A Picture Tells a Thousand Lies: Modern Propaganda Surrounding the War for Southern Independence
By Rob Hodges Jr.
Sometime in the mid-90s I bought a cassette tape titled, Songs of the Civil War which features modern recordings of songs that both Union and Confederate soldiers would have found familiar. The album’s cover art shows several Union army musicians in the background but the central and most prominent image, which is superimposed over the musicians, is a photo of a black drummer, perhaps a teenager, wearing a Union uniform. Now what exactly is this image trying to say, or rather, what are the people who put this artwork together trying to make us believe? Is a black Union drummer the typical soldier of that era? Black men eventually made up approximately ten percent of Lincoln’s military. Were all the black people involved in the war fighting for Lincoln? Why not show a Confederate image? Why not show a black Confederate? That would be interesting. But that would also be unlikely since one of the album’s producers was Ken Burns, a notorious propagandist and distorter of American history, including black American history.
Images certainly have or can have an effect on the imagination, whether photographs, drawings, paintings or visuals created with computers. Our society literally bombards us with imagery. We see it on the internet, on television, on city buses, cereal boxes, billboards, album covers, postage stamps and the list goes on and on and all of this must have some sort of effect on the psyche. Publishing an illustrated book purporting to cover a conflict, for example, where the visuals depict one side of a conflict while including practically no visuals of the other side of the conflict must influence the unsuspecting reader. Similarly, a book which features positive images for one side of the same conflict and practically nothing but negative or unflattering images of the other side of the conflict must also influence the reader’s thoughts. A book which does both – the few illustrations, many of which show a negative view – would certainly betray a bias toward one side.
The imagery used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to create a stamp series celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Late Unpleasantness (as we in the South used to call it) certainly skews Northerly to say the least. Each of the five years features two new stamps depicting battles or seminal events for the corresponding years of 1861-1865. Of the major battles featured only one in the series depicts a Southern victory: the Battle of First Manassas, which is designated by the Northern name of the battle, “First Bull Run.” The other stamp for 1861 depicts the bombardment of Fort Sumter which is clearly a Confederate victory although not a major battle. After sustaining a thirty-six hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered his garrison on April 14th. Many have used the action at Fort Sumter to blame the South for starting the war – for firing the first shot, which is absurd considering Lincoln sent warships to South Carolina waters, an act of war in itself, to reinforce the fort. Another absurdity in blaming the “first shot fired” on the Fort Sumter bombardment is that Northern soldiers had already fired on Southerners as early as January 8, 1861 in Florida, two days before Florida seceded.
One of the 1862 stamps features the Battle of Sharpsburg which seems perfectly appropriate considering the scope and carnage of that battle although it too is designated by the Northern name of the battle, “Antietam.” The other stamp depicts the naval bombardment of the New Orleans defenses – a Union victory. But why do we need two Northern victories for 1862? What about “Stonewall” Jackson’s famous Shenandoah Valley campaign? What about Robert E. Lee’s crushing victory at Second Manassas? What about Ambrose Burnside’s disastrous frontal assault against Marye’s Heights at the First Battle of Fredericksburg? What about George McClellan’s failed Peninsula Campaign?
For the 1863 stamps, Gettysburg seems an obvious choice, but the second stamp features another Union victory: the fall of Vicksburg. Why two more Union victories? What about Chancellorsville, a stunning Confederate victory for that year? What about Chickamauga, Braxton Bragg’s greatest victory, combining the Army of the Tennessee with James Longstreet’s Corps?
The year 1864 finds us yet again with two more Northern victories. One stamp features Admiral David Farragut’s fleet steam rolling through Mobile Bay while the other represents the Union investment of Petersburg, Virginia with the 22nd U.S. Colored Troops leading the charge. As far as the Petersburg Campaign is concerned, the USPS could have given us a stamp depicting the Battle of the Crater, another spectacular Burnside disaster, although Ulysses Grant deserves some if not most of the blame for that Yankee bloodbath. The hypothetical Crater stamp could have also featured U.S. Colored troops since they too disobeyed orders and ventured inside the crater only to find themselves on the losing end of a human “turkey shoot.”
Aside from the Battle of the Crater, a stamp could have depicted any number of battles from the Overland Campaign; from the Wilderness to Spotsylvania Courthouse to Grant’s senselessly fatal assault at Cold Harbor. Robert E. Lee, with his meager forces, managed to check Grant at each turn until the fighting finally ground down to trench warfare at Petersburg.
