Why the Museum of the Confederacy Chose Not To Fly the Flag

I don’t have much to add to Brooks Simpson’s post about the controversy surrounding whether the new branch of the Museum of the Confederacy at Appomattox should fly a Confederate flag outside of the facility.  To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought, though I agree with Brooks that it would be appropriate to fly Third National flag opposite the US national colors for 1865.

Let me venture a guess as to why the MOC has chosen not to fly the Confederate flag in front of the building and it has nothing to do with hollow accusations of political correctness and the like.  The Confederate flag has become symbolic of very little that has to do with its Civil War past and that, in large part, is due to the actions of the very people who claim to cherish it as a symbol of their Southern heritage.  Their defense of every nitwit who comes along looking to stir up controversy with the flag and the mainstream media’s obsession with publicizing these stories as part of the “Continued War” narrative has rendered the flag as virtually meaningless.  It is nothing more than something we argue about.

The MOC has an interest in not alienating the general public by flying the flag in full public view; rather its mission is to educate and I have little doubt that it will succeed with the Confederate flag as one of its most important artifacts.   You would think that after so many butchered images of the flag that the MOC’s decision to showcase and interpret the real thing would be met with a sigh of relief from the heritage crowd.

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36 comments… add one
  • Bubba Bob Mar 22, 2012 @ 7:32

    That there don make no damnn sense, the museim of the confederasee not flying that htere damnnn flag of that there damn confederayseee. Why do they noty fly thast ther e flage.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 22, 2012 @ 7:38

      OK, is this some kind of joke. 🙂

      • Jerry Dunford Nov 27, 2013 @ 8:16

        Joke, You Mr. Levin are the joke, along with all of the Liberals who like yourself are disgracing American History with your Liberal agenda referred to as Political Correctness.

        You attempt to remove the truth, and want it replaced with a watered down feel good

        The Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of an honorable people, people who did not

        • Kevin Levin Nov 27, 2013 @ 8:25

          Thanks for the comment Mr. Dunford.

  • Walter Ring Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:03

    The museum has chosen not to fly the Confederate Flag because as they have stated, they want to “teach” people about the war and why it was fought rather than be a “memorial” to the Confederacy. Flying a Confederate Flag or even several Confederate Flags does not make this museum a memorial to the Confederacy. The museum’s job is to teach about the Confederacy and the War. Yet they come up with this lame excuse. Let’s face it. All explanations lead to cowardice. In fact, they should change their name to Museum of Cowardice. White Southerners are the biggest cowards on the planet today.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:06

      While I appreciate the comment, it is unfortunate that you cannot do more than whine about the cowardice of others. You are free to disagree with the decisions made by the MOC, but I fail to see how that translates into a justification for such an attack. As I’ve said, I suggest you visit the MOC-Appomattox and judge the exhibits for yourself. My guess is you will learn something.

      • Walter Ring Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:30

        I stand by what I said and it is certainly justified. If their job is to teach, then they should teach, not hide behind complicated, irrational explanations as to why the Confederate Flag won’t be flown at a Confederate Museum. They are cowards, plain and simple. There can be no other explanation. I may visit the museum to protest and perhaps THEY will learn something. BTW, why is it when White Southerners stand up for something we are whiners but when nonwhites stand up they are heroes?

        • Kevin Levin Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:39

          Like I said before, it seems ludicrous to talk about heritage violations for not flying a reproduction flag as opposed to the hard work and commitment to properly interpreting and preserving the real thing. It seems to me you have the wrong priorities and a rather narrow view of your heritage.

      • Ray O'Hara Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:39

        It’s not about the Museum, it’s about the vindication and validation of the Neo-Confederate position.
        It is often said the Union won the war and the South won the peace.
        These days the Union is finally winning the peace, it started with Civil Rights and is continuing today. The Flaggers are trying to stave off the final defeat of the CSA.
        The flag issue is the last stand of the CSA.

        • Kevin Levin Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:41

          These days the Union is finally winning the peace, it started with Civil Rights and is continuing today.

          I disagree. The United States (North and South) won the Civil Rights Movement. We need to move beyond this overly simplistic narrative of North v. South.

          • Ray O'Hara Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:47

            It’s why I said Union and not North.

