Pine Log and White

More local exploration:

Google Maps.

The Rydal post office is located at the intersection of GA-140 and US-411 in northeastern Bartow County, thus is everyone in the surrounding area denoted as living in “Rydal.” But the community to the northwest of the intersection is generally known to the locals as Pine Log, and the red star on the map indicates the location of Pine Log Methodist Church

Here is how the church appears as you cross under the railroad tracks. It gets its own historical marker, which states:

Historic Pine Log Methodist church, cemetery, tabernacle, and camp grounds, established in 1834. The oldest church in continuous use in Cass/Bartow County. This Church area is on the national register for historic district.

Another marker elaborates:

The church, built 1842; campground and tabernacle, 1888; and cemetery, begun in 1850, were listed in the National Register of Historic Places September 9, 1988. The Methodist organization was founded on this site by Stephen Elliot about 1834 in a community of recent settlers from Eastern Georgia and Pendleton District, S.C. The original meeting house was a log structure which doubled as a school. Many descendants of the first members still attend services here. Camp meetings are held for one week each August.

The size of the cemetery indicates that Pine Log Methodist has indeed been around for some time. And yes, there is a large “tabernacle” (i.e. a roofed but otherwise open building for preaching) behind the church, surrounded by a number of cabins.

I have never seen such a thing on a church grounds. Dr. Wheeler explains:

In the nineteenth century people pitched tents, but over time, families built the cabins, which they stay in during revival week. Holcomb Campground in eastern Cherokee County is this way, too. Basically a holdover from a time before people went on vacations.

Interesting stuff!

If you travel south of Pine Log on Olive Vine Road, you come to Olive Vine Baptist Church, marked with a blue star on the map. It too merits a historic marker. 

This historic church was founded for the glory of God and the furthering of the gospel on Oct 31, 1880 on land donated by Rev. Henry Green Berry Turner. In the original deed, Rev. Turner, who pastored the church for many years, stipulated that “two or more of the said members shall keep up the ordinance and the example of feet washing that belong to the house of God as described in the articles of faith and covenants entered into which the said church was organized.”

Over the years, the white wooden building has remained unchanged externally. The rafters are the original hewn logs.

According to church records, Rev. H.G.B. Turner preached in this building as late as May 7, 1921 when he was in his mid-80s. He died at his home on Feb. 15, 1923. His funeral was conducted in this church on Feb 19, 1923. At his request, he was given a Masonic burial on these grounds.

This Mr. Turner seems quite the fellow. I’m glad that Primitive Baptists were allowed to join the Freemasons. His own grave merits another historic marker, which reads in part:

Rev. Henry Green Berry Turner was born Jan. 5, 1836 near Spartanburg, South Carolina and moved to Cherokee County, Georgia with his father when he was 10 years old.

At age 35, he was ordained a minister of the gospel, and for more than 50 years served as pastor of from two to four churches. He was commissioned as tax receiver in neighboring Pickens County, Georgia on Jan. 18, 1873. He moved to Bartow County and settled in Pine Log in 1876.

He was a founder of Olive Vine Baptist Church in 1880 and was an influential minister here for many years. He was known as a strict disciplinarian….

Rev. Turner died on Feb. 15, 1923 at age 87. According to his obituary printed in both the Bartow Tribune and the Cherokee Tribune, “too much could not be said about the great work that he accomplished while working among the people of Bartow County.” In his eulogy, Rev. H.H. Popham said that “the life of Mr. Turner has been one well spent and worthy of emulation by everyone; a life that was full of good works, and about which there were no regrets.”

He certainly left a large brood (twelve children, according to the sign), whose descendants regularly gather at Olive Vine Church for family reunions. 

A little further to the south, on Old Tennessee Road, is Vaughan Cemetery, which is marked with an orange star on the map.

The cemetery does not seem to have been associated with a church, but was simply the Vaughan family plot – if the names on many of the headstones are any indication.

As you can see, some of the Vaughans fought for the Confederacy, hence the government-issued grave marker of the sort noticed at Silverdale

Then, further to the south, one encounters the embarrassingly-named City of White. It too has a post office, so many people in the area, beyond the city itself, are designated as living in White. As one of those people, I have had to endure innumerable jibes over the years suggesting that my town is racist. 

But it’s really just named after its first postmaster, James Alexander White, who was exercising this function by 1890 and whose portrait used to hang in the White post office. (I took this photo a few years ago with my first digital camera, which wasn’t very good and which I didn’t quite know how to use, thus the poor quality of the image.)