The stamps for 1865, a dismal year for the South, depicts Five Forks as well as Lee’s surrender to Grant in the McLean house at Appomattox. One would expect Union victories for the closing months of the war and the closing months of the Confederacy itself, however, the fighting at Palmito Ranch, Texas on May 12th and 13th, 1865, considered the last land engagement of the war, proved a Confederate victory and would have been an interesting subject to depict, especially with the Southern forces outnumbered more than two to one. Just to make things really interesting, the USPS could have offered a stamp depicting the CSS Shenandoah, the Confederate warship which continued to attack enemy shipping months after its government no longer existed. The Shenandoah became the last Confederate fighting unit to fly the Confederate flag as she anchored off Liverpool on November 6, 1865 and surrendered to the British government.
Among the brilliant Confederate victories on the battlefields of the war, the USPS chose to depict none of them other than the first major land battle. Is this an act of propaganda on the part of the current federal government or are we supposed to believe that the lack of images for Confederate successes were merely innocent omissions? If the only battle the South won was First Manassas, the war wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long as it did.
In addition to the stamps themselves the USPS offered a souvenir sheet which included a different background image for each year. Of the five background images, four depict Union units or equipment including a photo of some men of the 2nd U.S. Colored Artillery. Only one shows Confederates: the famous photograph of the three Confederate prisoners captured at Gettysburg. But does the lone Confederate image have to be that of captured prisoners? Even the stamp images of the battles of First Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Five Forks all show Northern units in the foreground with Confederates visible only in the background if at all. Eighty percent of the stamps depict Northern victories and 80% of the background images on the souvenir sheets show Northerners or Northern camps. In terms of population, the North outnumbered the South about two and a half-to-one, but certainly not four-to-one (although the white Northerners outnumbered the white Southerners nearly four-to-one).
Perhaps the worst instance of bias against the South in the USPS stamp series is not found in the imagery used but in the quotes found on one of the souvenir sheets. The 1864 sheet, with two images of black men in Union service, and no images of black men in Confederate service even though some period images exist, includes a quote from Ulysses Grant (a wartime slave owner) where he expresses approval for the use of black combat troops. Another quote on the same sheet, this time from Confederate general, Howell Cobb, expresses Cobb’s disapproval for the use of black combat troops. This almost has to be a deliberate act of propaganda perpetrated by the current federal government. Why are Grant’s opinions compared to Cobb’s and not Robert E. Lee’s or Jefferson Davis’s? Both Lee and Davis approved of the use of black combat troops and Lee pushed for emancipation as well as enlistment. Lee certainly had an influence on his fellow countrymen, far more than Major General Cobb (no offense to the gentleman from Georgia), which led the Confederate Congress to pass a bill authorizing the president to enlist as many black combat troops as he needed to successfully execute the war. If the president couldn’t get the black combat troops he needed, the bill further authorized the president to call on the states to provide their quota of 300,000 new recruits “irrespective of color.” From the beginning, the Confederacy had made extensive use of black labor troops and black civilians. The current federal government, through the USPS, is apparently trying to deceive the general public into thinking that the North approved of and made use of black men in their military while the South did not which is an utter falsehood.
The South doesn’t fare any better with the popular media put out by the private sector whether in magazine or book form. The level of Northern bias disseminated by the popular media is utterly overwhelming. Where does one begin? Instead of getting bogged down trying to sort through the shelves of illustrated books published in recent years about the war I wanted to focus on one in particular and offer a survey of it as an example. It may seem strange to take issue with a coffee-table book when there are so many biased academic works that need addressing, however, the general public may never hear about certain academic publications which are presumably written for fellow academics, whereas they are exposed to any number of popular publications. There is still quite an interest in the war and new books are sold every year. Many if not most of those books are heavily biased in favor of the North. I’m not trying to lay any special blame or censure on this particular book, it just caught my eye and it looked interesting because all of the many photographs in it have been colorized.
The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States by John C. Guntzelman with a forward by Bob Zeller, was published in 2012 by Sterling Publishing of New York. The book features a series of period photographs, mostly taken from the archives of the Library of Congress (LOC), and each has been newly colorized. It is nice to see the old photos enhanced with color because the process really brings out the various details and makes the images more life-like. I especially liked the scenery photos with the green grass and leaves.
The tone of the book seems pretty mild and pretty fair unlike the writings of many academics who exhibit an acidic hatred for all things Southern. In this book, the Confederates are called “Confederates” and not “Rebels” or “Traitors” or “white-supremacist scum” or anything else of the sort. (Abraham Lincoln’s views on the inferiority of the black race and his plans to deport all black people from the American shores are, as expected, quietly omitted from this book.) Although the book doesn’t openly bash the South like so many other works, it does slant heavily toward the North, as we will soon see. The book is really a treatment of the Northern war effort as opposed to a treatment of the overall war, which would discuss and illustrate both sides.
