Confederate Veterans’ Reunion, Washington D.C., 1917.
Back in mid-June, after the Charleston shootings, the frenzied hue and cry went up and any number of accusations and charges were made against historic Confederate symbols, in particular, the Confederate Battle Flag (which is not as some supposedly informed writers called it, “the Stars and Bars.” The Stars and Bars is a different flag with a totally different design). The best way to examine these charges in a short column is point by point, briefly and succinctly.
First, the demand was made that the Battle Flag needs to come down, that images of that flag need to be banned and suppressed, because, whatever its past may have been, it has now become in the current context a “symbol of hate” and “carried by racists,” that it “symbolizes racism.” The problem with this argument is both historical and etiological.
Historically, the Battle Flag, with its familiar Cross of St. Andrew, was a square ensign that was carried by Southern troops during the War Between the States. It was not the national flag of the Confederacy that flew over slavery, but, rather, was carried by soldiers, 90-plus per cent who did not own slaves (roughly comparable to percentages in certain regiments of the Union army with some slave holding soldiers from Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri in its ranks; indeed, General Grant’s wife, Julia Dent Grant, owned slaves).
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