It seems that the more America moves into the 21st century the more we are fated to move back into the 19th century. Some want to go all the way back to the 15th century, back to the days before the first Europeans came to the Americas. After all they were all villains and exploiters and deserve to have their memorials and historical records erased. If their graves and tombs are to be marked at all, it is just so that progressives and people of color know where to spit or worse. Or so the thinking goes.
The complex history of the American Civil War demands a complex treatment. What it all was about and what were the major factors, and what were the minor factors are still being debated today. Slavery, which raises the most ire among African-Americans and their so called white progressive supporters was certainly a factor. Was it the overriding issue? Still being disputed. What is not so much in dispute are the reasons why the soldiers and officers of the Confederacy fought so hard and bravely for. They fought for their homes and families, and their states and regions, and for what they felt was right. They felt they had a right to secede from the Federal Union and upon a close reading of the United States Constitution a very excellent case can be made that they did have that right. In particular Texas had the right of secession written into the treaty that made Texas part of the United States.
Though I’m sure that sizeable portions of the Confederate Army were supporters of slavery and were of the opinion that black people were lesser humans and that their rightful condition was to be in bondage; by the time the war was ending public opinion was shifting, and people were wondering why they had to suffer and die in such horrific numbers so that a few wealthy slave owners could maintain their excessive lifestyle. They obviously should have thought of that years before when in the grip of “secessionist fever” when they were so eager to fight with what turned out to be one of the fiercest and strongest countries in the world; that is the Northern United States.
What determinations go into the reasoning that causes each and every soldier to fight in that specific war is difficult in the extreme to exactly determine. Some fight because their country calls; In the Civil War many fought for their state, and many were young and did not shy from adventure. And what can be more adventurous than to legally kill, and conversely, risk being killed? And what many forget was that during the civil war there was a military draft in place for both the North and South. Many did not go willingly into what was to become the worst slaughter of American lives up to and including today. And deserters were hunted down and shot or hanged.
For whatever reason the common soldier went to war against the Union, more likely than not it was not for the cause of upholding slavery. No battle flag had a depiction of a black man in chains. It was a fight against “Northern Aggression.
This might explain the nauseous sensation that Patriots feel when viewing college students, Black Lives Matters members and young radicals pulling down and expectorating on and kicking a statue of a common everyday Confederate Soldier. It is akin to digging up a tomb to desecrate the remains of what is still considered the enemy. There is a folk saying “Leave the dead alone, don’t go digging up bones” I think folk wisdom along with common sense is in very short supply today.
What are war memorials for? What for are all the statuary of generals and politicians? The Civil War especially was a great tragedy for the United States, the trauma lingered for decades, and even up until the Civil Rights era there was still division among the North and South. There were expressions like “dumb redneck, hillbillies, and conversely “damn Yankees” that were used for generations ”
In the decades though following the Civil War, veterans from both sides of the conflict would have reunions and brotherhood and reconciliation were the order of the day. A nation had gone through the worst that a nation could go through and had come out the other side one nation again.
However in researching the Civil War Reunions of the Northern and Southern veterans, I have found no record of Confederate and Black Northern Veterans re-uniting and reconciling…Perhaps one day re-en actors could accomplish what now at rest forever ancestors could not. Perhaps this is just an unreachable dream. But stranger things have been done. But in saying this I can’t really think of any.
The Texan and Tejano Connection
The Texans of Hispanic descent mostly sat out the The War Between The States. Wisely so. They had very little to gain and of course, their lives to lose. However a considerable number did participate, and by a ratio of about 3 to 1 they fought for the confederacy. Others fought for the Union. (see Texas Unionist link in sources). The reasons? Most likely the same as other Texans, but whatever the mix of reasons, protecting the institution of slavery was not one.
Should the monuments and historical record of the Tejanos in the Civil War be torn down and the records of their battles be erased? That is a question to be answered by the people of Texas.
There was an issue that came up in the Writers Of The Rio Grande online magazine concerning the provenance of markers and monuments in Brownsville Texas on a historical path in the city. It was the image of a cavalryman. But to which side did the cavalryman belong? There was Confederate Cavalry and Union Cavalry both at different times in Brownsville during the Civil War. I, for one, don’t know that it is important to differentiate. Let the marker be a tribute to all.
Here is some history of Fort Brown during the Civil War.
In March of 1864, Confederate brigadier General Hamilton P. Lee asked Colonel Benavides to ride to Brownsville to save the 100-man post, which was under siege from elements of the Union’s XIII Corps. Included in this group was the 2nd Texas Union Calvary, a Brownsville unit newly formed of Unionist Mexican-Texans. The 33rd Calvary commanded by Colonel Benavides rose to the occasion, and drove the Union forces back. A month after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, the Civil War ended for Santos Benavides, his two courageous brothers, and the Mexican-Texans of the Lone Star State. “Tejanos” (As the Mexican Americans from Texas are called) had been among the first to take up arms for the Confederacy and were among the last to surrender.
Like during so much of the Civil War, here again we have brothers fighting brothers.
This history is not very well known. I think it should be known. Why? Because it happened, and all are free to take what they want from these facts.
In the time it has taken to piece together this article, the world has moved on. The issue of Confederate History and how it should be erased from public has expanded to questioning the very validity and nobility of the American Flag and Anthem. Have these become symbols of shame and oppression?
Also statues of Catholic Saints have been decapitated and blood has been thrown on statues of Columbus. Is our past and history, culture and tradition under siege? The answer is yes. The only dispute is, is this a good thing or not a good thing. I invite your response.
Breaking News From Brownsville
Confederate Monument has been vandalized