J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Tennessee”

The Case of the License Plates

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The number of Tennesseans now displaying Confederate Battle Flag license plates is higher than at any other point in the last decade, according to state data on specialty tags.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans plate, the proceeds from which benefit the organization’s Tennessee Division, has been issued by the state since 2004.

At the end of the 2018 fiscal year in June, the state reported that 3,273 Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates were active in Tennessee, a number 72 percent higher than at the end of the 2015 fiscal year when the display of Confederate Flags was thrust into national debate.

The number of Tennesseans displaying SCV tags steadily increased in 2016 and 2017, according to data provided by the State, before peaking in the last year.

In Tennessee specialty plates have a $61.50 annual fee. $35 is allocated to the plate’s respective beneficiary, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Highway Fund. So the way it breaks down is that depending on whether the plate is new or being renewed, the SCV’s share is is between $15.85 and $17.50 per year per license plate. According to the Department of Revenue, the Sons of Confederate Veterans received approximately $57,700 from the plates in the 2018 fiscal year.

The State of Texas successfully ended their SCV specialty plate offering. Efforts to eliminate the plate in Tennessee have so far failed. But there is currently an effort to prevent the SCV from receiving the funds generated from the sale of these plates.

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The SCV sued the city of Memphis in January after the Mayor Memphis sold public land to a nonprofit in order to take down the statues of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and President Jefferson Davis. Monies received from license plates may have been used to pay some of the legal fees. Senator Sara Kyles is in the process of drafting legislation that, if enacted by the General Assembly, would prevent funds distributed by the state through the license plates from being issued to an organization that sues the government. Effectively, the new guidelines would target the SCV and prevent them from receiving the revenue from the plates.
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 27, 2018 ed.)
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The Fight Goes On

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A few weeks ago, a judge in Nashville, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle, ruled that the removal of three Confederate statues from public parks in Memphis, Tennessee was legal and didn’t violate any state law. Although the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act limits changing or removing historical memorials on public property, Memphis found a loophole and sold two of its parks to a nonprofit for $1000 each. The nonprofit company quickly removed the three statues of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Capt. J. Harvey Mathes. However, now the tide has turned.
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TENNESSEE AMENDS LAW
Governor Bill Haslam has signed the newly amended Heritage Protection Act, which was proposed in response to the removal of Confederate monuments in Memphis.
The act now requires a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission before public property containing a statue is sold or transferred, or a statue, monument, or historical marker is removed.
The new legislation also bans any public entity that violates the law from receiving grants from the Historical Commission and the state Department of Economic and Community Development for five years.
The law also allows for anyone with “a real interest in a memorial” to seek an injunction if they believe the law has been violated.
The act went into effect immediately upon Haslam’s signature Monday, May 21.
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(Courtesy of Southern Heritage News and Views, May 25, 2018 ed.)

Life is Short

Over the past week, I have been faced with a personal situation that has left me thinking about my own mortality and about how fragile life is. Since I am a Civil War author, I have read and written about death a lot, and have incorporated many soldiers’ journal entries into my writing.

Here is an example from my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray, of one faithful steed who served during the Civil War. Roderick was a war hero who gave his life for his beloved commander, General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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On the morning of March 5, Union general John Coburn’s troops approached Confederate forces stationed near Thompson’s Station, a small train depot nine miles south of Franklin, Tennessee. Skirmishing continued all day. At 10:00 a.m. the following morning, Confederate guns announced the opening of the battle. Coburn ordered a charge, but the Confederates drove them back.

            Forrest led a frontal attack while mounted on his favorite war horse, Roderick. The dark chestnut Saddler had a reputation among Forrest’s men as being an unusually loyal horse and reportedly had often trotted after Forrest in camp like a hunting dog.27 Roderick even tried to come into Forrest’s tent on occasion.

