Today is an official Texas State Holiday – sort of. Texas state offices remain open but with minimal staffing. The holiday is observed on January 19 which is Robert E. Lee’s birthday and was the original name for the holiday. Red’s negative views on the Confederacy and secession are well known by now. And while it seems odd (at best) to celebrate a cause which was rooted in the defense of the institution of chattel slavery (spare Red the BS about states rights), Red does find it refreshing that the United States is one of the few countries in the world where the population is free to celebrate traitors.
From the Annals of the Civil War – In 1864, the Boy Martyr of the Confederacy was hanged in Little Rock, Arkansas. David Owen Dodd, a native of Victoria then living in Arkansas, had carried some letters to business associates of his father in Union held Little Rock. He obtained a pass to return to his family in Camden, but a guard destroyed it when he entered Confederate held ground. After spending the night with his uncle, he wandered back into Union territory. Union soldiers determined that he did not have a pass and upon a search found that he was carrying a notebook with Morse code annotations describing the location and strength of Union troops. He was arrested and tried by a military tribunal. Dodd represented by attorneys T.D.W. Yonley and William Fishback, who was pro-Union and later became Governor of Arkansas. The defense consisted mostly of a plea for amnesty, which was rejected by the tribunal. Dodd was found guilty of spying and sentenced to death. His hanging before a crowd estimated at 5000 was reportedly botched likely resulting in a slow death. At the time, Union sympathies were strong in Arkansas and a constitutional convention was in session to enable the state to rejoin the Union. Dodd’s execution renewed tensions between Union and Confederate factions. Dodd quickly became a folk hero and a force behind renewed support for the Confederacy.
From the Annals of the Civil War – In 1863, Confederate colonel Sul Ross assumed command of a brigade formed from the Third, Sixth, Ninth, and Twenty-seventh Texas Cavalry regiments which afterwards was known as Ross’s Brigade. Lawrence Sullivan Ross came to Texas at the age of one in 1839. He followed in his father, Shapley Ross’s footsteps and became an Indian fighter serving in campaigns with the Texas Rangers against the Comanches in 1858 and 1860. When the Civil War began, he joined Confederate forces and rose to command the Sixth Texas Cavalry. He was promoted to the rank of general soon after taking command of Ross’s Brigade. The unit saw action in Atlanta and Franklin-Nashville campaigns. Ross was on furlough in Texas when the brigade surrendered at the end of the war. Ross was later elected to the Texas senate and served as Governor for 4 years.
From the Annals of the Civil War – In 1863, Major Santos Benavides led 79 men in the Thirty-third Texas Cavalry across the Rio Grande in pursuit of the bandit Octaviano Zapata. Zapata had been an associate of Juan Cortina. During the Civil War he was recruited by Union forces to aid them in military action in south Texas seeking to prevent the Confederacy from exporting cotton to Matamoros. Zapata’s raids also kept Rebel forces occupied in Texas. Zapata’s force often flew the American flag during their raids – leading Texans to refer to the group as the “First Regiment of Union Troops.” The Cavalry caught up to Zapata near Mier, Tamaulipas the following day. The confrontation ended with Zapata and 9 others were dead. The remnants of the bandit gang dispersed.
Photo of Santos Benavides from http://www.forttours.com
According to numerous reports, a state district judge has removed any legal impediments to UT-Austin’s plan to remove the statute of CSA President Jefferson Davis from its place of prominence on the South Mall of the main campus. Kudos to UT for removing this monument to slavery, segregation and racism from daily viewing. Predictably, the Confederate apologizers and historical revisionists expressed outrage that UT would no longer seek to honor a traitor who was dedicated to preserving slavery. KSAT has the story.
A judge on Thursday cleared the way for the University of Texas to move a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis away from the main area of campus, despite objections from a Southern heritage group that called uprooting the monument a “cultural atrocity” and compared it to the Islamic State destroying ancient artifacts in the Middle East.
Civil rights activists say the nearly century-old bronze likeness of Davis highlights the university’s racist past and the statue had been targeted by vandals. New school President Greg Fenves recently ordered it moved to a campus museum, but allowed other Confederate symbols to remain.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans, which earlier this year lost a U.S. Supreme Court decision over rejected Confederate license plates, had sued to prevent moving Davis’ statue.
But state District Judge Karin Crump said state law allows the school to determine where to place statuary on its campus. And she noted the original will of benefactor George Littlefield, who commissioned the statue of Davis and others, stated that it be placed in a position of prominence.
Texas will move Davis to the campus Briscoe Center history museum, which also houses one of the nation’s largest archives on slavery.
“Putting it in the Briscoe Center, far from whitewashing or erasing history, but puts it in the proper historical context,” said Gregory Vincent, Texas vice president for diversity and community engagement.
Vincent said the school would move the Davis statue within the next few days.
