Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Nikki Haley’s Butternut Bonafides

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 8, 2019

After the shooting at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (above) embraced and argued for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag that flew on the State House grounds, adjacent to the Confederate monument there. Haley was widely lauded in some circles for her supposed courage in challenging South Carolina’s traditional Lost Cause-y view of the Civil War, but in truth the circumstances were so horrific that virtually any governor, of either party, likely would have followed the same course she did. The pressure to take down the flag was overwhelming, and that outcome was probably inevitable.

Naturally, the Confederate Heritage™ folks lost their ever-lovin’ minds over the issue, and gave vent to the vulgar bigotry that’s always there, but is usually papered over with tired tropes about “honor,” “sacrifice,” and all the rest. It’s what they do.

In the wake of the Charleston shooting, Haley was careful to say the right things, as dictated by the circumstances of the moment. At the time, she decried the state’s decision in 2000 to remove the flag from the State House itself, to its position by the monument.

“I think the more important part is it should have never been there,” she said. “These grounds are a place that everybody should feel a part of. What I realized now more than ever is people were driving by and felt hurt and pain. No one should feel pain.”

Haley, a rising star in the Republican Party, is the youngest current governor in the U.S. She is also the first woman and the first Indian American to serve as Governor of South Carolina.

Haley said the flag should be in a museum, a place that preserves history, not in a place where people gather to implement policies about the state’s future.

“There is a place for that flag,” she said. “It’s not in a place that represents all people in South Carolina.”

It should never have been there,” she said then. “Not in a place that represents all people in South Carolina.

That was in 2015. A lot has changed since then. Haley went on to serve for two years as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a position that these days is curiously both high-profile and of relatively little consequence. Having put that on her resume, and published her obligatory memoir ever-so-politely distancing herself from the excesses of the roiling kleptocracy that is the current administration, she’s looking out once again for the main chance. And that, apparently, includes re-embracing the Confederate Heritage™ narrative about the shooting. Haley may think of herself as being “the face of the New South” (right, in 2014) but she still speaks in the voice of the Old South:

Nikki Haley, who formerly served as the South Carolina governor and then as the Trump administration U.N. ambassador, blamed “the national media” for making a white supremacist’s 2015 massacre of nine black churchgoers at a historic African American church “about racism.”

In an interview with Glenn Beck, Haley also said that the murderer, [the killer]* “hijacked” the supposedly virtuous nature of the Confederate battle flag.

“Here is this guy that comes out with his manifesto, holding the Confederate flag, and had just hijacked everything that people thought of,” she said.

“We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. There’s always the small minority that’s always going to be there, but people saw it as service and sacrifice and heritage. . . .”

“Once he did that,” Haley said of [the shooter’s] attack, “there was no way to overcome it.”

“The national media came in in droves,” she continued. “They wanted to define what happened. They wanted to make this about racism, they wanted to make this about gun control, they wanted to make it about the death penalty.”

Well, no. Lots of people, in South Carolina and elsewhere, didn’t view the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of “service and sacrifice and heritage” — not in 1962 when it went atop the State House dome, not in 2000 when it was moved to the grounds, and not in 2015, and Nikki Haley damn well knows that. She knew it when she first ran for governor in 2010, and she knew it when she ran for re-election in 2014, when it was a major campaign issue in her race against her Democratic opponent, Vincent Sheheen. She won that election handily. Then came the Emmanuel AME killings, seven months later.

Haley now says the media — it’s always “the media” with these folks — “made this about racism.” This is unadulterated bullshit.

I read the killer’s “manifesto,” and viewed the dozens of pictures he posted with it, before his “Last Rhodesian” site was taken down. I kept copies, too, although I’ve never shared them. While only a few of the photos were posed with the Confederate Battle Flag, virtually all of them trace back to slavery, antebellum plantations, Confederate cemeteries — even a museum run by the SCV. He even had Confederate flag plates on his car. He was, in his own addled way, quite clear about his intent to target African Americans, and to start a wider war for the survival of the white race. Period, full stop.