According to the Etowah Valley Historical Society, mining operations to the south at Aubrey (manganese and iron ore) plus the completion of the Etowah Cartersville New Line Railroad in 1906 allowed the place to thrive. It was incorporated in 1919, with one Dr. W.B. Vaughan appointed mayor by the Georgia General Assembly (surprisingly, he does not seem to be buried in the Vaughan Cemetery, unless he is William J. “Guinea Will” Vaughan, 1863-1928). Not long afterwards, in 1925, a fire broke out in Harry Woodall’s store, which quickly spread and destroyed most of the business district. But White rebuilt, and this is reflected in the city emblem.

Note the town on fire on one side, the resurrected town on the other (complete with power lines and part of an automobile!), all under a symbolic phoenix rising from the ashes. Plus two rolls of toilet paper. 

But equally destructive was the Great Depression and the closing of the mines at Aubrey. The construction of US-411 in the 1930s caused the business district to shift from the west side of the tracks (where it used to line Old Tennessee Rd.) to the east side, but the construction of I-75 in 1977 means that the major north-south traffic artery now bypasses White entirely. 

Yet the city abides. It is currently the home of White Elementary School, Cass High School, J’s Simply Soul, Wes-Man’s (both of which I recommend), several churches, the Toyo Tire factory, the North Georgia Mercantile, and Old Car City. Of course, as with many small towns, the police can be somewhat corrupt on occasion, but that problem seems to have been put behind us for now.

Silverdale Confederate Cemetery

Stopped by the Silverdale Confederate Cemetery yesterday afternoon. You can find the entrance between White Lightning Harley-Davidson and WoodSpring Suites on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

A nearby Tennessee Historical Commission marker explains:

Here are buried 155 soldiers of the Army of Tennessee who died in hospitals during the mobilization for Bragg’s Kentucky campaign of Sept. – Oct. 1862. Their graves, formerly distinguished by wooden markers giving name, rank and organization, are now unidentified.

Plaques on the interior of the arch elaborate (in slightly odd English):

General Braxton Bragg mobilizing his army during summer of 1862 for his Kentucky Campaign, culminating the Battle of Perryville Oct. 8, 1862 camped a part of his army in this vicinity. Hospitals were located near by. Great number of his soldiers were sick and many died. About 155 were buried here, their names and commands marked on wooden boards that decayed. No records was kept and this grave yard neglected.

It’s a shame that this should have happened, although I suppose people had higher priorities at the time (i.e. survival). Subsequently:

During the late [eighteen-]nineties this cemetery was discovered by Capt. J.F. Shipp and it’s history disclosed. It’s condition reported to the N.B. Forrest Camp U.C.V., the ground purchased and substantial wire fence enclosure was erected by camp comrade J.W. Willingham, chairman during 1926-27. The following committee was appointed by the camp. Solicited and received contributions from generous citizens of Chattanooga, and a permanent rock wall was erected around the premises. 

A view of said wall as you approach.

The main gate…

…which is adorned with the seal of the Confederate States of America, featuring George Washington, that Southern planter, slaveholder, and leader of a previously successful secessionist revolt. 

The main memorial.

Some soldiers have been identified and listed.

A few others have their own gravestones. Note that while Confederate veterans were not declared U.S. veterans (contrary to a popular belief), Confederate veterans are entitled to a grave marker courtesy of the U.S. government, thus does this one match the standard font and layout, but is decorated with a CSA emblem

The flag flying in the cemetery is one that you don’t see much. Usually when the stars and bars is flown, it’s the original seven-star variant. This one, however, shows thirteen stars, for the number of states claimed by the Confederacy by 1862. (Plus, Tennessee wasn’t one of the original seven states of the CSA, so it makes sense that this one should fly here.)

Otherwise, the cemetery is largely devoid of monuments…

…except for this one, for something I had never heard of before. The text reads:

The Order of the Southern Cross was founded at Gray’s Mill on August 28, 1863, following initial meetings at Tyner’s Station, to foster Brotherhood and Patriotic Sentiment within the Confederate Army of Tennessee. As part of this aim, a charity fund to aid soldiers’ widows and orphans was established. The principal founders included Maj. General Patrick Cleburn, Lt. General Leonidas Polk and Chaplain Charles Quintard. Today the OSC continues to preserve Southern Heritage through financial grants for historical and educational projects. This monument was dedicated in 2014 in honor of the 150th anniversary of its founding.

