August 2015

 

Welcome to the monthly newsletter.  First off, please accept my apologies.  I know that I am a way overdue, but the real world has called me to my other obligations.  I normally try to publish within the first couple of days of the beginning of the month, but that just was not possible. 

 

On another note, I do want to take a moment to say “Thank You!”  Thank you for taking the time to read our news magazine.  I am honored and overwhelmed at the outpouring of appreciation and support we have received.  It is an unmitigated privilege to be able to do something that seems to be so worthwhile to so many people.  I wouldn’t normally say this, but we are averaging 30,000 hits a month, and I am just FLOORED!!  I never imagined such following for our little endeavor here.  What was also shocking to me was the number of countries that were accessing the site.  Honestly, I really didn’t think anyone beyond Florida and Georgia (and maybe Alabama) would be interested in what we had to say.  Oh man, how wrong I was.  47 different countries have tapped into our site!!  If you don’t mind, I’d really like to give big shout out to some of the more exotic locations:  Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Romania, Senegal, India, Czech Republic, Benin, Lithuania, Algeria, Lichtenstein, Uruguay, Serbia, Belarus and Madagascar.  Again, thank you; thank you for everything.

 

As always, if you wish to be notified of each new issue, send an email to subscribe@floridareenactorsonline.com.   ALL Writers are welcomed: Confederate, Union, and Civilian.  If you wish to submit an article, or have any questions, send an email to webmaster@floridareenactorsonline.com.

 

YOS,

Ham

 

 

For additional event information, please visit the EVENTS page for a complete listing.

 

·        August 14-15:  Battle of Gainesville, FL – Event organizers ask that everyone preregister at http://www.mathesonmuseum.org/events-1.html

 

 

 

 

Conflict on 'Back Burner' at Site of Florida Civil War Battle

By Margie Menzel

The News Service Of Florida

Original article can be found HERE!

 

Step Back in Time at Battle of OlusteeOLUSTEE, FL (WTXL) -- The Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park was the center of an outcry in late 2013, when the state held a hearing on a plan to place a Union memorial there. But now, the site of Florida's largest Civil War battle --- a Confederate victory --- might have a peaceful solution in the works.

 

"We have to tell both sides of the story," said Jeff Grzelak, a Civil War historian and re-enactor for more than 40 years.

 

Olustee, between Lake City and Jacksonville, draws tens of thousands of people each year for its re-enactment of the battle, which took place on Feb. 20, 1864. Grzelak is leading the charge for a privately funded walkway between two memorials --- one to fallen Confederate soldiers at the park and one to Union dead in a nearby graveyard.

 

"The walkway that I propose incorporates all the things that we as re-enactors and living historians are striving for," Grzelak said. "There was a tragedy. We want to put it in perspective. We want to put it in historical context. And we want to remember what happened there and why it happened, so that we don't ever repeat that again."

 

The Civil War was a tragedy for both sides, he said, but "all the books were written by the winners."

 

In the wake of last month's massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., cities and counties across the South are debating whether to fly the Confederate battle flag on public property. Florida is no different.

 

But at Olustee, the recent controversy about adding a Union memorial is now "on the back burner," said state Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who figured prominently in the debate.

 

In December 2013, the state Department of Environmental Protection held a public hearing that drew 300 irate Floridians to Lake City. The department had received a proposal from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War to add a Union monument to the state park at Olustee, which DEP oversees. Agency officials had processed the request, scheduled the public hearing on where to place the marker --- a routine step --- and were shocked by the outcry that followed.

 

The anger was partly due to the department's plan to put the Union marker on three acres given to the state by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1909. The site is considered sacred by the many local descendants of those who died there. The site is also Florida's first state park, which the United Daughters of the Confederacy administered until 1949, when the state took over.

 

The outcry also was partly due to the fact that in 1991, a plain granite cross had replaced a rotting wooden marker in the Union graveyard near the battlefield. Grzelak and other re-enactors led the fund-raising for that, too --- by performing "living history" re-enactments at Disney World to sweeten the pot.

 

"A lot of the Southerners were going, 'Oh my God, you're going to put a Union monument there,'" Grzelak recalled, referring to the 1991 project. "And we said, 'Why not? They were just as brave. Yeah, they lost the battle, but their blood was just as red --- and they were Americans, too."

 

But to many at the December 2013 DEP hearing, the intent of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor their dead meant that a Union marker could never be placed on those three acres --- especially not with the granite cross so near at hand.

 

In response, Baxley filed a bill that would have required legislative approval of any new historical monuments in the state park system. It passed one committee and died. Baxley said Thursday that he'd like to bring back a similar proposal.

 

"There really is no recourse," he said. "You had 300 people in an auditorium at a hearing begging non-elected officials not to do something. I still think that needs some kind of structural attention, so that people always have recourse before some elected body on those kinds of policy decisions."

 

But Baxley also said that the upcoming legislative session --- given the 2016 elections, the need to redraw the state's congressional districts and the continuing flap over displays of the Confederate flag --- might not be the best time.

