Every once in a while I like to share the love that comes my way. It is striking just how many of these emails revolve around the same silly points. Today a reader thought enough of me to send this along:
All you allow on your website is people to spew their hatred of the South just like you do. You are an egomanic. The South has been slandered by it’s victors, rednecks and people like you. I sent you the truths about the civil war and all you did was pulled it off to control people’s thinking and exposure to some real truths and not the negativity you publish. I feel very badly for the students who are forced to beleive the material you “teach”!! [unedited]
I just want to ask the following of these people:
Exactly which South do I supposedly hate? Is the question to be understood strictly along historical lines? Do I hate all time periods (all 400 years and beyond) of Southern history or just specific segments that make up the region’s rich past? Should we narrow it down by region? Perhaps there are regions of the South that I hate more or less than others. Is there a specific demographic that I hate more than others? Perhaps I hate wealthy white slaveowners, non-slaveowners or even poor whites. Come to think about it, maybe I hate slaves and other groups of African Americans along with a countless number of other minorities. Hmmm… Perhaps there is a cultural element to my hatred of the South. Do I hate the music, the food, the language? I could go on and on with this line of questioning, but hopefully you get the point.
All I can say is that if you really believe that I “hate the South” than you hold to an overly simplistic and even a childish view of the region, including its diverse history, politics, and culture. And for that you deserve to feel offended.
Luckily the rain held off long enough for an enjoyable tour of the Five Forks battlefield with historians Keith Bohannon and Peter Carmichael. We concentrated mainly in the area along White Oak Road and managed to locate and follow Pickett’s refuse line on his left flank. The terrain is difficult to interpret given the height of the trees, but the area around the Gravelly Run Church, which served as the jump off point for Warren’s April 1 attack, gave me a sense of the rolling landscape and a better understanding of just how vulnerable Pickett’s division was along the White Oak Road. From there we headed on over to the Five Forks intersection where we met NPS historian, Tracy Chernault. Tracy was kind enough to take us over to the new visitor center building which is slated to open in the next few months. It’s a marked improvement over the little shack that is currently being used at the intersection. That building will be demolished and the two monuments will be moved to the visitor center. From there we explored the Confederate right and drove to the approximate spot where Warren was relieved of command along with the field where Custer’s cavalry saw some heavy fighting. Finally, we stopped at Sutherland Station and Fort Gregg.
Keith and Peter did a first rate job of explaining the ebb and flow of battle to me. One can’t help but be impressed with their level of knowledge and their passion for battlefield interpretation. Click here for additional photos.
I‘ve never been to the Five Forks battlefield. Luckily for me, today I am spending the day with two historians who know the battlefield well. See you on Wednesday with a report and photographs. Let’s hope it’s not a total washout.
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It’s reasonable to wonder how the public discourse might have been different had James Loewen and Edward Sebesta bypassed the ridiculous idea of petitioning the president not to place a wreath a the Confederate monument at Arlington and instead add a wreath to the African American Civil War Memorial in downtown Washington. Two things would have been accomplished. On the one hand their letter would have raised awareness of the history of the Arlington Monument and its symbolism and it would have highlighted an aspect of the Civil War that continues to fly under most people’s radar screen when it comes to our memory of the Civil War. Instead Loewen and Sebesta provided just one more forum for the crazies who spend their days clogging up message boards with their reactionary neo-Confederate hogwash. Just look at the comments section at HNN.
Luckily President Obama followed his instincts and/or good counsel and sent an additional wreath to the African American Civil War Memorial. Such a suggestion from Loewen and Sebesta would have diffused most of the outrage and perhaps would have served to educate that many more people.
Finally, it’s not clear where Obama got the idea to add a wreath. I’ve read a few references to Kirk Savage’s recent piece in the Washington Post, but that came out after my blog post and link to Caitlin Hopkins at Vast Public Indifference who suggested doing just that.