The book includes 169 wartime photographs spaced out over eight thematic chapters. Chapter one, “Fellow Citizens,” proves far and away the most even-handed chapter in the book with the Southern forces getting nearly as much space as the Northern forces. All of the photos are studio portraits, and they include six Union generals and one Union admiral; six Confederate generals; as well as six Union, and six Confederate portraits of uniformed men below the rank of general. The chapter also includes one portrait each of Lincoln and Davis as well as a portrait of Matthew Brady. That leaves us with thirteen Southerners and sixteen Northerners.
The coloring and enhancing of the Lincoln portrait is excellent. You could almost reach out and feel the fibers of Lincoln’s suit and run your fingers along the wrinkles of Abe’s grizzled face. The artist obviously took his time enhancing this one. The Davis portrait isn’t nearly as crisp as the Lincoln portrait but that may be due to a poorer quality resolution found on the original plate or print of Davis. Or did the artist simply not spend much time on it? To be fair, the Robert E. Lee portrait is also nicely done with the fibers of his uniform really popping out.
After chapter one, the rest of the book is all downhill in terms of representing the South, or rather, “downhill” doesn’t even describe it. It would be more accurate to say that the book takes a flying leap off of a sheer cliff. Chapter two, “Slaves, Contrabands & Freemen,” offers twelve photos with eleven of them clearly depicting black people. The remaining photo shows a man in a Union uniform sitting in front of an “Auction and Negro Sales” house in occupied Atlanta. The man is a bit too small to really identify his race. Four photos show complete Union uniforms while some of the others appear to show bits and pieces of Union uniforms, however, all of the people seen in these photos are in the service of the Union army except for one taken in June, 1865 during the enemy occupation of the South and these people may or may not be in Northern service.
From the photographic evidence presented in this chapter, the reader may conclude that most if not all black people who directly participated in the war either enlisted in or otherwise worked for Lincoln’s army. (One may get the same impression, and this is probably the deliberate intent of the publisher, when one purchases or picks up the Ken Burns musical album, Songs of the Civil War). When the extant photographic record proves absent or none existed in the first place, the text may provide information to fill in the gaps. Each chapter has accompanying text, but for this chapter it offers practically zero information about black Southerners employed by the Confederate government itself or by Confederate soldiers who brought a bodyguard to the front. The text includes a quote from an 1863 Harper’s Weekly article which talks about the 8,000 to 10,000 black teamsters employed by the Army of the Potomac but the text of this book never mentions the thousands of black teamsters engaged in Confederate service. The text does mention three slaves who had escaped to Union lines after they had worked on Confederate fortifications but this hardly tells the story and one would have to assume that the text is placed here to mislead the less informed reader. When loyal black Confederates were captured by Northerners, some went to prison camp with their white comrades even though they were offered a parole. In other cases, black Confederates managed to escape Union confinement. After the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, for example, Ulysses Grant gave paroles to the white Confederate defenders and allowed them to march out of the captured city. “The majority of those [black men] connected with our army were very desirous of leaving with their masters, and General Grant at first consented that those who desired it should leave; but as soon as a few passes were made out, he revoked the order, and compelled the balance to remain . . . Many of the negroes, who were compelled to remain in Vicksburg, when their masters in the army left, afterwards made their escape, and returned to the Confederate lines.” (A. S. Abrams, A Full and Detailed History of the Siege of Vicksburg, Intelligencer Steam Power Presses, Atlanta, GA, 1863 – Abrams was an eyewitness to the siege and surrender of Vicksburg). Why does this chapter even mention three slaves who escaped to Union lines? What is the purpose of this anecdote other than to deceive the reader, because we have firsthand accounts of loyal blacks escaping to Confederate lines too, but you will never know it from reading this book.
The chapter does mention that black Southerners working for the North deprived the Confederacy of “much needed labor,” but it leaves the hapless reader to ponder just what exactly black people did in Confederate service.
