J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Washington and Lee University”

The Great General Lee

 

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One of my favorite people who lived during the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. If Lee were alive, he would be celebrating his 209th birthday today. He came from a distinguished Virginia family, and his father, Harry “Lighthorse” Lee, fought in the Revolutionary War. Lee graduated at the head of his class at West Point, and served gallantly in the Mexican War. His integrity was unsurpassed, because he resigned his commission with the U.S. military to defend his home state of Virginia once the Civil War broke out. With reluctance, he did his duty, and performed it well up until the end of the war.

General Lee was deeply religious. He was a gentleman and a nobleman. He freed his slaves before the war started, unlike Union General Ulysses S. Grant, who freed his slaves after the war ended. Lee served as president of Washington and Lee University, but the war took its toll, like it did on so many soldiers. He only survived five years after the war ended.

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Lee was revered  by his countrymen, both North and South alike, as one of the finest generals America has ever produced. Dwight D. Eisenhower, America’s 34th president, said of him:

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause….he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle.

Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul.”

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When Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s 32nd president, spoke at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Statue in Dallas, Texas, on June 12, 1936, he said: “I am happy to take part in this unveiling of the statue of Lee. All over the United States we recognize him as a great general. But also, all over the United States, I believe we recognize him as something much more than that. We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and one of our Greatest American gentlemen.”

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General Lee has always been highly regarded… that is, until recently. Now, certain interest groups have been striving to disparage his name. It is shameful that they want to remove the Confederate battle flag that he fought under from his gravesite, or do away with his statues. It is also shameful that they are defacing monuments with graffiti. Just because political attitudes have changed, which they are always bound to do, is no excuse for erasing the past and defaming such an important historical figure.

“Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles.”                                                                   – General Robert E. Lee

General Lee appears in my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-War/dp/0595435319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453239012&sr=8-1&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

 

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The Fight for Heritage Continues

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Last week, the Sons of Confederate Veterans won a major victory in Memphis, Tennessee, after a judge decided that they had the right to sue the city for changing the names of three parks. Forrest Park, named after Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, was the primary subject of the suit, because the SCV had placed a large sign at the edge of the park designating it as “Forrest Park.” The city removed the sign without notice, and changed the name of the park to Health Sciences Park. They also did away with Jefferson Davis Park and Confederate Park, renaming them as well.

The ruling is a tremendous victory for Constitutional rights. To remove all things “Confederate” is a criminal offense and should not be taken lightly. Confederate veterans were designated as American veterans way back in 1906, when a Congressional Act was passed as a move toward reconciliation. To destroy or mutilate any veteran’s grave or marker is a Federal offense and should be treated accordingly.

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This goes hand in hand with trying to do away with the Confederate battle flag – the flag for which these veterans so gallantly fought. It is disrespectful to omit the flag from public view because it is misconceived by a few. This has happened at Washington and Lee University. In the chapel where General Robert E. Lee is interred, Confederate flags have been removed. The Confederate battle flag that flew above the Confederate soldier’s monument on the State Capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina received national attention a couple of months ago after a massacre took place by a lunatic at a church, and was also removed.

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Several schools around the country are debating whether or not to remove the flag. Although a small town in Virginia decided to retain the flag and their mascot name, “the Rebels,” and Gettysburg, South Dakota declined removing the Confederate battle flag from their town’s logo and police cars, other towns have caved under the pressure brought on by hate groups such as the NAACP. In Kentucky, the debate will continue later this month when board members discuss replacing the flag that was previously flying over an elementary school in Floyd County but was taken down.

Racehorses and the Civil War

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Many racehorses were used during the Civil War. My new book, Horses in Gray, discusses this topic. At the start of the war, Southern gentry thought that thoroughbreds would outperform other breeds, and thus assure victory for the Confederacy. Southern soldiers brought their steeds with them, and most were nimble, well-bred stock from Virginia and Kentucky. However, it didn’t take long for both armies to figure out that thoroughbreds were too flighty and unpredictable under gunfire, so they switched primarily to Morgans, Percherons, and Saddlebreds, and used various other breeds as well.

Thoroughbreds were mostly ridden by commanding officers after that, to give them the appearance of dignity and nobility. General Grant’s horse, Cincinnati, was a descendant of Lexington, a record-breaking thoroughbred. Grant was supposedly offered $10,000 in gold for Cincinnati, but he declined the offer. President Lincoln rode the horse on occasion, and reportedly enjoyed riding him very much. After Grant was elected president, Cincinnati went with him to the White House.

