Looking For a Few Good Men Author: Kevin Levin Published: August 15, 2010 18 comments Civil War Memory has moved to Substack! Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe below.
Anybody else notice how “Liberty” was left out of the “American ideals of Duty and Honor?
As a member of the SCV, though via the national not an active local camp, I think this is a silly ad (?). It seems to underscore what I’ve always heard, that there aren’t that many active members anymore anywhere. But I don’t see why “we fought for you, our descendents” excludes blacks. Just because the speaker is white and blacks aren’t mentioned specifically.
Some slaves/freedmen/mixed race—if not very many in the great scheme of things—surely counted themselves among the Rebels, if not the card-carrying, doctrinaire Confederates. Back in ’88, I attended the 125th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox. I was surprised to see a young black fellow in a Rebel shell jacket and a kepi cap sitting with a bunch of white Rebel reenactors.
I wasn’t aware of the Black Confederate issue then or I would have asked him what he represented. I figured he was just pretending to be a servant/slave of a Rebel soldier. But what a choice for a young African-American to make. He had a story to tell, I’m sure. I wish I’d been more curious at the time.
Because based on what we know the number of free blacks who actively supported the Confederacy fails to counter the obvious which is that the Confederacy was attempting to preserve white supremacy through the institution of slavery. At least that is what white Southerners said they were doing.
That’s certainly what some of them said they were doing which, for you, seems to equal all of them.
I know this is “debunker’s corner,” where no Southern interpretation must be allowed to survive for long, but how can whatever the Confederacy was (debatably) doing cancel out what some freedmen believed? Don’t they deserve even a particle of respect? Or must they be plowed under for the greater debunking mission?
Oh Dick…don’t get all silly on me. I am making a claim about the men who were responsible for steering the Deep Southern states out of the Union as well as the principal figures of the Confederacy. It’s as non-controversial a claim as you can make given recent scholarship. I love the reference to a “debunker’s corner.” Whatever makes you feel better.
There is no such thing as a “Southern interpretation.” An interpretation is either supported by the evidence or it isn’t. And what is it that “some freedmen believed,” and how do you know?
Lets not get into a “causes of the CW” debate again….thats been done before right? All sides have some ground to stand on, but remember its 2010 not 1861, so trying to compare our morals and point of views to their’s of 150 years ago is impossible. Its like saying cavemen were horrible people for pulling women on the ground by their hair 😉
Rob, if you are not interested in debates on the causes of the war, you are probably reading the wrong blog. In fact, you probably shouldn’t be reading anything regarding the war because the most fundamental question of all is: Why did this happen? Hopefully, in our continued exploration of this question we can avoid making the same mistakes they made which brought such tragic devastation.
I also disagree with the idea that we can not apply “our morals and points of view to their’s.” While I would agree that in many ways our morals and points of views have changed since their time, in many ways they have remained constant. And, to study their morals and points of view and attempt to understand them is not the same as applying ours to them. There is nothing wrong with asking: Was there a moral question involved? If so, what was that moral question? What were the answers being given at the time? In other words, what choices did people make based on their perceived morality? Frankly, I think in the end, this idea that we can’t question the morality of people of the past is nothing but the tired old excuse that David Blight articulated in “Race and Reunion,” which he labeled the “reconciliationist” interpretation: “…devotion alone made everyone right and no one truly wrong, in the remembered Civil War.”
Why, indeed, are so many re-enactors so overweight? You’d think they, of all people, would be more concerned with historical accuracy. Maybe if they had to quick-time to their next re-enactment?
They are overweight because they are not living in the 1860s and suffering under the harsh conditions of war.
“We fought for you, our descendants.” Black southerners excluded, of course.
They always somehow overlook that little fact. It just goes to show you that the tendency is to think of “the South” as the white South.
That is one well-fed butternut. Must be part of the Commissary Department. (Of course, who am I to talk? If I was a reenactor, I’d look look like Farby McFarbson here.)
I love the fact that these guys actually believe that they speak for Confederate soldiers simply because they happen to be a descendant.
Well at least in my parts the Local SCV camp keeps rural cementarys and tombstones cleaned and repaired.
That at least is a worthwhile goal. Here in Charlottesville they are working to place a headstone for all of the men buried in the cemetery adjacent to the University of Virginia.
I always find it interesting that the neo-confederates claim that their ancestors fought for Constitutional rights…ie: the right of secession or states rights. But in their process of secession, the south created a new constitution…granted it is about 95% identical to the founder’s Constitution…but if they were so worried about Constitutional rights why did they decide to write a new Constitution?
I can’t really answer that question. What I do know is that the Confederate government was as coercive and centralized as the government during Lincoln’s administration.