The devoted steed was hit three times by enemy fire, but despite his suffering he valiantly struggled forward. Realizing the severity of Roderick’s wounds, Forrest rode to the rear. He handed Roderick over to Willie before returning to the front on a fresh mount.

Roderick was attracted to the sounds of battle. He broke away and galloped across the battlefield in search of Forrest. The brave war horse leapt three fences on his way. Just before reaching Forrest, he received his fourth and fatal wound. He died at Forrest’s side.

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With tears streaming down his cheeks, Forrest left Roderick and returned to the battle. Roderick was buried not far from where he fell, near the small Buford family plot, although the exact location of his grave was never marked.28

State of the Union

Tonight was President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address. I was really hoping he would say something about all the destruction happening to Confederate monuments, as well as many other monuments. He did mention monuments of WWII vets, Lincoln, MLK, and others. Perhaps he will afford protection to all our monuments in the future.

Not only are Confederate monuments being attacked, but recently, a monument to our country’s national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, was attacked. It just keeps getting worse.

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A monument commemorating “Star-Spangled Banner” author Francis Scott Key was vandalized in downtown Baltimore, officials said Wednesday. Photographs show the monument, at 1200 N. Eutaw St., covered with red paint and the words “racist anthem” written in black.

Anthony McCarthy, a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), said police were investigating and determining the best way to remove the graffiti.

 

Remember that it was Mayor Pugh who secretly removed four Confederate monuments from downtown Baltimore this summer which has invited attacks on the city’s remaining monuments. The City’s statue of Christopher Columbus also being recently vandalized.
DA ENCOURAGES DISCONTENTS TO VANDALIZE MONUMENTS
Felony charges will be dropped against eight protesters accused of dismantling a Confederate statue in North Carolina last summer, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols said Thursday.

The prosecution has decided against pursuing felony charges against the defendants and will drop them in lieu of lesser counts, the district attorney told reporters. “I only plan to try them on the misdemeanors,” Mr. Echols told The Associated Press. He declined to comment further.
The eight defendants appeared before a judge Thursday and scheduled to face trial starting Feb. 19, the report said.

The case in Durham revolves around a monument of an anonymous Confederate soldier that had stood in front of the old county courthouse for nearly a century prior to being topped on August 14. , two days after a demonstration surrounding a different statue in Virginia turn
Prosecutors initially charged 12 people in connection with toppling the monument, but three of the accused were cleared in November, and a fourth entered a deferred prosecution agreement the following month.

Absent felony charges, the eight remaining defendants will only face misdemeanor counts of defacing a public building or monument, conspiracy to deface a public building or monument and injury to real property, Durham’s WRAL reported.
LAWSUIT FILED IN MEMPHIS
The family of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a petition Wednesday seeking legal action against the city of Memphis for its role in taking down three Confederate statues last month.

The petition, filed with the Tennessee Historical Commission, accuses the City and nonprofit Memphis Greenspace Inc. of violating “numerous” state laws on Dec. 20, when Greenspace removed the Forrest statue from its pedestal atop his and his wife’s graves in Health Sciences Park, and statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and war correspondent and Capt. J. Harvey Mathes from Fourth Bluff Park.

The petition asks the commission to rule that the city and Greenspace violated the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, which requires commission approval prior to removal of monuments from public property; laws against misconduct by elected officials; and laws prohibiting the desecration of gravesites.

“You can’t disturb graves,” said Sons’ attorney Doug Jones. “They knew that but conspired to rip it apart despite knowing state law. They ripped the top off the grave. They damaged that, and they can’t deny that.”

The city has maintained that the grave markers inscribed with the names of the Forrests remain at the base of the pedestal and that the statue wasn’t the headstone.

“The city has not been served with the lawsuit but I have reviewed it and remain confident all of our actions with regard to the sale of the parks and statues are legal,” said City Attorney Bruce McMullen.

City attorney Allan Wade didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment, and Mayor Jim Strickland’s communications team said he wasn’t available for an interview.