 

"Sometimes you need to let things settle down a bit to make a good policy decision," he said.

 

Meanwhile, the Department of Environmental Protection has no immediate plans to touch the matter. Department spokesman Jason Mahon wrote in an email, "The potential of a Union monument at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park as well as any other updates at the park will be addressed when the park's Unit Management Plan is updated in 2017."

 

And Grzelak's walkway proposal is gathering momentum. Among those who think it's a good idea is David McCallister, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who protested earlier this month at a Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame event due to its exclusion of Confederate soldiers.

 

"That's fine," McCallister said. "Just as long as they don't impinge on the three acres donated by the (United Daughters of the Confederacy)."

 

 

 

 

Raising the Flag

By Ralph Epifanio

 

When modern media villain Dylan Roof chose a Confederate battle flag as a "prop" for his on-line portraits, the intention of this outsider was no doubt to align himself with a group he felt closest to. Although just a footnote to one of the most ill-timed, ill-conceived, and downright evil acts imaginable to his narrow, twisted view of history, that Confederate battle flag could spell doom to our interests. The June 17th massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, not only shocked mainstream America, but its aftershocks may be felt in our little corner, the reenacting community.

 

As flag-waving, gun-toting southerners ourselves--albeit as historically correct re-enactors--it is important that we put this event in perspective. Roof claimed he wanted to start a civil war, and early indications are that it might well be on the way. It didn't take long for the KKK to respond to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's June 22nd announcement that "it is time to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds." They quickly showed their colors in a rally at the State Capitol. Despite this--and other--protests, the SC legislature concurred, and the flag came down in an austere official ceremony on July 10th.

 

That gubernatorial political response was mirrored in Virginia, when, a day later (June 23) its governor, Terry McAuliffe, announced that his state would begin the process of removing the image of the former Confederacy from its license plates. (Note: In a Supreme Court decision on June 18, 2015--one day after Roof's rampage--a 5-4 decision was handed down in Walker, Chairman, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board, et al. v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc, et al, stating that "Because Texas specialty license plates constitute state government speech, it is entitled to reject a (SCV) proposal for plates featuring a Confederate battle flag." Look for more of the same removal in other states.)

 

On June 24th, the state of Alabama, by the order of Gov. Robert Bentley, removed the Confederate flag that had been flying on state grounds and at the foot of a Civil War memorial near the Capitol in Montgomery.

 

That mania is not limited to the politically ambitious. The flag makers themselves have announced a shutdown in their production. Also by June 24th, Valley Forge, Annin Flag Co., Eder Flag, and Dixie Flag all announced that they were planning to end the manufacturing of Confederate flags. (We have yet to hear from the Chinese, who will no doubt be eager to fill the void.)

 

Other businesses, too, are distancing themselves from the controversy. By June 24th, Walmart, Target, Sears, and Amazon were all removing merchandise that might put them in a negative light.  eBay spokeswoman Johanna Hoff is quoted as saying that the Confederate flag has "become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism," and it is banning its sale from their site.

 

This censorship continues, even in the South, where Brian France, son of NASCAR founder Bill France, and Chairman/CEO of that august racing body, made this announcement on June 30th:  "We want to go as far as we can to eliminate the presence of that flag," France said. "I personally find it an offensive symbol, so there is no daylight how we feel about it and our sensitivity to others who feel the same way."

 

Incidentally, indications are that France's "elimination" of the flags did not take, as one fan explained at this year's Daytona 400; "It's just a Southern pride thing.  It's nothing racist or anything. I've been doing this for 30 years. My family is from Alabama and we've been going to Talladega forever. It isn't a Confederate thing so much as it is a NASCAR thing. That's why I fly it."

 

Et tu (Warner) Brothers. On June 24th, the franchise holders of the Dukes of Hazard products announced: “Warner Bros. Consumer Products has one licensee producing die-cast replicas and vehicle model kits featuring the General Lee with the Confederate flag on its roof — as it was seen in the TV series. We have elected to cease the licensing of these product categories.”

 

Speaking of the General Lee, what more iconic symbol of both the flag, and its roots in speedy car cases, is there than the Duke boys and their '69 Dodge Charger? Originally aired from 1979 to 1985, their syndicated reruns were pulled off the air by Viacom on July 1st. On July 2nd, Bubba Watson, professional golfer and owner of the original (#1) "General Lee," which he purchased for $110,000 in 2012, promised on Facebook that: "All men ARE created equal, I believe that so I will be painting the American flag over the roof of the General Lee." (And no doubt its Kelly Book value will reflect that "minor" alteration.)

 

Apple, on the other hand, was more rational in their approach to the anti-confederate firestorm: "We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines," but "we are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses." And in that, we should all take our lead.

