If you haven’t seen “The South Rises Again” episode from The Beverly Hillbillies, then frankly, my dear, you are missing out on some a classic, old-fashioned Civil War and Pop-Culture experience. When I have twenty minutes to spare and need a good chuckle and messed up history, this fits the entertainment bill exactly.
If you need to see the episode, it’s here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aqbI4VwONcI
With the clamor of banjos and the intro song, we’re introduced to Jed and his family. For this episode, Granny has got it into her head that General Grant is back and he’s going to capture the Culpeper Plantation. And—technically speaking—she’s not wrong! Much hilarity ensures with many Civil War quips and some Southern-isms couched with old-fashion humor.
Now, let’s be clear… Granny, her family, and her friends set out to campaign with a battle flag, biscuit bullets, plenty of moonshine, and a heavy dose of Lost Cause sentiment. They’re trying to recreate “Sherman’s Retreat to the Sea” and head for the Culpeper Plantation which looks suspiciously like Gone With The Wind‘s Tara. (Perhaps a nod to that recreated, false building on a back set in Hollywood?)
Their opponents in the ensuing scuffle? A stuffy, but like-able military man and self-proclaimed Civil War expert who’s stepped in to direct the film and spends time gripping about “the wrong uniforms.” And General Grant himself…well, sort of. The episode’s story line is heavily built about the tale that Grant drank excessively, but they did get one part historically right: “Are you sure Grant didn’t use a buggy?” “Yes, I’m very sure.” When the USA troops (meaning Undefeated Southerners of America, according to Granny) arrive on set, it’s the moment for Granny to turn the tide of the Civil War.
In the end, the episode takes a reconciliation turn and sprinkles in more humor—suggesting that despite differences the country reunited. As Jed Clampett says, “I think the North and the South done patched things up for a while.” But with Granny firmly believing that it’s “V for Vicksburg,” we’re still left wondering how else she managed to rewrite the facts…at least in her own mind.
And maybe that gives us more to ponder in how pop culture references to the Civil War often take an angle in the midst of entertainment.