30 October 2014

America's Most Beloved Veterans

Last May, The American Legion Magazine asked its readers, website visitors and social media followers to select from a list of 100 beloved U.S. veterans. More than 70,000 votes were cast. The choices span our nation’s lifetime.
First place honor goes to a Southerner: Native Texan Audie Murphy. Coming in at number 2 is a Virginian and a Southerner, George Washington. Teddy Roosevelt is ranked #3. Alvin York, another Southerner hailing from the great state of Tennessee claimed the #4 slot. Rounding out the top 5 is none other than the grandson of a Confederate soldier, George S. Patton.

Also noteworthy:

Ranking #8 is General Robert E. Lee.
Yankee General Ulysses S. Grant made #10.
Stonewall Jackson is ranked #25.

No other Union officers made the top 25, though William Tecumseh Sherman made #39, followed by Joshua Chamberlain at #40. 

The survey results made the following observations of General Lee:
During the Civil War, Lee organized his Army of Northern Virginia from a mixed tapestry of troops into one of the most formidable and effective fighting forces ever known. He did this despite a severe disparity of numbers and chronic shortages of basic supplies, such as food, clothing and medical supplies. Always considerate of his men, he surrendered at Appomattox rather than expose them to more bloodshed when he faced the inevitable. 

Early in his adult life, Lee became the consummate Christian soldier. He thanked the Almighty for his numerous victories and often took defeat as a rebuke from above. Throughout his military career, his family – especially his invalided wife – remained his foremost concern.

Lee considered that his most important work was done during reconstruction as he sought to instill among Southerners a lack of bitterness and a sense of union with the reunited country. He worked diligently as president of Washington College to prepare young men of the South for a productive future while instilling in each one of them his own gentlemanly and Christian attributes.
And had this to say about Stonewall Jackson:
. . . Jackson was a gentleman and a Christian and a decent person, certainly, in spite of his role in killing and maiming tens of thousands of young Northern men. But it also said that he was, fundamentally, an American. He had, after all, fought heroically for his country in the Mexican War. In Whittier’s poem, it was his Americanness that had stirred in him and redeemed him.
What happened after Jackson’s death was the first great national outpouring of grief for a fallen leader in the country’s history. Though it was overshadowed by Lincoln’s death two years later, Jackson’s death touched the hearts of every household in the South, and prompted many admiring testimonials in the North. “I rejoice at Stonewall Jackson’s death as a gain to our cause,” wrote Union Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, “and yet in my soldier’s heart I cannot but see him as the best soldier in all of this war, and grieve at his untimely end.”
I'm sure all this must come as a real disappointment to those who would like to see Lee-Jackson Day relegated to the dust bin of history.

You can read the complete list here.
Last May, The American Legion Magazine asked its readers, website visitors and social media followers to select from a list of 100 beloved U.S. veterans. More than 70,000 votes were cast. The choices span our nation’s lifetime.  - See more at: http://www.legion.org/magazine/224877/americas-most-beloved-veterans#sthash.525E1zgP.dpuf

29 October 2014

What Passes For Objective Analysis At Civil War Memory

*Update: First, and as I suspected, I'm not the only one who was troubled by Levin's post, as well as the comments that followed. The result of the post (intended or not), was a dog whistle for what I would call rather disturbing comments, characterizations and false statements. Jimmy Price, a historian and blogger who actually attended Liberty University,  had a reaction similar to mine. He posted his comments here, which I highly recommend.

Secondly, Levin attempts to walk it back with this follow up post. But he does not back down from his original characterization of the content of the video being "really bad". He also claims in his follow up post that he "attempted to keep the discussion focused on the content of what was said and not on Liberty University or anything having to do with the religious or political views of three individuals in the video."

I don't believe that is completely accurate as Levin seemed incredulous that Liberty didn't teach "evolution or climate change" ("climate change" has replaced "global warming" since global warming is now a demonstrably proven fraud - but let's not get sidetracked with facts). So by continuing that line of discussion, the comments certainly get into "religious or political views" and the "guilt by association" of the "offending" professors in the video.

End of update.

Oh brother. Where does one even begin to respond to this: The latest outrage from Civil War Memory over a perspective that doesn't fit progressive historians' worldview and interpretation. The uproar is over this well-balanced discussion of the War Between the States by history professors at Liberty University:

The reaction and comments at CWM represent such a pot and kettle moment as to be surreal. For example:

And . . .

