Tag Archives: Civil War

Bully Nation

Any time talk of secession comes up, many Americans are inclined to think back to that nasty period in our history: The War of Between the States (more commonly referred to by the uninitiated as The Civil War…which it was not—and I don’t just mean in a “ha-ha nothing civil about it” way, but BY DEFITION a “civil war” is when two powers fight over the control of one government. The American “Civil War” was nothing remotely like that. Calling it “civil war” was a calculated political move by Lincoln—a smart one, but a political move nonetheless) and automatically assume any talks of secession means war between north and south.

Even many Southerners today are quick to lambast the idea. I don’t know if this comes as a result of being whipped into submission once already, a fear of being perceived a racist, a fear of the federal government, a lack of knowledge or some combination thereof.

You want to know my theory?

Why thank you for asking…

I think it comes because of many American’s inherited ideals of the White Man’s Burden…or, if we modernize that: the need to control everyone else. Having taught ESL for several years and being friends with many of my former students, I see them post on various social media, and (when I can read them) they have no great love for the US—regardless of who is in the White House (I’m sorry all you Obamaites—the “world” doesn’t really like him that much better than the last guy despite what you’ve been told). And so that makes you wonder, what exactly is it that so many of them don’t like? To the poor of the world, the US is still the land of opportunity—well, it still represents that, even if it isn’t true. The truth is, they don’t like that we “police” the world.

And I don’t blame them. As much as I don’t want Iran to have nukes, why is it up to the United States to tell them they can’t? If Russia told us we couldn’t have something, we’d flip them the middle finger pretty quick because…well, we’re the US and that’s what we do. So why do we get to tell Iran what they can and can’t have?

Because we’re the bully nation.

Even with the current depressed state of the military, we have the world’s foremost military—hands down. He who holds the big stick makes the rules. So, we dictate to so many nations what they can and can’t do…not just because we can, but because we think we’re right.

And that brings us back to secession. As a nation we supported the breakup and secession of countries from Mother Russia; we supported the breakup of Yugoslavia; I imagine there are others of which I’m not aware. Why then, as a nation, do we refuse to allow “secession” to be part of the national discussion? It should be a very real part of the discussion. Secession doesn’t mean war. Russia still gets along fine with Ukraine and BeloRussia and Latvia. The US gets along just fine with Canada. There’s no reason to automatically assume that secession must be war, not at all.

Not long ago on Facebook, someone I don’t even know got violently mad about a secession comment I made. When I tried to get to the root of it, he basically said “because you can’t.” An old friend of mine, here on this blog some months ago could never answer the question “why do you care?” The truth is, they both think they know better than the people who talk secession…and therefore their will should be imposed on those with whom they disagree.

Just like a bully.


Filed under General

Civil War Adventure (FCBD)

Since I’ve been in school the last two years, my “pleasure” reading has piled up. No, I mean that literally. I have a stack(s) of about 40 books that I’m finally getting to work my way through. Oh, I read plenty for school, it’s just that…well, it was for school and so it was kinda like work.

Anyway, I just recently finished reading Free Comic Book Day’s (FCBD) Civil War Adventure, one of the two books I picked up when I was also a guest at Heroes and Dreams down in Brandon, Mississippi. It was actually a book I encouraged Brett to get as he has a growing interest in history and the Civil War. He flipped through it, but it didn’t interest him. Yes, I was a bit surprised.

Now I know why. And, actually, I’m so relieved he didn’t pick it up.

The first thing that hit me was that it is very inappropriate for younger audiences. Or, to use terminology of today, it is certainly not family friendly! In an interview with Chuck Dixon, who wrote one of the stories in the book, he said, “Our work is family friendly stuff so there was no concern about content.” Whoa! He must have been talking about a different issue, because this one is replete with language that should earn it a PG-13 rating! And in the end, there is a detailed sequence on how surgeon’s amputated limbs of wounded soldiers. Very interesting, but also very visually graphic and NOT “all ages.”

