Month:

March, 2011

The House Divided ProjectI am a proud member of the Dickinson College Class of 1983. My friend and mentor Brian Pohanka was also an alum of Dickinson (Class of 1977), and his family endowed a chair in his honor when it became obvious that his cancer was terminal. Prof. Matthew Pinsker, who is the chairman of the College’s history department, holds the Brian C. Pohanka Faculty Chair in American Civil War History, and for five years, he and Prof. John Osborn (who was actively teaching when I was a student at the College many moons ago) have been working out the details of a large project called the House Divided Project.

Having ironed out the bugs, the project–which seeks to provide a new approach to teaching school children about Eighteenth Century history by using the College as a window on events–is now being formally launched just in time for the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. I received the following press release from Matt earlier today, and I am proud to announce the launch of the project on his behalf here on the blog:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE

Matthew Pinsker

717-333-1515 or pinsker@msn.com

Dickinson College Launches House Divided Project to Honor Civil War Anniversary

Dickinson College will host a series of events at the outset of the Civil War 150th anniversary (April 15 and 16) to formally launch the House Divided Project, an innovative effort to provide 21st century tools for teaching 19th-century topics in America’s K-12 classrooms. The free events begin with a documentary film festival at the Carlisle Theatre on Friday, April 15. On Saturday, April 16, there will be a teacher development workshop, the nation’s first “augmented reality” tour of Underground Railroad and Civil War sites from the newly opened Old Courthouse in Carlisle, and a keynote address on Civil War memory by noted historian David Blight in the evening. All events are free and most are open to the public; some require online registration.

Faculty, staff and undergraduate students at Dickinson have been building and testing the House Divided Project for the last five years, creating nearly two dozen Web sites offering public domain historical content and free digital tools on a variety of subjects from the period 1840 to 1880. House Divided uses Dickinson College as a window and a starting point for a unique focus on the Civil War Era. The college was one of the few institutions of higher education in the country with a student body that was half-northern and half-southern. Two of its graduates also were two of the most powerful men in the country – President James Buchanan, class of 1809 (1857-1861) and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, class of 1795 (1835-1864).

At the center of the House Divided Project is a powerful database dubbed the “research engine,” which includes more than 10,000 historic images and hundreds of thousands of individual records connected together in an easy-to-use interface designed to help teach the difference between “search” and “research” (http://housedivided.dickinson.edu/sites for more details). America’s Civil War magazine dubbed the House Divided research engine, “one of the most compelling sesquicentennial online projects.”

· Friday, April 15, 7 p.m. Free. Documentary Film Festival features dramatic stories about Civil War Carlisle, including the tale of an entire regiment of local soldiers captured and imprisoned at the infamous Andersonville prison camp. The films will be shown in the Carlisle Theater at 44 W. High St. and will also feature a live musical performance of period songs by Dickinson students and faculty.

· Saturday, April 16, 9 a.m. Project Director Matthew Pinsker will lead a teacher workshop focusing on how to use the latest technology for K-12 lessons on the Civil War. Open to K-12 educators and home schooling parents. Advance registration required at: http://housedivided.dickinson.edu/sites/launch . Email hdivided@dickinson.edu or call 717-245-1525 with questions.

· Saturday, April 16, 1 p.m – 3 p.m. Faculty and students from House Divided will unveil the nation’s first “augmented reality” tour of Underground Railroad and Civil War sites using the latest tools in smart phone/computer tablet technology. The tours will begin from the newly opened Old Courthouse in downtown Carlisle, recently recognized by the National Park Service as one of the nation’s premier Underground Railroad sites in the National Network to Freedom. Online reservations encouraged at http://housedivided.dickinson.edu/sites/launch.

· Saturday, April 16, 7 p.m., Anita Tuvin Schlecter (ATS) Auditorium, Yale University historian and author of “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” (2001), David Blight will explore the meaning of the conflict at the beginning of its 150th anniversary in a keynote address entitled: “American Oracle: The Memory of the Civil War.” Book signing to follow. This event is co-sponsored by The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the history department. For more information on the House Divided Project, please email hdivided@dickinson.edu or call 717-245-1525.

John Osborne and Matthew Pinsker are co-directors of the House Divided Project. Osborne is an emeritus professor of history from Dickinson College. Pinsker is an associate professor of history and holder of The Brian C. Pohanka ’77 Faculty Chair in American Civil War History at Dickinson and author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary (Oxford, 2003).

For more information on the House Divided Project and the launch weekend events, please call Matthew Pinsker at 717-333-1515 or email pinsker@msn.com.

This is a great thing for my alma mater, and will also hopefully provide good tools for teaching the Civil War to school children. Kudos to Matt and Professor Osborn for their work. Please check out The House Divided Project.

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JanewayJim Lamason went to the New Jersey State Archives for me to look for information on the role of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry’s role in the fighting on Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg for the new edition of Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863 being published by Savas Beatie later this spring. Unfortunately, Jim didn’t find anything useful there, but he did locate a report of the June 9, 1863 Battle of Brandy Station penned by Maj. Hugh Janeway, in temporary command of the regiment at the time, to the Governor of New Jersey. This report is different from the one in the Official Records, so I thought I would share it here. That’s Janeway in the photograph.

Headquarters 1st N.J. Cav.
Rappahannock Station
June 10, 1863

To His Excellency, Joel Parker
Governor of the State of New Jersey

Governor,

I have the honor to report that the Regiment has been engaged in another very severe cavalry fight. On the 8th inst. the Division broke camp at Warrenton Junction and marched to Kelly’s Ford where we bivouacked for the night. The next day (the 9th inst.) at 3 a.m. we crossed the river and moved on Brandy Station. As is normal in times of danger we were in the advance. Meanwhile Genl Buford was fighting hard opposite Rappahannock Station. The object of our movement was to turn the right flank of the Rebels. Col. Wyndham was in command of the 2d Brigade composed of the 1st N. Jersey 1st Md. and the 1st Pa Cavalry and the command of our Regt. devolved upon Lt. Col. Brodrick. Capt. Yorke of Co. I had the advance guard composed of Cos. C & I– he moved his men so carefully that he captured every vidette in the road so that the first intimation that the enemy had of our being in their rear was by seeing the head of our column debouch from the woods.

