Imagine if one of the first things we acknowledged about the Confederate army, when it entered Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863, is that it included thousands of enslaved men. It would change how we think about the campaign, its outcome, and its place in the broader trajectory of the war.
I realize this comment is about a month late but I have been thinking about this post. 1. Anyone who thinks secession and the War was not about slavery needs to read the state secession ordinances. They leave no doubt the states were leaving the Union to protect slavery.
2. I too thought this post was going to be about removing Confederate memorials until I read the article. Reconciliation was and is important. But, reconciliation and honoring those who fought against us are two different goals. I think what is going on at Gettysburg is more about the later than the former and I have very mixed feelings about this. In a time when we invite Japanese veterans to Pearl Harbor observances and German veterans to D-day observances I wonder I we are not being hypocritical by fussing about honoring Confederate veterans. But, then thinking as both an historian and US Army officer I think no. The Japanese and the Germans were not of our culture, the Confederates were. The Confederates turned against that culture with both sides waging a bitter war (despite what Darell said the North did not have a corner on waging harsh war) to put forward remarkably different visions of what that culture should be. The visions that triumphed has not been perfect but it has been way better than that offered by the other side. So my thought is it is time to stop Confederate participation in the Gettysburg address observation event. To allows this was and continues to be an insult to the Untied States soldiers who died there to protect what the country stood for, even if it had not achieved an acceptable end state at the time of the battle.
I am 100% in favor of this post. It must have been twenty-five years since I asked indignantly why Confederates should be allowed to march, all the while, shouting “Kill the Yankees.” I was outraged. But my liberal friends laughed at me and reminded me about free speech. Now look where we are. Multiculturalism does NOT extend to traitors. It’s up to every one to speak up and make these people know they’re not welcome. Social pressure forms the societies we live in —what we’ll tolerate and what we won’t. So many things to criticize. We’ve been too polite.
This was an excellent post, thanks Kevin
I grew up in Lancaster County which is about 30 miles east of Gettysburg. Lancaster became the true ‘high water mark' of the Confederacy when Jubal Early and his troops were denied passage over the Wrightsville Columbia Bridge bridge spanning the Susquehanna River when the citizens of Columbia along with the US burned it to its pilings. Had they secured the bridge the road to Philadelphia would have been open to them.
Unable to cross the Susquehanna the Confederate forces then proceed to kidnap hundreds of Pennsylvanias dragging them south to bondage and enslavement. Many who resisted were murdered.
That fact that these Pennsylvanians were of full or partial African descent is irrelevant - the only point should be that citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were murdered and kidnapped by looters wearing the uniform of the Confederacy.
These were criminals operating outside any possible military justification. What needs to be understood is that these were not the actions of a few bad apples in an otherwise fine barrel - this was what the barrel was all about.
This is documented in a dispatch from Lieutenant General James Longstreet - Lee’s second in command - to General George Pickett on July 1, 1863 (the first day of battle)
"the captured contrabands had better be brought along with you for further disposition."
“Further disposition" here refers to imprisonment, auction, enslavement, and (often) severe punishment at the hands of a former-and-once-again master*
And captured contraband; newly enslaved Pennsylvanians.
In light of these crimes, how could anyone march down a street in Pennsylvania wearing the uniform of the Confederacy and not expect to run a gauntlet? A protester with a sign? A much better reception than they deserved.
Thanks for giving space to the opinion of “a Local”
At first I thought this was going to be a post about removing Confederate monuments from Gettysburg. I didn’t realize Confederates were allowed to march in the parade. That is just wrong on every level.
That war is call the lost cause only by democrats and Yankees there was nothing civil about it neither it was a war for southern independence. Simply put the north was all industry and all the south was farming making millions off foreign trade when the south declared themselves to become an independent country the north knew they couldn't make anymore money from the south they invaded the south and we had nothing to do but fight back. And to put the record straight it had nothing to do with slavery there were plenty of free black men that fought side by side with confederates believing the south had a right to become their own country enslaved men were not forced to fight. Oh by the way the black men the fleet to the north thinking of a better free life were joked when they were enslaved to work in factories for free eating off scraps and sleeping just where ever they could.
The longer we allow such “recognition” the longer the ugly wounds of the confederacy stay open. This is an abomination. Shame on anyone carrying that banner! Gettysburg, you owe it to history to tell the whole truth, not pretend all soldiers and causes are equal.
There is a Confederate flag flying in someone’s yard less than a mile from my house in Massachusetts. The Union did not do nearly enough to excise this cancer from our country immediately after the war.
Gettysburg needs a reckoning with its place in Civil War memory. It had been the setting for reconciliation stagecraft for 125 years, including distorting Lincoln’s address into a call for reconciliation not for continuing to fight the war. This was done in part for commercial reasons, to make sure southern tourists were made to feel welcome in this northern town as Gettysburg sought to cash in on the battle almost from the moment it ended.
Two memories as someone who formerly donned a CS uniform to march in that parade:
1. I didn't see this, but a friend told me that he was walking around and a Black woman drove by, rolled down her window, and shouted "War's Over!" at him, and drove off. I still think about that, A LOT.
2. I was present when Governor Gerald Baliles spoke, and riled up a bunch of Lost Causers. (It was 1988 and I was too new at it all to know what the fuss was all about.)
And, yeah, having CS march in that event is just... dumb and it should stop. I need to get up there sometime and hold signs with Dr. Hancock.
Scott Hancock is doing important work on behalf of us all. https://twitter.com/scotthancockot/status/1594054191705628672?s=61&t=mzMZRNd7Dj_ufIk0pXTcbQ
Sadly, the streets of Gettysburg are no stranger to Klan activity as well…
I had no idea about “Confederates” in the parade. That’s just…gross.
I have noticed the plethora of Confederate junk, er, gifts, for sale. Hard to miss it actually.