28 May 2018

Memorial Day - The Graves of Our Fathers

I've posted this before, but felt it fitting for Memorial Day.
 “A man who would not defend his father's grave is worse than a wild animal.”
~ Chief Joseph
Number 91 on a weathered, lonely, blank headstone; a shared grave with two other men. Not much of a tribute for someone who was a POW and died for his country. For 140 years my family knew nothing of what happened to my great-great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield. We did know that Grandpa Crutchfield left the family farm, walked to Gauley Bridge, Virginia (West VA today) and enlisted with the 60th Virginia Infantry, Company F at the beginning of the war. He was wounded at the Battle of Piedmont in the Shenandoah Valley (just a few minutes from my home here in Augusta County), taken prisoner by the Federals and transported to the infamous POW Camp Morton in Indiana where prisoners received cruel treatment at the hands of Union soldiers.

Transferred to Chimborazo Hospital in March of 1865 in a prisoner exchange, my grandfather died there on March 28. There, the story ended – or so the family thought. John Crutchfield’s widow died years later not knowing what had become of him. Had he deserted? Had he run off with another woman? Had he been killed in battle? No one knew until the 1950’s when my great aunt discovered the information about the Battle of Piedmont and Chimborazo. But the family still did not know what became of his body. Where was he buried or was he buried? Then I wrote a piece for the Washington Times’ Civil War column detailing some of my grandfather’s story. The story was read by a gentleman in Richmond who was working on the restoration of Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. This cemetery, where many Confederate veterans are buried, had fallen into shameful neglect in recent years. I was contacted by this man and he told me that he knew for a fact that John Meredith Crutchfield was buried at Oakwood – family mystery solved. I love history. And I love the God of history who providentially shows us what we need to know to honor our fathers.


Though I've had grandfathers who were veterans (WWI and WWII), John Crutchfield is the only one who died was a war casualty. Both of those men (shown below) were descendants of Confederate Veterans and proudly served in the U.S. Army.


Sgt. Fred S. Busic, U.S. Army, WWII
(My grandfather)
Private Frank Coffey, U.S. Army, WWI
(My grandfather)

25 May 2018

Russia Influence & Infiltration

Kinda off topic, but . . . isn't it surreal that so many in the media and academia are hand-wringing over Russian (communist) influence of our elections when we have open Marxists teaching in our colleges and universities and no one seems to have any concern at all over THAT influence on future generations?

Amazing.

24 May 2018

American Exceptionalism Exemplified

"When I came to this country I promised that, in the name of the best within me, I would cultivate the American virtues of individualism and personal excellence and take advantage of the opportunities that lay before me. These virtues would guide my actions and serve as the only legitimate currency to purchase a life that would be worthy of an American. And I would extend the American ethos of benevolence and goodwill to others, and expected it to be reciprocated. The America I have come to know and love as an American citizen is a country predicated on mutual exchange." ~ Professor Jason D. Hill
I would recommend y'all read the rest of Dr. Hill's piece here

18 May 2018

Monuments & Tours: "These Boys Will Not Be Forgotten"

SVBF CEO, Kevin Walker speaking at the Women’s Memorial Society’s annual memorial to Confederate soldiers who died during the Battle of New Market.
Image source: The Northern Virginia Daily
Last month, I had the privilege of leading another tour of the Battle of Waynesboro for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. Assisting me with guiding the tour was SVBF CEO Kevin Walker. This is the 2nd time I've done this tour for the SVBF. There were over 30 folks in attendance. It was an honor to do the tour with Kevin this year. He's very knowledgeable and his passion for historic preservation is contagious. 