Photo from http://www.insidehighered.com
Only 150 years after the surrender at Appomattox Court House, we may finally be witnessing the last dying throes of the Confederate States of America. And it is about time. Red has studied the Civil War for over 40 years and visited many of the great National Battlefield Parks and several of the lesser-known Civil War sites. It is a fascinating, tragic and yet somehow uplifting story of how a nation engaged an deadly struggle for its soul and to bring meaning to the founding words that “all men are created equal.” But it nearly destroyed our nation and in any understandable sense of the word, supporters of the Confederacy were traitors to our country. Yes, there was much battlefield courage and heroism on both sides of the conflict. But clearly the Confederacy was on the wrong side of history.
The apologists will continually tell you that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and that it was an honorable fight for “States Rights.” Bullcrap. Ask yourself this, would there have been a war if there had been no slavery? Of course not. If you have any doubt about that, simply read the Texas Ordinance of Secession resolution that preceded Texas’ entry into the Confederacy. It is clear, that Texas seceded for only one reason – to preserve the right to enslave fellow humans forever. Read these excerpts from this vile racist screed, and then tell me that the Confederacy and the Civil War was about something other than slavery.
Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated States to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquillity and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery–the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits–a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.
In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color–a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.
We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States. By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South.
The majority of rebel soldiers who died honorable deaths in an ignoble cause were essentially duped into fighting a war to preserve an institution that benefitted almost none of them. They were led to the slaughter to preserve a dying institution and way of life based on a disgusting lie that the color of your skin meant something. They may deserve honor for the reason of their service, but the ideals of the Confederacy deserve to be place on the ash heap of history and burned beyond recognition.
A long-simmering controversy over the prominent place of honor that a Jefferson Davis statue occupies on the South Mall at UT-Austin seems to finally be boiling over. Unknown persons have recently defaced the statue after repeated calls to remove it from the campus have gone unheeded. The phrases “Davis must fall” and “Emancipate UT” have been written on the statue. The statue of Davis is curious at best, since he had no obvious ties to Texas other than the fact that Texas was part of the Confederacy. The statue does note his other service as a Colonel in the U.S. Army, U.S. Secretary of War and as a U.S. Senator but none of those facts would support placement of the statue on a university campus in Texas. And certainly would not support placement of the sculpture at the top of the campus’ most scenic mall seemingly coupled with a statute of George Washington. At least it has been on the UT Campus since the 1930’s and was installed at a time when the school was completely segregated. It seems likely that Davis was placed there as a memorial to the cause of keeping the “coloreds” in their place – a cause that was winning at the time. In contrast, the current effort to build more and more memorials to the Confederacy defies understanding as anything but the dying throes of that same lost cause. Although claiming to honor their “heroes” – the proponents of such Confederate worship are in denial of the fact that they honor traitors to their country whose leadership led millions to die in a futile effort to preserve chattel slavery and a dying way of life. Red acknowledges that there were uncountable acts of heroism on the battlefield by Confederate soldiers – but that heroism is tainted by the cause in which those sacrifices were made. Not all causes are worth celebrating or remembering by public memorialization.
Nonetheless, the controversy has resulted in massive media coverage in the U.S. and elsewhere. Even The Guardian (U.K.) has reported on the growing brouhaha over glorifying the inept former Confederate President.
Pity Jefferson Davis, if you will. Vandals have defaced the Confederate president’s statue on the University of Texas campus, most recently with the words “Davis must fall” and “Emancipate UT”. Student leaders are also seeking to remove the statue from the Austin campus.
“We thought, there are those old ties to slavery and some would find it offensive,” said senior Jamie Nalley, who joined an overwhelming majority of the student government in adopting a resolution in March supporting his ouster.
But as students take aim at Davis, the number of sites in Texas on public and private land that honor the Confederacy is growing – despite the opposition of the NAACP and others. Supporters cite their right to memorialize Confederate veterans and their role in Texas history, while opponents argue the memorials are too often insensitive or antagonistic, while having the backing of public institutions like UT.
From the Annals of the Confederacy – In 1928, Felix Huston Robertson died in Waco. Robertson was the only Texas native general in the Confederate Army. Robertson who was born at Washington-on-the-Brazos was appointed a brigadier general in 1864. He was reported to be a cruel and harsh commander. He was known as Commanche Robertson for the savage nature of his punishments and his Indian-like visage. He was involved in one of the more controversial incidents of the Civil War. On October 3, 1864 in Saltville, Virginia, troops under Robertson’s command killed well over 100 wounded, mostly black survivors of a Union attack. Robertson was implicated but never charged with any crime. It was left to a subordinate officer to take the blame and he was hanged for murder after the war. Robertson was severely wounded shortly after his promotion and never returned to field duty. Robertson returned to Texas, where he became an attorney, real estate speculator, and enthusiastic member of the United Confederate Veterans. At the time of his death he was the last surviving general of the Confederacy.