Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Grail King

The burning of Richmond

On the night of April 2nd, 1865, My great-great aunt stood on the southern bank of the James River with her sisters and watched the city of Richmond burn. After staring in rapt silence for a time, the little girl turned to her big sister and asked, “What do we do now?”

I know about this because as an old woman she told the story to my cousin Mary, who in turn told it to me when she became an old woman. Our family has long generations, so there is only a single degree of separation between me and a personal experience of the Civil War.

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When the defenses of Richmond could no longer hold, in order to deny the Union valuable supplies the warehouse district in Shockoe Bottom was set ablaze by the Confederates before they retreated southwards. The fire spread from there to residential districts and left much of the city in ruins.

My great-great grandfather, who was also my cousin Mary’s grandfather, was Daniel Weisiger. He owned a small plantation between Richmond and Petersburg. After the war Daniel liked to say that he had been wounded at Second Manassas, but everybody in the family knew he had in fact fallen off his horse and broken his leg. He had to be strapped across the saddle of the same horse, which was then led home by his servant (i.e. his slave).

His brother David had a more illustrious career. Uncle David rose to the rank of general in the Confederate Army and was acclaimed a hero for leading the charge at the Crater during the siege of Petersburg.

There wasn’t much for Daniel to return home to when he came back to Chesterfield County: his plantation had been burned out by the Yankees. He and his family recovered what possessions they could and moved into Richmond. Daniel went to work for the railroad, and his wife turned their home into a boardinghouse in order to make ends meet.

One of their boarders was a war veteran, a colonel in the Army of Northern Virginia. When he was unable to muster the rent, before he departed he paid my great-great grandmother with a set of sturdy dining room chairs in lieu of cash. Those chairs, now rather disreputable, have come down to me, along with all these family tales.

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I’m telling these stories to illustrate the fact that the Civil War is still very much a living presence to many Virginians. It’s not about evil slaveholders who resisted the righteous armies of the North that came to free the bondsmen; it’s about our ancestors, people whose stained daguerreotypes still stand on our mantelpieces, men who took up arms to defend their homeland.
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Most of the battles of the Civil War were fought on the soil of Virginia. The place names cut a wide swath across the Commonwealth, starting at the Port of Norfolk, sweeping up the Peninsula to pick up Seven Pines, Cold Harbor, City Point, and Richmond, and then branching to the north to take in Spotsylvania, the Wilderness, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Brandy Station. The southern half veers off across the Appomattox River to Petersburg, Cross Keys, Saylers Creek, and ends at Appomattox. A separate procession moves up the Valley of Virginia through Winchester, Strasburg, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, and Port Republic.

Brig. Gen. Turner AshbyAnd these are just the names that I can rattle off without cracking a book; there are hundreds of others. Some are no more than a Virginia Historical Society road sign mentioning a skirmish or an encampment, while others are full-fledged battlefield parks complete with parking lots, visitors’ centers, restored buildings, costumed guides, and crowds of tourists.

When I was a kid it seemed that the red clay of the Virginia Piedmont must have gotten its color from the blood of all the fallen soldiers that was shed into it.

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In an earlier post, one of our commenters said this:

An outsider or a fanatic might assume that the people who fly the “stars and bars” want to bring back slavery and leave the Union. But nothing of the kind. The flag means, at least to those who display it, the willingness to defend one’s home, one’s kith and kin, one’s native region and its manners and customs against meddlesome outsiders.

What he says is true, but it’s only partially true. That’s what the Confederate Battle Flag means to me, and to many other people who are descendants of Confederate veterans and respect the traditions and valor of their ancestors.

But there are other people — and I know some of them personally — who mean something quite different when they fly the Confederate Battle Flag. To them it’s all about keeping the descendants of slaves in a subordinate position. The people who hold this attitude may be a small minority, but they exist. This is an unpleasant and unhappy truth, but it’s one that any honest Southerner has to face.

Were I were to fly the battle flag, my black neighbors would take it to have that second meaning. As Dymphna often notes, “communication is the act of the recipient.” So I won’t do it.

And, yes, the war was fought because of slavery, in the sense that the powerful men of the South, the movers and shakers, were the great landowners whose livelihoods and station in society depended on slavery. The end of slavery would have destroyed their wealth and privilege. States’ rights and the tariff and all the other issues were real, too, but slavery was the important one to the people who controlled public policy within the states that seceded from the Union.

However, that doesn’t mean that the men who actually fought the war were fighting to preserve slavery. Stonewall Jackson, the greatest Confederate hero of the war, was a devout Presbyterian who owned no slaves and detested slavery. Most of the infantrymen who bled and died for the South owned no slaves.

Men left their families and took up arms to defend their homeland. Virginia, after all, had been invaded by foreigners.

