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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: June 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Gettysburg Reunion of 1913

By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., Writer, Speaker, Author of the book “When America Stood for God, Family and Country” and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Happy 234th birthday America!

The War Between the States Sesquicentennial, 150th Anniversary, runs from 2010 through 2015. The Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans has an information page at: Make it a family affair to attend the events planned throughout the USA. The National SCV Sesquicentennial Commission website is:

The fading photos and stories of Union and Confederate Veterans from that summer of 1913, shaking hands, sharing a meal and trading war stories is a special part of our National Heritage well worth sharing.

Do young people know who Gen. Robert Edward Lee, Major Gen. George Edward Pickett and Major Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain were? Do schools still teach children about these men and all those who met on that famous War Between the States battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania? Some call the Gettysburg Battlefield the most haunted place in America as many thousands died on that fateful month in July 1863.

“Comrades and friends, these splendid statues of marble and granite and bronze shall finally crumble to dust, and in the ages to come, will perhaps be forgotten, but the spirit that has called this great assembly of our people together, on this field, shall live forever.”

-----Dr. Nathaniel D. Cox at 1913 Gettysburg Reunion

The summer heat of July 1913 did not keep the old Confederate and Union Veterans from attending the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. It has been written that over 50,000 sons of the North and South came for what has been called the largest combined reunion of War Between the States veterans.

The youngest veteran was reported to be 61 and the oldest was 112 years young.

No one dared criticize the United States or Confederate flag that flew side by side at the Gettysburg soldier’s reunion of honored men who had been enemies on the field of battle just 50 years earlier.

The State of Pennsylvania hosted the 1913 reunion at the insisting of state Governor John K. Tener. Tener also encouraged other states to arrange rail transportation for the participants. Down South, the United Daughters of the Confederacy helped raise money for the transportation and uniforms for the Confederate veterans.

The soldiers of Blue and Gray, Black and White, came with heads raised high. It is written that the hosts did not count on Black Confederates attending the meeting and had no place to put them however the White Confederates made room for their Southern brothers. Black Union veterans also attended.

Nearly 700,000 meals were served that included fried chicken, roast pork sandwiches, ice cream and Georgia watermelon. The temperature soared to 100 degrees and almost 10,000 veterans were treated for heat exhaustion and several hundred more were hospitalized. The United States Army was also present in support and the old men loved the attention.

A highlight of the reunion was the Confederate Veterans walk on the path of Gen. George Pickett’s charge that was greeted, this time, with a handshake from the Union Veterans.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke to those veterans with compassion and appreciation, and said, quote “These venerable men crowding here to this famous field have set us a great example of devotion and utter sacrifice. They were willing to die that the people might live. But their task is done. Their day is turned into evening. They look to us to perfect what they have established. Their work is handed to us, to be done in another way but not in another spirit. Our day is not over; it is upon us in full tide.” Unquote


After two and a half years of preparation and preliminary sparring, the case of Paul McClaren, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member who was fired from his job for displaying a state-issued Mississippi SCV license tag on his vehicle, has had to be abandoned due to lack of funding to cover going forward, the SLRC revealed Tuesday.

The fate of the case was sealed when the SCV’s General Executive Counsel, apparently by a one-vote margin, refused a request to help underwrite the case at the national level. The request sought $5,000 from SCV National, to be matched by equal amounts from the Tennessee and Mississippi SCV Divisions, who were acting as co-sponsors of the case.

McClaren, a resident of Olive Branch, MS, worked across the river in Memphis, TN, as a counselor at Compass Intervention Center in Memphis. Through the SLRC, he filed suit against his employer and its parent company in October of 2008, a year after his dismissal. The intervening year had been spent researching McClaren’s grounds for action and in responding to legal maneuvering by the defendant’s attorneys, as well as in seeking to build a war chest to support the case. Some SCV camps, including the N.B. Forrest Camp and McClaren’s camp in Memphis, contributed directly as did several individuals, and the Mississippi and Tennessee SCV Divisions agreed to share costs of the case since McClaren was a Mississippi resident (and a Mississippi SCV license tag was involved) but was a Tennessee SCV member. In dollar-and-cent terms, the Mississippi Division bore most of the costs associated with pursuing the case.

As anticipated, a lower Tennessee court dismissed McClaren’s reataliatory discharge suit in January, on grounds that Tennessee’s right-to-work laws trumped McClaren’s claim of wrongful dismissal. The SLRC, together with local counsel Tarry Beasley, immediately filed notice of appeal to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the request for funding the appeal was made to the General Executive Counsel.

By a vote of 8 to 7, the GEC decided not to fund further action in the McClaren case. Among those voting against the measure were Judge Advocate-in-Chief Simon B. (Chip) Buckner, IV, who had been an outspoken critic of the case in terms of its viability, and SCV Commander-in-Chief
Chuck McMichael.

“Nearly every significant heritage defense case the Confederate community has won, including SCV license plate cases, has initially been lost at the lower court level and won on appeal,” said SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons. "This case was a lot bigger than Paul McClaren and deserving of our best shot.”

“This was unconscionable,” a grim SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie, himself a Past SCV Chief of Heritage Defense not known for mincing words, said of the decision. “We aren’t talking about a kid and a t-shirt here; we’re talking about one of our own – an SCV member and a professional man who got caught in the crossfire of political correctness for defending an SCV issued tag. Abandoning his case after three years of work sends a message to big business and the PC crowd, on the eve of the [WBTS] sesquicentennial, that we can rattle our saber all we want to but in the end we don’t intend to draw it.”


