What Would They Do Without Facebook?

There is no better place to explore the intellectual fringes of the Civil War community than Facebook.  You will find some of the most bizarre and reactionary commentary from folks who don’t seem to have any grasp of basic historical knowledge and/or analytical skill.  On my last tour of my favorite Facebook page I came across a link to a story out of South Carolina about an African American family, who claims that their ancestor fought as a soldier in the Confederate army.   The article itself is incredibly confused:

“Alice Gallman and her grandson Kevin Felder walk along the African American Monument at the State House.  A reflection on an ancestor who they say was a confederate soldier.  “He was a house servant. He kept his masters horses clean. He kept his masters clothes in order,” says Alice Gallman.  Gallman says her great uncle John Alex Sarter was a soldier in the confederate army who fought first as a slave and later as a free man.  According to the state archives Sarter’s war service made him eligible to receive pension back in the 1920’s.

What caught my attention, however, was the commentary following the link, which you can read here.  These are the kinds of folks who are committed to pushing the “Continued War Narrative” which I commented on yesterday.  They are a vocal minority and their incoherence ought to be visible to all.  I did a quick search of variations of Sarter’s name on Footnote and came up with a few city directories, but nothing that matched a Confederate muster roll.  South Carolina did indeed offer pensions to African Americans after the war, but they were given to former slaves and not to black soldiers.  Even a basic understanding of the history would have helped these two.  Unfortunately, research seems to be frowned upon in this community.

Well, at least they are honest.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

6 comments… add one
  • Woodrowfan Apr 11, 2011 @ 14:53

    I avoid open comments on places like Facebook, Youtube and Yahoo News. The web comic XKCD had a couple funny cartoons about Youtube comments a while back..



  • Corey Meyer Apr 11, 2011 @ 13:59
  • Ron Baumgarten Apr 11, 2011 @ 9:11

    I have often thought the same thing about Facebook. What is particularly disappointing is to see the comments that follow even respectable articles. There is often nothing more than a back-and-forth shouting match as one side or the other tries to say what caused the war, or why the other side was right. (I even see this when the article isn’t really about those subjects.) This degenerates into name calling, and downright hostility. And what characterizes many comments is a marked lack of understanding of even the most basic historical facts. I think of Facebook as an amazing tool to connect with people–I use it to spread the word about my own blog, and to follow other blogs and organizations. I have become acquainted with some really great people on Facebook. However, Facebook also gives the crazies of the world something to write about, unfiltered and unedited. I suppose this is the price we pay for the benefits of the information age.

    • Ryan Apr 11, 2011 @ 12:00

      And that would make this website’s comment section different how?

      To an extent, everything is unfiltered. It’s not that facebook attracts the crazies, its that the crazies are everywhere. You’ll find comments and opinions just as harsh on message boards all over the internet these days. I’ve seen some doozies from folks on here too.

      Living in Alabama, I’ve noticed that most of the commentary on facebook these days involves college football talk and bickering between Auburn and Bammer fans about who’s paying players and who isn’t. It’s amazing reading those comments on the above post and comparing them with crap I read all day on my status page. People tend to reduce their arguments into the same old insults and bickering. Historical accuracy and the truth has no place in facebook wars. Even by those who claim to be historically inclined.

      • Kevin Levin Apr 11, 2011 @ 13:24

        I would suggest that this website’s comments section is engaging on an intellectual and this has everything to do with the knowledge and enthusiasm of the people who participate.

      • Ron Apr 11, 2011 @ 16:09

        The crazies may be everywhere, but the Internet makes it that much easier for them to express themselves. Years ago, someone had to stand on a street corner and shout, or pass out pamphlets. Today all that one needs to do is log on and type away. Letters to the editor that were once tossed for being inappropriate, inaccurate, or just insane are now posted every minute on newspaper and TV station websites. In any event, I would say that most blogs are not like Facebook. The editor and writer of the blog usually retains discretion to filter any and all comments before they appear publicly. Contrast this with Facebook, or even a newspaper website, where comments appear immediately, and may later be removed if marked as inappropriate..

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