Note the appearance of Polk’s flag on the OSC emblem. The cemetery is not maintained by the OSC, though, but by the Chattanooga Area Relic and Historical Association, and kudos to them for doing so. (I should think that Confederate cemeteries ought to remain uncontroversial.) 

The references to Braxton Bragg bring to mind the controversy over renaming Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division. According to Wikipedia, Bragg:

is generally considered among the worst generals of the Civil War. Most of the battles in which he engaged ended in defeat. Bragg was extremely unpopular with both the men and the officers of his command, who criticized him for numerous perceived faults, including poor battlefield strategy, a quick temper, and overzealous discipline. 

It sounds to me as if support for renaming Fort Bragg should be very widespread indeed, even among those who are inclined to think well of the Confederacy!

Kingston

Kingston, Georgia, is a city of some 600 souls found between Cartersville and Rome. Its name does not reflect any residual American loyalism on the part of its founders, but is a memorial to John Pendleton King, U.S. Senator from Georgia (1833-37). Its incorporation in 1850 suggests that its existence and location are on account of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which had recently opened for business and which still runs through the center of town. 

One cannot mention the Western & Atlantic without mentioning the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862, a famous and exciting episode in the Civil War (although one of little strategic or tactical consequence). According to a historical marker, Andrews’ Raiders:

were forced to side-track here & wait for S. bound freights. After long delay, the “GENERAL” continued N..

Pursuing from Big Shanty, Capt. W. A. Fuller (Conductor), Jeff Cain (Engineer), & Anthony Murphy, — using a push-car — reached the Etowah, where the engine “YONAH” brought them to Kingston; pursuit was resumed on the Rome R. R. locomotive “Wm. R. SMITH.”

The next stop on the Chase was Adairsville, which also revels in this history

Kingston is significant to the Civil War in other ways. Like Cassville, it was the site of a Confederate hospital. The Kingston Wayside Home, according to a marker, was established in August 1861 by the Soldiers’ Aid Society, and treated over 10,000 sick and wounded soldiers over the next three years. Some 250 of these men “known but to God” who succumbed to wounds sustained at “Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and in the Dalton-Kingston Campaign” are buried in a plot in the Kingston Cemetery. The obelisk was put up by the Ladies’ Memorial Association in 1874 and restored by “SCS Camp GA-13” in 1937 (note that it appears on the town seal under the label “Heritage”). 

Plenty of other historical markers throughout Kingston record other events in the Civil War, including the operation of the Kingston saltpeter mine (whose product was used to make gunpowder), the arrival of Federal troops under William T. Sherman and James B. McPherson on May 18, 1864, the fact that Hargris House on Main St. served as Sherman’s headquarters May 19-23, 1864, and that Sherman received orders at Kingston to begin his March to the Sea on November 7, 1864. Then on May 12, 1865 at Kingston (i.e. over a month after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox), Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford, CSA, headquartered at the McCravey-Johnson residence on Church St., negotiated the surrender of some 3000 Confederate troops to Brig. Gen. Henry M. Judah, USA. But not before the establishment of the first Confederate Memorial Day, which Kingston is proud to claim:

(I would not be averse to revising that last clause….)

Finally, there is Queen Chapel, located on the south side of Kingston. It is billed as an Independent Methodist church, but it seems that at one point it was an African Methodist Episcopal church. Note the deleted letters in these two plaques:

I would be curious to know what the story is here.

The church cemetery boasts the grave of Melvinia Shields, who was born into slavery in Clayton County, Ga. in 1844 and whose three-greats granddaughter is former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Flag of Mississippi

News of the Times: Mississippi’s Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann says: 

I, like the majority of Mississippians, am open to changing our current flag.

In my mind, our flag should bear the Seal of the Great State of Mississippi and state “In God We Trust.”  I am open to bringing all citizens together to determine a banner for our future.

An illustration accompanying the article shows what such a flag might look like:

Mississippi Business Journal.

But we feel compelled to state that this is not a good design! A seal does not make for a good flag. This isn’t quite a SOAB (“seal on a bedsheet”), as so many state flags are – Mr. Hosemann has retained the tricolor background of the current Mississippi flag (although note that Missouri also has such a flag). But a seal is detailed and intricate and belongs on official documents or on the wall behind the governor as he takes questions from reporters, not on a flag, which should be “so simple that a child can draw it from memory.” On that front, the Stennis flag has this flag beaten hands down.

Wikipedia.

Apparently the Stennis Flag now has an official status as Mississippi’s “hospitality flag,” and you can get it on a license plate. I reckon that it’s only a matter of time before it becomes Mississippi’s official state flag.

