are running the country. Case in point is the current ruling regime in Washington. One of their own now admits it:

“We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet,” he said. “In my view we have nothing to show for it. We haven’t invested in our roads, our bridges, our waste-water systems, our sewer systems. We haven’t even maintained the assets that our parents and grandparents built for us.” ~ Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado

The self-sacrifice, sweat, blood, and tears of the great men and women who built this country is being wasted. The self-absorbed, narcissistic statists who believe they are so much smarter than the rest of us have absolutely nothing to show for their supposedly "superior" intelligence and education except red ink and moral bankruptcy. History will judge them harshly.

24 August 2010

Eat Or We Both Starve

In a comment the other day on this post, I advised: "look for the oldest, greasiest looking place in some rural area and you'll often find a dining treasure." This is especially true in the South. Case in point - watch the film below. A work of art. Fried catfish. I want some. Now. There is so much I love about this short film. Southern culture at its finest. The South as many of us know and love her. Would you want to be anything other than a Southerner?

Eat Or We Both Starve from Joe York on Vimeo.

Thank you Joe.

Why School Choice Is Important

Why do the statists in the education establishment oppose it? Control. Power.

Saying yes to liberty.

Rebelling Against PDA's

23 August 2010

American Manliness & The Civil War

One of my daily blog visits takes me to The Art of Manliness. A blog/website started by Brett McKay to help finance his way through law school. The site has, over the last few years, developed somewhat of a cult following. Count me a member of the cult. I've done a couple of pieces for the blog and the site is loaded with articles and links of interest to men who don't quite fit in with modernity's metro-sexual, Matt Lauer type of "manhood." Count me not quite fitting in. 

Anyway, Brett has a most interesting post today about the "history" of manliness in America and raised the issue of how the WBTS played a part in its development.

Here's a tease:

"As America shifted from an agrarian to an industrial society, the Genteel Patriarch quickly became an endangered species. His values and traditions didn’t transfer well to the new fast-paced market economy. Seeing that his days were numbered, the Genteel Patriarch made his last stand in the American South."

I would have some nuanced disagreements with some of Brett's points, but would tend to agree with his comments overall. This will be a 3 part series titled: 3 Archetypes of American Manliness. Today is ~ Part I: The Genteel Patriarch

22 August 2010

The Answer To - What's In the Bag?

A regular hamburger and fries from Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

In a recent national survey, the burger chain, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, won the number one spot for best burger. When ordered to go, this tasty man's meal comes in a plain brown bag. (See previous post.) This is just a regular burger with ketchup (lots of it) only - just the way I like it. My tastes are simple - I simply like the best. The photo of the burger really doesn't do it justice. It's actually 2 burgers stacked on a lightly grilled bun. Fresh ground beef, grilled while you wait. Check out the healthy portion of fries. The cup they serve them in is full, the rest they just toss in the bag for good measure. The meat is never frozen, just kept in a cooler. Much fresher. Fries are cooked in peanut oil. The chain started in Arlington, Virginia.

What's In The Bag?

Whatever it is, you know it's gotta be good ~ just look at those grease spots coming through! The food police would not be happy.

21 August 2010

More Nightmares On The Way

This is what happens when elites and academics with no real world experienc run the country:

"The program is intended to help those at risk of foreclosure by lowering their monthly mortgage payments. Friday's report from the Treasury Department suggests the $75 billion government effort is failing to slow the tide of foreclosures in the United States, economists say . . . Many borrowers have complained that the government program is a bureaucratic nightmare. They say banks often lose their documents and then claim borrowers did not send back the necessary paperwork." 

"Hello, I'm from the government and I'm here to screw up your life."

Wait until these buffoons start running healthcare. 

