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Comments by YACCS
Monday, December 11, 2006

It's not the history, it's the racism

When Did Kentucky Become Part Of The Confederacy?

Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 09:46:43 AM PST

I have no problem with it being on top of the Duke boys "General Lee", but what about being displayed & honored on the grounds of a public high school? Such is the case at Allen Central High School in Eastern Kentucky, where if you visit you will see this....

The welcome sign at Allen Central High School is home to a grinning Confederate soldier, proudly waving a banner bearing the St. Andrew's cross of the Confederate battle flag. The courtyard nearby is composed of blue brick that forms the cross and a mural in the lobby pays homage to another rebel soldier, this one carrying the flag on horseback.

More rebel soldiers and Confederate flags cover the same walls that hold posters touting academic achievement, fundraising drives and notable attendance of the all-white student body.

As usual the fans of the Confederate flag claim heritage, but take a look at this money quote....

"To us it's not about the hatred," said Tiffany Owens, an 18-year-old cheerleader at Allen Central High School in eastern Kentucky. "I have colored friends around here and they never say anything."

Indeed, the students at this rural school in Kentucky are willing to risk their image to keep the Confederate emblems they say symbolize nothing more than strength, independence and pride...."It's our tradition," said Charles Randolph, 18. "If I was black, it probably would bother me. But if they can understand it wasn't put toward them in hatred, it wouldn't be an issue."

And what about the school board, principal or the community in general?

Mickey McGuire, the one who criticized Allen Central's school flag and mascot, felt outnumbered. No one else on the five-member board, which has no black members, has spoken up. "I really don't think those people intended it in a racial way, but these are children who don't realize how racially sensitive that flag is," McGuire said. "They have no sensitivity toward what black people feel about that flag."

Lorena Hall, principal at Allen Central, said every few years, someone like McGuire will "stir the pot" about the Confederate symbols. But her school won't budge. "It has nothing to do with racism," said Hall. "It's a part of us."

The school should be applauded for standing by its flag and mascot, especially when so many schools are steering away from Confederate symbols, said T.Y. Hiter, division commander for the Eastern Kentucky Brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

"It has nothing to do with race except in the minds of those who think it does," Hiter said. "This is an atypical situation," he added. "We usually deal with situations where schools are trying to restrict the rights of students who want to display the flag. Here, the school is taking the lead of displaying their heritage."

That last sentence defies all logic for a couple of reasons. One, Kentucky, even though it was a border state, never seceded from the Union. The Confederacy invaded in 1862, claimed the state & had established a rival state government, but the "official" government of Kentucky stayed loyal to the Union. Secondly, the "Southern Cross" was the naval jack of the Confederacy, not the official flag. Georgia went through a controversy some years back when it removed the Confederate flag from the state flag, but the flag they have now is actually closer to the original Confederate flag.

How do African American children feel about the flag of the Confederacy?

The black students who have encountered Allen Central's school spirit don't accept such views, though they do little to fight back. "It really makes me mad," said Ted Honaker, one of two dozen black students at Pikeville High School, about 25 miles away.

The 17-year-old plays basketball against Allen Central and says he's sick of looking at Confederate flags in the stands when the two teams face off. The only thing that bothers him more is the assumption that the black students don't care about the displays.

"It brings back slavery and what happened to my ancestors," said Honaker. Despite his feelings, Honaker and his twin brother, Tim, don't lash out. "I mean, what good would it really do?" Tim Honaker said.

The school is in Floyd County, Kentucky. Black students make up 1/2 of 1% of the county's students. At Allen Central, only 33 of the 6,348 students are black. But those 33 have to sit in a lunchroom that looks like this....

You can see more pics like this by visiting Allen Central's website....

This Confederate worship has NOTHING to do with the Civil War.

Kentucky in the Civil War

The War marked a major change in regional political alignment within Kentucky. The Bluegrass, old stronghold of the Whig Party, became ardently Democrat together with the Pennyrile and The Purchase. The Democratic Party in the Bluegrass and western Kentucky thus became part and parcel of the solidly Democratic South and remained so until the New Deal era when there began to show definite signs of conservative reaction in the inner Bluegrass. The Mountaineers of Eastern Kentucky, on the other band., deserted their long Jacksonian Democratic loyalty due to their unshakable allegiance to the Union and their dislike for the old slave-owning aristocracy. They adopted a sturdy Republican allegiance which remained steadfast until the New Deal Years of Franklin D. Roosevelt wooed many mountaineers back to the Democratic Party.