Black Southerners filled a wide variety of crucial wartime jobs working as blacksmiths, carpenters, sawyers, wheelwrights, cooks, boatmen and ambulance drivers to name a few. They built bridges and fortifications and helped keep the Confederate railroads running. It has been estimated that around half of the Confederate army nurses were black men. Many worked directly for the Corps of Engineers and some served in the capacity of what today would certainly be regarded as combat engineers risking their lives under enemy fire. Some served in direct combat roles including sharpshooters. Free black men were paid the same as white men who held the same position such as the army musicians. The chapter does mention that black men in Northern service were paid less than white men performing the same job, but fails to mention the Confederate pay scale. And why?! Why mention the racial discrepancy in the Northern military pay scale and omit the merit based color-blind pay scale of the Confederate military unless the publishers of this book simply intended to deceive the reader? Of course, pay for slaves in Confederate government service usually reverted back to the slave owner, but the Confederate government tried to use as many free blacks as they could in order to avoid hassles with the slave owners who reluctantly handed over their slaves.
On a side note, the Lincoln government did not consider the Southern states a “foreign power,” as this chapter states, nor did it recognize the existence of the Confederate States of America.
Chapter three, “Soldiers & Civilians,” by far the longest chapter in the book, contains sixty-nine newly colorized photographs. The photos show various camps, depots, forts, and steamers. Included is the famous picture of Grant leaning against a tree. Among this group, fifty-three clearly show the blue uniforms of Northern soldiers. Twelve more show civilians all employed by or assisting the Union cause including photographers, Northern newspapermen and the U.S. Christian Commission. Three photos have no people clearly visible. Two of those were taken in Petersburg, Virginia apparently after the war during occupation, while another shows a Union pontoon bridge with Union vessels in the background.
Out of sixty-nine photos, and as the longest chapter in the book, how many show Confederates? How many show the other side of the horrible conflict? Exactly one. One photo, taken inside Fort Sumter, depicts all the Confederate soldiers and civilians we’ll see for this chapter. The photo shows the seven-star Stars and Bars of the new Confederacy flying from a makeshift pole, although the people are too small to reveal much detail about them. The photo caption in this book lists the date and photographer as unknown although the LOC’s website (accessed, 3-26-2016) states that the photo was taken on April 15, 1861 by Alma A. Pelot and apparently printed or created on April 16th. Perhaps the author of our colorized book didn’t have this information while working with this particular photo.
One photo shows Lee’s famous Gettysburg headquarters house on the Chambersburg Pike although we might presume that Lee wasn’t occupying it at the time. The view shows some civilians and a badly damaged fence. An 1862 photo shows Union troopers about to cross Sudley Ford near Manassas, Virginia with four children in the foreground. The book caption states that they are local children but the LOC doesn’t specify that they are local or whether they belong to a Northern or Southern sympathizing family. The LOC doesn’t say anything about these children. The photo was taken by George Barnard, a Northern photographer.
Chapter four, “War Machines,” finds us once again with exactly one photograph of Confederates, this time taken at the water battery at Warrington, Florida. This photo gives a close-up view of the men which provides a better example of Confederate clothing and equipment than the Sumter view. The remaining twenty photographs in this chapter were all taken by Northern photographers and all show Northern people and equipment or captured Confederate military property. Included in this chapter are six Union warships – with a close-up of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren – five captured Confederate forts or guns, and one captured Confederate warship, the CSS Teaser. Surprisingly, “War Machines” doesn’t include any photos of military reconnaissance balloons although there are a number of photos of them available.
Chapter five’s aptly named, “Destruction,” gives us views of destroyed Richmond and Charleston as well as one view of the damaged buildings at Harper’s Ferry. Of the nine photos presented here no Confederate soldiers are seen in any of them although Union soldiers appear in the damaged locomotive photo taken in Richmond. A Charleston photo includes several black children sitting on the base of a massive column in front of a ruined church – these children surely are local. Our artist has painted two of their kepis blue, but what color would their kepis have been?
As one would expect, chapter six, titled “Lincoln,” also presents the reader with zero Confederate soldiers (or civilians either). Instead, we have five different colorized views of “Honest” Abe posing with a variety of boys in blue. One photo, however, does show a colorized captured Confederate battle flag – the only C.S. battle flag seen in the entire book – rudely crumpled on the ground next to the footpath of George McClellan’s tent.
The next chapter appears to make an about-face in terms of Southern representation since it includes more photographs of Confederate soldiers than it does Union soldiers and it offers far and away more views of Confederates than any other chapter in the book second only to the portraits chapter. The only problem with the Confederates in this batch of photos is that every single one of them is a corpse. “Casualties” includes fifteen different photos with nine of them specifically identified as showing one or more dead Confederates. The caption of a tenth photo, taken at Little Round Top at Gettysburg by Alexander Gardner, doesn’t specify whether the dead men are Union or Confederate soldiers, however, examining the black-and-white version reveals that the man in the foreground is clearly wearing lighter colored clothing than the men in the background. It may be safe to conclude that the closest man to the camera is a Confederate while the others are Northerners (our artist has colorized them as such) which would bring the number of “dead Confederate” photos up to ten.