20 August 2010

41 Years Ago Today - 31" Of Rain In Nelson County

(Click image to enlarge)
Much of my family hails from Nelson County - the McGanns, Campbells, and Coffeys. I was 11 years old when Hurricane Camille tore through Virginia 41 years ago today. Nelson was the worst hit. Some areas of the county recorded 31 inches of rain. The local Sheriff said that the rain was falling so hard the he could not breathe without sheltering his nose with his hand. Nelson's deaths totaled more than 1% of the county's population. Some bodies were never found. The story would make a great movie.

I'm Your Huckleberry

19 August 2010

At The Ranch

From a couple of years ago - a photo of one of my granddaughters and my youngest son at our home.

Chris Matthews - Check Your Leg

“Last year, Obama gave you goose bumps, but I don’t think you’re going to see that this year,’’ said Alex McCluskey, co-owner of the Locker Room, who sold more than 4,000 “I vacationed with Obama’’ T-shirts last year. But so far this year, he said, his hot item is T-shirts of former President Bush asking, “Miss me yet?’

And on Martha's Vineyard of all places.

Just In Case?

From Virginia's document ratifying the United States Constitution:

". . . in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression . . ."

From Rhode Island's ratification document:

"That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness."

From New York's ratification document: 

"That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness . . ." 

Is it just me, or does that sound like these three states retained their right to secede from the Union? Did the other states agree by allowing these 3 states into the Union? Not necessarily advocating, just asking.

Feds Attempt To Violate 1st Amendment

But Glenn Beck calls their bluff and, like the cowards they are, they scurry back under the rock from which they crawled. A victory for freedom.

My fellow Virginian, James Madison, would be furious - not at Beck, at the Feds.

18 August 2010

Final Revenge

A documentary on Sherman's March -
Sherman's March ~ Final Revenge:

Website with sources.

*Note: Thanks to Scott Manning for providing this comment: "On YouTube, part 3 is incomplete, which ironically contains much of the meat in the documentary. However, their website contains the full version albeit in QuickTime or Windows Media formats."

Lime Kiln & Shenandoah Valley TV

If you've never visited the Shenandoah Valley's Lime Kiln Theater, you've missed a treat. I've been a few times, twice to view Stonewall Country. Check out the video below, along with the other Shenandoah Valley TV videos. It's the next best thing to living here.

A production of ShenandoahValley.com Watch more here.

17 August 2010

Reagan On The Intellectual Elite

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that elites in academia and government are my favorite targets for hurling barbs and criticisms and exposing their intellectually bankrupt philosophies and ideas. I am still working on a post that will illustrate, very plainly, that the "intellectual elite" aren't quite as wise as they would have everyone else believe. Knowledge, training, and being "credentialed" does not necessarily produce wisdom. The video below is a nice prelude to that upcoming post.

Getting It Wrong - Again

Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory, once again, falls into the increasingly crowded trap of making false assumptions which lead to incorrect conclusions. You would think someone "credentialed" and trained in research would not make this mistake so often. In a recent post Kevin makes the following claim:

[Note: I now understand why Richard Williams got so upset about my last post re: DeWitt.  He apparently sent her a complimentary copy of his book, which is now being advertised on the site.]

Well, not exactly. If Kevin would simply read my original post, and refrain from assigning motives, he would see that the reason I--in his words--"got so upset", was actually because he criticized a book he'd not read. In fact, a book that's not even been published. Perhaps I live in a parallel universe but, in my world, that defies reason and common sense. I was not alone in that criticism. Kevin's recent post suggests a quid pro quo between Ms. DeWitt and me. Hardly. I mailed her a complimentary copy of my book simply because I thought she would enjoy it. Nothing more, nothing less. As a fellow believer, the subject matter of my book is germane to some of the commentary on her website; particularly her comments regarding slavery, Christianity, and forgiveness. There was no request she "advertise" the book, or even mention it on her website.

And those are the facts.

