31 January 2014

Soldiers Discovered Behind A Wall In Freetown, Virginia

I knew that title would grab attention. This is one of the coolest and most interesting stories I've come across in a long time - at least in regards to local history and artifacts. An acquaintance of mine (who shares my passion for archeology, relic hunting and metal detecting), recently made what I consider an amazing discovery in the wall of a house he purchased for renovation. The home is located in an area of Albemarle County, Virginia known as "Freetown." The area itself has some interesting history.  The home was built in 1875 and will be under restoration for a while. A chimney on the site dates back to the 1820's. All of the houses in this area were owned and built by black families during the reconstruction period after the Civil War, War for Southern Independence, thus the name "Free Town." 

So, in addition to some discoveries he'd already made, my acquaintance just very recently found a burlap Morton salt bag, tied with bailing twine and secreted away in a wall. Inside, he found toy lead soldiers in excellent condition. These soldiers look similar to the ones melted down for musket balls in the Mel Gibson film, The Patriot


Oh, the stories those soldiers could tell.

Here's an excerpt from a 2010 article about the community just over the Blue Ridge from my home:
Richard Brown began his first day in the world in 1935 in Freetown, a little community of some dozen or so houses behind Brownsville Market. He’s never left it. His parents were born there, too. And his grandparents set up together in married life there, according to their family Bible, in 1869. Brown isn’t sure if the Civil War freed them from slavery, but he thinks not. They were already free. That’s the way the family remembers it.
You can read more about the history of this community, and efforts to preserve it, here.

Stand by for follow up and screen shots over the War for Southern Independence debate. Coming soon.

30 January 2014

Follow Up On War Between The States, Civil War & War For Southern Independence

*Update: Now, another update. Kevin has deleted the post referenced below. Not to worry. As he pointed out previously, hitting the delete button don't quite cut it these days. I saved the post to my hard drive because I suspected he might delete it. I'll wait and see if he decides it would be better to put it back up. If not, I'll treat him the same way he treated Ted Savas and post a screenshot here. Stay tuned.

End of update.

This has become quite interesting. (See these posts here and here.) And Kevin Levin's most recent mea culpa: [Which he just deleted]


Ah, ah, ah . . . not so fast there partner:


A salute to Kevin for acknowledging [before he deleted his acknowledgement] his error and the fact that Professor Sinisi makes a compelling argument for calling the Civil War, The War for Southern Independence:



Yes, it is compelling and a must read for those interested in the topic. It is stated much more eloquently than I could have done, but the fundamental argument is the same as I've stated. I am, apparently, in good company and on strong "scholarly" ground. In the good Professor's argument he pointed out the following:
What is truly odd is that significant numbers of historians will acknowledge the correctness of the terminology of War for Southern Independence in their letters . . . use the terminology on the cover of their books and in the pages of their books, but are essentially told you can’t put it in the course catalog.

 Let’s take a look:

Richard McMurry, John Bell Hood and the War for Southern Independence (U of Nebraska Press, 1992)

 Carl Degler in Out of our past: the forces that shaped modern America   (1984; 3rd edition)     (Pulitzer Prize winner: Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States.)

 “The Civil War was actually the War for Southern Independence.” (198)

 Stephen Sears, Landscape Turned Red   (1983) 

 “The enemy was demonstrating a grim determination to turn a war for Southern Independence into a revolution against Southern institutions.” (59)

 William Pencak, ed. Encyclopedia of the Veteran in America, vol 1 (2009) ABC Clio           

 When looking at the contributions of Hispanics noted “Equally important were Hispanic sons of the South and their respective contributions during the War for Southern Independence.” (222)

 Howard Jones in Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War (U of Nebraska Press, 1999)

 “South Carolina’s dramatic announcement of secession from the Union in December 1860 ultimately led to a war for southern independence.” (3)

 Edwin Davis, Heroic Years: Louisiana in the War for Southern Independence (1964)

 John Shelton Reed, ed. , Regionalism and the South: Selected Papers of Rupert Vance (UNC Press, 1982)

 “The Taylor family came from east Tennessee, dark and bloody ground of the War for Southern Independence.”

Eugene Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery (Wesleyan UP; 2nd ed., 1989)

 “Neither of the two leading interpretations, which for many years have contended in a hazy and unreal battle, offers consistent and plausible answers to recurring questions, especially those bearing on the origins of the War for Southern Independence.” (14) and 11 other such references in the book.

 Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (Knopf, 1998) and

Pulitzer Prize winner for Been in the Storm so Long: The Aftermath of Slavery

 “With the ‘surrender,’ as blacks called it, the War for Southern Independence and the enslavement of black men and women both came to an end.” (2)

 James Green in Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America (Random House, 2006)

 “His brother, a wealthy, influential landowner, sent Albert to school in Waco and then to Galveston, where he served as an apprentice “printer’s devil” in a newspaper office until the War for Southern Independence captured his soul.” (56)

 Marc Wortman, The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta (Perseus Books, 2009)

 “The War for Southern Independence ate men up, and the enrollment terms for many state and Confederate soldiers….” (155) 6 other mentions

 Elizabeth Fox Genovese, The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders (Cambridge University Press, 2002, 2005)

 “The exigencies of the War for Southern Independence raised the disagreeable possibility that the modern world might need a Cromwell after all.” (688) 22 other mentions; Heck, she even has a chapter named “From the Reformation to the War for Southern Independence.”

 Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy, The American Spirit (Houghton Mifflin, 1987).

 Chapter 23 is “The War for Southern Independence.”

 David Hackett Fisher, Liberty and Freedom (Oxford UP, 2005). Pulitzer Prize winner, too.

 “South Carolinians combined old symbols of the Revolutionary War with new emblems of the War for Southern Independence.” (308)
Looks like I was right after all. I hope we've all learned something here. But I kinda doubt it.

29 January 2014

Lawrence Of Arabia & My Grandfather's Webley & Scott Flare Pistol:

I came across this interesting image recently. It's of Lawrence of Arabia (Peter O'Toole) firing a Webley & Scott flare pistol in the epic movie, Lawrence of Arabia. It interested me because I own one of these flare pistols. It was my grandfather's. I originally posted about it here. In a related note, I recently read that Webley & Scott was one of several British double action revolvers used by the South during the Civil War oops, no, War Between the States oops, no, War for Southern Independence.

My grandfather fought with the British army in Egypt during WWII. He had some wonderful stories about Arab culture and British officers. The film (which I recently ordered the Blu-Ray, 2 disc version of), is considered to be one of the greatest military films of all time, but I've never watched it all the way through. I thought doing so would be a great way to spend a cold winter evening, as well as remember my grandfather.

Wiki notes the following about the movie:
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company, Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the title role. It is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential films in the history of cinema. The dramatic score by Maurice Jarre and the Super Panavision 70 cinematography by Freddie Young are also highly acclaimed. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven in total including Best Director, Best Sound Editing, and Best Picture.

You can see some more great images of the film, as well as Webley & Scott firearms, here.

Calling The "Civil War" Speech Police

*Update: I got Kevin Levin's attention, but I'm confused. If Kevin didn't think the issue of "Civil War" vs. "War Between the States" was, as he states, "a big issue", then why did he bring it up in the first place? I didn't make an issue out of it, he did. So now he projects that on me:


Kevin was surprised that a "scholarly book . . . referred to the war as the War Between the States" and he's also surprised by what I "uncovered" related to the widespread use of that term. What I uncovered was the fact that lots of scholars, scholarly websites and publications use the term, "War Between the States." I was surprised that Kevin was surprised, but maybe I shouldn't have been. Sounds like Kevin needs to broaden his horizons a bit. ☺ In doing so, he'll find a lot more surprises lurking in Civil War, War Between the States War For Southern Independence historiography. Kevin's surprise reminded me of a Bill Buckley quote. Just substitute "academics" or "professional historians" for "liberals":

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views. ~ William F. Buckley Jr.
But there's more. In regards to the original post below, Kevin further claims that "The only problem is that Professor Sinisi is neither a War for Southern Independence historian . . ." Kevin makes this claim despite the fact that Sinisi authored a Civil War (sorry) related book which was published by a university press. Moreover, he co-edited another work related to the War Between the States (oops) War For Southern Independence which was also published by a university press. Kevin then opines that "I hope Richard gets the full story from Prof. Sinisi at the upcoming conference at Liberty University."

Actually, I don't think I'm the one missing the full story - whether it's the issue of the "War Between the States" or Professor Sinisi.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go straighten my bent shape.

End of update.

I had previously posted about the rather strange (if not downright silly), criticism over the use of the term "War Between the States" in lieu of the "Civil War." In that post, I made the following observation:

However if one truly wants to make such a big deal out of what we call the armed conflict which occurred in America from 1861 to 1865 , and if its historical accuracy and honesty that one truly seeks, then I think Douglas Southall Freeman is, perhaps, the truest to historical accuracy in coining the proper term. Author and fellow Virginian, David Johnson, discusses this topic in his wonderful biography of Freeman:
Freeman preferred the term "War Between the States" to "Civil War," although his preference was based on custom rather than logic. "I never had any objection to the term 'Civil War,'" he wrote, "nor, for that matter, after I got of age, did I have any complaint because the Federals called us 'rebels." If the name was a proper one, our fathers certainly dignified it." If pushed for a term, he believed "the War for Southern Independence" to be "the wisest and soundest name" because that was "precisely what the conflict was." (Page 305.)
So, with that in mind, I recently came across this:



Source.

