Secessionville, Assault on Charleston by Patrick Brennan – Review by Gene Kizer, Jr.

A Review of

Secessionville, Assault on Charleston by Patrick Brennan

De Capo Press, second edition, (Campbell, CA: Savas Publishing Company), 1996, 408 pages, hardback, numerous maps and pictures, Order of Battle, interview with the author, detailed explanatory endnotes, comprehensive bibliography, index. Cover states that this is: "The second title in our acclaimed 'Battles & Campaigns of the Carolinas' series."

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

9781882810086-56K

Patrick Brennan's Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, is an exceptional, exciting and thorough book that all people who are interested in the War Between the States should own.

It will also appeal greatly to those who love a good fight in which the underdog, outnumbered 6,600 to 500 at the beginning of the battle, outthinks his enemy and defeats him with ingenuity as well as guts.

The Battle of Secessionville was of major significance to the entire War Between the States. If the Confederates had lost, Charleston might have been lost in 1862 thus changing the course of history. The Southern victory kept the Yankees out of the city they wanted to capture or destroy worst than any other place in the country.

Charleston was symbolic to the North, but critical and symbolic to the South. Gen. Lee had said that Charleston was "to be fought street by street and house by house as long as we have a foot of ground to stand upon."

A resolution stated the same thing:

Resolved, That the governor and Executive Council concur in opinion with the people of South Carolina, assembled in Convention, that Charleston should be defended at any cost of life or property, and that in their deliberate judgment they would prefer a repulse of the enemy with the entire city in ruins to an evacuation or surrender on any terms whatever.

The battle began around 4:30 a.m. (would be 5:30 a.m. today) Monday, June 16, 1862 in light rain but because of the many units involved and the terrain of saltwater creeks and pluff mud, plus the brilliant Confederate defenses and the staggered Union attack, there is a lot to understand.

Excellent accounts of the battle have been written by many in more ranging works such as E. Milby Burton in The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865; John Johnson in The Defense of Charleston Harbor, 1863-1865; and former Confederate Major-General Samuel Jones in The Siege of Charleston, and the Operations on the South Atlantic Coast in the War Among the States.

And there have been vivid accounts of the battle by participants focusing on their units and experiences, as well as newspaper accounts and other primary sources, but all this wonderful material was widely scattered until the Northerner Patrick Brennan, with his love of Charleston and his Charleston connection, came along and gathered most of it up, organized it and put it in his book.

Brennan is a musician as well as a lover of history and the War Between the States. He was playing at Myskyn's on Market Street in downtown Charleston (nice place but I liked Cap't Harry's better!). Brennan writes:

I trace my interest in the Battle of Secessionville to a visit I made to Charleston in January 1990. I'm a musician by trade, and my band had been booked into Myskyn's, a music club in downtown Charleston. On the day I hit town, armed with Blue and Gray Magazine's tour of Civil War Charleston, I found Secessionville and the remains of Fort Lamar. Hurricane Hugo had recently devastated the area, and the fields looked like I had just missed the fight. Needless to say, I was tremendously moved. Standing on the right flank of the fort, I resolved to write something about the battle. So, as odd as it may seem, it was that performance of Dick Holliday and the Bamboo Gang at a club only five miles from the Secessionville battlefield that started the journey that ends here.1

When the book arrived at my house a week ago, I thumbed through it then turned to June 16, 1862 and could not put it down for 65 carefully read pages, until I had to leave to meet a friend.

The beauty of Brennan's book is that, inasmuch as any author can cover a complicated subject in a single work, he has everything in this book. He knows it is complicated so he strives to make it all understandable by using maps and a device often used in fiction: the use of informal sections within a chapter. One section might present Confederate action, and the next, Union action going on at the same time.

It keeps the material organized and clear.

Most of the maps are adequate though a couple are confusing, but that does not affect Brennan's excellent narrative. This is a well-written, clearly-written, well-organized book that took Brennan six years to write.

He gives the background in the Prologue, with the Union navy's victory at Port Royal, and Fort Pulaski at the mouth of the Savannah River. He then focuses on Charleston.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes tension, intrigue, jealously and rivalry among officers in both armies, some of whom are talented and do their jobs well, and some are not, just as in any human endeavor. Brennan explains all of this well.

There are 22 pictures of various commanders on both sides which greatly enhance the narrative. Most of the pictures are poorly reproduced. They are too dark and some a little blurry, but, again, this takes nothing from Brennan's outstanding writing. His short biographies and histories of the main participants along with the pictures tell the story well.

When he gets closer to the battle, Brennan gives us a daily account of all action starting with June 4, 1862, and running past the battle to June 21, 1862.

The battle date, June 16, 1862, covers 104 pages.

The "Cartography" includes 23 maps and Brennan has done a brilliant thing by having a full-page map every 10 minutes throughout the entire battle showing the positions of the various units engaged. You can see how the battle developed and who was in action and where. He starts at 4:30 a.m. with the first map, and the penultimate covers 5:50 - 6:00 a.m., then the last one is 6:00 - 8:30 a.m.

In Chapter Seven, "Positions, Places," under the heading Monday, June 16, 1862, Brennan writes:

With a lusty cheer the Michigan line charged forward, passing over a combination ditch and hedge that some of the men mistook for rifle pits. As the Federals drove forward, the front face of the Confederate battery erupted in a serious of fiery explosions. A deafening roar rent the air, then another, then a third. In one terrifying moment, the center of the Michigan line melted before a hissing spray of Confederate shell and canister. Broken and bleeding bodies shivered by the blasts littered the patchy cotton rows, while those still standing pressed forward into the metal storm. 'Every discharge of their old churn (as we called it) would pass through the ranks of our brave boys and  mow them down like grass before a scythe,' recalled one veteran, 'but with dogged persistence they closed ranks and pushed on with the federal yell.' But even as the main line of the 8th Michigan was rocked by the artillery blasts, elements of the 'forlorn hope'---companies C and H---were covering the final yards fronting the battery.2

The section the above paragraph is in includes the following full-page map of the unit positions at 4:30 a.m., 16 June 1862.

