Tag Archives: Civil War

How many Spongebobs?

I’ve always been a nut about “time.” There are those who’d just say I’m a nut, but sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t.

There’s a lot I like about “time.” I really like time travel stories and the great “what if” anomalies they create. Many people enjoy the “what if” game. Heck, since September, there’s been a whole lot of “if only” games played around the nation following college football Saturday. Those “if only” games are really just another version of the “what if” games.

Historians and military experts also play a lot of the “what if” games. The military does it because they want to be able to have the army prepared for any situation or circumstance. Historians do it in order to figure out all the whys and wherefores of history.

Most folks don’t know that Sir Winston Churchill, the man who would become Prime Minister of England, was one of the very first to write an American Civil War “what if?” Churchill, himself a student of history, was an admirer of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Churchill’s fictitious story posited what might have happened had Lee lost Gettysburg—it came from a perspective that Lee had actually won the battle.

It’s interesting, I think, how we measure distance with time. Back in the olden days, of which my Dad can certainly remember, distance was measured by how many days it would take you to get from one place to another. Paragould was about a day’s ride from Piggott, or Oxford about a day’s ride from Batesville. A horse can travel approximately 25 miles in a day…one pulling a covered wagon, not as far.

Many of the other old-timers can tell you actual mileage from one place to another, much of that committed to memory.

When I lived in California, I noticed that everyone measured distance by how long it would take you to travel from point A to point B in a car. And, it was always tempered by what time of day the trip was—it would take longer during rush hour traffic. It was important to know that a 20 minute drive at 10 a.m. could take two hours at 5 p.m.

We’ve all laughed at the various and sundry “are we there yet” skits. I laughed at them, too…until Brett started in. We decided that Brett knew how to measure certain things, but he didn’t really have a concept of what an hour was. He did know, however, how long an episode of SpongeBob is…so, whenever we got the question of how much longer, we answered in number of SpongeBobs…it is four SpongeBobs from here to Dyersburg. He understood that. He still does…and he asks “how many Spongebobs?”

Even astronomers measure distance with time answers. Star A is x number of light-years from Star B. Oh sure, astronomers will often tell you how far in distance, but it is the light-year measurements they often go back to.

We’ve got all kinds of neat sayings about time: A stitch in time saves nine; in the nick of time; all in due time; long time no see; third time’s a charm; time flies when you’re having fun; and too many others to include here.

The main thing I know is that unlike distance, you can’t go back in time.

But it would be cool if you could.

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History 101: Confederate flags

Okay, time for another history lesson.

Not long ago, I heard rumblings about some Confederate flags being flown by local teenagers. Being the ardent Southerner and War of Northern Aggression history nut that I am, I was quite excited. Initially, I thought that maybe there was a local Civil War History round table group that I wasn’t aware of and wanted to immediately find out more.

What I ended up learning was that the flags were apparently being flown because our school’s athletic opponents were primarily black.

How disheartened I immediately became.

The problem is the flag flown by those kids is so often misused in just such fashion that it has become identified with the Ku Klux Klan and with racism. The history of the flag is just the opposite, and all who would have the truth told should be upset that it is used—and besmirched—in such a fashion.

I have a Confederate Flag hanging in my office. It is a flag which flew over the Museum in Vicksburg and has flown in every office I’ve occupied since 1992. The flag I use is the First National Flag of the Confederacy and was the first such flag recognized by the Confederate Congress.

Most people, when they see the flag, assume it is an “old” version of the American flag. In fact, it was modeled after Old Glory because the Confederates weren’t trying to “take over” the U.S. (thus, defined legally, the war was not a “civil war,”—but that’s another column for another day), just form a separate country, much like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others had done about 80 years earlier.

The problem with the flag then, however, was that in the thick smoke created by the old muzzle-loading muskets of the 1860s, it was often mistaken for the American flag. There are recorded incidents, particularly in the early war, where Federal troops fired on Federal troops and Confederate troops fired on Confederate troops.