Earlier this week, Kevin made some insightful remarks at the annual memorial service for the Battle of New Market. The Northern Virginia Daily newspaper noted:
Walker gave the keynote speech Tuesday during the Women’s Memorial Society’s annual memorial to Confederate soldiers who died during the Battle of New Market. In addition to Walker’s speech, members of the women’s society laid flowers and a wreath by the Confederate memorial monument at St. Matthew’s Cemetery, and the Virginia Military Institute color guard presented the colors and retired the colors. The Confederacy won the Battle of New Market, in large part because of the contributions of cadets of the Virginia Military Institute.
Part of Kevin's remarks included the following:
“It is not to us to judge their time, but it is to us to remember their time, to right their wrongs and to seize onto their example and to carry it into the future,” Walker said. “If we do not remember their sacrifice — if we do not remember their struggles — then our nation will not have gained from their loss.
He concluded with:
“It is not enough for us to meet once a year,” Walker said. “We have to meet these boys every day in our hearts. I pledge to you that as long as I live and breathe, these boys will not be forgotten.”
As noted, the Virginia Military Institute Color Guard was also on hand for the festivities:

Image source: The Northern Virginia Daily
Honoring and remembering those who defended their homes is still alive and well in much of America. Complete story here.

Below are a couple of images for the Waynesboro tour we conducted last month.

At the William Harman Monument, Battle of Waynesboro Tour
At the terminus of Early's left flank, Battle of Waynesboro Tour

12 May 2018

Donald Truman, Harry Trump?

 Image source.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote an interesting piece at National Review about the similarities between Truman and Trump. Here's an excerpt about Truman going against his advisors and conventional wisdom; something Trump seems to do on a regular basis as well:
. . . Truman shocked the country.
Over the objections of many in his cabinet, he ordered the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan.
Over the objections of most of the State Department, he recognized the new state of Israel.
Over the objections of the Roosevelt holdovers, he broke with wartime ally the Soviet Union and crafted the foundations of Cold War Communist containment.
Over the objections of many in the Pentagon, he integrated the armed forces.
Over the objections of some of his advisers, he sent troops to the Korean Peninsula to save South Korea from North Korean invasion.
Over the objections of civil libertarians, he created the CIA.
Over the objections of most Americans, he relieved controversial five-star general and American hero Douglas MacArthur of his duties.
There are other similarities. Worth reading.

11 May 2018

Civil War Trust Members Oppose Removing Confederate Monuments


That appears to be the take away from the nation's largest and oldest battlefield preservation organization's recent survey, which I posted about previously. I think it's important to note that CWT members are, by the very fact of their CWT membership, seriously engaged and involved in the study of the Civil War and, it's safe to assume, more knowledgeable about the war than the average American. The rank and file CWT members are passionate about the study of the war and about preserving the hallowed ground of battlefields. I think this adds weight to their opinion on the topic.

The survey results, while somewhat mixed, definitely reveal that an overwhelming majority (83.2%) of these folks oppose moving Civil War (particularly Confederate) monuments. A slim majority favors adding interpretation.

Then there's the opinions expressed about Robert E. Lee. Despite the widespread efforts among many academic historians to disparage Lee's character and motives, a whopping 91.1% of survey respondents agree with this statement:
Robert E. Lee was a product of his time, a Mexican War hero, and a top Army officer of his day. Even though he fought for the Confederacy, he still exhibited many honorable traits, and sought to heal the wounds of division after the Civil War. He is still worthy of respect today.
Less than 9% agreed with this statement about Lee:
Robert E. Lee turned his back on his country and his flag when he decided to fight for the Confederacy. He is not someone who should be held up as a person worthy of respect in society today.
That is stunning given the current environment. One might conclude, based on these survey results, that those attacking Lee's character are, despite all the noise, having little impact among the majority of those who are serious students of the Civil War. They are, however, getting lots of notice and are seeing results politically; i.e. the removal and renaming of monuments, buildings, etc. It is a strange dichotomy.

Here's another surprise result from the survey:

Question:
Interpretation of our nation's rich history changes over time. America seems to be experiencing shifts in interpretation of, particularly, the Civil War era, which concern many people, especially as it relates to the Confederacy. What is your opinion toward the Confederacy and how it should be viewed in our society today?
Again, an overwhelming majority of 82.6% chose this as their response:
The Confederacy certainly seceded from the Union, and slavery was an evil institution, but people who lived during the Civil War were the product of the times in which they lived, and we should not rush to judge them based on the standards of today's society.
And only 17.4% agreed with the following statement:
The Confederacy rebelled against the Union, supported slavery, and its leader committed treason against the lawfully elected government. It is time to stop romanticizing the "Lost Cause" and set the record straight.
Those numbers are diametrically opposed to what many (if not most) "mainstream" academic Civil War historians are writing these days and what you read on many (if not most) "mainstream" Civil War blogs. This begs the question: Are these CWT members a bunch of ignorant "Lost Causers" or are academic historians simply out of touch pushing a less than objective perspective of the Civil War? It's a serious question. They can't both be so far apart and both be right. Some very prominent historians are already on record stating that academic historians are out of touch--in general--and not just with Civil War history in particular. Does the CWT survey provide more evidence of such an opinion?

