As a Yankee who abhors the hellish institution of slavery, and who is also is thankful for Lincoln’s final victory over the Southern Confederacy, I have studied that unique part of American history (Shelby Foote’s historical trilogy ‘The Civil War‘ for starters) and immediately grasp what Baron Bodissey is conveying in this wonderful piece.
It’s a well known fact (for students of that time period) that only a percent or two of the population at the time actually owned any slaves, with many having living relatives who once lived as indentured servants (a type of slavery in itself) in payment for travel to the New World. Human history is chock full of misery inflicted upon others.
One thing that can never be condoned as well, is the rewriting of history to fit a certain politically correct narrative. The shelving of the Stars and Bars can be equated with the Leftists’ move to ban the Indian names of American sports teams, which in fact bestow honor and respect to the original natives of the land.
Read the entire piece, it’s both thought provoking and very timely.
All the brouhaha about the Confederate flag has prompted me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for years (decades, actually): join the Sons of Confederate Veterans. My great-great-grandfather was a 2nd lieutenant in the 4th Virginia Cavalry, so I definitely qualify for membership. My consanguineous connection to the Recent Unpleasantness is further reinforced by my great-great-granduncle, Brigadier General David Weisiger, who led the charge at the Battle of the Crater* during the siege of Petersburg in 1864.
The current controversy has not altered my longstanding position on the flag. I consider it an honorable symbol of men who deserve our respect for their valor and sacrifice. I would not display it in front of my home or on my car, however, because to do so would be impolite — the flag holds a different symbolic significance for my black neighbors.
What is commonly known as the “Confederate Flag” is actually the battle flag of the Confederacy. In its original form it was square, and bore a legend identifying the unit that carried it. I couldn’t find the flag for the 4th Virginia Cavalry, so I’ve headed this post with one for the 4th Infantry (part of the “Stonewall Brigade”) instead.
My great-great-grandfather fought in Second Manassas (or Second Bull Run, if you’re a Yankee). Officially, he was wounded there, but according to family lore he actually fell off his horse and broke his leg. After the break was set, he was strapped on his horse, which carried him home to his plantation led by his servant — that is, his slave.
The family plantation lay between Richmond and Petersburg. That area experienced an extensive incursion by Union troops near the end of the war, especially after Richmond fell and the siege of Petersburg was broken. Union soldiers arrived at the plantation and informed my great-great-grandfather that they were going to burn down the house and outbuildings. The family was given enough time to rescue some of their belongings, which according to the stories had to be lowered out of the windows.
Needless to say, the family was reduced to near-penury. They moved to Richmond and opened up a boarding house to eke out a living after the war. One of their tenants was a former Confederate officer who had fallen on hard times, like his landlord. When he moved out, he was unable to pay the back rent, so he left his hosts a set of side chairs — clunky old dark wood pieces upholstered in faded red brocade — as part payment. After passing through the hands of another branch of the family for more than a hundred years, those same chairs ended up at Schloss Bodissey. They’re too damaged and disreputable now to be used downstairs, so they’re stacked up here in the eyrie just a few feet away from where I’m typing these words.
Such are the connections between the April rains of 1865 and a steamy August night in 2015.