14 August 2010

A Response to Professor David Blight's Article


“A man who would not defend his father's grave is worse than a wild animal.”
~ Chief Joseph


Yale history professor, author, and Civil War scholar David Blight, Ph.D., recently wrote a piece which appeared in The Free Lance Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The title of the piece is: "THE MYTHS OF GRAY: WHAT GIVES THE CONFEDERACY ITS STAYING POWER?" Blight wrote the piece in response to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s Confederate History Month Proclamation. An offense that Blight, and other academics like him, cannot seem to forgive. In the piece Professor Blight asks, with apparent frustration, “Why doesn’t the Confederacy just fade away?”

Since Blight is a Civil War scholar, I think it is reasonable to assume he knows that the Confederacy died in April of 1865. So the title of the article begins with a false premise and what follows in the piece continues in perfect harmony. For the sake of argument and discussion, I believe it is safe to assume he is really referring to those who honor their Confederate heritage and ancestors when he uses the term “Confederacy.” Allow me to offer a contrary view from the perspective of a Confederate soldier's descendant.

As I’ve already noted, Professor Blight's piece centers on Governor McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation. Though the proclamation was in April, some academics and the conformist media just can’t seem to leave it alone, obsessively contemplating a collective navel—though not their own. McDonnell’s proclamation was discussed ad nauseum in the blogosphere as well as in a recent issue of Civil War Times. And now, almost three months later, Blight finds it necessary to continue the discussion. To use a common phrase, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

It appears to me that Blight's real issue is not that the Confederacy has “staying power”, as his title suggests. No, what really seems to be bothering Blight is that there are still people in the South who can find honor and heroism in those who fought for Southern Independence, which is all the proclamation was about.

Blight spends much of his time presenting “evidence” that the War for Southern Independence was fought solely over slavery, though he contradicts himself by admitting, “There were deep, long-term causes, as well as immediate, short-term catalysts that precipitated secession and armed conflict in 1861.” And also: “The war is rooted in the historically contentious separation of powers between states and the federal government.”  He goes on to suggest that all these “causes” and “contentious separation” were, however, directly related to slavery. But he fails to make the case. There are a number of things wrong with Blight’s simplified analysis of something so complicated as the American Civil War. Blight reads dutifully from the current script—citing various secession documents from the Deep South to support his argument. But he omits discussion of the Upper South and overlooks the fact that the secession ordinances were political documents and proclamations. While no one would disagree many were fighting for the preservation of slavery, we know that politicians don’t always state publicly the real or complete reasons for war. Anyone remember “weapons of mass destruction?”

Was slavery central to the WBTS? Yes. But to say it was the cause of the war is over simplification and shallow analysis. It doesn’t tell the whole story.

As Clyde Wilson pointed out in reviewing Gary W. Gallagher’s and Alan T. Nolan’s book, The Myth Of The Lost Cause And Civil War History. (Indiana University Press, 2000):

A single-issue treatment of the causes of any other great war in history, like Nolan's of the Civil War, would be laughed out of school. One of the greatest of American historians, Charles A. Beard, thought economics played the major part. But in Nolan's universe Unionists are always governed by the highest motives – they are never moved like other human beings by self-interest, vanity, a lust for domination, opportunism, and just plain old misapprehension and fecklessness. Apparently the long-standing economic conflict of the sections was insignificant.

Let’s consider a modern analogy. Did the United States invade Iraq over WMD’s? That’s what we were told. Did we invade because Hussein would not permit UN arms inspections? That was the “official reason” but does it tell the whole story? No, it does not. Did we invade Iraq over possible terrorist threats to the United States? Yes. Did we invade Iraq because we wanted to establish a strong presence in the Middle East to guarantee the free flow of oil at market prices? I believe so. Did we invade Iraq in order to establish a pro-Western government that would ostensibly have positive, long term consequences? Yes. Did we invade Iraq to rid the region of a mad man like Hussein? Yes. Did we invade Iraq because the United States government wanted revenge over Hussein’s plan to assassinate Bush’s father? Yes. All of these were reasons for going to war with Iraq. (You may disagree with all of these "reasons" - that's not the point, just that there were ostensibly multiple reasons.) It is extremely naïve to take the public, political statements and documents of politicians at face value when it comes to giving the reason for invading Iraq. It is ridiculous to claim one reason for our invasion of Iraq, just as it is with most wars; there were multiple reasons and tensions that built over decades for a whole host of reasons. It was no different with the WBTS.