In viewing the entire situation, however, things were not going well for the Confederates in Kentucky. On October 21 Zollicoffer suffered a mild defeat at Wild Cat Mountain in Laurel County which dashed any hopes he held of advancing on the Bluegrass. At first it appeared his force would carry the day against a regiment of Unionist Clay County mountaineers, but six additional Union regiments appeared., made up of Indianans, Ohioans., and East Tennessee Unionists., and Zollicoffer and his forces had to withdraw.

On November 8th the Confederates suffered another setback in Eastern Kentucky. A superior force of Union troops defeated a Confederate contingent under colorful John "Cerro Gordo" Williams at the Battle of Ivy Mountain near the headwaters of the Kentucky River’s South Fork.

The worst Confederate defeat in the mountains, however., took place in Pulaski County on January 19., 1862 in a battle which has been known by four different names: Nancy, Fishing Creek, Logan’s Crossroads which is more accurate, and Mill Springs by which name it is most frequently known. The battle was fought just north of the Cumberland River between forces that were approximately even in number. General Zollicoffer was killed and the Confederates defeated. They retreated south through Cumberland Gap and left the mountains of southeastern Kentucky in Union hands, much to the liking of the majority of the native mountaineers.

The Confederate position in Kentucky began to deteriorate rapidly in the winter of early 1862. Fort Henry on the Tennessee River fell to Grant on February 6th, and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland was "unconditionally surrendered" by General Buckner on February 16th. The Confederates were thus forced to beat a hasty retreat from Bowling Green which they evacuated on February 15th and fell back on Nashville, which city was thrown into panic by the on-surging Yankees.

On February 23rd proud Nashville, "The Athens of the South", fell and was to be occupied by the Union Army throughout the reminder of the war. On March 2nd the Confederates evacuated Columbus, Kentucky, that "Gibraltar of the West", as it had been called, and drew back into West Tennessee. By March 6th young James Garfield wrote that the Big Sandy Valley in eastern Kentucky had been cleared of Confederate forces, and he soon planned to provide the Union population of this mountain region with arms.

When Springtime of 1862 spread its blossoms over the Bluegrass and mountains, Kentucky was securely in the control of the Union from border to border and also in the legislative halls at Frankfort. The sympathies, however, of a large and increasing portion of her people lay with those gray clad armies far to the south who were then attempting to regroup their forces in southern Tennessee and northern Mississippi in order to meet the Union invaders, and meet them they were destined to do on the bloody field of Shiloh.

On April 6th and 7th, 1862 along the west bank of the Tennessee River in southwestern Tennessee was fought the great Battle of Shiloh. General Albert Sidney Johnston, a native Kentuckian, was killed the first day - a day that saw nightfall take from the Southern forces a victory almost within their grasp and turn the next day's field into a Southern defeat. It is reported that of the soldiers of both armies who were killed or wounded or missing in this battle, 1,400 were Kentuckians and that 40% of the Confederate Kentuckians engaged were either killed or wounded. One Kentuckian killed was George W. Johnson, the Confederate governor of Kentucky. He lies buried in the cemetery at Georgetown, that historic little city on the north edge of the Bluegrass. The famed Orphan Brigade was engaged at Shiloh under General John C. Breckinridge who, together with General Bragg, collapsed the Union left on the afternoon of the first day.


Now let us turn to a brief statement of the strength of Kentucky's forces in both armies during the war:

Union Army

White troops 64,000
Negro troops 25,000
Total 89,000

plus 14,000 white Union state militia, making a total of 103,000 men that Kentucky gave to the Union.

Kentucky volunteers to the Confederate Army numbered some 35,000 to 40,000. The overall total of Kentuckians engaged was about 140,000 men.

Thus from the figures it is noted that Negroes supplied almost one-fourth of the total Union forces furnished by Kentucky. Of the total number of Kentucky white men in both armies almost one-third were Confederate.

Eastern Kentucky was strongly Union. Most of the residents not only opposed the Confederacy, as did most mountain people did, but joined the Union in large numbers.

So why would a school in Eastern Kentucky, most of whom had descendents who fought and died in Union blue, worship the Confederacy?

Maybe this is the reason

One of the book's strengths is the light it sheds on the transformation of the Confederate battle flag from a symbol of a nineteenth-century war into a rallying point for opponents of mid-twentieth-century desegregation. Beginning with Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrats in 1948 and continuing through the days of George Wallace, the flag was "endowed ... with a more specific connotation of resistance to the civil rights movement and to racial integration" (p. 124). On this point, Coski believes the flag's defenders fail to realize the uses the flag has been put to, and how--with justification--it represents for many black Americans a symbol seeking restoration of Jim Crow and rolling back their gains.