Horror of horrors. Quick, someone call the Civil War Speech Police. By the way, I believe Professor Sinisi will be speaking at Liberty University's Civil War Seminar this spring - assuming he's not been jailed for violating some PC speech code.

25 January 2014

Lee Jackson Day - Who Is It Good For?

Kevin Levin, who has expressed the view he saw no reason to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day, posed the question noted above. Kevin and many of his followers would like to see the tradition of honoring Lee and Jackson in Virginia (and other places in the South) thrown on the trash heap of history.

In regards to the question posed, I'll let others answer, beyond what I've previously noted. First we'll go to Washington and Lee University's website where the university gives some background as to the connection both namesakes have to the school. I'll pull just a few excerpts, but recommend reading all the information contained on this particular page.
As Washington had done in 1796 when pondering what to do with the canal stock, Lee sought the advice and counsel of many people before agreeing to accept the position [of President]. His decision, no less than Washington's, forever altered the prospects of the institution for the better.
And . . . 
Lee's mere presence brought mostly positive attention to the institution. Far more than a figurehead, Lee proved a creative educator whose innovations laid the groundwork for both a curriculum and a sense of honor that remain distinctive to this day.
And . . .
Lee's personal character was equally important in setting the tone for the future. Perhaps the one story of his presidency that is retold most often serves as the basis for the University's distinctive Honor System. When a student asked Lee for the college's rules, the president is said to have replied: "We have but one rule here, and it is that every student be a gentleman." That principle is part of the foundation for a campus culture built on civility, duty, and integrity for the men and women of the student body.
And finally . . .
In a speech in Lee Chapel on Oct. 10, 2011, Civil War historian James I. Robertson called Lee's presidency "his greatest achievement, far more than his generalship." Added Robertson: "I don't know of an individual in America, including the president of the United States, who did more in the short time he had to bring this nation together than Lee."
Regarding Jackson, we'll let Colonel Keith Gibson enlighten the uninformed, though much more could be said:




Hopefully, this will inform certain individuals with some perspective beyond present faddish "memory" studies and political, pop-culture considerations. I'd also recommend Robert Moore's comments on the topic.

23 January 2014

The Bible Belt - The South

Here are the top 10 most Bible-minded cities:
  1. Chattanooga, Tenn.
  2. Birmingham, Ala.
  3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.
  4. Springfield, Mo.
  5. Shreveport, La.
  6. Charlotte, N.C.
  7. Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C.
  8. Little Rock, Ark.
  9. Jackson, Miss.
  10. Knoxville, Tenn.
And here are the 10 least Bible-minded cities:
  1. Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass.
  2. Albany, N.Y.
  3. Boston
  4. San Francisco
  5. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  6. Buffalo, N.Y.
  7. Hartford/New Haven, Conn.
  8. Phoenix
  9. Burlington, Vt.
  10. Portland, Maine
Source: The Blaze

Interesting that the community (Providence, RI) founded by my great x 9 grandfathter, Roger Williams, is the least Bible-minded city in the Nation - according to this source anyway. Williams also founded the first Baptist Church in America.

22 January 2014

Modern Governors Could Profit From The Examples Of Lee & Jackson

Well, well, well . . . how providential. First we have the Governor of New Jersey using his office to punish political opponents by punishing the state's citizens. Next, we have the Governor of New York recently revealing that he's a narrow-minded bigot and his ignorance is costing the state of New York. And now the former Governor of Virginia (who lied to voters when he promised not to raise taxes), has been indicted. Kinda hard to feel sorry for any one of these clowns, isn't it?

What was that that Lord Acton said?

But perhaps there's hope for their rehabilitation. Virginia Governor Terence McAuliffe recently issued an official proclamation honoring the admirable character qualities of Generals Lee and Jackson. If these three morally lacking Governors would just study the lives of these great men, along with their character, perhaps they could avoid these moral lapses in the future. As I recall hearing Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. once note:  "Robert E. Lee never existed [in the minds of some] because we don't have a Robert E. Lee today." And, as Dr. Robertson wrote of Jackson in his book, Stonewall Jackson's Book of Maxims:
Jackson's success in character building approached perfection. An early biographer concluded: "Jackson's personal character was absolutely without blemish. His habits were of the manliest that a Puritan could wish; his honor clean, and his courage superlative; while as a gentleman in expression and action, he had no superior."