And, as historian Douglas Harper has noted:

The American Civil War was "about" slavery like the Boston Tea Party was "about" tea. Slavery became the symbol and character of all sectional differences. It was the emotional gasoline on the sectional fires. Its moral and social implications colored every issue in terms of right and rights. William Seward, the Republican leader whose party made so much of this, recognized the fact: "Every question, political, civil, or ecclesiastical, however foreign to the subject of slavery, brings up slavery as an incident, and the incident supplants the principal question." (Emphasis mine.)

Despite what current orthodoxy proclaims as “the official” reason of the WBTS, state sovereignty was a compelling issue, as were religious and cultural differences, tariffs and other economic frictions. There were multiple causes that led to the War Between the States. And there were multiple reasons among the various states. Virginia did not secede for the same reason as did South Carolina, Alabama, et al. Blight’s citing of secession documents excludes the Upper South’s motivations. Moreover, Blight seems to accept, at face value, Southern proclamations when they support his perspective, but either ignore or dismiss those that don’t support his perspective, as he does with Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address which he admits does “not mention the word ‘slavery’; instead, since the world was now the audience, he founded the Confederacy on states' rights and the ‘consent of the governed.’”

Blight suggests we dismiss Davis's inaugural address because "the world was now the audience." How was the world any more the audience than it was with the various state secession documents? Blight then constructs another straw man: “But the Confederate Constitution mentioned and guaranteed the right of slave ownership.” True, but the United States Constitution, in its intentional avoidance of mentioning the words "slavery" or "slave", did the same. So the two documents were not at odds over the issue. The former affirmed, the latter, in dancing around the issue, assumed. The results were the same. Even President Lincoln acknowledged this fact. Moreover, the Confederate Constitution also guaranteed that the government could not impose protective tariffs nor grant subsidies. So, following Blight's line of reasoning, this proves the conflict was also over economic issues. If the mentioning of a specific issue in the Confederate Constitution supports an argument over the causes of the WBTS, let's at least be consistent.

Blight then cites Jefferson Davis’s racism in defending slavery to support his argument. I’m not going to insult the intelligence of readers here, as most are fully aware of Lincoln’s own racist views including his frequent use of racial slurs, as well as his belief that blacks would never be equals to whites. Suffice it to say that quoting either Davis or Lincoln on race proves nothing, as all 19th century Americans would be considered racists by our standards today.

Blight then asks a few rhetorical questions which undermine his whole argument that slavery was the cause of the Civil War:

Why doesn't the Confederacy just fade away? Is it because we are irresistibly fascinated by catastrophic loss? Or is it something else? Is it because the Confederacy is to this day the greatest conservative resistance to federal authority in American history?

So what is it that involves “federal authority” that “the Confederacy” is resisting “to this day?” Slavery is certainly dead and no one would lament that fact. Civil rights and racism is no more (probably less) of a problem in the South today than it is in any other region of the country. By framing the question in this way, Blight suggests that there is strong sentiment in the South, extending since the WBTS, to resist “federal authority.” He’s right and he unwittingly provides evidence that this “conservative resistance” was the underlying principle which brought North and South to war in 1861. Since this resistance has been alive for generations, and since Blight admits it was the same sentiment alive in 1861, he undermines his whole notion that slavery was "the" cause of the WBTS. Did Blight commit a Freudian slip and thereby admit that much of the South’s inherent “conservative resistance to federal authority” was as much a cause of the WBTS as anything else?