The use of the Confederate battle flag either in state flags or flying above Southern state capitols, Coski points out, is not something that began after the Civil War or even in the days of the Redeemers. It is a mid-twentieth-century development and, as such, appears tied to the South's massive resistance response to integration. But other things have propelled the flag into public consciousness. A phenomenon of the late 1940s and early 1950s that he terms the "flag fad" found it enjoying "enormous, seemingly inexplicable, popularity in the North.... Confederate flags outsold U.S. flags in stores all over America" (p. 111).

Ken Burns, director of the PBS documentary The Civil War, also explains about the use of the confederate flag

I’m always astounded by the prevalence of confederate flags and confederate memorabilia in the South and the frequent controversy that surrounds the issue. As a someone who is tremendously knowledgeable about the Civil War and as a Northerner, what do you make of that? Do you consider it a symbol of racism?

A lot of my relatives fought for the confederacy, but some fought for the north as well. First of all, the Civil War was, in addition to the biggest thing that has ever happened within this country by far, a deeply psychological event. There is an ultimate paradox at its heart, that in order to become one we kind of tore ourselves in two. Before the Civil War, when we referred to our country we said the United States “are,” and now we say ungrammatically the United States “is.” So the war in a funny way made us a one thing. We used to speak of a union and then we became a nation. A union is a collection of things and a nation is one thing. So there are deeply important psychological issues that continue to reverberate about the Civil War.

But the point you bring up about the confederate flag is a hugely disturbing thing. The confederate flag was adopted by many of the states as their flag, not before the Civil War, not during the Civil War, or not even in the immediate period afterwards, that much misunderstood period called Reconstruction. Those flags were instituted in the 1950’s and there’s only one thing that happened in the 1950’s that would have caused the southern states to add the confederate flag. They took one of the battle flags, and it wasn’t even the most popular confederate battle flag, and made it the symbol of segregation and resistance to civil rights and codified it in their flags. In that regard I find that the enthusiasm for the confederate flag today is both misplaced, misunderstood,

Oh yeah, the Stars and Bars was the Confederate Naval Flag

Second National Flag, "The Stainless Banner"


The second national flag of the Confederacy was The Stainless Banner, which was put into service on May 1, 1863. To avoid battlefield confusion between the Stars and Bars with the Union's Stars and Stripes, this new flag was designed with the battle flag placed in the first quarter. This flag, however, had its own problem: when the battlefield was windless, it was sometimes mistaken for a flag of truce or surrender because the white field often concealed the first quarter.

In the South, the nickname "Stainless" was held to refer to "the unspotted virtue and honor of Southerners and their fight for independence from the tyranny and aggression of northern states." The flag is often referred to as the "'Stonewall' Jackson Flag" due to its inaugural use of covering General Stonewall Jackson's coffin at his funeral.

According to the Flags of the Confederacy website, the flags actually made by the Richmond Clothing Depot used the 1.5:1 ratio adopted for the Naval ensign rather than the official 2:1 ratio. The flag had thirteen stars [1], one for each of the eleven Confederate states and one each for Missouri and Kentucky. (Alternately interpreted as 13 stars for each of the original colonies.)

The Navy Jack (colloquially called the "Rebel Flag")

The Confederate Navy Jack, 1863-1865
The Confederate Navy Jack, 1863-1865

The Confederate Navy Jack, also called "The Southern Cross," is a rectangular precursor of the Battle Flag, usually about 5×3 feet. The blue color in the saltire (the diagonal cross) is much lighter than in the Battle Flag, and it was flown only on Confederate ships from 1863 to 1865.

The design was originally made by South Carolina Congressman William Porcher Miles with the intent to be the first national flag, but it was rejected by the Confederate government. Some critics supposedly scoffed at the design, saying it looked too much like crossed suspenders. While the square battle flag was widely used, the oblong version was also used by some army units, including the Army of Tennessee as their battle flag from 1864-1865. (After General Joseph Johnston took command of the Army of Tennessee from Braxton Bragg, he ordered its army-wide implementation to improve morale and avoid confusion.) Today, it is the most universally recognized symbol of the South, where it is commonly called the rebel or Dixie flag. This flag is often erroneously called "the Confederate Flag". (This Flag is often incorrectly referred to as the Stars and Bars; the actual Stars and Bars is the First National Flag.)

posted by Steve @ 1:23:00 PM

1:23:00 PM

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