5 a.m. – the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger Reports a Rare Sunday Vote to Remove Confederate Symbol from State Flag
“Here he is, Boss. Deader than hell but won’t let go.” – Cool Hand Luke
The only Civil War military fatality directly related to me was a Mississippian volunteer in a Confederate regiment who died of disease in a Federal prison camp in Missouri.
I have no idea where his sympathies lay in terms of Slavery and such like, since so few Southerners owned slaves, and because many who supported or fought for the Confederacy felt their patriotic duty was to their state, not the confederation of independent states it belonged to under the Stars and Stripes.
After all, prior to the War it was grammatically correct to say, “the United States of America are …,” not “the United States of America is…”.
That being said, many people today do not know or understand that at no time did every southerner condone or support Slavery or the rebellion started because of it.
Every state that joined the Confederacy but one had whole regiments of volunteers that organized and marched away to fight for President Lincoln and the Union he was elected to lead, against the secessionists who forced those states to take up arms against the USA’s legal, constitutional government.
The exception being Georgia, although hundreds of white Georgians served in the Federal Armed Forces none the less.
Some of those states had entire areas under the control of loyalist Americans, who at times engaged in guerilla activities including lethal combat against the rebels in power.
Deep in Mississippi, Jones County was so dangerous to the Confederate militia and their sympathizers that ultimately it was avoided entirely, having to be gone around rather than through. It became known as the “Kingdom of Jones.”
Today, there is a major difference between someone having pride in being a Southerner, or the citizen of a particular state, or having nostalgic affection or sympathy toward southern traditions and ancestry vs. someone who supports or reveres the Confederacy, whose leaders made perfectly clear the CSA was conceived in the fallacy of White Supremacy and dedicated to preserve the heinous institution of Slavery as long as possible.
Or, for that matter, having solemn respect for the marshal gallantry of those that Ulysses Grant described as having “…fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”
There remains nothing incongruous in holding such opinions and beliefs about venerable Southern traditions while also supporting the complete debunking and expungement of the racist mythos surrounding the “Lost Cause” fantasies, which have been as sadly tenacious as that deceased snapping turtle, deader than hell but won’t let go.
The main symbol of that movement was the Northern Virginia battle flag of crossed blue bars with white stars set against a red field, which was later incorporated into the second official flag of the Confederacy. It has often been claimed by the misguided to represent nothing more than being a non-conformist, independent, hell-raising “rebel,” rather than as the banner of those ignorant adherents to the asinine belief in “White Supremacy,” which it certainly was. And which it has remained to this day as the sullied symbol of the most horrific traits and institutions to ever exist in our national character and its history. And which is finally getting its due as Mississippi becomes the last state to remove it from its flag.
Not a great day in American history, but surely a reverent and momentous one.