Wikipedia.

I still prefer the Magnolia flag as a design, although it’s probably too Confederate for current taste. It is a version of Mississippi’s secession flag, and was used by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the nineteenth century. (Georgia might have been able to adopt a version of the first national flag of the CSA in 2003, but I doubt that such a thing could happen today.) 

Wikipedia.

It’s a shame that this flag lost a referendum in 2001. It retains the horizontal tricolor of the current flag, but eliminates the Confederate battle flag on the canton for an array of twenty stars (the large central one for Mississippi, the other nineteen for previously admitted states to the Union, as in the Stennis flag). 

Cooper’s Furnace

A followup to a recent post. I went for a walk yesterday at the Pine Mountain Recreation Area and ended up at the Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area, which is on the Etowah River and just beneath the dam that creates Lake Allatoona. It is the former site of the town of Etowah – the main memento of which is Cooper’s Furnace. 

As I mentioned, it is the best preserved of the local iron furnaces – and also the largest. I wonder just how much restoration work was required to get it into its current shape. (I doubt that Sherman would have left it in such good condition.)

One is not supposed to, but I crossed the fence and took this photo through the iron grate closing off access to the interior of the structure. The chimney seems remarkably well preserved (and/or reconstructed: it appears that a hole has been filled in). 

Here is a sign explaining how it all works. Note the need for limestone flux to draw out impurities from the iron ore. 

And here is a Georgia Historical Commission sign in honor of the man behind it all

One cannot talk about Cooper’s Furnace without acknowledging the role it played in the Great Locomotive Chase. A spur connected it with the Western & Atlantic Railroad, and the Yonah, a train engine which worked this spur, was commandeered to chase Andrews’ Raiders, who had stolen the General

But don’t look for it now, for it is gone with the wind. Damned Yankees!

Gen. William Mahone

From Huffpost (hat tip: Kate McGrath):

The Confederate General Who Was Erased

There’s a reason you won’t find many monuments in the South to one of Robert E. Lee’s most able deputies.
 

Some years ago, I went to a conference in Charleston. During a free moment, I strolled down to an old marketplace where I browsed the shops — all of which, it seemed, specialized in Confederate memorabilia. In search of a small gift for my son, I wandered among stacks of toy rifles, piles of Confederate belt buckles, and displays of battle flag bumper-stickers. At some point my eye caught a large framed lithograph of Robert E. Lee and the officers of the Army of Northern Virginia entitled “Lee and His Generals.” Inspecting it, I saw that something — or rather, someone — was missing. I was looking for a tiny, bearded, Major General, a divisional commander who was with Lee at Appomattox and who shared in the decision to surrender that April day in 1865. I was looking for General William Mahone of Virginia, and I did not find him because he was not there.

A native Virginian, a railroad magnate, a slaveholder, and an ardent secessionist, Mahone served in the Confederate army throughout the war. He was one of the Army of Northern Virginia’s most able commanders, distinguishing himself particularly in the summer of 1864 at the Battle of the Crater outside Petersburg. After the war, Robert E. Lee recalled that, when contemplating a successor, he thought that Mahone “had developed the highest qualities for organization and command.”

How did such a high-ranking Confederate commander wind up missing in action in a Charleston gift shop? Not, I think, by accident.

By now, Americans interested in the Confederate monument removal project have had it drilled into them that the monuments were erected decades after the end of the Civil War as testimonies to white supremacy in all its various manifestations: segregation, disenfranchisement, lynching, peonage, and second-class citizenship across the board. But the monuments were not merely commemorative. They were designed to conceal a past that their designers wanted to suppress. That past was the period after Reconstruction and before Jim Crow, years in which African Americans in the former Confederacy exercised political power, ran for public office, published newspapers, marched as militias, ran businesses, organized voluntary associations, built schools and churches: a time, in other words, when they participated as full members of society.

General William Mahone has not been forgotten entirely. Rather, he has been selectively remembered. There is a Mahone Monument, for example, erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy, at the Crater Battlefield in Petersburg, and Civil War scholars have treated Mahone’s military career with respect.  There is an able biography. The problems posed by William Mahone for many Virginians in the past — and what makes it worthwhile for us to think about him in the present — lie in his postwar career.