General Lee’s horse, Traveller, also had royal racing blood in his veins. His lineage stretched back to English racehorses; from Diomed, to Sir Archy, to Grey Eagle, which was Traveller’s sire. Grey Eagle was a famous, full-blooded thoroughbred, and set many records. Traveller’s dam was a half-bred grade mare named Flora. After the war, Traveller accompanied Lee to Washington and Lee University in Alexandria, Virginia, where Lee served as president. The general gave rides to the town’s children on Traveller, and everyone could set their timepieces to the punctuality Lee displayed when riding Traveller through town.

On this date in 1973, Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby. It was the first of Secretariat’s Triple Crown victories. It should be interesting to see how American Pharoah, last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby winner, does in his two upcoming Triple Crown races. Thoroughbred racing was a very popular sport in this country since its birth, and fortunately, still is today.

In Honor of Two Famous Generals

This week marks the birthdays of two famous Confederate generals: Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee’s birthday was yesterday, January 19, and Jackson’s birthday is tomorrow, January 21.

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Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807. He was a son of the famous Revolutionary War hero, “Light Horse Harry” Lee. Robert E. Lee’s upbringing was atypical of Virginia gentry. Although his first home was at Stratford Hall (a beautiful plantation in Virginia that is now a tourist attraction), Lee’s family moved to Alexandria when he was four because his father was thrown into debtor’s prison. Robert E. Lee was accepted into West Point Military Academy in 1825, where he excelled and graduated at the top of his class with no demerits. He served as a military engineer, and married Mary Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, at Arlington House.

After fighting in the Mexican War, Lee continued with the United States military until Virginia seceded in April, 1861. He then decided to stay true to his state, so he resigned his commission. He served under Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who eventually gave Lee total control of the Confederate Army. During the first two years of the war, Lee and Jackson fought side-by-side in several battles.

Following his surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, Lee served as the President of Washington and Lee University in Lexington. His tenure was short-lived, however. He died on October 12, 1870, and is buried on campus. Lee was a true patriot, hero, and gentleman. He was deeply religious, and was greatly admired and respected by his men, as well as his students and the citizens of Lexington.

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Thomas J. Jackson, born on January 21, 1824, was also a deeply religious man. He was sometimes ridiculed for his peculiar, eccentric behavior. Jackson was extremely shy, but after a harsh upbringing, he learned to read, and managed to graduate from West Point in 1846. He fought in the Mexican War, where he met Robert E. Lee. In 1851, Jackson became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia, where his teaching methods received criticism. His first wife died in childbirth, but he remarried a few years later.

When the Civil War broke out, Jackson was assigned to Harpers Ferry, where he commanded the “Stonewall Brigade.” His strategic military genius helped win battles at First and Second Manassas, the Peninsula and Valley Campaigns, and the Battle of Fredericksburg. During the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863, Jackson was mistaken for the enemy by his own men and wounded. His arm was amputated, and it was thought he would recover. But after eight days, he succumbed to pneumonia. He died on May 10, 1863, and is buried in Lexington Cemetery (his left arm is buried at Ellwood Manor).

Lee and Jackson were two of the most prolific generals of the Civil War. Their religious conviction and military genius will always be admired and revered. Both men, along with Jefferson Davis, are featured in the carving on Stone Mountain, Georgia.

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Students seek to revive ‘Rebel’ mascot in Richmond, Virginia

Students and alumni from a Richmond-area high school are seeking to revive the school’s historic mascot, a Confederate Soldier known as the “Rebel Man,” spurring debate from the liberal-left about the appropriateness of public school connections to the War of Northern Aggression and its icons. More than 1,200 students, alumni and parents with connections to Henrico County’s Douglas S. Freeman High School have signed a petition calling on the administration to use its original Rebel mascot — which dates to the 1950’s — for the school’s athletic events.

“I think he really represents us as the Southern school that we are,” said Alecsys Brown, 16, a rising senior at Freeman who helped start the petition. “Since Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, a Southern soldier really represents us as a school.”

Schools across the country have long adopted mascots to represent athletic prowess and community pride, but often the symbolic figures have led to people whining on the gridiron — and off. In 2010, the University of Mississippi gave-up its Colonel Reb mascot to appease Political Correctness. Other high schools in the South have faced liberal-Left pressure to drop the “Rebel” moniker because of its connection to the Confederacy, including Monroe High School outside Charlotte, which “Reconstructed” its mascot’s name into the “Redhawks”. This is occurring just a month after a group of students threatened “civil disobedience” and protested the use of Confederate Battle Flags in General Robert E. Lee’s historic chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA.

