Michael Paul Williams: African-Americans’ role in Civil War no longer being ignored

From: wildbill4dixie@yahoo.com
To: mwilliams@timesdispatch.com


No Mr. Williams, this certainly is not “your grandfather’s Civil War anniversary commemoration.” I’m old enough to remember the “Civil War Centennial” and I can vouch for that. For one thing, unlike the last one, this one is full of loud-mouthed doctrinaires like you who seem intent on forcing their view of the war on everyone else.

For another, it appears that people like Harriet Tubman and Col. James Montgomery have gone from bit player to iconic hero status. To read the modern day drivel that passes as history, one would think that Frederick Douglass was president of the Union and Harriet Tubman was general of the Union army, instead of the minor role-players that they actually were.

One might also get the impression from reading today’s ravings that the Underground Railroad rivaled Amtrak in its size and scope. It did not of course. Estimates are that approximately 1000 slaves per year took the road north, hardly a huge number when you consider that there were nearly 4 million slaves in the U.S. at the time. No one, it seems, wants to think about the reality of the time, which was that if you were a slave contemplating a journey on this so called “railroad” you faced a perilous and uncertain future at the end of your journey. What will you do for work and how will you meet your needs, i.e., the necessities of life, once you get to the north? In this period of history, if you can’t meet those necessities, you will most certainly die. Few slaves, even if they were unhappy with their lot, (which not all were, by the way), chose to take this risk, and with good reason. But you don’t ever want to hear that sort of thing now, do you?

And for yet another thing, there was a side to old Harriet and her abolitionist buddy Montgomery that you probably won’t want to hear about. I’ve included a letter from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion at the end of this letter so that you can have, (if you’ve got the ba**s to read it) a good look at what the past was really like and what they were really like. You and others like you seem to be going out of your way to make my history and my celebrations as miserable as you can, so allow me to return the favor.

Union Colonel James Montgomery was a rabid abolitionist hailing from the state of Massachusetts. Montgomery’s driving force in this life was simply, his undying hatred of the white Southerner. And he delighted in using black troops to strike terror into white Southern civilians.  (Note, I said “civilians.” Montgomery and his boys had no stomach for tangling with the Confederate army). His motivations were born out of hate, and he really had no love for you and your people at all. I’ve lived for 61 years in this life. I’ve mingled with people from all races and backgrounds, including yours. And one thing I have noticed with respect to your particular racial group is that far too many of you seem unable to ascertain which of us white folks are your friends and which
are not. Nearly your entire history has been spent hooking up with white people like Montgomery. They tell you what you want to hear it seems, and you fall for it hook, line and sinker. Then you run out and do whatever they say you should do. Nothing has changed it seems, between 1862 and now, not your behavior, not your bad judgment, and not the bad results you reap from exercising such bad judgment. But that’s your problem Mr. Williams, not mine. Maybe one day you’ll learn but I’m not about to bet any serious money on it happening any time soon.

Finally, let me then give you a piece of practical advice. Don’t go the Doug Wilder route and try to build expensive museums, monuments and “theme parks.” We wouldn’t want to see you ending up in a 7 million dollar financial hole like old Dougie did now, would we?

Instead, admit out loud, to yourselves and to the world, what your real intent is in all this. You know precious little about history, whether that history is about Harriet Tubman, James Montgomery or anyone else.  Admit that what you really want is not to learn more about those you supposedly revere. Man-up and simply admit that your intent in all this is to trash the history of people like me. That’s it in a nutshell. As such, it is not necessary for you to spend millions of dollars building theme parks and monuments to people you say you like but don’t really know much about. It is only necessary for you to spend a few dollars on some cans of spray paint so that you can go down to those monuments that have some meaning for people like me and deface those monuments.  Defacing and demeaning someone else’s history, after all, is really what you and those like you are all about.

Happy 150th!

Bill Vallante
Commack NY
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Associate Member, Camps 3000, 1961, 1506, 2086

>>>>Here’s an alternative view of Tubman’s Combahee Raid. (Look it up if you’ve never heard of it)<<<<


Charleston, August 3, 1863.

Chief of Staff:

SIR: I beg leave to submit to you, for your consideration, the following extract from a letter just received from one of Brig. Gen. W. S. Walker’s staff, dated McPhersonville, August 2, 1803:

A recent raid was made, by order of General Walker, on Barnwell Island by some of our troops, under command of Capt. M. J. Kirk. Thirty-one negroes were captured, 4 of whom are men, the rest women and children.  Three of the men had been drafted for the Second South Carolina Regiment, but had run away; 2 of them were there a week and 1 three weeks. They represent many of the negroes as being very unwilling to be made soldiers of, but say they are forced to be, and are even hunted down in the woods and marshes to be taken. Several have been shot in the effort to take them. They say the Fernandina negroes are active soldiers, and are used against them. Some of our own negroes volunteer.  Most of the negroes are left on the plantations, and plant provisions under a white superintendent. The task they do is about the same they did for us. One-half of the produce goes to the Yankees, the rest to the negroes. They are not clothed or fed by the United States Government.  Most of them have, they say, the clothes their owners gave them, except what they have purchased for themselves. They make a little money by selling eggs, chickens, watermelons, &c. They represent that many of the negroes would be very willing to come back to their owners if they could, but that their boats have all been taken, and they are told if they come to us we will shoot them. Others are perfectly content to remain.

The negroes from the Combahee raid were all carried to Beaufort. The infirm men, women, and children were left there, and the prime men, without being allowed to go on shore, were carried to Hilton Head, and from there to Folly Island, to work on the batteries. Most of them objected to be made soldiers of or work on the intrenchments, but were forced off.  I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Comdg. Fourth Brig. S.C. Militia.