Separately, the Sons’ Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp 215 filed a lawsuit Thursday in Chancery Court in Davidson County seeking a temporary restraining order and an injunction to prevent the city or the nonprofit from selling or harming the stowed statues.

If granted, the restraining order and injunction would require court approval for any further actions related to the statues; their former homes, Health Sciences and Fourth Bluff parks; or the graves of the Forrests.

The petitioners included Forrest descendants listed in the petition were Walter Law Jr., Sidney Law, Brooks Bradley, Thoms Jesse Bradley III and Kevin Bradly, the “closest living relatives” of Forrest and his wife, Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest.

The Sons also asked that the commission consider bringing official misconduct charges against city officials, who advised and assisted Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner as he created Greenspace and raised funds to buy and maintain the parks.

“They would like for this to be over,” Jones said. “But it’s not close to being over.”

LITIGATION ALSO PENDING IN ALABAMA
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo has scheduled a hearing for April 13 on a state lawsuit challenging the City of Birmingham’s decision to shroud the stone obelisk of a Confederate monument in plywood.
The judge’s decision comes after the state attorney general’s office and the city filed a document agreeing to certain facts about the case. That includes the history of the 113-year-old memorial and its location in a downtown park.

The city built a plywood structure to hide inscriptions on the base of the monument amid national protests over Confederate memorials. The state filed suit claiming the move violates a new state law that bars the removal or alteration of historic monuments.

The Judge has ruled that the plywood structure can remain until the hearing.

(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Jan. 19, 2018 ed.)

The Slaves of General Forrest

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There has been a lot of controversery surrounding General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Some say he started the Ku Klux Klan, which is untrue. In fact, General Forrest called for the KKK to disband after the group became too violent. Another false assumption is that he was a cruel slave owner. He was a product of his time, and although he owned slaves, he never abused them or split up families. In fact, his slaves adored him so much that they fought with him during the Civil War. They even stayed with him after the war and mourned his death. General Forrest strived to bring the races together after the war ended.

Here a few excerpts from my book, Horses in Gray, which describe how General Forrest treated his slaves.

Horses in Gray Cover

Chapter 4

The Thirty Horses of Forrest

 

Those hoof beats die not upon fame’s crimson sod,

But will ring through her song and her story;

He fought like a Titan and struck like a god,

And his dust is our ashes of glory.1

 

Nathan Bedford Forrest often stated that he was “a horse ahead”2 at the end, meaning that he had thirty horses shot out from under him and killed twenty-nine men during the course of the war. It is virtually impossible to trace all thirty horses, since at times Forrest appropriated a horse on the spot. On one occasion, he ordered a Union officer to dismount, got on the officer’s horse, and rode away.

On June 14, 1861, Forrest, who had remained silent on the issue of secession, walked into the headquarters of Capt. Josiah White’s Tennessee Mounted Rifles and enlisted as a private. His brother, Jeffrey, and son, Willie, enlisted with him. The Forrests were ordered to Camp Yellow Jacket, a training camp sixty-five miles north of Memphis. These troopers in training would become the famous Seventh Tennessee Cavalry, which fought until the end of the war under Forrest’s leadership.

John Milton Hubbard was a private in Hardeman’s Avengers, which would later be attached to the Seventh Tennessee Cavalry. He was stationed at Camp Yellow Jacket and remembered meeting Forrest: “Two cavalry companies from Memphis were in camp near us—Logwood’s and White’s. In riding near these one day, I met a soldier speeding a magnificent black horse along a country road as if for exercise and the pleasure of being astride of so fine an animal. On closer inspection, I saw it was Bedford Forrest, only a private like myself, whom I had known ten years before down in Mississippi. I had occasion afterward to see a good deal of him.”3

            In October, Forrest was given command of a regiment and named it Forrest’s Tennessee Cavalry Battalion. He posted advertisements in the Memphis Appeal, calling for “five hundred able-bodied men, mounted and equipped with such arms as they can procure (shotguns and pistols preferable), suitable to the service. Those who cannot entirely equip themselves will be furnished arms by the State.”4

