Sons of Confederate Veterans Lose Lee Chapel Lease

Update: So many flags have been removed from various Confederate heritage sites that I apparently mixed them up today. The site in question in Richmond is the Confederate Memorial Chapel and not the Lee Chapel, which is located on the campus of Washington & Lee University in Lexington. Confederate flags have also been removed from inside the chapel. You can read an update to that story here.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the situation at the Lee Chapel on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. The Lee-Jackson Camp No. 1, Sons of Confederate Veterans will no longer operate the chapel through a lease with the VMFA, but will instead have access through a use agreement.

The VMFA will now be able to devote its energies to site interpretation which is sorely lacking. The two times I visited the chapel an elderly gentleman lectured me more about modern politics than anything having to do with the history of the site. The site is much too important to be left to the SCV.

As for the Virginia Flaggers…well, they will not be affected by this change since they haven’t done much of anything to promote the Lee Chapel beyond complaining about the display of a Confederate flag out front. The decision, however, does highlight just how little impact they have made over the past four years. Perhaps they will raise another Confederate flag along a highway as compensation.

The Death Knell of Confederate Heritage

Despite Politico’s recent claim that “the Confederacy Still Lives” it is, in fact, in full retreat. Confederate flags are being removed from public places and holidays honoring Confederate generals are being revised or removed from the calendars. It is a process that will continue as each new generation moves further away from the history itself and is able to re-assess its legacy.

That is exactly what is happening this week in Texas surrounding a proposal to re-name and move ‘Confederate Heroes Day.’ The proposal is the work of an Austin eighth grader by the name of Jacob Hale. Hale believes that the current holiday does an injustice to his states unionists. He proposes to re-name the holiday to ‘Civil War Remembrance Day‘ and move it to May. Continue reading “The Death Knell of Confederate Heritage”

The Calm Before the Storm in the Capital of the Confederacy

Sallie A. Brock’s narrative of the final days of the Confederacy in Richmond was published in 1867 and based largely on Edward Pollard’s The Last Year of the War. The author’s description tells us quite a bit about the drastic changes that took place beginning on April 2, but it also tell us as much (if not more) about how Brock and others chose to remember so soon after the Confederacy’s fall.

The morning of the 2d of April, 1865, dawned brightly over the capital of the Southern Confederacy. A soft haze rested over the city, but above that, the sun shone with the warm pleasant radiance of early spring. The sky was cloudless. No sound disturbed the stillness of the Sabbath morn, save the subdued murmur of the river, and the cheerful music of the church bells. The long familiar tumult of war broke not upon the sacred calmness of the day. Around the War Department, and the Post Office, news gatherers were assembled for the latest tidings, but nothing was bruited that deterred the masses from seeking their accustomed places in the temples of the living God. At St. Paul’s church the usual congregation was in attendance. President Davis occupied his pew. (p. 362)

The clearness of the morning sky, a quite military front and a city headed to church helps to create a defined space between four years of war and the final chapter that is about to be unleashed on the city. It’s a moment that the reader can’t help to anticipate, but Brock also hopes to evoke the innocence of the Confederacy and the virtuousness of its cause. It is the Confederacy’s that is about to be swarmed by overwhelming numbers of Yankees, who had been kept at bay for so long. It is their civilization that is about to be upended. Continue reading “The Calm Before the Storm in the Capital of the Confederacy”

The Paternalism of Richard Williams and His Best Friend

Update: Looks like Williams doesn’t like this post either. He seems to believe that what he has written has been distorted. That in and of itself is quite funny given the kinds of things he has written about me. You can read his book for yourself. Sigh. Finally, the timing of Williams’s own update suggests he was eagerly awaiting my response.

My friend from “Old Virginia” is once again disappointed with what I have written on this blog. In recent months he has expressed his displeasure more than once concerning a whole host of issues. A few days ago I offered a vague reference to a body of literature that includes Richard Williams’s book, Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend. I referenced the subtitle of his book, but for some of the specific points made in the post I had, in addition to his book, a few other titles in mind.

Williams decided to write up a detailed response and I guess he expects me to respond. Well, I am not going to do that. Continue reading “The Paternalism of Richard Williams and His Best Friend”

We’ll Always Have the First National Flag

There is a reason why Confederate heritage groups like the Virginia Flaggers emphasize the public display of the battle flag. It’s not simply that the flag is widely understood as the soldiers’ flag, but that it is the most visible reminder of the Confederacy. It’s an iconic symbol. This is the flag that Confederate heritage advocates wrap themselves around. In recent years, however, that is becoming more and more difficult to do at least in public spaces throughout the South.

Last night in Escambia County, Florida the community decided that the battle flag ought not to be flown as part of a display outside the Pensacola Bay Center. What will be flown to connect the community to its Confederate past is the First National Flag or Stars and Bars. What’s that, you ask? Well, it was the first national flag of the Confederate nation, which was flown from March 1861 to May 1863. Continue reading “We’ll Always Have the First National Flag”