Celebrate the 4th a day early — burn a Confederate flag today!


At about 2pm on 3 July 1863, almost 13,000 Confederate soldiers made a desperate and foolish attack on the American lines at the battle of Gettysburg — they were repulsed, and half of their men were casualties. That was called the high water mark of the war with the South, and it really was the end.

So remind all your rebel-flag-waving friends that today is the day 154 years ago that their ancestors got their bloody comeuppance in a war they provoked to defend the immoral practice of slavery. The South is not going to rise again.

Comments

  1. says

    Yes, the course of the Civil War from then on was a relentless grinding down of the Confederacy. However, the surrender at Appomattox was by no means the end for the old south. The freed slaves were systematically disenfranchised through a campaign of terror, and re-enslaved through share cropping and prison slavery. Jim Crow lasted right through the 1960s. And the south seems to be rising again right now. White supremacy is in vogue, including in the White House.

    I must say, I don’t really get the message of these guys who fly confederate flags from their pickup trucks here in New England. You see it all the time. And I expect they’ve never been south of New Jersey.

  2. robro says

    The South is not going to rise again.

    Except they’ve struck this alliance with a bunch of despicable billionaires and the Southern mentality seems to dominate the American zeitgeist at the moment. As a Southerner, it’s very disturbing. It’s ironic that their allies are Republicans, who were reviled in the South for the better part of 100 years. In particular, New Yorkers were always perceived to be the most obnoxious Yankees.

    It’s also disturbing to read people’s FaceBook posts about a California succession movement. Geez…give that bastard an excuse to come kill a bunch of us and he will. (I have often said in the past that the most likely target of a US nuclear strike is San Francisco…you know, Liberal Bastion, Gay Mecca.)

    By the way, a old friend posted this story out of Jackson, MS this morning: Mass Grave Of Dozens Of Tortured Black Men Found In Deceased KKK Leaders Estate.

    (Don’t look at the teasers at the bottom of the page. Ugh.)

    My friend added her own story about Jackson, MS to the post: My last experience of the South was in Jackson, Mississippi. It was 1974 . . . “the New South” they called it. I was sent there to train people, as was a young Black woman from Nashville. We were instant allies and spent the week eating dinner together, etc. We were spat at, insulted, had drinks thrown at us, got beat up in the bathroom by middle-aged white women in spike heels. That was the NEW South. There are many graves of tortured Black women and men throughout the South. Open it up.

    I can corroborate her story because I knew her in 1974 and heard the story when she returned from Jackson to Jacksonville, Florida, where we lived.

  3. says

    If I had a flag, I’d be happy to burn it, and probably get shot for my trouble, too. People have been saying the South won’t rise again for quite a long time now. Kinda looks to me like it is rising again, with shades of other regimes tossed in.

  4. says

    That’s a great idea. Too bad I don’t have a confederate flag. There are 4 of them on the street where I live; I wonder if I’d be OK just burning one of those. Maybe if I wrapped it around a cross, then it’d be OK?

  5. says

    The south is not going to rise again because combat operations don’t work that way, anymore. The best they can hope for is an insurgency that tears everything apart, but most likely it’d result in a few small pockets of resistance getting hammered to bits piecemeal.

  6. robro says

    I was reading about the so-called Pickett’s Charge last night. Apparently historians can’t figure out what Lee hoped to accomplish. He sent three divisions (Pickett’s was only one of them) against Meade’s strongest position, as well as other brigades against strong positions on Culp Hill on the other side of the ridge. Because of apparent confusion about their goal, Pickett’s men actually turned northward in front of the Union lines, exposing themselves to flanking fire.

    It was a disaster for the great general…and of course all the men killed and wounded. When I was a kid in the South, Lee was a great hero, of course, and considered a great general. It seems he was actually a lousy general, as well as a lousy person morally.

    Longstreet, who was the corp commander in charge of the attack, seemed to be reluctant to start it and the charge got off to a late start. Perhaps he saw the futility. After the war, Longstreet moved to New Orleans where he became a Reconstruction Republican. He led a militia force against white supremacist at the Battle of Liberty Place in New Orleans.

  7. robro says

    Marcus — Have you looked at what’s going on in Congress? In the White House? In state houses all over this country? It’s not just the South, of course, but it started with a Southern Strategy.