 

Although spoken about another issue, Chief Justice John Roberts' quote seems to be appropriately timed to the aforementioned recent events: "There will be consequences to shutting down the political process on an issue of such profound public significance," and predictably, there has been backlash to this perceived intrusion on our "southern heritage." There was a run on Confederate flags (the suppliers that I contacted are sold out); the disturbing trend of suspicious fires at historically black churches (six in the ten days following the Roof incident); and although not making much in the way of news headlines, protests have been popping up. One that came to my attention, although I was over 1500 miles away at the time, was in Brooksville.

 

As it was reported to me by a friend, "a dozen people publicized the fact that they were going to the Brooksville Town Hall, haul down and burn the Confederate flag that flew there, then saw down an infamous 'lynching tree.'"  In response, roughly 300 flag supporters, many waving Rebel flags (emphasis mine), overwhelmed them with their solidarity and compromised the plan. At least one of the flag supporters was dressed in a historically correct Confederate officer's uniform.

 

In Florida, especially, protests spread and grew. In the north-central part of the state, reportedly 4500 flag-waving people in an eight mile, 1500 vehicle convoy of cars, trucks, and motorcycles snaked through Ocala. Participants of this "Florida Southern Pride Ride" were upbeat and peaceful in their demonstration, and wise in avoiding a neighborhood that included a large number of Blacks who might not have been thrilled to host the parade.

 

If done with discretion, this kind of demonstration could, and most certainly should, become a politically correct counterpoint to the debate. Taken at face value, any form of violence (or threat thereof), inappropriate dress, or epithets (racial or otherwise) will do more harm than good.

 

Meanwhile, even in the heart of the Granite State--New Hampshire--a Canaan town employee was ordered to remove a Confederate battle flag from his car while parked at the town's transfer station. He complied. (Another employee, three years prior, did not, and was summarily fired.)

 

As the South Carolina Legislature debated their capitol's flag, this appeared, nationwide, on July 7th: "...the rebel flag no longer represents the valor of Southern soldiers but the racism that led them to separate from the United States more than 150 years ago." The source of this inaccurate history lesson was syndicated Associated Press columnist Jeffrey Collins, who is based in Atlanta.

 

But worse was yet to come from the nationally syndicated Associated Press, as heralded by this headline posted on July 15th: "Institutions Reconsider Honors for Racists." The author, Susan Haigh, linked that lead-in to such great men as President (and author of the Declaration of Independence) Thomas Jefferson, Vice President and Senator--the Great Compromiser himself--John C. Calhoun, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Wade Hampton. While the article itself reportedly centered around "campaigns" that were being organized to rename geographic and structural dedications to the aforementioned, the inappropriate headline did the most damage.

 

What we are now witnessing is an insane reaction to an act of insanity. What next?

 

We, as well-vested--and invested, as we inventory our substantial reenacting equipment--living history enthusiasts need to take stock in ourselves. It is more important than ever that we act as a rational, authoritative source of the actual history, not only of the War Between the States, but the United States of America.

 

As living historians, we can--and must--do our part in teaching history from an accurate, well-researched, and first person perspective. You can begin by asking yourself these three questions:

 

1 - Why are we reenactors?

2 - How important is our role, as living historians, to keep the true history of America's 19th century Rebellion accurate?

3 - Is our hobby more important than our own self-interests?

 

Whether we realize it or not, we may be poised on the precipice of doom for  Civil War reenacting. It won't take long for our irreplaceable supporters--the parks, private land owners, governmental agencies, police departments, fire and medical services, and insurance companies--to look at their role in all this, and whether it is "good for business" to continue their association with us. The spectators, too, who pay (and thus underwrite) events will be making their choice of whether or not to attend future events, and how to interact with each of us.

 

The biggest problem I see is that some of us are just what the conservative press is accusing all flag-waving, confederate-oriented southerners of being. I have seen, on enough occasions--and in full public view at events--that venomous hatred and racism that Roof, White Supremacists, and KKK members are not ashamed to promote. We, on the other hand, should be above reproach.

 

Without going into specifics--those of whom I speak know who they are--I am suggesting that, if you can't change your outdated racial and political views, for the sake of the rest of us, at least leave those attitudes at home. If you choose to attend a rally or demonstration, don't wear your reenacting uniform. And if you raise a flag in support of our southern heritage, at least make it an historically accurate one, and not the so-called horizontal "Rebel Flag." (For a clarification, see the addendum.)*

 

We need to raise our own flags, no matter what side they represent, and do so with pride and dignity. We must be on our best behavior from this point forward, not only for ourselves, but for our friends and comrades who depend upon us for the sanctity of public opinion. Without it, we will be men and women all dressed out with no place to go.

 

On a positive note, it is fortunate that this all happened during the summer, which gives us time to take a collective breath, control our emotions, and create a solid plan for presenting our case to the public come the fall and winter season. For starters, I would suggest making a history lesson of it, which, of course, is our strength. Create a collection of flags--the St. Andrew's Cross, the Confederate battle flag, and the three official Flags of the Confederacy--for display. Do not bring the Rebel flag--a rectangular version of the square battle flag--on the site of a reenactment, since it will only muddy the already turbulent waters. (And yes, that one has been hijacked by some individuals and groups with the wrong intentions.) Teach the real history of these flags, and let the public draw their own conclusions.

