Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Friday Night Concert, Eastern District of Virginia Edition

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 23, 2018

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Denouement in Durham

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 21, 2018

The District Attorney in Durham, North Carolina has dropped the remaining charges against protesters accused of pulling down a Confederate monument there in August.

A few days after the violence in Charlottesville, a group of angry protesters surrounded a Confederate monument on the courthouse grounds in Durham and, as law enforcement watched from the sidelines, pulled it down. The monument had been the subject of a long-running dispute in the community, with the county government claiming they could not take down or relocate the monument because recently-passed state “heritage preservation” laws prohibited local governments from doing so.

The final criminal cases fell apart because prosecutors could not firmly establish that those charged were the persons seen in video of the event:

During Monday’s trials, Assistant District Attorney Ameshia Cooper struggled to introduce evidence and witness statements that clearly connected the defendants with being responsible for toppling the statue.

“The court finds the state has failed to identify who the perpetrator was. … Furthermore, the court has noted there is no evidence of a conspiracy,” District Court Judge Fred Battaglia said after the first trial.

And. . .

Many questions remain in the case, such as why there wasn’t more evidence.

During the toppling, law enforcement stood on the steps of the old courthouse. Some shot video. Also, after the toppling, deputies issued search warrants, went into people’s homes, ripping mattresses, taking computers, paper and other items of people who were charged said at the time.

Echols declined to take any questions after Tuesday’s press conference.

Twelve people were initially charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors after the Aug. 14 demonstration, but Echols later decided to not to pursue the felony charges. He next dropped charges against three of the 12, saying he did not have sufficient evidence to link them to the toppling of the statue.

On Tuesday, Echols also announced that he would dismiss the charges against against Loan Tran, who in December accepted deferred prosecution on three misdemeanors. Tran had also agreed to pay $1,250 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

“In this case, fairness requires that similar cases be treated similarly,” Echols said.

The Heritage-not-Hate folks are, naturally, convinced that this was rigged from the start not to vigorously prosecute in this case.

I said at the time that this was straight-up mob vandalism, and should be prosecuted. Still feel that way.

The much more fundamental problem, that’s been lost in the shouting, is North Carolina’s law that blocks local communities from making decisions about the monuments they themselves own and maintain. (Several other states have these laws, including Tennessee and Virginia, although the latter is the subject of a high-profile case pending right now.) If Durham could have acted to relocate the statue as they had been petitioned to do prior to August 2017, it would likely still be intact at another location. Now they’re left with this:

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Update, February 22: The Atlantic has a an article up detailing how both the sheriff’s department and the district attorney failed to make a solid case against those charged with pulling down the statue. Plenty of failures from the very start.

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What You Find in the Mail Sometimes. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 17, 2018

A friend and blog reader sent me this today, a page from the September 10, 1864 issue of Harper’s Weekly, detailing the Battle of Mobile Bay the month before.

Here, the Confederate ironclad Tennessee engages the U.S. Steam Sloop Richmond. Illustrations like this are often more fanciful than authentic, but in this case there’s some interesting detail, like the chain mesh draped over the midships section of Richmond to protect her boiler and machinery spaces.

Thank you, Mark!

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Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler, Y’all

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 13, 2018

Happy Mardi Gras from the New Orleans and the Krewe of Comus, 1873!

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Deny, Deride, Deflect

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 11, 2018

My post yesterday about the doctored photograph purporting to show a Marine raising the Confederate Battle Flag on Okinawa was intended as a one-off – direct, self-contained, and not really necessitating a follow-up. But it turns out that it prompted a response that’s a near-perfect example of how the True Southrons™ insulate themselves from information that challenges their preferred notions.

A few hours after my post, this thread popped up on the Southern Heritage Preservation Group, one of the largest and oldest “heritage” forums on social media:

It follows a well-established pattern:

First, make a vague inquiry about the truth of a claim, that doesn’t cite the specific image challenged, doesn’t provide the detailed critiques made of it, and doesn’t include a link where others can review and assess it for themselves.

Second, make a flat assertion that the image is authentic, with a link to one of the many websites that feature it.

Third, post a follow-up complaining that anyone who questions the image is obviously “crazy” or a “Leftist,” and so presumably shouldn’t be taken seriously.

And finally, post an image completely unrelated to the one in question, that (again, presumably) is to be taken as evidence that the first one is authentic.

Deny, deride, deflect. Repeat as often as needed.

It seems obvious to me that the original inquiry wasn’t about getting to the observable, knowable truth about the Okinawa image; it was seeking assurance that yes, in fact, that really was a Confederate Battle Flag in the picture. No wonder these folks seem impervious to observable, empirical evidence – they work awfully hard at it.

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More Dishonest “Heritage”: Photoshop Phun Edition

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 10, 2018

If you follow the debates over the public display of the Confederate Battle Flag online, you’ve likely seen this image (right), purportedly showing a World War II Marine in the Pacific. Why, the argument goes, if the Confederate flag was good enough for the Greatest Generation, are you precious librul snowflakes all up in arms about it?

You can see this image in about a bajillion places. But it turns out that this is (yet another) little bit of dishonesty from the True Southrons™.

