Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Canister!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 18, 2011

Items that don’t warrant posts on their own, but are worth mentioning.

  • The Galveston Historical Foundation will host another Battle of Galveston weekend on January 13-15, 2012. The program includes lectures, tours and a reenactment of the battle on the Strand. Looks to be a full weekend with lots to do. Thoughts on the 2011 event here.
  • The other day, a person (or persons) unknown affixed homemade plaques honoring Barbara Johns, Mildred and Richard Loving, and a leader of a slave insurrection named Gabriel to several Confederate monuments around Richmond. The act prompted the predictable huffing and puffing about “vandalism” and “defacement,” but lost in the self-righteous posturing is the fact that whoever did this went to considerable trouble to clamp the plaques onto the fences around the monuments in a way that avoided damaging them (below). Regardless of what one thinks of the activist’s message, that’s something that ought to be acknowledged. (h/t Kevin)

  • As expected, the Texas SCV is suing to overturn the state’s rejection of a special license plate honoring Confederate soldiers promoting the SCV. The constitutional basis for their legal argument is built, in part, on one of the “Reconstruction Amendments” passed immediately after the Civil War, specifically the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Irony is alive and well.
  • Over at Past in the Present, Michael Lynch has a funny take-down of The History Channel, and its line-up, which includes a new spin-off called Cajun Pawn Stars. (No, really.) Or as the channel’s general manager calls it, “vérité documentaries on people doing history today.” Asshats.
  • Finally, posts may be less frequent here over the next few months, as I recently signed a contract for a book on local maritime history. This particular story has been a research interest of mine for many years, and I’ll be glad to see it come to a tangible result. But to make that happen, I’m under a deadline. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Anything else? Put it in the comments.

_____________
Image: Top: Glass-plate image of Confederate reenactors at Battle of Galveston weekend, 2011, via Galveston Historical Foundation. Middle: Clamps used to affix homemade plaques to the fence around Confederate monuments in Richmond, via http://www.wtvr.com.

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25 Responses

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  1. kevlvnKevin said, on December 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Congratulations on the book deal. That’s great news.

    • Andy Hall said, on December 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Kevin. It’s simultaneously exciting and intimidating.

  2. corkingiron said, on December 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Wow! We knew him when! That’s great news Andy!

  3. John said, on December 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I’m glad to see that the Texas SCV has filed suit to be granted their right to free speech under the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.
    Also, since the person who vandalized the Confederate monument didn’t do any harm to the monument then it’s fine that they did it according to you and your friend Kevin. If it’s on a Confederate monument then there is no problem. Wonder what you would say if it had been done to a monument to black soldiers? Still no problem?

    • Andy Hall said, on December 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      “. . . then it’s fine that they did it according to you and your friend Kevin.”

      Neither one of us said that. You can take up Kevin’s comments with him, but I’m sure you know that he’s recently made some very strong condemnations of actual acts of vandalism against monuments, with which I fully concur. What I said was that the person or persons who did this obviously went to a lot of trouble not to cause harm to the monuments. That’s worth recognizing, and the rhetoric about “vandalism” and “defacement” is way overblown.

  4. Wilbur said, on December 19, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Andy, what era of maritime history will you be writing about? Civil War or others?

    My father spent a lot of time going to and from Galveston in the late 1950’s-early 60s during his Brit merchant navy days. He liked the place a lot.

    • Andy Hall said, on December 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

      Wilbur, thanks. The working title is “The Galveston-Houston Packets,” and it’s on the steamboat trade between those cities, roughly 1830-1890. It does touch on the CW a bit, as those boats played an important role in local defense here.

  5. BorderRuffian said, on December 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    AH-
    “The act prompted the predictable huffing and puffing about “vandalism” and “defacement,” but lost in the self-righteous posturing is the fact that whoever did this went to considerable trouble to clamp the plaques onto the fences around the monuments in a way that avoided damaging them (below).”

    ***
    Oh, how nice of them. Give them a star.

    If a Southerner had affixed plaques to a Lincoln monument I bet there would have been a lot self-righteous huffing and puffing over that. The problem is most of this activity has been far more destructive and the monuments targeted have been Confederate. Does the neo-rad crowd want a “War of the Monuments?”

