Revisionist History? Or Correcting History?
Monday, July 11, 2011
Revisionist History? Or Correcting History?
"It has been truthfully said that "history as written, if accepted in future years, will consign the South to infamy;" and only by refusing to acquiesce in it as it is written can we possibly prevent future generations from so accepting it. By keeping these politically dead issues alive as questions of history, freely discussing them, and reiterating the truth in regard to them, we may possibly counteract to some extent the effect of the misrepresentations found in history as it is now written, add something to the luster of the page that records the deeds of the men and women of the South, and hand their story down to posterity so that their children’s children will think and speak of them with pride rather than shame.”
From the forward of the book “The Men In Gray” by Robert Catlett Cave, Copyright 1911
In preparing the committee report I have felt at liberty to use any or all of the individual papers. The committee appointed by the general citizens’ and soldiers’ meeting, held in Richmond, October 17, 1897, made a second report confirming and explaining the report of 1898. That also is herewith submitted. One member of that committee, Mr. John P. McGuire, made a special report on the whole subject which has been incorporated in this paper.
It was supposed some eighteen months ago that the History Committee of the Grand Camp of Virginia, successful in the efforts of that period, had finished its labors and had no further cause for action or reason for existence. We imagined that books, hostile to the truth and dishonoring to the dead and living of the South, had been driven from our State, and that with them would go opinions derived from them and of like effect, and therefore debasing to those who held them.
The actual situation is such that we consider it wise to begin, this report with a brief description of our position at home and of the forces arrayed against us. It should serve to guide and concentrate our own action. It ought to secure the vigorous cooperation of all the Confederate camps in the South.
We were in error in supposing our work done. We are not altogether rid of false teachings, whatever may be said of the purposes of our teachers. Because of newly aroused thought, the opinions alluded to are less prevalent than they were; but they are still heard from young men who, during the last thirty years, have been misled as to the characteristics of our people and the causes of the "war between the sections," from some who, "looking to the future," as they phrase it, foolishly ignore the lessons of the past, and from others who, thinking themselves impoverished by the war and being greedy of gain, have neither thought nor care for anything nobler. There are a few ‘older men who think that the abandonment of all the principles and convictions of the past is necessary to prove their loyalty to the present. There are some who dare to tell us that "the old days are gone by and are not to be remembered;" that "it is a weakness to recall them with tender emotions." To these we reply: "Put off the shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground." Young or old, these men are few, but they are ours, and their children inherit their errors.
From Hunter Holmes McGuire 1835-1900, surgeon to Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, published in the original Confederate Veterans magazine.
As shown from the two excerpts above, many of the better learned men of the South who cast their lot with the olde Confederacy, who believed in the Constitutional validity, the honour and morality of their cause, were already seriously concerned about how future generations would be taught about the history of the War Between The States, as false histories had already been printed and were being taught throughout the country, but especially in the South. And as has been witnessed for many years, yankee columnists, editors, and letter writers continue to cast the South and its leaders as villains of the worst sort. Don’t they know the war is over? Yet when patriotic Southerners enter the debate and rise to defend their ancestors from unprovoked attacks, it is us who are accused of still fighting the war.
Worse, is when someone claims to be a Southerner whose ancestor fought the yankee invader and declares their ancestor to be a traitor, a villain. Such was the fear of the great Jefferson Davis when he wrote and said, "Nothing fills me with deeper sadness than to see a Southern man apologizing for the defence we made of our inheritance & denying the great truths on which all our institutions were founded. To be crushed by superior force, to be robbed & insulted, were great misfortunes, but these could be borne while there still remained manhood to assert the truth, and a proud consciousness in the rectitude of our course. When I find myself reviled by Southern papers as one renewing ‘dead issues,’ the pain is not caused by the attack upon myself, but by its desecration of the memories of our Fathers & those of their descendants who staked in defence of their rights — their lives, their property & their sacred honor. To deny the justice of their cause, to apologize for its defence, and denounce it as a dead issue, is to take the last of their stakes, that for which they were willing to surrender the other."
And so it goes 150 years after secession filled the people of the South with hope of a future without the heavy hand of the overbearing hand of the federal behemoth that exists today. The yankee still hurls insults to the South and is affronted when we defend and fire back.
Written by Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.
SCV Camp 1599
James Patton Anderson
West Palm Beach, Fla.
7 February 2011