 

*This flag, originally designed by William Porcher Mills, is alternately referred to as the "Stars and Bars," or "The Rebel Flag." It is a modification of the Scottish--among others--"St. Andrew's Cross." (St. Andrew, one of the apostles, was crucified on one such crux decussata, X-shaped cross, or saltire, on November 30, 60 AD.)  Although it was rejected as the Confederate national flag in 1861, it was, however, adopted as both the Battle Flag of Tennessee, and the second Confederate Navy Jack (1863-1865). More often than not, it is this flag that will be carried by less informed supporters of questionable activities. It is my opinion that it should be retired, if for no other reason than those who carry it do so out of ignorance.

 

 

 

 

Condemnation, Confusion, and Misrepresentation

Col Chuck Munson

CO 4th Brigade US

1861chuck@gmail.com

 

Three strong & powerful words, and when they are used properly they become very effective words.  They can also be used to achieve your own agenda. They are very destructive words.  More mass shootings. More calls to abolish the Confederate Battle Flag. More calls for gun control. Social media going at warp speed.  What is one to do?

 

We, as Reenactors, must double our efforts to educate. I mean both Union and Confederate. No, I do not say that all of us need to go out and wave the Stars & Bars.  We need to look at what we say and how we portray ourselves to the public:  at the events that we do, in public, at work, and when we express ourselves on social media.

 

Oh you may say, "I do a great job now. Look at my kit. Listen to me as I tell you what is was like 150 yrs ago. For I have done my research. I have been schooled by others long in the hobby before me.”  Most of us are set in our ways. We educate those who follow in our footsteps.  I call on all of you to look in the mirror long and hard. This is not an easy thing to do. What are you saying to people when you open your mouth, or when you type on the keyboard?

 

Let us look at the flag issue.  “Tear it down” is the cry of many right now. You may be surprised to know that even as a long time Union Reenactor I love to defend the Stars & Bars. One of my favorite questions is "What do you think of the Confederate Flag?”  My reply starts with "which one? Or do mean the Battle Flag?" After explaining the different flags and the need for them on the battlefield, I get to the Battle Flag. I ask them about the swastika, which is based on the gammadion cross (a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism).  It became skewered by the Nazi party and twisted to an evil purpose. With the Confederate Battle Flag, I explain the reverence the men in grey had for "THEIR FLAG."  I explain how some groups, after the war, started to use it for the wrong reasons (much like Hitler). We talk about how people today are taught this hate mantra and how UNTRUE that it is. Most of you who fly this flag today do so to honor your ancestors, showing how proud you are of them only to be shamed for the few who twist it for their own means.

 

I am asked about slavery being the reason for the war. I tell them that as a sanitized society we seem to forget. Slavery has been around as long as man, and it is still in existence throughout the world today.  It does not mean that it is right; it is just almost impossible to destroy. The American Civil War was started and fought for many reasons, just like WW1.

 

This little bit being said.  I call on all of us in this hobby to help stop the hate being preached by the few.   I mean the hate on all fronts. I have only scratched the surface on the Confederate side being slandered.

 

What about the Union side?  I speak of the hate and the mistruths that are being passed on about what the Union did.  Many Union leaders are accused of atrocities against civilians and other things.  Without going into details, it is fair to say it happened quite regularly on both sides.  Sherman said it best. "WAR IS HELL."  Are we to condemn all for the actions of a few? Not me. How about you? It saddens me today to see some of our young reenactors (on both sides, but mostly in the ranks of the grey) condemn the actions of the other side. How some old timers are out to get vengeance for perceived wrongs on our battle fields today!  Many of these young and old did not even have relatives serving for the South.  Again, this only scratches the surface of what is going on.

 

We have a duty to our ancestors and to the public that comes out to see us where ever we go. We have a duty to bury the hate that is being spread. I think it is safe to say that most of it is done unconsciously and by habit. Look in the mirror long and hard. Change is almost impossible. It takes time. It takes effort. Talk to others who preach this hate. Ask them to look at what they preach. Please ask them to rethink their beliefs for the good of all. For if we don’t it will get worse; for them as well as for us.

 

Easy for me to say, you say, for I am a Union man. Here is a one sided history. Remember, just because someone reenacts Union or Confederate, it doesn’t mean they don’t have family on the other side.  My cousin Nancy did a family tree in 2000. She followed one branch mostly on my grandmother's side. It was the easiest to trace. I am First Family of Virginia, titled land grants by the King of England. My ancestors and family have fought in every conflict this great country has fought. Sons on both sides during the war between the states, cousins fighting cousins who lived less than 50 miles apart.  I chose to represent the Union as a reenactor.  I saw the need for men in blue.  America loves the underdog, and it seems everyone in Florida wants to be a rebel.

