(April 22, 2020) Texas novelist William Humphrey wrote in 1965 that the Southerner “is conscious of his [Confederate veteran] great-grandfather as a constant companion throughout life. He will seek his counsel in moments of moral perplexity and will borrow his courage when going into battle.”
One example has been a tendency for Confederate descendants to take courage from their ancestors as evidenced by those who carried Confederate symbols into America’s wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. Presently, for example, 44% of American military personnel are from the South notwithstanding that it represents just 36% of the nation’s population.
Alvin York was America’s most famous infantryman in World War I. Although his grandfather was a Union deserter, two of his grand-uncles sided with the Confederacy. Texan Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of World War II. In Vietnam, Arkansas sniper Carlos Hathcock killed more enemy than anyone and even put a bullet in the eye of an opposing sniper through the foe’s telescopic sight. (Steven Spielberg theatrically copied this in his Saving Private Ryan movie.) Each man was born into the poverty that typified much of the South for a century after the Civil War. As boys they hunted game for food, not sport.
During World War II, the first American flag to fly over the captured Japanese fortress at Okinawa was a Confederate Battle Flag. It was put there by a company of marines to honor their commander— a guy that happened to be from South Carolina and who suffered a paralyzing wound in the mopping-up process. The company found the flag in his abandoned helmet after he was evacuated. Some of the tank crews that freed prisoners from German concentration camps also flew the Confederate Battle Flag.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, author of the Owen Parry Civil War novels, Confederate solders merit such inspiration.
The myth of Johnny Reb as the greatest infantryman happens to be true. Not only the courage and combat skill, but the sheer endurance of the Confederate foot soldier may have been equaled in a few other armies over the millennia, but none could claim the least superiority. . . [T]he physical toughness, fighting ability and raw determination of those men remains astonishing.
The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of bravery, not slavery. I’m a Yankee, born and bred, and my personal sympathies lie with the Northern cause . . . To me, though, that red flag with the blue St. Andrews cross strewn with white stars does not symbolize slavery—that’s nonsense—but the stunning bravery of those who fought beneath it.”
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The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh
The Devil’s Town: Hot Springs During the Gangster Era by Philip Leigh