  8. citizenjoe says

    When I was a kid, in Louisiana in the early 1950s, there were people who still saved their Confederate money in the belief it would again be legal currency.

  9. microraptor says

    robro @6:

    “What did Lee hope to accomplish?” is something that can be asked about much of his actions in the war. He was a good tactician, that’s one of the main reasons he kept winning battles, but strategically a lot of what he did, especially pushing into the Union, made little sense. From what I can tell, it’s mostly accepted that he had a brilliant strategy simply because he was Robert E Lee, The Greatest American Traitor General.

    Though one thing he was good at was shifting responsibility for his failures onto his subordinates, like Longstreet.

  10. says

    robro@#7:
    Marcus — Have you looked at what’s going on in Congress? In the White House? In state houses all over this country?

    I didn’t say it wouldn’t be a hellaciously nasty insurgency, but modern military logistics are such that there’s no plausible way a group of states would secede and suddenly have a functional army. The command/control of the national army and those states is to intertwined. Unless something extremely unlikely happened, like both sides agreeing to spend 9 months backing off and preparing for it.

  11. says

    Marcus:

    I didn’t say it wouldn’t be a hellaciously nasty insurgency, but modern military logistics are such that there’s no plausible way a group of states would secede and suddenly have a functional army.

    You seem to be very sure of whose side the military proper would be on. Given that the center for hate, bigotry, and white supremacy is now the white house, I’m not so sure. I’m not sure at all. When I made my earlier comment, I wasn’t talking about the ‘historic’ the South will rise again, it was in the sense Robro brought up – that sentiment is surging everywhere.

    Every day, there are more shootings. Every day, there are more hate crimes. Every day, another cop murders another brown person. Every day, juries let murderous cops go. Bigotry is more popular in uStates right now than it has been for quite some time. You know all this. Sometimes, I think in spite of yourself, you’re an optimist.

  12. naturalcynic says

    You seem to be very sure of whose side the military proper would be on. Given that the center for hate, bigotry, and white supremacy is now the white house, I’m not so sure.

    I kinda cringe as I write this, but the army may be one of the the best institutions against white supremacy. And there has got to be a lot of consternation in the army’s leadership about the top civilians in authority. And I don’t think that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are currently in a forgiving mode.

  13. says

    Caine@#11:
    You seem to be very sure of whose side the military proper would be on. Given that the center for hate, bigotry, and white supremacy is now the white house, I’m not so sure.

    I’m assuming it’d be split or mostly split. If it weren’t we’d just have a flat-out coup, no need for secession and civil war.

    Regardless of which way the military split, there’d be a huge logistical and command/control mess that resulted from a modern networked/radio-based military that suddenly was sharing comm frequencies and cryptosystems, refuelling planes, airports, and provisions. It’d be a godawful mess. In the 1st civil war, there was still a lot of mess – the confederates took a while figuring out uniforms, banners, stuff like that. Not long, because there was nowhere near as much to figure out.

    A more plausible (and scary scenario) would be if the Texas national guard decided to declare itself in a state of mutiny (or independence, depending on which side you’re on) The NG units sort of have their own logistics and unit integrity, so they wouldn’t have the same degree of problems that the regular army would have.

    Just to give you an idea of the kind of scenario I am thinking about: imagine that some idiot makes a credible “we are having a civil war!” claim. Now, what do the soldiers in Syria do? Do they start shooting eachother? Do the artillery units suddenly fire on the bases? Do the Apaches start shooting the artillery? I doubt it. I suspect that they look at eachother in horror and start talking and wait to see what happens stateside. Whose orders do they take? That sort of thing takes a while to figure out. Not months, but maybe weeks. What about the navy? What happens when a civil war is declared and news gets to an aircraft carrier task force group? No, they don’t just start shooting at eachother. It takes time for the machinery to spin up.

    I’m afraid (like you seem to be) that the military wouldn’t split apart. Yes, there are a lot of conservative assholes in there but their conservatism often comes out as constitution-worship and a stupid form of nationalist anti-authoritarianism that’s not very thoughtful.

    I don’t rate a civil war as very likely. An insurgency or a coup are much more likely, and I’m way more worried about a coup. It sure is convenient that so many troops are out fighting in stupid places all around the world, isn’t it?

    I think in spite of yourself, you’re an optimist.