FCBD’s site advertises the book as “historically accurate stories of the war.” Granted, I read elsewhere (probably the interview) that they were fictionalized accounts—but the publisher is promoting the accuracy. Unfortunately, an amateur’s mistake is made when the text indicates the Emancipation Proclamation “frees the slaves in the South.” Of course, even amateur historians know this isn’t the case, and that the EP was merely political posturing. Effective yes, but still merely a proclamation with no legal power or authority.

And to top it off, the stories are just bad. There’s no real reason to get emotionally attached to the disposable characters. “Gator Bait” (which makes most Southerners think of U of F football) gives all of about three sentences worth of information regarding blockade runners with no actual historical figures to teach us about. The jerk gets his due at the end—no real surprise there. The second story, “I rode with the devil,” is slightly better in that it touches on Bloody Bill Anderson and displays his violence on Jayhawkers. Problem with this story, though, is the central focus is on a fictionalized character that we don’t get the opportunity to really get emotionally vested in.

And to add insult to injury—though this will probably surprise very few Southerners—all the Southerners are portrayed in a negative light, while the one Northern-sympathizer is nice…his off-screen son is portrayed as evil, though. Of course, that portrayal comes from evil Bloody Bill.

Generally, I like Chuck Dixon’s work…that’s partly why I’m so surprised this is just so bad. I mean, he even uses “y’all” as singular!


Don’t waste your money on this one.

Wait…it was free.

Okay, so don’t waste your time on it. I can list 50 things better and more accurate!

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Filed under Books/reading

Civil War reenacting

While anyone who spends any length of time talking to me knows my enthusiasm for that period in American history from 1860-1861, one of the things a lot of folks don’t know about me is that I’m also a civil war reenactor…yes, one of those folks who puts on multi-layers of authentic thick wool and run around on a battlefield shooting authentic replicas. And man is it fun! reenacting1

I blame it all on my friend Dr. Kevin Gray. I met Dr. Gray shortly after we moved to Florence, Ala in 1998. I attended a Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting with him and he learned I could also play a little on the drums. I’d been to a couple of smaller reenactments and had an interest in it, but I’d never known anyone before who was a reenactor. Within weeks, he had me marching barefooted in a cemetery for a dedication of a fallen black Confederate. In a little more than a year, I was fully equipped with all my own equipment, including a uniform, much of which was hand-sewn (in order to be authentic) by my Mom!

I attended several smaller event throughout 1999, but what really got me was the event in September of that year at Chickamauga. It hadn’t rained for months and a severe drought was in the area. Thus, afterwards, the event earned itself the nickname “Dustamauga,” because of all the dust created by twelve thousand reenactors.

That’s right. You read correct. 12,000. 12k. While there were a bunch of civilian reenactors there (doctors, families, etc. all period), there were roughly 5,000 Yanks and 5,000 Rebs. On Saturday morning we marched for about three miles up and down hills. After some time, and while still in column marching, we began to hear cannons and gunfire. Finally, we topped a hill and spread out in the valley before us was a line of solid blue, stretching from one end to the other.

reenacting2Talk about a time-traveling moment. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up!

Many reenactors live for that moment—that one moment when the excitement of the activity causes their mind to “time travel” back for just a second. Hard to describe unless you’ve been there.

One of the most frustrating things about reenacting, however, is when the “other side” doesn’t play fair. Most of the battle engagements are scripted and the commanders know when they’re supposed to do what and about how many men should die. The problem comes when the other side doesn’t die. I’ve seen battles where a line of about 200 men fire into another line across the way…and not a single enemy falls out. It’s things like that that cause the reenactments to lose their reality, not just for the reenactor, but for the spectator—who’s usually paid money—as well. reenacting9

What most onlookers don’t realize is the amount of time, energy, research and effort put in by most reenactors to get an authentic look. We’re talking even the type of stitching used in clothing is studied!

While I haven’t had the opportunity to get on the battlefield in some time, I’m itching to do so. Not only is it great fun, it’s great for families and it’s a history lesson to boot!


Filed under General