Tag Archives: Confederate Statues

Letter to News and Advance

(May 27, 2020)  Provided below is a letter-to-the-editor by Bo Traywick (responsible for its content) to the Lynchburg News & Advance. Before publishing the letter I asked if Bo believed that the white Supremacists  that hi-jacked the Robert E. Lee statue for their own purposes were also responsible for the Charlottesville riot along with the antifa thugs. Bo replied, “By all means, blast the White Supremacist thugs and any and all other hijackers of our heritage.” Speaking for myself, I will never forget Joe Biden’s lie that Donald Trump was defending the white Supremacists instead of people like Bo when the President said “there are fine people on both sides.”

Bo is an author, Vietnam Vet and Virginia Military Institute graduate.

Bo Traywick

 

To the Editor:

Sunday’s OpEd page notes that “Few things have been as divisive in American history” as the Vietnam War, yet it goes on to promote even more divisiveness with its rhetoric in describing the United States’ War to Prevent Confederate Independence, aka “The Civil War.” It’s all there: blaming “white supremacists” for Charlottesville instead of the imported fascist Antifa mobs who incited the riots for the news cameras; mourning how many soldiers from Ohio and Michigan died “to stamp out the rebel flag and the cause it represented;” and expressing pious impatience at the prospect of hearing “all the debates about why (Confederate monuments) are there in the first place.” Here is one that is not open to debate:

If those Michigan and Ohio boys had stayed home and minded their own business, they would not have died at the hands of our forefathers who were fighting to defend our country from invasion, conquest, and coerced political allegiance – the same cause their fathers were fighting for in 1776, when the thirteen slave-holding colonies signed the Declaration of Independence and seceded from the British Empire. That is the cause that the “rebel flag” stood for – in spite of Lincoln’s pious and political “Orwellian doublespeak,” and what Voltaire called history: “The propaganda of the victorious.” It was the cause of ’76, when George Washington was also called a rebel, the cause those boys from up North were “stamping out” back in ’61-‘65, and the cause for which those people in Ohio and Michigan were flying the Battle Flag today. Good for them!

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To support this blog, buy my books at my Amazon Author Page

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

 

Letter to Marine Commandant

April 28, 2020

General David Berger
Marine Corps Commandant
3000 Marine Corps, Pentagon
Washington, D. C. 20350-3000

Dear General Berger:

I regret your banishment of Confederate icons in the Corps.

They have been inspiring symbols for generations of many American warriors. Southerners have long contributed more than their share of soldiers. Presently, about 44% of military recruits are from the South whereas the region has only 36% of the nation’s population.  

The first American flag to fly over the conquered Japanese Shuri Castle fortress on Okinawa was a Confederate Battle Flag. It was put there by a company of Marines when they found it in the abandoned helmet of their commander after the South Carolina Captain had been evacuated with a paralyzing wound.  

I ask that you reverse your ban.

Sincerely yours,

Philip Leigh

Texas Novelist Explains Confederate Heritage

(April 21, 2020)

In 1965 Texas novelist William Humphrey wrote:

If the Civil War is more alive to the Southerner than the Northerner it is because all of the past is, and this is so because the Southerner has a sense of having been present there himself in the person of one or more of his ancestors. The war filled merely a chapter in his . . . [family history] . . . transmitted orally from father to son [as] the proverbs, prophecies, legends, laws, traditions-of-origin and tales-of-wanderings of his own tribe. . . It is this feeling of identity with the dead (who are past) which characterizes and explains the Southerner.​
It is with kin, not causes, that the Southerner is linked. Confederate Great-grandfather . . . is not remembered for his (probably undistinguished) part in the Battle of Bull Run; rather Bull Run is remembered because Great-grandfather was there. For the Southerner the Civil War is in the family.​
Clannishness was, and is, the key to his temperament, and he went off to war to protect not Alabama but only those thirty or forty acres of its sandy hillside, or stiff red clay, which he broke his back tilling, and which was as big a country as his mind could hold.​
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake,” my Northern friends would say, “us Yankee boys had great-grandads in that war. But all of our clocks didn’t stop on that day at, where was it, Appomattox? What’s that got to do with me anyway?”​
“Now that’s a question,” I replied, “that a Southerner could never ask. He is conscious of his 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. No, Southern clocks did not stop in 1865; they have gone on ticking; but they are all grandfather clocks.​

Author William Humprey

Humphrey was revealing feelings carried forward from his Texas childhood during the 1930s. Back then a few veterans were still alive to pass along their memories to youngsters like Bill. He later used those recollections to portray an incident in his best-known novel, Home from the Hill, which Vincente Minelli made into a movie.