In its editorial columns, the Memphis Appeal supported the notice: “To Arms! We invite attention to the call of Col. N.B. Forrest in today’s paper. There are still hundreds of young men in the country anxious to engage in the military service. Those whose fancy inclines them to the cavalry service will find no better opportunity to enlist under a bold, capable and efficient commander. Now is the time.”5

            Part of Forrest’s command included an escort company of between forty and ninety men, which Forrest referred to as his Special Forces. Among these troopers, who were the finest, most elite soldiers in his cavalry, were eight of Forrest’s slaves.

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And in another excerpt:

After the war, Forrest set up housekeeping with his wife, Mary Ann, near Memphis. In August 1866, Federal cavalrymen rode past Forrest’s house. King Philip, who was grazing in the front yard, saw the blue coats and instantly recognized them as the enemy. Watching the men dismount and start toward the house, King Philip charged at them with teeth bared, head and tail raised, and front feet flailing. He did not stop until he had chased every Federal soldier from the lot. One of the cavalrymen who had been injured by the horse declared that he would kill King Philip, but Jerry (Forrest’s previous body servant) rushed to the horse’s defense. “The Gin’ral,”58 as Jerry called him, emerged from the house, took control of King Philip, and had Jerry lead the spirited steed off to the stable.

“General,” the Federal captain in charge said, “now I can account for your success. Your Negroes fight for you, and your horses fight for you.”59 

Sadly, King Philip died of colic later that year.

Forrest passed away on October 29, 1877. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, but in 1904 his remains were interred in Memphis’s Forrest Park. All of the sidewalks in the park were named after officers who served under him—except for one, which was named for his war horse King Philip.

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(The statue of General Forrest mounted on King Philip was illegally removed by the city of Memphis last month. Stay tuned for more details.)

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515730595&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

The Decline of Memphis

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Earlier this week, I wrote about how the city of Memphis has been working to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest from a city park (previously known as Forrest park until the city council changed the name a few years back). Last night, after the council voted, the statue was removed. Another statue of Jefferson Davis was also removed. I am heartsick that this has happened. The city council also wants to remove the remains of General Forrest and his wife, which are buried under the statue’s base. It is repulsive and deeply offensive that they would show such a blatant disrespect to the general’s descendants.

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Today, the Sons of Confederate Veterans issued a statement saying they would fight the actions taken by the Memphis city council and would go through litigation to reverse the removal of the statues. Memphis seems to think that they could remove the statues because they sold the two parks where the statues were located for a mere $1000 each, and now that the parks are now privately owned, the new owners can remove the statues. However, this goes against Tennessee law that all historical monuments, names, etc. should remain intact.

Memphis has previously lost every court case, hearing and appeal to remove the statues. So they contrived a back door way of removing the statues and snuck around in the dark to remove them. I find this appalling and disgusting, not to mention illegal. But after living outside of Memphis for years, I totally get it. When we first moved there from Colorado, I was shocked about the mafia-like politics that take place there. It seemed so 1930’s to me, and yet, they frequently got away with all kinds of crimes. Now they have taken the law into their own hands and gone against it for their own behalf. But what does it really accomplish?

When I told a friend last night that Memphis was taking down the statues, she responded by saying, “Are they really still doing that?” I knew what she meant. Is the south still destoying its history? Wasting money that would be better spent elsewhere? I’m glad I live in Colorado now and don’t have to see this desecration. I only hope Memphis learns its lesson the hard way.