Rounding out the chapter, we have, in addition to the Little Round Top photo which appears to show Union dead, two photos specifically identified as depicting dead Northern soldiers. One photo taken near Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1864, shows several bodies most of which are respectfully covered with blankets. The other photo shows uncovered Union dead at Gettysburg near McPherson’s Woods. Additionally, one photo found in the “Slaves, Contrabands & Freemen” chapter includes a well-publicized photo of a burial detail apparently made up of black men who have gathered up several skeletons left on the battlefield of Cold Harbor. Were these the bones of Union men or Confederate men or both? The book caption doesn’t specify nor does the LOC website.
One photo shows an embalmer’s shed with no people clearly visible while another gives a fairly close-up view of an embalmer working on a body but neither the book caption nor the LOC gives any clue as to whether the “patient” was a Union soldier, a Confederate soldier or a civilian. Should this photo be included in the tally of Union dead photos?
The photograph presented on page 223 deserves special attention. The caption describes the image as “Confederate and Union dead side-by-side in the trenches at Fort Mahone” which is a title found on one of the LOC webpages for this photo. The dead man in the foreground clearly wears a uniform and he has a U.S. cartridge box (or is it an artillery fuse box) slung at his side. Judging by the hair and skin tone as compared to the other man, the man in the background appears to be a black man and he wears civilian clothing but he has what appears to be a kepi touching his head. The kepi, if it is one, appears to have a braid, like that of an officer’s kepi. We know from contemporary sources, including at least one wartime sketch, that a number of black Confederates wore bits and pieces of Confederate officer’s uniforms. Our artist has given the foreground body a blue uniform and colored the background man’s kepi dark blue or possibly black. A horse stands harnessed to a wagon not far behind both men.
According to further information found at the LOC, the man in the foreground was actually a Confederate artilleryman. Two more pictures were taken of this man, from different angles and all three images were taken in stereoscopic format. The photographer has been identified as Thomas C. Roche and the LOC owns printed stereographs of all three angles which were printed in 1865 and came with captions. The caption for the stereographic image found on page 223, apparently written by Roche himself reads, “Rebel artillery soldiers, killed in the trenches of “Fort Hell,” at the storming of Petersburg, Va,. April 2nd, 1865. The one in the foreground has U.S. belts on, probably taken from a Union soldier prisoner, his uniform is grey cloth trimmed with red. This view was taken the morning after the fight.”
The other angles of the same dead man show his gunner’s haversack. Research published in 2010, and available on the LOC webpages for these stereographs, indicates that the black man in the photo in question may not have been a corpse at all but one of Roche’s assistants who posed as a dead body. The researchers apparently consider Mr. Roche a bold-faced liar. In any case, this photo has no dead Unionists, only a dead Confederate and possibly two. This leaves us with nine confirmed photos of dead Confederates with the Little Round Top photo likely bringing the total to ten as opposed to two confirmed photos of dead Unionists with the Little Round Top photo bringing that number up to three. We would probably have to forego the embalmer’s “patient” since that corpse has unknown loyalties. Was he even a corpse? Perhaps that man too was somebody’s assistant stripped down to his skivvies and posing for the camera.
The final chapter, “Conclusion,” with nine photographs, includes one photo of a Confederate: the famous post-war picture of Lee standing on the porch of the house in Richmond. Another colorized photo shows the McLean house at Appomatox Court House where Lee surrendered to Grant. Five of the photographs are directly related to the Lincoln assassination including an exterior view of Ford’s Theatre, Lincoln’s theater box, a government building decorated for mourning, the funeral procession, and Lincoln’s hearse. Another photo shows a Union victory parade in Washington City, while another captures the prelude to the flag raising ceremony at the newly re-conquered Fort Sumter.
Does this book present a fair depiction of the war? Is it representative of both sides of the conflict? Of the 169 photographs chosen for this work a whopping 25 photos show Confederates with the Little Round Top image possibly bumping the number to 26. Of the 25 (or 26) photos thirteen are studio portraits and with the exception of the post-war Lee photo that leaves us with exactly two photographs of living Confederates. Two! Thirty-six to 38.5% of all the Confederate photographs in this book show dead Confederates. A dead mutilated body is hardly a flattering image to depict a people in conflict for their very freedom. Contrastingly, of the Union photographs only 2.1 to 3.5% show dead Northerners with the high end including the unidentified skeletons and the embalmee, and with both numbers excluding the dead Confederate artilleryman and his mysterious black companion.
