What do you think of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis? What is your opinion of the Confederacy? Whether you think Lee a noble, principled hero or the worst of villains, I guarantee you there is history you do not know about him and Davis. Whether you have fallen for the Confederate myth or the critical race theory picture, or whether (like my younger self) you don’t much care either way, there are facts that have been hidden from you.
If you don’t believe me, read this article.
There are truths that both conservatives and leftists want to keep from you, either from ideology or cowardice, that are vital to solving the problems of our divided nation today—for we are living in a country created by the losers (that is, the Democrats) of the Civil War. Democrats perpetuated violence and racism both during and after the Civil War. One of the ways we can begin to recognize those truths is to take down Confederate monuments. Before you accuse me of being ignorant or brainwashed or wanting to erase history, read on—you might be surprised.
First of all, a country that celebrates traitors is setting itself up for failure. That is true objectively, universally, and in every country—not just America. How can a nation possibly expect loyalty and patriotism from its citizens if it points to traitors, the men who tried to undermine or destroy it, and calls them heroes? This is especially true since most of the Confederates never disavowed either their cause or their war crimes. They were unabashedly proud of having tried to destroy the Union and of all their horrific war crimes (detailed later in this article). How can America celebrate the men who wanted to see America founder and fall?
Statues and monuments have inherent meanings, just as we would say a man’s body has inherent meaning and can never become a woman’s body, no matter what the man says or does to it. A beautiful, magnificent statue or painting is inherently celebratory, whatever we might say about it. Otherwise, why is there no monument to Benedict Arnold at West Point, where he served and where he then betrayed the Americans? Why does no statue of Himmler stand next to the gas chambers of Auschwitz? Which emphasizes another point—that statues and monuments are not necessary to preserve history. We remember Benedict Arnold just fine without monuments. We also seem to have very definite memories of King George III, even though the American revolutionaries tore down his statue and ornaments and melted them into bullets (see George Washington and the Irish). Those American Patriots understood that a statue has a laudatory meaning, and they could not allow that metal monument to tyranny to stand on the soil of the men the tyrant had betrayed.
But did you know that it was the official policy of the Confederate Army and government to execute or enslave every black person the army encountered, and execute any Union white officer of black troops it captured? Have you ever read the Retaliatory Act?
A Dec. 1862 proclamation from Confederate President Jefferson Davis claimed that the Union’s policy of allowing black soldiers and other actions created a “war in its nature far exceeding in horrors the most merciless atrocities of the savages.”
Jefferson, therefore, ordered that all black soldiers and their white officers captured by the Confederacy were to be treated as slaves, and not soldiers deserving of POW treatment. This was followed in May 1863 by The Retaliatory Act of the Confederate Congress, which said it aimed to protect the “institution of African slavery” (emphasis mine):
“[A]ll captives taken by the confederate forces ought to be dealt with and disposed of by the confederate government. . .That every white person, being a commissioned officer, or acting as such, who, during the present war, shall command negroes or mulattoes in arms against the confederate States, or who shall arm, train, organize, or prepare negroes or mulattoes for military service against the confederate States, or who shall voluntarily aid negroes or mulattoes in any military enterprise, attack, or conflict in such service, shall be deemed as inciting servile insurrection, and shall, if captured, be put to death, or be otherwise punished at the discretion of the court. . .
All negroes and mulattoes who shall be engaged in war or taken in arms against the confederate States, or shall give aid or comfort to the enemies of the Confederate States, shall, when captured in the Confederate States, be delivered to the authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured, to be dealt with according to the present or future laws of such State or States.”
Pre-Civil War, slaves who participated in “insurrections” were generally executed or otherwise severely punished. Hence turning “negroes and mulattoes” over to states was essentially the same as mandating death or harsh enslavement. Soldiers weren’t the only ones targeted by the Confederates, either—the Confederate Army rounded up countless black civilians in several states (Pennsylvania’s black population was decimated) during the war and re-enslaved them, many of the victims subsequently lost to history.
After the 1864 Ft. Pillow Massacre and the above orders, it is not surprising that a group of white officers commanding black Union troops resolved that they would stay loyal to their black troops, even though they knew their “doom” if captured by Confederates.
But the greatest single war crime of the Confederate Army, and the worst illustration of the above policy’s enforcement, was the Ft. Pillow Massacre. If you haven’t heard of it, you do not know one of the most important events of the Civil War. Some estimate that around 200 black and white Union soldiers and civilians, even children, were slaughtered after surrendering to the Confederates under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest (yes, the future KKK founder), but Forrest himself estimated the number of his victims much higher.
In battle dispatches, General Forrest wrote, “The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for two hundred yards. The approximate loss was upward of five hundred killed, but few of the officers escaping. My loss was about twenty killed. It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.”
