After reading Mr. Neal Watts’ views in The Advocate on July 13 and considering his question, I felt compelled to answer: “…[I]f you woke up tomorrow and found that it was … 1861, would you actually choose to fight for the Confederates?”
It’s 1861, and I was born and reared in south Louisiana. I am a Methodist growing up in a predominantly Catholic area. My neighborhood is mostly second-generation Italians and free people of color. Children of these people are my friends and playmates. I’ve been taught to love my God, my country and my neighbor. My ancestors fought in the American Revolution: “Yankees” (Pennsylvanians, first and second generations), some from Chicago.
I am a Southerner (yes, capital S): I say y’all, not you all; I eat brown roux gravy, not red-eye or white gravy; I feel pride when I see the Stars and Bars (March 1861) because it’s not about slavery or racism; it’s about a way of life — slow, easy living; fanning one’s self in the shade of a majestic oak; drinking iced tea; visiting on the front porch; knowing Sundays are for church and family; and cooking enough to allow one or two others to sit at our table any day of the week.
Confederates fought a war that politicians created, but Johnny Reb (the farmer, the smithy, the carpenter) fought to honor his homeland — the South — and because he was Southern.
Louisiana had one of the largest free black populations in the United States, many of whom owned slaves.
No one from Louisiana serving the Confederacy can be called “traitor” (Mr. Watts’ word) because Louisiana seceded from the Union when Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. Eleven states seceded; four others, after the firing on Fort Sumter (April 12, 1861). The Union refused a peaceful separation of the South under President Jefferson Davis; therefore, war ensued.
The Union army did more than “spank our racist bottoms,” as Mr. Watts wrote. They plundered and razed homes of women and children, who often were left defenseless; they torched the fields of cotton and sugar cane. They were no saints coming to save the poor sinners.
If it were 1861, would I “… choose to fight for the Confederates?” Unequivocally, YES, without hesitation!
Would you, Mr. Watts, have run to the north to fight against your father, brother, cousins, uncles and maybe mother, sisters and aunts? It would take a strong person, not only in convictions but in mentality, to turn away from his homeland. If you had done so, you would have been called “traitor.”
Diane T. Martin
retired English teacher