About twenty years after the war a foppish stranger stepped off the Dallas-bound train when it stopped at Clarksville. Even though he spoke English none of the whittlers at the station could understand him, which they later learned was due to his Italian accent. But eventually the stranger—who identified himself as a professor—was granted an audience with the aldermen during which he explained that he could build a marble monument to the Confederate infantryman for $1,000. For $5,000 he could erect one depicting a mounted cavalryman, or an officer.​
The town chose the $1,000 option. After the professor labored creatively and submitted a finished design the aldermen gave him a $500 deposit. A year later he returned with the sculpted components and erected the statue. The unveiling was a celebration that attracted nearly everyone in town, white and black.​
A good many years elapsed before anyone from Clarksville traveled far along the railroad from whence the sculptor arrived. But when one resident eventually travelled to Georgia he noticed that there was “hardly a town of monument-aspiration size along the railway line all the way to Atlanta without a copy of our soldier.”​

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Buy and sample my books at my Amazon Author Page.

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

A Virginia Vietnam Vet Defends Confederate Statues

(April 17, 2020) Provided below is a copy of a letter written by Bo Traywick to the Richmond Free Press in defense of Confederate statues. Bo is a VMI grad, Vietnam vet and author Empire of the Owls and other writing pertaining the to Civil War and Reconstruction. He is an example of some of the modern American soldiers who have been inspired to fight for our country based partly upon respect for his Confederate Heritage. He has been a persistent defender of that heritage although the Richmond newspapers too often decline to publish his letters.

Bo Traywick

To the Editor:

The Editorial Page doth protest too much, methinks. Once again we have it – the “Holy Trinity” against the Confederate monuments: Treason, Slavery, and Racism.

To accuse the Confederacy of treason, one must first wipe one’s feet on the Declaration of Independence, signed by the thirteen slave-holding Colonies that seceded from the British Empire in 1776.

To claim that the U. S. invaded the Confederacy to free the slaves, one must ignore the fact that at the time of Lincoln’s election, New York and Boston were the largest African Slave-trading ports in the world, and that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years later, stated plainly that slavery was alright as long as one was loyal to his government – proven the following summer when West Virginia, a so-called “slave State,” was admitted into the Union.

As for racism, please note that the North’s strong opposition to slavery in the Territories was due to their strong opposition to black people in the Territories. The first “Jim Crow” laws originated in the North, and the largest lynching of black people in the history of the United State occurred during the New York draft riots in the summer of 1863. Lincoln himself was a white supremacist. Frederick Douglass called him the product of a Kentucky redneck education. For more on that, I suggest Lerone Bennett’s “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.”

But white people – North or South – don’t hold a monopoly on the oppression of blacks. Remember, it was Africans who captured and sold Africans into slavery in the first place. Suggested reading here might be Joseph Conrad’s “An Outpost of Progress”; Zora Neale Hurston’s “Barracoon”; or V. S. Naipaul’s “A Bend in the River.”

But we are not having a history debate. This is “presentism”: history twisted to conform to today’s politics.   

H. V. Traywick, Jr

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Buy and sample my books at my Amazon Author Page

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

 

Anti-Southern Academic Bias

(March 19, 2020) Although modern academic Civil War historians believe themselves to be truth-seekers, they are just as likely to delude themselves with argumentum ad populum as historians of an earlier era. However, their greatest failure is censorship. They fiercely censor viewpoints they falsely label as Lost Cause Mythology even when the rubric is misapplied. They often erroneously feel that they have an uncorrupted pipeline to the truth, lacking in the work of earlier historians. They behave as though they are an elite priesthood, much like the IBM technicians did in the era of mainframe computers.

Nonetheless, earlier historians no doubt were just as truth-seeking as today’s academics and were just as conscientious at their work. The key difference is that earlier professors did not censor new ideas thereby enabling today’s dominate perspectives to take root and grow. In contrast, too many modern academics are intolerant, even tyrannical, in opposition to different ideas. Consider the following:

1. During this Christian Keller interview about his new book on the Lee-Jackson military partnership, the academic interviewer asks Keller why he picked the topic given the opprobrium associated with the Confederacy. Even worse, Keller responds apologetically. He explained that he began the project before the anti-Confederate-statue movement became significant.

2. Last November (2019) the Lincoln Forum hosted a panel on Confederate statues at their Gettysburg conference, but not a single one of the four academic participants was a statue defender. Since I have been unable to find any academic online panel discussion that contains a solitary Confederate monument defender, I would be thankful to readers who can provide some. I would also welcome links to online speeches by academics defending Confederate statues because I have also not been able to find any of those.