Col Wyndham moved his troops with such celerity that we were upon them almost before they were aware of our vicinity. The fight lasted four hours and was a continual inception of the most brilliant charges ever made. Every officer behaved with the utmost bravery, coolness and it is impossible for men to behave better than did ours–they proved themselves well worthy of the State from which they come. More cannot be said in their praise.

Lt. Col. Brodrick and Major Shelmire were both wounded and taken while leading one of the numerous charges–accounts of the nature of their capture are so conflicting that I defer sending any statement regarding it till I learn something definite but that they both behaved with the greatest daring and gallantry there can be no question.

Capt. Sawyer Co. K and Lt. Crocker Co. H are also prisoners but not thought to be wounded. Capt. Lucas Co. F Capt. Maulsbury and Adjt Kitchen while in the thickest of the fray had their horses shot out under them–that of Adjt Kitchen fell dead carrying him along with it–his escape seems almost miraculous. When the order was given to retire our Regt covered the rear. I am told that Genl Gregg expressed the greatest satisfaction at the conduct of the Regt. Towards the close of the engagement Col. Wyndham recd a bullet wound in the calf of the leg but we are thankful to know that it will not prove dangerous–he kept the field for sometime after being hit but was finally obliged to give up–he goes to Washington today. We hope he will soon return as he can ill be spared from his command. He also paid the Regt the highest compliments for its steady and dashing charges.

The fight was hand to hand throughout. We had in the engagement four Field officers, 14 line officers and 281 enlisted men. Our loss in killed wounded and missing is at present 3 Field officers 2 line officers and 52 enlisted. This of itself speaks volumes for the bravery of the Regt. The morale of the Regt has been greatly benefitted by yesterday’s work and I am confident that the men will fight better now than ever. Major Beaumont will probably soon return from his present command to assume that of the Regt and will be able to collect further accounts of the capture and wounds of the missing officers than I am now able to do.

I have the honor to be Governor

Very respectfully
Your obdt servt

Hugh H. Janeway
Major Comdg 1st New Jersey Cavalry

Here are a few notes on this report.

Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, the regimental colonel, was in command of the brigade at the Battle of Brandy Station. He was, as Janeway pointed out, wounded in the leg in the melee, and he never commanded troops in the Army of the Potomac again. For my biographical sketch of Sir Percy, click here.

Lt. Col. Virgil Brodrick and Maj. John Shelmire were both mortally wounded in the melee, and both died on the field. Both are buried in the National Cemetery in Culpeper. Capt. Henry W. Sawyer was indeed badly wounded, which led to his capture, meaning that Janeway’s information was incorrect. Sawyer ended up being the center of quite a drama that is the subject of an article I’ve written that will appear in Civil War Times Illustrated later this year.

Thus, the 1st New Jersey Cavalry lost its colonel, lieutenant colonel, senior major, and a squadron commander that day. The regimental command structure was devastated in the fighting at Brandy Station. Janeway was killed in action less than a week before the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. It seems a shame to die so close to the end.

Thanks to Jim Lamason for getting this for me.

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There is presently a pending proposal by VDOT to widen Route 3 through the Stevensburg portion of the Brandy Station battlefield. If the original proposal is approved, that core sector of the battlefield will be largely obliterated. The reasons why this is not acceptable ought to be obvious. The Brandy Station Foundation objected, and fortunately, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources sided with the BSF.

From today’s edition of the Culpeper Star-Exponent:

DHR disputes VDOT’s Route 3 findings

By NATE DELESLINE
Published: March 25, 2011

On Thursday, another front emerged in the battle to widen Route 3 in the Stevensburg area, this time between the Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The DHR formally rejected an earlier VDOT report that claimed an expansion of the highway would have no adverse effects on the Brandy Station Civil War battlefield, Hansbrough’s Ridge, a Stevensburg-area hill that played a role in the war and a recently discovered, secluded natural spring.

In a letter to VDOT dated Thursday, Julie V. Langan of the DHR details the points of disagreement.

“After examining materials presented to us by VDOT and the consulting parties, listening to the views of all sides during the consulting parties meeting, driving the project corridor and studying the revised maps from the American Battlefield Protection Program, DHR must disagree with VDOT’s assessment of effect.”

The letter goes on to say that Hansbrough’s Ridge is a “dominant presence” on the area’s battlefield landscape and that VDOT should undertake efforts to minimize any adverse impacts.

“Additionally, we request that VDOT engineers explore again any possibilities to minimize the footprint of lane additions at Hansbrough’s Ridge in an effort to preserve as much of the ridgeline as possible.”

Finally, the DHR says a recently discovered historic spring, Wicked Bottom, must also be protected. A highway retention pond would take its place if the current plans were advanced.

Project in brief

At a public hearing on Wednesday, VDOT presented two options to expand a 5.1-mile, two-lane section of Route 3 between Stevensburg and Lignum to four lanes.

The first plan, estimated to cost $38.9 million, would widen the road along the existing track, with narrowed shoulders in some areas to minimize the impact to adjacent properties.

The second plan, estimated at $35 million, would construct a new highway route, bypassing Stevensburg to the north and rejoining the existing highway near Clay Hill Road. The second alignment would also cut out a section of Route 3 that’s had multiple fatal crashes in the past few years.

However, VDOT and law enforcement officials have said previously that driver error, deer strikes and inappropriate driving behaviors, not the inherent design of the two-lane road, are to blame for most of the problems.

VDOT Culpeper District spokesman Lou Hatter said the DHR’s review is part of the National Environmental Policy Act that applies to transportation projects using federal funds. Hatter also said that an adverse impact determination is common when projects impact historic resources.

“Addressing these types of questions typically takes 90 to 120 days after reviewing the public hearing comments and coordinating with DHR,” Hatter said late Thursday.

‘Zero sensitivity’

Brandy Station Foundation president Bud Hall said the DHR report vindicates everyone who championed protection of the nearby historic areas. He was also sharply critical of VDOT’s findings.

“It’s a shoddy piece of scholarship,” Hall said. “Their report showed absolute zero sensitivity. The report concluded that a four lane highway through Hansbrough’s Ridge and Stevensburg would have no adverse effect on the historic resources,” Hall said. “I thought it was ludicrous.

“The construction of a 150-foot wide highway with a 16-foot raised median in the center would effectively destroy historic landscape directly affiliated with the Stevensburg phase of the Battle of Brandy Station. DHR is to be commended and applauded for their correction of the record in this matter.”

