This week, ECW historians are offering their thoughts and reactions to recent events related to Confederate memory. Next up: Jimmy Price.
I think the recent reaction to the removal of the Confederate battle flag from public grounds in South Carolina and elsewhere shows that the majority of Americans have moved on from any deep-rooted belief that “the South was right.” I highly doubt that millennials have started to gobble up copies of works by the Kennedy brothers in order to push back against these recent events in the name of Southern heritage.
Indeed, some people are very quick to move against any perceived affection for the Confederate flag, as has been seen recently in an effort by several well-known Civil War bloggers to publicly shame a high school student who innocently waved a Confederate Battle Flag at the instruction of her teacher on a class field trip to Gettysburg. So, in some cases, the pendulum might have swung too far in the opposite direction.
In my opinion, the last bastion of Lost Cause belief that has any real influence is the re-enacting and Civil War “buff” community. I have been a part of these communities for more than 20 years now and the propensity to focus only on military matters feeds into the Lost Cause myth of Confederate nobility and heroism against long odds. By endlessly dissecting the minutiae of epic battles (at least the ones that involved white troops), the “tough stuff” of slavery and the real cause that Confederates were fighting for is conveniently left out of the discussion. Thus, if the South is still “winning” the war at all, we need only look in the mirror for the main culprits who are allowing it to do so.
Jimmy Price is the author of The Battle of First Deep Bottom and The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will Be Theres by the Sword. He is a frequent contributor to Emerging Civil War.