Nikki Haley knows that white nationalism/-supremacy/-identity/-whatever-you-want-to-call it is widespread in the Confederate Heritage™ community; we’ve seen this over and over and over and over and over and over again. She herself witnessed it up close when the Klan organized a rally on the State House steps in Columbia to protest the removal of the flag from the grounds there.

In retrospect, everyone should’ve seen this coming. Haley herself telegraphed that her stated views in 2015 were, shall we say, flexible when she chose to preside over a reverential ceremony (above) to remove the flag that, she claimed, “should never have been there.” That’s not how you handle an object that, in your own words, causes “hurt and pain.”

Haley, of course, is laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential campaign. And she knows two things — (1) that the South Carolina Republican primary, that comes early in the primary cycle, will be make-or-break for her pursuit of the Republican nomination, and (2) that the Republican Party in South Carolina (“too small for a republic. . . .”) is going to demand her fealty to the tropes and deflections of the Lost Cause. That’s what she was doing the other day on Glenn Beck’s podcast, signaling to hard-core Republicans, and especially that subset of the far right that tunes in to Glenn Beck, that she’s all-in on perpetuating that narrative. It’s the media’s fault, this the inexplicable act of a single deranged person, no one ever associated that flag with racism, etc.

As I said, unadulterated bullshit.

There are many adjectives one can fairly apply to Nikki Haley; stupid is not one of the them. She knows what she’s doing, and is counting on Republican voters in South Carolina and elsewhere to have short memories. I wouldn’t bet against her being right about that.


* I have redacted the Charleston shooter’s name. You all know it anyway.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on November 28, 2019

For a while now I’ve been posting this well-known Thomas Nast cartoon from 1868, “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner.” This year, though, I’d like to direct my readers to Pat Young’s detailed discussion of the work and the symbolism in it — there’s a lot there you may not have noticed.


Two Monument Stories

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on November 28, 2019

There were two news stories this week on the future of Confederate monuments in North Carolina and Alabama.

First, the University of North Carolina ceded the “Silent Sam” monument that had stood on the campus at UNC Chapel Hill to the North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Under the terms of the agreement, the SCV will relocate the monument but not place it in any of the fourteen counties where UNC maintains a campus. In addition, UNC will establish a $2.5M trust fund, the proceeds of which can be used for limited purposes in maintaining the monument at its new location. The trust fund does not use public monies, and I suspect this part of the agreement was influenced by the Vanderbilt case from a few years ago, where that university paid the United Daughters the Confederacy a sum in exchange for removing the Confederate name or one of the buildings on campus.

In Birmingham, city officials had set up a wooden box obscuring a Confederate monument in 2017. After a drawn-out legal battle, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that that violated the terms of a state law that prohibits removal or alteration of monuments and memorials that had been in place for 40 years or more. The state law is one of several passed in recent years that prohibits alterations to monuments, even those (like Birmingham’s) that are on city, not state, property.



Confederate Heritage “Boycott” of Lexington Quietly Abandoned

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on November 17, 2019

The Confederate Heritage™ folks’ “boycott” of Lexington, Virginia, was always mostly smoke-and-mirrors; it was a do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do sort of thing.

Still, it’s pretty funny to see that they’ve finally dropped even the pretense of observing a boycott, and are hosting their two-day Lee-Jackson Day 2020 symposium, memorial service, and luncheon right smack in the middle of Lexington’s historic district and, yes, within the City of Lexington proper. In fact, attendees are encouraged to make their room reservations there, too, that will maximize the amount of tax revenue flowing into the city’s coffers. Not so long ago, the Virginia Flaggers went so far as to publish a map of Lexington’s city boundaries so folks would know areas to avoid, so as not to contribute to the city’s economy, but that was then, and this is now.

Even better — the notice of the meeting appears on the “SAVE OUR FLAGS – BOYCOTT Lexington, Virginia!” Facebook page. Do’oh!

Have fun in Lexington, y’all — I heard the food at the Red Hen over on East Washington Street is great, and it’s within easy walking distance from the Hampton Inn.



