Friday, December 30, 2011

Cemetery for Alabama Troops Found in Virginia

Tenth Alabama Regiment cemetery in Virginia uncovered 150 years later
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Mary Orndorff -- The Birmingham News

Brian Smith, right, and his son Dane consult as volunteers help clean up part of a Civil War camp site where soldiers from Alabama are buried. The work is part of the project Dane Smith embarked upon to earn Eagle Scout status. (The Birmingham News/Mary Orndorff)

BRISTOW, Va. -- About an hour west of Washington, D.C., on a scrubby plot of land overrun by pricker bushes and in the shadow of dense modern townhouse developments, an Alabama cemetery was born.

Civil War preservationists with no personal links to Alabama admit to muttering a "Roll Tide" or two as they walked across the newly cleared land, the final resting place of between 75 and 90 soldiers with the Tenth Alabama Infantry Regiment.

Historical documents and archeological study pinpointed the burial grounds, a desperate place in the late summer of 1861, when rampant disease claimed up to five or six Confederate soldiers a day at what was known as Camp Jones.

There are other signs. The area is devoid of stones, except for five large rocks dug deeply into the dirt, each cut on at least one side by a man-made tool. And the area is pockmarked by man-sized depressions, not in rows, but haphazardly, as if soldiers were buried right where they died.
That level of detail, however, was unknown until Dec. 3, when a crew of about 40 volunteers, led by a 16-year-old Eagle Scout candidate, descended with chain saws and strong arms and gave sunlight and a defined boundary to the cemetery.

"It's one of the better Eagle Scout projects I've seen," said Rob Orrison, site manager with the Prince William County Department of Public Works Historic Preservation Division. "I was blown away by the number of people that came out."

The Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park is a new, lesser-known addition to an area rich with Civil War historical sites; Manassas National Battlefield Park is about three miles away as the crow flies.

The Bristoe Station park opened in 2007 after a developer, Prince William County officials and the Civil War Preservation Trust reached a compromise. The massive farm property is to be developed for residential and office space, save for a 133-acre passive park marking the Battle of Kettle Run in 1862 and the Battle of Bristoe Station in 1863.

The private owner who sold the land to the developer had farmed for decades around the unmarked cemetery, indicating he knew its historic value. But it was overgrown and inaccessible. So when Dane Smith of nearby Nokesville called up looking for an Eagle Scout project, park officials recommended clearing the cemetery.

Smith's father, Brian, recalls hearing the details about the project. "When I heard it was an Alabama regiment, I was like, 'Great, I work for an Alabama bank,'" Brian Smith said on his second straight chilly December Saturday at the site. He is the lead Washington lobbyist for Regions Financial Corp.

The volunteers, under Dane Smith's direction, cleared the underbrush, cut down trees, put up a split-rail fence and built a bridge over a creek. Their work was approved by Orrison, who told them which trees to remove and how not to disturb the ground. Tree stumps were left intact. The stone grave markers -- three of which Orrison knew were there plus two others uncovered during the work -- were marked with bright pink tape. The park had earlier used radar to detect the disturbed dirt of the gravesites so they could estimate a cemetery boundary.
Soldiers marching by a nearby road in 1862 wrote of the row of cedar trees leading toward a clearing with wooden grave markers engraved with the names of the dead. Several years later, someone else wrote that the markers were in stone. "Who knows when they were changed?" Orrison said.

Old pictures indicate that some of the stones were engraved, but they are missing.
Eventually, mulch will be placed on the path to the cemetery, and Orrison wants to raise the money to pay for a memorial plaque at the entrance, listing names of the 40 or so soldiers known to be buried there. He's hoping to have that work done in time for a September dedication ceremony. The gravesites will be mapped and the site open to tourists.
Park officials hope that by registering the cemetery, genealogists and historians will help them fill in the blanks of who else might be buried there, and descendants will visit their ancestors.
"It is a little sad that we won't be able to tell them exactly where they are," Orrison said.
The Tenth Alabama Infantry Regiment included companies from Jefferson, Shelby, Calhoun, Talladega, St. Clair, Calhoun, DeKalb and Talladega counties, according to the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