In the Richmond area where roots to the War for Southern Independence run deep, recent efforts to force the Rebel mascot into extinction have re-stoked passions among the community. Students say a new mascot would seem nonsensical for a school named after Douglas Southall Freeman — a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of both Lee and George Washington, the latter a rebel in his own right as the Commander of American

Revolutionary forces and the first President of the breakaway (Seceding) United States of America. Freeman opened in 1954, months after the Brown v. Board of Education decision integrated schools, said former Principal Edward H. Pruden.

“In the early days, students sang “Dixie” at football games and waved “Confederate flags all over the place,” Pruden said.

Although the school’s costumed mascot, clad in gray, was ceased at football games years ago, the athletic teams remain known as the “Rebels”.

Amanda Van Inwegen, a 2012 Freeman graduate, made a documentary for class about the school’s mascot and found little resistance to the use of a Confederate symbol. “While we were doing it, I almost wanted to stop because we didn’t find anything – everybody said this wasn’t an issue,” said Van Inwegen, 20, now a chemistry major at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. “Now it’s kind of ridiculous to go from a Rebel with historical significance to a lion, which doesn’t make sense.”

“Last school year, some of the student body expressed interest in creating a new representation of what personifies a Freeman Rebel,” Al Ciarochi, assistant superintendent for operations in the Henrico County school system, said in a statement.

“No decisions have been made in this regard, nor are there plans to reinstate the original mascot.”

Lamont Bagby, who is the only black member of the Henrico County School Board, said he would support a broader discussion on school mascots to include the Freeman Rebels.

Bagby noted that in nearby Hanover County, teams at Lee-Davis High School, named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, are known as the Confederates. Brown, the Freeman student, said she started the petition to show that many of her classmates want to reinstate the school’s original mascot as a point of pride.

“They are really upset because the Rebel Man is not offensive in any way,” Brown said. “This Rebel Man does not represent racism or slavery.”

Brown and a friend took their petition to a local 7-Eleven parking lot and recruited people on social media to sign it. In a three-hour span, they gathered 279 signatures. An accompanying online petition has received more than 1,000 signatures.

“Instead of rejecting tradition, we need to embrace it,” the petition reads.

(This article courtesy of Camp 1220 SCV “Barksdale’s Mississippians” Newsletter, September, 2014)

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

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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.

Banning the Confederate Flag (Again)

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Recently, another incident has arisen in regard to flying the Confederate flag. This time, the flags in question are on display at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. The institution was originally known as Washington College, but General Robert E. Lee served as president after the Civil War until the time of his death in 1870. That’s when his name was added to the name of the college.

Now twelve law students at the university, who refer to themselves as “The Committee,” have demanded that the president, Ken Ruscio, remove the flags from campus. The only flags that are on display are inside General Lee’s chapel. The students have issued four demands, and promise to engage in civil disobedience if their terms are not met by September.

1. We demand that the University fully recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the undergraduate campus.

2. We demand that the University stop allowing neo-confederates to march on campus with confederate flags on Lee-Jackson Day.

3. We demand that the University immediately remove all confederate flags from its property and premises, including those flags located within Lee Chapel.

4. We demand that the University issue an official apology for the University’s participation in chattel slavery, including a denunciation of General Robert E. Lee’s participation in slavery.

The law students also added this statement:

We expect that from these immediate actions, a long-term, continued commitment to improving the state of racial justice and honor on campus will develop. We believe the student body is eager to learn about, work toward and directly confront both the past and current bigotry and racial discrimination found on our campus. We are confident that when these demands are met, our University will be one step closer to achieving a community that welcomes students of color and frees them from the psychological shackles that currently exist. We are eager to turn our campus into a shining example—a beacon of hope—for not only the town of Lexington, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the South, but for the entire nation.

I find this entire issue to be preposterous. “The Committee” claims that the University is racist, but I think they are actually the ones who are racists. Lee was a man of his time who honored his state, and to alleviate the flags from the chapel where he is buried is disrespectful, to say the least. Instead of being offended, these students should worry about their grades. Changing history by eradicating things they deem offensive because they fail to understand, and have failed to do their homework, is alarming. Is this what our country has to look forward to? Lee Chapel is on the Register of Historic Places. Should we disregard everything that only a few find incommodious? If it starts with Confederate flags placed on the graves of its commanders, where will it end? And by denying reenactors to honor their hero by marching on campus is refusing their constitutional rights. Any law student should know that.

The debate continues. To read others’ opinions on the matter, please visit:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/washington–lee-confederate_n_5161367.html

 

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