Yes, that’s right: foreigners. Until 1865 we were the “Sovereign Commonwealth of Virginia”, and recognized our participation in the United States as a voluntary arrangement, one which could be terminated at any time by the consent of the people of Virginia.

The new post-war federal government — in 1865 only in its infancy, and not the bloated and illiberal behemoth it has become in recent decades — changed all that. But not everyone in Virginia has forgotten.

The armies of the North pushed up the Shenandoah Valley in 1862, burning crops, stealing livestock, and taking civilian hostages. What could a God-fearing man do in the face of such an invasion except pick up his musket, saddle his horse, and head down to the courthouse square to join the regiment that was mustering there?

Like most wars, the Civil War in the South was fought by men who were defending the people and places that they held dear.

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I’m a Southern partisan who is glad the South lost the Civil War.

Slavery was an unmitigated evil. It stood in opposition to the very principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence, and would have had to end anyway, sooner or later. Without the war the South would have fallen further and further behind the rest of the country, and would have eventually faced an impoverishment that was even worse than the one brought on by Reconstruction.

No one can understand America without understanding the Civil War. Yet it is almost impossible to understand the Civil War fully. To paraphrase what John Von Neumann said about mathematics: You don’t understand the Civil War. You just get used to it.

The Sovereign Commonwealth of Virginia is the Grail King, and the Civil War is the wound that will not heal.

Every morning the Fisher King awakens, and his wound is still there, causing him unceasing pain. The pain is always there to remind him.

Yet somehow he still lives. Somehow he keeps going.


KGS said...

Dear Baron,

All of this brings back the fond moment of when we were discussing the same subject in that restaurant in Brussels on the eve of the Counterjihad conference.

Federal Union soldier asks a rebel prisoner; "just why are you fighting us? The Reb answers in amazement to the question being asked, "because yo here!"

Great post, and I salute your decision of never wanting to hurt the sensabilities of those who hold views counter to yours concerning that same flag.

It speaks volumes of your character.

Kiddo said...

Wow, I do finally see sanity in a post here, though I do tend to agree with Baron's posts more than Dymphna's. This is a wound that will not heal, and culture is culture. For all that I am of mixed ancestry, I was raised in Georgia as a Georgian and from good and old names. And yes, that is a considered part of life in the South. It was this status that allowed my Great-Grandfather to take certain stands during the Jim Crow era without being attacked by the Klan, as he was not a man to be told what to do.

Your comment about the "Stars and Bars" is quite apt, Baron, and I also understand that fear of being harmed by those who sport the image on the part of certain minority groups, and respectfully decline to defend its present day use, especially as this tends to be done by those without as much knowledge of their ancestry as you or I, Baron. As it is frequently said, at this point it is hard to find a Southerner and Confederate partisan who doesn't claim descent from plantation owners with at least 100 slaves to their credit. And usualy no knowledge beyond it.

(note: comments aren't not being taken here, Blogger is frequently refusing the initial word verifications, no matter how accurate and double-checked they are)

spackle said...

I find this whole topic to be quite interesting as I always thought that the Civil War had really been relegated to history. However after reading comments on this site for the past few days my eyes have been opened. A couple of commenters alluded to Lincoln as a "War criminal" and John wilkes Booth as a "Patriot". Needles to say I was a little surprised at that stance. I dont agree with them but they are entitled to there opinion. Another example happend on a recent trip I took to Gettysburg. A bunch of us were standing at the "Wheatfield" which was a site of a particularly vicious battle. One woman commented how terrible it was that all those boys died. A man with a thick southern accent replied "we didnt start it".
Most of us were dumbfounded and some nodded in agreement.

I guess my point is is that as a "Yankee" the war really seems like a sad historical event. But it is just that, history. To southerners (not all) it is still almost palpable. Maybe that is because I was brought up in the north where we were the victors? I dont know? But I totally understand and appreciate why some southerners (as the Baron wrote) still proudly fly the stars and bars.

Don M said...

First, though the Union was a voluntary compact, its dissolution could not legally be obtained by firing on federal forts, or by allying with a state that did so.

The Union began with the Articles of Confederation, which was, by its own words, "perpetual". The Union became stronger with the current Constitution.

For a state to withdraw, it would have to propose specific terms, and then under those terms gain the approval of the other states. To get that would have to pay cash. In Los Angeles, by ballot initiative, Simi Valley tried to withdraw from the city, and offered 600 million dollars to be set loose. That election did not result in the separation of Simi Valley from LA

Pastorius said...

Hi Baron,

I've been reading up on the Civil War of late. Your comment, that were it not for the fact that the Civil War brought an end to slavery, the South would have fallen further and further behind the rest of the world, is true.