Secessionville-Review-MAP-p170 52K

In the next section comes the Confederate action. Three paragraphs into it, Brennan writes:

The sentinel roused the slumbering Colonel Lamar, who rose to see the distant blue formations gelling before his eyes. Already, the 150 cannoneers of the two companies that had slept along the parapet were being awakened by the shouts of excited orderlies. The colonel turned to a waiting aid and issued firm orders: Get Gaillard's and Smith's battalions from their Secessionville camps up to support the battery immediately, then find General Evans and inform him of the attack. Lamar then turned to Lt. J. W. Moseley at the Columbiad and ordered him to load the 8-inch gun with canister (a metal container holding dozens of small round iron balls). Lamar himself sprang onto the chassis and aimed the piece, setting the sights on the center of the surging Federal line. To the left of the Columbiad, Sgt. James Baggott swung his 24-lb. artillery piece into action, aimed it, and blasted off the fort's first response to the attack. Lamar, beaten to the draw by Baggott by just a few seconds, tugged the Columbiad's lanyard and sent a storm of canister screeching into the enemy's line. The battle was joined.3

After the battle, there were scenes of carnage everywhere. Brennan writes:

Similar scenes marked the fields north of the marsh. Once the Federals disappeared from that sector, small Confederate parties moved out from the slashing to investigate the ground that the enemy had held. Benjamin Sheppard from the Eutaw Battalion wrote his mother that although the battle was bad, 'The scene after the battle is worse than all. . . I saw men laying  in all kinds of postures, some looked as though they were praying after they were wounded and died.' Augustine Smyth accompanied a squad that was detailed to gather arms from the Washington Light Infantry's front. 'Such a scene I wish never again to witness,' he wrote:

Twenty or thirty men lay stretched out on a small field, wounded, dying, & dead. One must have been in the Act of loading his gun when a grapeshot took out the whole of his back, for he lay dead with his hands raised, just as if he were even then loading. Another one lay close by with his leg entirely shot away, & only a piece of skin connecting his knee and his thigh. Many were in the water, dead, in a small creek between them and Secessionvillle, one poor fellow, wounded in his back and throat, lay in the water close to the bank, but unable to get out, while tide was up to his shoulders and continually rising. We helped him up and gave him water, & left him on the field for the litters to carry off.4

Later, when Union prisoners were taken into Charleston, Brennan writes:

A large crowd gathered at the Charleston wharf on the afternoon of the 16th to meet a tugboat bearing news of the morning battle that was waged just five miles away. Making a line from Fort Johnson, the tug docked around 2 p.m. Soon, a group of bedraggled Federals filed off the boat, greeted by 'shouts and the use of hard names,' remembered one. The Confederate guards moved forward to control the rowdy civilians, such was the passion of the moment. One not particularly charitable Charlestonian counted 30 prisoners and noted 'Nearly all of them have the appearance of veritable cut-throats, and they are, evidently, the scum of the communities from which they were recruited.' Someone recognized one captured Federal as Napoleon Mayo, an entertainer who had appeared in Charleston as member of 'Matt Peel's strolling Negro troupe.' With catcalls echoing in their ears, the Northerners marched down East Bay to Broad Street where they entered the Guard House to spend their first night in captivity.5

There were two brothers in the battle, one Confederate, one Union. Brennan writes about Union troops when they were back in their camp:

Most of the Union troops were too spent to record their thoughts immediately, but within a few hours, one Northerner fought off his exhaustion to write a letter to his wife. The Highlanders' flag bearer, Alexander Campbell, began, 'I am all safe. . . we are very tired,' then went on to describe in some detail his role in the battle. In mid-letter he revealed a startling bit of news: 'Brither James was in the fort.' Campbell spoke of a wounded Confederate who told him that his brother was a lieutenant in the Union Light Infantry of the Charleston Battalion, a unit that had fought on the fort's right flank. Campbell concluded, '[P]erhaps he is Killed for our guns shelled them terrebly (sic),' but he determined to find out his brother's fate. . . . 6

I take issue with one thing Brennan said. In the Prologue, page XII, he said: "Abraham Lincoln's November election provoked Carolinian leaders into elucidating a uniquely Southern view of states' rights. In December of 1860, they invoked what they saw as their constitutional prerogative and voted to secede from the Federal union."

Seceding from the Union is not a "uniquely Southern view of states' rights." New England states threatened to secede five times in the antebellum era over the War of 1812 (treasonous Hartford Convention), the Louisiana Purchase, the admission of Texas, and at other times when they felt their political power was being diluted. Nobody questioned the right of secession back then, and it was certainly a right.

Before acceding to the Constitution, three states specifically reserved the right of secession: New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Because all the other states accepted the reserved right of secession of New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia, the other states had it too because all states entered the Union as exact equals.

For ten years the North used hate against the South to rally votes so they could use their larger population to take over the government. Their goal was to continue their economic rape of the rest of the country with their bounties, subsidies, monopolies and tariffs that resulted in the South paying around 85% of the country's taxes while 75% of the tax money was being spent in the North.7 Southerners were fed up.

The main thing that triggered secession was that Northern hate. Southerners saw Northerners promote terrorism against them by financing John Brown who hacked pro-South settlers to death in front of their families in Kansas, then be martyred in the North when he was brought to justice. Southerners were not about to accept as their rulers, people who hated them.

They had the right to secede and they exercised it property. Like the Declaration of Independence says, governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and there was no consent in the South in 1860-61 to continue in the Federal Union.

I take issue with another point Brennan made. He said that Brig. Gen. Isaac I. Stevens had been slandered by a William Lilly: "Old charges that Stevens was questionable on the slavery issue, a charge that most Democrats had to face at one time or another, combined with Lilley's fabrications to hold up Stevens' confirmation."

That's an odd point for Brennan to make because the one thing you can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt is that the North did not go to war to end slavery. Brennan did not footnote his comment so there is no way to know exactly what he was talking about.

The War Aims Resolution of the Northern Congress (the war is about Union, not slavery), and the Corwin Amendment (leave blacks in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress, where slavery already exists), passed overwhelmingly in the Northern Congress and was ratified by several states before the war made it moot. They prove the North's true feeling about slavery.

There is other irrefutable proof such as the six slave states that fought for the Union the entire war, three of which had slavery months after the war, until the second Thirteenth Amendment finally freed them. The first Thirteenth Amendment was the Corwin Amendment.

The North was interested in its money and power, not ending slavery. They brought most of the slaves here. They damn sure did not want them to move North and be job competition. That's why so many Northern and Western states had laws on the books forbidding free blacks from even visiting, much less living there, including Lincoln's Illinois.

Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862 states clearly "hereafter, as theretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation" between the U.S. and seceded states i.e., the Union (emphasis added). There is no mention of slavery.

Lincoln also states in the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that efforts would continue to find a place to send blacks to in the future such as back to Africa or into a place they could survive. That was Lincoln's view his whole life. See Colonization After Emancipation, Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, by Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011).

The actual Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863 deliberately did not free any of the thousands of slaves in Confederate territory already captured by the Union. They were specifically exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation and were left in slavery as were all the slaves in the six Union slave states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia. West Virginia had come into the Union as a slave state, ironically, within weeks of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln's own secretary of state, William H. Seward, and others such as Charles Dickens made fun of Lincoln for issuing such a ridiculous document that freed slaves where he had no control, but left them in slavery where he could have freed them easily.

Another excellent review on this book was done by Brett Schulte and can be found at: Review: Secessionville: Assault on Charleston by Patrick Brennan — TOCWOC - A Civil War Blog (brettschulte.net)

The famous drawings of the Battle of Secessionville that are used for the cover of Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, come from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, the July 12, 1862 edition. It can be viewed here with the original captions: The battle of Secessionville, James Island, S.C., bayonet charge of union troops, commanded by Brigadier-General Stevens; Repulse of the rebels at James Island, near Charleston, S.C. - South Carolina and the Civil War - UofSC Digital Collections.

Those drawings were made by Frank Leslie's artists from sketches sent to Leslie by a Union officer in the battle. They are from the Northern perspective and are not completely accurate.

