Senator Jim Webb, touted by many as a vice presidential candidate who would help shore up Barack Obama with Southerners and those uncomfortable with his lack of national security experience, has an “affinity” for the Confederacy...What can I say? I abhor racism in all it multiple forms, stood against racism in the South when it meant something to stand, but my Scot/Cherokee ancestors marched under St. Andrew's Cross — not the square Confederate battle flag, but the rectangular star-and-bars of the Army of Tennessee.
Slavery was the key issue absent which the Civil War wouldn’t have been fought and the resurgence of the Confederate battle flag in the 1960s was mostly about segregationist defiance. It’s easy to understand, therefore, why expressing pro-Confederate sympathies is politically problematic. But Webb’s admiration for the against-all-odds fighting spirit of his ancestors, most of whom fought for reasons having nothing to do with slavery or, frankly, political considerations of any sort, is understandable, too. In a complex world, one can simultaneously admire Robert E. Lee’s character, J.E.B. Stuart’s generalship, and the courage of those who charged up Little Round Top while damning the institution of slavery.
And as I've told even my most politically correct relatives, it's hard to read any account of, say, the 4 1/2 hours of Franklin, November 30, 1864, without being moved...with the war already lost a vainglorious Confederate general repeatedly threw the already shattered Army of Tennessee against the fortified Union positions south of Nashville. The Army of Tennessee were mostly dirt farmers, not slaveholders, not too much better off than slaves themselves. Shattered from fighting the butcher Sherman in Georgia, they had virtually no artillery, little ammunition and many without even shoes in the unseasonable cold. The troopers and their commanders knew the frontal assaults ordered by John Bell Hood were suicide, and suicide to no point, but they responded again and again...until there was no Army of Tennesse.
To not acknowlegdge their honor and their sacrifice would only serve to make us small.