    • Andy Hall said, on December 19, 2011 at 10:41 am

      I stand by what I said. This is fundamentally different than the real vandalism that’s occurred to Confederate monuments elsewhere. Yes, there would be some similar “huffing and puffing” in some quarters if something like this were done to Northern monument, but that would be over-the-top and wrong, too. I don’t understand why “but they did/would do it, too” seems to be accepted as an excuse for bad and/or dumb behavior among adults.

      (FWIW, I’m having a hard time imaging what such a plaque would commemorate. Happy slaves? Black Confederates? Tom DiLorenzo? The mind boggles.)

      I’ll also add that, given this was intended as an act of agit-prop, every outraged FB post or comment about it might as well say, “Mission Accomplished!”

      Seriously, BR, your grumpy contrarian shtick is getting old. You’re smarter than that. At least Josephine Southern is (unintentionally) humorous. ;-)

  6. Paul W said, on December 20, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Good luck with the book, Andy! P.S. make sure you advert with all the book review publications that libraries use for ordering titles, such as Booklist, Choice (for colleges), and Publishers Weekly!

    • Andy Hall said, on December 20, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Paul, thanks. The publisher, History Press, is very attuned on marketing and publicity issues, and I’ll be sure to include those pubs.

  7. Jeff Bell said, on December 21, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I view the monument brouhaha as a freedom of speech conflict at it’s core. I think the fact that these statues from the “losing” side even are allowed to exist, say much about the fundemental rights we enjoy as Americans. Had someone merely defaced the statues then there would be a legitimate gripe here – but what you really have is an inconvenient truth placed squarely on the face of a lost cause. Denial runs deep.

    • Andy Hall said, on December 21, 2011 at 10:37 am

      There’s a strong streak of free-speech-for-me-but-not-for-thee underlying the gripes about the homemade plaques. As with the white woman in South Carolina (too small for a republic. . . .) who moved into a predominantly African American neighborhood founded in the 19th century by USCT veterans, and then put a big ol’ Confederate flag on her front porch, the Southron Heritage crowd rallies around her as a bold advocate of free speech, while dismissing her neighbors’ free speech in opposition as “haters” and so on, with absolutely no acknowledgement that they have any valid point to make.

      Regardless of the message, whoever did this in Richmond gets props for being clever and non-destructive. It’s a whole lot more thoughtful a protest than this bit of sophomoric display.

  8. tlewis said, on December 22, 2011 at 12:47 am

    I had great pleasure getting those pieces of vandalism taken down off the Richmond Monuments last week… It was great to watch them come down because they didn’t belong there. It so funny to listen to you folks talk about the war being over but still taking shots at our monuments at the same time. Again it was so awesome watching them come down and feeling the victory over simple minded people.

    -tlewis

    • Andy Hall said, on December 22, 2011 at 7:19 am

      Who here is taking shots at your monuments?

      (I also reject the notion that those monument belong to any single group; they belong to all of us as Americans.)

      Lookit, I understand that some folks are unhappy with these. And it’s SUPPOSED to be provocative, to annoy and irritate — but also to force people to think. But calling those plaques “vandalism”, which suggests intentional physical damage or destruction, goes too far. And whether you agree with the message or not, any reasonable person would acknowledge that whoever did this went to considerable trouble to avoid that.

  9. tlewis said, on December 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

    The monuments from Arthur Ash down to Jeb on the avenue belong to us all… could agree more! It is against the law though to add anything to a monument or take it off… We are still a country about laws or doesn’t not apply to confederate monuments.? If I put a bucket of chicken and a watermelon at Arthur ash statue would that be considered art or would it be called what is should be called.. hate!! There is no difference between my example and what happen last Friday.. Hate and vandalism.

    -tlewis

    • Andy Hall said, on December 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

      You really see no difference between those things?

      Stay classy, Tripp.

  10. tlewis said, on December 22, 2011 at 9:57 am

    No i see no difference.. Didnt expect you too either.. What about following the laws of the land?? Any comment on that?

    • Andy Hall said, on December 22, 2011 at 10:02 am

      I don’t know the “laws of the land” in Richmond, but I still say it’s hard to make a case for vandalism, when there’s not demonstrable damage done to the monument. (Or were you considering this a “hate crime”?) Since you’re in Richmond, or presumably nearby, maybe you could specify which laws or local ordinances would apply in this case.

