Category Archives: Civil War Sesquicentennial

He Survived Slavery

I wasn’t going to say anything when this story first appeared. How many black Confederate induction ceremonies are necessary to share. This is the first one to appear in the news in some time. Last week the United Daughters of the Confederacy welcomed Georgia Benton into the fold based on her great-grandfather’s, presence in the army as the slave/body servant of Lt. Alex McQueen. 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

“Southern History is a Custody Battle Still in Litigation”

In March I will co-lead a group of students on a 7-day trip through the South to explore the history and memory of the Civil Rights Movement. It should come as no surprise that Montgomery, Alabama is on our itinerary. In preparation for the trip we are putting together a collection of documents that offer different perspectives on how these communities are coming to terms with their pasts. This New York Times piece about the placement of new historical markers throughout the city will be included in that list.

But Southern history is a custody battle still in litigation. The Alabama Historical Association, which has its name on many of the historical markers around the state, confirmed the accuracy of the research but declined to sponsor the markers, citing “the potential for controversy.” (The markers were eventually sponsored by the state-run Black Heritage Council.) Todd Strange, the mayor of Montgomery, while acknowledging in a newspaper article several years ago that the sign referring to slave markets made him uneasy, gave the project his backing after a meeting with Mr. Stevenson.

I love the fact that the mayor admitted to feeling “uneasy” but still provided the necessary support for the project to move forward. These projects should make us feel uncomfortable. If they didn’t there would be little reason to carry through with it at all.

Sounds like there is a pretty intense backstory to all of this.