Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hernando Memorial Service

One of the annual events to take place here in Mississippi is the Confederate Memorial Day ceremony at the old cemetery in Hernando. The town was home to Nathan Bedford Forrest, and many Confederate veterans are buried there. The local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp, as well as the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter, participate in this event, and follow it up with a picnic in which the public is invited. This year, approximately 125 people attended, despite the stormy weather.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slave Haven

A fascinating relic from the War Between the States still exists in downtown Memphis. Known as Slave Haven, or the Burkle Estate, the small white clapboard house (built between 1849 and 1856) on 826 N. 2nd Street is believed to have been a way station of the Underground Railroad. The house was built by Jacob Burkle, a German immigrant, who also assisted slaves to their freedom by hiding them in a cellar until they could escape north through tunnels leading to the Mississippi River. Slaves then obtained passage on boats traveling up to the Ohio River.

There are four underground tunnels in Memphis that were major arteries of the Underground Railroad. The house is marked by two large magnolia trees that were a signal to slaves because of their evergreen leaves. The house is furnished with Victorian furniture, and one room displays quilts that were used by slaves as maps to their freedom. In 1978, the family revealed that the Burkle Estate had been part of Underground Railroad, and the house was opened as museum in 1997.

Friday, April 23, 2010

More of Holly Springs Pilgrimage

These are a few pictures of the Confederate memorial ceremony that took place last Saturday at Hillcrest Cemetery (est. 1851) in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Holly Springs Pilgrimage (Continued)

Here are more photos of last weekend's pilgrimage in Holly Springs ...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Holly Springs Pilgrimage

The annual 72nd Holly Springs Pilgrimage took place last weekend in Holly Springs, Mississippi. This event happens every spring, and highlights a tour of antebellum homes. This year, I assisted as a tour guide at one of the homes known as Montrose. The pilgrimage is one of several in the state, and people from all over the country attend.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Confederate Heritage Month and Hernando Museum Day

Last Saturday was designated "Museum Day" for the historic town of Hernando, Mississippi. In honor of the event, local bluegrass musicians, artisans, and members of the SCV and UDC showed up to pay homage to the museum. As these photos attest, everyone had a great time! Personalities in period attire attended, including weavers, spinners, butter churners, and a colorful woman with wonderful stories about her fictitious family.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Confederate Terrorists

Recently, a CNN political analyst by the name of Roland S. Martin, who is black, publicly denounced the Confederacy, conveniently airing his views during Confederate Heritage Month. In his statement, Martin claims that all Confederate soldiers should be considered terrorists, and compares them to, of all things, the jihad and Taliban.

First and foremost, Mr. Martin, these are two separate issues and should by no means be blurred into similarities of any kind. Perhaps you are overlooking the fact that slavery might not have even played a part in the Civil War if Lincoln and his cronies had mimicked the actions of Europe by purchasing slaves from slaveowners, and subsequently allowed their freedom. Lincoln was not in favor of freeing slaves, but in fact, preferred the continuation of slavery to exist in Southern, as well as Northern states, and in western territories. "Terrorist" acts were actually committed by extremists such as the Border Ruffians and John Brown.

If you insist on claiming that Southern soldiers were terrorists, then perhaps you should reacquaint yourself with Northern soldiers' behavior at the time. Their actions were far more terrorist-like than the South in that they indiscriminately invaded, destroyed, raped, and stole everything in their path. To say, Mr. Martin, that Confederates were willing to take up arms against their brethren as an act of terrorism is a malicious attempt to justify what actually took place 150 years ago. The North is just as much to blame for the cause of the Civil War, and slavery could have been abolished far sooner and with a more pleasant outcome than it did because the North refused to compensate the South.

As far as your accusation goes that Confederate soldiers were all terrorists, they were no more terrorists than the Northern soldiers were. (General Sherman comes to mind.)If you take time to read some of these soldiers' letters, Mr. Martin, you will see what their true intentions were, which was in fact to defend their homes. You must also take into account the climate of that era, the predominant Christian faith, which is far different than Muslim beliefs, and the fact that white male supremacy reined in every corner of the world, not just in America. The definition of a terrorist is any unconventional fighter who is unaffiliated with a major military force and attacks civilians for political purposes. To consider Confederate soldiers as terrorists is very narrow-minded indeed. To relate it to the current state of affairs in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan is nothing less than laughably ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mississippi Governor Criticized for Proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month

Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi received criticism from one of his constituents for recently proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month. He is the second governor to be attacked for such an act. Representative Robert Johnson, a Democratic Mississippi lawmaker from Natchez who is black, criticized Governor Barbour for failing to mention slavery in his proclamation. According to Rep. Johnson, people need to learn about the "abhorrent, violent, depraved actions of slavery." Saying he often hears white people say that blacks should forgive what happened in the past, he replied, "If they want us to forget and forgive, why don't they stop reminding us of what the Confederacy was?"

