Confederate Circle Rededication
Read the Montgomery Advertiser article by Alvin Benn “reporting” or commenting on the Confederate Circle rededication in Selma held on Saturday May 23rd and wanted to post a comment regarding the article and rebuffing some other posted comments. Mike Williams (Montgomery Semple Camp) posted some nice succinct rebuttals but mine just grew too lengthy so I decided instead to post them as my column for June.
There were numerous inaccuracies and omissions in the article. If I had to estimate the number of attendees, it was closer to 400 than the 200 “proud Confederate descendants” Benn could or wanted to count. Instead of paying tribute to the heroism of the 160 Confederate veterans interred there, the article only accounted for “more than 100” and incorrectly maintained that General Forrest himself was laid to rest there. The article didn’t do justice to the extent of the work performed and still planned for the cemetery including the stonework, informational kiosks and enhanced access with handicapped provisions. The featured speakers at the Rededication did a fine job of highlighting the heroism of the Confederate veterans interred at Old Live Oak Cemetery there including many defenders of Selma. The article failed to mention these heroes and the importance of Selma to the Confederacy and the significance of the Battle of Selma as one of the last of the War for Southern Independence.
The article rightly described Forrest as a “great military tactician” but sought to tie him to the KKK by citing unnamed historians. Benn threw out the requisite bone to the radical “black activists” equating “Forrest to Hitler and said honors bestowed on the general by Southern whites were far from justified”. Forrest and Hitler? Really? What parallels could possibly being made in comparing those two figures excepting inflammatory non-sensical rhetoric. He apparently didn’t bother to listen to Bill Rambo’s speech on Forrest. No recognition of the credence military institutes bestow on Forrest’s timeless tactical and leadership genius. Didn’t care to mention the desecration and anarchy the militant fringe “activists” employed attempting to disparage the memory and honor due Forrest and the veterans there at Live Oak as rightful historical patriots and defenders of Selma. Didn’t care to question the hooligan's motives creating racial tension and negatively impacting the promotion of the historical significance of the cemetery and of Selma in this Sesquicentennial period.
A couple commenters deemed the article the appropriate venue to show their ignorance of the historical record and jump on their soapbox to decry the “evil racist Southern plantation owners” as representative of the whole of the Confederacy and the Cause for which the Confederate veterans fought and died. The South fought to defend their homes and families from the beginning of the war at the First Battle of Manassas when Union troops invaded Virginia under Brig. Gen McDowell til the end when Lee surrendered his Army of Virginia defending Petersburg and Richmond. The North fought to “Preserve the Union” (as emblazoned for example on the entry arch to the National Military Cemetery in Marietta GA and countless other references). Why would they want to force the Southern states back into the Union with their repulsive baggage of slavery? Money. Wars are fought for money. Wars are fought for territories including their resources and whole economies which equates to money. Wars simply are not fought for magnanimous ideals but for conquests from the beginning of recorded history to modern times. Even the Great Crusades could be viewed as having a goal of converting territories (and trade routes) from pagan and Muslim to Christian western control. In the Pacific theatre during World War II, the Allies fought the Japanese forces seeking to establish a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Cold War and associated conflicts were fought to preserve capitalism and democracy over communism and the opposing economic systems, preserving associated trading partners and economic zones. Recent Mideast conflicts were fought to preserve or create friendly governments to largely ensure continued economic trading in that volatile region, most specifically of oil.
The North wanted the tax revenue from the South which they depended on to fund their industrial and infrastructure projects in the New England states. Lincoln wished to continue the Federal imperialistic expansionism to grow the United States from sea to shining sea. This expansionism and imperialism was continued after the war in the extermination of the Indian nations of the west and railroad construction westward. Besides losing his income to the national treasury with the secession of the Southern states, Lincoln could not afford to have a formidable competing country on the same continent with a capital a mere 100 miles from Washington DC, one competing for the same continental resources and westward territory and international trading partners. The fall of Selma was but one but an important step in the quickening demise of the Confederate forces and the fall of the Confederacy and the resultant unfettered expansionism of the Union and the Federal control and domination of the states and the citizenry.