J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “General Robert E. Lee”

How Could They Have Known?

After the War Between the States ended, many scholars predicted what was to come, and what the national climate would be like. Even during the war, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne was quoted as saying:

“Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late… It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision… It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.”

How interesting that, 150 years later, all things representing the Confederacy are under attack. The social climate in America has become too engrossed in what some view as political correctness, instead of paying respect to those who died for a cause and country they believed in. Another interesting quote is as follows:

“History, as written, if accepted in future years, will consign the South to infamy,” says Honorable J. L. M. Curry. The truth, the only antidote for the poison of falsehood, should be set to work at once, or the evil effects will become incurable. No time is to be lost. Soon the cemetery will hold us all. What shall be then thought of our cause and conduct will depend upon what we leave in the books of our era. Books live on. They should not misrepresent us or our dead. But think of the stream pouring from the press, a stream so strong and so full of ignorance of us, and of prejudice against us-think of the political interests, and sectional rivalries, and financial superiority, and numerical preponderance, and commercial advantages, and the immense Governmental influence, all combined upon the successful side-will posterity ever know who we were, or why we fought?”                             – John R Deering, Lee and His Cause,1907

Instead of being concerned about erasing history by deeming certain things as “offensive,” we should embrace them as part of our nation’s heritage. I only hope this turnaround takes place before everything is gone.

Protests Begin in Honor of General Lee

Va. campus to remove Confederate flags from chapel

Now that a small group of law students at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia have succeeded in their mission to eradicate all Confederate flags from campus, including those displayed at Lee Chapel, where General Robert E. Lee is interred, other groups have decided to contest the decision. This Saturday, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Lexington-based Stonewall Brigade, will hold a flag vigil downtown at noon. The demonstration will be followed by an open forum at 4:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express to respond to what the SCV refers to as “grave robbery.”

The flags were removed after the law students claimed that the Confederate flags were hurtful and offensive to minorities. According to the SCV, Washington and Lee University can easily remedy the situation. This can be accomplished by separating campus policies from the chapel.

“We feel that what they did is a desecration of Robert E. Lee’s memorial and gravesite,” said Commander Brandon Dorsey. “It is borderline illegal, and the flags should be returned. No military servicemen should have the flags for which they fought removed from their gravesite.”

W&L President Kenneth Ruscio issued a lengthy statement earlier this month stating that the Confederate flag replicas were not presented in “an educational manner.” According to Ruscio, original flags on loan from the American Civil War Museum in Richmond will be on display in the chapel museum on a rotating basis.

Dorsey said that W&L may have violated state law by removing the battle flags, therefore desecrating the memorial of a war veteran. “”Our chief concern is primarily seeing that Robert E. Lee’s gravesite and memorial are maintained in the manner they were originally conceived to be,” he said.

The SCV was rebuked last spring when they contacted W&L after the law students’ demands were publicized.

“We’re so diametrically opposed. We don’t think there is any hope for dialogues,” he said. “We wanted the university to allow public debate. We wanted historical experts to talk about the relevance of Lee in this era. It was a flat rejection.”

Another Sad Victory for Political Correctness

MS flag
In a small, insignificant U.S.A. Today article yesterday, it was reported that, last Tuesday, Washington and Lee University announced that they will be removing all Confederate flags from campus. This decision came about after the school received pressure from a small group of law students who claim that the flags are discriminatory. They stated that they felt it was demeaning to have to pledge an honor code in the presence of the flags. The only place where the flags are prominently displayed is in the Lee Chapel, where General Robert E. Lee is interred.

On a personal note, I find this decision very disconcerting. If the school where General Lee successfully served as president for five years can all of a sudden change its policies after nearly 150 years, I have to wonder, what’s next? I feel it is inconceivably disrespectful of the man who gave his all to the school, who was torn between serving his country and defending his native state of Virginia, and who upheld the most stringent religious beliefs. What a slap in the face to all of us who have Confederate ancestors, because if this action is any indication, more dishonorable, similar acts will follow, such as the ongoing debate about Forrest Park in Memphis, Tennessee.

If Confederate flags are removed from a burial chamber, then what’s to follow? Taking away any sign of the Irish, the Germans, and the British? In that case, the American flag should be removed from all places that certain small, politically correct groups deem inappropriate. Need I remind you that our national flag flew while hoards of Native Americans were being slaughtered? Anyone who finds the Confederate flag offensive doesn’t know squat about history. The flag originated from the St. Andrews Cross, a religious, Scottish emblem. Just because certain hate groups (i.e. the KKK) took the flag and distorted its meaning and significance doesn’t mean that the basis of its meaning and symbolism is related to racism or slavery. It evolved into that after Reconstruction, and up through the Civil Rights Movement. It didn’t represent such ugly things during the Civil War, for which Lee and so many other brave Southern men fought.