            • Kevin Levin Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:54

              It’s confusing because you refer to the Union next to the South. OK.

              • Ray O'Hara Mar 20, 2012 @ 10:19

                It was the White South, would that have been better?. Blacks were marginalized and lost their voting rights through poll taxes and the like. The {White} South also benefited as the defeat of the CSA by the ending of the 3/5ths rule so they got to count all the Blacks for representation while still denying them the vote.

                I suppose it comes down to is “the South” merely a geographic designation or an idea/ideal held by the power segment of the population. To me “The South” was the latter.

  • Dudley Bokoski Mar 13, 2012 @ 14:42

    It’s good to see a new museum there. When I used to get up there the number of people there was usually very low. This should help bring more visitors in and I’d imagine it would be good for the community as well. Appomattox is well worth a visit anyway, even if it’s just to see what a virtually intact village from the period looks like.

    My favorite story from the surrender was about Longstreet threatening to shoot Custer. He rode into the First Corp lines while a flag of truce was up and demanded Longstreet surrender his troops to him. Supposedly Longstreet called him a name and reached for his pistol, threatening to shoot Custer if he didn’t leave. I don’t know if the story is true, but it seems to fit their personalities.

    Two other stops worth making up there are Saylor’s Creek, where the skirmishes of the Army of Northern Virginia took place, and High Bridge trail state park over near Farmville. High Bridge was one of the first brick pier bridges in North America and was nearly a half mile long (they had to have a longer span because the railroad engines didn’t have much power for a steeper grade). There are a number of huge brick piers from the old bridge out there next to a more modern bridge and there used to be a few entrenchments. Lee’s Army retreated through the area, which is the Appomattox tie in.

  • Ronald Ammons Mar 13, 2012 @ 7:26

    The last sentence of this article provides ample evidence of the hypocrisy and ignorance of much of the public. “…the MOC’s decision to showcase and interpret the real thing…” what a crock ..

    • Kevin Levin Mar 13, 2012 @ 7:34

      What exactly is a “crock”? The MOC has the largest collection of Confederate flags that I am aware of. They have spent considerable resources preserving and interpreting these important artifacts. Perhaps next time you might actually contribute something substantive to this thread.

  • Scott A. MacKenzie Mar 13, 2012 @ 6:17

    Recalling my trip to Fort Sumter in 2009, the park service flies the 34-star US flag, the first Confederate, the South Carolina, and the second Confederate flag, and the 36-star US flags. Yet they also fly the current 50-star US flag prominently, twice as large as the others, a full-pole length higher, and in the middle. Could not Appomattox do something similar?

    • Kevin Levin Mar 13, 2012 @ 6:27

      I think it is important to remember that we are talking about a relatively small, but vocal group. My guess is that the vast majority of people who will visit the MOC-Appomattox will not think twice about this. They will look forward to an entertaining and educational visit that compliments their visit to the surrounding area and they get to see Cleburne’s coat. It makes for a controversial blog post, but in the end this is not really an issue.

    • Andy Hall Mar 13, 2012 @ 6:57

      That would be a reasonable compromise. But nothing that suggests “that Yankee rag” holds a place superior to the flag of the Confederacy is a non-starter for the small-but-loud Southrons for whom no Confederate symbol can be too big, too prominent, or too inappropriate. These are the folks, after all, who countenance casual jokes about lynching the museum’s director.

      These folks are not interested in supporting a museum that serves to educate the larger general public; they want a shrine to a grand, mythic narrative they’ve chosen to embrace. They want an institution that reinforces their specific “truth,” to the exclusion of all others. That’s their right, of course, but the MoC has to serve a much larger constituency than that.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 13, 2012 @ 7:00

        Couldn’t have said it any better. The future of the MOC does not reside with these folks. If anything, they represent that generational divide that I’ve pointed out more than once on this site. The sesquicentennial generation does not casually reduce their heritage and history to one symbol nor to a narrative that suited the needs of their parents and grandparents.

