History should be preserved

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Story by Kevin McKinley | All Things Southern

Local debate in Pensacola seems to be stirring over the Confederate monument in Lee Square. Mayor Ashton Heyward, Council President Brian Spencer and Councilman Larry B. Johnson would seemingly be falling in line with left leaning mayors and city councils who want to air brush our history to remove anything that certain groups of radicals consider offensive. Unfortunately, too many moderate politicians around the country lack the back bone to stand up to the cultural Bolsheviks in their midst.

Whether they like it or not, the War Between the States lasted from 1861 to 1865, and Pensacola was part of the Confederacy. It causes me great concern when politicians are more concerned with catering to raw emotion than historical accuracy.

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Left leaning politicians can say what they like, but historical facts do not cow-tow to the ANTIFA and other cultural Marxists views of history. Consider the following: it is historical fact that Abraham Lincoln wrote his aim in the war was reuniting the Union.

Lincoln wrote in a letter to Horace Greely: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

Lincoln waited until, after the Battle of Antietam to issue his Emancipation Proclamation. This was because British and French support for the Confederacy was a great cause of concern to the Federal government and the outcome of that battle may have decided whether they recognized the South. If the British agreed to openly recognize the Confederate government and provide military and other aid, it meant an independent Southern nation on the North American continent.

By issuing the Emancipation Proclamation he turned the war from being a military struggle by Southern separatists to a political struggle over human rights. Unfortunately for slaves, it only applied to limited areas, much of which the Union had little control over. Yet the proclamation had the desired effect of keeping the Europeans out of the war.

Representative Clement Vallandingham, U.S. Congressman from Ohio stated on Jan. 14, 1863, in a speech: “The President confessed it on the 22nd of September…. War for the Union was abandoned; war for the negro openly begun, and with stronger battalions than before. With what success? Let the dead at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg answer…” (this is a direct quote.)

My point is this – the war was about many different things to many different people. To Southerners, who could see the devastation being inflicted upon their lands by invading Union troops, it was about protecting their homes and their families and loyalty to their state. The argument that these men were traitors is misplaced because as in their states left the Union and they were residents of their states; how could they be traitors to their country when the geographical entity in which they resided no longer considered itself part of the US at that time? Yet the fake news media would have you believe otherwise.

To Northerners, it was often about preserving the Union. To slaves and those in the Abolitionist movement it was about slavery.

Ask yourself the following; “Why did Americans fight in Vietnam?” Some were drafted and had no other honorable or legal choice; some were patriotic and wanted to serve their country; some were fighting communism or had a family member who had died in the war and wanted to avenge their death. Are we going to start taking down Vietnam memorials because Jane Fonda is offended?  (If you don’t know why this may offend her-Google it and you will understand quickly).

Below is the history of an Alabama regiment which served in Pensacola. Should we track down their members and remove their headstones?

The history of the Alabama regiments is one of hardship, sacrifice, and four years of the bloodiest combat ever seen on the face of the North American continent. Among the regiments which served in this area and which bore witness to this carnage was the 7th Alabama Cavalry.

The Seventh organized in July 1863, under the Clanton Brigade, and served more than a year near Pensacola. During this time, the regiment was quartered near the bay forts of Barrancas and McRae. Union forces had managed to maintain control of Fort Pickens at the start of the war and thereafter the war in Pensacola had entered a sort of “staring” contest between the two armies camped at opposite ends of the bay.

After the withdrawal from Pensacola, the 7th reported to Forrest at Corinth and took part in the Johnsonville Raid and the Battle of Nashville in December 1864. During the night attack on Brentwood the regiment suffered terribly and great casualties were reported.

By March 1865, the unit had joined General Buford at Montevallo and opposed Wilson’s Raiders from Benton to Girard. The Regiment surrendered at Gainsville, Ala., on May 14, 1865, along with the rest of Forrest’s command. It was at this time that Forrest is said to have considered joining with General Taylor near Mobile and moving west to link up with General Kirby Smith who was waiting west of the Mississippi River.

After linking up, the forces would continue the war from Texas or Mexico. Had this occurred the war would have dragged on for months, possibly years, and healing the nation from the wounds of war would have been much more difficult. Illustrating his opinion on his choice, Forrest said, “If one road led to hell and another to Mexico, I’m not sure which one I’d take.”

During the war, Col. Joseph Hodgson led the regiment for the duration, yet detachments were also commanded by Maj. Turner Clanton Jr., Captain Ledyard, and other officers. Capt. Charles P. Storrs was wounded at Columbia, Tenn.; Adjutant. William T. Charles was captured while serving in the 7th, but escaped.

Following the end of the war the men of the 7th returned to their homes and farms in rural Alabama. Their impact on history and their postwar careers was shaped by their time at war. The former commander of the 7th, Colonel Hodgson, became a distinguished journalist and later served as state superintendent of education.

Slavery, under out modern understanding, is morally reprehensible, and it should be considered as such. Yet it is impossible to judge people who lived 150 years ago by the morals of our present day.

Racism is a stain upon any society, yet it is always more convenient to portray it with a Southern twang and treat it like a pit bull to throw into the arena of discourse by politicians who want to make a name for themselves and rip the neck out of scholarly debate.

One of the greatest blessings bestowed upon anyone living in this country is that they are indeed in this country. A place where the descendants of slaves can rise to become national leaders in business, industry and government and where a descendant of  a poor Alabama farm boy, who marched off to war, can go to law school and fight for those less fortunate in our court systems.

In conclusion, several months ago I ran a series of articles publishing the Confederate Census for Escambia County from 1907. Many of you contacted me with ancestors you could connect with from those articles. Are those of us with Confederate ancestry not walking, talking, breathing Confederate monuments? We are the descendants of these proud men and women.