Of course, when one of the progressive historians' gurus, Professor David Blight, makes the following comments, it is in no way a "perfect example of allowing a political agenda to influence one's interpretation of historical events."~
Why doesn't the Confederacy just fade away? Is it because we are irresistibly fascinated by catastrophic loss? Or is it something else? Is it because the Confederacy is to this day the greatest conservative resistance to federal authority in American history? ~ David Blight
And how about this: 
The conservative movement in America, or at least its most radical wing, seems determined to repeal much of the 20th century and even its constitutional and social roots from the transformative 1860s. The Civil War is not only not over, it can still be lost.  ~ David Blight

So tying modern politics to the War Between the States is nothing new, nor necessarily improper. It is my opinion that what most upsets the folks at CWM is that in the case of the historians at Liberty they are, by reputation, conservative.

And additionally upsetting to this crowd is the fact that, despite decades of establishment "mainstream" historians preaching that the WBTS was ALL about slavery, they look around and realize to their dismay that they've utterly failed in their goal of making their perspective the only one that is acceptable, not only to credentialed historians, but to the public at large:
Asked their impression of the main cause of the Civil War, a 48%-plurality of Americans say it was mainly about states' rights. Just 38% say the Civil War was mainly caused by slavery. Another 9% volunteer that it was about both equally. Young people are more likely than older Americans to say that the war's main cause was states' rights -- 60% of those younger than age 30 express this view, the highest percentage of any age group. Those ages 65 and older, by a 50%-to-34% margin, are the most likely to say that slavery rather than states rights was the main cause of the Civil War. Nearly half of whites (48%) say states' rights was the war's main cause, but so do 39% of blacks. (Source: Pew Research, April 8, 2011)
That is stunning, given what's been published on this topic over the last 50 years. Of course, others have come to the same conclusion; both in realizing the general public's persistent perspective, as well as seeing the "frustration" of "idealistic" historians on a moral crusade. As historian Marc Egnal has noted:

I would suggest that the problem is with the "consensus" and not with the "public mind." The public simply isn't buying a lot of what's coming out of academia these days. And is there any wonder? Due to the overwhelmingly leftist ideology that permeates academia, the public knows that just about everything they proclaim must be taken with a grain of salt.

And if you actually listen to the comments in the video, I think you'll find a good balance, but not one obsessed with slavery - as is most of modern Civil War historiography in the United States.

One could go on and on about other comments at the referenced post - read them for yourself. They're quite revealing. One insinuation does bear mentioning: everyone believes (except Liberty University folks) in evolution and climate change. Talk about being out of touch. Good grief.

And there's this:

Not an "actual" university? Really?

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, bachelor, master, specialist and doctoral degrees. . . .  As an accredited institution, Liberty University is eligible to participate in federal educational programs such as military tuition assistance, government tuition reimbursement programs, the GI Bill and corporate tuition assistance. Credits and degrees earned through Liberty are therefore recognized by private industry and by the military and federal government for promotion, assignment and position qualification standards.
Perhaps it's just the conservative Christian aspect of Liberty University that has the CWM folks making such inaccurate statements. Or maybe it's because they teach creationism at Liberty, since that came up in the comments several times in the CWM post. What's that got to do with anything?

Speaking of teaching creationism . . . Patrick Henry College also teaches that belief. You know, the same college that has won at least four national debate championships competing against "actual universities" that don't teach creationism - schools such as Harvard, Miami and Syracuse. Evidently, the knuckle-dragging evangelicals weren't hampered by their belief in a Creator. Gee, imagine that.

Hmmm . . . maybe Liberty University would be more respected by the enlightened ones if they offered credits to their female students for not shaving their armpits - you know, like an "actual university." And they do teach evolution at that "actual university." 

No additional commentary is really necessary, now is it?

27 October 2014

Metal Detecting Post #116 - Civil War Bullets

Twenty-three Civil War bullets/round balls, a period rivet and a Hotchkiss artillery shell fragment. All recently recovered on a battlefield located on private property with the permission of the landowner in Western Virginia. None of these had seen the light of day for over 150 years until very recently. Video to follow later.