A second overgrown plot across the pasture is believed to be where Mississippi soldiers are buried.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Texas Division Files Suit over Plates

Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans sues over license plates
December 8, 2011

A group that campaigned unsuccessfully for Texas to issue a specialty license plate featuring a Confederate flag is suing the state's Department of Motor Vehicles board in federal court.
The Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a 30,000-member group based in Columbia, Tenn., released a statement Thursday after filing the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Austin arguing that the DMV infringed on its right to free speech by refusing the license plate design.

"The 1st Amendment clearly protects controversial speech," the group said in a statement sent to The Times, noting that the same day the eight-member DMV board voted unanimously to reject the Confederate plate last month it approved a plate that "is offensive to Native Americans" because it honors the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-black cavalry that helped fight Native Americans in the 1800s.

"The board seeks to bar the Texas SCV from expressing their viewpoint while allowing all other groups to express their viewpoint. This type of restriction is exactly the type which the 1st Amendment is designed to erase," the statement said.

Texas officials turned down a Sons of Confederate Veterans' request for a specialty plate three years ago, citing rules that banned political or controversial plates. The rules changed two years ago, and the board has since approved all 89 proposed specialty designs.

"We said if we don't get the plates we're going to sue them," Marshall Davis, a spokesman for the group in Austin, told The Times. "There are other organizations that have had to sue their states to get their 1st Amendment rights, and this is the same thing."

Davis said his group was optimistic it would prevail because "a precedent has been set" in other states. Nine other states have approved Sons of Confederate Veterans' specialty plates, but Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina only did so after the group sued. A similar suit is pending in Florida.

Davis said the design, which features a Confederate flag as part of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' logo, honors veterans. He said the group planned to use proceeds from plate sales, a portion of which return to the sponsoring group, to educate the public about Civil War history.
Opponents called the flag a symbol of bigotry. The NAACP gathered more than 22,000 petition signatures and a letter from at least 19 state legislators opposing the plates.

Before the DMV vote, Gov. Rick Perry had said he opposed the Confederate license plate proposal during a campaign appearance in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
DMV officials told the Associated Press they had not seen the lawsuit late Thursday.

Texas SCV Files Suit for Tag

Texas Sons Of Confederate Veterans


Today, December 8th, 2011 a complaint is being filed in pursuant of 42 U.S.C. §1983 to vindicate the rights secured to the “Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans” by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

The Texas SCV is a non-profit organization that works diligently to preserve the memory and reputation of the Confederate soldiers, emphasizing the virtues of their fight for the preservation of liberty and freedom. Like many other non-profit organizations in Texas, the Texas SCV sought from the State of Texas, through the Department Motor Vehicles Board, approval of a specialty license plate, both to raise awareness of their endeavors and to raise additional money to fund their activities.

This action is in regards to the recent denial by the of the specialty license application presented to the Department of Motor Vehicles Board by the Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Currently, the SCV has specialty automobile license plates available to vehicle drivers in Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The Texas SCV initially applied for a specialty license plate in Texas with the Department of Transportation, the proper agency at the time, in August 2009. That application was denied by the Department of Transportation. In 2009, the Texas Legislature amended the Transportation Code to provide that the Department of Motor Vehicles, rather than the Department of Transportation, was charged with issuing specialty license plates. The license plate function moved to the new Department of Motor Vehicles on November 1, 2009. At the time the Texas SCV reapplied with the new governing department, to hopefully have a specialty plate in advance of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, April 12, 2011.

The official public comments were heavily in favor of the Texas SCV’s application for a specialty plate. Following commentary by both proponents and opponents, the Board rejected the SCV plate at the hearing by an 8-0 vote without any discussion. At the same hearing, the Buffalo Soldiers plate, without any discussion, was approved by a 5-3 vote.