Memphis Just Doesn’t Get It

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It amazes me how Memphis just can’t get over its past and embrace it instead of trying to erase it. I always loved living outside Memphis because of all its rich history, including Sun Studios, Graceland, and yes, Confederate monuments. The first time I visited Memphis before moving there, I saw the grand statue in what was then known as Forrest Park, and recognized the man on the horse as General Nathan Bedford Forrest. My son thought I was a total Civil War geek when I saw it and exclaimed, “There’s General Forrest!” Memphis has no idea what gems it has with these Civil War statues. Instead, they have chosen to eradicate them because a few complainers have decided that all things Confederate are offensive. I don’t know how wrong they can be. I’m not from the South, but I did my research, and General Forrest deserves to be celebrated because he was a genius in strategy and was one of the first to set his slaves free (unlike many northern generals). In fact, many of his slaves chose to fight for him by their own accord. It’s sad how history has been twisted and altered, and how people today refuse to educate themselves and read to learn the truth for themselves.

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GENERAL FORREST IS STILL FIGHTING 

The City of Memphis filed a petition in Davidson County Chancery Court on Monday, Dec. 11. Officials asked for judicial review of the Tennessee Historical Commission’s denial of a request to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest from Health Sciences Park.

Protesters have called for the statue’s removal, saying it represents racism and bigotry. City leaders have discussed ways to relocate the statue of Forrest and move his remains, which are buried under the monument.

On Oct. 13, the Nashville-based historical commission denied the City’s request for a waiver to Tennessee’s Heritage Protection Act, which limits the removal or changing of historical memorials on public property. The waiver would allow the City to relocate the statue.

State Law passed in 2013 prevents the removal or relocation of statues or monuments honoring U.S. wars located on public property. The 2013 act also says no statue of a historical military figure may be renamed or rededicated.

In 2016, the General Assembly changed the act. It now prohibits the removal or relocation of any statue or memorial honoring a historic conflict, historic entity or historic figure from public property.

City attorney Allan Wade argues in the petition that Memphis filed its waiver request under the original act, which does not say that statues of historical military figures can’t be removed – only that they can’t be renamed or rededicated. The city claims the waiver request filed March 7, 2016, came before changes made to the act to include language applicable to the Forrest statue went into effect.

“By its express terms the 2013 act does not prevent a Historical Military Figure Memorial from being relocated, removed, altered or otherwise disturbed as long as it is not renamed or rededicated, ” the petition states.

The commission’s waiver denial was illegal and arbitrary, Wade argues. The petition seeks a decree from the court ordering that the city has the right to remove or relocate the Forrest statue.

Commission Executive Director E. Patrick McIntyre Jr. declined to comment.

(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Dec. 15, 2017 ed.)

Dishonoring Memphis’ History

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Memphis just can’t leave well enough alone. In 2013, the city council voted to change the names of three parks in the city, specifically Forrest Park, Confederate Park, and Jefferson Davis Park, to names more politically correct and anti-Confederate. It’s astonishing to me how some Southern cities like New Orleans, Charlottesville, Dallas, and of course, Memphis, want to disregard their history. Not only that, but some members of the city council want to move General Forrest and his wife’s bodies from Forrest Park (they are now buried beneath the statue of the general on King Philip) and move them to Elmwood Cemetery. There is a reason General Forrest and his wife were moved to Forrest Park from Elmwood Cemetery in 1905: out of enormous admiration and respect. Now the city wants to disregard this and display flagrant disrespect.

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MEMPHIS CHAMBER OPPOSES MONUMENTS

The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce is mobilizing support for Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s request for a State waiver to allow the City to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in violation of State Law.

In advance of the Oct. 13 meeting on the Tennessee Historical Commission, where Strickland will make his case, the chamber’s board of directors has drafted a letter “in behalf of the business community.”

The letter calls the statue of the Confederate general, “one of several divisive symbols that hamper our city’s efforts to attract and retain top talent for the skilled workforce that is critical to our success.”

The Chairman of the Historical Commission has told Mayor Strickland that the Commission will not hear the city’s request for a waiver at the Oct. 13 meeting in Athens, Tennessee.

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(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Oct. 6, 2017 ed.)

