Which side was Michigan on in the Civil War?

There’s an ongoing protest at a Michigan high school, with Confederate flag waving students irate about an incident in which a black student ripped a traitor’s flag off of a white student’s truck. Now there are dozens of trucks cruising the school with their silly little flags.

I had to ask myself, “Wait a minute, Michigan is as far north as Minnesota, isn’t it? Were they a rebel state, too?” That’s rhetorical, by the way. I looked it up, even though I didn’t need to.

Michigan made a substantial contribution to the Union during the American Civil War. While the state itself was far removed from the combat theaters of the war, Michigan supplied a large number of troops and several generals, including George Armstrong Custer. When, at the beginning of the war, Michigan was asked to supply no more than four regiments, Governor Austin Blair sent seven.

Didn’t these kids learn any history in their high school?

Myers [NO RELATION] said the flag represented “a country boy thing” to him and his friends, and he told a reporter the symbol has been “part of American history” since the founding of the U.S.

“We’re flying the flag because of injustice,” Myers said. “It looks cool in the mirror,” he said.

No, apparently they did not.

I guess flying a flag representing slavery is actually “because of injustice”, just not the way they understand it.


  1. says

    I want to emphasize that that Myers clown may know how to correctly spell his name, but otherwise is an ignorant wanker who is not related to me.

  2. Oggie. says

    The Traitor’s Rag has become a culturally acceptable way of saying to the world, “I am a racist.” A sentiment that, stated baldly, would get one removed from school for a week or a day, or fired from your job.

    When I lived in Maryland, I was always amused (not in a good way) by the people from West Virginia who proudly flew the Traitor’s Rag. Do they even know why West Virginia is no longer part of Virginia? (For that matter, I doubt any of them realize that the term ‘redneck’ refers to the pro-union side in the labour disputes of the late 19th through the mid 20th centuries.)

  3. blf says

    the symbol has been ‘part of American history’ since the founding of the US

    Most likely this is referring to what is now often called the “Confederate Flag” (or a variety of other names). That design is based on the N.Virgina battle flag, first used in c.1861 (according to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge). I haven’t a clew when the design originated, and the cited article indicates who originated it is a manner of controversy. The flag itself doesn’t seem much older, suggesting the design / symbol dates from around the same time — which, to return to the point, has not been ‘part of American history’ since the founding of the US. (Corrections with credible citations most welcome!)

  4. archangelospumoni says

    To the crackers who like the traitor flag: “Here’s your sign.”

    Look it up.

  5. cartomancer says

    Comment #1 – Fame evolutionist PZ Meyers denies common descent! Checkmate atheists!

  6. says

    Yes, I live in rural Connecticut and we see quite a few Confederate battle flags. The front license plate of the personal truck of a fire lieutenant in Canterbury is a Confederate battle flag. A guy has two of them proudly displayed in his front yard that I drive past whenever I go to the supermarket. Sometimes people actually fly them from their pickup trucks, alongside a U.S. flag. Lots of people have decals in the back window of their truck. Once a copy on detail in his private vehicle had a Confederate flag decal on the windshield.

    What is this supposed to mean? These people have probably never been south of New London. It’s a declaration of racism, nothing else.

  7. microraptor says

    At my old job, the first day they gave us a big spiel about how hate speech wasn’t tolerated blah blah blah.

    First thing we saw when we went out onto the floor was a supervisor’s cubicle with a Confederate flag pinned to the wall. Yeah, no hate speech allowed.

  8. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    To conservatives, truth as always been a la carte, and the American Civil War is a prime example. There is an interesting, albeit perhaps a bit too sympathetic, portrayal of the history of the “Lost Cause” myth (in which the Civil War is depicted as a valiant resistance by the South) here:

    The Civil War was never about “freedom” or “states’ rights”. It was always about one particular state right–that to own own human beings as chattel. Despite a critical shortage of manpower, whenever a Southerner had the temerity to suggest that slaves could be armed to defend the country in exchange for their freedom, that person was isolated and viewed with suspicion (e.g. Major General Patrick Cleburne).

    The Lost Cause myth served a useful purpose after the war as a narrative (read “convenient lie”) both sides could agree upon (or at least, let pass) to salve the wounds on both sides. However, it does quite a bit of violence to the truth. Slavery was not only the main cause of the war, it was largely the cause of the South’s defeat, as it allowed the South to remain a backward, agricultural fiefdom where not only black slaves, but “white trash” were beaten down.

    In the North, the glorification of the Confederate battle flag and the confederate cause has been more of a class distinction. Most of the sympathizers are utterly ignorant of the history, although they may be aware of the whiff of racism the Flag gives off, and that is just fine with them. Historian Alan Nolan has suggested that the adoption of the Lost Cause was a triumph of legend over history. I’d say that it’s stupidity over reality.

