The Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans has issued a statement in response to plans to erect a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. atop Stone Mountain. As you might suspect, they are not pleased. Their statement is couched in some history of the site as well as their legal reading that supposedly prevents the erection of additional monuments on the landscape. The SCV has had little success with legal cases in the past, so I don’t put much stock in their reasoning. More interesting, however, are their concerns about how a monument to King alters the meaning of the site. [click to continue…]
Update: Thanks to those of you who pointed out my rookie mistake re: “the mountain top” reference in King’s speech. I guess it doesn’t really matter what speech of his they etch into that monument.
Over the summer, individuals and organizations protesting the removal of Confederate flags from public places gathered numerous times at Stone Mountain, Georgia in view of its relief monument to Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. Protesters may think twice about doing so in the future since it was announced that a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. and a museum exhibit about the service of United States Colored Troops will be funded with visitor entrance and parking fees. [click to continue…]
Here is a little gem that I somehow missed in my research on the battle of the Crater. I will, however, include a few stanzas in my book on camp servants and Black Confederates. What follows is a poem written by a former camp servant who was present at the Crater on July 30, 1864. It was included in a book of slave reminiscences published in 1916 by Mary Louise Gaines. The poem was written by “Old Sam” and falls neatly within a body of postwar literature that glorified the Old South and the relationship between the races at a time of intense racial violence and political realignment following Reconstruction. [click to continue…]
Over the past few days I’ve been working through wartime accounts of camp servants who took part in battles in one form or another. It’s a challenging topic for a number of reasons. As you might imagine wartime accounts authored by camp servants are next to impossible to find for the obvious reasons and the accounts of their masters must be treated with care. Postwar accounts by former slaves, in some cases written decades after the war, are even more difficult to interpret.
In dealing with the wartime accounts one thing I have noticed is that officers did not seem to make any assumptions about how their slaves would behave once a battle commenced. There is very little evidence that they intended for their servants to follow them onto the battlefield. I have found plenty of accounts of masters who specifically assigned their servants to guard their personal items, treat the wounded, bury the dead, assist doctors and a few that expected a meal to be ready once the battle ceased. [click to continue…]
David Blight recently convened a panel at Yale University to discuss the impact of the Charleston shootings on our Civil War memory. It takes a little time for the pace of this discussion to pick up, but it is well worth your time. Panelists include Edward Ball, Yale; Jelani Cobb, University of Connecticut; Glenda Gilmore, Yale; Jonathan Holloway, Yale; Vesla Weaver, Yale.