 

I take this time as the Commander of the 4th Brigade US here in Florida to ask a favor: camp on the side of your choosing, interact with the spectators as they walk through camp.  However, come battle time, do your part to galvanize.  We need to have balanced numbers on both sides to have a respectable scenario.  Make sure that the battle rages from one end of the crowd line to the other. For without them we have no event. Safety!  Obeying orders blindly!  Not in a position of authority. Speak to those who are.  Ask them for this simple favor.  All of us need to do our part to keep this hobby alive.  If we do not march together, we may not march at all very soon.

 

You are what you are taught.  You were not born with these beliefs.  Look in the mirror.  Look long.  Look hard.

 

Yours in Freedom,

Col Chuck Munson

CO 4th Brigade US

1861chuck@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Confederate holidays booted from state calendar

Greg Bluestein and Shannon McCaffrey

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Original article can be found HERE

 

Confederate Memorial Day has been struck from Georgia’s official 2016 state holiday calendar. So has Robert E. Lee’s birthday.

 

Both have quietly been replaced with the more neutral term “state holiday.”

 

The change was reflected in emails from Gov. Nathan Deal that landed in state employees’ inboxes this week.

 

The 2015 state calendar clearly listed April 27 as the Confederate holiday and Nov. 27 as Lee’s birthday (he was actually born in January).

 

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the state still intends to celebrate the days even if it doesn’t “spell it out by name.”

 

“There will be a state holiday on that day,” he said. “Those so inclined can observe Confederate Memorial Day and remember those who died in that conflict.”

 

Text Box:  
Confederate Memorial Day photo
Chris Hunt
The last Monday in April is designated Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia, which is an official state holiday and state offices are closed for the day.  In this photo, hundreds of Confederate flags adorn graves of soldiers buried in the Confederate section of Oakland Cemetery during Confederate Memorial Day Observance at the Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta on April 26, 2014.
But some took a deeper meaning from the notable omission.

 

Tim Pilgrim, a leader of the Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he was concerned about the shift.

 

“We don’t want Georgia to turn its back on history,” he said. “They can’t erase and remove our history. That’s unacceptable for us.”

 

State Sen. Vincent Fort, who is drafting a bill that would remove Confederate Memorial Day from the list of sanctioned state holidays, said the governor’s “inartful dodge” won’t change his plans.

 

“With a wink and nod they are saying ‘we are removing the name but you know it’s a day that we celebrate people who supported treason and slavery,’ ” the Democrat from Atlanta said. “I’m not mollified.”

 

Throughout the South, the use of Confederate symbols and holidays has come under increased scrutiny since the massacre in June of nine black worshippers at a Charleston, S.C., church. Charged in the killings was a man suspected to be a white supremacist. South Carolina legislators swiftly voted to remove the Confederate battle emblem from state Capitol grounds after the shooting.

 

The Confederate battle emblem is already gone from Georgia’s own flag, but there has been some controversy over whether the state should continue to produce a vanity license plate that displays the symbol. In a sign of the popularity the symbol still enjoys, hundreds of Confederate battle flag supporters descended on Stone Mountain on Saturday to celebrate what they say is an important symbol of their heritage.

 

Deal has remained mostly silent on the controversies, and the change on Thursday was made without any announcement or fanfare.

 

It echoed the way the Republican governor had the statue of Tom Watson booted from the state Capitol’s grounds in 2013. Critics had long called for the removal of the bronze likeness of the one-time populist turned white supremacist who vilified blacks, Catholics and Jews. Deal said it was being removed for safety reasons because the steps near the statue were in disrepair. Watson was removed unceremoniously during a state holiday when few were around to see.

 

Georgia NAACP President Richard Rose called Thursday’s calendar change “grudging progress.”

 

“There is absolutely no reason we should be celebrating Confederate Memorial Day,” Rose said. “There is is no Confederate States of America, and there hasn’t been for 150 years.”

 

*EDITOR’S NOTE:  Please bear in mind that Gov. Deal has also chosen to cease the issuing of SCV license plate in Georgia.  He has done so without giving any reason other than it needs to be redesigned.  Thankfully, he doesn’t seem inclined to demand a recall of all SCV tags as Virginia has done (with intention of reissuing a new design).  For the moment, he seems to have put an end to the calls for sandblasting Stone Mountain, saying there are more important things to concentrate on.  However, you can contact Gov. Deal by calling 404-656-1776 or visiting his website at http://gov.georgia.gov/.   I’m sure he would love to hear your opinion on these matters.

 

 

 

 

Truth or Fiction?

By Ralph Epifanio

ralphoto@att.net

 

American history is rich with adventure.  Its real-life characters are more memorable than the heroes and anti-heroes we love to follow in popular fiction, and at least as mesmerizing as those we watch on the big screen.  Of course, with the good came the bad; the past had its fair share of villains and scoundrels, whom we passionately despise, deservedly so or not.