We need some Southern artists like Bob Graham of Bob Graham Fine Art here in Charleston to do some great artwork of the Battle of Secessionville from the Confederate perspective! Bob's gallery includes several beautiful works from the war as well as western subjects and American Indians: http://bobgrahamfineart.com/.

Patrick Brennan's Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, is an exceptional, enjoyable, valuable book about an important battle.

As distinguished historian John Lukacs said, the best history in the future will be written by independent historians like Brennan. It certainly will not come from politicized academia, which cares nothing for truth.

NOTES

1 Patrick Brennan, Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, Acknowledgments, II.

2 See Note 30, page 346, for the primary sources listed for this paragraph. It comes from Brennan, Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, 171.

3 Brennan, Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, 172.

4 For the primary sources quoted here, see Chapter 9, Note 40 in Brennan, Secessionville, Assault on Charleston. Both paragraphs come from page 260.

5 For primary sources, see Chapter 9, Note 52. This comes from Brennan, Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, 265.

6 For the primary sources, see Chapter 9, Note 54. This comes from Brennan, Secessionville, Assault on Charleston, 266.

7 Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War (Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2020), 103.

Battle of Secessionville, June 16, 1862, 158th Anniversary Commemoration Address by Gene Kizer, Jr.

Battle of Secessionville, June 16, 1862
158th Anniversary Commemoration Address by Gene Kizer, Jr.
Historic Marker Secessionville 62K

[Publisher's Note: It is a great honor to give the address for the Battle of Secessionville Commemoration each year on the battle site at Fort Lamar Heritage Preserve on James Island, between Folly Beach and Charleston, South Carolina. In 2020, because of COVID, the Commemoration was held November 21st rather than in June, close to the battle date, and this worked out well.

What is so impressive about our Confederate ancestors in this battle is that they were greatly outnumbered and outgunned, as they were throughout the War Between the States, so to win, they had to outthink and outsmart the enemy, and they did, regularly.

Fort Lamar, initially called Tower Battery, was built in a strategic location on James Island on the narrowest part of a peninsula that is shaped like an oblong hourglass. Tower Battery itself was only 125 yards across, with saltwater creeks and pluff mud on both sides. WE knew Yankees would not be able to walk through any pluff mud, but they didn't. So we were able to concentrate our strengths where we needed them.

Tower Battery. Observation tower and footbridge not on this map.
Tower Battery. Observation tower and footbridge not on this map.

There were two separate, small batteries, one, a mile away, and both laid down an enfilading fire on the front of the fort that was devastating to the attacking enemy in the battle.

Even the defense of Charleston, which had been set up by Gen. Robert E. Lee when he was in charge down here, is something to be greatly admired in the annals of war. The Charleston and Savannah Railroad ran 100 miles between Charleston and Savannah, and whichever city needed troops, the other was to send them on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. Confederates successfully defended 100 miles of railroad the entire war.

A footbridge capable of men and horses was built a mile across the marsh and over that footbridge came the reinforcements including the Fourth Louisiana that turned the tide in the Battle of Secessionville.

Rough but excellent sketch of Tower Battery showing the critical footbridge.
Rough but excellent sketch of Tower Battery showing the critical footbridge.

Of course, a huge ditch out in the field in front of the fort that forced attacking Yankees to bunch up together, where they were then wiped out by grape and canister from the fort, was unquestionably a strategic move that worked brilliantly.

As I said, Confederates were greatly outnumbered and outgunned, so they had to outsmart the enemy to win, and they did, regularly.

The bottom line is that Confederates in Charleston were never beaten in the War Between the States. Yankees wanted to destroy Charleston worst than any other city yet on the day in early 1865 that Confederates were ordered to evacuate in order to continue the war elsewhere, Yankees were denied a military surrender such as Union Maj. Robert Anderson had done four years earlier at Fort Sumter. Charleston was, instead, turned over to the enemy by a city alderman, unbeaten and unbowed, with much of the city in smoldering ruins after one of the longest sieges in military history.

This is the copy I spoke from so I did not add footnotes but people I quoted are noted in the text and all statements by anybody else have quotation marks around them.

A short, select bibliography includes: E. Milby Burton, The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1970); W. Chris Phelps, Charlestonians in War, The Charleston Battalion (Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 2004); Warren Ripley, ed., Siege Train, The Journal of a Confederate Artilleryman in the Defense of Charleston (Published for the Charleston Library Society by the University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 1986); John Johnson, The Defense of Charleston Harbor, 1863-1865 (Charleston: Walker, Evans & Cogswell Co., Publishers, 1890; reprint, Germantown, Tennessee: Guild Bindery Press, 1994); Samuel Jones, Formerly Major-General C.S.A., The Siege of Charleston, and the Operations on the South Atlantic Coast in the War Among the States (New York: The Neale Publishing Company, 1911); numerous maps, and articles by veterans of the Battle of Secessionville such as "In the Battle of Secessionville" by R. De T. Lawrence, Marietta, Georgia, in Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXX, Nov., 1922; also by R. De T. Lawrence, "Signal Corps in Defense of Charleston" in Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXVIII, July, 1920; "The Fourth Louisiana Battalion at the Battle of Secessionville, S.C." by H. J. Lea, Winnsboro, Louisiana, in Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXXI, January, 1923; "The Battle of Secessionville" in Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXX, Oct., 1922; and "Three Vital Episodes in the Attacks on Charleston" by Robert W. Barnwell, Sr., Florence, S.C. in Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXXVIII, Dec., 1930.]

 

I was introduced by Gene Patrick, President of Confederate Heritage Trust.

Thank you, Gene.

Good Morning.

It is a tremendous honor to stand on this sacred ground and speak to you this morning as we commemorate one of the most important battles of the War Between the States: the Battle of Secessionville.

There had not been that much immigration into the South in the antebellum days. The Confederates of 1861 were largely the same blood as the patriots who fought the British in 1776.

They had the same strong feelings about liberty and self-government.

Indeed, the most widely quoted phrase of the secession debate in the South during the year leading up to South Carolina's secession came from the Declaration of Independence:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The country was not centralized in those days. Each state was sovereign and independent, like the countries of Europe. King George III agreed to the Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783 which listed EACH American state then proclaimed them all QUOTE "to be free, sovereign and independent states . . . ".

No state ever rescinded its sovereignty or gave up its independence.

In fact, three states INSISTED, before they would join the new Union, that they could secede from it if it became tyrannical in their eyes. Those states were New York, Rhode Island and Virginia.

Because all the states were admitted to the Union as equals, the acceptance of the right of secession demanded by New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, gave that right to all the other states as well.

The Battle of Secessionville took place one hundred and fifty eight years and five months ago---on Monday, June 16, 1862---before dawn on a dark, drizzly morning fourteen months into the war.

If this battle had been lost, Charleston would have been lost, then soon, the war.

Charleston was a HUGE symbol for both sides.

Charleston is where the Confederacy began when South Carolinians met here December 20, 1860 in a convention of the people and voted unanimously, 169 to 0, to secede from the Union.

Charleston is where the war began 16 weeks later, on April 12, 1861, after Abraham Lincoln refused to remove his troops from sovereign South Carolina soil.

