An Important Work of Civil War Memory

JanneyCaroline Janney’s new book, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation (University of North Carolina Press, 2013) arrived this past Saturday.  You should be able to pick it up in a few weeks.  I usually wait until I have four or five new books before listing them, but given the focus of this book I wanted to single it out.  This title is the latest release in the Littlefield History of the Civil War Era, which is edited by Gary Gallagher and T. Michael Parrish.  I’ve been looking forward to it for a couple of years now.  The few times I was able to talk shop with Carrie definitely helped as I was researching my own book as did a number of her journal articles published along the way.

It should come as no surprise that I’ve pushed practically everything aside to make room for this one.  Remembering the Civil War promises to be the most comprehensive treatment of Civil War memory since the publication of Blight’s Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory back in 2002.

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In the Name of Confederate Heritage

Update: Susan Hathaway finally responds to this incident.

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My students Interpreting the Jefferson Davis Monument in Richmond

Barring any major development I think it’s time to move beyond this story involving the Virginia Flaggers and their unsubstantiated account of monument vandalism. Some of you are no doubt pleased to hear this. On the face of it this story has about as much value as a soap opera and accomplishes little more than attracting a large number of visitors to the blog. There is certainly a place for such entertainment.

That said, it does reflect a certain narrative thread of recent Civil War memory. Regardless of its origin, both the content of this story and Susan Hathaway’s embrace of it is evidence of this relatively small community’s collective belief that their heritage and beliefs are under assault. What better way of rallying the troops than a story involving one of their own or someone closely identified with the Flaggers defending one of the most important and even sacred sites on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. I don’t anticipate any public explanation on the part of Hathaway and/or Rob Walker Jr. That their community has remained quiet is telling enough. There will be no public demands for an explanation from this community. To do so would be a sign of weakness in the face of this ubiquitous enemy.

Move on people. There is nothing more to see here.

It won’t be long before the colors are raised and calls to “Restore the Honor” are heard on the Boulevard in front of the VMFA.

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Susan Hathaway, Rob Walker Jr. and the Virginia Flaggers Have Some Explaining To Do

Michael Givens (SCV) and Susan Hathaway on the Boulevard in Richmond, Va.

Michael Givens (SCV) and Susan Hathaway on the Boulevard in Richmond, Va.

Brooks Simpson has learned from the Richmond Police Department that there is no report related to a supposed vandalism incident that took place on Thursday at the Jefferson Davis Monument in Richmond.  According to the police: ““We can find no record of such an incident ever occurring.”  According to Hathaway’s posting, Mr. Walker called the police, so there would be a record. Given the details of the report written by Virginia Flagger, Susan Hathaway, it is safe to assume that it is doubtful that the incident took place.

It is now time for Hathaway and Walker to explain themselves.  I assume the Virginia Flaggers themselves will want an explanation given the fact that so many commented on and/or shared the story through various social media channels such as Facebook.  How embarrassing.  Here is how Hathaway explained what took place at the Davis Monument:

We do not believe there are ANY coincidences or happenstance in what has transpired since we began our work 20 months ago.  There is no denying God’s hand in this… in bringing Rob to Monument Ave. last November, and then, miraculously again last night at the exact moment and time to prevent what could have been irreparable damage to one of our most treasured monuments AND facilitating the first arrest (that we are aware of) of these punk vandals that have no regard for the rule of law:  neither God’s nor man’s. – Susan Hathaway, Virginia Flaggers

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Dinosaurs, Leprechans, Gargoyles and Stonewall Jackson

Stonewall JacksonA new fiberglass statue to Stonewall Jackson has recently been added to Lexington, Virginia’s commemorative landscape.  The sculpture by local artist, Mark Cline, is situated on private property just north of Lexington on Rt. 11.  Cline is best known for his fiberglass sculptures of fantasy creatures and dinosaurs that adorn parks across the country.  Among his best known work is a life sized reproduction of Stonehenge made out of Styrofoam. Some of you might be aware of Escape From Dinosaur Kingdom, which is located at Natural Bridge in the Shenandoah Valley and depicts dinosaurs attacking Yankee soldiers.

It is fitting that Cline was given this commission given the larger than life world that Jackson occupies in our collective imagination. I absolutely love it. It’s playful, but somehow still respectful of Jackson.  Unfortunately, I can’t locate a photograph that does justice to it. [see here and here]  Hopefully, we will have access to some better quality photos soon.  Kudos to the SCV chapter in Lexington for their aesthetic judgment.

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Rob Walker, Susan Hathaway and the Virginia Flaggers Remain Silent

There are still no updates to the story of a VCU student who supposedly prevented two white males from vandalizing the Jefferson Davis monument in Richmond on Thursday evening.  The Richmond-Times Dispatch has been contacted and is looking into this story as has the Richmond Police for further information.  The story was made public by Susan Hathaway of the Virginia Flaggers.  The student in question is Rob Walker Jr.  Some of you may remember that Mr. Walker left a few comments on my blog a few weeks ago in response to the posting of one of his Flagger videos.

I want the conversation to be about the content of his [Tripp Lewis] argument…. Like I said, I am unbiased. I am not for or against the Confederate flag. I simply wish to conduct an investigation into the issue.

Mr. Walker apparently hopes to be thought of as an objective documentarian of Flagger activities.  This can no longer be assumed given the fact that so many questions remain unanswered.  I emailed Walker last night, but have still not received a response.  Here is the email: [click to continue…]

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Virginia Flaggers Foil Vandalism of Jeff Davis Monument

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Update: As of 05/12 inquiries have been made with the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Richmond Police. Mr. Rob Walker, who is the VCU student has also been contacted.  Again, as of today nothing has appeared in the Richmond news about this incident. With the following words hanging over these unanswered questions let’s hope we can resolve it and focus on the praise that this individual deserves:  We do not believe there are ANY coincidences or happenstance in what has transpired since we began our work 20 months ago.  There is no denying God’s hand in this… in bringing Rob to Monument Ave. last November, and then, miraculously again last night at the exact moment and time to prevent what could have been irreparable damage to one of our most treasured monuments AND facilitating the first arrest (that we are aware of) of these punk vandals that have no regard for the rule of law:  neither God’s nor man’s. – Susan Hathaway, Virginia Flaggers

Over the years I have made my position on the defacing of monuments quite clear. I have zero toleration for it.  So, you can imagine my surprise and relief when I learned that someone with very close ties to the Virginia Flaggers stopped a couple of vandals from defacing the Jefferson Davis Monument in Richmond on the evening of May 9.  The individual in question is a film student at VCU, who over the past few months has been chronicling the activities of the Flaggers.  You can read the following account, which has been circulated on numerous sites here, here, here, here, here and here[click to continue…]

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