A man who would not use liquor, tobacco, or profanity, Jackson could be a role model for any age.
(Emphasis mine.)
Indeed he could. And indeed he is.

LEE-JACKSON DAY

1/17/2014 WHEREAS, Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson were native Virginians, having served our great nation and Commonwealth as educators, leaders, and military strategists; and
WHEREAS, Lee served in the United States Army for more than three decades until he left his position to serve as Commander in Chief of Virginia's military forces and as Commander of the Army of northern Virginia; and
WHEREAS, Jackson taught philosophy and military tactics as a professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington for nearly a decade before serving briefly in the United States Army and later joining the Confederate Army to fight for his native Virginia; and
WHEREAS, Lee dedicated his life after the Civil War to reforming higher education in the South by serving as President of Washington College, now Washington & Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, where he helped to greatly increase the school's funding and expanding the curriculum to create an atmosphere most conductive to learning for young men of both Southern and Northern heritage; and
WHEREAS, Jackson's leadership and bravery enabled him to rally his troops to several improbable victories against opposition forces much larger than his own, and Jackson's inspired "Stonewall Brigade" fought alongside General Lee's troops toward another victory even after their leader was fatally wounded on the second day of the Battle of Chancellorsville; and
WHEREAS, it is fitting to recognize Generals Lee and Jackson as two of our nation's most notable military strategists, as beloved leaders among their troops, as pioneers in the field of higher education and as faithful and dedicated Virginians;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize January 17, 2014; as LEE-JACKSON DAY in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA and call this observance to attention for all our citizens.

21 January 2014

Happy Birthday Professor Jackson

The Professor from Virginia
by Mort Künstler
Chronology of Jackson's Life:

1824 - Born the third child of Jonathan and Julia Beckwith Neale Jackson on January 21 in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).
1826 - Jackson’s father dies on March 26.
1830 - Jackson’s mother marries Blake B. Woodson. Thomas moves in with his step-grandmother, Mrs. Edward Jackson, and the rest of the family, including Uncle Cummins Jackson, at Jackson’s Mill near Weston, Virginia (now West Virginia)
1831 - Jackson’s mother dies on December 4.
1841 - Jackson is appointed constable of Lewis County, Virginia (West Virginia) on June 8.
1842 - Jackson is admitted to West Point on July 1.
1846 - Jackson graduates from West Point seventeenth out of a class of sixty with the rank of second lieutenant of artillery.
1847 - Fights in the Mexican War and is promoted to the brevet rank of major.
1848 - Stationed at Fort Hamilton, Long Island, New York. Jackson makes a public profession of faith in Christ and is baptized.
1850 - Transferred to various stations in Florida.
1851 - Appointed professor of artillery tactics and natural philosophy at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia. He reports to VMI on August 13. He becomes a member of the Lexington Presbyterian Church on November 22.
1853 - Marries Elinor “Ellie” Junkin, daughter of the Reverend Dr. George Junkin, president of Washington College.
1854 - Jackson’s wife, Ellie, along with their infant child, die during childbirth.
1855 - He begins his “Colored Sabbath-school” in the autumn.
1856 - Jackson tours Europe during the summer months.
1857 - Jackson marries Mary Anna Morrison on July 16.
1859 - Jackson leads a company of VMI cadets to Harpers Ferry and follows radical abolitionist John Brown to the gallows in Charlestown, Virginia (West Virginia)
1861–63 - On April 21, 1861, Jackson leaves Lexington with 175 VMI cadets at the outbreak of the War Between the States.1 Jackson distinguishes himself during the ensuing two years as a brilliant and courageous officer and strategist. On May 2, 1863, Jackson is mistaken for the
enemy and shot by men of the Eighteenth North Carolina. Jackson’s arm is amputated, and he succumbs to complications from his wound on May 10. He is laid to rest in Lexington on May 15, 1863.

Jackson’s Marriages and His Descendants:

Jackson married twice. On August 4, 1853, Jackson married Elinor Junkin (1825–54), daughter of George Junkin and Julia Miller Junkin. Elinor died in childbirth on October 22, 1854. Their child, a son, was stillborn. On July 16, 1857, Jackson married Mary Anna Morrison (1831–1915), daughter of Robert Hall Morrison and Mary Graham Morrison. Anna’s family resided in North Carolina; her father was the retired president of Davidson College. Anna gave birth to a daughter, Mary Graham, on April 30, 1858; the baby died less than a month later. In November 1862, Anna bore a daughter, Julia Laura, the only Jackson child to survive into adulthood. She married William E. Christian in 1885; she died of typhoid fever in 1889, at the age of twenty-six. Her children were Julia Jackson Christian (1887–1991; married Edmund R. Preston) and Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian (1888–1952; married three times). Both of Jackson’s grandchildren had several children; thus there are many living descendants of Stonewall Jackson.—From the Virginia Military Institute Archives

17 January 2014

John Hancock Admired Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson

John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company that is. Note the position of universal respect and admiration Lee once held in our Nation's history. And despite the efforts of some (silly as they are), both Jackson and Lee continue to retain a place of honor and respect among many Americans. Happy Lee-Jackson Day from Old Virginia (via Boston, Mass.)