Instead, he lied to the Southerners. He promised to remove the Fort Sumter garrison, but secretly ordered it reinforced.

He knew full well that would start the war.

When Major Anderson, Union commander inside Fort Sumter, received notification that he would be resupplied and possibly reinforced, Anderson responded with a letter on April 8th that stated in part:

. . . a movement made now when the South has been erroneously informed that none such will be attempted, would produce most disastrous results throughout our country. . . . We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in the war which I see is to be thus commenced . . .

Major Anderson SEES that the war is to be "Thus commenced" by Abraham Lincoln.

The importance of holding Charleston can not be overstated.

Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote to Gen. Pemberton and said: "The loss of Charleston would cut us off almost entirely from communications with the rest of the world and close the only channel through which we can expect to get supplies from abroad, now almost our only dependence."

Gen. Lee added that Charleston was "to be fought street by street and house by house as long as we have a foot of ground to stand upon."

A resolution stated the same thing:

Resolved, That the governor and Executive Council concur in opinion with the people of South Carolina, assembled in Convention, that Charleston should be defended at any cost of life or property, and that in their deliberate judgment they would prefer a repulse of the enemy with the entire city in ruins to an evacuation or surrender on any terms whatever.

The North wanted to destroy Charleston as badly as we wanted to protect her.

Horace Greeley's New York Tribune on June 9, 1862, one week before the Battle of Secessionville, stated:

'Doom' hangs over wicked Charleston. That viper's nest and breeding place of rebellion is, ere this time, invested by Union Armsperhaps already in our hands. If there is any city deserving of holocaustic infamy, it is Charleston. . . .

This is the same Horace Greeley who believed in the right of secession and stated it proudly---let our erring sisters go---until he realized it would affect his money. Then he wanted war as did the whole North.

Southern secession had triggered the beginning of an economic collapse in the North. Northerners had not realized that their economy was largely based on manufacturing for the South and shipping Southern cotton. Cotton alone was 60% of US exports in 1860.

Each year, tens of millions of dollars flowed out of the South and into the North because of tariffs, bounties, subsidies, and monopolies for Northern businesses.

Southerners were producing the wealth of the nation as the most esteemed economist of the time, Thomas Prentice Kettle, wrote in his famous book: Southern Wealth and Northern Profits.

Southerners were paying most of the nation's taxes, yet, outrageously, three-fourths of the tax money was being spent in the North.

Georgia Senator Robert Toombs called it a suction pump sucking wealth out of the South and depositing it in the North.

Henry L. Benning, one of Gen. Lee's most able brigadier generals and for whom Fort Benning, Georgia is named, said $85,000,000, a gargantuan sum in those days, was the amount flowing CONTINUALLY through Robert Toombs's suction pump.

The prescient Benning also said:

The North cut off from Southern cotton, rice, tobacco, and other Southern products would lose three fourths of her commerce, and a very large proportion of her manufactures. And thus those great fountains of finance would sink very low. . . . Would the North in such a condition as that declare war against the South?

Without the North, the South was in great shape with 100% control of the most demanded commodity on the planet: cotton.

Without the South, the North was DEAD.

Both sides realized that James Island was the key to taking Charleston and despite problems, . . . the defenses of Charleston were BRILLIANT. The Confederates defenders, most of whom were native Charlestonians, were fearless, and they knew the terrain.

A member of the 1st South Carolina Regiment who was in action in Charleston, B. A. O. Norris, of Graham Texas, stated after the war:

I think I am right when I state that this was the only place besieged that did not yield to the forces besieging it. It was stronger and abler to repel any attack on the day that it was evacuated than ever before.

The defensive perimeter around Charleston extended from Christ Church parish in Mt. Pleasant, to the Wando River then across Charleston Neck to the Ashley River, through St. Andrew's parish to the Stono, and on across James Island to Secessionville.

Because Charleston had been taken by the British in the Revolutionary War from the neck area, "A strong line of fortifications was built across the peninsula from river to river . . . the whole system could be flanked by fire from gunboats" in either the Ashley or Cooper River. . . .

A strong cremalliere line [JAGGED] was constructed across James Island from Fort Pemberton on Wappoo Creek in Riverland Terrace to right here where we are standing. That line was a mile in advance of the regular Confederate line. This was done January to February, 1862, nine months into the war.

If you look at an aerial map of the Secessionville peninsula, it is shaped like an oblong hourglass and right here is the narrowest part across the peninsula.

It was Col. L. M. Hatch's idea. He constructed the priest-cap work across the neck, built a strong bridge a mile long to connect Secessionville with the main island, and erected an observatory which commanded an extensive view of the approaches to Charleston.

The priest-cap design was two reDANS, side by side, so, together, they looked like the letter M. That design allowed troops inside to shoot an enfilading fire on anybody attacking the front. The whole front was approximately 125 yards across.

The footbridge was capable of men AND horses so Tower Battery could be reinforced.

The tower was 75 feet high and a lookout with field glasses could see all over James Island including the Yankee positions at the mouth of the Stono in the area where Folly Beach County Park is today.

They also built two small flanking batteries, each a mile away, to lay down enfilading fire on anybody attacking the front of the fort.

Milby Burton, in The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865, writes that "On June 2, 1862, General Pemberton wired Jefferson Davis that there were 20 vessels in the Stono Inlet."

"On June 8, Pemberton informed W. J. Magrath, president of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, that 'the enemy in large force is preparing to attack Charleston---Probably through James and John's Island.' He requested Magrath have several trains ready to move at a moment's notice."

On June 9, Union General Wright's division crossed the Stono "and took position on Thomas Grimble's plantation. The Confederates immediately opened fire of solid shot and shell, which fell into, around, and over General Wright's camp and among the gunboats in the Stono. This quickly convinced Union commander General Benham that their main camps and landings were untenable while exposed to Confederate fire. He would have to abandon James Island or silence the Confederate batteries."

"On June 10, Pemberton ordered the Confederate lines to advance in order to establish a battery of heavy guns on the edge of Grimball's plantation with a view to driving the gunboats from the immediate area and make landing hazardous." There was sharp fighting and Confederates lost 60 to 70 men.

On June 14, Emma Holmes in her diary wrote "Skirmishes of almost daily occurrences on James Island."

On June 15, "General Pemberton wrote Governor Pickens that he had on James Island only 6,500 effective men."

Sunrise on Monday, June 16, 1862, was 5:14 a.m. but three hours earlier, at 2 a.m., 35 hundred Federal troops formed the first of two columns, and 31 hundred formed the second.

Milby Burton writes that "The assaulting group was to advance in silence and make the attack at 'first light' with the bayonet. The large number of Federal troops should have been more than sufficient to surprise and crush a garrison of 500 men.

"In spite of feverish activity, the breastwork was incomplete at the time of the attack. Col. Thomas G. Lamar, who was in command, had pushed his men to the point of exhaustion. Finally, at 3 a.m. on the morning of June 16, he allowed his worn-out men to sleep."

One of the things they had been doing was transferring guns from an old gunboat into Tower Battery.

