Thank you for this detailed explanation of a statue that I didn’t know existed. The idea of Confederate soldiers buried next to Union dead is hard to fathom, and if I were a descendent of a Union soldier almost impossible to accept.

The focus on differentiating between reunion vs reconciliation is critical in understanding the truth about the War. The South really believed they were fighting against the aggressor Yankees intent on destroying their way of life. They were rebels all, and, in an earlier time would have been treated far more harshly than they were by the victors thanks to Lincoln, Grant and the corruption of Johnson.

Take it away, I don’t care where it goes but it certainly doesn’t belong in a cemetery honoring US military patriots who have their last full measure to protect a nation which the men in grey were committed to destroying.

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"Yes and there were Union men who wept with joyful tears

When they saw the honored flag they had not seen for years;

Hardly could they be restrained from breaking forth in cheers

While we were marching through Georgia"

Reducing the Civil War to a purely sectional conflict (with the need for purely sectional reconciliation) erases the messy sectarian aspects (which were particularly ugly in the South). There were not insignificant subpopulations of white people who found themselves suddenly under a new government who remained loyal to the US (or where otherwise pretty ambivalent about the new Confederacy) -- and they were repressed, often pretty brutally. I would encourage people to read about events such as the Shelton Laurel Massacre, the Nueces Massacre, and about Unionist hunting irregular groups like "Witcher's boys"... and: (1) see if you better understand that particularly song verse; (2) re-visit how you feel about monuments glorifying the Confederacy.

In contrast with Webb's disappointingly patronizing last paragraph, I personally found that the more I learned about history, the more my antipathy toward Confederate memorials grew.

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I do hope you are sending this to the Wall Street Journal

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Thank you for this excellent article. I saw Webb’s op-Ed and had the same thoughts as you. I would have written about it citing much of what you said , but I would not have been able to shed as much light on it as you did, this was outstanding work. Thank you. I have been backed up with my Dan Sickles series which grew on me forcing me to do a lot more research. I want to finish it before the final year of my doctoral program heats up on Monday.

All the best and thank you for this outstanding piece. Faugh A Ballahg!



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Shorter “Reconciliation”, from an ex-Confederate perspective:

Ex-Cons: northerners have to agree with us and admit that we were right and morally superior; in exchange, we’ll agree to never shut up about it.

(Webb’s take on slavery as motivation is infuriating , but continues a WSJ tradition of utterly misunderstanding 1860s racial politics and it’s misuse of evidence.)

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Thanks again for this analysis, which seems so spot on.

I have always enjoyed Webb’s fiction, especially “Fields of Fire“ and “The Emperor’s General.“ I also appreciated his sometimes iconoclastic stances when he served in the government. However, his pre-Vance defense of the Scots-Irish tradition in warfighting in the United States began a troublesome rhetoric.

I still see places where keeping these statues might warrant retention. There’s a public art loss in their destruction, as well as an erasure of the history of the white supremacy that impelled the monuments erection in the first place. I worry about unintended consequences of failing to remember the imposition of the glorification of the attempt to destroy the Union.

In many places, such as here in Richmond, I applaud the elimination of statues in public places. Something about the Arlington monument makes me think of the same controversies of Lost Causisms at Gettysburg or Chickamauga. State monuments don’t mark regimental positions. They glorify the sacrifices of a state, even if the cause in which suffering occurred is abominable. However, the addition of context seems a minimum.

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Just to make clear, the main part of the monument itself is to remain for fear its removal will disturb graves. The Army is considering what to do with the frieze with the figures such as the loyal slave "mammy."

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