Of the 169 photographs, 84.6 to 85.2% depict Northern soldiers and civilians as well as Southern towns, forts and equipment after they were damaged and captured by Northerners. Only 14.8 to 15.4% show any Confederates at all. And again, more than a third of the Confederate photographs used here were taken of dead Confederates. With Mathew Brady and associates producing some 10,000 glass negatives during the war, plus other Northern photographers contributing more, it is probably undisputed that the number of Union photographs far exceeds the number of Confederate photographs and it is probably also true that the majority of the extant Confederate photos are of the portrait variety. The LOC, as well as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) hold, however, a number of Confederate photos that could have been used. There is the Silas Chandler photo showing an armed black Southerner and an armed white Southerner together. There were quite a number of photos taken by Confederates which show the interior of Fort Sumter, as well as various forts in the Charleston area. Many of these show Confederates and one even shows the photographer’s portable darkroom. The resolution on some of these photos, particularly the Sumter interiors, may not be adequate for a colorized book like this but other Confederate photos are just as clear as many of the Union photos. Two photos give nice views of Confederate artillery crews manning their stations, either of which could have been selected by the USPS or the publishers of this book. Another Charleston area photo gives a nice view of a Confederate picket post and includes eleven white men and three black men striking various leisurely poses for the camera. The LOC also has a nice photo of Union prisoners with Confederates guarding them from the parapet above. Why not show some Union prisoners?
One more photo needs mentioning. It is not found or referenced anywhere in the book but there is actually one additional Confederate photo that has been colorized and it appears on the front of the dust jacket as the top photo. The bottom photo shows a lounging George Custer and fellow officers in camp and this photo does appear again in the book. If one found the book in the library or bought the book used and it lacked the dust jacket one would never have known about the extra Confederate photo. The dust jacket gives zero information about the men in this photo as to who they are and where they were. In a corner and in tiny print it simply gives the LOC reference number. After looking the number up, one could then see that the photo shows men of Company B of the 9th Mississippi in camp at the Warrington Navy Yard in Pensacola, Florida. Jay D. Edwards took the photograph in 1861. He traveled from New Orleans to Florida with the troops and took a series of pictures many of which are still extant. Why this photo was colorized but not included in the book, considering the utter dearth of Confederate photographs, is perplexing. The writer/artist may not have had much choice because the editors and “suits” often have a lot of say as to what the final book will look like.
Aside from the one-sided illustrations, the text isn’t much help either. Each chapter is headed with a quote from Lincoln which, of course, puts Lincoln in a favorable light. One could easily select quotes from Lincoln which would accomplish the opposite such as Lincoln’s views on the inferiority of black people or selections from the speech he gave to a group of black leaders telling them that they needed to leave the country and encourage other black people to do the same. One could quote from his orders to hang thirty-nine “Indians and Half-breeds” (Lincoln’s words) – the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
The South was fighting to preserve the Constitutional republican form of government. Lincoln wasn’t really a president at all, he was a ruthless, lawbreaking dictator who had no regard for the Constitution or the rule of law.
The South was fighting to preserve the Constitutional republican form of government. Lincoln wasn’t really a president at all, he was a ruthless, lawbreaking dictator who had no regard for the Constitution or the rule of law.
The only chapter which doesn’t have a quote from Lincoln is the chapter about Lincoln and it has a quote from Grant talking about how wonderful Lincoln was. But why is there a chapter about Lincoln? Why isn’t there a chapter on Davis or perhaps a “Presidents” chapter featuring both? Why not have some quotes from Davis, who was every bit as articulate as Lincoln and is certainly quotable? Davis was a far better president who understood the Constitutional restraints on the central authority. The South was fighting to preserve the Constitutional republican form of government. Lincoln wasn’t really a president at all, he was a ruthless, lawbreaking dictator who had no regard for the Constitution or the rule of law.
There is so much bias, bigotry and hatred toward the South put out by the publishing media, Hollywood, the federal government (including the national park services), the public education system, and even the general public, that the American people – including Southerners – seemed to have grown used to it. Or at least numb to it. But it shouldn’t be this way. Not only is the collective hatred directed toward the South unfair to Southern people, it is also an anathema to the truth. Stopping lies and propaganda matters. The truth matters.