Senator William Mahone was one of the most maligned political leaders in post-Civil War America. He was also one of the most capable. Compared to the Roman traitor Cataline (by Virginia Democrats), to Moses (by African American congressman John Mercer Langston), and to Napoleon (by himself), Mahone organized and led the most successful interracial political alliance in the post-emancipation South. Mahone’s Readjuster Party, an independent coalition of black and white Republicans and white Democrats that was named for its policy of downwardly “readjusting” Virginia’s state debt, governed the state from 1879 to 1883.

Read the whole thing

Rome

Yesterday we enjoyed some local tourism with a visit to nearby Rome, Georgia. 

For the first time ever we went to see Rome’s characteristic building: The Clock Tower, which crowns Neely Hill, one of Rome’s Seven Hills, and which is reproduced on the city’s flag, the city’s logo, and this storm drain cover:

Actually, I think that custom cast-iron drain covers are an under-appreciated medium, and I’m pleased to discover, after a little Internet searching, that there exist fans of them.  

I’m edified to see that Rome’s Capitoline Wolf still stands outside the courthouse. That it was a gift of Benito Mussolini does not seem to bother people.

“To Robert Battey master surgeon and illustrious pioneer in medicine by the people of Georgia and others who know his worth.”

Also in front of the courthouse, a monument to Robert Battey, M.D. Wikipedia says:

After the Confederate surrender in April 1865, Battey resumed his practice in Rome, Georgia. His field of study was gynecology, and he became well known for a procedure he pioneered to remove a woman’s ovaries. Initially referred to as ovariotomy, and named “Battey’s Operation” in his honor, it is what today is termed a radical oophorectomy. He performed the first successful oophorectomy in May 1869 when he successfully removed a large dermoid cyst from a physician’s wife. On August 27, 1872 he performed his first ‘normal’ oophorectomy. The patient, Julie Omberg, had diseased ovaries and lived to be 80 years old. There was a lynch mob waiting for Dr. Battey if he failed the operation.

I think that a [citation needed] note ought to follow that final sentence…

Nearby, a monument to Admiral John Henry Towers, who was born and raised in Rome. Wikipedia:

Towers was a United States Navy admiral and pioneer naval aviator. He made important contributions to the technical and organizational development of naval aviation from its beginnings, eventually serving as Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics (1939–1942). He commanded carrier task forces during World War II, and retired in December 1947…. He was the first naval aviator to achieve flag rank and was the most senior advocate for naval aviation during a time when the Navy was dominated by battleship admirals. 

Further along on Broad Street: a monument to Von Albade Gammon and his mother Rosalind Burns Gammon. The plaques speak for themselves:

This is an interesting situation, which was echoed a few years later on a national level during the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt. From a History Channel article on the subject:

At the turn of the 20th century, America’s football gridirons were killing fields. The college game drew tens of thousands of spectators and rivaled professional baseball in fan appeal, but football in the early 1900s was lethally brutal—a grinding, bruising sport in which the forward pass was illegal and brute strength was required to move the ball. Players locked arms in mass formations and used their helmetless heads as battering rams. Gang tackles routinely buried ball carriers underneath a ton and a half of tangled humanity.

With little protective equipment, players sustained gruesome injuries—wrenched spinal cords, crushed skulls and broken ribs that pierced their hearts. The Chicago Tribune reported that in 1904 alone, there were 18 football deaths and 159 serious injuries, mostly among prep school players. Obituaries of young pigskin players ran on a nearly weekly basis during the football season. The carnage appalled America. Newspaper editorials called on colleges and high schools to banish football outright. “The once athletic sport has degenerated into a contest that for brutality is little better than the gladiatorial combats in the arena in ancient Rome,” opined the Beaumont Express. The sport reached such a crisis that one of its biggest boosters—President Theodore Roosevelt—got involved.

Although his nearsightedness kept him off the Harvard varsity squad, Roosevelt was a vocal exponent of football’s contribution to the “strenuous life,” both on and off the field. As New York City police commissioner, he helped revive the annual Harvard-Yale football series after it had been canceled for two years following the violent 1894 clash that was deemed “the bloodbath at Hampden Park.” His belief that the football field was a proving ground for the battlefield was validated by the performance of his fellow Rough Riders who were former football standouts. “In life, as in a football game,” he wrote, “the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!” In 1903, the president told an audience, “I believe in rough games and in rough, manly sports. I do not feel any particular sympathy for the person who gets battered about a good deal so long as it is not fatal.”

Of course, it was fatal, and Roosevelt himself supported rule changes that eliminated mass formations and legalized the forward pass, which was introduced in 1906. But he was absolutely determined that football should not be played “on too ladylike a basis,” given that colleges should turn out “vigorous men” and not “mollycoddles,” because “the weakling and the coward are out of place in a strong and free community” (see Kevin Murphy’s Political Manhood for more). 