In addition to the Brandy Station Foundation, Hall said the Germanna Foundation, Piedmont Environmental Council, the Civil War Trust and other groups went on the record to contest VDOT’s findings.

Asked what an acceptable transportation compromise would be, Hall said officials should mirror what was done in Upperville — a widened road with reduced speed limits and traffic calming elements. “Route 50 is busy if not busier and it’s a very safe model.”

Zann Nelson, a local historian and Star-Exponent columnist, also applauded Thursday’s DHR decision.

“DHR is really on top of things when the citizens come forward and raise questions,” she said. “That’s the way the system is supposed to work. If nobody questions a report, you can’t implement the checks and balances. As painful as it is, it is a system that is working properly.”

Kudos to DHR for doing the right thing. Hopefully, VDOT will now take steps to protect the battlefield. Thanks to Bud Hall for passing this along.

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I’ve been fairly cutting edge with the Civil War on the Internet. I was one of the earliest participants in on-line discussions, I had a website as early as 1997, I started blogging in 2005, and I’ve been using Facebook to promote and sell my stuff. There is, however, one thing that I absolutely and categorically refuse to do: join Twitter. While some argue that no social media strategy is complete without tweeting, I can’t get beyond the thought that Twitter is the ultimate exercise in narcissism. It never ceases to amaze me that with all of his loony, demented ravings, nobody has ever gotten a larger following on Twitter faster than Charlie Sheen, who admittedly doesn’t even write his own posts.

The bottom line is that I already spend too much time on this stuff as it is, and the last thing I’m about to do is to add another layer to my daily Internet usage, and I just won’t do so. That doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t make good use of Twitter as a means of marketing and selling books, I just won’t be one of them.

However, I have to tip my cap to a historian at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources who is using Twitter to spread the word of the Civil War sesquicentennial. Here’s the article about it, from Yahoo News:

Historian tweets about Civil War to bring back era
By TOM BREEN, Associated Press – Tue Mar 22, 5:02 pm ET

RALEIGH, N.C. – Two months before the start of the Civil War, a North Carolina belle named Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston tapped out a frustrated message about her secession-opposing sibling in a tweet to her followers: “Sister Frances is a terrible Unionist!”

She might have tweeted, that is, if Twitter had existed in 1861. Instead, Edmondston and other long-dead North Carolinians from a bygone era are having their social networking done for them posthumously. A Raleigh-based historian is using the popular service to bring the home front of a war to modern day audiences nearly a century and a half later.

“We’re not imposing any of our words. This is purely from men, women, and even teenagers who stayed at home and fought the war in their own ways,” said LeRae Umfleet, the historian who manages the collections at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

Since last week, Umfleet has been tweeting from the account (at)CivilianWartime with the words of an escaped slave, a woman whose husband owned a plantation and others. The tweets are moving roughly in chronological order along with the war, meaning that so far the messages mostly express the foreboding and uncertainty of people in North Carolina as they watched war clouds build.

“I have just seen the President’s message,” Umfleet tweeted in the March 11, 1861 words of Mary Bethell. “Mr. Lincoln, I think he intends to coerce those seceding States.”

The Twitter account is part of the ongoing effort of the cultural resources department’s ongoing effort to mark the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest conflict in American history. It seeks to highlight the experiences of those who remained at home while others went off to war — a conflict ever more dire as the battles drag on.

“By the end of the war, we will have seen conflict on North Carolina soil, and we’ll have heard from people with firsthand knowledge of that,” Umfleet said.

The tweets aren’t just short excerpts from a time when letter writing was far more common than today, though. Each tweet links to a blog that contains the full passage being cited as well as information on where to find the original documents.

And all of the tweets are taken verbatim from letters, diaries, autobiographies and other records of what people thought of the conflict as it unfolded.

These tweets of war are an attempt to reach those now accustomed to getting their information from tiny portable screens rather than thick and musty volumes. Siince Monday, the Twitter page has gone from fewer than two dozen followers to more than 240.

“How cool is this!” one Twitter user tweeted Tuesday, linking to the site.

Umstead has been tweeting several times a day so far. She plans to follow the war’s progress by recording thoughts of North Carolinians roughly in step with the chronology of the war, from the first stirrings of secession to the final surrender in 1865.

One of those following the tweets is Wilson Hines, a history major at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro. Hines, 37, says that some history buffs may turn up their noses at services like Twitter, but it’s increasingly important to use tools familiar to younger people to teach them about such a big part of American history.

“All these kids do is spend time on the Internet,” he said. “It’s on their phones, it’s on their laptops … Twitter is a fantastic way to get the word spread about historical events.”

Hines has even seen specific interest in the Civil War growing on Twitter, where the (hash)CivilWar hashtag — a way to search for tweets referring to a particular topic — has grown significantly in the last few months.

“Almost every minute someone’s saying something new about the Civil War, where not long ago there might be one post a day,” he said.

The conflict that millions of Americans followed at the time through newspapers, letters and the telegraph has become something of an Internet-era sensation, with efforts that also include blogs and web sites featuring accounts and images from the war. There are also numerous Facebook pages, and even Twitter accounts set up on behalf of long-dead figures from the war era, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Umfleet, who is new to Twitter herself, said she’s taken to tweeting with enthusiasm, although there are hurdles to negotiate when bringing 19th century ways of speaking into the digital age.

“Sometimes their prose is a little difficult to follow, and unfortunately they don’t end their sentences with LOL,” she said.

I’m still not going to run out and sign up for Twitter, but I have to tip my cap to Ms. Umfleet for coming up with a really novel idea, and if it helps get one person in the Civil War, then it’s a good thing.

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Those of you who are long-time readers of this blog know that I have been vehemently opposed to that portion of the Google Book Search project that involves the scanning of copyrighted works without the permission of the author, and then making those books available on-line in some fashion without paying royalties to the authors for the privilege. I came out against this program from the very start, and I enthusiastically supported the class action copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google Book Search by the Authors Guild.

I then became horribly disillusioned when I learned that the Guild had entered into a tentative settlement with Google that would have perpetuated the copyright infringement AND which would have given Google a veritable monopoly over its massive copyright infringement scheme. Fortunately, Federal law requires that class action settlements have to be approved by the court before those settlements become effective. I’m pleased to report that the Court has roundly rejected this ill-advised settlement.