These particular ones aren't mine. These were on Ebay. I do, however, have the same ones; as well as additional copies on other great Americans in my own collection. Even yankees once recognized great men. ☺

Happy Lee-Jackson Day From Old Virginia

From a time when our national conscience wasn't infected with political correctness and our sensitivities were much more sensible in regards to American heroes . . .
 

The exchange below between a critic of Robert E. Lee and President Eisenhower offers perfectly contrasting views on this subject. What makes Eisenhower's response so fascinating to me is who he was at the time he wrote this letter. He was President of the United States and a war hero of the United States Military. But not just any war hero. He had served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during WWII and was also the first Supreme Commander of NATO. No one can doubt Eisenhower's loyalty to the U.S. military, to his country, nor his concept of what defines an American patriot and, conversely, a traitor. His perspective, experience, and position adds much weight, in my view, to the argument that Lee is one of the most honorable and patriotic men to have served his Nation(s). The fact a modern sitting President, 5-Star Army General and war hero would offer such a clear, pointed, and strong defense of a man who waged war against the United States speaks volumes. Also worth noting is Eisenhower's use of the term "War Between the States" and his defense/explanation of secession. Eisenhower would, today, no doubt be labeled a "neo-Confederate" by certain historians and academics. That, too, is something worth contemplating.

Dear Mr. President [Eisenhower]:

    "At the Republican Convention I heard you mention that you have the pictures of four (4) great Americans in your office, and that included in these is a picture of Robert E. Lee.

    I do not understand how any American can include Robert E. Lee as a person to be emulated, and why the President of the United States of America should do so is certainly beyond me.

    The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did was to devote his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of being hailed as one of our heroes.

    Will you please tell me just why you hold him in such high esteem?"

    Sincerely yours,

    Leon W. Scott, DDS
    New Rochelle, NY

Below, and in response to the above letter, President Eisenhower simply explains why Lee is a worthy role model and American patriot worthy of respect and emulation.

    August 9, 1960

    Dear Dr. Scott:

    Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.

    General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

    From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.

    Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.

    Sincerely,
    Dwight D. Eisenhower



14 January 2014

The Dedication Of The McLean House - 16 April 1950

Ulysses S. Grant III and Robert E. Lee IV
cutting the ribbon at the McLean House dedication.
Several posts ago, I mentioned the fact that I had come across some old cassette recordings of Douglas Southall Freeman. I've now digitized one of those recordings and offer part of it below. The occasion was the dedication of the McLean House at Appomattox Court House, 16 April 1950. This was eight years before I was born, yet at a time when several veterans from the war still lived. Amazing to contemplate. The National Park Service notes the following about the dedication:
On April 10th 1940 Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument was created by Congress to include approximately 970 acres. In February 1941 archeological work was begun at the site, then overgrown with brush and honeysuckle. Historical data was collected, and architectural working plans were drawn up to begin the meticulous reconstruction process. The whole project was brought to a swift stop on December 7, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces causing the United States entry into World War II.

On November 25, 1947 bids for the reconstruction of the McLean House were opened and on April 9th 1949, eighty four years after the historic meeting reuniting the country, the McLean House was opened by the National Park Service for the first time to the public. At the dedication ceremony on April 16, 1950, after a speech by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman, Major General U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee IV, direct descendents of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant, cut the ceremonial ribbon. The event was attended by an audience of approximately 20,000.
I've searched in vain to see if there are more copies of this audio out there somewhere. I have to believe there are. Regardless, the audio is an amazing piece of Civil War history. It is an incredible snapshot of a time and place long forgotten (and sometimes misunderstood) by many students of the Civil War. There are a number of lessons contained in Freeman's words. Below is the introduction and invocation by Reverend William M. Thompson. I found the invocation quite moving as well. My current plans are to upload the full 45 minute audio recording of Freeman and the event on the 150th of the surrender next year - unless I discover it's already available elsewhere or discover there are some copyright restrictions for doing so. This clip is offered under fair use notice.