  9. brett says

    I think this is it:

    Myers [NO RELATION] said the flag represented “a country boy thing” to him and his friends,

    It’s like that “smokestacks” thing with the trucks. It’s a way for conservative (mostly rural) white young men to raise a middle finger at people, especially liberal folk.

  10. says

    To quote a famous Michigander: “If you black, you were born in jail, in the North as well as the South.
    Stop talking about the South,” Malcolm X implored his audience. “As long
    as you South of the Canadian border, you South.”


  11. Chris Capoccia says

    Does the confederate moron have any proof that his flag got stolen? It seemed to me like he was just making threats with no evidence

  12. Ragutis says

    I have a few relatives in MI. I haven’t visited often, but from what I’ve seen,outside of the urban centers, things get redneck fast. My aunt and uncle sold all their shit to move into an exclusive, gated community when THE MUSLIMS started moving into Dearborn. This is just another example of what should be a True Blue labor/worker state being swindled to act and vote against their best interests because of the Others. FFS, the aunt and uncle I mentioned above were friggin immigrants. Instead of seeing brothers and sisters fleeing persecution and war as they did , they focus on the tragedy of their rye bread and dried meats delis being INVADED and USURPED by Halal grocers.

  13. cartomancer says

    In England it used to be the case (in the 70s and 80s) that flying the St. George’s Cross flag (the white one with the red cross, signifying England only, as opposed to the full Union Jack signifying all of Britain) was something only racists did, to intimidate immigrants. There are still older people from immigrant backgrounds who find the sight of the flag deeply worrying.

    This changed in the 90s, when it became a fairly innocuous thing that football fans did to show their support in the World Cup. Nowadays nobody really has a problem with it. I was wondering whether this might happen to the Confederate flag in the US, but the big difference is that the overtones of racism with the St. George Cross were external and laid on by context – the Confederate one was created and used to represent the cause of racism from the beginning.

    Quite why anybody still uses anything but the Welsh flag I have no idea. It’s got a sodding dragon on it for goodness’ sake.

  14. blf says

    the Welsh flag […] got a sodding dragon on it

    Either it’s a very small lightweight dragon, or else the flag is made of some incredible substance to support the oversized overweight firefly.

  15. says

    I’ve occasionally seen the flag here in Canada (though as a sticker on a vehicle). I’m curious what those who display it would claim it represents to them.

  16. HawkAtreides says

    See also: Confederate flags in West Virginia, the only state to secede from another state in order to remain with the Union. Nowadays one would be forgiven for believing the opposite.

  17. David says

    The only Confederate flag that matters in the white one they waved when they lost the war.

  18. kevinalexander says

    Michigan fought for the North in 1860. By the time the auto industry and associated work needed labour there was a great migration from the South. I can remember still hearing Mississippi accents in Detroit in the 1970s.
    Then the industry tanked in the rust belt and the out of work turned, as always, on the people who didn’t do that to them.

  19. unclefrogy says

    kind of reminds me of the pickpocket ploy of bump and stall where 2 person team manipulate the mark so they can pick his pocket. Here the working classes are distracted by each other while the employers can duck from the majority of their responsibilities to society.
    I am getting surprised more lately by where my thinking is heading, As I grow older my tolerance for BS is diminishing.
    enough is bloody enough all ready!
    uncle frogy

  20. gijoel says

    Next up, alt-right youths claim they wear nazi uniforms because they like Hugo Boss.

  21. says

    Tabby@16, I think a large percentage of those up here who have Confederate flag stuff just think of it as a “rebel” flag, while generally being ignorant of what the rebelling was about. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the older ones do it because they associate with The Dukes of Hazzard, again ignorant or ignoring who the General Lee was named after. Of course there are Canadians who are well aware what the flag stands for, and use it because of that.

  22. Johnny Vector says

    I guess flying a flag representing slavery is actually “because of injustice”, just not the way they understand it.

    Oh come now, every good ol’ gun-lovin’ patriot knows it doesn’t stand for slavery. It stands for treason!

  23. springa73 says

    Yeah, you see it even in Massachusetts. These days it mostly means “I’m a conservative white person and proud of it.”

  24. roverserton says

    Sadly, this is my alma mater. I graduated here in 1976, a class of 440. I don’t remember any blacks, and only a handful of Mexicans. I’m afraid that the mainstreaming of the alt-right is going to only increase this type of behavior.

  25. call me mark says

    I respectfully, and sadly, disagree with cartomancer’s comment at number 14. Anecdata, but I’ve often seen the flag of St George frequently flown side-by-side with EDL and Britain First flags in some areas of Leeds.