From CNet News today:

March 22, 2011 12:20 PM PDT
Court rejects Google Books settlement
by Caroline McCarthy

Adding another chapter to a long, drawn-out legal saga, a New York federal district court has rejected the controversial settlement in a class-action suit brought against Google Books by the Authors Guild, a publishing industry trade group.

“While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would simply go too far,” a court document explains. “It would permit this class action–which was brought against defendant Google Inc. to challenge its scanning of books and display of ‘snippets’ for on-line searching–to implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission of the copyright owners. Indeed, the ASA (Amended Settle Agreement) would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.”

The settlement would grant Google the right to display excerpts of out-of-print books, even if they are not in the public domain or authorized by publishers to appear in Google Books. When the settlement was initially announced in mid-2009, opposition flooded in from lawyers on behalf of Microsoft, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a coalition called the Open Book Alliance who decried it as anticompetitive.

“Google and the plaintiff publishers secretly negotiated for 29 months to produce a horizontal price fixing combination, effected and reinforced by a digital book distribution monopoly,” a lawyer for the Open Book Alliance said at the time. “Their guile has cleared much of the field in digital book distribution, shielding Google from meaningful competition.”

The settlement was revised, primarily to deal with objections coming from the European Union, but concerns remained that it would give Google too much power over out-of-print book titles.

The most recent court docket, filed today, explains that Google has digitized over 12 million books since the original 2004 announcement of Google Books and its set of partnerships with several major universities to digitize their research libraries. In 2005, the class action suit was filed over the fact that many of the out-of-print books included in the mass scanning were still under copyright. Settlement negotiations began nearly five years ago.

Last year, the Authors Guild said that it chose to settle rather than head for a court battle because it didn’t want to repeat the well-publicized mistakes that the music industry made while policing digital piracy.

But concerns about the settlement have ranged from the aforementioned antitrust qualms, international law issues related to overseas copyrights, and privacy concerns regarding how much information Google could glean about readers.

The docket filed today, authored by Judge Denny Chin, asserts that “the ASA is not fair, adequate, and reasonable.”

“This is clearly disappointing, but we’ll review the Court’s decision and consider our options,” a statement from Google managing counsel Hilary Ware explained. “Like many others, we believe this agreement has the potential to open up access to millions of books that are currently hard to find in the U.S. today. Regardless of the outcome, we’ll continue to work to make more of the world’s books discoverable online through Google Books and Google eBooks.”

John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, issued a statement on behalf of the publishers that had joined the plaintiffs’ side of the lawsuit. “While the March 22 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin on the Google Book Settlement Agreement that was filed on November 13, 2009 is not the final approval we were hoping for, it provides clear guidance to all parties as to what modifications are necessary for its approval,” he said. “The publisher plaintiffs are prepared to enter into a narrower Settlement along those lines to take advantage of its groundbreaking opportunities. We hope the other parties will do so as well.”

To read the actual court order rejecting the settlement, click here.

Kudos to Judge Chin for protecting my rights–and the rights of other authors. I hope that the Guild now resumes its efforts to protect authors, not to give away the farm.

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My good friend Clark B. “Bud” Hall was born and raised in Mississippi. Bud is the great-grandson of a Mississippi Confederate who fought with Barksdale’s Brigade for the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg. He’s also a Marine Corps combat veteran of the Vietnam War. And, lest there be any questions about Bud’s dedication to the Civil War, he is one of the three founders of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (now known as the Civil War Trust), was the founder of the Brandy Station Foundation, and presently serves as its president. He won’t like this, but nobody has done more to preserve that battlefield than he has. In short, Bud’s a guy who puts his money where his mouth is.

Bud is also deeply bothered by the way that neo-Confederates distort the causes of the Civil War, and he’s taken up his pen to discuss that concern. From today’s issue of the Fauquier Times Democrat newspaper, I give you Bud’s letter to the editor, reprinted here with Bud’s express permission:

Editor:

Quite often the best way to make a point is to relate a story; and being a Southerner, it’s in the DNA; so, please indulge…

Charles H. Hall, the 21-year old son of a hard scrabble Mississippi farmer, joined an infantry company formed by local gentry in 1861, and was quickly elected as the company’s sergeant. Sgt. Hall’s newly formed regiment was incorporated into Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade, soon to be a hard-charging unit in General Robert E. Lee’s legendary Army of Northern Virginia.

Sgt. Charlie Hall served faithfully throughout the war and surrendered the company’s flag at Appomattox. He then walked home and started a family. And as I gaze at his image, it is clear how much his steadfastness and courage have inspired me over the years. In my mind’s eye, Charlie Hall is a hero—notwithstanding the fact he served in an unjust cause. And by the way, neither Charlie Hall nor any of his family ever owned a slave.

Sgt. Hall’s great-grandson joined the Marine Corps and was assigned to a fine infantry outfit that was soon sent to South Viet Nam. This writer is that great-grandson, and I served successively as a patrol leader in the deep jungle, and on the commanding general’s staff. I came home after the war, re-entered school, and started a family.

While in Viet Nam—especially while serving on Lt. Gen. Lewis Walt’s staff—I saw and heard things that utterly convinced me the war was an enormous, shameful lie and that young Americans were dying for naught. So feeling both burned and outraged, I helped start a “Viet Nam Veterans Against the War” chapter at my university. Did it help? I don’t know about others, but it certainly helped me.

And although I could not be prouder of the Marine Corps (anyone who knows me realizes that fact), or of the service my mates and I conveyed to our country, it is a fact we served in a bad cause. It took me a long time to finally admit the hard truth that my friends and subordinates who died in Viet Nam perished for nothing. Why? We served in a bad and unjust cause.

Now, where is this going? Thus far, I have made the point that one can serve honorably in a misguided war, and yet be enormously proud of that service. But there is another point.

There are just wars fought to liberate mankind, and other wars waged to perpetuate human bondage. Other wars were prosecuted to fulfill political aims that were deceitfully manufactured before and after the fact. Both of the latter two classes of war are wrong, therefore by definition, unjust.

And indeed, both the Civil War and the Viet Nam War were terribly wrong, and for the South, an unjust calling. We live today with the divisive consequences of both national tragedies.

