Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

At the Seige of Vicksburg, They Were Forced to Eat Haggis

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 27, 2010

As a Southerner of Scots descent, and a descendant of Confederate veterans, and the descendant of a Confederate veteran of Scots descent, I speak from authority in saying that this is the most ridiculous development in celebrating Confederate heritage since, maybe, forever. This is definitive proof that nothing, nothing, is so ill-conceived that it cannot be successfully marketed as a means of “honoring” the Confederacy.

Does it come in butternut?

The whole point of a kilt is to identify with one’s clan — that’s clan with a C, for my League of the South visitors — and if you can’t trace your lineage back to a specific clan, you don’t effing wear a tartan. You don’t show respect for your ethnic heritage by faking it. Or at least, have the initiative to create your own from scratch. The latter option doesn’t carry any historical authority, but at least it’s yours.

It is true that at least one Civil War regiment marched off to war in tartan, the 79th New York Highlanders, a prewar militia unit composed mainly of Scots immigrants. But even they dropped the fancy duds after a few months. My intent here isn’t to mock anyone’s heritage — to restate, this is a dual heritage I happen to share — but dropping a bunch of money on a “Confederate Memorial Tartan” does credit to neither one’s Confederate nor Scots forebears. It’s not based on any actual historical example I can see; it’s playing dress-up, and so has more in common with those green, plastic bowler hats that street vendors sell on St. Patrick’s Day than it does with anything that happened in the 1860s.

Celebrate your Scottish heritage, people. Celebrate your Confederate relatives, if you feel you need to. But for the love of all things Caledonian, don’t just make stuff up and pretend it’s historical.

Update: Corey already covered this, last summer. As Harry Truman said, “the only thing new in the world is the blogs you haven’t read.”

11 Responses

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    • Andy Hall said, on June 28, 2010 at 12:24 am

      Thanks, I totally missed that one. Looks like you “got there the firstest with the mostest.” Fix’t and linked to your posting.

  1. Corey Meyer said, on June 28, 2010 at 2:40 am


    Don’t be discouraged by someone covering something that interests you…I am just glad to see someone thinking similar things. I too was befuddled by this confederate tartan…no historical significance other than something more to make money off of…so much for the sacred.

  2. Craig Swain said, on June 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    High Trevor-Roper concluded (See essay in “Invention of Tradition” edited by Eric Hobsbawm), that the tartan, bagpipes, and pretty much all things we consider Highland tradition was in part or whole fabricated. So is this not a case where someone has stepped forward to repackage the “invented tradition” all over again?


    • Andy Hall said, on June 28, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      That’s an interesting proposition — one that I’m not entirely sure I can get my head around on a Monday. I’m still working on figuring out the Klingon reenactor.

  3. […] Bullshit. It’s a Confederate general officer’s coat, similar to that of John Bell Hood, now in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. The arrangement of buttons is different and McConnell has added Cap’n Crunch-style non-regulation epaulets, but otherwise it looks very much like one available for purchase. While you have your card out, you can pick up the Confederate general’s kepi here, and cavalry gauntlets, here. (The belt buckle appears to be a U.S. Army pattern; overall it’s quite a farbgasm, maybe worse even than the Confederate kilt.) […]

  4. Jock Monro said, on March 14, 2017 at 1:36 am

    Actually, the point of a kilt is to cover one’s arse. ‘Clan tartans’ themselves were created by Polish comments, most kiltwear sprang forth from the imagination of Sit Walter Scott to please the fancies of a English Queen of the line Saxe-Coburg. ‘Highland Dress’s as we know it is a Lowland affectation.

    There are tartans for Irish Counties, Canadian Provinces, European and other Nationalities, each branch of the IS Armed Forces ad nauseum. Lots of people who haven’t any Clan connection, or aren’t even Scottish, wear kilts.

    Live with it. Education might make that easier to do.

    But I still wouldn’t wear that tartan.

  5. Edward Livingston said, on August 8, 2017 at 7:17 am

    I take exception to your comments on the Confederate Tartan. While you may have serious reservations concerning the fitness of the Confederate Tartan for reenacting etc. The traditions of my family included fighting for both Scotland “the Stewarts” John D:1645 and the Confederate States Of America 15th North Carolina POW Hart’s Island New York, James M. D:1895. I would wear both the clan tartan and the Confederate Tartan with honor and with a heritage to back it up.

  6. Mike Croft said, on July 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Andy Hall said “…and if you can’t trace your lineage back to a specific clan, you don’t effing wear a tartan” Not correct! With a few notable exceptions…privately held tartans, Masonic, Clergy, etc, and any tartan claimed by the Royal Family…you may wear any tartan you damn well please. Clans have no legal claim to specific tartans.

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