Stranger Things

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I started watching the series, Stranger Things, on Netflix the other night, and then got to thinking. There is nothing stranger than what is going on in our country right now. I am referring to all the blatant disregard toward American history, and more specifically, toward Confederate history. Monuments are being targeted, whereas last year, it was the Confederate battle flag that was under attack. Now, the statues are supposedly “racist,” and are being accused of displaying “white supremacy.” I have yet to figure out how some people associate these terms with Confederate soldiers’ statues.  The monuments were primarily placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the early 1900’s, and I seriously doubt those ladies purchased them to make racist statements. No, funds were raised to erect the monuments in honor of their lost loved ones and their beloved generals. Those soldiers were not racist. They fought to preserve their homes, and many gave their lives in doing so. In retaliation, the UDC is now being called an extension of the KKK. Absurd!

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The latest insanity is the cancellation of an annual reenactment at the Manassas battlefield this weekend. Today, the Charlottesville, Virginia, city council had statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson covered with black tarps, as if that will accomplish anything. And earlier this week, a forum was held in Oxford, Mississippi to discuss the Confederate monument. The forum was not advertised. One woman in attendance complained about the statue of Robert E. Lee in front of City Hall. However, the statue is actually that of William Faulkner.

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These idiots don’t even know what they are protesting. Their ignorance is appalling. To claim that every Confederate soldier fought for white supremacy and was a racist is like saying they all fought to preserve slavery. So not true! This foolish misconception and misrepresentation is leading to more destruction and causing deeper rifts, and the amount of taxpayers’ money being used to move the monuments is enormous. In Memphis, it is estimated that it will cost the city around $7-800,000 to move the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest. It’s hard to justify that tremendous expense when the city is drowning in debt, teeming with corruption, and has one of the highest crime rates in the country. When taken to a vote, the majority of citizens do not want the statues removed. Somehow, stupidity reigns supreme.

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The Haunting of the Perryville Battlefield

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Most people wouldn’t think of Perryville, Kentucky as being one of the most haunted places in the country. But on October 8, 1862, a terrible tragedy took place there that forever left an imprint on the land. Union and Confederate troops clashed for several hours, leaving approximately 7,600 young soldiers either, wounded, dead, or missing. The nearby Chaplin River ran red with blood from the fallen. The battle decided the fate of the state, and although the battle was a tactical victory for the Confederates, the Union army received enough reinforcements to force Confederate General Braxton Bragg back into Tennessee. His army would never again enter Kentucky. Because of this, the Federals had the opportunity to properly bury their dead. The Confederates, however, were unceremoniously thrown into mass graves and haphazardly left in unmarked plots on the battlefield.

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(Photo courtesy of Steve Stanely)

It isn’t surprising, then, that countless visitors to the battlefield have witnesses ghostly figures wandering the grassy fields, sometimes in broad daylight. Many reported seeing full-bodied apparitions marching across the fields, and have heard the deep percussion of heavy artillery and cannon fire echoing across the rolling hills. Disembodied voices have been captured on audio, responding to questions with intelligent responses that were indicative of 1862.

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Not only is the battlefield haunted, but so is the nearby Dye House, which served as a makeshift hospital after the battle. The structure witnessed hundreds of emergency surgeries, amputations, and painful, gruesome deaths. So much blood was spilled on the floors that, to this day, has been impossible to remove.  People have heard footsteps descend the stairs, and doors open and close by themselves. Recordings have been made where ghostly voices claim to be Civil War doctors.

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Joni House, the park’s preservation and program coordinator, has also witnessed strange occurrences. “I’m in my office and I hear people talking to me and nobody else is in the building. Or I come in here and see things that have happened in the museum. There’s no real explanation for why a mannequin’s head has been pulled off and is now in the middle of the floor.”

(The Perryville Battlefield was one of the Civil War Trust’s 10 most endangered battlefields in 2008.)

Stay tuned: on Halloween – It isn’t a battlefield but it’s still very scary.

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