As to the Civil War, I have studied, written, and lectured about the topic for more than twenty-five years. It has been my pleasure to have co-founded three battlefield preservation groups, and presently I am honored to be the president of one such non-profit group.

And here are the “stern facts,” as the taciturn Winslow Homer would offer:

The central, motivating, pivotal purpose driving the South to secede was slavery. As Confederate General James Longstreet stoutly asserted after the war, “If it (the war) wasn’t about slavery, then I don’t know what else it was about.”

Let’s also hear from someone we know locally—and I am in the first rank of John Mosby’s admirers: “The South was my country, but the South went to war on account of slavery.”

Declining invitations to memorial ceremonies wherein wrong-headed speakers claimed slavery had nothing to do with the conflict, Mosby offered in response he was not ashamed to say he fought for the Confederacy— and did he ever! —but that the South must come to grips with the “true facts of history.”

So, here we are at the end of the story:

If Sgt. Charles H. Hall did not own any slaves, how could he have fought to perpetuate slavery? Simple. His country asked him to, and he served proudly and honorably, for his country.

And if his great-grandson fought in a place he had never heard of until he was ordered there, how do we assess his service? Easy. He served proudly and honorably, for his country.

And as it turned out, Sgt Hall and his progeny were both mere pawns in separate but equal tragedies. Both of us—and others like the “Hall boys”—were victims of morally righteous politicians who blindly put their faith in the myth of war making as the primary mechanism to solve political disputes.

So today when you hear folks contend that slavery was a secondary issue underpinning the Civil War, just think back to the words of a proud, old warrior who cared about nothing but facts.

And John Mosby told nothing but the truth.

Clark B. Hall
Middleburg, VA

Coming from a Southerner who truly is a son of a Confederate veteran, I hope that his words carry some punch. They will undoubtedly upset the apple cart of some of the neo-Confederates out there who are bound and determined to rewrite history to put a human face on slavery and to downplay its role as the central cause of the Civil War. Kudos to Bud for taking a brave stand.

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From General August V. Kautz’s war-time manual, Customs of Service for Officers of the Army, we have Kautz’s list of the qualifications required for a good cavalry commander. As Kautz himself was a cavalryman, this makes for an interesting list.

687. CAVALRY.—A Cavalry Commander requires peculiar qualifications, that are far more rare than for any other arm of the service. He should, first of all, be young, and of fine physical qualities, capable of enduring great fatigue. He should be quick of thought and decision, without being rash; he should be able to form his plans rapidly and clearly, and execute with confidence.

688. He should be devoted to this branch of the service, passionately fond of the horse, unremitting in his care and attention to his command, watching over men and horses, and jealous of their abuse, guarding and protecting them, so that they may be in the best possible condition for the moment of action. When that moment arrives, he should receive it confidently, and should “go in” with a method akin to rashness, counting only on success, and regardless of the cost.

689. The capacity to go from place to place, independent of guides, or with the aid of a map only (that innate knowledge of locality so rarely found), is an essential of the first importance to a Cavalry Commander. He must not be easily misled, and be able to know intuitively whether he is going right or wrong. The whole object of an expedition may fail by a want of capacity to go by the shortest and most available route to the destination; for the main merit of Cavalry is its rapidity of movement, made available by distancing the enemy in seizing a weak point before he can protect it.

690. The improvements in firearms have produced some modifications in the use of Cavalry. It is seldom that Cavalry can approach near enough to charge without being exposed to a destructive fire at long range. The opportunities for the use of the sabre are much more rare; the nature of our country is such that a weaker force can always avoid a stronger mounted force by seeking a wood, or a fence, or a stream, for cover, from which, with the long ranged arm, it can constantly harass its mounted foe as far as it can be seen.

691. This facility to take cover against Cavalry at any time renders it necessary for the Cavalry to be provided with a carbine of long range, so that the horses may be left in rear, and the Cavalry dismount, and act temporarily as Infantry, to overcome obstacles insurmountable for Cavalry; or having availed itself of the rapid movement of the horses to seize a strategic point, that the Cavalry may dismount and hold it like entrenched Infantry; for pure Cavalry cannot hold positions on the defensive—it must either fight to win or run away.

692. In an open country unobstructed by fences, hedges, ravines, or woods, Cavalry is of great service to watch the enemy, to pick up stragglers, carry intelligence, and to harass the enemy. But its chances for charging depend upon the character of the foe, and the nature of their arms. Infantry indifferent in discipline, armed with short range guns, are still assailable by good Cavalry; and good Infantry will cause severe loss to Cavalry, even where successfully attacked; but even the best of Infantry may be surprised and taken unawares.

693. The great merit of Cavalry consists in its celerity of movement; but this does not mean that the horse should be kept constantly at a dashing pace. On the contrary, the habitual gait of Cavalry is a walk. It is only when confronted with the enemy, and where celerity of movement is necessary to be exercised for very short periods to gain definite results, that it is justifiable to urge the horse to greater speed than a walk; then to decide definitely, and execute with rapidity, is the province of the Cavalry leader.

694. It is better on an extended march to keep up a continuous walk for twenty-four hours, than to double the speed and make the same distance in twelve hours. The best horses would fail in the latter case, whilst most horses could do the former without injury. The load which a Cavalry horse must carry defeats any comparison with the saddle horse of the civilian; the equipments that are attached to the saddle, the sabre on one side, and the carbine on the other, the picket rope and pin, the halter, the nose-bag and forage-bag, the haversack and canteen, and often other things disposed about the horse and the men, may all be carried very conveniently at a walk by the horse, but when urged at a trot, or a gallop, are very serious obstacles, and a few miles at those gaits without interruption will soon end his usefulness, even on the best of roads.

695. A march should be conducted, as follows: the column should move out by fours, if possible; otherwise by twos, or by file; but each squadron should regulate its own march; the leading files of each squadron should keep the required gait, which should be a walk on all ordinary marches; squadrons regulate their distances by increasing or slowing the walk gradually; rear files rushing forward at a trot, or gallop, thus crowding on the heels of the horses in front, and then halting suddenly for room to go on, is a great injury to the horses, and an evidence of very bad Cavalry.