The Southerners were barely asleep when the assault began. Burton writes: "Lamar rushed to one of the big guns, already loaded with grape, and pulled the lanyard. The roar of the gun aroused the troops, and grape tore into the oncoming ranks."

This was around 4:30 a.m., and the Battle of Secessionville was on.

"Confederate troops rushed to the aid of Colonel Lamar's defenders as they were aroused. Those of the assaulting troops who had reached the parapet were either killed or repulsed. The Eighth Michigan fell back and re-formed; around 5:10 with the aid of the Second Brigade they charged under fire for 1000 yards, assaulted the works, and again gained a foothold. After more fierce hand-to-hand fighting, they were again pushed back."

The Yankee perspective tells us a lot about the effectiveness of our Confederate boys. Gen. Samuel Jones, in his book, The Siege of Charleston, quotes a Union officer:

It had been reported to General Benham some days before that from the masthead of a naval vessel in the Stono, several long trains of cars loaded with troops had been seen pouring into Charleston over the road which Colonel Christ's expedition had failed to break.

Colonel Christ's expedition was an attack on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, a critical part of coastal defenses. Whichever city needed troops, the other was to send them on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. It's defenses were put in place by Gen. Robert E. Lee who had his headquarters along the railroad line at Coosawhatchie, SC, half way between Charleston and Savannah, from November, 1861, to March, 1862, when he was in charge down here. There were numerous attacks by Union troops to break the railroad but they were always defeated by tenacious Confederates. Our West Ashley Greenway that you can access from South Windermere Shopping Center was where the tracks of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad ran.

The West Ashley Greenway, former location of Charleston and Savannah RR tracks.
The West Ashley Greenway, former location of Charleston and Savannah RR tracks.

"The regiments of the leading Union brigade went forward into line in double-quick time when a storm of grape and canister from the Confederate guns crashed through the center of the line and continued tearing through the ranks with great rapidity, severing the line, one part crowding toward the right, the other to the left."

"They kept moving fast leaving the ground in their rear strewn with their dead and wounded. They did not stop until they gained the parapet and delivered their fire upon the enemy in his works. But being entirely unsupported for a considerable time, they fell back slowly, contesting every inch of ground . . . .".

"When within two or three hundred yards of the Confederate works the Seventh Connecticut 'came obliquely upon an unforeseen ditch and morass,' crowding and doubling up the regiment toward the center. At this moment a terrific fire of grape and musketry swept through the ranks. 'The line was inevitably broken.'"

I'll guarantee you that ditch was planned.

While the First Brigade was being cut up, the Seventy-ninth Highlanders, leading the Second Brigade, was ordered to attack, and they made it to the parapet.

Union Lt. Colonel Morrison said "'As I mounted the parapet, I received a wound in the head, which, though slight, stunned me for the time being; but still I was able to retain command. With me, many mounted the works, but only to fall or to receive their wounds from the enemy posted in rifle-pits in rear of the fort . . . . From the ramparts I had a full view of their works. They were entrenched in a position well selected for defensive purposes and upon which our artillery seemed to have little effect, save driving them into their retreats, and in attempting to dislodge them we were met with a fierce and determined opposition, . . . ".

"The Seventy-Ninth continued their attack and when about three hundred yards from the Confederate works 'We entered the range of a perfect storm of grape, canister, nails, broken glass, and pieces of chains, fired from three very large pieces on the fort, which completely swept every foot of ground within the range and either cut the men down or drove them to the shelter of the ravine on the left. I now turned to see the One Hundredth Pennsylvania Regiment just entering the fatal line of fire which completely cut it in two. Some reached the foot of the embankment and a few climbed it . . .".

Around 5:25 across the creek "The Third New Hampshire and Third Rhode Island approached to within forty yards of the fort and opened fire. Colonel Jackson, commanding the regiment, reports that he found no artillery on that part of the Confederate works and that he could easily have gone into the fort."

"'IF,' he adds, 'I could have crossed a stream between me and the earthworks about twenty yards in width with apparently four or five feet of water, and the mud very soft; the men therefore could not cross. The enemy soon opened on me from a battery about two hundred yards in our rear, throwing grape in to the ranks, from which we suffered severely. In a short time they opened fire with rifles and infantry. At the same time a battery about a mile north of us opened on us with shot and shell.'"

The Third Rhode Island penetrated the brushwood to dislodge the Confederate sharpshooters, but did not succeed. They withdrew.

Here's what the Charleston Battalion had to say about it from Charlestonians in War:

One hundred and twenty-five yards across the marsh that was protecting the Confederate right flank, the rattle of musketry was heard followed in a split second by a shower of bullets and booming artillery fire from an undetected Federal force. . . . These fresh Union troops, namely the Third New Hampshire Infantry and Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, were pouring a 'continuous and deadly fire. Many of our men fell at the guns and along the line.' These New Englanders had managed to reach a point behind the Confederate right flank where they could fire into the unprotected rear of the battery and resultantly the few remaining Confederate artillerists were compelled to abandon their guns and take cover while the infantry desperately returned the enemy fire.

"Due to loss of blood from his neck wound, Lieutenant Colonel Lamar now passed command of the entire battery to Lieutenant Colonel Gaillard, who himself was soon severely wounded in the knee. Without hesitation, Gaillard moved some of his men down the bank of the marsh, where they stood opposite their foe and exchanged rifle shot for rifle shot in a slugging match of endurance. . . . On the field arrived the Fourth Louisiana Battalion . . . " and "Twenty-fourth South Carolina Infantry and Eutaw Battalion, who both had rapidly advanced from their camps several miles to the battlefield." This was around 5:30.

After Lieutenant Colonel Gaillard was wounded in the knee, he turned command over to Lt. Col. T. M. Wagner, for whom Battery Wagner on Morris Island was named a month later, after Wagner was killed at Fort Moultrie.

To sum it up:

It was 66 hundred Federals against 500 Confederates who were reinforced by around 750 more Confederates, so 66 hundred against 12 hundred and fifty.

The Yankees had almost 700 casualties with 107 dead.

"Confederates lost 204 with 52 dead, most of them the troops who defended the Secessionville batteries. The struggle for the parapet had been fierce. Muskets were clubbed and Lieutenant Campbell and Mr. Tennant, of the Charleston Battalion, in default of better weapons, seized handspikes and wielded them with effect."

Yankees learned their lesson and left James Island.

Milby Burton writes:

"Two things helped turn the battle in the battery's favor." One was "two small field guns at two different locations, one manned by Lieutenant Jeter, the other by Lt. Col. Ellison Capers" later known as Battery Reed, whose purpose was to enfilade an enemy attack on the breastwork at Secessionville from a mile away." . . . . "Both men fired their guns with excellent effect into the Third New Hampshire and helped to hasten their withdrawal" as the hand-to-hand fighting had continued until the "assaulting troops were again repulsed."

Another major factor was "Lt. Col. J. McEnery, commanding a battalion of Louisiana troops, that had been aroused by Col. Hagood and sent to Secessionville. McEnery and his men "advanced to Secessionville over the bridge, nearly a mile long. They arrived on the run . . . and gave considerable assistance in repulsing the Third New Hampshire, which was pouring a deadly fire into the rear of the battery."