 

Unfortunately, that which has found its way into history books has been tempered into a mundane, academic version of America’s past, its events overburdened with dates, and following a somewhat frayed, connective thread adulterated by historiography (roughly, the redefining of actual events by evolving political attitudes). It is history taught through lecture, redundancy, and testing, completely lacking in the atmosphere of spontaneity in which it occurred. Thus stolen is an all-important breath of life from its characters.  In wading through it, we mistakenly search for the simple answer to complex questions, such as the “good guy vs. bad guy” conflicts that define a mostly “happy ending” theme of modern story telling.

 

At no time is this more evident than in times of war. When faced with “selling” the idea of waging war, any and all governments have been guilty of de-humanizing “the enemy.” The criminal mind also takes this shortcut to absolution. Although the dots may not line up, a connection is nonetheless forged.

 

There is no better example of this than the misconnection between deranged mass- murderer Dylann Roof, the Confederate flag, and its true historical significance. The prevailing logic seems to be that if a sociopath claims, by association, that a Rebel flag is a symbol of his hate (i.e. racism),  it must be true. But a simple “Bad Guy-Bad Flag” axiom is far from reality.

 

There were many Confederate flags, most of which were inspired by the St. Andrew’s cross. Named after one of Jesus’ apostles, crucified on just such a cross, it is a flag of many countries, one of which was the Scottish national flag. This remodeling to a southern symbol was probably a result of 19th century southerners being of Scotch-Irish lineage, and adopting its design as a rallying point  for yet another of their wars for independence. The one Roof posed with is a battle flag, meaning it is NOT, nor has ever been, an official symbol of the former Confederacy. If you’ll search for Behind the Dixie Flag, on Youtube,  you may find a clear explanation of its true meaning.

 

One can’t judge 19th century politics with a 21st century morality. In an age of supermarkets and EBT cards, things can be oversimplified. However, in the hardscrabble life of mid-1800s America, where a man couldn’t be certain of his family’s next meal, the straightest path to subsistence was a narrow one. That was true both North and South.

 

The Rebellion—which it was called in its time--had roots deeply embedded in economics. What most people believe today was a war against slavery was, instead, an economic war (as almost all are). Proof of this is too voluminous to cite here, but is easy to locate once the researcher peels back the layers of popular opinion (Read: historiography) and turns instead to information provided by that era’s historical record. Just ask yourself: if you had a moral objection to an injustice, would you risk your life, and the fate of your family, enough to drop everything and go off to face it? Put in today’s context, extremist behavior is rampant in Africa and the Middle East, but how many Americans voluntarily abandon their families, casting them financially adrift, to combat it?

 

It should be noted just how important King Cotton was, not only to the South, but to America. Think of cotton, then, as being even more vital to this country’s economy than oil is today. In 1860, it represented 67% of its GNP and 60% of its total exports. Its production “fed” the South, its taxation fueled our government, its shipping floated the New England fleet, and its profits built our nation’s infrastructure. It was so important, in fact, that during the war Union generals fought over confiscated cotton so they could sell it through their own personal brokers at (by then) highly inflated prices.

 

At that time, the destination for over one billion pounds of our raw cotton was Great Britain, the world leader in quality textiles. Nearly half a million workers were employed in the 2650 mills of the Manchester-Lancashire area alone. So it is not surprising that British literary giant Charles Dickens would step forward to put the cause of the American Civil War into perspective:

 

“Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this, as of many evils…The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.”

 

Interestingly enough, Dickens’ claim—and reality—is directly linked to the intrigues of three Vermont-born politicians, and two from New Hampshire, who, between them, may have done more to fan the flames of southern discontent than anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line.

 

Stephen A. Douglas, who, through his support of the 1854 “Kansas-Nebraska Act” brokered the routing of the first transcontinental railroad through Chicago—where his vast real estate empire and notoriety as a land speculator remind us of Donald Trump--while sparking a deadly civil war in “Bleeding Kansas.” President Franklin Pierce (from New Hampshire) worked behind the scenes to gain the required votes for this highly controversial, and pro-slavery “compromise.” Later, during the war, Pierce stood in the way of the recruitment of his (then) law partner.

 

While Justin Morrill’s Tariff Act of 1860-61 benefitted northern industry, it had the opposite effect in the South, raising significantly the tariff on cotton, and what southerners would have to pay for much-needed imported goods.  Here, history repeated itself, and the Nullification Crisis of 1832-33. It was more than a coincidence that while this bill was being debated in Congress (and Lincoln was waiting to be sworn in as our 16th president), seven states and cotton-dependent New York City voted on secession. (As Mayor Fernando Wood noted: “Slavery wasn’t so much a moral evil as an economic necessity.”)

 

Even 147 years after his death, Radical or “Black” Republican Thaddeus Stevens is remembered most for his venomous hatred of the South. Representative Stevens, in fact, coupled with the cooperation of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner—who replaced New Hampshire-born Daniel Webster after his “deal with those southern devils” linked to his March 7th, 1850 speech--were more than a little responsible for the devastating post-war “reconstruction” that caused widespread economic suffering in the South.  Most southerners of the era viewed this as “cultural genocide,” which led to well over 100 years of civil strife and racial tension. If one were “born in (that part of) America, and southern by the grace of God,” this has far more to do with that embattled flag, than that long-gone “peculiar institution.”