When 70% – 80% of a group are in agreement, you have a consensus. When 99% are in agreement, you’re in North Korea.

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Buy and sample my books at My Amazon Author Page.

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

Does it Not Seem Real?

(March 12, 2020) In the four-minute video below Shelby Foote reads from the reminisces of Private Berry Benson who joined the Confederate Army at age seventeen three months before Fort Sumter and served with Lee’s army through Appomattox. After the war he became a leading Augusta, Georgia citizen where he made social contributions ahead of his time and place. He also inspired the infantryman figure atop the city’s oldest Confederate monument. Presently Wikipedia editors and other critics falsely accuse the monument of being racially inspired and some want to tear it down.

Foote’s reading of Benson’s quote prompted me to search for other Civll War authors who referenced it. Unsurprisingly, academic historians ignore it, which was a sure sign that I needed to learn more about Benson. I discovered that he became a living legend during his time from 1843 to 1923, fully meriting the honor of all Americans.

He grew-up in Hamburg, South Carolina across the Savannah River from Augusta. Together with his fifteen-year-old brother, Blackwood, he mustered into the First South Carolina Regiment in Charleston. There Benson helped man a battery during the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861. Afterward, the two boys accompanied the regiment to Virginia. They fought at the Seven Days Battles, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Fredericksburg. They participated in Jackson’s secret march at Chancellorsville that rolled-up the Union right flank on May 2, 1863 until darkness fell. The next morning Berry was crippled by a wound during attacks that completed the Confederate victory. He returned to Augusta to recuperate, causing him to miss the Battle of Gettysburg but enabling him to meet Jeannie Oliver, who would become his wife.

Berry rejoined Lee’s army in time for the Battle of the Wilderness and next fought in the “Bloody Angle” at Spotsylvania. Although a skilled scout, he was captured on one mission and sent to military prison at Point Lookout, Maryland. The site is presently a Federal Park which has prohibited the display of Confederate symbols since 1998. Fortunately, Berry escaped by swimming two miles to Virginia across Chesapeake Bay. Recaptured in Union-occupied Virginia he was sent to a new prison camp at Elmira, New York. Together with other prisoners, Berry completed a sixty-five-foot-long tunnel to escape Elmira and eventually rejoin his regiment.

He was temporarily furloughed to Augusta in the fall of 1864 but returned to his regiment in Petersburg, Virginia in January 1865 where he was put into a sharpshooters unit. When Lee decided to surrender at Appomattox, he and brother Blackwood left to join General Joe Johnston in North Carolina. Since Johnston was planning to surrender when they arrived the youths went home still armed with their rifles.

Berry married Jeannie Oliver in 1868, and they had six children. After working several years as a cotton broker he became an Augusta accountant.  His wife and daughters were all fine pianists. One daughter studied violin in New York and became a concert performer.

Although Benson audited books for the local mills, he was sympathetic to the needs of workers. In 1898 he served as an arbitrator to help end a local textile strike. In order to help find an inexpensive and available food supply for the poor black families he experimented with breeding mushrooms. Benson also loved solving puzzles and in 1896 solved a supposedly unbreakable French cypher code. That led to an offer to help the U. S Government break Spanish codes during the Spanish American War, which he declined. As explained in the New Georgia Encyclopedia, he also fought anti-semitism in a high profile murder case dating from 1913.

Benson achieved national recognition with his defense of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager, in one of Georgia’s most notorious instances of anti-Semitism. Frank was convicted, largely on the testimony of a janitor with a previous prison record, of murdering a thirteen-year-old factory worker in Atlanta. Benson noticed discrepancies in the janitor’s testimony and eventually convinced the janitor’s lawyer that his client had lied on the witness stand. Benson publicized his arguments in newspapers across the country and in a self-published pamphlet exonerating Frank. His findings were partially instrumental in persuading Governor John M. Slaton to commute Frank’s death sentence to life in prison. Tragically, however, Frank was lynched in 1915.

At age seventy-four Berry marched with his never-surrendered rifle together with the the Georgia Confederate Veterans Battalion in a 1917 review before President Woodrow Wilson, which was captured on newsreel. During World War I he adopted five European war-orphans and persuaded friends to adopt another 160. Berry remained active, dying unexpectedly and quickly at age seventy-nine in 1923.

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Younger brother Blackwood became an author and wrote novels such as Who Goes There?

Although the usual suspects want to tear down Augusta’s Confederate monument partially inspired by Berry, it should be noted that among the contributors to the $21,000 fund raised to erect the 76-foot tall monument in 1877 was the all-black Colored Cotton States Minstrels who provided a benefit performance.

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Buy and sample my books at my Amazon Author Page.

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