Cause of Confederacy was freedom

Friday, April 30, 2010

AKRON, Iowa — Leonard Pitts’ recent, mean-spirited smear of the Confederate States of America and the descendants of Confederate soldiers should not go unanswered.

According to the black syndicated columnist, the Confederate soldier was defending slavery, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who preserve the memory of the Lost Cause, are somehow motivated by racism.

So much for the liberal history lesson. The truth is that the Confederate soldier was defending his country against an invasion by the federal government. The hundreds of thousands of letters home by soldiers, most of whom did not own slaves, attest to this fact. Whatever Pitts chooses to believe, the cause of the Confederacy, in the minds of its soldiers, was freedom … and defending freedom, not slavery, is the theme that runs through their letters.

In a column on the Confederate battle flag, Pat Buchanan wrote that Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the Union hero at Gettysburg, late in life said that whenever he saw that flag it made him recall the indomitable courage of the men who fought under it. Citizen-soldiers don’t fight with valor against all odds in defense of slavery.

And their descendants in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose motto is "heritage not hate" and whose honor and signal chivalry are above reproach, have every right to be respected for preserving the heritage of white Southerners … and, I might add, the black Southerners who served the Confederacy, many of whom fought with conspicuous gallantry during the War Between the States, or as it is still called today in the South, the War of Northern Aggression.

— John Gillis