Since the Department of Motor Vehicle Board has been charged with issuing specialty license plates, the Sons of the Confederate Veterans plate is the first, and only, to be rejected.Through the members of the Department of Motor Vehicles Board, the State of Texas has discriminated against the Texas SCV based on the ideas and message that the Texas SCV supports, in clear violation of the First Amendment.

The Board seeks to bar the Texas SCV from expressing their viewpoint while allowing all other groups to express their viewpoint: this type of restriction is exactly the type which the First Amendment is designed to erase. The only guideline that the Transportation Code has to offer, which the Board referenced as its reason for rejecting the plate, is that the Board can reject a plate “if the design might be offensive to any member of the public…” This, however, cannot be the standard. It is vague and indeterminable. Essentially, it is no standard at all to say that the Board can discriminate based upon a viewpoint if such speech is offensive to anyone.

The First Amendment clearly protects controversial speech. Additionally, even if simply being “offensive to any member of the public” was sufficient to allow for rejection, the State has approved numerous plates that are “offensive to any member of the public.” In fact, the plate approved the very same day as the Texas SCV plate was rejected – the Buffalo Soldier plate – is offensive to Native Americans because the all-black cavalry helped fight Native Americans in the Indian Wars from 1867-1888. Accordingly, the Texas SCV seeks appropriate injunctive relief, requiring the State of Texas to approve the Texas SCV’s application and implement the specialty plate.

Granvel J. Block
Commander Texas Division
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Monday, December 5, 2011

Flag Posted in Dorm Window

Student Sparks Debate With Dorm Room Confederate Flag

December 01, 2011
Associated Press

Byron Thomas, 19, a student at USCB holds a Confederate battle flag in his dormitory room on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 in Okatie, S.C. Byron Thomas says a class research project made him realize the flag's real meaning has been hijacked.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina – A black U.S. college student who drew complaints for displaying a Confederate flag in his dorm room window said he sees the banner as a symbol of pride and not racism.

Byron Thomas, 19, said university officials asked him in late November to take the down the banner associated with pro-slavery secessionist forces during the 1861-1865 U.S. Civil War after students and parents complained. They have since told him he can put it back up.

"When I look at this flag, I don't see racism. I see respect, Southern pride," he said. "This flag was seen as a communication symbol" during the Civil War, he said.

That history is debatable. The orange flag with a blue St. Andrew's Cross and white stars is a relatively modern rectangular variant on banners carried into battle by the secessionists, also resembling a rebel naval jack. The variant banner, confused by many with the markedly different Confederate national flag, was adopted as a symbol of pride generations after the South surrendered and slavery was abolished.

Controversy has surrounded the use of the symbol since -- some associating it with regional pride and others a legacy of the enslavement of Africans and their descendants and the ensuing century of often violent racial segregation. Several states incorporated its design into their official flags; South Carolina raised it over its state capitol for the war's 1961 centennial, where it continued to fly until widening opposition to the symbol brought it back down in 2000, nearly 40 years later.

Byron, a student at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, took the flag down at the university's request, but he said he's considering putting it back up after the officials relented. Thomas has drawn nearly 70,000 views since he posted a video online in which he acknowledges: "I know it's kind of weird because I'm black."

In a telephone interview Thursday, Thomas said a class research project made him come to the belief that the flag's real meaning has been hijacked. He said he wants people to thoughtfully consider issues of race and not just knee-jerk reactions to such symbols.

The freshman from North Augusta said his generation can eliminate the flag's negative power by adopting the banner as a symbol of Southern pride.

"I've been getting a lot of support from people. My generation is interested in freedom of speech," Thomas said.

But Thomas says his parents don't like the flag and he's concerned about their point of view, particularly since they pay his bills.

"I don't want to make my parents mad," he said. "I may wait until Monday to put it up."

Thomas' roommate Blane Reed, who identifies as white, said in a separate telephone interview that he never heard any complaints after Thomas put the flag up shortly after Labor Day. Each student has a separate bedroom and share living space with three others, he said.