11 January 2014

Encore Performance - This One Makes Me Cry

I posted Old Crow Medicine Show performing this before, but this one is live at the Grand Ole Opry and I like it even better.

Well I come from the valley, I'm a rebel boy.
Born on the banks of the Shenandoah.
In '61, I went to the war,
To win one for Virginia! 




What Happened To Civil War Interactive?

Shortly after I started my blog, I was listed on Civil War Interactive's blog roll. It was an interesting site, giving weekly digests of various blog posts and other items of interest. I read often. Then, after a couple of years, my link was deleted - ostensibly, because of my "political posts." I was a bit surprised, due to the fact those posts were no more frequent than they were when I was first listed in their blog roll. I suspect, but can't prove, there were complaints or whining by those holding different perspectives. Fine. It's a free country (well, kinda).

So recently I discovered that my hit count average (though not setting any records) is twice what CWi's is. Hmmm . . . that's odd as they were once one of the "big hitters" when it comes to Civil War websites.

Nonetheless, I'd like to see them become "active" again, with or without me. Is their decreased traffic of their own doing (lack of new material), or due to a weakening interest in the Civil War?

10 January 2014

A New Twist On Reconciliation

I've always loved this old image of these two Civil War vets. If ever there were an example of "a picture is worth a thousand words", this is it. And I found the use of this iconic image quite compelling, given our increasingly polarized culture. How true, how true.


Source: Art of Manliness

09 January 2014

Augusta County (Virginia) Map - Same Age As Me

Upon a recent visit to the Augusta County Historical Society, I saw a beautiful map of Augusta County displayed on a wall. I expressed my appreciation for it to the lady who was assisting me and she asked me if I would like to buy one. Due to its quality and age, I had assumed it was rare and one of a kind. I was dumbfounded when she told me that around 50 copies had recently been discovered in a Lynchburg warehouse! Being a sucker for old maps, I bought two of them. The map was published in 1958 and it is an original. It is in pristine condition and absolutely beautiful. I had this one dry-mounted on foam board and then laminated with a satin finish. The other one I had laminated and use as a "working copy." 

The map details Colonial era roads and sites of interest in Augusta County. It measures 42" x 44". I've recorded a video of it, showing greater detail which I'll post at some point in the future. Jedediah Hotchkiss also drew some amazingly detailed maps of Augusta County's magisterial districts after the War Between the States. (Am I allowed to use that term?)

And, in somewhat related news, I spoke at the Lynchburg Civil War Roundtable last night to a good crowd. My topic was my latest book, Lexington, Virginia and the Civil War. More on that later as well.


07 January 2014

Looky What I Found - Old Douglas Southall Freeman Recordings

I bought these cassettes about 10 or 12 years ago and had forgotten about them. I recalled having them after mentioning Dr. Freeman in a recent post. I decided to look for them and found them tucked away in a drawer in my office. If memory serves me correctly, the gentleman I bought them from told me that he had the originals and that he acquired them just as WRNL (Richmond) was about to discard them in a trash can! Sounds rather hard to believe, but that is my recollection. Mine are supposed to be copies of the originals. The "yesterdayradio" website is no longer functional. If anyone is familiar with the original owner of the website, or knows how to get in touch with him, please let me know. At the time, he lived in Richmond. I would have to believe these recordings exist elsewhere, but just in case they don't, I'm having them professionally transferred to digital files.

The Appomattox recording is an absolutely fascinating piece of history. Hearing Freeman hold forth on that momentous occasion in his Virgina drawl is surreal. The quality is surprisingly very good - considering their age and the technology. I'm not sure what to do with these recordings - especially the Appomattox one. Should I share them now, or wait until the 150th of Appomattox? I searched in vain on the internet for information, or additional recordings. I've also contacted WRNL. Any suggestions?



06 January 2014

Is There Something Wrong With The Term, "The War Between The States"?

Calling The "Civil War" Speech Police

*Update: I got Kevin Levin's attention, but I'm confused. If Kevin didn't think the issue of "Civil War" vs. "War Between the States" was, as he states, "a big issue", then why did he bring it up in the first place? I didn't make an issue out of it, he did. So now he projects that on me:

Kevin was surprised that a "scholarly book . . . referred to the war as the War Between the States" and he's also surprised by what I "uncovered" related to the widespread use of that term. What I uncovered was the fact that lots of scholars, scholarly websites and publications use the term, "War Between the States." I was surprised that Kevin was surprised, but maybe I shouldn't have been. Sounds like Kevin needs to broaden his horizons a bit. ☺ In doing so, he'll find a lot more surprises lurking in Civil War, War Between the States War For Southern Independence historiography. Kevin's surprise reminded me of a Bill Buckley quote. Just substitute "academics" or "professional historians" for "liberals":

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views. ~ William F. Buckley Jr.
But there's more. In regards to this post, Kevin further claims that "The only problem is that Professor Sinisi is neither a War for Southern Independence historian . . ." Kevin makes this claim despite the fact that Sinisi authored a Civil War (sorry) related book which was published by a university press. Moreover, he co-edited another work related to the War Between the States (oops) War For Southern Independence which was also published by a university press. Kevin then opines that "I hope Richard gets the full story from Prof. Sinisi at the upcoming conference at Liberty University."