Here is an account by a soldier IN that Louisiana battalion, H. J. Lea of Winnsboro, Louisiana:

I was a member of Capt. J. W. Walker's company, which enlisted and went out from Monroe, Louisiana March 2, 1862. We went to Savannah, Ga. and there were attached to and made part of the 4th Louisiana Battalion, commanded by Col. John McEnery.

At the break of day on the morning of the 16th, firing was heard up in the front of the fort, the alarm given and the LONG ROLL BEAT. The line was quickly formed with orders to march in double-quick time. . . .  Just before the head of our line reached the fort, the Yankee regiment, having formed on the opposite side of Lighthouse Creek, about one hundred yards distant, opened fire on us. We were ordered to halt, face to the right, and fire. This continued but a short time; the storming party in front was crowding in and we were ordered to face to the left and rush to the fort, where the Yankees were scrambling for the top of the parapets crowding forward in great numbers with a desperate determination to capture the fort. We arrived just at the critical moment; a few minutes later would have been too late. They were repulsed, routed, and fled in the same quick time that they came, with our rifles and artillery playing on them to the extreme range.

It seemed that every man there in defense of the fort felt as though the whole responsibility of holding the fort rested on him for it would have been impossible for any force of the same size to have done more. As soon as the storming party in front gave way and fled, the flanking party across the creek also fled hurriedly, for had they remained, even for a short time, they would have been cut off and captured or killed.

Another Confederate in the battle, R. De T. Lawrence of Marietta, Georgia, wrote:

Many years after, I met at the Confederate Home of Georgia, a Mr. Jordan, who had been in the engagement in the battery, and subsequently in a number of battles in Virginia, and he told me that the one at Secessionville was the closest and hardest fought of any.

Warren Ripley writes in the Introduction of Siege Train:

. . . just as the Southerners had discovered the power of the U.S. Navy at Port Royal, Fort Lamar taught the Yankees a valuable lesson --- don't tangle with the Confederate Army beyond protective range of the warships' guns. These two principles were to color military thinking in the Charleston area for the remainder of the war.

Mary Boykin Chesnut in her famous diary wrote:

At Secessionville, . . . Henry King was killed. He died as a brave man would like to die. From all accounts, they say he had not found this world a bed of roses. . . . Dr. Tennent proved himself a crack shot. They handed him rifles, ready loaded, in rapid succession; and at the point he aimed were found thirty dead men. Scotchmen in a regiment of Federals at Secessionville were madly intoxicated. They had poured out whiskey for them like water.

Milby Burton writes:

"After the battle, Tower Battery was named Battery Lamar in honor of Confederate commander Col. Thomas G. Lamar."

"When the news of the repulse of the Federal forces reached Charleston, the citizens were elated, but when the casualty list arrived including the names of many Charlestonians, one commentator wrote: 'a Gloom has been cast over our City by the death of many fine young men.'"

"After the valiant defense of the battery, the Confederate Congress passed the following resolution: 'That the thanks of Congress are due and are hereby tendered to Colonel Thomas G. Lamar and the officers and men engaged in the gallant and successful defense of Secessionville against the greatly superior numbers of the enemy on the 16th day of June, 1862.'"

Charleston was never conquered militarily or surrendered. When Confederate forces were ordered to evacuate at the end of the war to continue the fight elsewhere, the city was turned over to the Union Army by an alderman.

Confederate soldier R. De T. Lawrence also said after the battle:

The troops which had reinforced the command of General Gist on James Island were returned to their former stations on the coast and at Savannah, and the heroes of Secessionville were toasted on every hand.

Thank you.

On ‘Good Uses’ for the Confederate Battle Flag, Guest Post by Rev. Larry L. Beane

But I did bury my boy, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, with two Confederate battle flags (a generic one, and the flag of a Virginia military unit) – the symbols of which my colleague thinks should be used as toilet paper. By contrast, that symbol meant a great deal to my son. He knew his heritage. And just as he saluted Old Glory, he also saluted the flags of the Confederacy. He stood for Dixie. Along with his favorite pop music, he listened to the old songs of our ancestors: Dixie, The Bonnie Blue Flag, I’m a Good Old Rebel, and many others. He understood that God created him incarnationally as part of a family, bearing flesh that was given to him from his ancestors: including men who fought for Scottish independence, American independence, and Southern independence.

On 'Good Uses' for the Confederate Battle Flag

Guest Post by Rev. Larry L. Beane, Pastor, Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, Louisiana

[Publisher's Note, by Gene Kizer, Jr. : I first met Larry Beane around 25 years ago on Hilton Head Island, SC when we were part of a mostly SCV crowd marching and supporting the continued flying of the Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina Statehouse. It had been put up there in the early 1960s as part of the Centennial for the War Between the States. South Carolina had supplied 60,000 soldiers to Southern armies in the war, and 40,000 had been killed or wounded (20,000 were killed). Over 750,000 Americans died in the War Between the States, and over a million were maimed. President Eisenhower had issued a formal declaration in 1956 encouraging all states, North and South, to commemorate our bloody war and the reconciliation that occurred after it thanks to selfless leaders like Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose picture President Eisenhower kept in his office in the White House his whole time there.

The NAACP had been marching against the flag yelling "red rag, take it down!" My wife and kids, two and seven-years-old, were with me and got their pictures in the Hilton Head paper because my youngest was in a stroller with a battle flag.

Some of you might remember an excellent newsletter back then called The Liberator, named after William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, but this one was published by Larry and pro-South all the way. I told Larry I loved The Liberator! It was Southern patriotic, clever, full of history, and extremely nicely written as are all of Larry's articles.

Following the article below, are links to Larry's many fascinating blogs (check out the one from 2011 on the trip to visit his fellow Lutherans in Siberia, Russia!), and links to a longer bio as well as to his many articles on Lew Rockwell's website, which states that "Rev. Larry Beane serves as pastor at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Gretna, LA and teaches high school Apologetics, Economics, and Government at Wittenberg Academy."

Larry's main website/blog is entitled Father Hollywood from when he was serving the Lord in a ministry but also moonlighting at Hollywood Video to pay for health insurance for his family! It has a lot of articles, and sermons from his church.

The Lew Rockwell articles are excellent Southern history, and current issues affecting our history, such as: "We Suffer Under Dual Tyrannies, of the majority and the minority, says Larry L. Beane II"; "American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God"; "Civil War 2.0?"; "Racism and Reputation"; and several others.

At press time for this post, I received my outstanding daily article from the Abbeville Institute Blog, under the command of Dr. Brion McClanahan, and to my pleasant surprise, it was this same article by Larry Beane! All I can say is GREAT SOUTHERN MINDS think alike!]

 

ONE OF my colleagues in the ministry of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) recently wrote that among “good uses” for the Confederate battle flag are “diaper, shop rag, kindling, stuffing for a pillow, burping cloth,” and “toilet paper.”  In the ensuing discussion – which I was not a part of – he added, “It’s a treason/slavocracy flag.  Plain and simple.  It’s the revisionists that have a complete lack of understanding of history.”