I certainly hope Southern heritage groups such as the SCV will stand up against this abhorrent, blatant racism. It is just as offensive to abolish the Confederate flag from Washington and Lee University as it is, to some people, to fly it, because it is denying us the privilege to honor our war heroes, and thus, denying us our Constitutional rights to freely express ourselves. Sorry if you think the flag is offensive. Guess what? There are plenty of things far more offensive, and there are far bigger problems that this country faces right now. Maybe those law students should redirect their angst, be more constructive instead of destructive, and work toward solving these problems instead of attacking other people’s heritage.

Removing the flag is alarming, and I’m afraid to see what will be the next to go. I’m sure someone, somewhere, will find something wrong with everything. And then what will we be left with? Getting rid of things for political correctness isn’t the answer: love, compassion, and mutual understanding is. This means that all of us need to accept our history and heritage, comprehend the philosophical differences that we’ve held during various times in that history, and embrace them all as our own unique, American design. Erasing history is the first step in our own destruction. Hitler proved that.

Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Today marks the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle began on July 1, 1863, and lasted through July 3. Prior to the battle, Union forces, coming from the south, collided with Southern troops travelling from the north. After the first day of battle, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates were victorious, but by the end of the third day, following Pickett’s famous charge, the battle was considered to be a draw. It wasn’t until several days later that Union General Meade’s Army of the Potomac learned they had won the fight. The battle was a pivotal one in that, from that time until April 1865, the Union army started winning battles, and ultimately won the war.

Every year, a large reenactment takes place in Gettysburg, and this weekend is no exception. Last year’s event was colossal, since it was the 150th anniversary of the battle. However, thousands of reenactors from all over the country are expected to participate in this year’s event, which is called “The Last Great Invasion.” Reenactors wearing authentic clothing and using authentic weaponry camp out over the weekend in Civil War tents. A period ball is held, complete with ladies dressed in beautiful gowns. Battles are staged, as well as living history demonstrations.

An estimated 100 cannons and 400 horses (cavalry) will be involved. And for the first time, “Traveling Tara” will be there, which depicts everyday life in a Civil War home. The name is taken from Tara, Scarlett O’Hara’s home in Gone With the Wind.  The battle reenactments will take place on the Yingling farm – the same site where the movie Gettysburg was filmed 20 years ago.

On Monday, July 7, the National Park Service has granted permission to stage a photo shoot on Little Round Top and Devil’s Den. This is the first time they have allowed it since 1992, when The Killer Angels was filmed there. Reenactors are invited to participate. All in all, the presentations during this weekend will be nothing less than spectacular, and will give spectators a glimpse of what fighting and living during a Civil War was really like.

For more information, check out

http://www.gettysburgreenactment.com/

Sherman’s Path of Destruction

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On this date in 1865, Union forces under General William Tecumseh Sherman continued their march of devastation, reaching Columbia, South Carolina. Because it was the first state to secede from the Union, soldiers felt a deep-seated vengeance, so they burned the city to the ground. The previous winter, they had gone through Alabama and on to Georgia, burning Atlanta and capturing Savannah before Christmas. The rampaging soldiers’ path spanned 60 miles wide. They burned, pillaged, and destroyed everything in their path. Their behavior was explained away by Sherman as waging “total war” against the enemy.

Sherman was a serious racist, and although the Union supported emancipation, most soldiers didn’t. This was proven during the march, when Sherman ordered his men to destroy a bridge, leaving behind freed slaves who had followed them. The freedmen were so distraught over being left behind that many jumped into the river, and because they couldn’t swim, hundreds drowned.

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Sherman’s soldiers would continue north, tying up with General Ulysses S. Grant’s men as they laid siege on Petersburg. By early April, they would take the Confederate capital of Richmond as well, and force General Robert E. Lee to surrender his Army of Northern Virginia.

In Honor of Two Great Americans

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This weekend and next week mark the birthdays of two renowned American heroes: General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Although the Confederacy for which they fought and/or died for ceased to exist, and was overcome by a unified government over states’ rights, these men served the military with bravery, distinction and nobility. This week I will honor General Lee, whose birthday is on January 19. An article of this remarkable man follows:

Two Anecdotes of General Lee

By Walter B. Barker.

The life and character of so noble a man as General Robert E. Lee is a theme that none but our greatest minds should discuss in public or in private, but with your permission the writer, who held an humble position on the staff of Brigadier General Jos. R. Davis, of Mississippi, (nephew of Jefferson Davis), in the Army of Northern Virginia, will relate two little incidents which happened at the “Battle of the Wilderness.”:

On the eve of the 5th of May General Lee, with General Stuart, rode to the front, where Stuart’s cavalry had encountered the advance of the Federal army. As they rode through the infantry, then awaiting orders, passing a farm house, three young ladies stood at the gate of the residence, holding a package, which from his gallantry, or good looks, or both, they entrusted to Capt. E.P. Thompson (nephew of Jake Thompson, and now a Mississippi editor), of General Davis’s staff, with the request that he deliver the same to General Lee. It contained three handsomely embroidered colored merino overshirts, very much worn in the army. Capt. Thompson at once rode forward to overtake the General, who had by this time reached within range of the shots from Grant’s skirmishers, and while under fire tendered the gift as from the ladies. General Lee, with his usual self possession and courteous bearing, said to Capt. T.: “Return my warmest thanks to the ladies, and be kind enough to deliver the package to one of my couriers: say that I trust I may see and thank them in person.