  11. tlewis said, on December 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

    My family has been in Richmond/Henrico/Jamestown for over 400 years… Of course I still live here right in the middle of the city. I believe it is hateful to commit any crime not just this event..

    These actions are in direct violation of Virginia law, which clearly states: “it shall be unlawful for the authorities of the locality, or any other person or persons, to disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials so erected, or to prevent its citizens from taking proper measures and exercising proper means for the protection, preservation and care of same. For purposes of this section, “disturb or interfere with” includes removal of, damaging or defacing monuments or memorials, or, in the case of the War Between the States, the placement of Union markings or monuments on previously designated Confederate memorials or the placement of Confederate markings or monuments on previously designated Union memorials.” (§ 15.2-1812)

    Again do we not follow the law? It is a yes or no answer sir.

    tlewis

    • Andy Hall said, on December 22, 2011 at 10:31 am

      It appears to me that the Code of Virginia section you cite is designating a civil offence, not a criminal one — note the section immediately following, “Action for damage to memorials for war veterans”:

      § 15.2-1812.1. Action for damage to memorials for war veterans.

      A. If any monument, marker or memorial for war veterans as designated in §§ 15.2-1812 and 18.2-137 is violated or encroached upon, an action for the recovery of damages may be commenced by the following:

      1. For a publicly owned monument, marker or memorial, by the attorney for the locality in which it is located; or, if no such action has commenced within sixty days following any such violation or encroachment, by any person having an interest in the matter; and

      2. For a privately owned monument, marker or memorial, by the private organization, society or museum that owns it or any member of such organization, society or museum.

      Damages may be awarded in such amounts as necessary for the purposes of rebuilding, repairing, preserving and restoring such memorials or monuments to preencroachment condition. Damages other than those litigation costs recovered from any such action shall be used exclusively for said purposes.

      B. Punitive damages may be recovered for reckless, willful or wanton conduct resulting in the defacement of, malicious destruction of, unlawful removal of, or placement of improper markings, monuments or statues on memorials for war veterans.

      C. The party who initiates and prevails in an action authorized by this section shall be entitled to an award of the cost of the litigation, including reasonable attorney’s fees. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit the rights of any person, organization, society, or museum to pursue any additional civil remedy otherwise allowed by law.

      So the city can sue the person or persons who did this, but (as I read it) it’s not a crime under this Commonwealth of Virginia statute.

      Richmond city ordinances do classify “defacement” as a misdemeanor, publishable by up to a $1,000 fine, but such a case would hinge on whether these plaques actually defaced the monuments in a substantive way. They certainly don’t constitute defacement in the way something done with a spray can or hammer would.

      • tlewis said, on December 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

        Again do we not follow the law? It is a yes or no answer sir.

        • Andy Hall said, on December 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

          What? I didn’t respond quickly enough for you?

          Yes, by all means, follow the law. But first look very carefully at what the law actually says, and do so judiciously, in proportion to the actual offense. What happened in Richmond is not really comparable to this, or the recent case in Missouri.

          By the way, if you’re all gung-ho to bring the heavy hand of the law down on people who “deface” historical monuments by putting up non-destructive, temporary displays as a political/historical statement, you’ll want to start with the guy who did this. You probably know him, so serving him with a lawsuit should be pretty straightforward.

  12. tlewis said, on December 22, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Good I am glad we can agree on something then we both think the law “of the land” should be followed. I know exactly what it says so i dont need to read it again.

    Why would I know the person who did this? I dont hang out with people who deface monuments.. I would be interested though in finding out where you got that picture from and the time and date on those pics tucked into the ext of jpg. Maybe your closer to the person that me??

    At any rate it has been a pleasure to sit back the last few weeks and read on your blog. Learned a lot about yah. Good luck with your book.

    tlewis

    • Andy Hall said, on December 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

      Thanks.

      That picture comes off the blog of someone who’s been involved in flagging at the VMFA recently, so yeah, you probably know him. Whether he put the little flag on the statue or not, I don’t know, but he thought it was cool enough to put the picture online.

      I hope you’ll continue following the blog. I’m sure there’s much you’ll disagree with, but perhaps also some material that you’ll enjoy, or that presents a new perspective.


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