That Didn’t Take Long. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 30, 2019

Pleased to learn today that my friend and colleague Kevin Levin’s book, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, has gone into a second printing just seven weeks after its original release by the University of North Carolina Press.


Canister! — Monumental Edition

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 3, 2019

The big equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee (above) that was taken down in Dallas a couple of years ago has a new home at a private golf resort at Lajitas, Texas, near Big Bend National Park. Fans of the Marble Man can pay homage after paying a $50 golf cart rental (off-peak greens hours only). Beer and sodas are sold in the pro shop.

Kehinde Wiley’s new sculpture, “Rumors of War,” was unveiled in Times Square in New York recently, and will move to its permanent home at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond later this year. The equestrian statue is a riff on a statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart in Richmond. You can probably guess who’s unhappy about that.

In Shreveport, a planning committee of the Caddo Parish Commission approved an expenditure to relocate the Confederate monument located on the grounds of the parish courthouse. The Caddo Parish Commission had voted to relocate the monument almost two years ago, but were challenged by the local UDC chapter that claimed they not only owned the monument, but also had a “private property interest” in the land on which the monument stood. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their claim of owning the property, and in August 2019 Caddo Parish gave them 90 days’ notice to have the monument relocated. If the monument isn’t moved, the Caddo Parish Commission is expected to formally approve moving the monument itself.

Earlier this year, two members of the “Heirs to the Confederacy” group, Ryan Barnett and Nancy Rushton McCorkle, were charged with vandalizing the Unsung Founders Memorial on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both had been heavily involved in protests against the proposed removal of the “Silent Sam” monument on campus there. Despite McCorkle’s insistence that the charges against them would be dismissed, and declining a plea offered them, they were both found guilty last month of injury to real property and larceny, I believe the latter because they stole a UNC flag that they paraded the next day at another rally (above). Barnett was also convicted of indecent exposure and for urinating on the Unsung Founders Memorial. Interestingly, the court found them not guilty of ethnic intimidation under North Carolina statute, because the law focuses on targeting individuals. “My belief is they are not guilty of ethnic intimidation [as defined by the statute],” Orange County District Court Judge Lunsford Long said. “I think they intended to intimidate a whole race of people, not a person.”

Finally, we shouldn’t leave Nancy McCorkle and thre “Heirs to the Confederacy” folks without a mention of Daniel McMahon (right), a man from Florida who went out of his way to taunt UNC students online, and aligned himself with McCorkle, praising her on the far-right chat site Gab, saying “Nancy Rushton makes a damn good admin too!” McMahon, posting under the alias “Jack Corbin,” corresponded with the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter on Gab, and reportedly praised him after the mass shooting. McMahon was indicted by the Justice Department in September for making threats and intimidation against a candidate for City Council in Charlottesville, and against UNC students.

These people are exactly who you thought they were.


Better Late Than Never, Dead Klansman Edition

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 15, 2019

It seems that klansman, League of the South stalwart, and Confederate Heritage™ figure Steven Monk has gone to his reward. Now that he’s departed, the “heritage” folks are denouncing Monk as having been “eat up with hatred and racism.” While there’s a better-late-than-never angle to this, it’s also worth remembering that these same people weren’t nearly so fastidious about Monk’s views and affiliations while he was alive and useful to their purposes.



A New Steve Perry Image

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 4, 2019

While looking for something else this evening, I happened on this recent addition to the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs at the Library of Congress of an image of Steve Perry of Rome, Georgia. Perry, who spent the last couple of decades of his life using the persona of “Uncle Steve Eberhart,” was a regular fixture at Confederate Veteran reunions, playing to crowd by carrying around live chickens and expressing his appreciation to “the southern white man” for having been a slave. The photo also shows one of the military-style coats he routinely wore, both at home and at reunions.

My friend and colleague Kevin Levin discusses Steve Perry in his new book, Searching for Black Confederates. Have you got your copy yet?