696. The Captain or Commander of the squadron should march in rear of his squadron, so as to control the disposition the men have to leave the column on the slightest pretext; none should be allowed to leave, except in cases of absolute necessity, and then the Captain (who should be provided with written permits) should give the proper authority, and it should be required of each man to report his return; otherwise the men will be constantly falling out, and once out of the column and away from the officer, they are liable to commit depredations, or they break their horses down in riding from house to house, or place to place, in search of anything or nothing, with that want of consideration often found among soldiers.

697. Halts need not be frequent, two or three in a day’s march are quite sufficient. Sometimes the obstacles to be passed render halts necessary; and whenever they occur, if only for a few moments, the men should dismount; at such times a few mouthfuls of grass or other food is very refreshing to the horse. The opportunity to water the horses should always be considered and ordered in advance, and should be counted as a halt or rest. On a forced march the horses should not be halted, but they should be relieved fifteen minutes every hour, by dismounting the men, and requiring them to march. For a march of a day more, the walk is the most rapid gait, the Cavalry will go farther in less time, and be in better condition at that gait than any other; the time must be saved by making fewer halts, and marching more hours.

698. On campaigns, the Cavalry is often improperly used. It is a great expense to the Government, although no doubt a great comfort to the Commander of an Army, if he can surround his command with a cordon of Mounted Sentinels, five or six miles out in front of his Infantry pickets; but he can have little knowledge in the use of this auxiliary arm, when he wastes his horse-flesh in so reckless and improvident a manner.

699. The proper place for the Cavalry of an Army is in reserve, so that it may be available in the shortest possible time. If it is out on picket, and widely scattered, the concentration of it fatigues and delays it, and it goes upon the expedition half broken down, and behind time. The rule is never to use the Cavalry where Infantry will do as well or better, and particularly not for picket duty. Infantry is far better for this duty, and only sufficient Cavalry should be used to act as couriers, and to patrol the principal avenues of approach, in connection with the Infantry.

700. Cavalry should not be used as Infantry. Dismounting the men and sending the horses to the rear for days, or even hours, thus separating the two, is a violation of this rule; but it may sometimes be necessary, as when a Cavalry column is pushed forward rapidly to seize a point that can only be held by dismounting; but in such a case Infantry should always be sent as soon as possible to take the place of the dismounted Cavalry. Men and horses cannot be separated any length of time without a proportionate injury to the latter.

701. The embarrassing feature of Cavalry is forage; the horses must be fed, and the feed cannot be transported any great distance, without superior facilities for transportation. In an agricultural district, however, a Cavalry column of almost any size moving through the country will find sufficient to subsist the horses, if a proper system of foraging is adopted. This requires the utmost vigilance. Loosely conducted, it is exceedingly demoralizing and furnishes opportunities for every kind of excesses; especial care should be taken where it may be the policy to conciliate the inhabitants.

702. Recent improvements in arms and equipments have made it necessary that the greater portion of our Cavalry should be armed with repeating carbines and metallic percussion cartridges. The sabre may be dispensed with altogether, or if forming part of the equipment, should be strapped to the saddle. Such a force is almost as formidable as Infantry, and its principal use is to surprise and capture strategic points, and hold them until they can be occupied by the Infantry; they act as skirmishers or flankers to the army when advancing, or retreating. They go into action generally dismounted, and their horses are used only as a means of transportation. Such Cavalry is of special value in a wooded or broken country, where the horses may be covered, and the character of the troops thus concealed from the enemy.

703. Cavalry lightly equipped with sabre and pistol, and used mainly for couriers for carrying intelligence, and watching the enemy, in connection with the Infantry pickets, has not lost its value in this respect, and should be supplied to the Army in proportion to its necessities. The signal branch of the service might be economically united with this arm. But the value of the horse as derived from the force and shock of a charge is fast passing away; as a means of pursuit, of transportation, and rapid movement, he has rather gained than lost in value.

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8 Mar 2011, by

VERY cool stuff

Sometimes, I get to see and touch some really cool stuff. One of my favorite photographs of me shows me holding John Buford’s Henry rifle. I look terrified but thrilled, probably for the reason that I was terrified and thrilled at the same time.

Today was another one of those days when I got to see and hold something incredibly neat that very few people ever get to see, let alone to touch.

The Ohio Historical Society owns a 4.5 acre parcel in the middle of the Buffington Island battlefield. Funds were set aside to construct an interpretive kiosk on that parcel, which, in addition to a number of other new interpretive markers from the Morgan’s Trail group, will enable visitors to understand what happened there without needing a battlefield guide for the first time. Because I am the chairman of the history committee of the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation, the folks at OHS who have been working on this project have been kind enough to include me in the process. Edd Sharp, the president of the Foundation, has also been involved in this process. Today, we had a meeting at OHS to discuss the illustrations that will be included in the interpretive kiosk.

The meeting was productive and successful, and at the end of the meeting, Edd and I got a treat. John Hunt Morgan and all of his officers were imprisoned in the Ohio Penitentiary here in Columbus. Morgan and a few of his officers eventually escaped, and the rest were exchanged. In September 1863, one of the prison guards brought a small notebook into the prison and got every one of Morgan’s officers to autograph it for him, including Morgan himself, two of his brothers, and his brother-in-law and second-in-command, Basil W. Duke. Each officer signed his name, wrote his rank, his unit, and his home town. Some dated the page. It’s really a remarkable artifact, and it’s not the least bit surprising to hear that OHS keeps it in its vault, under lock and key, and with extremely limited access.

Today, for the second time in two weeks, I not only got to look at the entire notebook, but I also got to hold it too. I don’t believe it’s ever been out on display, and I’m quite certain that only a very, very small handful of people have ever seen it since it went into the OHS collection. The staff got it out and allowed me to look at it at the last meeting two weeks ago, but Edd missed the meeting due to illness. He was there today, so today was his turn, and we both got to hold it and look at it in detail.

I wanted to take a photo of Morgan’s signature and post it here, but the staff would not allow me to do so, which I do understand. The signature says, “Jno. H. Morgan, Brig. Gen. C.S.A. Lexington, Ky.” Morgan had neat, tight handwriting. One of the things that I have always enjoyed about handling Civil War documents is to appreciate the beautiful penmanship that even men had in those days, and the signatures in the notebook are no exception.