One can image how a book such as this might be perceived if the combating forces were changed. Suppose an illustrated book published in Tokyo around late 1942 or so came out with the title, “War in the Pacific” and it included the same format and similar chapter titles. The portraits chapter would remain the only even-handed chapter with 12 photos of various American, British and other Allied generals and soldiers, plus one photo of either Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt – but not both. We would also see sixteen photos of Japanese combatants including pictures of Hideki Tojo, General of the Imperial Japanese Army; Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet; along with other photos of lesser known or even obscure generals and a smattering of junior officers and enlisted men. We would also see a beautifully touched up colorized photo of Emperor Michinomiya Hirohito. Our Allied national leader would be, shall we say, not so nicely touched up. (If you don’t like the Japanese example feel free to pluck out the Emperor and replace him with the anti-gun, anti-tobacco, anti-capitalist, anti-democracy, anti-freedom of speech, anti-freedom of the press, anti-Coca-Cola, anti-human rights, pro-animal rights, vegetarian Übersocialist, Adolph Hitler.)
Chapter two would offer a dozen photos of non-Japanese Asians who ended up fighting for or working for the Japanese military in some cases against their will. (Numerous black Southerners were captured and forced against their will to serve Lincoln’s armies. Some were beaten and even shot at before they ended up in blue uniforms, and some black men were beaten and shot at by their own officers while wearing blue uniforms). At least one photo could show the non-Japanese “comfort women” used by Japanese soldiers as prostitutes, while not mentioning the unpleasant situation. (We have accounts of Union soldiers raping both black and white Southern women). Several photos could showcase the thousands of Indian men, who as POWs, defected from the British military to fight for the Japanese under the flag of the newly formed Indian National Army. The British were a bunch of racists bigots oppressing the Indian people and the Japanese were wonderful liberators, right? The Japanese didn’t hold any racist views did they? (Since racism always seems to come up as a huge issue in American history these days, Lincoln and the Northerners were also extraordinarily racist by today’s leftist standards but have gotten off scot-free thanks to a mountain of propaganda blaming all of the racism on the South). This chapter will feature zero photographs of non-Japanese Asians who assisted the Allied cause nor will the text mention that there ever were any, except for the defectors who later sided with the Japanese liberators.
Chapter three would feature sixty-nine photographs of various soldiers and civilians engaged in wartime activities. And of this batch, how many would show Allied soldiers or civilians? One. Just one. We would have exactly one photo of Americans say, in the Philippines or exactly one photo of British troops in Singapore, but not both photos, and in either case the Allied soldiers would have to be too small in the picture to make out what they really looked like. The other sixty-eight photos would show Japanese troops or the civilians working for the Japanese cause all in flattering or heroic poses.
The “War Machines” chapter would also feature exactly one photo of Allied troops and the other twenty pictures would all show Japanese troops, equipment or captured enemy materiel. We would have half a dozen photos of Japanese ships complete with crews plus a Japanese admiral in close-up. We would also see Japanese gun emplacements and strongholds as well as a captured American or British ship and five photos of captured Allied fortifications and guns taken after the fall of Singapore and the Philippines.
For the “Destruction” chapter we have many opportunities to showcase the might of the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy. This group could show the destruction of Nanking, Singapore, Manila, the British airbases in the Pacific and of course the destruction of Pearl Harbor.
The next chapter will obviously bear the title, “Hirohito,” and will include five stunning views of the great emperor surrounded by some of his best military men. There will be zero chapters dedicated to F.D.R. or Winston Churchill nor will there be any more photos of an Allied national leader other than the single photo found in the portraits chapter.
The next chapter, “Casualties,” will feature a more than generous portion of photos dedicated to Allied troops. Out of fifteen photos, we will see nine pictures of dead mangled American, British and other Allied troops lying on the battlefields. Another photo will show a mix of Allied and Japanese deceased troops, while two more will show just Japanese dead, with one photo featuring the heroes respectfully covered before the photo was taken. A different photo will show a Japanese doctor preparing a dead hero for burial, while another one shows the cemetery where the imperial heroes will meet their final resting place.
The “Conclusion” chapter will display nine photos with five of them dedicated exclusively to the Emperor. This chapter will also include exactly one photograph of an Allied combatant and we will have to choose carefully. It would be tempting to depict Lieutenant General Arthur Percival who on February 15, 1942, gave us a spectacular surrender of some 80,000 British and Commonwealth troops in Singapore. Altogether, about 130,000 British and Allied troops surrendered over the course of the 70-day Malay Campaign. But perhaps it would be even more fitting to show a picture of Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur taken just after his ignominious personal retreat from the Philippines where he left his men behind. We’ll need three victory celebration photos, perhaps one taken in Manchuria, but certainly one flag raising ceremony in Singapore. And to top it all off, we’ll have one photo celebrating April 9th – a spectacular day in history! – where some 11,000 American and 66,000 Filipino troops surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army. We’ll see Imperial heroes hoisting the Rising Sun over the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines, thus kicking off the famous Bataan Death March (but we’d better not mention the Death March).
