Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Canister!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 12, 2012

Items that don’t warrant a post of their own, but are of note nonetheless:

  • A while back there was some news coverage of the fact that, while other Alabama museums are struggling desperately, funding for the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek remains substantial as it benefits from a special, set-aside tax in that state, not the general fund. One of those museums is the privately-operated Helen Keller museum, which is fearful of losing valuable documents because state funding programs for conservation has been slashed. Curiously, Keller herself was the daughter and granddaughter of Confederate officers, and was even profiled in the Confederate Veteran magazine in 1903 as a “daughter of the South.” Now a bill has been filed in the Alabama legislature that would redirect those funds to the state’s Medicaid program.
  • Did you know the federal government is still paying two Civil War pensions? I didn’t.
  • The case of Ken Webber, the rural Oregon school bus driver who was fired after refusing to remove a large Confederate flag from his truck, blazoned “REDNECK,” when it was parked in his employer’s lot, continues. His former employer, a private transportation contractor, has asked for a dismissal of the case. (The school district was also a defendant in Webber’s lawsuit, but I believe was excused by the court because Webber didn’t work directly for them.) The interesting thing about this case to me is that Webber, as far as I can see, hasn’t made any claim that his flag is an expression of Southern culture or Confederate heritage or any particular historic connection; he seemingly equates the Confederate Battle Flag with redneckism/redneckitude/redneckery. Advocates for public display of the Confederate Battle Flag ought to be uneasy about that.
  • Update: No sooner did I post this, than there’s a story of another Confederate “redneck” flag, this one in Minnesota, displayed by a city council member. His neighbors are not thrilled. Good times.
  • That fiberglass statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest outside of Nashville was seriously vandalized recently, to the tune of several thousand dollars’ damage. The owner of the private monument was quick to assert that it was done because of Black History Month, adding that ” I have to go through something like this every February.” The local cops have no idea what he’s talking about.
  • Finally, a production company called Southern Legacy Films, a company organized explicitly “to promote the Southern Cause,” is producing a movie to “tell both sides” of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. In that infamous event,  a mob of local men, supported by Confederate state troops, rounded up and hanged, after a drum-head tribunal, twenty-one men who were suspected of being Union sympathizers. Seven had actually been condemned by the tribunal; incensed, the crowd grabbed fourteen more and strung them up. too.  Twenty-one other men  were shot, hanged or lynched in other violence, bring the total death toll to over forty. The picture is a joint project between the Texas SCV and Southern Legacy Films. The mob’s actions, according to a local SCV member working with the production company, was simply the result of the “tensions of the time.” I have no idea how one tells the story of the Great Hanging in a way that reflects well on the Confederacy or the mob, but it looks like they’re going to try. Funny how the abuses of Sherman’s bummers (real or imagined) are never waived off by True Southrons™ as simply the result of the “tensions of the times.” (h/t Kevin)

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11 Responses

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  1. Michael Lynch said, on February 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I can hear the V.O. for the trailer now: “In a time of tensions. . .”

    –ML

    • Andy Hall said, on February 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Perhaps when they’re done with this one they’ll shoot a movie to tell “the other side” of the Emmett Till case.

  2. theravenspoke said, on February 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Fun collection!

    From your pension link, more stuff I didn’t know…..

    In the 19th and early 20th centuries, only Union soldiers were eligible for military benefits. It wasn’t until the 1930s that confederate soldiers began receiving pensions from the federal government. Prior to that, confederate soldiers could apply for benefits through the state they resided in.

    It’d be interesting to know how many southerners – including the dependents & descendants of CSA soldiers – benefited from Federal pensions. Politics behind the decision must be interesting, too. Did it happen on FDR’s watch? Was the decision motivated by the Great Depression? It’s another refutation of anti-Federal feeling which persists today.

    Also, thanks for the news item on the NBF statue. I may have to shoo…er…photograph it for posterity.

    • Richard said, on February 13, 2012 at 9:25 am

      By the 1930s the granting of a federal pension would have been mostly symbolic. I would be curious to know what percentage of southern state budgets went to federal pensions, an issue that is mentioned several time in the CV.

      • Jeffry Burden said, on February 15, 2012 at 11:16 am

        I don’t think any of the state budgets went to federal pensions. Just sayin’.

        On a related note, I recall reading somewhere that in at least one post-war year, more than half of Mississippi’s annual budget was devoted to the providing of prosthetic limbs for veterans.

        • Richard said, on February 18, 2012 at 5:40 am

          I’m sure your right, doubt there was a line item in a state budget for federal pensions. The argument was more along the lines that southern people were paying taxes to the federal government and this money was being used for a corrupt federal pension system.

  3. Robert Moore said, on February 13, 2012 at 12:20 am

    “Tension of the times”… what a convenient way to wash hands of the episode. So let’s really talk about revisionism… ayup.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      It’s the same sort of white-washing that will acknowledge that slavery was an immoral, even evil, institution in the abstract, but steadfastly refuse to accept that their own slave-holding ancestors bear any personal moral culpability in it.

      “Mistakes were made,” etc., etc.

  4. Jeff Bell said, on February 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Andy – Do you know whether the production about the Gainesville hangings is something that will be available on cable or would it have to be purchased? I don’t know very much about the subject but I have been studying the Kansas/Missouri Border War and to be sure there were atrocities committed by many of the numerous factions involved in that area. I don’t think we should rip the SLF Production until we view it though – we ought to judge it by it’s historical accuracy and then giv’em both barrels if it turns out to be propaganda.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 13, 2012 at 9:19 am

      My guess is that it would have to be purchased. The production company website says something about distribution to schools, and they have an explicit mission to promote the SCV’s narrative — “Southern Legacy was designed to promote the Southern Cause.” They also post essays like “Northern Atrocities” and “Sherman the Pyromaniac” on their website. So my expectations are not high.

      Your point about waiting until it’s out is well taken. But from what information is publicly available, I don’t see how this story could be told honestly, in any way that reflects credit on the mob. It’s telling to me that they’ve made no effort to involve the Richard McCaslin, whose book Tainted Breeze tells the story of the event.

      The Great Hanging is the most notable event because of its scale, but there was much violence of the same sort here in Texas. There’s a particularly grisly story I’ve come across that, while involving fewer victims, is every bit as horrific. I’m still working on corroborating it from other sources, but I believe it to be substantially true. It’s incidents like these that remind us that the intimidation and warnings made by local “Committee of Safety” were not idle threats.

  5. corkingiron said, on February 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

    FWIW, I really like the Canister posts. Don’t take that the wrong way Andy.


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