  • Ken Noe Mar 13, 2012 @ 5:48

    Staffers who fly the First National or other historically accurate flags at western sites, even early war fields where the battle flag would be a presentist anachronism, still get hate mail attacking them as “PC.” So while I agree with Brooks and Kevin on the Third National, it still wouldn’t be enough for some.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 13, 2012 @ 6:08


      You are absolutely right. The problem is that this is not strictly about history. Few people recognize a Third National as having anything to do with the Civil War.

  • Lyle Smith Mar 12, 2012 @ 18:51

    I think they should fly one of the national Confederate flags. It’s simply a recognition of history. People need to be confronted with it and learn to deal with it.

  • Barbara A. Gannon Mar 12, 2012 @ 14:29

    No, it should not fly there, it was surrendered there. We focus on what the flag has evolved to mean. In this case, lets go back to 1865 and the meaning of the flag at that place and at that time. If it flew, how should it fly? Equal to the US flag, Never. Equal to the current states of the Union, never. It has no place there.

    • Lyle Smith Mar 12, 2012 @ 18:43

      It will be flying there, because it will be on the current Mississippi flag. 😉

      • Billy Bearden Mar 15, 2012 @ 17:26


        The Mississippi state flag does NOT have a Confederate Battleflag on it. The 13 stars are designated to represent the 13 colonies, just like the current Georgia State Flag. However the South Carolina State Flag has remianed unchanged for 151 years

        • Andy Hall Mar 15, 2012 @ 17:53

          It’s true that the authorizing state legislation describes the saltire cross of stars in the canton of the Mississippi flag as representing the original 13 colonies, and makes no mention of the Confederacy. But really, Billy, only you could say that therefore this flag does not include a CBF with a straight face and expect others to believe that. You’re a funny, funny guy, Billy. 😉

          • Billy Bearden Mar 16, 2012 @ 3:39


            You are my best friend. My brother from another mother. I feel like you are trying to make fun of me. Ouch!

            No seriously, a few years ago I wrote a real excellent article on this very subject. When 2 flags that LOOK the same, but were given different designations, they cannot BE the same.

            National Flag of Somalia and Republic of West Florida. National Flag of Scotland and naval signal flag for letter ‘M’. State flag of Alabama and naval signal flag for letter ‘V’. Since no Confederate flags carried the star designation for “Original Colonies” then I stand by what I said.

    • Bryan Cheeseboro Mar 13, 2012 @ 2:42

      If it has no place there, neither does the museum.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 13, 2012 @ 2:49

        “…neither does the museum.”

        Why doesn’t the museum belong at Appomattox? The people of Appomattox disagree.

        • Bryan Cheeseboro Mar 13, 2012 @ 6:03

          The key word in my brief comment was “if.” For someone who is offended by a Confederate flag flying outside of this museum, I would think the museum is offensive as well.

          As I’ve mentioned before on this forum, I believe the secession of the Southern states and their fight to defend the so-called nation they created would never have happened had it not been for African slavery.

          I believe the MOTC stands as the example of the best way to interpret and understand the history of the Confederate States of America; and it stands as an answer to those who want to glorify the CSA and erase slavery and white supremacy from the history.

          • Kevin Levin Mar 13, 2012 @ 6:12

            Thanks for the follow-up, Bryan.

            For someone who is offended by a Confederate flag flying outside of this museum, I would think the museum is offensive as well.

            I guess it depends on why they are offended. In other words, I can easily imagine someone not wanting to see it flying in full public view, but not having much difficulty when the real thing is interpreted as a historical object.

            • Bryan Cheeseboro Mar 13, 2012 @ 8:18

              [i]I can easily imagine someone not wanting to see it flying in full public view, but not having much difficulty when the real thing is interpreted as a historical object.[/i]

              I can understand that. As I’ve mentioned on this board before, I’m African-American but growing up, I did not grow up in a time nor place having that flag constantly in my face as some Blacks in the South did. While I do think it would be very approriate to have Bonnie Blue, 1st, 2nd and 3rd National flags flying outside there (not the ANV battle flag because if you represent one Army, you should represent them all) I can see where people would get offended and even concerned about these flags flying there.

    • Brad Mar 13, 2012 @ 5:19

      I agree with Barbara. They lost: it’s over. To every war, there are victors and losers. Isn’t it enough that they lost the war but won the peace for almost one hundred years.

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