Thomas posted a video on a CNN-run website that has logged more than 69,000 viewing and an article in a local newspaper brought more attention.

University spokeswoman Candace Brasseur said Thursday in an email that about two-dozen students had raised the issue of the flag with the housing office or with a resident adviser. On Thursday, she forwarded an email the school had sent to its students and staff, informing them that officials had asked Thomas to remove the flag "out of respect for his fellow students' concerns."

However, the email added, because of "the University cannot and will not prohibit these flags or other symbols that our students choose to display." It cited the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits laws abridging the freedom of speech.

Thomas is free to return it to his window if he wishes, Brasseur said.

USC Beaufort is one of eight campuses in the University of South Carolina system and has about 1,750 students, of which about 16.5 percent identify as African American, according to the school web site.

Read more:

GEC Meeting Condensed Account

Condensed Account of the October 15, 2011 Fall GEC Meeting
Held at Columbia, Tennessee

1. Meeting called to order at 8:30 am and opened with prayer, pledge of allegiance, salute to the Confederate flag and reading of The Charge.

2. Quorum was present with 15 of 16 members present.

3. Minutes of the pre and post Montgomery Convention were approved as well as were the minutes of the GEC teleconference of October 11, 2011.

4. Executive Director Sewell gave his report covering membership, status of SCV endowment funds and the mailing of the Christmas merchandise catalogue.

5. Past CIC McMichael gave an update on the February 25, 2012 Sesquicentennial Event to be held in Richmond, VA and stated that the 2013 event will be held at Beauvoir.

6. Indiana Division Commander Gordon Flick presented Executive Director Sewell the Dr. Pits Meritorious Service Award.

7. Lt. Commander In Chief Barrow reported on the recent Leadership Conference held in Burlington, North Carolina and the upcoming conference to be held on February 11, 2012 in Monroe, Louisiana. He also noted the SCV ad to appear in American History Magazine.

8. Heritage Defense Chief Hiter addressed several recent incidents including misstatements by Glen Beck concerning the South’s reason for fighting for independence and the situation in Reidsville, North Carolina regarding the Confederate monument there.

9. The GEC approved a new bumper sticker design with a sticker to be inserted in an upcoming issue of the Confederate Veteran.

10. CIC Givens made comments regarding several of the many meetings and events he has recently attended. He highlighted the Leadership Conference held in Burlington, North Carolina and the “Sunny South Guards” flag presentation reenactment held by the SCV and UDC in Tampa, Florida.

11. GEC reviewed a draft of the proposed Sam Davis Youth Camps Operating Agreement and voted to approve a board of directors for the camps.

12. GEC approved a submission by the Disciplinary Committee of a guide to “Understanding the SCV Disciplinary Procedure”. The guide addresses the process and information that those contemplating filing charges need to understand as well as the rights of those against whom charges are filed. The GEC suggested more information be included on some specific topics. This information will be added to the guide.

13. The GEC heard a report on the upcoming reenactment of the Battle of Shiloh to be held in the spring of 2012 and presented by the Armies of Tennessee. The GEC voted a resolution of endorsement for the reenactment.

14. Past Virginia Division Commander Dorsey updated the GEC on the situation in Lexington, Virginia regarding the city’s restrictions on display of Confederate flags and plans for dealing with the situation.

15. The Budget and Finance Committee reported on three grant requests. The only grant approved by the GEC was for renovations to the S.D. Lee home in Columbus, Mississippi. The grant will qualify the home for extensive matching funds.

The other requests for grant funds were not approved due to the amount of funds already approved at previous meetings being very close to the total amount of funding currently budgeted.

Chuck Rand



Stone Mountain, Georgia
February, 23-26, 2012

TOPIC: Nationalist historians for 150 years have protected Americans from confronting the stark immorality of prosecuting what French philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel called, “a war such as Europe had never yet seen” to force eleven States into a federation from which their people had voted to secede. Should eleven American States secede today and form a federation of their own, such a war would be judged criminal.