And so, let us also acknowledge that, were Lincoln to have survived, his Reconstruction of the South would have taken a decidedly different direction than the Reconstruction eventually took. It seems the North, in many cases, was more interested in punishing the South than in reintegrating them into the Union. Because of this, the South took longer in catching up than it would have otherwise.

That is one of the inequities of the Civil War and its aftermath.

With that in mind, I can say that I see a way out of this controversy (about whether the VB is racist, or whether they are in the midst of shucking off their past racist affiliations) in which we are mired.

First, let me point out that you wrote,

"Were I were to fly the battle flag, my black neighbors would take it to have that second meaning. As Dymphna often notes, “communication is the act of the recipient.” So I won’t do it."

To me, this is the crux of the controversy over VB. One thing that I have not sufficiently articulated is that, at the very least, Filip DeWinter, with his association with Jean-Marie Le Pen, is guilty of a tremendous lack of sophistication for a major European political figure. Additionally, his answers to those who question him - about his displaying of his photograph with Le Pen in his own living room - are obfuscations at best.

His obfuscations also lack sophistication.

So, if "communication is in the act of the recipient" (and you see that as a reason to not fly your Confederate flag) then why is it that we can't all agree that certain behavior by the Vlaams Belang is inappropriate, at the very least?

As Fjordman has also directly criticized DeWinter and the VB for their association with Le Pen, then it is obvious that people like myself, Lex (for all her overabundence of candor), AOW, and Epaminondas are not off on some useless tangent, and we are certainly not doing this for the thrill of accusing our allies of being racists.

I would also say that Charles Johnson did not deserve to be criticized as a PR writer for CAIR. That was an absurd attack (and yes, I know you were not the one who leveled it).

My point is, the way out of this controversy is for us to acknowledge where we agree and where we disagree. We might, if we were able to get past all the harsh criticisms, find that we have more in common than we think.

Certainly, for my part, I would like to get back to the task of making the world safe for discussions of the mass-deportation of those who advocate Sedition against Western nations in the guise of promoting Sharia law.

Does that sound like the words of a mutli-culturalist?


davidhamilton said...

The blogger John Ray has pointed out that almost all countries have outlawed slavery without a Civil War (or War Between the States) except for the United States. The implication is that the Civil War was not inevitable. While I'm no fan of slavery, I think the notion is quite plausible that if (say) Virginia had the power to join the Union, it had the power to secede, and without payment.

Papa Whiskey said...

Baron B. –

Fine post, and concerning the rebel flag, a magnanimous attitude. It should not be supposed, however, that the Civil War is a living presence to Johnny Reb’s descendants alone. On the wall of my own home is a carte-de-visite portrait of a spare young man in the uniform of the 17th Iowa Infantry with a Colt 1860 Army .44 tucked into his belt. That uniform he wore to his death in 1862 during the campaign to retake Mississippi.

Henry Cleveland Webster was born in New York, but turned his hand to farming in Iowa before settling in Kansas in the late 1850s. At that time the latter choice was not an apolitical one. As James McPherson explains in “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,” pro- and anti-slavery Americans came to blows there several years before the war broke out, as free-soil settlers and slave-holding Missourian transplants contended for dominance in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 (which abrogated the Missouri Compromise of 1820, whereby slavery was banned north of the 36 degree-30 minute line). With the help of the New England Emigrant Aid Company and its financial backer Amos Lawrence (for whom the Kansas town was named), free-soil farmers from New England and the Midwest began to settle in Kansas with the goal of gaining an electoral majority there. This excited the wrath of slavery partisans such as Missouri Sen. David Atchison, who declared that “The game must be played boldly ... if we win we carry slavery to the Pacific Ocean ... we will be compelled to shoot, burn and hang, but the thing will soon be over.”

But it wasn’t. Enough free-soil settlers arrived to tip the numerical balance in their favor, which prompted further violence on the part of the Missourians – including a May 1856 mob attack on the abolitionist stronghold of Lawrence, in which newspaper offices were destroyed, a hotel burned, and shops and homes looted. That same month Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina, who had called the admission of Kansas as a slave state “a point of honor,” savagely bludgeoned Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts with a heavy cane on the floor of the Senate after Sumner excoriated “the crime against Kansas” in a speech. Such thuggery kindled the flames of hatred among anti-slavery Northerners, whose enmity had already been aroused by the Southern-generated Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which, as McPherson notes, “gave the national government more power than any law yet passed by Congress.” (Southern slaveholders had no problem with the federal government as a “bloated and illiberal behemoth” – one that required U.S. marshals and deputies to join slave hunts, fined them heavily if they declined, criminalized giving fugitive slaves refuge or obstructing their capture, and paid the expenses of slave hunting with federal funds – if it protected their economic interests and arrogated masterhood.)