And if you assume that most of the survey respondents were Southerners with Confederate ancestors, you'd be wrong. A much larger percentage were from the Northeast vs. the South and almost twice as many respondents claimed Union soldiers as ancestors as those who claimed to be descended from Confederate soldiers. Interesting indeed.

You may read the complete survey results below.

Monument Survey Results
5,122 Responses
Question 1: The issue of removing Civil War Monuments, particularly Confederate monuments which were erected after the war in public spaces such as town squares, courthouse lawns, libraries, etc., has exploded onto the nation's consciousness. Please select the statement below which most closely aligns with your opinion:
I support keeping all war monuments, from any conflict, exactly where they are, with no added interpretation or explanation needed

I support keeping monuments where they are, but would support adding additional interpretation, if needed, of the circumstances of how each monument may have come into being, to add to the story of our nation’s history

I support the removal of Confederate statues from public spaces if that is what the local community wants to do

32.6%
50.6%
16.8%

Question 2: There is some concern that if Confederate monuments in public spaces are removed, monuments on battlefields may soon face a similar fate. What is your opinion of those monuments on battlefields, whether or not they are owned by the federal government (through the National Park Service), a state or local government, or a private entity such as the Civil War Trust?
I support the removal of Confederate monuments on Civil War battlefields

I do not support the removal of Confederate monuments on Civil War battlefields

3.1%
96.9%


Question 3: There have been calls for the Civil War Trust to take action to provide protection or sanctuary for any statue that is being removed. Seeing as how this would be a departure from the Trust's stated mission of saving battlefield land, and could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in transportation, maintenance and other expenses, such a move could negatively impact the Trust's ability to save threatened hallowed ground. What is your opinion?
The Trust should immediately get into the business of saving monuments, even if it means that we cannot save as much actual battlefield land

The Trust should offer limited support to local groups or national heritage organizations who are better situated to take the lead in this effort, but keep the focus on battlefields

The Trust should stay out of the monument preservation business altogether, and should keep its focus on saving hallowed ground

13.1%
50.9%
36.0%

Question 4: Interpretation of our nation's rich history changes over time. America seems to be experiencing shifts in interpretation of, particularly, the Civil War era, which concern many people, especially as it relates to the Confederacy. What is your opinion toward the Confederacy and how it should be viewed in our society today?
The Confederacy rebelled against the Union, supported slavery, and its leader committed treason against the lawfully elected government. It is time to stop romanticizing the "Lost Cause" and set the record straight

The Confederacy certainly seceded from the Union, and slavery was an evil institution, but people who lived during the Civil War were the product of the times in which they lived, and we should not rush to judge them based on the standards of today's society

17.4%

82.6%


Question 5: Statues of Robert E. Lee in particular have emerged as flashpoints in cities such as Charlottesville and New Orleans. What is your opinion of Lee?
Robert E. Lee turned his back on his country and his flag when he decided to fight for the Confederacy. He is not someone who should be held up as a person worthy of respect in society today.

Robert E. Lee was a product of his time, a Mexican War hero, and a top Army officer of his day. Even though he fought for the Confederacy, he still exhibited many honorable traits, and sought to heal the wounds of division after the Civil War. He is still worthy of respect today

8.9%

91.1%


Question 6: Did you have any ancestors who fought in the Civil War (of those who responded)?
Union
Confederate
Both
None/Don’t know
24%
13.7%
15.7%
46.6%

Question 7: Which part of the country are you from?

Northeast
Mid-Atlantic
Southeast
Deep South
Midwest
Plains
Southwest
Northwest
West
25.7%
18.6%
8.9%
8.3%
26%
2%
4.8%
1.7%
4%