As is the case today, the military acted much quicker than the government and the CSA military began to use what we know as the “Battle Flag” today. The Battle Flag is often referred to as the Stars and Bars, but that is absolutely incorrect. The Stars and Bars is actually the First National Flag, the one which looks like the American Flag (also, called Stars and Stripes).
The Confederate government designed another flag incorporating the battle flag used by the armies. This Second National Flag is also called The Stainless Banner. However, when the wind wasn’t blowing, it looked like a surrender flag—and the Confederates weren’t ready to surrender just yet, so they added a red vertical stripe at the end of the flag to create the Third National Flag. The Third National is the flag under which the Confederate government surrendered.

The “Rebel Flag,” as most people call it, should properly be called the Battle Flag, or St. Andrew’s Cross.

Yep, that’s right. The Confederate Battle Flag is actually patterned after the cross of Saint Andrew, one of the disciples of Jesus. The “X” is actually a cross like that which history tells us Andrew died on.

The Confederates aren’t the only ones to use St. Andrew’s cross as it is also used by England, Scotland, Ireland and even Russia.

So, the next time you see someone trying to use the battle flag as a racist tool, take it away from them and give them a history lesson(as well as a smack upon the head). Yes, the Klan (of which there are more members up north than down South) uses it…but it also uses the Bible, and we wouldn’t say the Bible was racist simply because a bunch of idiots in hoods carried it around, would we.

And while you’re at it, remind all the PC police that “Dixie” was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite tunes! Tis a shame we don’t hear it much anymore…even more of a shame now that I’m in Oxford!

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American History 101

Okay, time for a history lesson. Kids, pay attention, because you won’t read this in your public school textbooks. The really good history teachers will confirm it, but you won’t read it in your schoolbooks.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln never freed a single solitary slave.

What? You’re shocked! You’re astounded! He is, after all, called “The Great Emancipator.”

The Great Dictator is a more appropriate title.

Don’t believe me? The next time someone tells you that Lincoln freed the slaves, ask them to name one.

Just one.

Any one.

That’s right, they won’t be able to because he never freed any.

You see, Lincoln was very much like Bill Clinton—he was a very good politician and he did things that needed to be done to accomplish his tasks. The Emancipation Proclamation was a brilliant move on Lincoln’s part—it accomplished what he wanted, which was furthering the cause of war. But it didn’t free any slaves. You see, Lincoln’s war wasn’t going well—the Southerners were winning most of the battles and embarrassing the Federal troops. England and France were close to recognizing the South as an independent nation. If that happened, they would likely help the South (because they didn’t really like the U.S.) and then Lincoln would lose his war. Slavery was the issue that was causing England and France to delay so Lincoln CHANGED the war and caused it to be about slavery (more on that at a later date).

But read The Emancipation Proclamation carefully. You can find it easily online. If you need to, check out one of those really cool big wall maps that your history teacher has hanging in the classroom. You’ll note that it does not sweepingly “free” all slaves. In fact, Lincoln did not free any slaves over which he had any authority—he left them slaves. Even the U.S. government acknowledges this, even if not loudly. The archives.gov website explains “the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal Border States. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. … Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, it fundamentally transformed the character of the war.”

If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to do so—it frees slaves “except” those in such and such a county, etc. All other counties, it says “are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.”

If Lincoln had intended to free the slaves, why didn’t he free them all?

It was because he really didn’t want to free them—he wanted to win the war. It wasn’t his intention to free any slaves.

Archives.gov said the proclamation transformed the character of the war. It did indeed transform the war—it changed it from being a federal vs. state war to one of slavery.

Again, we have to credit Lincoln for being a brilliant politician. He was a tyrant and illegally threw many into jail, but he was a brilliant politician. What? You didn’t know that President Lincoln had many people who opposed him illegally thrown into jail? What? Want me to name one? Okay. Clement Vanlandingham. You can look him up easily. If that isn’t enough for you, go next to all the Maryland legislators who were opposed to Lincoln and the war.

The Emancipation Proclamation was simply another war strategy. It was a good one and a good move on Lincoln’s part in the war efforts, but it didn’t free any slaves.

So, the next time you hear someone say Lincoln freed the slaves, ask them to name one—they can’t because he didn’t.

This lesson was free, by the way.

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