Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Hey, Mississippi SCV: This is How It’s Done

Posted in Media, Memory by Andy Hall on February 16, 2011

There didn’t seem to be much else to be said about the Mississippi SCV’s Nathan Bedford Forrest commemorative license plate proposal, but Robert Moore suggested Wednesday that a better choice would be to put a generic Confederate soldier on it. This seems appropriate for several reasons, among others that there are a helluva lot more SCV members (and well as Mississippians generally) related to rank-and-file soldiers than there are descendants of cavalry generals. Such a plate might also serve as a point to generate constructive conversations with the public, including:

“Who was that man in the uniform?”

“What made-up the Confederate soldier, who, in turn, became the Confederate veteran?”

“How was the individual man part of the Confederate story?”

“Was he willing, unwilling?”

“Was he enthusiastic for ‘the cause’… for ‘a cause’?”

And so on. One of Robert’s commenters suggested the plates feature some of Don Troiani’s uniform studies. It’s a capital idea.

The SCV could issue five plates, one for each year of the war, each celebrating a “common man” (or woman) from the conflict. An early-war infantryman for 2011 (below). A civilian woman from Vicksburg in 2013. A former slave in the USCT for 2015. (Well, maybe that last one wouldn’t go over so well with the SCV. But it would sure work for a state-sponsored plate.) There are lots of other possibilities.

It’s colorful, it carries a bit of history, and it certainly comes closer to reflecting the Civil War experience of typical Mississippians better than one bearing the picture of a millionaire slave trader from Memphis. Granted, it doesn’t have quite the in-your-face impact of a big-ass flag out on the interstate, but sometimes less is more, ya know?

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Image: Soldier of the 17th Mississippi Infantry, Company I, Pettus Rifles by Don Troiani.