Let’s not forget that each chapter will begin with a wonderful quote from Emperor Hirohito, with the exception of the “Hirohito” chapter which will feature a quote from General Tojo praising the Emperor. Eighty-five percent of the photos in the book will show the Japanese in a mostly positive and heroic light while only 15% will show Allied personnel with more than a third of that number depicting Allied troops in a negative light, i.e., dead. In spite of the chapters showing the property destruction and the dead Allied bodies, nowhere in this book would the text mention the numerous war crimes committed by the Japanese. (Just as Lincoln and his infamous generals are routinely given a free pass for their atrocities). Would most people consider a book of this type a fair depiction of the War in the Pacific, at least up to 1942 or early 1943? Or would they see it as pure propaganda?
During a war, combating nations usually put out disparaging and dehumanizing propaganda about the enemy. During World War Two, the U.S. government, with the assistance of Hollywood, put out plenty of anti-German and anti-Japanese propaganda to bolster American popular support for the war effort. While today’s popular media still routinely puts out anti-German pieces covering World War Two, although for somewhat different reasons than the actual wartime propaganda, it has grown rather soft on anti-Japanese works, probably due to the fear of the ubiquitous charge of racism. In today’s sociopolitical climate, it is risky to depict non-white people in an unfavorable light no matter what atrocities they may have committed in real life.
But the question remains: why does the American popular media, the American public education system at all levels, and the U.S. federal government still put out anti-Southern propaganda when we are more than a century and a half removed from the 1861-1865 conflict? Is the truth too dangerous, even now? Why are they still bolstering Lincoln’s grossly undeserved glowing reputation? Why are Northern atrocities committed with the knowledge and blessings of Northern military and political authorities at the highest level – including rape, arson, torture, murder, theft on a massive scale, and the use of POWs and civilians as human shields – covered up or ignored? Why are Lincoln’s shocking Constitutional violations, including his widespread and egregious assault on the entire Bill of Rights ignored? Why is Lincoln’s assault on republicanism itself – the Constitution guarantees each state a republican form of government – ignored? Why are the words and actions of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis ignored? Why are the incredible accomplishments, heroics, bravery, and tenacity of the Southern people who faced overwhelming odds ignored? Why are loyal black Confederates, many of whom were wounded, imprisoned, or killed while serving their country, swept under the rug and ignored? Many people claim that the war was fought over slavery and yet we know from the slave narratives and plenty of other sources that real slavery – unpaid forced labor inflicted upon poor blacks, whites and others – would continue in the United States well into the twentieth century in both the industrial and agricultural sectors. Why is post-bellum slavery ignored? And why is the very heart of the conflict, the very reason the war was fought – the preservation of the Constitutional republican form of government – ignored?
Why are people still lying about this war?
The answers to those questions are beyond what this article can cover, but perhaps we can offer a couple of short answers. For one thing, the people working for the massive federal bureaucracy today are the direct beneficiaries of Lincoln’s unconstitutional centralization of governmental power and his war on the union of states – the very federal system of government that the Founders had created – which reduced both the states and the Constitution to near irrelevancy. When people’s livelihoods depend upon violating the Constitution one couldn’t expect them to be great defenders of the Constitution and they would also want to cover up the history of the destruction of the Constitution with propaganda.
An additional short answer is that the popular media, the educational system, and the government are all dominated and controlled by liberals, and liberals push their racial liberal narrative. That narrative states that white conservatives are inhuman bad guys, white liberals are heroic white-knighting good guys, and black people (and all other people of color) are eternal victims who must be rescued by the heroic white liberal. Since white liberals can do no wrong, and white conservatives can do no right, history must be rewritten to reflect that narrative. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says because the Constitution, the rule of law, and the original founding of the United States are all irrelevant to the liberal narrative. Of course, white conservatives and white liberals can be repainted to fit the liberal narrative but black conservatives, including black Confederates, don’t fit that narrative at all and must be completely erased from history – they can’t even be airbrushed to fit the liberal narrative’s victim mold.
Thanks to Abraham Lincoln, we lost our Constitution and our republic. Thanks to the liberal agenda, we’ve not only lost the black Confederate, we’ve also lost the truth.
Or so the Left wants us to believe
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