    Yeah, because when I no longer see any hope of peaceful resolution, I’m gonna have to gird my loins and all that shit, and I really don’t want to do that.

  14. says

    naturalcynic@#12:
    I kinda cringe as I write this, but the army may be one of the the best institutions against white supremacy

    I agree with you! There are a lot of people in the military who are unit-bonded with fellow citizens of all colors, shapes, and persuasions. I think the assholes in Washington don’t understand that the military are 20% black, and 20% hispanic, and they’re highly unlikely do just split apart along racial or ethnic lines. Some multi-deferred chickenhawk like Trump might think that he can command that thing, but it’s definitely got a mind of its own. Ditto (as you say) the CIA and NSA.

    The FBI probably matters the most. In the event of a coup, they’re the ones who’d be doing the arrestings. They’re also a lot more diverse than they used to be, and they’ve got great unit cohesion. I would expect the FBI would probably not go along with a coup.

    The south got its ass handed to it because they were stupid enough not to really think through the force structures that would self-assemble when they started the civil war. They basically depended on the militia and locally stationed standing army. That sort of force structure really doesn’t exist, anymore. If some southern supremacist ordered a MLRS battery commander to fire on Ft Sumter, there’s a good chance he’d be talking to a person of color from NYC, and that conversation would start with “Sir, please repeat that order?” and it would go rapidly downhill from there.

    Scariest coup scenario is nuclear blackmail. “Hello, we are the new government and everyone stand down while we sort this out, or LA and Boston are going to burn.” I think the FBI would sort that out pretty fast, though. I hope so, anyway.

  15. says

    PS – re: Pickett’s charge – I have never understood why that incredibly stupid maneuver has been treated as a great glorious event. I’ve always assumed it was a propaganda thing, like The Charge Of The Light Brigade (AKA: “look! we threw away 500 sabres because our officer corps are overbred upper class twits who can’t cooperate on a battlefield!”) Lee was a hack. The less-competent napoleonic marshals would have used him as a toothpick. The only reason the south wasn’t immediately smashed flat is because the north managed to pony up an impressive array of incompetent nincompoops of their own. Americans venerate the civil war because there’s no other good that came of it – it didn’t even resolve the political problem that caused it – it was just useless bloodshed, so the propagandists called it “glorious.”

  16. says

    Confederate flags aren’t uncommon in Canada either, although it’s mainly used by people who really don’t get its slavery associations. Here in Saskatoon I’ve seen a pickup a couple of times in the last few days that has a film in the back window that combines the Confederate flag, the Canadian flag, and an NASCAR car.

  17. bachfiend says

    Marcus,

    Even if the Union and Confederate forces were a bunch of incompetent nincompoops, at the end of the Civil War, if they had any way of fighting a war against any other national army, they would have won easily.

    The other national armies of the world were even worse incompetent nincompoops. The military has a habit of not getting the best of a country, fortunately.

  18. springa73 says

    Marcus @15

    Probably one reason the Napoleonic battles were handled more capably than those of the American Civil War (on average) was that France had already been fighting wars for years by the time Napoleon rose to prominence, while the American Civil War commanders had to start from scratch – men who had commanded at best companies or regiments were quickly given command of armies. They were just becoming really experienced late in the war. It may be no accident that the early battles of the French Revolutionary Wars aren’t remembered as much – most of the commanders were probably less experienced.

    More on topic, I would agree with other posters that despite defeat, the South (or more precisely, the South’s dominant elites) regained much of their power after about a decade, and largely nullified the effects of the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution for almost a century, so in that sense it didn’t take them long to rise again.

  19. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I was reading about the so-called Pickett’s Charge last night. Apparently historians can’t figure out what Lee hoped to accomplish. He sent three divisions (Pickett’s was only one of them) against Meade’s strongest position, as well as other brigades against strong positions on Culp Hill on the other side of the ridge. Because of apparent confusion about their goal, Pickett’s men actually turned northward in front of the Union lines, exposing themselves to flanking fire.

    It was a disaster for the great general…and of course all the men killed and wounded. When I was a kid in the South, Lee was a great hero, of course, and considered a great general. It seems he was actually a lousy general, as well as a lousy person morally.