Actually, I don't think I'm the one missing the full story - whether it's the issue of the "War Between the States" or Professor Sinisi.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go straighten my bent shape.
End  of update.


That rather curious comment came from a recent post by Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory. Why would the use of the term "War Between the States" particularly catch one's attention when reading about that topic, also known as the Civil War? Is Levin suggesting or insinuating that the term "War Between the States" is somehow outside the mainstream of Civil War historiography? His post seems to invite others (via the Salon linked piece) to climb aboard for the ride to ridicule the term. There haven't been many takers at last read. Frankly, this seems like an emotional reaction rather than an intellectual one to me.

Though I've occasionally seen criticisms of use of the term on sites like Levin's before, I believe its a rather silly point. It's just as silly as those at the other end of the spectrum who refuse to use the term "Civil War." I use both terms interchangeably and, as we will see, many others do as well - including respected Civil War authors, publishers, and educational institutions. It would seem Levin is so surprised and shocked by the use of the widely accepted (outside a small academic bubble) term in a "university press book", that he believes the term's use needs to be, in some way, defended or excused. Seriously?


One spokesman for the Civil War Trust even seems to agree and apologize (or at least offer an excuse) for using the term in this video: The Civil War In 4 Minutes - The War Between the States 

Ah yes, let's all roll our collective eyes at such an embarrassing term that drips with provincialism and used only by uneducated hayseeds and neo-Confederates.  

Maybe Levin just hasn't been exposed to diverse sources outside of the narrow scope of books and publications he reads:

 
Perhaps I can help.

I hastily used a few Google search terms related to "the War Between the States" and, in the space of about 5 minutes, came across the following:
  • Next, we have a book published by the Indiana University Press titled, Civil War Railroads A Pictorial Story of the War between the States, 1861-1865 (Shame - how could an academic press let such a thing happen?!)
  • And here, we have a book authored by a professor of history titled, The Civil War Bookshelf: 50 Must-Read Books about the War Between the States (He must have missed the memo.)
  •  And the shame continues here where we have a lecture titled Localizing the War Between the States. And at a UNIVERSITY no less!
  • The madness continues here at another university press: Rutgers, where the following is used to describe a book: "Many books have been written about the War between the States, but until now, none has chronicled—in their own words—the many important roles played by people from New Jersey." That's right, Kevin's home state of New Jersey and "War Between the States" used in the same sentence.
  •  Next offender up is The Citadel. Well, of course, what else would you expect from the very bosom of secesh sentiment? - "There were 224 living Citadel graduates when South Carolina announced it was seceding from the Union and 209 served in the confederate armed forces during the period referred to as The War Between the States (1861-1865)."
  • And that bastion on neo-Confederate sentiment, the Civil War Trust, also refers to "the late unpleasantness" as the WBTS. Oh, the shame of it all!
There are, no doubt, hundreds more. So should we all be "surprised" at such an array of folks using the term, "War Between the States?" Hardly.

And there is hope for some real scholarship on the topic. Noted Civil War scholar and author, Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. makes the following points about the competing terms:
During and after the conflict, the over whelmingly popular choice of a title was the “Civil War.” It could never become totally acceptable because the definition of a civil war changed from mid-19th Century usage to modern interpretation. In the early 1800s, a civil war was defined as people of the same country fighting each other. Later, “civil war” would be interpreted as people of the same country fighting each other for control of the nation. Certainly the Confederate States of America was not attempting to overthrow the United States. It sought to leave that governmental system and live by different standards of rule . . . Many Southerners were offended by the name. It implied rebellion: a resistance to lawful authority. The eleven states of the Confederacy were so strongly convinced of the constitutionality of their action that they willingly went to war to defend it. (Emphasis mine)
But Professor Robertson notes that there are also problems with the popular alternative:
Yet “War between the States” is misleading as well as incorrect. The title implies that all of the states were at war with each other. In addition, Southern proponents of the theory of state rights preached loudly that the Southern nation was in reality a loose confederation of eleven independent sovereignties. Much more was involved in the conflict than the issue of state power. (Source)
So neither term is perfectly correct but, both are acceptable due to their history and wide use among scholars and persons of varying perspectives. It's extremely petty and narrow-minded to quibble over either term. Lee used the term "Civil War", so what Virginian could possibly object? And, as noted above, "War Between the States" is still used extensively. And why not?