Scans of Morgan’s, Duke’s, and a few of his other officers will be included on one of the interpretive panels in the new kiosk on the battlefield, so if you ever visit the Buffington Island battlefield and see the likenesses of those signatures, you will know where they came from.

OHS also has the key to Morgan’s prison cell, as well as the Henry rifle of Major Daniel McCook, the patriarch of the Fighting McCooks, who was killed by the first volley at Buffington Island. The photo of Major McCook that will appear in the kiosk shows him holding the so-called “McCook Rifle”, and that same weapon can be seen in the museum at OHS.

One of the fringe benefits of the work I do is getting to see stuff like what I saw today, and I never take that for granted. I’m just sorry that I can’t put up a photo of the notebook or of Morgan’s signature here.

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I am in the midst of doing an overhaul of my 2002 book Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863. This is one of my favorite titles of my work, even though it’s a short book. It was the first in Ironclad’s The Discovering Civil War America Series–an idea I came up with–and it also made the most extensive use of The Batchelder Papers of any study of East Cavalry Field yet published. It has also sold steadily over the years, and I am grateful to Bernadette Atkins for bugging me into writing it. When Ted Savas offered me the opportunity to give it an overhaul and bring out a new edition, I jumped at it.

The new edition will add material that I did not have in 2002 when it was first written, and will also add an appendix addressing the intellectual fraud of Tom Carhart’s Lost Triumph: Less Real Plan at Gettysburg–and Why It Failed. In the process, I get to deal with one of the more resilient of the plethora of Gettysburg controversies.

No battle of the American Civil War has generated more controversies than did Gettysburg. Ranging from the Meade-Sickles controversy, the Lee-Longstreet controversy, the “where did Farnsworth’s charge really occur” controversy, and so on, these debates continue to stir emotions 148 years later. My study of the fighting on East Cavalry Field touches on two closely interconnected controversies: why did Stuart fire random artillery shots at the beginning of the fighting, and who fired those shots?

Carhart’s theory–completely and totally unsubstantiated by either the historical evidence or the laws of physics–is that the shots were supposed to be a signal to Robert E. Lee that Stuart’s cavalry was in position and ready to coordinate with Pickett’s Charge. Never mind that there simply is not a scintilla of historical evidence to support this preposterous charge, and never mind that the sound of four random artillery shots never, ever would have been heard over the fighting raging at Culp’s Hill–squarely between Stuart’s position and Lee’s headquarters on Seminary Ridge, six or seven miles from East Cavalry Field. This is the cornerstone of Carhart’s theory.

Neither Lee nor Stuart ever said a word about this in their reports. Undaunted, Carhart just makes stuff up and says that Lee elected not to say anything about it in order to protect Stuart’s delicate ego. When I wrote the book initially, I postulated that Stuart’s true plan was to ambush Gregg, and that the shots were to announce his presence to draw Gregg out and lure him into the trap he had laid. In my mind, that was the ONLY explanation that made sense, given Stuart’s troop dispositions. It turns out that I was in the right church but the wrong pew.

Several years ago, historian Bill Styple published a really useful little book titled Generals in Bronze: Interviewing the Commanders of the Civil War, wherein he published the notes of sculptor James E. Kelly of the many interviews of prominent officers of the Civil War that he conducted. One of the men interviewed was Alexander C. M. Pennington, whose battery did superb work on East Cavalry Field. Pennington related that Stuart’s adjutant, Maj. Henry B. McClellan, told him that Stuart knew there was Federal cavalry out there, but was not sure where, and realized that firing the shots would draw a response, thereby enabling Stuart to pin down Gregg’s precise location.

It’s as simple as that. None of this ridiculous conspiracy theory nonsense spouted by Carhart.

The other controversy is which battery fired those shots. Jeff Wert, in his excellent Gettysburg: Day Three, says that Capt. Charles A. Green’s Louisiana battery of Ewell’s Second Corps fired those shots. Robert J. Trout, THE authority on Stuart’s Horse Artillery, states in his history of the Stuart Horse Artillery Battalion, Galloping Thunder: The Story of the Stuart Horse Artillery Battalion, that those shots were fired by Capt. Thomas E. Jackson’s Battery of horse artillery. My buddy J. D. Petruzzi states in his superb The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest that the shots were fired by Capt. William H. Griffin’s Baltimore Light Artillery, a unit that had recently been converted to horse artillery.

The problem is that none of the Confederate battery commanders left after-action reports, and neither Stuart’s report nor the memoirs of Henry McClellan identify which battery fired those shots. We simply do not know, and the likelihood is that we never will know for certain. All we can do is to guess, but there are some logical guesses that can be made. Jackson’s battery was armed with short range weapons. Green’s guns were not horse artillery and probably were not yet on the field.

So, puzzled, I e-mailed J.D. about this, and he called me in response. We spent some time on the phone, and J. D. pointed out to me a powerful piece of circumstantial evidence. We do know that the Confederate horse artillery was plagued by the same problem as the rest of the Confederate artillery: poor ammunition. We also know that Pennington’s and Randol’s guns blasted Jackson, Griffin, and Green right of the field that day with extremely accurate and extraordinarily effective fire that could not be countered by the Confederates, in part due to the poor ammunition they had. The only one of these three batteries to report significant casualties that day was Griffin’s Maryland battery. Jackson’s battery reported one casualty. Therefore, as J. D. pointed out, and with which I agree, it makes sense that it would have been Griffin’s battery that drew the return fire, thereby causing the reported casualties. Many thanks to J. D. for pointing that out to me.

Can we prove it for sure? No, and I doubt we ever will. Is this a reasonable and defensible assumption? I think so.

And hence, once more unto the breach, dear friends, as the Bard once said. I believe we have tackled two of the more enduring Gettysburg controversies and hopefully will settle the questions once and for all. Then again, this is Gettysburg after all, and the controversies associated with it will probably always resonate.

UPDATE, MARCH 6, 2011: I am now persuaded that it was, indeed, Jackson’s battery that fired the four shots. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, and foremost, further research indicates that Griffin’s battery wasn’t even on East Cavalry Field. Instead, it was serving on Oak Hill with Ewell’s Second Corps, meaning that it could not have fired those shots. Also, I have found a primary source account by one of Breathed’s gunners–admittedly not there when the shots were fired, since Breathed’s batter didn’t arrive until the fighting was well underway–that says very clearly that Jackson’s battery fired those shots, which corroborates an account by Lt. Micajah Woods of Jackson’s battery.

