The Flaggers have been huffing and puffing for months about my scheduled visit to Petersburg for the 150th anniversary of the Crater. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was flattered that they thought me “flag” worthy.
On Wednesday morning I arrived at the battlefield early in time to commemorate the explosion of the mine. Roughly 250 people attended. Opening remarks were shared at the crater site, which was to be followed by a tour through the battlefield. In between these opening remarks and the tour the Flaggers strutted on to the battlefield. The entire crew was there, including Tripp Lewis, Grayson Jennings and even the queen bee herself, Susan Hathaway.
It’s kind of like watching the circus come to town. One guy just did a couple of loops around the crater with his flag, but eventually they locked their sights on me. I was walking with a good friend from the Museum of the Confederacy, who I haven’t seen in a couple of years and as we were talking about four or five Flaggers closed in and pretty much surrounded us. I was thoroughly amused by this. My friend exchanged a few words with Jennings, but that was about it. Apparently, this was intended to be understood as a form of intimidation, but all I could muster was a chuckle.
I walked to the first station for the morning tour and that was the last I saw of the Flaggers that day. Not one took part in this tour, which for the first time took visitors into the adjacent woods to explore the earthworks of the North Carolinians and the area where William Mahone’s division organized for its famous counterattack. It’s a reminder that the Flaggers really have no interest in history. Once the crowds made their way to the first station on the tour the Flaggers had no reason to stick around since they were no longer the center of attention.
Given that so many turned out on Wednesday I was certain that the crew would attend my talk last night in downtown Petersburg. Unfortunately, only Grayson Jennings attended. He sat quietly throughout my talk. With C-SPAN in the house I assumed that I would get at least one question from one of the most vocal and colorful Flaggers. What better opportunity to take me down in front of the National Park Service, the audience, and the general public. Nothing. I am left having to assume that Mr. Jennings didn’t have any problem with the content of my talk or he just didn’t have the courage to speak up. I have little doubt that he is now spewing forth about my talk on some website, but when it counted Mr. Jennings failed to deliver.
Between Wednesday and Friday I drove on I-95 three time. At no point was I able to see the large Confederate flag that the Flaggers dedicated last fall. Finally, I asked for the specific mile marker and made it a point to look for it while driving to the airport earlier today. It really is a pathetic sight. The flag was hanging limp today, but what is so striking is how easy it is to miss even when you are making a conscious effort to locate it. In my mind that pretty much sums up this entire group.