Lest Zeb Vance Offend Your Eye

by Fred Ray on July 9, 2020 · 0 comments

The city of Asheville has done some boneheaded things but this time they’ve outdone themselves. The Vance Monument downtown, which I mentioned earlier, has now been covered with a plywood barrier and a shroud, to keep it from offending anyone until a commission decides what to do with it.

The mayor, Esther Manheimer, says that “People have a lot of different opinions, which is why I think it’s a challenging issue that requires a lot of different heads to think about what we need.” As you might expect, though, the fix is already in. In the city the commission applications are being handled by the Department of Equity and Inclusion, which tips you off right there. To even apply you have to agree to the following:

Do you agree with the call to remove and/or repurpose the Vance monument as expeditiously as possible due to the harm it poses, and to replace it with monument(s) that honor local African-American history and are created by African-American artists?

There are apparently no other options so far as the city is concerned. So far it’s cost the city about $26,000 and there will also be a stiff charge for continuing scaffold rental. If they decide to take it down (it’s 75 ft. tall) that will also be a major expense at a time of financial stress for the city. It is also probably Asheville’s most recognizable landmark. If I were in better health I might apply for a seat on the commission but I doubt I’d get past the “loyalty oath” above.

The irony is that it’s not really a Confederate memorial. Zebulon Vance did serve in the Confederate Army briefly at the beginning of the war, but resigned to run (successfully) for governor in 1862. He was NCs wartime governor and did an excellent job in a difficult situation—the state’s coastal areas were under Yankee occupation and the western end in more or less open revolt. Nevertheless he refused to suspend habeas corpus and kept the courts working normally during the war. After the war he served as a US Senator until his death in 1894. He was an important and influential part of North Carolina’s history, but never mind, he didn’t have the right politics for today and his monument causes “harm.”




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Statues and Vandals

by Fred Ray on July 5, 2020 · 0 comments

A happy 4th of July weekend to everyone, and I hope you are all with family in this holiday and staying healthy.

The news keeps on coming faster than I can keep up with it.

The city of Richmond, I am sorry to say, has removed the statue of General Stonewall Jackson. At least it was properly removed and not torn down and desecrated. Like New Orleans, Richmond seems hell-bent to rid itself of its history, one of the chief reasons why people visit.

Up North the city of Boston will be removing the Emancipation Statue of Lincoln and a freed slave, a copy of the one in Washington. Fortunately the Washington statue is Federal property and the president has pledged to defend it and other National statues, and prosecute anyone attempting to deface or destroy them. True to his word the “ringleader” of the attack on the Andrew Jackson statue has been arrested. Jason Charter has been accused of masterminding the attacks on the statues of both Jackson and Confederate General Albert Pike. At present Trump seems to be the only one who is willing to stand up to the mob.

Meanwhile in the far West a mob has torched an elk statue—obviously a Confederate spy—in downtown Portland. Seriously, it just shows that once you permit this sort of mindless destruction, there is no end to it.

So far as I am aware no Democratic congressional figure has issued any kind of outright condemnation of this kind of behavior. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has allowed that statues of Washington, Jefferson, and even Columbus should be “protected” although he doesn’t say what measures the government should use. Too often we’ve seen politicians issue tepid statements like this, then let the mob do their dirty work.

Speaking of Columbus, last night a mob pulled down a statue of him in Baltimore and threw it into the harbor while the cops stood by and watched.

Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said:

“We understand the dynamics that are playing out in Baltimore are part of a national narrative. We understand the frustrations. What the city wants to do is serve as a national model, particularly with how we’ve done with protesting. We’ve seen people who have taken to the streets, we have supported them. We are going to continue to support it. That’s a full stop.”

Apparently their national model includes outright vandalism. Protesters have demanded “removal of all statues honoring white supremacists, owners of enslaved people, perpetrators of genocide, and colonizers.” The Confederates? They left long ago.

Even Frederick Douglass isn’t safe.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I’d really rather be writing about something else.



Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!

What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.

And Then They Came For Abe Lincoln

by Fred Ray June 24, 2020

Protesters in Washington now want to remove the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park, which they for some reason find offensive. The statue commemorates the emancipation proclamation. Yesterday they held a peaceful protest but promised to come back tomorrow (Thursday) to tear it down. Since this is on Federal property this would seem to be setting […]

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Sad Times

by Fred Ray June 23, 2020

This is a post I wanted never to write. I am sorry to report that a mob has desecrated the Confederate monument at the capitol grounds in Raleigh, NC. It began as a raucous Junteenth celebration and quickly became a riot. The mob brazenly entered the capitol grounds and began attacking the monument, trying to […]

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Free Access to Fold3 Military Records for Memorial Day

by Fred Ray May 21, 2020

Fold3 is offering free access to its records for the Memorial Day weekend. Especially if you’re still in lockdown this is an excellent chance to access Civil War records, including an extensive collection of service records.

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Musketoons and Rifle-Muskets: What’s In A Name?

by Fred Ray May 18, 2020

Names and nomenclature do make a difference in military topics. You’d like to be as accurate as possible, and I think it’s important to use the terminology current at the time unless you specify you’re using something contemporary. I’ll use two examples that have caused a lot of confusion—musketoon and the rifle-musket. The difference between […]

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Who Shot General Hancock?

by Fred Ray May 2, 2020

It has become somewhat of a cottage industry to try to identify who shot various prominent figures like generals Sedgwick and Reynolds. The other say I ran across this postwar newspaper article dealing with the shooting of General Winfield Hancock at Gettysburg. The article credits Sergeant William Wood of Company H, 56th Virginia (Kemper’s brigade, […]

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