J. D. now acknowledges that he was incorrect in his Guide and that this will be changed in the next printing of the book, whenever that happens. Mystery solved.

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From this week’s on-line edition of Time:

The Civil War’s 150th Anniversary Divides the South

By CLAIRE SUDDATH Claire Suddath – Thu Mar 3, 4:15 am ET

In 1867, former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of a newly formed organization called the Ku Klux Klan. Forrest had been a slave trader before the Civil War; he was also the commanding officer during a battle known as the “Fort Pillow massacre” in Tennessee at which some 300 black Union troops were killed in 1864. (Whether they died in combat or were killed after they surrendered is still a matter of dispute.)

Now, in honor of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) are seeking to put Forrest on a Mississippi state license plate. But the state’s government opposes it. When asked to comment on the proposal, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a Republican, told the Associated Press, “It won’t become law because I won’t sign it.” (See the history of photographing the nation’s war dead.)

Barbour’s reaction is just one sign that things have changed since the South commemorated the Civil War’s Centennial in 1961. Back then, much of the South was still segregated – and many people, including Mississippi’s then-Governor Ross Barnett, were fighting to keep it that way. State and local governments took an active role in Confederate celebrations, using them to promote their causes. When the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, a group sponsored by the federal government, held its inaugural event in a Charleston, S.C. hotel, Madaline Williams, a delegate from the New Jersey legislature, was denied entry because she was black. For this year’s anniversary, there is no such commission.

And in February of this year, when a Jefferson Davis impersonator was sworn in on the steps of Alabama’s State Capitol for a reenactment of the Confederate States of America’s 1861 Presidential inauguration, Alabama officials stayed away. Similarly, a December “Secession Ball,” held in Charleston, S.C. drew protests and a candlelight vigil from the NAACP. (See pictures of the Cold War’s influence on Art: 1945-1970.)

This year’s Civil War anniversary caps a decade in which Southern institutions have struggled mightily with the racial undertones of their Confederate monuments. In 2001, Georgia redesigned its state flag, shrinking the Confederate battle emblem that had adorned it ever since 1956. Six years later, it removed the symbol all together. The University of Mississippi – the same school that endured campus riots when James Meredith became the school’s first African-American student in 1962 – ditched its mascot Colonel Rebel, a plantation owner, in 2003. And last November, a federate appellate court upheld a Tennessee school district’s ban on Confederate-themed clothing.

As much of the South continues to distance itself from its racially divisive past, the organizations fighting to maintain the prominence of Confederate symbols are pushed further right of the mainstream. Nonetheless, the Sons of the Confederate South plan several highly publicized events over the next four years, as various Civil War-related anniversaries crop up. The club has 840 local chapters spread across 29 states, Europe and Australia. It was founded in 1896; aspiring members must prove direct relation to a former Confederate veteran in order to join. The SCV openly denounces the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups who use the Confederate flag as a racist symbol. Former President Harry S. Truman and Clint Eastwood are often cited as members. (Read “How America Fights Its Wars.”)

But even as the SCV rejects traditional symbols of racism, they provoke debate with their promotion of contentious Civil War leaders like Forrest. “Robert E. Lee has been replaced as the great [Confederate] hero by Nathan Bedford Forrest by these Southern white heritage groups,” says Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which investigates extremist groups. Lee owned slaves, Potok says, but “he was very much a statesman, and at the end of the Civil War he encouraged Southerners to rejoin the Union in heart and soul. Forrest was very much not like that. The fact that they want to honor him specifically says a lot about what they stand for.”

Chuck Rand, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, calls any assumption that the Mississippi Forrest license plates are racist is a “knee-jerk reaction” by people who don’t understand the “real causes” of the Civil War. Or, as he calls it, “The War for Southern Independence.” But critics point out that slavery isn’t addressed in these commemorations. The group’s reenactment of Jefferson Davis’ inauguration took place near Martin Luther King’s old Montgomery church and the spot where Rose Parks refused to give up her bus seat in 1955. But during the event, no mention of the South’s racial history was made.

The SCV’s controversial events often make the news, but their perspective on the war and its causes isn’t getting much traction nationally. In December, the History channel refused to run one of the SCV’s commercials that blamed the North for slavery, claiming that slaves were essentially forced onto South plantation owners. Another commercial, also refused by the History channel, claimed that the Civil War was “not a civil war… [but] a war in which Southerners fought to defend their homes and families against an aggressive invasion by federal troops.” (Comment on this story.)

“Lincoln waged a war to conquer his neighbor,” Rand explains, “In our view he was an aggressor against another nation, just as Hitler was an aggressor against other nations.” Most people, Southern or otherwise, are not likely to agree with such an inflammatory statement, but the sentiment underlying Rand’s assertion has deep roots. “Coming out of the experience of the Civil War and Southern Reconstruction, there was a sense of wounded pride and grievance,” explains James Cobb, University of Georgia history professor and author of Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity. But even if racism, intolerance, and discrimination still plague the South – as they do the rest of the country – the sense of regional separateness on those issues has largely diminished. “Time has passed,” says Cobb. “To uphold the Confederacy in this way has become a fairly extreme position.”

Extreme or not, the Sons of Confederate Veterans aren’t giving up the fight. They pledge to advance their cause through parades, advertisements and the battle for commemorative license plates. The South may never rise again, Rand admits, but that doesn’t mean it has to disappear completely. “The North is a direction,” he says. “The South is a place.”

I’m no fan of Haley Barbour, but I give him kudos for doing the right thing here.

Once again, the SCV’s radical agenda is exposed. This organization’s blatantly revisionist approach to history needs to be highlighted, and it needs to be resisted.

And to be quite clear about this. I love the south. I intend to retire there. Most of the SCV members I know–and I know many–are good and decent people who truly commemorate their ancestors. But they also do so without having to justify and humanize chattel slavery by claiming nonsensical things like slaves were forced on the south by the north, that the Civil War was anything but the federal government putting down an active rebellion, and, most reprehensibly, by trying to make slavery acceptable by promoting a myth that tens of thousands of slaves willingly–as opposed to being forced into service by virtue of their bondage–served in the Confederate armies during the war.

We must fight this neo-Confederate hooey wherever we find it.

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