Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This is Confederate Memorial Day in North and South Carolina

This is Confederate Memorial Day in North and South Carolina
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

This is the day (May 10th) set aside in my Carolinas to remember the bravery, sacrifice and honor of the men who wore the gray … the Confederate soldiers … OUR Confederate soldiers.

Let’s understand at the outset -- the US Constitution of 1861 did not forbid Secession from the Union.  That is a fact.  What the Confederate men did was perfectly legal. 

Nobody, north or south, thought Lincoln would sacrifice the lives of over 600,000 men in a war against his own countrymen. 

Now understand, that as the victors in the war, the North wrote the history books.  And therein lies the reason so many Americans have no idea why the Southern people went to war, nor what made the Southerner even think he had the right to pull out and form another nation. 

On the other hand what made Lincoln willing to do such a thing?

They tell us today that the war was fought over one issue.  Slavery.  That is a bald faced lie.  It is the Great Lie of American history.

When the census of 1860 was completed it was found that only 8% of Southerners owned slaves. That’s just Southerners.  Remember, slavery was legal in the entire country and the north not only ran the slave trade but they bought and sold slaves and kept slaves just as Southerners did.  In fact, at the beginning of the war, the two cities in America with the most slaves per capita were Charleston, SC, and New York City!  So, do not buy into the purity of the northern states when it comes to slavery.

There were many reasons Lincoln felt he could not allow the Confederate states to leave the Union.  But there was one reason, which dominated them all.  Simply put:  Lincoln could not allow the Southern States to leave the Union because the Southern States paid the bills of the United States of America!

In the early 1800’s, especially the 1820’s, when the federal government needed money -- it simply raised taxes on the Southern states!  Not the northern states… just the Southern states! 

In 1860 only 1/3 of the population of the United States lived in the South.  Yet the South paid over 70% of the taxes collected by the federal government.  And what did the federal government do with all that money?  They put it in railroads and canals and other infrastructure in the NORTHERN STATES.  There was a constant out-flow of Southern money going into the north from which the South received nothing.

The South warned the government that at some point we would have to secede just to save our economy!  They paid no attention to the complaints from the South.  And Congress turned a blind eye.  The South, seeing no alternative, seceded, and formed it’s own country.  

Then the North invaded.

When the war broke out the north had 20 million people.  The South had barely 6 million. Oh, and by the way, the north had a black population of 250,000… many of whom were slaves.

The north already had a government, which the South had to create.  The north had an Army, a Navy, tremendous manufacturing capability, and economic ties to the rest of the world.  The South had none of those things. To say the South was at a disadvantage was more than just an understatement.

The north had 71% of the population, 72% of the railroads, 81% of the bank deposits, and 85% of the factories.  During the course of the war, the north had 2,800,000 men in uniform while the South had, at most, only 800,000. 

Why in the world would an army of less than a million men -- poorly fed, poorly equipped, and half naked -- have the temerity to even THINK they could successfully go to war against an army over three times their size  -- and WIN? It is the indomitable, unconquerable, fighting spirit of the Southern People!  

Some say the southern fighting spirit accounts for the fact that every war America has been involved in… Southerners were in the middle of the fight doing their part. 

Did you know that Southerners won the Revolutionary War in the South?  Did you know that during the Viet Nam war 70% of the Medal of Honor winners were Southerners?  Did you know that nearly half the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today come from the 11 southern states of the Old Confederacy?  It is that indomitable, unconquerable, fighting spirit of the Southern People!  

Who WERE the Southern Americans of the 1860’s?  Well, by 1860, over 50% of Southerners were of Celtic descent.  Our ancestors were from Ireland, Scotland, and the hill country north of London, England.  Celts are renown for their history of fighting.  Long before Rome conquered and occupied England, the Celts invaded and conquered Rome!  Oh, yes.  At one point in history the Celts ruled most of what we know as Europe today. They are known as a freedom-loving, fun-loving, and hard-fighting people.  And they LOVE to be FREE!   So what does that have to do with the Confederate soldier?  Just about everything. 

When the Americans grew tied of the taxation of the British and the lack of representation in the British government for the colonists, it was the Southern American who led the charge for freedom from Great Britain.

In the1860’s it was the grandsons of the Southern men who fought Great Britain who then stood ready to fight another brand new world superpower for THEIR freedom. Their motives were the same in 1861 as that of their grandfathers in 1776.  Southerners were not willing to live under a repressive government and pay more taxes than was their fair share.