I can’t imagine even Trump saying such things…

But the controversy lives on, in its way. Perhaps you have heard of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, that is, brain damage sustained by professional football players over the course of their careers, and which has led to calls for football to be banned, or radically changed. So far no one, to my knowledge, has stood up for “manliness” and “vigor” as positive virtues that football might instill. Instead, people try to question the very existence of CTE (a physician I know claims that it is a “lawyer’s disease”). I spotted Brainwashed in a bookstore later in the day. 

Rome’s Myrtle Hill Cemetery, as you might expect, features a prominent Confederate memorial, erected by the N.B. Forrest Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, in honor of their namesake.

I thought that Forrest had more of a connection with Tennessee but he saw action in north Georgia as well. From the plinth:

On Sunday, May 3rd, 1863, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, by his indomitable will, after a running fight of three days and nights, with 410 men, captured Col. A.D. Streight’s raiders, numbering 1600, thereby saving Rome from destruction.

A nearby historical marker elaborates:

GEORGIA’S PAUL REVERE

Along this road John H. Wisdom rode from Gadsden, Ala. to warn that a Federal force of over 2,00 men was approaching Rome to occupy the town, destroy foundries making ammunition for the Confederates and to cut Confederate communications (May 2, 1863).

On Wisdom’s arrival in Rome the bridge over the Oostanaula river was fortified and made ready for burning as a last resort. Widsom’s warning and the plans for defense played a big part in the surrender of Col. Streight with 1,500 men to Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest with only 425 men.

People always claim that Forrest was a “brilliant general,” but will this monument survive his connection to Fort Pillow and the Ku Klux Klan

Either way, it would be good to put up a monument to Bud Rufus somewhere in Myrtle Hill. 

Parallel to the Forrest monument is another monument, this one to the Women of the Confederacy, with the twin sculptures “News from the Front” and “An Angel of Mercy,” along with the usual doggerel.

Around the corner, the graves of some 368 Civil War soldiers. 

Cannabis in Canada (and the Confederacy)

Wikipedia

Earlier on this blog I suggested that a slight change in the lyrics to “O Canada” might end up being Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most lasting legacy. I had forgotten about the legalization of cannabis use, which is likely to be of much greater importance. As of October of last year, the recreational consumption of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been legalized – not just decriminalized, but legalized. Thus an entire above-board industry has sprung up, which includes trade journals like TheGrowthOp.com (get it?). This journal, run by Postmedia, recently published a story of local historical significance, which I excerpt:

Did the South lose the Civil War because they were too high?

Union general Ulysses S. Grant famously fought the civil war in an alcoholic haze.

The North is believed to have won battles for the singular reason that, unlike the blockaded South, they could get their troops absolutely blasted on coffee.

The war also left an estimated 400,000 injured soldiers addicted to morphine. One of them, John Pemberton, would later try to kick smack by inventing a cocaine-laced tonic named Coca-Cola.

But amid the drifting musket smoke of the War Between the States, there is evidence that at least a few of the blue and the gray may have been high on cannabis.

The evidence is a series of 1860s American newspaper advertisements for “Hasheesh Candy.” “A pleasurable and harmless stimulant,” read one 1862 ad in Vanity Fair.

One particularly long-winded advertisement in the Good Samaritan and Daily Physician touted hasheesh candy as a cure-all beloved by both sides of the bloody conflict.

The company claimed they had received a letter from Ulysses Grant praising hasheesh candy as “of great value for the wounded and feeble.”

Grant’s Confederate rival, Robert E. Lee, even praised hash as a strategic advantage. “I wish it was in my power to place a Dollar Box of the HASHEESH CANDY in the pocket of every Confederate Soldier, because I am convinced that it speedily relieves Debility, Fatigue and Suffering,” he allegedly wrote.

There were no advertising standards councils in the 1860s, so these quotes should be accepted with a hefty dose of skepticism. For one thing, they appear in no official biographies of either Lee or Grant.

And, with a civil war to fight, it seems unlikely that either general had time to be sending fan mail to an obscure candy drug company.

But hasheesh candy was just one of a handful of patent medicines from the era boasting about the benefits of “extract of cannabis indica.” A product called James’ Extract of Cannabis Indica claimed to purify “all the fluids of the human system.”