Will Colonel Ellsworth Please Raise His Hand?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 15, 2019

One of the earliest heroes in the North during the Civil War was Elmer Ellsworth, a Zouave officer from Illinois. Before the war he had led traveling drill team, the “Zouave Cadets of Chicago,” and was a friend of Abraham Lincoln. Ellsworth was killed in May 1861 seizing a Confederate flag flying from an inn in Alexandria, Virginia. Ellsworth’s death, coming before most combat and bloodshed had started in earnest, shocked many in the North. Lincoln had his friend’s remains brought to the White House, where they lay in state in the East Room. Ellsworth was later buried in Mechanicsville, New York. “Remember Ellsworth!” became a rallying cry, and one regiment, the 44th New York Infantry, styled itself as “Ellsworth’s Avengers.”

Recently Civil War Talk user Chubachus posted an image from the J. Paul Getty Museum, a stereoview showing a group of soldiers aboard the famous British steamer Great Eastern, that first visited New York in 1860. Another user commented that the uniforms looked similar to Ellsworth’s old unit, the Zouave Cadets of Chicago. Well, sure enough, we know through newspaper accounts that the Zouave Cadets (and Ellsworth) were in New York at the time of Great Eastern’s visit, and at least some of them visited the ship in July 1860 (New York Commercial Advertiser, 16 July 1860, p. 1).

We also know that some of the Zouave Cadets were on board Great Eastern several day later when she made an excursion trip from Manhattan to Cape May, because (New York Evening Post, 1 August 1860, p.3)

So back to Chubachus’s photo – are any of these men on Great Eastern’s deck the famous Elmer Ellsworth?


Celebrating Independence Day in Vicksburg, 1877

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 3, 2019

[This post originally appeared in 2011]


It’s a common trope that the citizenry of Vicksburg, Mississippi, did not celebrate the Fourth of July until well into the 20th century. While it’s certainly true that the anniversary of the fall of that city to Grant in 1863 continued to resonate with Vicksburg residents down through the years, in fact the date was observed by plenty of local residents, white and black, even if the celebration was unofficial and somewhat more muted there than elsewhere. And they were celebrating it even when the war itself was a recent memory. From the Vicksburg Daily Commercial, July 3, 1877:

To-morrow being the anniversary of our Nations independence, all patriotic citizens of this great Republic are expected to observe it as a holiday. We desire to be reckoned among this class of patriotic citizens, consequently no paper will be issued from this office to-morrow. The glorious Fourth happens to come in hot weather this year, and we are glad to be able to observe it ‘neath the shade of country forests.

And a follow-up, on July 5:

The people of Vicksburg came nearer celebrating the glorious Fourth yesterday than they have done for several years. True, there was no general suspension of business, as indicated by closed doors, but so far as the profits of trade were concerned doors might as well have been closed, for the salesrooms were deserted almost entirely. Everybody was out of town, apparently, enjoying the holiday in some way. Several hundred people attended the Hibernian picnic at Newman’s Grove, and not withstanding the extreme heat, all seemed to enjoy the festivities of the day. The colored population turned out in large force, fully one thousand men of them going down the river on excursion bvoats to picnic-grounds, yet there were enough of them left in the city to form a very respectable procession of colored Masons, and a very large audience to listen to the oration of Judge J. S. Morris, and to assist in laying the corner-stone of King Solomon’s Church. There was no prolific display of fire-works on the streets, but occasional reports from fire-crackers and large torpedoes could be heard, accompanied now and then by a patriotic cry, “rah for the Fourth of July!” We do not wonder at the lack of patriotic enthusiasm displayed on our streets. No amount of patriotism could have induced any sane man to exert himself very considerably on such a day when the thermometer registered very nearly 100° Farenheit [sic.] in the shade. However, the observance of Independence Day yesterday, slight as some may have thought it, was yet sufficient to indicate the prevalence of a broader National sentiment and a determination to at least partially forget the past which renders the Fourth of July especially distasteful to Vicksburgers, and make it in future “The Day We Celebrate” as much as any other National holiday.

To be sure, the Fourth of July remained a bitter date for many Vicksburg citizens, for a long time. Undoubtedly there are some who still reject the date as one for celebration. But in this, as in so much else about the legacy of the war, the reality is more complex than the mythmakers would have one believe.