37th Texas Cavalry Capitulates to Yankee Revisionism
I kid, I kid.
But I noticed recently a rather stark change that’s come over 37thTexas.org, which is (or perhaps was) the website of the reenactors of the 37th Texas (Terrell’s) Cavalry. It wasn’t exactly a favorite website of mine, but I found it extremely useful, collecting as it did in one place all sorts of cliched tropes and bad history. You can view the old website through the Internet Wayback Machine, but it has imbedded music so you may want to turn your speakers down. It was full of all sorts of useful stuff for a cynical blogger like me, with multiple sections on black Confederates, the Chandler Boys, Nathan Bedford Forrest at Fort Pillow, and that wicked old racist, Abraham Lincoln. That website was like an old friend — a drunk, belligerent, slightly-insane old friend.
So it came as a bit of a shock to see that the old website was gone, replaced by one (below) that’s infinitely tidier, easier to navigate, easier to read — and deadly dull. There’s hardly a controversial statement in the whole thing.
I don’t know what to make of this development. The new website is completely disorienting. Instead of a screed about Lincoln’s racism called, sarcastically, “The Great Emancipator,” there’s now a page of the same name describing the end of slavery without a trace of snark. Where there were once multiple pages about the supposed service of African Americans as soldiers in the Confederate Army, there’s now a page called “Blacks in the Civil War,” that describes the contribution of African Americans to the Union Army and Navy. And where there was once a long, tortured exoneration of Forrest’s actions at Fort Pillow, now there’s this:
General Forrest is largely known as a self-educated individual and a creative cavalry leader during the war and as a leading southern advocate after the war. He is foremost known as the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization with a secret character that launched a reign of terrorism against carpetbaggers, scalawags, Republicans and Afro-Americans.
To be sure, there are a lot of small problems with the new content. The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect at the beginning of 1863, not 1963. Henry “Box” Brown, who famously escaped slavery in 1849 by having himself shipped north in a large crate, had no connection to the NAACP. And while I both (1) find figs to be “very delicious,” and (2) see the study of the war as a wide-ranging interdisciplinary effort, I have no idea what they have to do with the 37th Texas Cavalry.
I think I liked the old website better.