Once the war was under way, “Bleeding Kansas” got even bloodier, as bands of marauders under men like William Clarke Quantrill (who in 1863 led another attack on Lawrence in which 182 men and boys were slaughtered out of hand) and Bloody Bill Anderson (whose gang in 1864 attacked a train in Centralia and murdered 24 unarmed Union soldiers traveling home on furlough) ravaged the land, burning and looting the farmsteads of Union sympathizers. Among the homes these worthies set upon was that of the fallen Henry Webster, whose widow Rachel and three-year-old daughter Sarah Ann (my great-grandmother) barely escaped with their lives.

One observer of this activity was Union Gen. Philip Sheridan, who had served in the Kansas-Missouri border region at the beginning of the war. “There as well as subsequently in Tennessee and Virginia,” McPherson writes, “he saw the ravages of Confederate guerrillas, and responded as Sherman did. ... in retaliation, and with a purpose similar to Sherman’s to destroy the (Shenandoah) Valley’s resources which helped supply Lee’s army, Sheridan carried out a campaign of devastation” that, in his own words, left “little in it for man or beast.” Thus did the agony of “Bleeding Kansas” lead in considerable measure to the ruin wrought in Virginia, confirming Jesus’ dictum in the Sermon on the Mount: "... with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

One of the realities McPherson’s history chillingly shows is how the rhetoric and propaganda of both sides, flung at each other for decades before 1861, did much to make the conflict unavoidable by fueling what Winston Churchill described as “the implacable rage of the antagonists.” Reading the dehumanizing vitriol spewed on the current political scene, particularly on the part of the left, I am suffused with apprehension that in this respect history may be repeating itself – that Americans may be learning once more to hate each other in a way that must bring us to blows yet again, inflicting yet another “wound that will not heal.”

God grant that our posterity be spared such a fate.

Stogie said...

I too am a Confederate descendant and a life member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I have a large sewn cotton replica of a Confederate infantry battle flag. Although I revere the flag and the nation it represents, I wouldn't fly it either except in a historical context where its meaning would not be misinterpreted.

However, I wish the South had won the war. I make no apologies for that. It was my ancestors' nation and mine by heritage.

Slavery would have ended naturally in the South, just as it ended naturally everywhere else. It ended naturally in Brazil 16 years after the war for Southern independence.

However, I live in the real world. The South is not going to rise again, and the USA as currently constituted is still the freest nation on earth. We must preserve it at all costs.

The Civil War ended many decades ago. We have a new war to face in the here and now, and that one deserves our attention, not refighting old battles.

Unknown said...

“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever . . . . ”

- Thomas Jefferson, from his Notes on the State of Virginia

AngleofRepose said...

Hi Pastorius,

I know you addressed your comment to Baron, but there's a few things that I'd like to address.

I agree that Dewinter has shown errors in judgement concerning that pic, and would go further with the VB as a whole for the publication of that rat in their youth magazine. However, I literally can't tell you why those two things don't bother me all that much. I've dug deep to explore my feelings on it, but always come up with unknotted panties. There's a whole lotta lizards w/bunched up undergarments, but there's a whole lot more who simply aren't bothered by it. Are we ALL WN's, racists etc etc?

And I do understand your point about the controversy, but I would posit that it was Charles who created this whole mess to the point where one now reads comments like this

Right now, it's cold war -- a war of ideas. And forgetting the morality of associating with white supremacists, socially-politically speaking, associating with Nazis is suicide. It would kill support for anti-jihad. Charles and others have said this many times

... and many more just like it. My point being, this thing ain't going away anytime soon when they're not even using words like crypto-nazis etc etc, you get the point. No, now the VB are Nazis, no quarter given.

I think a lot of people wish this whole thing would die down, most of all GoV, because they have so many better things to do. The bright side is, we get two excellent posts today that tie into the VB controversary quite nicely, and with added benefit of learning some interesting family history.

Kiddo said...

One important note in this as this post is being compared to the VB controversy/meltdown that I must add is that there are (in most cases) many many more generations between us Confederate descendants and anyone's WWII forbears. I got to hear first hand about bombing raids on D-Day, for instance. My 87 year old Grandmother (who is not very interested in genealogy) remembers only some of the stories told by her Grandparents about their parents during the war. This does make a world of difference in many ways.

My Great-Grandfather's building crews did find several barely buried remains from the war, all buried with honors, but then he's from New Hope, GA. Now that's honoring war dead, as the UDC also still does (and SCV), along with other uncounted others unaffiliated with such groups.