Early on the morning of the 6th, Grant, who had massed a heavy force in the immediate front of Davis’s Mississippi brigade, opened fire and began a forward movement on our lines at this point. Seeing we were unable to check their advance, Colonel Stone (since Governor of Mississippi), commanding Davis’s brigade, sent word to General Heth, division commander, that he must be reinforced, which brought to our aid a division of Longstreet’s corps, led in person by that able Lieutenant General. It was at this critical crisis that General Lee appeared upon the scene. After the enemy had been repulsed on the right, and while our chieftain was awaiting, in painful anxiety, information from our left wing, a courier — a mere youth — came dashing up with a message from Lieutenant General R.H. Anderson, his small pony panting like a deer that had been pursued by a pack of trained hounds. Delivering his sealed message to General Lee in person, who, after reading it, noticing how tired his pony was, said to him: “Young man, you should have some feeling for your horse; dismount and rest him!” at the same time taking from the small saddlebags attached to his own saddle a buttered biscuit, giving half of it, from his own hand, to the young courier’s pony. This act of consideration for the dumb beast made a lasting impression upon my then youthful mind, and taught me ever since to treat all animals as if they had feelings as ourselves. At the moment it occurred to me, hungry as I was, that he had better have divided his biscuit with the rider of the animals, or myself; but I soon appreciated the motive of his hospitality to the poor beast, and, as before stated, learned a lesson in kindness to animals I shall not soon forget.

Southern Historical Society Papers.
Volume XII.  July-August-September.  Nos. 7, 8, 9

The Grand Review

A very noteworthy occasion happened 150 years ago. On June 5, 1863, General J.E.B. Stuart held a Grand Review of his cavalry troops in Virginia. Always the flamboyant cavalier, General Stuart transported ladies from Richmond via the Orange and Alexandria railroad. The review, complete with fancy maneuvers by the troopers, a floral-strewn grandstand, and trumpeters, also featured artillery that blasted at the horse soldiers with mock ammo.That evening, a ball was held, and General Stuart’s own musicians entertained while the ladies danced with Confederate cavalry officers.

Two days later, another review was held for General Robert E. Lee. It is believed that the Union cavalry, which was close by, saw dust rising over the ridge, kicked up by horses during the review, which gave away their location. The Yankees poised for attack. (For more information, please read my book, A Beckoning Hellfire, which describes these events in detail.)

On June 6, 1862, Memphis surrendered to Union forces. This marked a significant victory for Union troops in that they were able to seize partial control of the Mississippi River, a major waterway used for transport during that time. A year later, Vicksburg would also fall, enabling the Union to contain the entire length of the river. And on June 8, 1861, Tennessee formally seceded from the Union.

Sherman’s Path of Destruction

On this date in 1865, Union forces under General William Tecumseh Sherman continued their march of devastation, reaching Columbia, South Carolina. Because it was the first state to secede from the Union, soldiers felt a deep-seated vengeance, so they burned the city to the ground. The previous winter, they had gone through Alabama and on to Georgia, burning Atlanta and capturing Savannah before Christmas. The rampaging soldiers’ path spanned 60 miles wide. They burned, pillaged, and destroyed everything in their path. Their behavior was explained away by Sherman as waging “total war” against the enemy.

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Sherman was a serious racist, and although the Union supported emancipation, most soldiers didn’t. This was proven during the march, when Sherman ordered his men to destroy a bridge, leaving behind freed slaves who had followed them. The freedmen were so distraught over being left behind that many jumped into the river, and because they couldn’t swim, hundreds drowned.

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Sherman’s soldiers would continue north, tying up with General Ulysses S. Grant’s men as they laid siege on Petersburg. By early April, they would take the Confederate capital of Richmond as well, and force General Robert E. Lee to surrender his Army of Northern Virginia.

The Grand Review

Besides Jefferson Davis’ birthday on the 3rd, another noteworthy occasion happened 148 years ago. On June 5, 1863, General J.E.B. Stuart held a Grand Review of his cavalry troops in Virginia. Always the flamboyant cavalier, General Stuart transported ladies from Richmond via the Orange and Alexandria railroad. The review, complete with fancy maneuvers by the troopers, a floral-strewn grandstand, and trumpeters, also featured artillery that blasted at the horse soldiers with mock ammo.That evening, a ball was held, and General Stuart’s own musicians entertained while the ladies danced with Confederate cavalry officers.

Two days later, another review was held for General Robert E. Lee. It is believed that the Union cavalry, which was close by, saw dust rising over the ridge, kicked up by horses during the review, which gave away their location. The Yankees poised for attack. (For more information, please read my book, A Beckoning Hellfire, which describes these events in detail.)

On June 6, 1862, Memphis surrendered to Union forces. This marked a significant victory for Union troops in that they were able to seize partial control of the Mississippi River, a major waterway used for transport during that time. A year later, Vicksburg would also fall, enabling the Union to contain the entire length of the river. And on June 8, 1861, Tennessee formally seceded from the Union.

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