Our Confederate Heritage
July 1, 2020 | View PDF
One of America’s greatest tragedies was what many of us call the “Civil War,” also known as “The War Between the States,” “The Great Rebellion,” “The War of Northern Oppression,” and “The War for Southern Independence.” It was the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil by more than an order of magnitude. We suffered an estimated 620,000 to 750,000 (revised) casualties from combat, starvation, disease, and injuries.
In many ways, this war was like the American Revolution—a war of independence. For years, the Northern states had imposed tariffs, blockades and other sanctions that strangled the South’s economy. Finally, in 1860-61, thirteen Southern states said, “Enough is enough,” seceded one by one, and created their own nation, the Confederate States of America. Their goal was independence, not control or even influence over the remaining states.
From 1861 until 1865, under Lincoln’s authority, the North invaded the South—killing, burning, looting and pillaging. The “damn Yankees” burned and destroyed cities, farms, homes and crops along with bridges, railroads, warehouses, and any military targets. Much of the South became a smoldering ruin.
Like in any war, the South had its heroes who fought valiantly to save their lives, property, and independence. Many of these people are very familiar to nearly everybody—Robert E Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Braxton Bragg, John Hood, P. G. T. Beauregard, and many others.
Once the South had endured the turmoil of reconstruction and was able to rebuild, Confederate veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy began erecting monuments to these heroes in the early part of the 20th century.
Today, these monuments have stood for about a century, and during that time, the American people respected them and the people they enshrined.
But in recent years, some groups of people have spawned hatred for the Confederacy and the Southern heroes. “Those people owned slaves. Those people stood for slavery. Those people were evil…”
Sadly, we cannot erase history, but we can learn from it. Back in the 1700s, when America was founded, slavery was the norm in most of the world. Nearly half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were slave owners. Some of them wanted to make all of America a slave-free nation. That would have been wonderful. Unfortunately, they were in the minority and were out-voted. In the end, we had to settle for a mix of free states and slave states.
During our last two or three decades, certain radical people have demanded “reparations” from people whose ancestors might have owned slaves to be given to others whose ancestors might have been slaves. That is utter nonsense. We would have a tough time proving whose ancestors owned slaves and whose ancestors were slaves. It doesn’t matter anyway. There are no living slave owners, and there are no living slaves.
During this same time, many radicals have been doing vandalism to our Confederate monuments and making more and more demands to take them down.
In 2017, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered the removal of four large monuments from public display in the city. At considerable expense to the local taxpayers, they were taken down, packed in crates, and shipped to parts unknown.
Former Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton wants the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, along with the graves of Forrest and his wife, removed from the city park.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam promised to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus wants army bases bearing the names of Confederate generals (Benning, Bragg and Hood) to be renamed. He said Robert E. Lee, who is everywhere at West Point, was a U. S. soldier who “committed treason.”
Nancy Pelosi wants 11 Confederate statues removed from the U. S. Capitol.
And now, right after the unfortunate choking death of George Floyd by the police in Minnesota, Confederate monuments in places across the nation have suffered vandalism—everything from sprayed on graffiti to being knocked down and carried away.
On June 9, at the University of Alabama’s Gorgas Library, workers removed plaques that commemorate UA students who served in the Confederate Army and members of the student cadet corps who fought James H. Wilson’s raiders, who burned and destroyed the university.
In Tuskegee, vandals spray-painted graffiti onto the monument in the park in the center of town. Mayor Tony Haygood ordered that it be wrapped and later removed.
In Montgomery, “The Cradle of the Confederacy,” the statue of Robert E. Lee in front of Lee High School has been removed after being vandalized. Mayor Steven Reed is now asking that it not only be permanently removed, but that Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Sidney Lanier High Schools be re-named. Wait a minute. Sidney Lanier wasn’t a Confederate general; he was just a poet. But he did fight for the Confederacy as a private for a short time, until he was captured and spent most of his time as a POW in a muddy Union prison camp.
We MUST get over the hatred of our Confederate veterans. They were not Nazis. They were not evil. Most did not own slaves. Most were common people fighting for their lives, families and property. They bravely fought invaders in America’s most bitter war. Their monuments deserve to be protected and honored.
Williams, Walter E., “Rewriting American History,” June 14, 2017: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/06/walter-e-williams/dont-touch-confederate-statues/
Bonner, Bill, “Refighting the “Civil” War,” May 27, 2017: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/05/bill-bonner/those-confederate-statues/
Roberts, Paul Craig, “The Absurdities Mount,” September 20, 2017: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/09/paul-craig-roberts/the-absurdities-mount/
McClanahan, Brion, “A Cautionary Tale on Monument Protection Laws,” January 25, 2019: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/01/brion-mcclanahan/a-cautionary-tale-on-monument-protection-laws/
Wendland, Tegan, “With Lee Statue’s Removal, Another Battle Of New Orleans Comes To A Close,” May 20, 2017: https://www.npr.org/2017/05/20/529232823/with-lee-statues-removal-another-battle-of-new-orleans-comes-to-a-close
Coker Rachel, “Historian revises estimate of Civil War dead,” September 21, 2011: https://discovere.binghamton.edu/news/civilwar-3826.html