But most of us Confederate descendants are very far removed from even the attitudes that prevailed during the war, and those of us descended from slave owners
are in the same boat. This is quite different than being connected to those still alive in many cases who fought in WWII.

Paul said...

B.: Our Civil War collective memories have faded in our lifetimes. A person could actually say these memories have accelerated toward the dim past in our generation.

Like you, we have our own stories past to us from kinfolk, now dead. My mother's people were confederates. Her grandfather lived through the siege of Vicksburg. Her g-grandfather joined the army in Texas after his wife was killed by Comanches in 1860 near what is now Fort Worth. He died following the yellow fever outbreak at Sabine Pass, Tx, where he was stationed to hold off the expected Yankee incursion. The legacy passed to myself and cousins from the harsh upbringing of his son, raised as an orphan, and cowboy on 1870s, 1880s cattle drives after the war stays with us today. And we had a wide assortment on Yankees on my Dad's side. Amazing stories all.

Interesting, in around 1988, I visited the battlefield at Corinth, Mississippi, that followed Shiloh. While there I met an old man, 90ish, who had been tending the exhibits for years. One of the exhibits that day had been vandalized. The old man bemoaned the vandalism: no doubt, he felt personal loss in the vandalism since he had heard the associated war stories from his youth, and no doubt had kinfolk in the war.

It occurred to me then, and now, that the generation with near living memory of the war is just about passed. The young people coming up, with ipods stuck in their ears, have no memory of grandmothers whose fathers and grandfathers were killed in Civil War battles. These young people have just about overtaken and replaced us. What's more, they couldn't care less...

There is a much bigger story here to tell concerning the meaning of all this... But I shall leave that to the historians among us...

CarnackiUK said...


I agree that Dewinter has shown errors in judgement concerning that pic, and would go further with the VB as a whole for the publication of that rat in their youth magazine.

I feel compelled to say something about the so-called 'WN Rat' (as it's routinely described at LGF.) That description alone says volumes about what now passes for informed insight at LGF.

Consider this:

1. The cartoon rat is drawn to look repulsive. This ain't Mickey Mouse.

2. The cartoon appears in a pro-Flemish magazine written in Flemish. But the repulsive rat significantly speaks the language of the Flemings' opponents, French.

3. The rat sings a love song to Ayesha. She's called the Queen of Sheba, but who doesn't know that Ayesha is the name of Mohammed's under-age wife?

4. Still in French, the rat promises Ayesha jewels and other valuable gifts.

So we have a repulsive French-speaking rat who promises to heap treasure upon a muslim icon closely associated with the Prophet himself... and this, according to LGF's finest is a character which the Flemish VB identifies with approvingly. Not only that but this cartoon rat is somehow meant to be promoting White Nationalism to youth in a positive way!

This is on the same level as the prolific poster at LGF who, advised by some mischief-maker that the Flemish for 'shit sandwich' is bagette de shitte accepts it unhesitatingly and with delight. Well, Flemish or French, what's the diff, they all just talk pidgin-American anyway, right?

I used to love reading LGF in its heyday, but the level of comments there now just put me in mind of those compilations of the dumbest answers ever given in TV quiz shows.

Morgenholz said...

Paul mentioned Shiloh, where my great-grandfather almost lost his life. A Union soldier from an Ohio Volunteer Company, he probably wasn't 18 yet. I'll have to check on that.

The Stars and Bars do indeed have many meanings. I see folks fly it here in Ohio, and I venture that it means the more nefarious than the historical when I see it here. It's a far cry from the meaning accorded it in Georgia and South Carolina, where it is generally historical, rather than racial. I don't at all blame my southern brethren for getting their backs up when a Chicago preacher chastises them for using "Grandpa's Flag".

As a Yankee, I see the rift of that war generally, if not completely, healed. I respect the pride of the Southerner, certainly, because it is well earned and well maintained.

To the European readers, please understand that, no, this is not ancient history at all. It is our shared history, as painful as it may be, and while the feelings run deeper in some than in others, they indeed run in all of us.

Thanks for a great post, Baron.

Mencius Moldbug said...


This is a common misreading of the word "perpetual." All "perpetual" in the Articles meant was that the compact (contract) was valid indefinitely, with no expiration date.

If either the Constitution or the Articles had meant "indissoluble," it would certainly have said so. (Nor is it conceivable that either would have been ratified with this language.)

Baron Bodissey said...

CarnackiUK --

This is very interesting. Do you know why the rat seems to be wearing a white power armband? Maybe your Flemish or French is good enough to help us figure out how that fits into the joke.

If you have any more info, you can always email me at


Papa Whiskey said...

The Civil War ended many decades ago. We have a new war to face in the here and now, and that one deserves our attention, not refighting old battles.

