All For the Union, 1910

From Elisha Hunt Rhodes of the 2nd Rhode Island, author of All For the Union, from a speech given at the 44th Annual Encampment, Department of Massachusetts, Grand Army of the Republic, Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. April 6 and 7, 1910:

We think of the reunited South, and I am not one of those who wants to find fault with what is done in the South. I pity those people. I have seen much of them since the war. I remember standing one day looking at a monument in Athens, Georgia, when a young collegian said to me, “I suppose you object to this monument being here.”

“Oh no, I said, “if you people want to perpetuate your shame, I care little about it. You are simply telling the story to your children of how you tried to pull down the old flag and how you failed.”

Another day I stood by the monument in Winchester, Virginia, and I read upon it an inscription which told how men had died for liberty, had died for constitution in the country. An old gentlemen asked me what I thought of it. “Oh,” I said, “The day will come when you will put a ladder up against that monument, and you will hire a colored man who once wore the shackles to climb that ladder and efface every word of that inscription, for it is false. There is no truth in it.”

Those men were brave men, and I am willing to pay tribute to their bravery; but they did not die for liberty, they did not die for their constitution, they did not die for their country. Two, or three, or four, or five years afterward I stood in the same place, and a Confederate soldier whom I was visiting said to me, “Do you remember what you said to that old gentlemen about that inscription?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “Look at it now.”

I said, “Yes, nature has been kind to you,” for the moss had grown over it so that it could not be read. It had been completely effaced.[1]

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[1] Elisha Hunt Rhodes, the 44th Annual Encampment, Department of Massachusetts, Grand Army of the Republic, Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. April 6 and 7, 1910, (Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Company, State Printers, 1910) https://books.google.com/books?id=RmcTAQAAMAAJ&lpg=PA195&ots=f_JmT66KQ5&dq=I%20remember%20standing%20one%20day%20looking%20at%20monument%20in%20Athens&pg=PA195#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

About Meg Groeling

CW Historian
This entry was posted in Books & Authors, Common Soldier, Memory, Monuments, Personalities, Primary Sources and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to All For the Union, 1910

  1. Donald Smith says:

    Are you looking to pick a fight, Meg?

    • Donald Smith says:

      Let me revise and extend those remarks—“pick a fight” is a bit too harsh.

      Are you looking to start a scrap…sorry, discussion in the comments, Meg?

  2. Candy says:

    That is incredibly powerful, prescient and moving. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. F. Norman Vickers http://www.ja says:

    Thanks, Meg, for these insightful comments. We in Pensacola, as in many other parts of the U. S. are having the ,so far peaceful, discussion about future of a monument on downtown city property as memorial to Confederate dead. Keep them coming.

  4. randoke says:

    That is one of the more profound things I’ve read on this great blog.

  5. armytncsa says:

    Rhodes was such a sanctimonious jerk in 1910. Meg, I will glad to send you my copy of his book. Which I thought was good when I read it a number of years ago. He would have been a footnote in history but for being a star in Ken Burns “Civil War”.

  6. Very interesting. It shows that discussions about monuments are as old as the mouments themselves. It also shows that even judged “by the standards of their time” they were controversial.

  7. Ed Cunningham says:

    Sometimes Meg, I think you are the only one who gets it.

  8. W Charles Young says:

    Thank you for bringing this speech to light.

  9. Donald Smith says:

    Well, bless Elisha Hunt Rhodes’ heart. 🙂

  10. Rob Orrison says:

    Wonder which statue he references in Winchester. Wonder how he would feel about statues of Grant, Columbus, Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln coming down

  11. armytncsa says:

    Right!

  12. Are you and your comrades happy now Meg.? For now they are tearing down statures of Pres. Grant Jackson Jefferson and the father of our loved country Washington . yet you still call your self a historian ? Historians I feel should not be judges ,BIAS. and telling us what is right or wrong Give us the facts and let us decide . They .should report history .You seem to enjoy injecting modern views to put a spin on the history .You have a great one sided advantage here you can talk and they can not . Speaking of modern views
    I see your be loved NASCAR made a total fool of it self as well .this week .
    look what is happening to our country .friendships , our blog .
    I truly wonder who now are the traitors . When this topic is over . ill not read your blogs .Ii only wish to learn from historians and in my OPINION your not. your a editorial page writer .. Please note I submit this respectfully and as my feeling so i hope it is not pulled .

  13. Donald Smith says:

    It’s obvious that, within the ECW community, there’s a wide range of views on how the Confederacy should be remembered. Some in the community see the Confederacy as utterly odious, in each and every respect, and any positive thoughts about it should be banished from “polite” society. Others (myself included) do see some positive things about it, and want those positive things to be remembered and respected.

    It will be interesting to see how the ECW community manages this. Will we figure out a way to respectfully disagree with each other? Or will one side purge the other from the community?

  14. Todd Berkoff says:

    Rob, I had the same question. It cannot be the Confederate monument in front of the Frederick County Courthouse because it was put up in 1916. I wonder if Rhodes saw it while touring Mount Hebron Cemetery where many Confederate dead are buried?

    Rhodes had a special connection to Winchester. His brigade served as the provost marshal for the city during late 1864 and his brigade would miss the Battle of Cedar Creek as a result.

    Recently, I had a chance to talk with Robert Rhodes, the great grandson, and editor of the diary. He is in his 80s today. He was kind enough to share with me family stories about the General (Elisha held the rank of Brig. Gen. in the Rhode Island Militia) and I was able to purchase a few signed books from General’s personal library.

  15. Ed Cunningham says:

    I don’t believe we in the North ever got to celebrate our victory over the South, for many reasons such as the assassination, soldiers just wanting to just get home, wanting reconciliation, etc. Brian Jordan has written about this. Might I proposed that in the states which fought for the Union, that April 9th be celebrated as Victory Day and that schools be closed, government be closed and workers get a day off. We can make it like Festivus. Victory Day.

    • Donald Smith says:

      Didn’t you have a two-day parade in Washington D.C., the review of the Grand Army of the Republic? The eastern theater troops paraded on day 1, and the western theater on day 2.

    • Elizabeth M Simon says:

      Please tell me you’re joking. I can’t imagine a more divisive suggestion, especially at this point in our history.

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