26 October 2014

Life In Rural Virginia

Living in Western Virginia is a blessing. Most of those blessings are simple, unassuming pleasures - like walking down the sidewalk on Main Street in your local town and seeing this:

24 October 2014

Fraud In Wackydemia

A long-awaited report by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein alleges that thousands of student-athletes at the University of North Carolina took easy-A, no-show classes in the school’s African and Afro-American Studies Department (AFAM) over an 18-year period.
Ah yes, the value of academic credentials.

23 October 2014

City Of Danville Respects The Law & Rejects Political Correctness

“[U]nder Virginia law, the city does not have the legal authority to remove the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History,” City Manager Joe King said in a midday news release Wednesday.
So the Confederate flag stays put - at least for now. What's interesting is that this is yet another example of how current stewards of history (faithfully preserved by others) disregard the legacy and responsibility that's been handed to them and bow to political correctness.

We've recently seen this same type of disregard for tradition and stewardship with the Museum of the Confederacy, as well as Lee Chapel. It's encouraging to see that respect for historical tradition and stewardship is not completely dead in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Were it not for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the current Lee Chapel would have been razed in the 1920's. Were it not for the sons and daughters of Confederate Veterans, the collection at the MOC would be much smaller and poorer than it is today. Were it not for the United Daughters of  the Confederacy, there would be no Sutherlin Mansion to house the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. So the support, gifts and money of these patriotic Americans are all fine but the symbol their ancestors fought under has to go? Speaks volumes, doesn't it? The word ingratitude comes to my mind.

As the Confederate flag was in a historical context both at the MOC, as well as Lee Chapel, so it is at the Danville Museum. Leave it alone.

21 October 2014

Metal Detecting Post #115 - Relics In The River

This video includes some still shots from recent river artifact recoveries. It also includes some video of a live recovery of an *unexploded Hotchkiss artillery shell. I have 5 full days of relic hunting scheduled between now and the end of November, so I should be posting some more relic hunting videos soon.

*Due to the design of this shell and the fact it was submerged in water for 150 years, there was no risk of it exploding accidentally. Nonetheless, these shells should ALWAYS be handled with care and caution and disarmed by someone who knows what they're doing. Such was the case with this shell.

16 October 2014

The Real Life Impact Of Political Correctness

From the Washington Post:
Libertarians were outraged by New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s “Big Gulp” ban (which a state court ultimately struck down). They slammed it as a “Nanny State” measure.
But it was current Centers for Disease Control head Tom Frieden who was actually behind the ban.
This is the same man who won't recommend banning flights from ebola outbreak countries and who allowed a sick, ebola exposed nurse to get on a plane with 130 unknowing Americans. 

This is the real life impact of the absolute idiocy of political correctness. PC is itself an infection, even though academics, politicians, bureaucrats and media types deny it's very existence. PC infects and destroys common sense

And it also, at its most extreme, puts the lives of everyone (including children) at risk:
DALLAS — Officials at school districts in Texas and Ohio shut five schools on Thursday after they learned that two students traveled on the Cleveland-to-Dallas flight with Amber Joy Vinson, a nurse infected with Ebola, and that an employee may have later flown on the same plane.  (Source)
So keep poo-pooing that PC is a serious problem and claiming that it's "intellectually bankrupt" to believe PC is a real threat to our way of life. The rest of us have to deal with reality while others fantasize about their intellectual superiority as they sip a latte in the faculty lounge.

15 October 2014

We're All Barbarians

. . . or were at one time anyway.

I had to laugh and shake my head in amazement when I read a comment a month or so ago written by a popular Civil War blogger in which the blogger claimed that the phrase "politically correct" was "intellectually bankrupt."

That an educated person could write that with a straight face is jaw-dropping amazing, though given the climate in academia, I suppose it really shouldn't be. Generally speaking, those who poo-poo the notion of PC typically fall into one of the following categories:
  • The News Media
  • Politicians & Bureaucrats
  • Academics
Notice that all three have a lot invested in political correctness and the accompanying agenda. Take, for example, the fact some localities are now renaming, repudiating or ignoring *Columbus Day. Why? Because Columbus was an evil Christian European male who is wickedness incarnate for the destruction he brought upon the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Right. No PC to see here, move along. 