Northern opposition to the war was more extensive, complex and had more respectable adherents than the mainline account allows, e.g., Governor Seymour of New York, 1861: “Indeed, Can we so entirely forget the past history of our country, that we can stand upon the point of pride against states whose citizens battled with our fathers and poured out their blood upon the soil of our state. Upon whom are we to wage war? Our own countrymen….”

Lincoln and his party often acted as an embattled minority in the North. The Sesquicentennial offers an opportunity to explore the view point of the most neglected and misrepresented segment of American opinion on the great conflict at the center of our history.

Learn about the resistance of President Franklin Pierce and New York Governor Horatio Seymour. Midwestern “Copperheads.” Christian reaction to the bloodthirsty rhetoric of pro-war Republican preachers. Pro-Union opposition to the Republican Party. Resistance in the border States. Gradations and conflicts in Northern opinion, especially among ethnic groups. Treatment of black soldiers by the Union army during and after the war. And much more.

SPEAKERS. Douglas Bostick, Kent Masterson Brown , Richard Gamble, Marshall Derosa, Donald Livingston, Brion McClanahan, Allen Mendenhall, Joseph Stromberg, Richard Valentine, Jonathan White, Clyde Wilson,

PLACE. Beautiful Stone Mountain Park, built to commemorate the Confederacy. Visit the memorial to Lee, Jackson, and Davis which is the largest stone carving in the world. Much to see and do, so bring the family.

COST. Rooms: very special rate of $106 a day, single or double (rate ends February 1). Conference fee is $225 for Abbeville members and $275 for others. Make checks payable to Abbeville Institute, P.O.Box 10, McClellanville, S.C. 2945 (fee includes tuition, park entrance fee, reception, breakfast, continuous snacks and refreshments). Make room reservations at Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort 770-879-9900. SCHOLARSHIPS. A few scholarships are available for college and graduate students who are encouraged to apply.

INQUIRIES: or 843-323-0690. For lecture titles and schedule see


Thursday, Feb. 23
4:30-6:00 Registration and Conviviality (Rotunda Room)
6:00-7:00 Supper Buffet (Waterside Restaurant)
7:00-8:00 “The War to Prevent Southern Independence: My Myth or Yours,” Clyde Wilson

Friday, Feb. 24
8:00-9:00 Breakfast (Rotunda Room)
9:00-10:00 “’To Maintain the Constitution as it is, and to Restore the Union as it Was,’” Doug Bostick
10:15-11:15 “The Civil War: Kentucky’s Mercurial Political Course,” Kent Masterson Brown
11:30-12:30 “The Midwestern ‘Copperheads,’” Jonathan White

12:30-4:30 Free time (lunch on your own)

4:30-5:30 “Behind Enemy Lines with President Pierce: Principles Over Politics,” Marshall Derosa
5:45-6:45 “‘Get Down you Damm Fool?’: Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. on Lincoln, the Union, and the War,” Allen Mendenhall
6:45-7:45 Supper Buffet (Waterside Restaurant)
8:00-9:00 Round Table Discussion with Audience

Saturday, Feb. 25
8:00-9:00 Breakfast (Rotunda Room)
9:00-10:00 “The Avenger Without Mercy: Delaware Under the Federal Heel,” Brion McClanahan
10:15-11:15 “Yankees & Yonkers: Opposition to Lincoln’s Policies in Westchester County, New York and the Greater Hudson Valley,” Robert Valentine
11:30-12:30 “’Colored Troops for Work’: The Union Army’s Use and Treatment of Black Troops,” Doug Bostick

12:30-4:30 (Free time)

4:30-5:30 “Northern Clergymen, the Kingdom of God on Earth, and the Abolition of the South,” Joseph Stromberg
5:45-6:45 “Between God and Caesar: Northern Clergy and the Problem of a Politicized Pulpit,” Richard Gamble

7:00-8:00 Supper Buffet (Waterside Restaurant)
8:00-9:00 Round Table Discussion with Audience

Sunday, Feb. 26 (Departure)