J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Confederate Heritage Month”

Confederate Heritage Month

April has been signified as Confederate Heritage Month by many Southern states. The month is significant to the Southern cause in that the Civil War started and, for the most part, ended in April. In recognition, memorial services are held at Confederate cemeteries throughout the month. I have attended several of these ceremonies. They are poignant and beautiful remembrances of ancestors who suffered and died to protect their homes.

There were many atrocities that took place during the war. One of the worst was the conditions of Confederate POW camps. My novel, A Rebel Among Us, specifically discusses the conditions that took place at Elmira Prison Camp toward the end of the war.

PRIVATIONS, SUFFERING AND  DELIBERATE CRUELTIES 

“Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its  deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the  blood of many of Lee’s men from insufficient and  unsound food that a slight wound which would  probably not have been reported at the beginning  of the war would often cause blood-poison,  gangrene, and death. 

Yet the spirits of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition grew more desperate . . . it was a harrowing but not uncommon sight to see those hungry men gather the wasted corn from under the  feet of half-fed horses, and  wash and parch and eat it to satisfy in some measure their craving for food.”  

General John B. Gordon,  

“Reminiscences of the Civil War” 

Elmira Prison Camp, Elmira, New York

“Winter poured down its snows and its sleets  upon Lee’s shelterless men in the trenches. Some of  them burrowed into the earth. Most of them  shivered over the feeble fires kept burning along the  lines. Scanty and thin were the garments of these  heroes. Most of them were clad in mere rags.  

Gaunt famine oppressed them every hour. One  quarter of a pound of rancid bacon and a little meal  was the daily portion assigned to each man by the  rules of the War Department. But even this  allowance failed when the railroads broke down and  left the bacon and the flour and the mean piled up  beside the track in Georgia and the Carolinas. One sixth of the daily ration was the allotment for a  considerable time, and very often the supply of  bacon failed entirely. 

At the close of the year, Grant had one hundred  and ten thousand men. Lee had sixty-six thousand  on his rolls, but this included men on detached duty,  leaving him barely forty thousand soldiers to defend  the trenches that were then stretched out forty  miles in length from the Chickahominy to Hatcher’s  Run.”

Henry Alexander White, “Life of Robert E.  Lee.” 

“When their own soldiers were suffering such  hardships as these in the field, the Confederate  leaders made every effort to exchange men so that  helpless prisoners of war would not suffer in  anything like equal measure, offering even to send  back prisoners without requiring an equivalent.  Hence, the charges brought against the Confederate  government of intentional ill-treatment of prisoners  of war are not supported by the facts. 

[In the South] the same quantity and quality of rations were given to prisoners and guards; but that  variety in food could not be had or transported on  the broken-down railway system of a non manufacturing country, which system could not or  did not provide sufficient clothes and food even for the Confederate soldiers in the field. 

[The] control of the prisons in the North was turned over by Secretary  Stanton and the vindictive and partisan men (who  were later responsible also for the crimes of  Reconstruction) to the lowest element of an alien  population and to Negro guards of a criminal type,  and such men as President Lincoln, Seward,  McClellan, and the best people in the North were  intentionally kept in ignorance of conditions in  Northern prisons while officially furnished with  stories as to “the deliberate cruelties” practiced in  the South.” 

(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page  Andrews, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 399-406) 

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans; President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 45, issue #4, April 2021 ed.)

April is Confederate Heritage Month

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Today marks the start of Confederate Heritage Month. April was originally chosen because Confederate Memorial Day is usually celebrated during the month. Seven Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia) historically designated the month as a time to honor their Confederate ancestors, but due to recent racial climates, some states have rescinded from acknowledging this designation. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant recently signed a declaration proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month.

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This designation has been in place for years, but this year, it has become even more controversial, due to the murderous rampage of one lunatic who shot innocent black church goers and had the audacity to wave the Confederate flag beforehand. Since then, the media circus has decided to blame the Confederate battle flag for this atrocity. The hysteria has spread to attacking monuments and other artifacts honoring Confederate veterans and heroes, some of which have been in existence for over a century. Is it a scapegoat, or a sign of the times of how dumbed down this society has become?

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Let me set the record straight. Confederate soldiers did not fight to preserve slavery. Most could have cared less. They were fighting to save their homes. The war became an issue of slavery only after President Lincoln knew the North was losing the war and decided to make it about a moral issue. In other words, it was about politics. Those statues you see of General Lee, Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest are there to honor the men who tried in vain to preserve the Confederacy. Forrest’s ex-slaves so adored him that they fought under his leadership. Lee set his inherited slaves free prior to the war. And Davis never wanted to become president of the Confederacy because he had the foresight to see the bloodbath that was about to happen. They all fought in honor of the South.

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In lieu of the assaults now taking place on Confederate flags, memorials, and monuments, I would like to stress that these items do not belong in dusty museums, hidden away from the modern world. They also do not belong to random citizens who think they have the right to vandalize them. These are memorials to America’s war veterans. Sorry if some don’t agree with what they perceive was the reason for the war. I don’t agree with every reason this country has ever gotten involved in a war or conflict, but you don’t see me spray painting the Vietnam Wall or the Korean War Memorial (BTW, my father was a veteran of that war). Compassion, understanding and knowledge are what is needed to accept why soldiers fought for the Confederacy. Times have changed. We must take that into account in order to comprehend what they believed in and realize how honorable they truly were.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/25/politics/mississippi-confederate-heritage-month/

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