BY: Jack Weatherly | MBJ
Who better to comment on the issue than Shelby Foote, native of Greenville and longtime resident of Memphis, who wrote the acclaimed, 1.5-million-word “The Civil War: A Narrative.”
“Believe me, no soldiers on either side gave a damn about the slaves,” Foote said in a videotaped interview evidently conducted as a lead-up to the 2001 referendum in Mississippi.“They were fighting for other reasons entirely, in their minds. Southerners thought they were fighting for the second American Revolution. Northerners thought they were fighting to hold the Union together.”
Foote, who died in 2005, internalized the conflict over the flag. He said that the war produced two geniuses: Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.
“The flag that people look at now is the flag that was carried during the demonstrations against civil rights. It was carried by Klansmen . . . . And that’s what it represents to a great many people. And I don’t wonder that they’re feeling pain and wanting to take it down. I understand perfectly well . . . .
“But to me they’re misidentifying that flag. That flag means many good things. And you have to translate yourself back into the time of the Secession.”
So, yes, I see the flag as meaning some “good things.”
Some have said that it needs to be relegated to museums.
As for me, I plan to buy a small Confederate flag and place it below my great-grandfather’s photograph, which I have hung in my study.
It is part of my heritage.