And then we have the “quote” by John S. Mosby. In quoting the Confederacy’s most famous guerrilla warrior, Blight claims Mosby     “. . . drove a dagger into the heart of Lost Cause mythology about slavery.” First of all, to suggest that one quote from one Confederate officer (who, by the way, happened to become a Republican after the war) ends the never-ending debate over the causes of the WBTS is absurd on its face. Secondly, there’s a problem with the quote itself. Here is what Blight claims Mosby said: “I am not ashamed that my family were slaveholders. The South went to war on account of slavery. I am not as honored for having fought on the side of slavery--a soldier fights for his country the South was my country.”

So what’s the problem? The quote is edited and incomplete. That would not necessarily be a problem had Blight not violated a fundamental rule of quoting by failing to insert ellipses (. . .) to alert the reader that the quote is incomplete and/or edited for brevity. Mosby’s original words are contained in a letter to his former Chaplain, Sam Chapman, dated 4 June 1907. Here’s the full context of the quote, without the omissions:

Now while I think as badly of slavery as Horace Greeley did I am not ashamed that my family were slaveholders. It was our inheritance – Neither am I ashamed that my ancestors were pirates & cattle thieves. People must be judged by the standard of their own age. If it was right to own slaves as property it was right to fight for it. The South went to war on account of slavery. South Carolina went to war – as she said in her Secession proclamation – because slavery wd. not be secure under Lincoln. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding. The truth is the modern Virginians departed from the teachings of the Father’s. John C. Calhoun's last speech had a bitter attack on Mr Jefferson for his amendment to the Ordinance of `87 prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory. Calhoun was in a dying condition – was too weak to read it – So James M. Mason, a Virginia Senator, read it in the Senate about two weeks before Calhoun's death – Mch. 1850. Mason & Hunter not only voted against The admission of California (1850) as a free state but offered a protest against wh. the Senate refused to record on its Journal Nor in the Convention wh. Gen. Taylor had called to from a Constitution for California, there were 52 Northern & 50 Southern men – but it was unanimous against slavery -- But the Virginia Senator, with Ron Tucker & Co. were opposed to giving self-government to California. Ask Sam Yost to give Christian a skinning. I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery – a soldier fights for his country – right or wrong – he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in. The South was my country. (You can read the complete letter here.)

I believe it’s obvious that the complete quote puts a slightly different—though important—spin on Mosby’s attitude and complicates Mosby’s attitude somewhat. I wonder how Professor Blight would have viewed the same error in one of his student’s papers? But even if Mosby’s words had been more direct and to the point, so what? We could exchange cherry-picked quotes now until doomsday. Here are just a few examples:

“So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained.” ~ Robert E. Lee

“With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relative, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State (with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed) I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword.” ~ Robert E. Lee

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps save the Union.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

Professor Blight has his dagger, I have mine.

And then there there is this comment from Blight’s piece:

Is it really all about federalism? Or the honoring of ancestors? Or valor and loyalty? Or regional identity? Or about white racial solidarity in an America becoming browner and more multi-ethnic every day? (Emphasis mine.)

The last part of that “question” is leading, presumptuous, condescending, and inflammatory and reveals an astonishing misunderstanding of the background, ethnicity, and ancestral makeup of many families in the South. Apparently, the insulated and monolithic world of academia has kept Professor Blight from the truth about many Southern families. Take mine for example: I have three great-great grandfathers who fought honorably for the Confederacy. Two were wounded in action and served time as prisoners of war. I am extremely proud of that heritage of honor and sacrifice. Yet, I am also descended from fine New England stock, which includes being a direct descendant of the Reverend Roger Williams who founded the colony of Rhode Island. I am also proud of that heritage. I married a woman of American Indian descent. She is proud of that heritage; as well she should be. She is also descended from two Confederate soldiers. She is just as proud of that heritage. Our oldest son married a beautiful young lady who was born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in Puerto Rico, and then immigrated to the United States. Their union has produced two very fine and handsome boys—our grandsons. Their skin is brown. They have Confederate ancestors. Our youngest son also married a beautiful young lady whose grandfather immigrated to the United States from Lebanon. Their union has produced two very fine and beautiful daughters—our granddaughters. Their skin is brown. They have Confederate ancestors. These grandchildren, like the other nine (soon to be ten) who have a mixture of Scots-Irish, Welsh, English, German, American Indian, and Jewish ancestry will all be taught to honor their fathers and their grandfathers, which include Vietnam, Korean, WWII, WWI, and Confederate veterans. This tradition of honoring our collective and mixed heritage, including that of our Confederate ancestors, has nothing to do with how much melanin any of us happen to have in our skin. It is, in fact, based on honor, tradition, and valor. So whatever Blight is basing his “solidarity” comment on, it’s certainly not the facts. Making false assumptions regarding motivations, and based on stereotyping people you don’t know, makes for poor commentary. I could make false assumptions about Blight’s motivations, but I won’t.