Many of the slaves of the 1860’s felt the South was their homeland, too. They had been born in the south.  Not only that… but many of them felt a need to defend the South and DID take up arms and fight alongside their white masters in battle against the northern invaders.  Many black Southern slaves died in battle fighting the troops of the federal government of the United States.  But … only the South gives THOSE brave black men credit for their valiant action. 

The Confederate soldier was the finest fighting man ever produced by any nation, at any time, in the history of humanity on this globe. 

The Confederate soldier did not fight for the spoils of war.  The Confederate soldier did not fight for additional territory.  The Confederate soldier did not fight because it was his job; he was not a professional soldier!  The Confederate soldier was not a REBEL.  At no time did the Confederate Army seek to overthrow the government of the United States… ever!

It is not simply a boast to say that the Southern Spirit was never broken.  Southern courage never faltered.  Even at Appomattox on that gray April day, when Lee surrendered to Grant, Southern soldiers, in the rags with elbows poking through worn out sleeves and knees poking through ripped and torn trouser legs begged the good general NOT to surrender.  Failing in that task THEY vowed never to surrender, themselves, but to take to the woods, and the swamps, and the hills, and continue the fight as long as it took… even if it took forever.  It was only at the behest of General Lee that those dedicated Southern soldiers furled their colors and grounded their weapons that day.  

No, the courage and determination of the South never quailed.  The Confederate soldier never questioned the Southern conviction that the SOUTH WAS RIGHT, even after Appomattox.

 The Confederate soldier bore more suffering than anyone should ever be asked to bear.  At no place on earth have soldiers fought so bravely, and struggled more fiercely, to defend their homeland.  The numbers of dead and wounded Confederates was staggering. Sickness and death from disease was equally staggering. Yet, battle after battle they strode straight in the withering fire of the enemy often routing Union forces and gaining the victory.

How do you defeat an opponent with that kind of spirit and zeal and that kind of courage? As the Northern Army learned, you cannot defeat them in battle. So… you starve them out.

And that is exactly what they did.   Bill Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea was a part of the “starve them out” policy of the federal government toward the South.  For the first time in it’s history, the US Military went to war against the civilians of another nation.  It was the introduction of what we know today as “Total War.”  It was a scorched earth policy. Not only were the families of the South suddenly hungry, the Confederate soldier, on the battlefield, had even less to eat.  When Fort Fisher finally fell it was the death knell for the Confederacy.

The world has never known men who could, and would, fight as these men did.  Never before, and never since, have there been such brave, gallant, Knights of the South… and never before has there been an army, which could fight with the steel hardened determination of the Confederate soldier. Never!  They were dedicated to their cause as no soldiers before or since have been.

North Carolina lost 40, 000 of her men in that war.  In four years 40,000 North Carolinians left home to give their lives for Southern Independence and states rights.  Contrary to what you have been taught and told -- those men did not put their lives on the line to keep other men in bondage!

Even in the US National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia, there is a monument to the Confederate Soldier. If you approach you will see an engraving on that powerful maker.  When you read the words, the impact of what those men asleep in our sacred Southern soil did will send chills up your spine and bring tears to your eyes.  It reads:

Not for fame, nor for place or rank,
Not lured by ambition, Or goaded by necessity, 
But in simple obedience to duty, As they understood it.
These men suffered all, sacrificed all, - Dared all and died.

The heroes of the South, we honor on this Confederate Memorial Day, deserve all the accolades and all the praise and honor we can heap upon them. Around the world stories of the valor of these men is told and taught.  Their battlefield tactics are taught in Military Schools around the world.  They are honored around the world.  Except… except… in their own country! It is a shame, and a disgrace, the way we have treated the memory of these men.

The Confederate Soldiers forged a trail of heroic deeds amid selfless suffering no other fighting force has ever equaled on this continent -- or elsewhere.  The Confederate soldier walked away from everything they had… to fight for the idea that their new country had every right to just be let alone. Just let alone.

When one seriously surveys the complete mess our beloved country is in today one has to ask … was the cause of the Confederate Soldier, indeed, lost, … or was it only delayed?

All over the two Carolinas, the Confederate Battle Flag, the battlefield emblem the Confederate soldier fought, bled, and died beneath, will be flying from homes, businesses, and all over cemeteries, large and small, in honor of our Confederate ancestors.  We honor their memory, their history, and our beloved heritage as a southerner. Their blood STILL flows in our veins.

When the final push comes to crush the free constitutional republic of America, I predict the last defenders left standing will be the tenacious descendants of the Confederate soldier.

The Marine Hymn says the streets of heaven are guarded by the US MARINES.  If true, then I would expect the heavenly ramparts and the gates of pearl, are secured by Confederate troops under the eternal command of General Stonewall Jackson.

J. D. Longstreet

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