 

What may run contrary to what many Americans believe—that the war was unquestioningly about slavery--is that a fairly large number of Negroes, both free and enslaved, contributed to the southern cause. We often miss that, perhaps because, unlike segregated Union regiments—the United States military was not fully segregated until President Harry Truman’s Executive Order 9981 in 1948--those southern blacks worked and fought side-by-side with their white counterparts. Research will confirm this through soldiers’ journals, newspaper reports, historical images, pension records, and the words of Frederick Douglass. The reason was simple: to defend their homes against what they considered a foreign invasion, just as they had during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Well-documented Yankee atrocities convinced the blacks that the bluecoats were anything but liberators. Keep in mind that (a) in the mid-1800s, quite a few blacks owned slaves, and (b) there were more free blacks in the South than in the northern states. Most of the latter showed their desire to limit black intrusion with the first black codes.

 

If interpreted under the current atmosphere of social equality, Abraham Lincoln’s public record is one full of racist remarks and contradictory actions. For example, in several speeches he said that he believed Negroes were inferior to whites. When two of his generals freed the slaves--Fremont’s emancipation occurred in Missouri in 1861, and Hunter proclaimed the slaves free in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in 1862--Lincoln reversed those emancipations. The president issued his own “emancipation proclamation” in 1863. It was not, however, aimed at freeing all slaves, only those in “areas under rebellion,” and thus a toothless gesture. Before his death curtailed his plans, he fully intended to deport freed blacks to the hottest and most unhealthy places on earth.

 

In summary, the “truths that we find self-evident” have somehow been replaced by inflammatory falsehoods, or, in other words, sectional differences. And we thought the Civil War was “ancient history.” Who is most responsible for contributing to inaccuracies of a drama that began before the birth of our nation? Our schools? The Press? A general disinterest in studying our country's history?

 

Over time, any and all flags have been abused. The ultra-racist KKK and White Supremacists have been known to hide their true intentions behind the United States flag.  Should it too be retired? It is my belief that racism, any assumed symbolism aside, can only be extinguished through a thorough education, and a well-informed citizenry.

 

Several years ago, I asked Dr. Evelyn Bethune, great granddaughter of Dr. Mary McCleod Bethune --one of the leading civil rights advocates of her era, and founder of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach (whose baseball team uses the very same field where Jackie Robinson first played as a professional)—if she believed that Blacks were making progress towards equality in the South. Her response was (sic), “You can’t legislate equality.” I agree. It has to come from the heart.

 

 

 

 

A General Who Will Fight:

The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant

Review by Stuart McClung

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41eymTDhYPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe subject of General Ulysses S. Grant has been the focus of discussion since, and even during, the Civil War. Many of those believing themselves to be in the know have proposed any number of reasons and factors as to why he was the most successful general in the employ of the United States during the secession period. In the case of this volume, author Harry S. Laver contends that the main reason boils down to Grant’s “analytical determination”. Clausewitz, in his classic On War, largely defined this concept as “a great force of will”, employing “resolution, energy, firmness, strength of mind and character” (p. 6) and other attributes as illustrative qualities of such analytical determination. To be sure, the author warns one not to mistake such quality for basic stubbornness; the difference being that one assesses and adapts to changing conditions and circumstances, exercises self-control and eliminates any nagging self-doubt while keeping his ultimate goal clearly in focus even as the other sticks to his original plan and fails to respond in the face of an ever changing military environment. As Laver points out, a prime example of leadership obstinacy is General Ambrose Burnside at Fredericksburg and which further illustrates the primary quality regarding Grant’s success during the war.

    

Having laid down and defined his thesis, the author employs a chronological style to follow Grant’s military career from his early days at West Point to service in the Mexican-American War and over the course of the Civil War. He documents Grant’s changing approach to leadership from that of a doubtful, mediocre and mostly undistinguished cadet to a more practical, experienced and observant junior officer in Mexico, followed by his resignation from the Army and failures in civilian life in the mid to late 1850s.

    

Each chapter then covers the second phase of his army career beginning with his first assignment as a hesitant, unsure colonel of a regiment of Illinois volunteers in Missouri in 1861 and proceeding to identify along the way the lessons learned by Grant during the course of his experiences with the enemy and then incorporated into his developing style of leadership. Of course, Shiloh is next on the list, a combat experience against the then supposed best of the Confederate military hierarchy, Albert S. Johnston. In spite of being caught some nine miles from his army at the time of the Confederates’ surprise attack, Grant refused to panic and was able to retrieve and manage the situation. The following day, aided by the arrival of Don Carlos Buell’s army, he sent the bloodied enemy army reeling back to their starting point at Corinth.

