"They are not your friends"

From: wildbill4dixie@yahoo.com
To: tcoates@theatlantic.com

Do they actually pay you to write what you write? If they do pay you, can you tell me how to get paid for writing nonsense? Sounds like a dream job to me!

Every once in a while I stumble across one of your rants and wonder if you don’t have some kind of obsession vis a vis the Confederacy. If it is a result of obsessive behavior, they now have treatment for that sort of thing. Don’t you have any other interests besides Confederate-bashing?

A few pointers about your latest rant

First – Forrest did take 44 of his own slaves to war with the agreement that if the South won he would free them in return for their service. If the North won, he reasoned, slavery would probably be over and they would be freed anyway. I do not know when he freed them (reports are conflicting – some say 1863, others 1865), but I do know 3 things – he freed them before the war was over, except for one man they stayed with him until the war ended, and after the war he told a Cincinnati news paper reporter that "those boys stayed with me to the end, and finer
Confederates never lived."

As far as blacks who served in his command, you might want to look up Nelson Winbush, whose grandfather, a slave, served with Forrest. Winbush is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I spoke to him 6 years ago and he confirmed that his grandfather did indeed serve in Forrest’s command and that indeed, he did carry a gun.

Second – Blacks who served in Confederate armies did indeed frequent reunions after the war. “And to you our colored friends….we say welcome.  We can never forget your faithfulness in the darkest hours of our lives.
We tender to you our hearty respect and love, for you never faltered in your duty nor betrayed your trust.” — Colonel William Sanford – (From an address given before the Confederate Veterans of the 7th Tennessee
Cavalry Regiment of Cavalry, Forrest’s Corps, at the Columbia, Tennessee reunion of September 22, 1876)

And yes, as you can see, Sanford’s regiment was part of Forrest’s command


Third – "negro soldiers could not cope with southerners" – they couldn’t and that’s the truth. Despite outnumbering their opponents at the Crater, they got their "clocks cleaned." What else should one expect?
Black regiments came into existence in 1863 and when they went into combat it was against veteran troops that had been fighting for 2 years or more. The results were what should have been expected. When rookies
fight veterans the veterans win and win big most of the time.

And as far as that black Louisiana regiment goes, it was first a Confederate regiment and was assigned to the defense of New Orleans.  When that city fell to union forces, it did not retreat with the other confederate forces but simply disbanded. It was reconstituted later as a union regiment.

Fourth, there were black Confederate snipers in the Peninsula campaign.  How many, I do not know. But the story told by union troops confirms that there was at least one, possibly two. And as far as free black men
serving in the Confederate forces, that is definitely true as well. I have met one woman who participates in the annual Dick Poplar day ceremony in Petersburg Virginia (Katherine Hamilton) whose ancestor was
a free black farmer and who was proud of his service as a laborer in the Confederate army. To anyone who asked him why he served he would reply, "I fought to protect what was mine."


I don’t expect that you’re going to understand or identify with a slave who was a body servant writing to his master and saying "I will do whatever I can to help my struggling country." I do not expect you will comprehend what it was that motivated another body servant who was on campaign in Pennsylvania with the Confederate army to tell a Yankee farm woman who suggested that he run away to "enjoy his freedom" – "I live as I please, and if I did not I don’t see where I could better myself by moving up here. This is pretty country, but it don’t come up to home in my eyes." I don’t expect anything like this from you. What I would like of you though is for you to lay off. We are not your enemy, we don’t want to send you back to a plantation or to the back of the bus. But we
do, however, live in this country and we do have a right to have some say and to, as that body servant put it, "live as we please."

I’m not sure what it is that motivates you – maybe you’re looking, as many are, for some expression of regret that slavery was ever practiced in this country. Well, some of us (that includes me) are simply unwilling to express such regrets. Slavery was what it was and that’s all there was to it. Stop looking for regrets, stop looking for
apologies. You’ll get none from me. If you were really all that appalled over the idea of slavery, you wouldn’t refer to yourself as an "African American," since Africans have been and still are the world’s most prodigious practitioners of that institution. How do you think that your distant ancestors got to the western hemisphere? Do you think that white guys with single shot muzzle loaders ran into the jungle and chased 14 million black people down? Newsflash – Arabs, Europeans and later Americans purchased slaves from African chiefs and slave traders. That’s how it was done!

Moreover, when you do find a white man on his knees groveling about slavery, or telling you how bad we "neo-confederates" are, or mounting his podium to preach to the rest of us about how sorry we all should be,
try to look past the things he is saying (which are, after all, things you want to hear), and instead start wondering about what it is that is truly motivating him.

The Kevin Levins and the Bruce Levines of the world are the type of white men that Malcolm X was referring to when he told blacks that "your white liberal friends have failed you." (probably the only thing he ever said that I agree with). Guys like Levin and Levine view themselves as being your saviors – they want to "help" – and it’s the fire that keeps them going. Put that fire out and they die. Ever since the white abolitionist first raised his ugly head, you guys have been listening to them and what has it gotten you? The desire to "help" another human
being is a noble part of man’s nature. But, done for the wrong reasons it can become poison. For this type of individual, "helping" isn’t about the other person, it’s about themselves. Sigmund Freud would have a
field day trying to analyze these guys.

Here’s a dirty little secret about most white men who fit this mold.  They don’t really give a rat’s patoot about you as a person. They are incapable of seeing others as individuals. They can only see causes and groups. Oh they will preach about social justice and they will recite the litany of slogans that they know you want to hear….. but with many of them, if they see more than two black people standing in the same spot, they’ll wet their pants or run like hell. Once again, they are not your friends. Friends aren’t afraid of one another. Friends aren’t
afraid to look each other in the eye and tell each other the truth or what they really think. Indeed, when dealing with each other, friends value the truth. Friends see each other as people. Keep this in mind the next time you meet one of these guys (assuming that he’s not wetting his pants or running away and chooses to shake your hand instead). See if he makes eye contact with you or not. See if he looks AT you or right THROUGH you….

You don’t have to believe the black Confederate references of course.  You can simply chalk it up to the rants of a neo-confederate cracker.  But for your own good, I would suggest that you take my advice regarding "certain types of white men" to the bank. They have their own agenda,

….and, they are not your friends.

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