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Letter: Southern soldiers

  • Updated

I certainly hope that the people who continue to disparage Confederate flags and soldiers as symbols of hatred and bigotry will realize that they are not persuading those of us who know better.

A good example is the recent letter insisting that Confederate armies were fighting for slavery, a suggestion that surely would have surprised the men in gray. Most of those who fought for the Confederacy took up arms only after federal armies were formed to invade the South in the Spring of 1861.

The most famous Southern soldier of all, Robert E. Lee, made his reason for fighting clear in a letter on April 20, 1861: “Save in the defense of my native state, I never desire again to draw my sword.”

Throughout American history, young men have joined military ranks out of loyalty to their kin, their state and their country. And from the patriots of the Revolution, to the blue and gray of the Civil War, to the doughboys of World War I, they weren’t citing as reasons for taking up arms as the Stamp Act, the Dred Scott decision or the sinking of the Lusitania.

The Confederate battle flag was first unfurled on Nov. 28, 1861, long after hostilities had begun, as a soldiers’ banner. It was presented to the Confederate Army of the Potomac (later Army of Northern Virginia) by Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard as symbolic of the “service and duty” of the troops.

There is considerable documented evidence from letters, diaries and reports written during the Civil War as to what Confederate soldiers believed they were fighting for and what they found symbolic about their flag. It was not slavery, and any interpretation to the contrary is not historically accurate.


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