Meanwhile, it’s entirely likely that some raw cannabis was getting into military ranks, particularly in the Confederacy. The South was the only side of the warring states that shared a border with Mexico, where “marihuana” was already being rolled into cigarettes.

A century later, cannabis would emerge as a much more influential factor in the Vietnam War. According to a 1971 U.S. Department of Defense report, more than half of the Vietnam-era U.S. military had used marijuana.

A major difference in the 1860s is that nobody would have seen cannabis as a bad thing. The United States of 1860s at the time had some incredibly suffocating social strictures by the standards of today. But when it came to drugs and privately owned weapons almost everything was fair game.

There’s a bit more at the link, although the headline is as stupidly sensational as the “Native Genocide caused the Little Ice Age!” story noted below. I doubt that some drugstore elixir had much effect on the outcome of the Civil War one way or the other. Still, it’s interesting to note just how far back the use of these drugs goes.

My Canadian contacts inform me that not much has changed in the country, which I suppose is understandable. A lot of people smoked pot when it wasn’t legal; now that it is they are simply continuing their habits. But since smoking anything in public is pretty much banned, non-users do not have to endure the smell of pot smoke as they walk down the street. And I should think that the vast majority of people who did not smoke pot before did so for other reasons than the drug’s lack of legality, and there has been no great stampede of people anxious to try it out. 

I feel compelled to state that I am much more chary of marijuana than its fans are. No, it doesn’t make you violent like booze can, but it seems to me that smoking pot messes with your brain in a way that alcohol doesn’t. There’s the whole connection to schizophrenia thing, and the fact that the daily smokers I’ve known generally appear humorless and not very bright – like they’ve lost the spark of life. Don’t do it – or if you simply must, “please smoke responsibly.”

Symbolism

Two recent news items.

Wikipedia.

1. From Huffpost Canada:

Canada’s Coat Of Arms Needs Redesign To Include Indigenous Peoples: Petition

Randolph Shrofel, a retired educator from Manitoba, says it’s “just one more piece of the puzzle.”

TORONTO — Randolph Shrofel isn’t exactly sure where he was when he first took a good look at the front of his passport, only be struck by what was missing.

The retired high school guidance counsellor from Sandy Hook, Man. travels a lot these days with his wife Ruth, a former elementary school principal. Like many Canadians, Shrofel suspects, he never paid much mind to the golden coat of arms on the front of those ubiquitous leather booklets.

The emblem is one of nine official symbols adopted by the government of Canada to spark national pride. It can be found everywhere from official government documents and buildings to the prime minister’s plane and the rank badges of some Canadian Forces members.

“Over a period of time, I noticed there is no Indigenous content in the coat of arms at all,” he told HuffPost Canada. “And that started to make me think.”

In early December, Shrofel launched an electronic petition calling on the federal government to revise the coat of arms to “include representation of the Indigenous peoples of Canada (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) as co-founders of Canada.”

The e-petition is being sponsored by Manitoba Liberal MP Robert Falcon-Ouellette, who hails from the Red Pheasant Cree First Nation and was a leading voice pushing for Indigenous languages to be translated in the House of Commons.

Ouellette suggested going the route of a grassroots petition, Shrofel says, where 500 valid signatures over a period of 120 days will trigger an official government response.

I agree with this, although I did not include this critique in my short history of Canada’s coat of arms. The shield should be reduced to the maple leaves alone, but I’m in favor of retaining the banners of the Union Jack and the arms of France on each side, since they represent past sovereignty. But that means that we really should acknowledge Native sovereignty too. What to do? Would one pan-Indian symbol suffice? (Does such a thing even exist?) Or do we need to acknowledge every tribe in Canada? (This would get pretty aesthetically unwieldy.)

I would not be against changing the supporters to being native fauna – say, a moose and a polar bear, and I would not be against these creatures wearing collars and pendant badges referring to Indians and Inuit, in as inclusive a manner as possible. I would not be in favor of a stampede whereby every discrete group in Canada demands the right to specific acknowledgement in the coat of arms.

2. From the Washington Post:

A new Mississippi flag has a surprising champion: A segregationist’s grandchild

 Things are slow to change in this Old South bastion. The brass bird cage of an elevator in the Mississippi State Capitol that Laurin Stennis used to ride as a 6-year-old coming to see her daddy was still operated by hand when she stepped into it one day in early January, a 46-year-old coming to shake things up. Or at least nudge things along.

“Ground floor, please, sir,” she said to the operator.