Fortunately, this kind of churlish and disrespectful rhetoric is not common among my brethren in the ministerium.

Caption on Larry's Travels in Lutheran Siberia: Father Vlad (right) and I finally meet in Chelyabinsk.
Caption on Larry's Travels in Lutheran Siberia: Father Vlad (right) and I finally meet in Chelyabinsk.

But it is a helpful window into how much our education system and culture have degraded.  There was indeed a time when the movie Idiocracy was a farcical comedy and not a documentary.

His assertion is that anyone who disagrees with him is a “revisionist” with a “complete lack of understanding of history.”  My colleague is quick to point out that he is a Ph.D. student.  I wonder if his Declaration of Historical Ignorance applies to scholars like Clyde N. WilsonM.E. BradfordRichard M. Weaver, Jr., or the twelve scholars known as the Southern Agrarians – among many others in the Southern intellectual tradition.

Maybe these men, unlike my enlightened and brilliant colleague, were all just stupid.

My colleague’s hubris is the inevitable result of history being taught in our schools as “social studies,” as political activism, where intelligent discussion is replaced by an iron-fisted intolerance of dissent, where history is not permitted to be a dialogue between different schools of thought, but rather a Pharisaical, virtue-signaling, one-size-fits-all interpretation to be determined by the state and its interests.  And in such a Soviet-style 1619 Project-based “education” paradigm, there is no room for historiography or the examination of original source material from differing sides of a conflict.

In the current paradigm, there are not many perspectives and voices in the study of history, only the right view (which is politically-correct) and the wrong view (which is deemed “white supremacist”).  The arrogance and ignorance in my colleague’s rhetoric takes the tack that he has read deeply on the subject, and has considered various perspectives.  And having done so, anyone who disagrees with him is a “revisionist.”

But just what has been revised?

In any conflict, there are different assumptions and interpretations.  That’s why there are conflicts.  This is why there are debates and disputes, and this is why there are wars.  Johnny says the toy is his.  Mary says the toy is hers.  Each child sees his claim as valid.  If the children cannot agree, an adult will have to step in and resolve the dispute.  And lacking such a judge, the larger and stronger child will simply prevail.  And the smaller child’s perspective may or may not be remembered.  The result of the bigger child winning may well simply be accepted by all as the outcome.  But the point is that there is a dispute because there are two different claims of ownership.

In the war of American secession from Great Britain, there were two rival claimants as the legitimate overarching government of the colonies/states.  And in international disputes, there is no authority, no adult to decide to which child the toy belongs.  And so there is sometimes war to “settle” the matter.  In the case of the First American War of Independence, the secessionists won, and American government schools generally teach the school of history friendly to the rebels, while the loyalist point of view, if taught at all, is downplayed.

And yet, regardless of who wins or loses, there are differences of opinion.  To really understand what happened, it is important to consider all points of view – even if, and especially if, one’s opinion is biased toward one side or the other.

Our Confederate ancestors – be they the politicians who led, the military personnel who fought, or the civilians on the home-front who supported the war effort and suffered depredation – had a point of view.  It was based on the Jeffersonian understanding of the Union, the compact theory of the Constitution.  Their opponents held to the Hamiltonian perspective of the Union, the nationalist interpretation of the Constitution.  This dispute predates the Constitution itself, as manifest in the debate between the so-called Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.  To this day, both views are held by different camps of Americans.  Without understanding this nuance, it is impossible to make sense of the conflict.  Nor is it possible to go beyond the churlish historiography of “the toy is mine and anyone who disagrees with me is a poopy-head.”

Unfortunately, the “poopy-head” theory of history is precisely what is being taught in our schools and on our ubiquitous TV screens.  It is pushed in popular culture and shrieked by activists.  It is how most of our politicians operate.  And it is, of course, based on the victors’ perspective and the Big-Government Hamiltonian school.  It ignores the Jeffersonian model that has, of course, been around since the beginning of the Republic.  It ignores the fact that there has been no “revision” – as the Southern perspective on the War for Southern Independence has been consistently taught for a century and a half.  The idea that there was a consensus and a united historiography until now – when all of the sudden, people invented a new history, a revised history – is simply objectively untrue.

The radical changes in our culture and worldview: the resurgence of socialism, the new interpretation of all American history as “racist,” the plummeting test scores for Americans in literacy and math, the politicization of every educational subject, and even the normalization of the Frankfurt School’s Critical Theory in matters of race and sex are all evidence that we are not dealing with historical revisionism, but rather a social and cultural revolution.  And the teaching of history has been coopted by this movement.  The 1619 Project agenda – with its demonstrable falsehoods – has been mainstreamed.  Sadly, my colleague has fallen for it.  But it is also part of a psychological agenda to be on the Hegelian “right side of history.”  People want to be part of the “winning team.”  And from where we stand right now, the malleable and political “right side of history” is with the iconoclasts who are toppling monuments – not only memorials to Confederate history, but to American history as a whole.  My colleague will either one day scratch his head when statues to Washington, Jefferson, and even Lincoln and Grant come down (which has already begun), or he will be so invested by that point that he will be part of the mob, self-righteously calling for their eradication.

But perhaps more disturbing than his shocking ignorance of history and historiography is his hatred toward people who hold the Confederate battle flag with reverence.

Symbols are, by nature, subjective.  Most Americans hold the Stars and Stripes dear.  And this can be for many reasons.  It may be as simple as a love for one’s home.  It may be that one’s family members fought in past wars for the nation.  It may be that one sees in the flag the principles of liberty.  Or it may be a combination of all three.

But there are also other opinions.

Perhaps someone is a recent immigrant without any particular sense that the flag represents his home.  It may be that one’s ancestors – like perhaps the American Indians – fought against the United States, and may have even been oppressed by the United States or by individual Americans.  It may be that one believes that the premise of liberty is a lie, as one’s family may have been transported as slaves on boats flagged with Old Glory, or one’s recent family were interned in camps for Asians during World War II with the Stars and Stripes on the flagpole, or maybe one has been railroaded by a crooked prosecutor representing the federal government.

How might a victim of the My Lai massacre see the US flag?  How about those whose families were incinerated by bombs dropped on civilian targets by the United States?  What if one’s entire family, innocent of any wrongdoing, were wiped out in a drone strike?  Do such events in history mitigate against a family in Peoria putting out Old Glory on the house for the 4th of July?  Would it be within the grounds of propriety to suggest that the flag of the United States should be used as toilet paper?

After all, as the 1619 Project will gladly point out, just as Robert E. Lee was an aristocratic Virginia rebel who fought for a county that had black slaves, so too was Washington.  In fact, Washington’s image appears on the great seal of the CSA.  Every stripe on the current US flag stands for a slave state in 1776.  Nearly every signer of the Declaration of Independence was a slaveholder.  And on that 4th of July, the slaveholding United States seceded from a nation that had abolished slavery.  The 1619 Project holds that the entire reason for being for the United States was the preservation of slavery, and thus slavery must be the single interpretive lens for reading American history.

The narrative sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?