One Confederate witness testified, “The sight of negro soldiers stirred the bosoms of our soldiers with courageous madness.” It was all-out butchery. Yet Confederates, both soldiers, individuals, and newspapers, expressed open praise for Forrest’s actions for months afterwards. It is essential to understand that the Confederates were proud of their horrendous deeds.
And for those who would vindicate Lee personally from this massacre (if any justifications still linger after his own war crime complicity mentioned above, commanding the Confederate Army that rounded up black civilians and mistreated POWs) and from racist efforts post-war in general, I cite two quotes from Lee himself. Firstly, Lee certainly knew about Forrest’s Ft. Pillow Massacre. Forrest’s own dispatches boasted of the crime, and Forrest was serving under Lee. Yet, when asked after his surrender to Gen. Grant who his greatest general was, Lee immediately responded, “Sir, a gentleman I have never had the pleasure to meet, General Nathan Bedford Forrest.”
And during his 1866 testimony to Congress, Lee generally returned deliberately vague and conciliatory answers—except in one instance. The suggestion of blacks being allowed to vote roused him so much that he let the mask slip for a moment. “Proper, intelligent people would not be elected; and rather than suffer that injury they [whites] would not let them [blacks] vote at all…My own opinion is, that, at this time, they cannot vote intelligently, and that giving them the right of suffrage would open the door to a great deal of demagogism, and lead to embarrassments in various ways.” After whites deliberately kept blacks in servitude and ignorance, those same whites (Lee included) then self-righteously declared black Americans could not possibly elect their own leaders—it would lead to “demagogism”! Lee did free his own slaves earlier in life, at one time endorsed the idea of gradual emancipation (though more for the sake of whites than blacks), and encouraged slaves to enlist as respected soldiers in the Confederate Army. Yet the taint of slavery and the mandated Confederate war crimes eventually ruined his integrity and canceled out his good words. Modern Democrats try a similar tactic in claiming “personal” opposition to abortion while voting for every pro-abortion bill that comes up.
The Confederates’ and Democrats’ crimes did not cease with the Civil War. Multiple states experienced terrible anti-black and anti-“Yankee”/Republican violence during Republican U.S. Grant’s presidency, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina, according to H.W. Brands in The Man Who Saved the Union. There are multiple first-hand testimonies of this violence, which the perpetrators’ sympathizers rarely sought to conceal and often defended. For instance, one South Carolinian, Warren Driver, appealed to President Grant, “We are fast drifting into anarchy. I am told plainly to leave here or change my politics or they will kill me as no damned Radical will be tolerated. . .There are armed bands of ruffians roaming through the country murdering inoffensive people. There has been five murders committed in as many weeks in my vicinity. . .No one arrested for it.”
Driver’s experience was not unique. Roda Ann Childs, a black Georgian, was subjected to a horrific rape and beating, her rapist an “ex-Confederate soldier.” Mississippi Republican Allen Huggins described a trial involving a race-based murder and added, “From that time to this the county has been one continued scene of persecution and horror to Union men white and black.” Alabamian GTF Boulding told Grant, “We are hunted and shot down as if we were wild beasts,” citing multiple murders of black people within the space of just a few days.
A cabinet member of Grant’s wrote in 1871 that cases of rape, violence, castration, and murder were detailed for the cabinet twice a week. But when Grant reluctantly (reluctantly only because he hated using federal force) sent troops on various occasions to stop the rapes, the shootings, the lynchings, and the harassment, the Democrats immediately began denouncing him as a tyrant and justifying the crimes. Federal marshals and the US army arrested hundreds of Ku Klux Klansmen and associates in just one year in South Carolina alone (representing only a part of the violent perpetrators there), Brands noted, of which several hundred were convicted—most serving only a few months in jail or paying fines.
I wish to make one final point, an appeal to my readers. I am not a Marxist, which means I am not anti-monument. What I suggest is that, after taking down Confederate statues and monuments, we erect in their places—perhaps out of the statues’ own materials—monuments to the great Patriots and civil rights heroes of American history. Instead of Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson, let us have James Armistead Lafayette, Samuel Lee, Peter Salem, Harriet Tubman, Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, John Laurens, U.S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Medgar Evers, the 370th Infantry (WWI), the Tuskegee Airmen, Dorie Miller, Nancy Green, the Navajo Code Talkers, Sgt. William Alchesay, and so many more.
We are Americans. We are independent thinkers, capable of reasoning for ourselves, entirely independently of what stupidity Marxists are currently spewing. Conservatives have a serious problem (a problem that often dooms them to failure) of being reactionary—they define their views not based on objective truth and current necessity, but on what the Left happens to be saying now. It is time to tear down the monuments to treachery, racism, and mass murder. It is time to erect monuments to liberty and justice, statues to the men and women who are too little known or entirely buried in history. We will not allow our opponents to define our history, just as the American Patriots who tore down the statue and ornaments of King George and transformed the metal into a symbol and instrument of battle against tyranny (bullets) did not allow that.
This is our moment to understand the history of the past and define the history of the future. It is our choice.