PC is about either soothing one's "guilty" conscience, or transferring that guilt to some other ostensibly guilty party. In the first case, it relieves one of their own personal guilt while in the latter, in transferring that guilt, gives power (at least in the transferor's mind), to the party embracing PC. The "transgressor" (violator of politically correct standards) "owes" someone or some party something due to their "guilt." This is what drives so much of current historiography in the United States - as respected (and honest) historians like Eugene Genovese and David McCullough have pointed out.

With all this in mind, Pat Buchanan wrote what I thought was an interesting piece recently which concludes we're all, pretty much, "the heirs of marauders, pirates, conquerors, colonizers, colonialists, and imperialists. And such knowledge is why so many have guilty consciences and seek to salve them by repudiating Columbus."

Read that piece here.

*By the way, I'm married to a descendant of indigenous peoples. She's cool with Columbus Day.

14 October 2014

Deflecting From Civil War Memory

Update #3:
"Guilty as charged. It turns out that I “completely agreed” with a comment that included the word ‘manure’." ~ Kevin Levin
Actually, Levin "completely agreed" with a comment that called a young woman he's never met "manure."  All because she introduced a line of women's clothing that embraces a Southern style and theme. Personally, I think he owes the woman an apology, or at least a retraction of that insult. Certainly, Levin can dislike and criticize the clothing line. But projecting his associations with "Southern style" on someone else is silly and, as noted previously, reveals some serious insecurity.

Update #2: 
Williams really needs to get a life. Although there is a Part 2 scheduled from Williams, I will do you all a favor and move on. ~ Kevin Levin
Again, Levin goes to the trouble of posting his displeasure over a young woman's Southern style clothing line (!?) and agreeing with calling that young woman "manure" (!?) and I'm the one who " really needs to get a life." R-i-i-i-i-ght.

Yes, were I Levin, I'd move on too. Wise to quit before you get further behind.

And you gotta love this:
I usually do ignore Williams, but once in a while I like to reward him with a response. After all, he puts a lot of time into posts about me. ~ Kevin Levin
Just search his blog for posts with my name mentioned and see where he's spent "a lot of time." I stopped counting at 44 posts. Do it quickly though, he might delete them. But not to worry, I saved them all.

Thanks for all the rewards Kevin.

And notice all the projecting, the red herrings and the straw men in the comments section. Truly some insecure folks.

Update: "I simply linked to the story." ~ Kevin Levin 

He did more than that. He offered his opinion on the story:

Levin did not write the italicized comments, but he owns them since he agrees "completely." Of course, that's his right. And its my right to offer my opinion on his opinion.  Again, he can totally trash someone he doesn't know and can only make assumptions based on his preferred narrative, but doesn't particularly care for it when the tables are turned.  

Part 2 on this coming tomorrow.

End of update.

Kevin Levin attempts to deflect my criticism over comments (to which he "completely" agreed) which called a young woman "manure" simply because she introduced a "a Fall fashion spread inspired by life on an antebellum plantation." Levin can bluster all he wants about my post, but he has a track record of this kind of thing. He's clueless when it comes to aspects of Southern heritage, culture and style which fall outside of his preferred, narrow narrative.

Levin then attempts some psychoanalyzing:
Much of Williams’s blogging comes from a place of deep insecurity.
Let's see, he's ok with referring to a young woman (he's never met) as "manure" simply because she's marketing a line of clothing reflecting a Southern style; but I'm the one who's insecure. Uh-huh.

This is typical of Levin and those like him: put those who embrace their own perspective and celebration of Southern culture under a microscope, pick and poke and make fun of them - even insult and refer to a perfect stranger (apparently inferring all kinds of motives) as "manure" because of a clothing style (??!!), but when called on it, he becomes defensive.

He can dish it out, but he can't take it. So he reverts to an ad-hominem attack and says his critic is "insecure." 

How lame and intellectually shallow.

13 October 2014

Embracing Southern Heritage & Style Gets You Labeled "Manure"

Update - my response to the attempted deflection.

Welcome to the world of objective historians. Notice all the assumptions and one-dimensional perspectives. Wow. The anger and abundance of knotted undies is rather palpable, ain't it?

This blogger tells us:
Just don’t ask where their allowance for clothing came from or the raw material itself.
And I suppose you shouldn't ask who was buying much of that raw material either. But don't confuse them with the facts. Some folks just don't seem to understand that there's a lot more to the South than 1861-1865, cotton, slavery and hillbillies.