-- Stogie

Roger that. Southerners are just as crucial a part of the American alloy as the chromium and molybdenum in a rifle barrel's 4140 alloy steel. Without them we should be much diminished.

Kiddo said...

Morgan--I married a Kansan whose families aren't as distant in terms of generations. His parents were in their 40s when he was born, his Mom's Mom was 40, his Great-Grandfather remarried and she was born when he was in his 60s. So yes, my husband can say that his Great-Grandfather was born in the 1830s and was almost killed at Gettyburg. Also in the Ohio Vols.

So believe me, I get no end of teasing when it comes to what Mencius is speaking of, the necessity of keeping together the Union, something I also think necessary, though honestly the thought of anything happening to Georgia gets my hackles up something fierce. None of us know where we'd have stood then, but Sherman did my family a nasty turn, or rather his soldiers.

Interesting thread. The North and Midwest had large influxes of immigrants from overseas after the War, unlike the impoverished South. It cannot be avoided that these demographic realities, until recently, have kept the sense of heritage alive more in the former CSA than elsewhere.

Baron--I know someone who can probably figure that out in a heartbeat. I'll just need to check out this "rat".

G. said...


"1. The cartoon rat is drawn to look repulsive. This ain't Mickey Mouse.

2. The cartoon appears in a pro-Flemish magazine written in Flemish. But the repulsive rat significantly speaks the language of the Flemings' opponents, French.

3. The rat sings a love song to Ayesha. She's called the Queen of Sheba, but who doesn't know that Ayesha is the name of Mohammed's under-age wife?"

The rat in the magazine seems to be part of the header for a section that deals with comics. (this is a youth magazine, after all) The issue I linked to has an obituary over some cartoonist. Here's another issue.
My guess is that the rat is unrelated to the material printed, but since Flemish is only marginally like German I only get the general gist of the articles.

X said...

Culdn't comment last night for some reason, which is probably for the best. I'm in a better mood now.

Unrelated it was.

Anyway, talk of the US civil war is always interesting to me simply because it's so relatively recent, so that the majority of US citizens have ancestors who were on one side or the other, but rarely both. your war was fought like a war between nations - which, in a way, I suppose it was so in many ways it can't be called a "classic" civil war. Over here, our civil wars are so far in the distant past, and its combatants were so intermingled, that you're likely to find peple with ancestors on all sides. By dint of geography I actually have ancestors who fought with Cromwell, against him and who survived his massacres of the Irish after he rose to lord protector. I actually hate the guy in an abstract sort of way. The war was necessary for our nation to progress from an absolutist monarchy to a democracy but the man himself was a... well.

But in most ways this anger is all abstract. Time and distance have made it abstract because I live in what was once a free nation thanks largely to that war, and thanks to the reaction of the people to Cromwell's own absolutism.

As people here have pointed out there are some posters on GoV (and presumably other people elsewhere) who hate Lincoln with a ferocity that goes beyond mere abstraction and who retain that hate and nurture it against everything that he touched, including the northern states as they exist now. I'm not so ready to believe all the bad things said about him, though I accept he wasn't the perfect character people have painted him as in the past. I think what makes the US civil war unique in a lot of ways is that both sides were right - Lincoln wanted to preserve the union, the southern states wanted to preserve their rights, and they were both right to want that - and the men on both sides were mostly good people forced to make terrible decisions and do terrible things.

And, I have to say, it's nice to see that we can still discuss all of this. Even if some of us are prone to engaging in a little polemic now and then...

eatyourbeans said...

I probably shouldn't have mentioned the Civil War beause it's taken us far off the subject. Still I can't resist telling this family tle.

Shortly after WW2, years before I was born, a distant cousin married a Southern guy. The reception was held at the bride's parents' home not far from Gettyburg. I once visited the place when I was little and you could still see bullet marks in the window shutters. I understand that a parking lot now sits where the house was. The developers unknowingly avenging the Sherman's March, I guess.

Anyway, it happened that in this house was a chair belonging to Thaddeus Stephens, a powerful voice in the Senate for imposing the harshest terms upon the defeated South. When the guests from Dixi got wind of this, they threw the chair out the window and burned it. No doubt the owners of the chair were furious, but I'm told that most of the other Damn Yankees attending were secretly quite amused.

I think they were pleased that the South hadn't lost its piss& vinegar. Where America has been so very lucky and where Europe hasn't is that we curbed the former enemy; we didn't break their spirit.

Anyway that's what this Yankee thinks.

locomotivebreath1901 said...

"...our participation in the United States (w)as a voluntary arrangement, one which could be terminated at any time by the consent of the people of Virginia."

I've long thought this point is key for teaching any history of the U.S. of A., but it is sadly neglected.