As Corey Meyer noted recently on the Facebook machine, the image has been Photoshopped to replace the United States flag with the Confederate one. Here’s the original, via the U.S. Marine Corps Archives on Flickr:

Marine Corps Archives caption:

The Stars and Stripes on Shuri Castle-Marine Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Ross, Jr., of Frederick, Md., plants the American flag on one of the remaining ramparts of ancient Shuri castle on Okinawa. This banner was the same that the First Marine Division raised at Cape Gloucester and at Peleliu. The flagpole is a Japanese staff that was battered and bent by American shellfire.

And here’s the Confederate flag that’s been Photoshopped into it:

Here they are together:

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: if you have to make up phony evidence to support your “heritage,” it’s not worth saving.

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Officers of the First Hawai’ian Cavalry, c. 1855

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 8, 2018

A colleague returned recently from a trip Hawai’i, and brought me a copy of Neil Bernard Dukas’ A Military History of Sovereign Hawai’i. This was a neat image, although not very strictly CW.

Major Henry Neilson (l.) and Lieutenant Paul Manini (r.), First Hawai’an Cavalry, c. 1855. The First Hawai’ian Cavalry was organized in response to a riot by thousands of sailors off the whaling ships at Honolulu. The book says the uniforms were purchased from France, and were essentially off-the-shelf, including French Imperial Eagle emblems — which some locals, worried about the prospect of U.S. annexation of the islands, took for American eagles. The uniform colors are not recorded but a few years later, after having been disbanded and then re-organized, they wore a “Garibaldi costume” with a red shirt and blue pants. Image source: Queen’s Hospital Museum.

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The Continental Marines at New Providence

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 7, 2018

Recruiting Marines

Friends and Colleagues:

On Saturday, February 17 at noon, I’ll be presenting “First Ashore: The Continental Marines at New Providence, March 1776” at the monthly meeting of the Bernardo de Gálvez Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution at Galveston, at Landry’s Restaurant on Seawall Boulevard. I hope some of my Galveston-area friends will be able to attend.

The Marines are well-known as the primary amphibious fighting force in U.S. history, but in fact their service in that role is older than the nation itself. When the Continental Navy was faced with a growing conflict with the United Kingdom and the Royal Navy, it (together with the Continental Marines) adopted an aggressive, preemptive posture and set about to seize British munition stores in the Bahamas. This first action helped set the stage for the coming conflict, and established a military tradition that remains central to the Marines’ role right down to the present day.

Folks who are interested in attending should contact chapter Vice President Larry Tidwell (ltidwell011-at-yahoo-dot-com, or call 713-four-zero-eight-2679) to RSVP for the event. Hope to see y’all there!

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Image: “The First Recruits, December 1775,” by the late Col. Charles H. Waterhouse, USMCR (Ret.).

Pathetic and Dishonest

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 28, 2018

There’s a story from the Daily Mail that’s making the rounds about a small community in Maryland, called Unionville, that was founded by African American veterans of the Civil War. It’s a neat story, but one of the first things I noticed stood out, an image that (according to the Daily Mail) shows the eighteen veterans who would go on to establish the town in 1867, two years previously while still in service (highlighted):

I’m calling bullshit on this.

Many of you know this picture; it’s one of most-often published images of African American soldiers from the war. As my friend Bryan Cheeseboro says, it has “become the face of the history of the Black Civil War soldier.” But this image isn’t what the Daily Mail — and presumably the local sources the paper was working with, claim it to be. It is, of course, Company E of the Fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, taken in November 1865. You can view the original at the LoC here.

Set aside for a moment the implausibility of there being an extant photo that shows the soldiers — and only those soldiers — who would go on two years later to establish Unionville. There’s deliberate misrepresentation going on here. As some of you might have guessed, in order to get the desired number of eighteen soldiers, someone carefully cropped out roughly a third of men who appear in the original image from the Library of Congress:

But wait — it gets worse.

Even with careful cropping, there’s still one too many men in the image — so someone Photoshopped him out entirely:

There’s not much more to say about this, other that it’s deliberate misrepresentation and manipulation of an historical photo, apparently for no purpose other than to juice the story about the veterans who founded Unionville. Pathetic and dishonest.

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Coming Soon to a Beltway Near You

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 25, 2018

Some of you may recall that in 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the State of Texas, that had disallowed the Texas Division of the SCV to sponsor specialty license plates of the same type that many organizations and causes do. It was a fight that had gone on for years.

The Texas SCV recently announced a new plate design, that does away with the SCV logo (and its Confederate Battle Flag), in favor of artwork by John Paul Strain depicting a color bearer of the First Texas Infantry, carrying the colors of the regiment. The First Texas suffered an 82% casualty rate in the fight for the cornfield at Sharpsburg, reputed to be the highest loss in a single day’s fighting of any regiment in the war, U.S. or Confederate.

I’m not a fan of Strain’s worked generally, but (as the saying goes) this one, I like. The design here is crisp and clean and, unlike the previous pattern, focuses the attention on the soldier, not the sponsoring organization. Such a novel idea — I wonder why no one had thought of it before.

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