Excerpt from The Men In Gray…
This excerpt demonstrates, for those who know this not, that the yankee was hypocritical even 100 years ago. some of us know they have mostly always been that way. Witness the amnesia suffered by them in the 1820’s and 30’s concerning their own record of slave ownership. So, take and use this in your defence of Southern honour and pride. So please disseminate this wide and far.
Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.
The Men In Gray
Excerpt from the Forward
By Robert Catlett Cave
Not only was I conscious of no feeling of enmity in my own heart, but, so far as I knew, Southern men generally entertained no such feeling. We of the South believed most firmly that the North had unrighteously made war on us; but we credited the Northern soldiers with the same loyalty to honest conviction that we claimed for ourselves, and freely conceded to them the right to speak without restraint in justification of what they had done. We had so far allayed whatever of animosity we may once have felt that we could read misrepresentations of the South and her cause with an indulgent smile, and excuse them on the ground that those who made them believed them to be true.
Knowing this to be the attitude and feeling of the conquered, to whom the war had brought incalculable loss and suffering, I supposed that the conquerors, who had suffered and lost comparatively little, would be equally magnanimous. But I was speedily undeceived. The storm of unjust criticism and bitter denunciation which the speech called forth showed but too plainly that the embers of hate were still smoldering in some Northern hearts, needing but a breath to fan them into flame, and that the time was not yet come when plain speech in justification of the South would receive calm consideration or even be tolerated.
Deeming it unwise and unpatriotic to add fuel to the flame which I had unintentionally kindled, I did not reply to these animadversions; but I think it well to notice here the objection to the speech as a violation of Decoration Day proprieties. In the words of one of my critics: "Decoration Day in both sections belongs to the bravery of the dead.
Many Northern orators seem to think it altogether proper to discuss the old differences between the sections, even in the usual exercises on Decoration Day. On the same day that the Confederate monument was unveiled in Richmond Judge J. B. McPherson, as a part of the Memorial Day services held at Lebanon, Penn., delivered an address from which I take the following:
But, while our emotions give this anniversary its peculiar character, we must not forget that its more enduring value lies in the opportunity it affords to repeat and strengthen in our minds the truths of history for which this tremendous sacrifice was made. . . . Our school histories to-day are largely at fault because they do not tell the truth distinctly and positively about the beginning of the war. It is too often spoken of as inevitable. . . . This is not only not true, but it is a dangerous falsehood, because it tends to lessen the guilt of the rebellion and suggests that after all the South was not to blame. I would be the last to deny that a contest of some kind was inevitable between freedom and slavery until one or the other should prevail over the whole nation. . . . But I do deny that an armed conflict was inevitable; I do deny that it was impossible by constitutional means to find a peaceful solution. The solutions which other countries have found for similar problems were surely not beyond our capacity, . . . . but the opportunity to try them was refused by the action of the South alone. . . . This, I repeat, was rebellion, and I am willing to call the Southern soldiers Confederates, since they prefer that title; and while I welcome the dying away of personal bitterness between the soldiers and citizens of both sections, I am not willing to speak of the war as the Civil War or the War between the States, or to use any phrase other than that which the truth of history demands, and that which ought to be taught to every child in our schools for all time to come-the War of the Rebellion. A crime like this, a de liberate attack upon the nation’s life, ought not to be glossed over by a smooth turn of speech or half concealed for the sake of courtesy.
The papers of the country had nothing to say of the impropriety of the speech of which the foregoing extracts are fair samples. On the contrary, it was published under double-leaded headlines and declared to be "especially appropriate to the occasion." Here and there in the North speeches containing such misrepresentations of the South are still made on Decoration Day without calling forth any expressions of disapproval from the press. And if it be especially appropriate in the "customary Memorial Day services" to charge that the South refused to give the country an opportunity to find a peaceful solution of the questions at issue by constitutional means, and was guilty of the "crime" of deliberately and causelessly drawing the sword and attacking the nation’s life, how can it be especially inappropriate, when dedicating a monument to Southern soldiers, to attempt to refute the charge? Does the propriety of discussing the causes of the War between the States belong exclusively to Northern writers and speakers? Did the South, when she laid down her arms, surrender the right to state in self-justification her reasons for taking them up? If not, I fail to see how it can be improper, when perpetuating the memory of the Confederate dead, at least to attempt to correct false and injurious representations of their aims and deeds and hand their achievements down to posterity as worthy of honorable remembrance.
Other comments on the Richmond speech I do not care to notice. In no one of them was there a calm and dispassionate attempt to refute its statements. For the most part they consisted of invective-the means to which small-minded men are prone to resort when they can find no available argument. Apparently this invective proceeded from misconceptions of my meaning, resulting from a hasty and prejudiced reading of what I said; and I am not without hope that, published now with other matter, the speech may be considered more calmly, be better understood, and, perhaps, be more favorably received.
Surely now, when nearly half a century has elapsed since the flag of the Confederacy was furled in the gloom of defeat; when the loyalty of the South has been placed beyond all question by the fact that her sons, in response to the country’s call, have fought as bravely under the Stars and Stripes as they once did under the Starry Cross; when, of those who were engaged in the conflict between the sections, all save an age-enfeebled remnant are numbered with the dead; when new men, most of them too young to have taken part in the war and many of them unborn when it closed, have come to the front and are directing the affairs of the nation-surely now our Northern friends will be tolerant and charitable and magnanimous enough to concede to a Southerner freedom of speech in defense of his dead comrades and refrain from heaping abuse on him, even though they may wholly dissent from what he says.