I will add that the term 'civil war' is a misnomer, if not an outright deception. 'Civil war' implies two or more factions fighting for control of the same government. No such thing occurred.

I believe 'the northern war or the war of the north' is a more adequate descriptor.

A Jacksonian said...

What is interesting about the Civil War, to me at least coming from families that arrived after it, is the lionization of Robert E. Lee and the non-acceptance of his final act: he surrendered and refused to join in an ongoing campaign driven underground. The man who had been a commander for the Union and the Confederacy would NOT see that Nation forever put at risk by not stepping away from war.

After George Washington's refusal to do similar by his non-support of his commanders to install a military government, Robert E. Lee should be remembered and revered for *that*. He was prepared to step aside and not divide a Nation forever more... and yet his countrymen have had a hard time doing same. I am thankful, and deeply so, for those soldiers that stepped away from war and did their best in the poor peace that followed. There are enough that followed General Lee so that the Nation could recover and not be subjected to the specter of The Balkans: of hatred so kept that it will not die centuries after the initial wrong.

The Civil War would mark the turning point in how Americans viewed America. Jerry Pournelle relates his growing up in rural TN where the old concept lived until the 1920's. It is a simple, one word change in how the Nation is viewed when one talks about:

Modern - The United States is...

Pre-CW - The United States are...

The Progressive movement would also change that so that the early 20th century would see much change but little progress to the point where one could not even begin to *thing* in the terms - The United States are... That is not the system of government as put down and the changes in accountability by removing them, has altered the modern US down a pathway that no longer has internal vibrancy, for all the capability of industry seen.

As a Nation we were unprepared to reconcile our trade needs via the slave based agricultural system of the South and the overall belief in human liberty and freedom. The Declaration, for all of its outlook, was a generalized conception that the Articles of Confederation could not stand by past the war. America's first try at democracy had *failed*. Unlike the Civil War that does not get taught or mentioned much... a post-Revolutionary problem that nearly disintegrated the Nation, but no one looks at it. That led to the re-founding of America on the Constitution and the worries then, remain with us to this day. That takes time and effort, to discover the civil discourse on democracy and republics and Nations, and the knowledge that backed creating the Nation. We don't teach that, either, and the Nation is left without deep understanding of what democracy is, how liberty is sustained and the responsibilities of citizens. And the end of those things for ancient Rome, Greece and not so ancient parts of Europe and elsewhere in the world where democracy and republics have fallen is not good.

Apparently the memory hole is already here... finding it and plugging it is a problem, as it acts as the 'blind spot' in your field of vision, where things warp and twist around it, but never fit without what is there. Not much can be done about the blind spot, but a memory hole? Yes.

If you dare to do so.

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

I'd love to fly the stars & bars, but alas the meaning is so distorted that I now have a bonnie blue for those moments.

We've identified 3 Confederates & 1 Union in my family - Mom has 1 of each and Dad's were both Southern. Would have to go to my geneology charts to recollect where everyone fought.

I think the reason this is still so pallatable for me is because of what I was taught as a child about the War - that the North was all Good and the South was all Evil. It was absolutely revolting what my teachers told me, and what I since learned as an adult.

This issue is much too complex to be treated as such, and I thoroughly resent talking to people who shrug the topic off with "Well, we won" as a response. I give them a History lesson when I hear that.

Slavery is reprehensible, absolutely, but nobody knows a thing about Stonewall. The fact that, in addition to also not owning slaves, he also taught them to read, which was against the law in the South. Thanks, Baron, for sharing this information about such a wonderful military leader and righteous man.

AngleofRepose said...

@ carnackiUK- You said:

1. The cartoon rat is drawn to look repulsive. This ain't Mickey Mouse.


2. The cartoon appears in a pro-Flemish magazine written in Flemish. But the repulsive rat significantly speaks the language of the Flemings' opponents, French.

Disagree. There are at least two factions who use that rat, the VB and the socialist VJW. The VB publish a magazine, the VrijVlaanderen (page 12), that simply shows a rat holding an inkwell. The rat you refer to in your #3 & #4 points, are seen here, on the socialist VJW website (scroll down to 31 & 24 October).

This is the interesting part to me.
1) They're rival factions.
2) They both use a repulsive rat.
3) One wears an armband with supposed WN symbol on it, the other uses the supposed WN symbol profusely.
4) They both use the "Eigen volk eerst" slogan.

So, my questions are.. what's with the rat, and ARE those WN symbols, or is it a "culturist" thing?

Vlad Z. said...

Almost worth a seperate thread. Is the "Sun Cross" or "Odin's Cross" a White Nationalist symbol?

I would say, yes, that's its primary meaning at this point.