But some things have changed. The lawmaker who greeted Stennis in the grand marbled lobby below was an African American woman, something unheard of when Stennis’s father, John H. Stennis, was a member of the nearly all-white, all-male state legislature and her grandfather, John C. Stennis, was a legendary champion of segregation in the U.S. Senate.

“I’ve already filed your bill,” state Rep. Kathy Sykes said after hugs. “I’m just waiting on the number.”

It was the start of a new legislative session, and Sykes, a Democrat from Jackson, had once again introduced legislation to replace the Mississippi state flag — the last in the country that still incorporates the Confederate battle flag — with a design widely known as the “Stennis Flag.” It features a big blue star on a white field, encircled by 19 smaller stars and flanked by red bands.

It’s graphically pleasing and increasingly popular. If the Stennis Flag eventually replaces the old banner — its supporters aren’t expecting much to happen this year, with state elections looming — the banner might help alter the view the world has of Mississippi, a state with a brutal history of Klan murders and racial oppression. It could alter the reputation of one of the state’s most famous political names, as well.

A great design, both aesthetically and symbolically (the big star represents Mississippi, the nineteen smaller ones represent previously admitted states to the Union). I confess that I still prefer the Magnolia flag, though.

UPDATE: I am in favor of getting rid of the current Mississippi flag, but I feel compelled to state that I object to such sentences as this, which come so easily to journalists at the Washington Post:

the banner might help alter the view the world has of Mississippi, a state with a brutal history of Klan murders and racial oppression.

I can think of a few “views” that Group A might have of Group B, which to the mainstream media cannot possibly be the fault of Group B, but can only be the result of stereotypes held by Group A and are thus streng verboten. I’d also like to point out that, for example, Illinois, the Land of Lincoln himself, also has a brutal history of Klan murders and racial oppression.

Saint Louie

We’ve been to and from St. Louis many times, and we always try to see something new en route or while we’re there (along with McKay’s in Nashville, of course – that is a staple!).

This time we stopped at the George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee. I had visited the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland and was keen to learn how American whiskey was different from Irish. (Answers: the composition of the mash, the state of the aging barrels, and in Tennessee, the Lincoln County Process.)

In St. Louis itself we got to see the refurbished and newly-reopened Museum at the Gateway Arch. It’s larger than the previous one, and deals with westward expansion in more detail and from a greater variety of perspectives. There’s also some good background on the arch itself, and no longer an animatronic Red Cloud.

The City Museum is like nothing you’ve ever seen. It occupies the former International Shoe Company building and is constantly colonizing new areas of it. The “museum” aspect consists largely of architectural detailing (I was pleased to discover the St. George pictured above), recovered nineteenth-century trash, a large insect collection, and other found objects; these are interspersed throughout an artificial cave system, a ten-story spiral slide, a ferris wheel on the roof, giant ball pits, skateboard ramps, a miniature train for people to ride, a space for circus performers, welded creations to climb on, and much, much more, all eccentrically decorated. As you can probably surmise, the museum appeals mostly to children, although it is fun for anyone to visit; what I like about it is that it’s dark and mysterious, even slightly sinister, an exciting contrast to much of the pabulum served up to kids these days.

Our event took place at the Contemporary Art Center, which we had never before seen. It’s what you’d expect: a brutalist building, with installation art like that depicted above (Jacob Stanley, TIME). It’s worth a visit, and it’s free.

At the St. Louis Science Center we saw a traveling Smithsonian exhibition entitled “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.” The showpiece is the actual Columbia capsule that took Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins to the Moon and back; this was accompanied by Aldrin’s helmet, a part of one of the Saturn V engines that Jeff Bezos fished out of the Atlantic, and other such objects. I especially liked all the Space Race newspaper headlines, videos of Kennedy speaking to Congress and giving his “We choose to go to the Moon” speech at Rice, and the midcentury-modern living room that you entered through (although I doubt that the television depicted above was all that common in middle America!).

On our way back, we stopped at something called the Arant Confederate Memorial Park, an SCV project situated beside I-24 just outside Paducah, Kentucky. This has appeared recently, and advertises itself, like a car dealership, with a massive flag. But the Battle Flag is not the only one on display: as you can see in the photo above, there are other ones, including all three national flags of the CSA, and the Bonnie Blue Flag.

The flag I was most curious about (as I had never seen it before): the flag of the Orphan Brigade, a Confederate brigade recruited in Kentucky (so-called as Kentucky was not really a member state of the Confederacy).

The flea market next door was festooned with American flags, and I can’t help but think this was some sort of a riposte to Arant Park.