    Longstreet, who was the corp commander in charge of the attack, seemed to be reluctant to start it and the charge got off to a late start. Perhaps he saw the futility. After the war, Longstreet moved to New Orleans where he became a Reconstruction Republican. He led a militia force against white supremacist at the Battle of Liberty Place in New Orleans.

    Iced Earth‘s thesis is that Lee saw the first day’s victories at Gettysburg as a sign of divine favor and believed the South invincible. Sounds like it’s as good an explanation as any…

  20. fentex says

    I have a friend who insists we (and by we I mean those of us he regales over dinner in New Zealand) should start calling the U.S the Confederacy Of States because, he argues, Trumps election represents the final victory of the South.

  21. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    because, he argues, Trumps election represents the final victory of the South.

    High Slobber Mark.

  22. anchor says

    #8: Considering that many transacted their stash with relative hardliners in order to ‘convert’ it to legal currency, it held something of a value, if not in the form of legal currency. I imagine collectors still place a significant price on it.

    #4: Its easy enough to make one. Take a white linen sheet, paint it accordingly, douse the thing with an accelerant, and watch it whoosh into flames. Its all symbolic anyway.

  23. anchor says

    correction: if not in the form of a legal transaction – but I don’t know what the law says about what is allowed to be a legitimate collectible and how valuable its allowed to be. It’s easy to think that underground networks find Nazi paraphernalia quite valuable, for example, and readily convertible into legitimately cold hard legal cash. There was something like that discovered in Brazil a few weeks back as I recall.

  24. archangelospumoni says

    http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/09/phases-of-american-civil-war.html

    David Brin postulates we are about at the 8th or 9th stage of the Civil War. Phase 4 was the actual war part, but it really never stopped. Read a few paragraphs and be sickened. Phase 8 was Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Somewhere in there is Reagan’s carefully calculated speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi———-on states’ rights. Extra sickening.

    By the way, look at Drumpfh’s cabinet, especially with respect to which Confederate state they are from. Nauseating to think of this within the context of a continuing C.W.

    P.S. My asshole relatives in the S still insist on calling it “the war of northern aggression.”
    P.P.S. When my mother’s dementia was so bad she didn’t recognize me each visit, I was STILL thanking her (and Dad of course) for moving us AWAY from the S. Imagine growing up there and staying. Ugh.

  25. anchor says

    @25: Brin makes a pretty good point. I call it the inevitable ‘residual’ of conflict. Short of complete annihilation, it is always still there.

    Same with Nazism. Its still breathing too.

    War is ineffectual as a ‘force’ for cultural change. It might have perfectly reasonable grounds for its immediate undertaking as an urgent matter of defense, but it on any side it will never obliterate the other. To the contrary, it often amplifies the rage on the opposing side.

    Since total annihilation is physically impossible, there is inevitably a residual – what military/gamester type thinkers might call a ‘payback’ – and it becomes an inevitable object of ‘management’.

    A permanent condition of ‘war’ ensues – in line with Brin’s analysis.

  26. says

    Of course, the majority of those men did not want to be there and had no investment in “the cause.” When the states seceded, the appointed generals called for a volunteer standing army of 400,000. They didn’t get close. After that, the Confederacy passed the United States’ first conscription law, declaring that all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 35 had to give three years’ service.

    Oh but wait, you could buy your way out; you could give the government a couple hundred bucks and they would farm your spot out to someone else who had otherwise gained an exception (a druggist, for example.) Didn’t have a few hundred dollars? Not a problem, so long as you had twenty slaves to your name – in the interest of “preserving order,” men who owned at least twenty slaves were exempt from the draft in all circumstance. The draft ages were later adjusted to 17-50.

    So, the bulk of the confederate army were poor men who could not afford the substitution, who did not have many slaves, and who did not have professions valuable on the ‘home front.” Most of them were young, in their late teens or early 20’s, as conscripts tend to be. They were impressed into service under legal redress after consciously demurring on joining a volunteer force. Once on the lines they were assured that the Home Guard had their loved ones under protection – an implied but very real threat against desertion.

    If you want to celebrate 13,000 of these people getting torn to shreds by lead and shrapnel, I guess you do you. Just be intellectually consistent and similarly celebrate the deaths of the mostly-conscript, mostly-young, mostly-poor 58,307 soldiers who were killed in the US’ imperialist, colonial war against the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

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