"The south has produced the world's best literature. It dominates world culture. Southern culture is the most powerful and expressive in the world." ~ Timothy Tyson

"The American South is a geographical entity, a historical fact, a place in the imagination, and the homeland of an array of Americans who consider themselves southerners. The region is often shrouded in romance and myth, but its realities are as intriguing, as intricate, as its legends." ~ The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

"The South is cultivated in collards and covered in kudzu . . . Many of us are descended from Scottish settlers and African slaves--and we usually find that we have more in common with each other than with Northern urbanites." ~ Clint Johnson

"The Southern Mind loathes abstractions . . . particularly harmful abstractions which go against the family, the organic community, ancestral customs, and religious faith." ~ Alphonse Vinh

Perhaps the anger is envy. It's demonstrably evident that Southern culture dominates much of American life. There is ample evidence of this fact. Google presents us with some of that evidence. I just did some "comparative" searches. Search terms were in quote marks for specificity. Not totally scientific, but rather revealing nonetheless. Here are the hit results:

Southern Culture: 994,000

Northern culture: 79,100

Southern Cooking: 1,460,000

Northern Cooking: 7,510 (That's rather pathetic, ain't it?)

Southern Hospitality: 977,000

Northern Hospitality: 54,700

Southern Style: 726,000 (aka "manure")

Northern Style: 351,000

Southern Accent: 416,000

Northern Accent: 146,000

Robert E. Lee: 680,000

Ulysses S. Grant: 393,000

And, as I pointed out before . . . 

There is a Southern Living Magazine. There is no Northern Living Magazine.

We have Southern Gospel music. We do not have Northern Gospel music.

There is Southern Appalachia, but nothing known as Northern Appalachia.

We have Southern Fried chicken, no Northern Fried chicken.

There are Southern manners, no Northern manners.

We have the Center for the Study of Southern Culture (Ole Miss), but no corresponding Center for Northern Culture.

We have the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (UNC Press), but no Encyclopedia of Northern Culture.

We have the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, but no Northern Cultural Heritage Foundation.

We have a large university Documenting the American South, but none that I know of which documents the American North.

We have Southern belles, but no Northern belles. (And what man wouldn't rather listen to a woman from Alabama with a soft Southern drawl talk to you over the phone vs. the nasal twang of a young lady from New Joisey?)

To conclude, having lived in the South for 56 years, I have very little patience for Northeast elites who suggest such insulting nonsense about Southerners.

Director Of The National Civil War Chaplains Museum On Relic Roundup Tonight

Shown below is just one of the many artifacts (this one donated by a relic hunter)  in the National Civil War Chaplains Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia. Tonight, at 9:00 PM,  Dr. Kenny Rowlette, director of the museum, will be a guest on the live, call-in internet radio program,  Relic Roundup. Kenny will talk about this unique museum dedicated to the role of chaplains, priests, rabbis and religious organizations who ministered to the common soldier in the Civil War.

Join the conversation this Monday night on American Digger Magazine's Relic Roundup. Call in and talk to the show's hosts and guest live, join the chatroom, or just sit back and listen. 

Monday, October 13, 9 pm EST at www.relicroundup.blogspot.com/. The player is in the upper right hand corner, click on the green arrow to listen in.

11 October 2014

Kind Words From A Fellow Writer . . .

Historian Richard Nicholas, who has written two books in the Virginia Regimental Series and a great book detailing Sheridan's James River campaign, recently sent me this kind email about my most recent book, The Battle of Waynesboro:
Mr. Williams:

I received a copy of your book last week and thank you very much. . . . looks like you have done a very good job and a lot of research. It will be a real contribution to our history and a long neglected battle.

I have already read the inspiring words in your introduction, and I look forward to reading the rest of the book that has been written by a true Southerner and Virginian. I fear that that there are not many of us left anymore.

Some day I would like to meet you have you show me around the "tree streets" and the site of the battle. I am especially interested in seeing the place where Pennington's flank attack took place in the vicinity of Ridgeview Park. Being an old geologist, I am always interested in looking at the topography and "lay of the land."

Richard's book about Sheridan's James River campaign was extremely helpful as I researched the Battle of Waynesboro. Of everything I read on the BoW, I found his account to be the most detailed and accurate. 

Simply being referred to as "a true Southerner and Virginian" is all the praise I need to reward the effort it took to write the book.

Thanks Richard!