Another similar disagreement over history and symbols is seen in the intertwined history of England and Scotland.  For centuries, Scottish rebels fought in wars of independence against their English overlords.  In the 13th and 14th centuries, Sir William Wallace led the Scottish bid for independence, until he was captured.  He was tried for treason, tortured, and executed as an enemy of the state.  His head was put on a pike to discourage any further rebellions.  Centuries later, following another Scottish rebellion in 1745 – one that members of my own namesake ancestors participated in – the defeated Scots, who had already been banned from speaking their native language, were proscribed from wearing their traditional tartan symbols of their tribal allegiances.

And yet today, a monument and statue of William Wallace stands at the site of one of his greatest victories over England.  Today, members of the English royal family wear kilts bearing the tartans of their own Scottish ancestors.  The flags of Scotland and England are both part of the flag representing the political Union between the two.  And in spite of both waving the Union Jack, both singing God Save the Queen, they are separate countries.  When there is a soccer game between England and Scotland, the English sing their national anthem Jerusalem, while the Scots sing their anthem of rebellion Flower of Scotland.  Both sides have a perspective, a narrative, a historiography, but as a people coexisting in a Union, there is mutual respect.  And while the flags of England and Scotland are waved by the rivals in the stadium, and while both sides see their own view as correct, neither side considers it to be its duty to crush a different perspective, or use the other side’s symbols for toilet paper.

Southerners are like their British cousins, being inclined to remember their ancestors and nations, while the denizens of other regions of America scoff at such nostalgia.

I have no particular affection for the national symbols that are not my own nor of my heritage.  But I certainly understand that other people do hold these symbols with reverence.  I could not imagine telling my Russian, Kenyan, or Brazilian friends that I would like to use their flags for toilet paper.  I may not respect their symbols as they do, but I respect the people who do respect them, and I understand that which they hold dear may not be that which I view with reverence.

The Confederate battle flag as we know it today became a unifying symbol for the defeated South, and has since also become a symbol of many things: rock and roll rebellionmotorcycle culture, Southern music, food, and folkways, as well as a symbol of political liberty – as it was waved in East Germany and other Iron Curtain countries as Communism fell and nations held captive were permitted to secede and establish home rule apart from colonial oversight.  It continues to be treasured the world over.  It is a symbol that we continue to place at the graves of our ancestors – a characteristic of Southern culture that often mystifies people from other regions who perhaps could not even tell you the names of their own grandparents, have no particular attachment to familial land, and who care little for their heritage.

How many bumper stickers or tee shirts have you seen that say, “American by birth, Midwestern by the grace of God”?

I have been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for nearly 30 years.  It is in one sense a genealogical society, but it is really much more than that.  When the Confederate veterans returned to civilian life, they received no federal pensions, and in many cases, their destroyed states were too poor to provide for their needs.  And so, they created a veterans’ organization, the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) in 1889.  And their daughters stepped up, establishing the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in 1894 to establish homes for the aging veterans and to erect monuments and grave markers.  Their sons established the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) in 1896 to be the legal successor organization to the UCV.

There has been a continuum from the veterans themselves, to their sons and daughters, to their grandchildren who continue to honor their memories today.  We are the guardians of their history, their stories, and their artifacts.  We have their diaries and their writings. We have their uniforms and their flags.  We meet each and every year, as we have without fail since 1896.  We are the inconvenient speedbumps to the 1619 Project and its Orwellian scheme to rewrite history and crush dissent.  And we are also living monuments, whose very existence is repugnant to the keepers of the Marxist oppression narrative.

Perhaps the most repugnant aspect of my colleague’s words is the obliviousness to the fact that other people, those who have a different historiography than he, those with family ties to the South, hold the Confederate battle flag with affection, see it as a symbol of their own families – ancestors and descendants alike – and use it as a funerary device.  Of course, we continue to mark and visit the graves of our veteran ancestors – some of whom lived full lives after the war and were buried in family plots, and some of whom fell in battle and were thrown into unmarked trenches and mass graves.  The monuments across the South serve as grave-markers for those who were never found.

Today, not only are these statues, many more than a century old, being toppled by mobs (often while police watch passively) and removed by legislatures, mayors, and governors – even grave markers and tombstones are being vandalized and destroyed, all with self-righteous justification.  And of course, this cancer of the vandalism of graves has metastasized and spread even to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.

When nothing is sacred, even funerary symbols are treated with contempt.

And the Confederate battle flag is not only used to mark the graves of Confederate veterans.  For it is a symbol of our heritage, and our families are a continuation of that heritage.  For example, when my fifteen year old son died suddenly and tragically last year, he was buried with certain symbols.  First, of course, was the cross that he wore to serve with me at the altar for seven years.  The cross is the symbol of his redemption and of his impending resurrection.  Second, he was buried in the dress blue uniform of the US Air Force Auxiliary: the Civil Air Patrol.  He loved serving his community, state, and nation, and held the rank of Cadet First Lieutenant.  He saluted the US flag and was even called on a live mission for the Air Force on one occasion.  Like many Confederate descendants, he was an American patriot and served his country insofar as he was able to do so at his young age.

I do regret that I didn’t also bury him with a piece of the MacBean family tartan, as he was proud of that aspect of his heritage as well, and the DNA in his bones reflect our brave ancestors who fought for their country and clan, as well as for political liberty and independence.  That too is part of who we are as a family – past, present, and future.

But I did bury my boy, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, with two Confederate battle flags (a generic one, and the flag of a Virginia military unit) – the symbols of which my colleague thinks should be used as toilet paper.  By contrast, that symbol meant a great deal to my son.  He knew his heritage.  And just as he saluted Old Glory, he also saluted the flags of the Confederacy.  He stood for Dixie.  Along with his favorite pop music, he listened to the old songs of our ancestors: DixieThe Bonnie Blue FlagI’m a Good Old Rebel, and many others.  He understood that God created him incarnationally as part of a family, bearing flesh that was given to him from his ancestors: including men who fought for Scottish independence, American independence, and Southern independence.

Tolerance is the hallmark of a civilized and intelligent people.  Only barbarians and savages cannot understand that there are many different sides to a conflict, and that it is natural and laudable to honor one’s fathers and mothers and respect one’s heritage while being respectful of the heritage of others.  Our country and our culture have descended to a dark and sinister place, one where there are masters on the top of the pyramid, who dictate history and historiography to the rest of us, who sit in judgment of our heritage and of our ancestors, who tell us what we are permitted to believe and hold dear, a place where we who dissent are being increasingly marginalized, proscribed, and even subjected to violence.

And no matter how crass, vile, hateful, and churlish people like my colleague are, and will continue to be, I am honored that my son awaits the resurrection with symbols of who God created him to be in this life: a Christian, an American, and a Southerner – as well as a dissident against an increasingly intolerant and totalitarian culture and state.

May he rest in peace until I see him again.  Deo vindice.

Rev. Larry Beane and his son.
Larry's articles on Lew Rockwell's website:
https://www.lewrockwell.com/author/larry-l-beane-ii/?ptype=article
Rev. Larry Beane, bio, blogs:
https://www.blogger.com/profile/06705910892752648940
Larry's main website/blog (with sermons, articles, links):
Father Hollywood