By Al Benson Jr.
Back on June 21 there was an article posted on The News Virginianwebsite, written by Nelson Graves in which he seemed to question why re-enactors are still “fighting” the War of Northern Aggression, although he didn’t call it that.
My intent is not to question Mr. Graves’ sincerity but rather to question where he got his “facts” from. He made several statements in his article that I have to disagree with. His article was like so much of the material we read about the War in our day, a mix of a little truth and a lot of misconceptions.
Naturally, he has to drag the slavery issue into it all. After all, it’s what he was probably taught, like most of us, that slavery was what it was all about. No other reasons need be given—just the one that creates the hot button emotional response.
He wrote: “On June 18, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger told slaves in Galveston, Texas, that they were free. Per the Internet, according to legend, Granger told the slaves on June 19. The slaves in Confederate States were emancipated effective January 1, 1863…” Sorry, but they really weren’t emancipated then. Lincoln, in his infamous Emancipation Proclamation, only “freed” slaves in Confederate territory, which he had no right or authority to free. Slaves in Union-held territory in the South, as well as slaves in Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland, which had remained in the Union, all remained in bondage until the 13th Amendment was passed after Lincoln had gone on to his reward, whatever they may have been. So Lincoln’s “proclamation” really freed no one.
Graves also noted that: “Every year, all during the year it seems, Civil War historians, buffs, enthusiasts and those in general who just can’t let go of the war, gather to re-fight it. As the report said, ‘It has been 147 years since the conclusion of the American Civil War, and re-enactors are still arguing about the causes, tactics and atrocities …” Believe it or not, that’s good, even though Mr. Graves doesn’t seem to think so. The fact that Americans are still arguing over this most pivotal event in our history shows that the professional “historians” have not sewed up all the loose ends they were supposed to and the panacea of political correctness has not completely taken over yet. That’s good.
Mr. Graves also observed: “The Union won on the field, slaves won their freedom and citizens of the Confederacy didn’t lose their rights and privileges as they usually do when defeated…” Oh really? Has Mr. Graves ever read about what happened during “reconstruction” in the South after the shooting phase of the War was over? He should sometime. If he got hold of the right book it would be a real eye-opener for him. He needs to read Frank Connor’s book The South Under Siege 1830-2000, specifically the section pertaining to “reconstruction” and then come back and tell me the South kept their “rights and privileges.”
He also mistakenly stated: “Former Confederates kept their weapons and had their citizenship restored. They suffered only two losses—a free workforce and embarrassment.” Here Mr. Graves is really off base. If Southerners kept their weapons then why did Genera Lee’s men at Appomattox have to stack their rifles and heave them there? Since about 75-80% of the South’s fighting men did not own slaves, the vast majority of them were not really concerned with losing a free workforce. It was something they never had to begin with. As far as embarrassment, the Southern folks suffered much more than that—they suffered and are still suffering the effects of Yankee/Marxist cultural genocide. The Yankee Marxists ( I call them that because their mindsets are nearly identical) began inflicting their brand of “justice” on the South even before the War was over and they have continued ever since, using the public school system as one of their main vehicles. It is perfectly permissible in the South today to mock Southern beliefs, make school children feel guilty about their history and heritage (in fact make sure they feel guilty about these things) and it is basically open season on Southern whites when it comes to crass political jokes.
Southern culture is and has been under assault since “reconstruction” started, but, according to the politically correct, that’s okay. If you insult anyone else’s culture and beliefs the nightly news will seek to crucify you but if you do it to white Southern folks it’s perfectly acceptable, in fact it is expected. This is part of what many of the re-enactors are consciously or unconsciously fighting about in their re-enactions—the fact that their culture and beliefs are constantly under attack from politicians, the “news” media, and scurrilous organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is really just a left-wing hate group.
Contrary to Mr. Graves’ wishes the debate will continue to go on because, in spite of their public school “educations” there are still some Southern folks out there who realize their beliefs and way of life are under attack and they have made the decision to resist, even with a re-enactor’s uniform on a Saturday afternoon in the local state park.
If Mr. Graves really wants a shock he should get hold of the book Lincoln’s Marxists (Pelican Publishing, Gretna, Louisiana) and begin to learn about the real Northern mindset before, during and after the War. He won’t like what he reads but he may learn something.