I could assume that since Professor Blight, “as a historian” publicly endorsed, for President, an ultra-liberal Democrat who favors greater federal authority; and since McDonnell is a conservative Republican whose administration is resisting greater federal authority (Virginia’s lawsuits against the EPA and healthcare “reform”); and since Blight seems to indicate he’s frustrated with “the Confederacy” being “to this day the greatest conservative resistance to federal authority in American history”; I could assume that his real motivation in writing this piece was purely political and has nothing to do with historical analysis or perspective. I could assume that it is actually “the Confederacy’s” conservative resistance to federal authority that Blight really wishes would “just fade away.” I could assume this, but I won’t.

And finally, to answer the good Professor’s question: “Why doesn't the Confederacy just fade away?” The answer is simple—because many Southerners continue to teach our children and our grandchildren what our fathers and mothers and grandparents have taught us and passed down for generations. We still share our family history around the supper table; eating harvest that was grown and nourished from the very soil that contains the blood of our kin—blood that was shed while defending our homes. We still share our family history on the front porches of our homes in the fading light of summer evenings surrounded by great trees that were present when our ancestors lived. We still share our family history before a crackling fire in our homes on cold winter nights with our children and grandchildren gathered close around us—we continue to share the stories, the sadness, the glory, the bravery, the love, the patriotism, the loyalty, and the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. We do this, in part, that we might “honor our fathers” as the Scriptures command us. And our children and our grandchildren, despite the relentless and misguided assault on their heritage by the likes of Professor Blight, will do the same when their turn comes. 

VJ Day In Kodachrome

This is some really neat film. The accompanying Jimmy Durante song is perfect. Commemorating The Bravest Generation. Now that's art. Hat tip to A Continuous Lean.

Time For A Civics Lesson

Sit up and pay attention.

12 August 2010

Road Trip To Lexington

This past Tuesday, I embarked upon a short trip to Lexington, Virginia, about 30 minutes south of my home. I needed to drop by Lee Chapel to sign a few books, then attend our SCV camp's monthly meeting. This month, we met at the public pavilion and park located at Jordan's Point in Lexington. JP was, at one time, the industrial center of old Lexington. Some warehouses and other businesses, linked to other areas of the state by the old canal system, used to located in this area. The coming of the railroad saw its importance diminish in the ensuing years. Union General David Hunter shelled Lexington and VMI from a high vantage point across the Maury River (formerly the North River) from Jordan's Point. He also burned the covered bridge that used to cross here. The original abutments can still be seen (see below). VMI cadets, upon hearing of Hunter's approach, attempted to load artillery and ammunition into barges and float them down the river to Lynchburg. They weren't quite quick enough and the boats, along with their contents, were sunk. One of our camp members related a story told to him by a friend how that, in the '60's, he and some friends were night fishing on the Maury, some distance below JP. The river was low and they spotted something in the river, exposed due to the low water lever. It was apparently one of the cannons from the 1864 attack on Lexington. They drug it out of the river, along with quite a bit of grape shot. But after some discussion, dumped the cannon back into the river! They saved the grape shot.