For whatever it's worth here is the Wikipedia entry:

Variations resembling the Celtic cross, and the sun cross from which it is derived, have been adopted by some white nationalist and neo-fascist groups. These supporters usually use a very basic variation of the design which is made up of simple lines, without any of the ornamental complexity of traditional Celtic crosses.

In these recent adaptations, it is sometimes also called a sun wheel. It is used by white nationalists due to the fact that the sun and the cross both play prominent roles in various western religions. The symbol can also sometimes be identified with radical nationalists of a Third Positionist or Catholic nationalist persuasion.

This new political connotation has almost eclipsed the traditional meaning of the symbol in France, Italy and many other European countries. In France, the symbol was adopted by the groups Occident and the Groupe Union Droit. In Italy, the symbol has been banned from being shown within stadiums, as it is considered a sign of fascism and racism.

Celtic crosses are also associated with political movements advocating greater independence or other measures with respect to Celtic minorities, such as Breton nationalism.

X said...

Celtic crosses are also associated with political movements advocating greater independence or other measures with respect to Celtic minorities, such as Breton nationalism.

Lets see that again.

Celtic crosses are also associated with political movements advocating greater independence or other measures with respect to Celtic minorities, such as Breton nationalism.

Now the flemish aren't a celtic minority but the assumption that it's always a fascist symbol, IMO, takes a severe knock when you consider that point. A knock, mind you, not a demolition...

Personally I still don't see the evidence amounting to anything more than a very large molehill.

AngleofRepose said...

After reading Zeke's (thanks.. I've seen that many times already) and archonix's posts, here's the angle I'm coming from:

Baron decided not to fly that flag (a symbol, if you will) because it might offend his neighbors. Besides, it's not really necessary, cuz he ain't fightin for his peeps rights/sovereignty.

Dewinter et al ARE, and they've decided that they're gonna take the meaning of that symbol BACK from those who co-opted it. Kind of in-your-face attitude, a big FU to those who smear them as racist/neo-nazi etc (by showing it in that video and using it in the magazine).

In other words, the WNs may have co-opted it, but they don't OWN it. That's why I'm with archonix on this. It's also why I detest CJ's guilt-by-association tactics.

Kiddo said...

People I mailed don't even want to be on record commenting, as the fear of police watching these movements is so strong in Europe.

One note on the cross from someone who is already disgusted by people sullying it (though supportive of the Flemish) is this:

"The "Odin cross"/"sun cross"/"sun wheel" is a very old symbol that was already used in northern Europe during the late Stone Age. Originally it was just a sun symbol, but now the nazi's and other creepy people got a hold of it and abuse it for their own political purposes."

I have no permission to further quote him. One interesting thing above is the "Eigen volk eerst" slogan, which of course translates to "Our (own) people first". In itself no surprise, but I'd like to read more and will follow the links above.

This could be, as Angel says above, an attempt to retake these symbols, but that's just not the view I'm getting from European friends who state openly when they use or write about such symbols their meaning in doing so, namely to use ancient symbols that are Germanic and adding numerous caveats that they are NOT WN and denouncing those who use these symbols for those reasons.

X said...

Eigen volk eerst is one of those rather ambiguous idiomatic phrases that can mean quite a few different things. The german equivalent, Deutchsland über alles, is essentially the same statement, but it was abused by the nazis because one of its meanings is "Germany above all others". It also means "Germany before all others". The first phrase also means, as you say, "our people first" or "ourselves first", which can be interpreted as a statement of putting the interests of the native population before those of people who are not from that nation when conduction national affairs. Every nation puts the interests of its own citizens first if it wants to survive, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

In fact, the phrase is less innocuous than that classic British patriotic song Rule Britannia, the lyrics for which are incredibly and unambiguously nationalistic far above and beyond the subtle differences of meaning that can be gleaned from the phrases above.

All of which proves that there's a lot of risk in using such language and symbols.

Such is life... :)

AngleofRepose said...


This isn't to diss you or anything, but I've re-read your last sentence a few times now and can't make out what you're saying.

In any case, I'm not convinced that it's meant to be a WN symbol.

And.. it's "angle". Angle of Repose. Geological term and damn good book, too.

SamenoKami said...

An interesting and informative thread. I liked all the historical comments about posters' family members. A good read from a Southern perspective is "The South Was Right" by Kennedy. I had quite a few of my pre-conceived ideas changed from reading it. A few years back as the battle raged over the stars and bars being on southern state flags, I had the presence of mind to purchase flags from SC and GA, each of which flew over the capitol. In spite of its negative symbolism, it is still a really pretty flag. We have in the family, a newspaper printed on the backside of wallpaper from 1864 Vicksburg. Our Confederate money is worth more than the US dollar. And we call it "The War of Northern Aggression" where I come from. Thanks for all the comments.