However if one truly wants to make such a big deal out of what we call the armed conflict which occurred in America from 1861 to 1865 , and if its historical accuracy and honesty that one truly seeks, then I think Douglas Southall Freeman is, perhaps, the truest to historical accuracy in coining the proper term. Author and fellow Virginian, David Johnson, discusses this topic in his wonderful biography of Freeman:
Freeman preferred the term "War Between the States" to "Civil War," although his preference was based on custom rather than logic. "I never had any objection to the term 'Civil War,'" he wrote, "nor, for that matter, after I got of age, did I have any complaint because the Federals called us 'rebels." If the name was a proper one, our fathers certainly dignified it." If pushed for a term, he believed "the War for Southern Independence" to be "the wisest and soundest name" because that was "precisely what the conflict was." (Page 305.)
Can Freeman's final point regarding accuracy honestly be argued against? No, it cannot - if honesty and accuracy is really what you're seeking. If not, then I suppose we should be on the lookout for the War Between the States Civil War speech police.

05 January 2014

Is This What Robert E. Lee Had In Mind?

Robert E. Lee once told someone, "Always take care of the poor horses." But newly-elected New York City mayor, Billy de Blasio, has taken that notion to a whole new level. He plans to rid Central Park of those dreaded horse-drawn carriages due to the fact "they're not humane" and "not appropriate to the year 2014." Wow, I wonder what he thinks of Duck Dynasty? Ok late-night comedians, you no longer need any comedy writers. De Blasio is doing it pro bono. 
There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the entire government working for you. ~ Will Rogers
It's going to be a delectable four years, ain't it?

04 January 2014

Someone Doesn't Know Their Flag History And I Can't "Bear" It

Well, it seems like some in the state that is known for it's status as a poster child for bankruptcy, failure and lunatic ideas is now wanting to ban the Mississippi state flag due to the presence of the Cross of St. Andrews. They might want to consider the fact that their own flag (or one very similar to it) was flown in sympathy to the Confederacy and that there were strong anti-Union sentiments among many Californians:
The population of the southern portion of the state at that time was composed principally of Mexicans and immigrants from Missouri and Arkansas. The country was thinly populated. Their occupation consisted in the raising of cattle and sheep. Nearly the entire population were in sympathy with the Southern Confederacy, and several months before the firing upon Fort Sumpter (sic) bear flags were waving in the breeze in Los Angeles and San Bernardino county. Los Angeles was so bitter against the government  that General Sumner stationed there three companies of cavalry. In his report he declared "there is more dissatis faction at that place than at any other in the state." Their Assemblyman, E. J. C. McKewan, was arrested in October, 1862, for uttering treasonable language and confined in Alcatraz . . . Another hotbed of secession was Snelling (k), Visalia and Merced. In Merced county Union men were very much in the minority and in every campaign P. D. Wiggington stumped the county speaking for the secession candidates. He was accompanied by Jim Wilson, who sang songs with violin accompaniment. Two of his favorite songs were "We'll Hang Abe Lincoln to a Tree" and "We'll Drive the Bloody Tyrant Lincoln From Our Dear Native Soil." The Merced Banner said (April 24, 1862) "the United States officers will go to any length to sustain their master, Abe Lincoln, whose cringing slaves they are."
Source: California Men and Events: Time 1769-1890 by George Henry Tinkham.

And, per Wikipedia:
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Southern California secession seemed possible; the populace was largely in favor of it, militias with secessionist sympathies had been formed, and Bear Flags, the banner of the Bear Flag Revolt, had been flown for several months by secessionists in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
Shall we now hear a call to change and/or ban the California flag?

Plantations in New York City, Confederate sympathizers in California . . . my oh my, what's next?

03 January 2014

Is New York City A Plantation?


Some think so. But I'm actually more interested in the fact that the New York City "Sanitation Department" has a "Chaplain" on the payroll.  Really?


And then we have some who claim they don't quite get it.  Gee, I thought he could have written the speech himself.  Man, oh man, you just can't make this stuff up. The next four years in New York should be quite interesting and provide lots of fodder for bloggers and comedians.

The Scots-Irish Shotgun By Mossberg

"Endowed by their Creator" - Faith. Family. Ducks. "Live, be free and pursue happiness." I suspect Mossberg will be selling a bunch of shotguns. This is a brilliant ad.