Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

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Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 5, 2011

Several heritage groups are teaming up to sell what they describe as a “Confederate PoW Medal.” It’s not, actually; it’s a descendant of a Confederate PoW medal, and says so right there on the badge: “Descendant of a Confederate POW, 1861-1865.”

One of my relatives spent a year and a half at Rock Island Barracks. Other Confederates imprisoned there described a terrible experience, and even four decades later my relative declined to discuss his confinement there in detail, even though he had lots to say about his other wartime adventures. He should’ve gotten a medal for it, to be sure. But the notion that, 150 years later, some collateral descendant he never imagined, much less actually knew, should be pinning such a medal on his own lapel is both asinine and deeply offensive.

Lookit — if I were to rummage through my late father-in-law’s stuff, and then step out wearing his old Purple Heart, I would be (1) possibly arrested, (2) probably punched in the face, and (3) certainly laughed at. And that’s as it should be.

This should be no different.


21 Responses

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  1. theravenspoke said, on July 5, 2011 at 9:45 am

    For historic accuracy, they should’a called it the Proponent of Slave Economy Rebellion medal.

    That would explain past & present in one go.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 5, 2011 at 9:50 am

      I don’t have an issue with recognizing the hardship suffered by Confederate PoWs, regardless of the national cause their service supported. On a personal level, it was an awful thing. But using that as an excuse to pin a medal on one’s own chest is just douchey.

  2. Will Hickox said, on July 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

    And the utter shamelessness of some Confed heritage folks continues…

    • Andy Hall said, on July 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

      So it seems. They’re all for protests and boycotts and letter-writing campaigns if someone opposes flying a Battle Flag on the courthouse lawn, but remain curiously silent when it comes to commercializing garbage like this. Or this. Or this. Pretty much anything gets a pass if it’s done in the name of “heritage.” It’s ridiculous.

  3. Dennis said, on July 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Ignoring the issue of the money-making scam on POW’s ‘medals’- no surprise it is for confederate POW’s; I always wondered why the POW camps, especially in the North, were so brutal. I mean the soldiers, when not fighting were often friendly, and both sides exchanged POW’s so you’d think there would be incentive to treat a prisoner better. In the South the lack of transport, the food and other limitations follows but not the North – I am really confused by the lack of decent housing/over cowarding that was so common in the North. There manpower issues were tiny compared to the South. Any information on the why the treatment was so uniformly bad?

    • Andy Hall said, on July 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

      It’s a fair question about conditions in Northern prison camps v. those in the South. There is a very real strain of vindictiveness in the management and operation of Northern prison camps, from the Federal privates on the wall watching the Dead Line, to the commissary assignment of rations, all the way up into the War Department. No excuse for that.

      That said, even with the (very real) logistical limitations of the Confederacy, neither is there any reason why places like Andersonville should have been as horrific as they were. They could should have done better, too.

  4. Martin Husk said, on July 5, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Don’t be surprised if someday, someone wearing a “Very Distant Relation of Someone Who May or May Not Have Been a Confederate POW” medal challenges you to a game of chess on his collector’s edition Civil War chess set.

    I too think it’s a joke that these medals are being offered. Wouldn’t happen to be made by the Franklin Mint, would they?

  5. Buck Buchanan said, on July 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    It is interesting that in all of the Confederate hagiography that only the members of the ANV need apply…unless your name was Nathan Bedford Forrest….

    • tim kent said, on July 7, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      The members of my hagiography have names like Patrick Cleburne, Sam Davis, Dewitt Smith Jobe, William Mabry Shy and Thomas Benton Smith. You should read about them some time Buck.

      • Andy Hall said, on July 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

        Cleburne’s a very interesting guy, although his proposal for emancipation and arming slaves is often portrayed now as being more progressive in spirit than it actually was. I’m looking forward to reading Craig Symonds’ biography of him.

      • Buck Buchanan said, on July 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

        I have…and you kind of made my point. I live in Virginia but have studied a lot on the western theater. I am always bemused by the way most people who claim to know about the Civil War totally ignore the Western Theater (there’s that old east coast bias again!)

        I must admit as a native of The Bay State my hagiography goes more the likes of George Getty, Sam Grant, Peter Osterhaus, Frank Blair, Black Jack Logan and William Hazen.

  6. Brooks D. Simpson said, on July 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    My wife is qualified to wear one of those adornments. I would not dignify them by calling them medals.

  7. gd smith said, on April 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    To those who gripe about me wearing a medal honoring my great-great grandfather’s service in the War of Northern Aggression, KMA. To those attaching cutsie names to the war that Lincoln started, that cost a million Americans lives, KMA twice.

  8. Sue Cook said, on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    This is for anyone who hates the South. If you trace the leaders and the reasons for the Revolutonary War, you will see the South. Do you think George Washington was a traitor? He fought his county, he was a rebel. I could go line for line to show you it was the same. We are a confederation of states, we can join or succeed. We had a constitutional right to succeed, the first two states who talked of secession was Mass. and NH. I for one am proud of where and who I came from. I love the South and my heritage. Sue

    • Jimmy Dick said, on January 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Might want to try to back that up with historical facts. Your version of the past leaves out Sam and John Adams, James Otis, and a lot of people in New England. You also left out the Constitution which ended the Confederation government. The Massachusetts and New Hampshire secession? Can you point to a document with that?

  9. Brian P said, on July 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    uh oh don’t look now but it looks like those boys in blue are doing the same….

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