Category Archives: Civil War Culture

Did Impressed Slaves Serve the Confederacy?

jake3

I want to quickly follow up on the last post about the UDC’s recent induction of an African American woman, whose ancestor was brought into the Confederate army as a camp servant. In the post I referenced the UDC’s guidelines for membership and speculated as to whether they might be interested in welcoming the descendants of the thousands of impressed slaves who toiled for the Confederate government throughout the war. Thanks to UDC member, Betty Giragosian, for the following comment.

Kevin, my African American friend joined the UDC on the record of her great grandfather who helped build the earthworks in Gloucester, Virginia. This was giving material aid to the Confederacy. Maybe his service was not on the battlefield, but it was service, nevertheless. She told me that when she saw the earthworks for the first time she burst into tears. She is proud and happy to be a member of the UDC and we are proud to have her. She is an asset to our organization. We have never barred African Americans from membership. Someone wonders why there is a push to gain membership of African Americans. I do not think this is, that there is a push. This is a different time and place. Why not give us credit for changing for the better.

While I appreciate the comment I believe it reflects a flawed understanding of the relationship between slaves and the Confederate government. I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating. White southerners who either volunteered or were drafted into the Confederate army served as citizens of a nation. We understand citizenship as involving a reciprocal obligation between the individual and state. The government protects the rights of the individual and maintains order and in exchange it may be necessary at certain times for citizens to come to the aid of the state in the form of military service.  Continue reading

“Why Don’t You Think About Vicksburg, Jack”

Dr. Kregg Fehr, Professor of History at Lubbock Christian University, tells us that former Confederate soldiers who moved to Texas after the war were angry. The residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi were so angry that they refused to celebrate the Fourth of July for many years after the war. Really? Are you sure that no one in the Vicksburg area had reason to celebrate July 4? Hmmm…

…and what’s with that music.

Has H.K. Edgerton Gone off the Deep End?

H.K. Edgerton is known for irrational outbursts, but never before has he managed to string together so many back-to-back. You decide.

According to Edgerton, a school official on Wednesday tried to get him to leave, but he refused. Ultimately, though, Edgerton said he could not stay in Florida through Monday’s deciding school board vote. Edgerton sent TPM a copy of an open letter he wrote, containing what he had hoped to say at Monday’s meeting.

The letter begins (perhaps sarcastically?) by arguing that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — because he “broke the sacred vows of a minister,” “consorted” with Communists, and “staged the so called bus debacle” with Rosa Parks — should not have streets or monuments named after him. The letter accuses “United States Colored troops and their White Yankee Officers” of committing “many heinous crimes against the Southern people.” And it defends Forrest as a “friend to the African people.”

“The Honorable General Nathan Bedford Forrest would be called a nigger lover, but never to his face, because of the oft spoken love and affection that he showed in his actions to the African people and especially to those men who rode with him during the war and who would attest to his courage, compassion, and the many lies spoken about him after the war to a man would deny,” Edgerton wrote. “Delight in this madness against a friend to the African people if you must, but heed my warning for very soon you will not be in the drivers seat as your time of sacrifice will come. And you will have to say goodbye to those you hold sacred as those of us who are loyal to the memory of those Southern men and women, be they freed or indentured, Red, Yellow, Black and White who made an honorable Stand against a man who would breach the contract that they forged together.”

First, what does Martin Luther King have to do with this issue? What exactly is he referring to as a “bus debacle”? There is something so disturbing about this that I don’t even know where to start. I am actually beginning to feel sorry for this man. Somebody close to H.K. needs to step in on his behalf.

I would love to read this letter in its entirety. Come to think of it…

Update: Click here for H.K.’s letter in its entirety.

“The slave-running drunkard and Ku Klux Klan leader, Nathan Forrest”

Although the Florida school district in Jacksonville, Florida has voted to change the name of Nathan Bedford High School there is still no word on what the new name will be. What follows is Susan Wittenberg Case’s recollection of what took place at the 1959 meeting that led to the school’s naming after Forrest. It’s important to note that the student body voted to name the school, Valhalla High. Continue reading