As loud and angry controversy erupts around the Confederate flag – most of it unjustified – it’s time we revisit history and re-educate ourselves.
There were actually 3 confederate flags adopted during the Civil War. The first, referred to as the Stars and Bars, was used by the Confederacy from March 1861 to May 1863. It looked very much like the Stars and Stripes of the Union and caused great confusion on the smoky battlefields, so it was changed in 1863, placing the battle flag emblem of the Southern Cross in the left corner on a background of white, much like our stars are placed on our current American flag.
But that flag was too often mistaken as a white surrender flag – especially when the wind was calm and it hung limply. That wouldn’t do!
The third Confederate flag was created in March 1865 consisting of the Southern Cross and referred to as the Confederate Navy Jack. This is the one that is generally recognized as the symbol of the South today and is known as the “Southern Cross”, not the Stars & Bars. There are a couple of other nations who display the Southern Cross on their flags, including Australia and New Zealand.
It was – and should have continued to be – recognized as a flag of honor, designed by the Confederacy as a banner representing states’ rights. (And we should ALL be learning more about states’ rights!)
Unfortunately, decades after the Civil War, the flag was co-opted and desecrated by the neo-nazis, rednecks and skinheads and bastardized into what many people believe it to be today: a symbol of hate and racism.
“The crimes committed by these groups under the stolen banner of the Confederacy only exacerbate the lies which link the secession to slavery interests when, from the beginning from a Southerner’s view, the cause was states’ rights.” ~ BJ Meksikatsi
So let’s talk a little about why the South felt the need to create a “rebel flag.” The only drum beat we hear anymore involves racism and hate. But surprisingly, it was the NORTH that was the last to free their slaves – and they did so reluctantly. The state of Delaware rejected the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in 1865 and did not ratify it until 1901!
Many Northern civilians owned slaves and great fortunes were made in the slave trade. In fact, it was NORTHERN ships from the New England states that brought the slaves to America (along with Dutch, British and Portuguese ships)! The South neither owned nor operated slave ships. Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant had slaves serving them during the “war to end slavery”. Talk about hypocrisy. As a matter of record for us history buffs, it was the NORTH who cried the loudest about the abolition of slavery and the last to end it.
On the other side of the battlefield, there were a great many black soldiers fighting for their beloved south. That’s not a convenient truth to reveal, I guess. Confederate General Robert E. Lee – one of my all-time favorite history characters – had NEVER purchased a slave! He had inherited his slaves and freed them all in 1862 at the beginning of the fierce fighting!
What kind of man was Robert E. Lee, the man credited with nearly splitting the budding nation into two?
“They say you had to see him believe that a man so fine could exist. He was handsome. He was clever. He was brave. He was gentle. He was generous and charming, noble and modest, admired and beloved. He had never failed at anything in his upright soldier’s life. He was a born winner, this Robert E. Lee. Except for once. In the greatest contest of his life, in the war between the South and the North, Robert E. Lee lost.” ~Louis Redmond
Even in defeat, Robert E. Lee was a man of honor. At the end, men with smoldering eyes went to Lee and wanted to keep the anger alive and live to fight another day. Lee shook his head at these men and said, “Abandon your animosities and make your sons Americans.”
What legacy did Robert E. Lee leave to us?? Arlington National Cemetery.
The land where our nation’s heroes lie was once Robert E. Lee’s plantation. In a stinging rebuke, the Union stole it from him and began burying Union dead on it as a blatant slap in the face. The property was confiscated by the federal government when the property taxes of about $90 were not paid IN PERSON by Mrs. Lee, who was stuck in Richmond because of the fighting. She sent her cousin to pay the bill on her behalf, but the commissioners would not accept the money from him and declared the property in default. It was sold at public auction on January 11, 1864 and the ONLY bidder was the Federal government who reserved the property “for Government use, for war, military, charitable and educational purposes.” Mrs. Lee’s garden was encircled with the tombstones of prominent Union officers.
The Confederate flag creating so much hysteria these days was Robert E. Lee’s battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia. I am PROUD to fly it.