Really, Mr. Johnson? I have to wonder why an intelligent man of your stature displays such ignorance when it comes to the history of his own state. According to the Reverend Cecil Fayard, chaplain-in-chief for the Sons of Confederate Veterans,who lives in Mississippi, "the War Between the States was fought for the same reasons that the tea party movement today is voicing their opinion. And that is that you have large government that's not listening to the people ... there's going to be heavy taxation. And the primary cause of the war was not slavery, although slavery was interwoven into the cause, but it was not the cause for the War Between the States." Nine out of ten soldiers, both North and South, were not fighting for slavery. And the war was not brought on by the issue of slavery, but because of economic reasons. It goes back to the same thing I've been saying all along: the Confederacy, as well as the flags that represent it, should not automatically be associated with slavery or the KKK. Governor Barbour supports honoring Confederates because it publicizes the "rich heritage" of the South. This is the seventh consecutive year that he has made such a proclamation, and hadn't received any criticism until now.

Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia changed his proclamation to include mentioning slavery as "evil and inhumane" after coming under national criticism. However, Governor Barbour stated on CNN over the weekend that slavery was bad, but the fuss caused by Governor McDonnell's proclamation "doesn't amount to diddly."

"The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states." - Charles Dickens, 1862

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Keep America (And Its Battlefields) Beautiful

The Great American Cleanup is now in progress, taking place nationwide from March 1 through May 31, and Civil War battlefields are no exception. The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) is sponsoring a similar event to take place this Saturday at battlefields across the nation. Volunteers will be marching in, attacking weeds and trash while armed with paintbrushes and trash bags.

Not only will battlefields be cleaned up, but shrines and cemeteries will be targeted as well. The event is being called "Park Day," and has received a grant from History (formerly the History Channel). Around 100 historic sites in 23 states are slated for cleanup.

This marks the fourteenth year that the CWPT has held such an event. Participants will receive T-shirts and a tour of the battlefield they help to clean up. Some of the battlefields participating in this event include Antietam, Wilson's Creek, and the Wilderness. CWPT President James Lighthizer explains the organization's efforts most succinctly: "These are the hallowed fields where our ancestors gave their lives. We cannot allow them to fall into disrepair."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Battle of Shiloh

The next two days, April 6 and 7, mark the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. The battle took place on the banks of the Tennessee River, and near a small country church named Shiloh, which means “place of peace” in Hebrew.

In two days of battle, the Confederate army sustained more than 10,500 casualties, while Union casualties exceeded 13,000. At that point in time, it was the bloodiest battle of the war. The first Confederate general to die in the War Between the States, General Albert Sidney Johnston, did so during the first day of battle when he bled out from a wound to his femoral artery while retaining command on his horse. General Grant was driven back to Pittsburg Landing, but General Beauregard, who took command after Johnston’s demise, failed to attack him, so the Union general managed to join forces with General Buell. The increased size of the Union army gave them the advantage to pursue the Rebels further south into Mississippi.

Over the years, the battlefield has gone through renovations, such as new peach trees being planted where the original peach orchard stood. An original cabin (although not one that was there during the actual battle) is near the orchard, and a reproduction of Shiloh Church stands on the site of the original church. Up until fairly recently, treasure hunters were allowed into the park to dig for artifacts. The battlefield is a fascinating, albeit eerie reminder of what occurred 148 years ago. My only complaint is the outdated movie shown in the museum, which depicts the battle. (This filmstrip is at least 50 years old!) It will truly accentuate the park and its visitors’ experience if the movie is brought up-to-date, just as Fredericksburg National Park has done.

Friday, April 2, 2010

April is Confederate History Month!

The governor of Mississippi officially declared April as Confederate History Month, and in honor of this, I gave a presentation at my local library yesterday, April 1. Although the crowd was small due to short notice, we had a rousing discussion on all things Civil War! Thanks to everyone for coming out to support this memorable event. A special thanks to Carson Culver, director of the Horn Lake Library, and Dorothy Herron, who assisted with my presentation and represented the United Daughters of the Confederacy.