Also, JP was where Stonewall Jackson's body arrived from Lynchburg, via the packet boat the "Marshall" and the old canal system, for his funeral in Lexington. 

Welcome to Lexington, Virginia
(Notice the SCV Logo)
A token of remembrance for General Lee
Old & young alike gathered at Jordan's Point
Old covered bridge abutment at Jordan's Point - north side of Maury River
The rotting remains of an old Chessie Railroad trestle.
The old miller's house at Jordan's Point.
Historical plaque at Jordan's Point.
A not so cautious fawn greeted me upon my arrival at the park.

11 August 2010

What Would Alexis de Tocqueville Think?

"What the great French historian Alexis de Tocqueville would make of today’s Obama administration were he alive today is anyone’s guess. But I would wager that the author of L’Ancien Régime and Democracy in America would be less than impressed with the extravagance and arrogance on display among the White House elites that rule America as though they had been handed some divine right to govern with impunity. . . There is however a political revolution fast approaching Washington that is driven not by mob rule but by the power of ideas and principles, based upon the ideals of the Founding Fathers and the US Constitution. It is a distinctly conservative revolution that is sweeping America and is reflected in almost every poll ahead of this November’s mid-terms. It is based on a belief in individual liberty, limited government, and above all, political accountability from the ruling elites." (Emphasis mine.)

A most insightful piece in the UK Telegraph.

Have Bag, Will Travel

Road trip to Lexington this past Tuesday. I'll post  details and some good photos soon. (Click image to enlarge.)

Have Some Kleenex Handy

09 August 2010

The Mystery Of The Hunley

"A decade after the raising of the Confederate submarine Hunley off the South Carolina coast, the cause of the sinking of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship remains a mystery. But scientists are edging closer."

More here.

Three of my daughters had the honor and privilege of singing at the ceremony honoring the Virginia member of the Hunley crew, Frank Collins, in March of 2004. The ceremony was held in the old House of Delegates chamber at the Virginia Capitol. (Image is of Frank Collins lying in state at the Richmond Capitol. Click image for larger view.)

08 August 2010

EPA Decrees: No Dust On The Road To Serfdom

More evidence that we're being ruled by pointy-headed academics with no real world experience:

"Ninety pages of rules specifying labels on lightbulbs is a perfect example of the creeping tyranny of central planners so clearly forewarned in FA Hayek's 'The Road to Serfdom.'"

And . . . 

"But now the EPA, living in a dust free but not idiot free zone inside the Beltway, insists the rest of us live in a biosphere bubble, inoculated from anything that might fail the Good Housekeeping test."

More here.

07 August 2010

Jefferson's Bequest

"Jefferson’s argument is stated simply enough. If the federal government is allowed to hold a monopoly on determining the extent of its own powers, we have no right to be surprised when it keeps discovering new ones. If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers . . ."

More here.

The Elite vs. The People

"Who decides in America? The people, as the books claim? Or the elite, as common practice seems to have it? And so the rage. And soon the fire . . . the Democratic Party has essentially been hijacked by an educated, an over-educated elite group who basically don't care about the people who constitute the Democrat Party. " ~ Democrat Consultant & Gadfly, Pat Caddell

Caddell believes that the Nation is in a "pre-revolutionary" state.

More here.

06 August 2010

Front Porch Pickin' #9

Sorry for the lack of posts in this category . . . but I"ve been busy. Get over it. Anyway, as usual, this series brings you the best in Southern Appalachian bluegrass, gospel, & country music. Get your culture here. The video below is not of the best sound quality, but the band is great, and still worth a listen. Turn it up. Former Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver band member, Jamie Dailey, along with former Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder band member, Darrin Vincent, came together a couple of years ago and formed a new band called, appropriately, Dailey and Vincent. They are excellent.

This is a great tune, Cumberland River . . . "headed for the Southland" - oh yeah.

By the way, did you know that around 25 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute? Amazing.