Does *History* Deserve Roots?

RootsLike many of you I am excited about the first episode of the mini-series Roots, which airs on the History channel tomorrow evening. I am also concerned. History does not have the best track record when it comes to programs that are actually about history. Many of their most popular programs have only a loose connection to the serious exploration of the past, such as American Pickers and Pawn Stars. Documentaries such as America: A History of Us and The Men Who Built America offer such a narrow and simplistic view of their subjects that they are almost worthless. Other programs, namely Ancient Aliens, throws the book out completely. [click to continue…]


John Hennessy on the Legacy of the Civil War

There is no one better at engaging an audience on the topic of the legacy of the American Civil War than John Hennessy. That is all. Watch, enjoy, and reflect.

[Uploaded to YouTube on May 28, 2016.]


William Mack Lee Outed in Confederate Veteran

This is a follow up to an earlier post about the dedication of a headstone for William Mack Lee by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

This afternoon a good friend contacted me after having looked into the claim made by William Mack Lee that he served in the 27th Virginia Infantry and as a cook for R.E. Lee. It should come as no surprise that there is no compiled service record for WML in that unit. More interesting, however, is a thorough debunking of WML’s claims of having served as R.E. Lee’s personal body servant in the September 1927 issue (p. 324) of Confederate Veteran by none other than the magazine’s editor, E.D. Pope. I encourage you to read it for yourself.

William Mack LeeThe interesting thing from my vantage point is the emphasis right at the beginning of the article on ‘debunking’ WML’s claim to have been a “real friend” of R.E. Lee. [click to continue…]


The Making of a Black Confederate Soldier

William Mack LeeRecently the Norfolk County Grays Camp No. 1549, Sons of Confederate Veterans installed a military style marker to honor William Mack Lee, who they claim was Robert E. Lee’s “cook and body servant” during the war.” In addition to the headstone, a Cross of Honor reaffirms the belief among the organizers of the event that WML was indeed a soldier.

They are convinced of this fact based largely on a pamphlet published about WML in 1918. But even a quick glance at this pamphlet reveals a number of problems with WML’s claims about his connection to Lee and his role in the war. [click to continue…]


House Votes to Ban Confederate Battle Flags

Fate_of_the_Rebel_FlagBy now most of you have heard that yesterday the House of Representatives voted to severely restrict the display of Confederate battle flags at VA cemeteries. The Senate still needs to vote, but there is a good chance that they will follow suit.

I shared a few thoughts about the decision at The Daily Beast. Click here for my other essays at TDB.