    

Even during the Vicksburg Campaign, Grant showed his determination in getting past his objective and winning battles leading up to the encirclement of the city. He may have been frustrated at being unable to successfully frontally assault the city and forced to settle on a siege but he kept one eye on the ultimate goal even while the other eye kept watch on Joseph Johnston’s army near Jackson in order to prevent an attack on his rear. His string of successes in the West led to his being named commander in that theater and, after General William Rosecrans was defeated at Chickamauga, Grant took direct command at Chattanooga where he immediately organized the Cracker Line to resupply the besieged and hungry garrison and eventually was able to break the Confederate hold on nearby Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, driving Bragg’s army back into Georgia and cementing his reputation as the general who would fight and win.

    

It was only natural, at this point, that he should be brought east to take command of all Federal armies, making his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac which had had its hands full with Robert E. Lee for nearly two years. The Overland Campaign was to be the acid test for Grant. He managed to formulate a strategy where all Federal armies would act in concert but, specifically, they would concentrate on enemy armies instead of cities or territory. In the West, Sherman focused on the destruction of Confederate resources after the virtual elimination of the Army of Tennessee after the battle of Nashville in December. With his overwhelming superiority in men and resources, in combination with his determination, he brought the war to a practical close with the capture of Petersburg and Richmond and the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.

    

The final chapter is a summary which not only refutes the oft repeated characterization of Grant as a butcher by comparing casualties suffered to those inflicted on the enemy in terms of respective percentages but also describes the reasons for his eventual and ultimate success with a comparison to the mistakes made by the succession of generals whom he replaced or succeeded over the course of the war. In the end, it was Grant himself who provided his own answer for success, identifying his greatest strength: “I believe determination can do a great deal to sustain one and I have that quality certainly to its fullest extent.” (p.163)

    

Although there are no photographs or other illustrations, there are a few maps which show the areas of Grant’s campaigns. For such a relatively short, not terribly in depth book, the author has provided an explanation as to why Ulysses Grant, or more specifically his analytical determination, was the absolute factor in the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy and its attempt at nationhood. Consequently, the volume is recommended.

 

A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant.

Harry S. Laver. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2013. 195 pp. $32.50.

 

 

 

 

Be Active in the ways of Jesus

Captain John Butler, Chaplain Hardy’s Brigade

Inspired by God

catman6375@msn.com

 

“Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:17-18

 

We as Christians claim ‘we have faith. Salvation is free; there is nothing we can do to gain it.’ That is true salvation is the free gift from God in the way of His Son Jesus Christ. All we have to do to gain that salvation is accept it from His hands into our hearts. BUT, what do we call ourselves when we do not do anything for the Lord after our salvation? We cannot work FOR our salvation, but we need to work WITH our salvation. What would happen if we just sat back and were idle? Too many times it is shown that things can be taken from us if we just do nothing about it, by being passive.

 

Jesus, upon His ascension to Heaven, gave us the great commandment. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of world. Amen” Math 28:18-20.  As Jesus was when he was 12; we need to be about our Father’s business. We are given a life, we are given gifts, and we are given direction by God. To lay passive and let all pass by just basting in God’s glory is a waste of the talents He has given us. As anyone knows, if you don’t use a talent that you have you end up losing it, No I’m not saying you will lose your salvation, but as James put it, if you just say, Hey I’m good with the big man, then do you really have your salvation? The main idea is you don’t have to do anything for your salvation, but with it you GET TO DO things for GOD. It is as with the servants of the king; two took their money and invested making a return, while the one hid his talent afraid of what would happen if he lost it. Well we can sit and be afraid of losing the talent and in the while we are doing nothing it is taken and we lose it. Do we want to be slothful, lazy, and reckless with what God has given? Or do we want to be active, to be driven by what we can do for the Lord. Let us be about our Father’s business, let us go forth and talk to people about the greatest thing that has happened to us.

 

“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant, thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Math 25:23

 

If you want to know more about Jesus, or need prayers, please contact me at catman6375@msn.com.

 

 

 

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FOR SALE:  Rare J. P. Moore Enfield .58 calibre Rifle Musket for sale

 

This Enfield style musket was assembled by JP Moore New York who was a jobber for Colt. Barrels were imported, some parts may have been made by Colt, others imported. This maker's name does not actually appear on the weapon which led to some speculation that this might have been a Confederate agent. It is now believed that this maker was simply a secondary maker trying to make a money in the arms trade. Musket was designed as a single shot .577cal. rifled muzzleloader featuring brass buttplate, contoured shaped hammer, fixed bolster, long range sight with single leaf and sliding scale, brass trigger guard, three rounded barrel bands held in place with screws and not springs, two strap hooks on muzzle band and trigger guard, ramrod with straight shank and wiper slot and threads, brass nose cap. Lock is marked with an eagle over a shield with "M", behind the hammer, with "1863" in front. Additional mark on the barrel, all were sold to state and local militia units, none were Federal inspected.  Serial number is marked on the nose of the barrel.  Barrel length 39 in.

 

Condition very good. Note a small wood chip on the stock near the tang and probably a reproduction hammer. All else appears to be original.

 

Price: $1700.00

Contact: Robert Burke at 850-878-5211 or email: robt.burke@comcast.net


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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