This is just downright bizarre. This past weekend in west Raleigh, North Carolina the local SCV dug up and moved the remains of the Holleman brothers, one of who was a Confederate soldier. According to the story, the graves were marked and were not threatened by any type of encroachment. The remains of both men were moved to nearby Oakwood Cemetery. And why did their remains need to be removed? According to SCV member, Donald Scott:
We know these young men have left their earthly shell. We want to respect and honor these remains, even though we know their souls are with you. They were Tar Heels. We don’t want them lost…. My heart says this is the right thing. These boys have been here 150 years. Their blood is our blood.
The only problem with this explanation is that these two men have not been lost. Other than what Scott’s heart told him there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason to disturb desecrate these graves. There is no indication that the people who disinterred the two bodies have any archaeological training. Joel Holleman wasn’t even a Confederate soldiers. He was a teacher. What I don’t understand is why the SCV didn’t make the effort to improve the existing site. It looks like at least one of the headstones is completely intact.
Perhaps the SCV can turn this into a new reality show along the lines of American Diggers.
It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago the future of the Museum of the Confederacy was in doubt. There was a talk about a name change and even a move away from their location next to the Confederate White House. Now, all eyes are on Appomattox, where the museum will open a new branch next weekend. It is the largest sesquicentennial project to date and is a testament to the vision and talent of the museum staff. I wish I could be there.
Let’s be clear. None of these protests matter because neither the Flaggers nor the SCV offer a vision of their own. They’ve done nothing to reach out to the public with anything approaching a positive plan of how to commemorate and further our understanding of this crucial period in American history. The future of the MOC in Appomattox and even in Richmond has very little to do with these two groups.
Their relative success will be determined by how well they tell the story of the Confederacy and the broader history of the period and their effectiveness in engaging the broader community, especially the schools. This is a wonderful opportunity for the MOC to engage those groups that they have had difficulty connecting with in the Richmond area.
Most reasonable people will not be turned off by this silliness surrounding the display of the Confederate flag; in fact, most people who visit won’t be aware of it at all. Finally, it’s OK to disagree with MOC’s decision, but that is not necessarily a reason not to visit. Go with an open mind and share your thoughts in a constructive way re: the flag or other aspects of the exhibit if you are moved to do so. You are bound to learn something either way. Not everything has to be framed as an all or nothing choice.
I just finished The Peninsula Campaign and the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans and the Fight for Freedom by Glenn David Brasher. It’s a must read for anyone interested in military history, the process of emancipation, and especially the controversy surrounding black Confederate soldiers. In regard to this last area of interest it is just the kind of study we need. Brasher takes seriously the evidence pointing to black participation in Confederate ranks and he offers what I believe are very reasonable interpretations of how they were used and why they constituted such an important part of the Confederate war effort. It is a solid study. My hope is to write a formal review some time next week for the Atlantic, but for now let me make one quick point.
As important as this book is to the public debate surrounding BC, it is unlikely to have much impact at all. People don’t read books. If they want information they go to the Internet. It comes down to the fact that print sources play almost no role in this controversy. This is not meant as an argument against traditional monographs, but it is intended as a call for more of us to find ways to engage a much wider audience through a digital format, especially when the subject matters.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if Joy Masoff clicked on a link to a site that contained the quality of analysis and information contained in this book rather than a Sons of Confederate Veterans site that led her to claim that an entire battalion of black soldiers fought with Stonewall Jackson.
One of my first posts all the way back in 2005 focused on what I saw as the inevitable decline of our Civil War round tables. I suggested that without a resurgence of interest in the Civil War era that animated Americans in the early 1960s these groups would disappear one by one. In light of the last two posts I stand by the claim that I made over six years ago.
I have no idea why church officials canceled the SCV’s event yesterday. That said, it seems safe to assume that enough people within the church community found out about it and voiced their disapproval. Whatever, the reason they didn’t want their church to host an SCV event and the reason for this must rest with the SCV itself, which has done everything in their power over the past few years to alienate reasonable people. Take a look at any photograph from Saturday’s rally along Monument Avenue and what stands out is that hardly anyone showed up. As far as I can tell the former capital of the Confederacy paid no notice of the SCV’s presence. And those who were present overwhelmingly represented an older crowd.
Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis all prayed at the church at one point or another during the war. It was there in April 1865 that Davis learned that Richmond must be evacuated. So, why the cold shoulder? It’s hard to tell at this point, but here is what we know. Yesterday the Sons of Confederate Veterans held their National Heritage Rally in the city, which was to include a panel discussion titled, “Debunking the Myth of the White Confederate Military” at the church The panelists were to include Teresa Roane archivist at the Museum of the Confederacy and Eric Richardson, who is currently a graduate student in history at North Carolina Central University. I’ve heard through the grapevine that he is doing some very interesting research at the MOC. It is highly unlikely that the title of the panel or the panelists themselves were responsible for the church’s change of heart. The panel was to be followed by a revival service at the church. Apparently, at the last minute some time on Friday church officials canceled the event.