Posts Tagged ‘John Singleton Mosby’

For all the wrong reasons, it is good news that the battle flag of the former Confederate States of America might be removed from the grounds of South Carolina’s capitol. It took the deaths of nine innocents to finally deal with this controversy.

Perhaps these nine will be the final casualties of the American Civil War, adding to the roughly 700,000 who fell as a direct result of the four-year rebellion.  Of course, many others died in the decades that followed from criminal lawlessness and racial hatred.

Legislative action to remove the flag, with the full support of Governor Nikki Haley, has commenced and stands an almost certain chance of passage.

The battle flag, a Saint Andrew’s cross with thirteen stars – one for each of the states represented in the Confederate Congress (the eleven who officially seceded, plus the deeply divided states of Missouri and Kentucky), was not the official flag of the rebel government. It was not even the battle flag in other regions outside of the eastern theater of war until almost 1864, but it was the one that became the symbol of southern belligerence long after the surrender of the south’s armies.

It’s distinctive design probably was the main reason for its endurance over the last 150 years. It was also the reason why it was used as a battle flag.  The original national flag of the CSA looked too much like the Stars and Stripes from a distance. In those days, generals had to rely on flags to identify troop positions. The “Stars and Bars,”  as the national flag was described, created confusion in the field.

Had the battle flag not been created, it is possible some other symbol would have been used to promote discord or provoke racism.

The flag may never have become a divisive beacon had southerners reflected after the war and accepted the obvious – that slavery was the root cause of the conflict and was morally indefensible.

Too many attempted to skirt the issue by saying the war was over states’ rights.

Ironically, among the first well-known Confederate veterans to take a stand against the states’ rights excuse was Colonel John SIngleton Mosby, also known as the Gray Ghost.  His cavalry was the scourge of the Union Army in Northern Virginia, sometimes operating within sight of the US Capitol, or Washington City as it was called then.

He attended the University of Virginia before the war, but was expelled for engaging in a non fatal duel with a classmate. Mosby went on to study law before joining the Confederate Army, and afterwards served in the Grant Administration as US Consul to Hong Kong.  While in the foreign service he fought against rampant corruption in its ranks.

He wrote, “The South went to war on account of Slavery. South Carolina went to war – as she said in her Secession proclamation – because slavery would not be secure under Lincoln. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding. . .”

Not enough of his former comrades backed him up.

Too bad,  Life still would have been oppressive for former slaves and their decedents, but maybe some innocent lives could have been saved.

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