(Ed. Note: In March, the SLRC announced that it would be assisting several concerned Harvard alumni in investigating why there is no on-campus memorial to Harvard’s 71 alumni who died fighting for the Confederacy, although the University’s Union dead are impressively memorialized along with its dead of all other wars, including a couple of foreign alumni who subsequently returned to their homelands and fought against the United States (see below). This effort has since morphed into a full-scale project, spearheaded by the SLRC, to raise public awareness of this situation and to attempt, with the help of all Southerners and especially those who are Harvard alumni themselves, to obtain recognition for the Harvard Confederate dead. Following is a brief report on where matters stand at the moment.

The idea of a possible Confederate memorial at Harvard was floated by some alumni and sympathetic faculty as early as 1988, but was shelved after being vigorously opposed by the Harvard Black Students’ Association, Harvard’s daily newspaper, the Crimson, and ultimately the then-President of the University. Interestingly, Harvard’s two principal Ivy League rivals, Yale and Princeton, have on-campus memorials to their Confederate dead.)


WASHINGTON – On June 1, the day after Memorial Day, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs appeared for what he no doubt expected would be a routine White House press corps briefing. And so it was until Les Kinsolving, talk show host, World News Daily White House Correspondent and third-ranking member among White House Beat reporters, raised his hand and announced he had “a two-part question” relating to Memorial Day observances.

Kinsolving began, “As a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School, the President has never protested – “

Gibbs immediately interrupted. “He didn't graduate from Harvard, Lester. He graduated from Harvard Law School, but he graduated from Columbia undergrad," Gibbs stated.

“I’m sorry; I correct that. Thank you very much,” said Kinsolving. Then he resumed, “The president has never protested the memorials to Harvard's war dead in World War I and II, which include the names of Harvard alumni designated as 'enemy' because they were soldiers of the Kaiser and of the Fuhrer. Has he – he's never protested that, has he?"

"I honestly don't have – I don't have any knowledge," Gibbs said.

Then Kinsolving threw the bomb.

"Does the president believe it is right for Harvard to have memorials mentioning these three German enemies, but no memorial at all to 71 Harvard alumni who died in the Confederate army?" he asked.

Gibbs uttered the single word “Wow” and abruptly left the room.


The Rev. Peter J. Gomes is a leading biblical scholar and rector of Harvard’s Memorial Church, a position which carries with it a considerable amount of on-campus clout. He is of Cape Verdean parentage and his ethnicity is part Portuguese, part West African. So he engendered surprise in some quarters at Harvard and anger in others when he put himself on record as favoring recognition of Harvard’s Confederate dead.

Harvard’s Union dead are memorialized on tablets that adorn the walls of Memorial Church. Gomes proposed taking the opportunity of 1995 renovations to the church to erect similar monuments to the Confederate dead. (Approximately one in three Harvard alumni who were Civil War casualties wore gray.)

When the Confederate memorial idea was subsequently shouted down, Gomes remarked he hoped for the day when Harvard would be “secure enough in its shared ideals” to support a Confederate memorial.

Accordingly, in April of this year, SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie sent Gomes a personal letter asking whether the Rector would be willing, based on his endorsement of 15 years ago, to assist in a renewed Confederate memorial effort. To date, Gomes has not replied.

McCredie noted that Gomes had been a lifelong Republican – he had led prayers at the inaugurations of both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush – but that in 2006, nine years after his pro-Confederate remarks, he had switched parties and become a Democrat in order to support the campaign of Deval Patrick, the first Black Governor of Massachusetts. In 2008, two years after Gomes’ party switch, Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates – of White House “Beer Summit” fame – spotlighted Gomes in a documentary Gates produced for PBS.

“Whether all that signals a change in Dr. Gomes’ outlook since 1995 is uncertain,” McCredie said. “It may be that we haven’t heard from him because he’s simply been busy. If he is willing to help us in our efforts, we’ll be appreciative. If he’s not, he’s not.”

McCredie’s letter to Gomes is reprinted below.

April 23, 2010

The Rev. Dr. Peter J. Gomes
The Memorial Church
One Harvard Square
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138-6500

RE: Honoring Harvard’s Confederate Dead

Dear Dr. Gomes:

The Southern Legal Resource Center recently agreed to be of whatever assistance we could to several Harvard alumni seeking to revisit the issue of an on-campus memorial for Harvard men who died in the service of the Confederacy. During our initial research, we learned of your compassionate and courageous advocacy of this project when it was first proposed in the mid-1990’s. When the idea was shelved following vigorous objections led by the Black Law Students’ Association and the undergraduate Black Students’ Association, you were quoted as saying you hoped that, in the near future, “Harvard will be secure enough in its shared ideals to sustain a memorial to those of its sons who remind us of painful past divisions.” We are writing to inquire whether, if the idea of memorializing Harvard’s Confederate dead were to be reintroduced, either through the alumni association or from some other appropriate quarter, you would be willing once again to support it.

In the 15 years since a Confederate memorial was last proposed at Harvard, the demonization of anything Confederate has hardened from an attitude into an agenda, spearheaded by opportunistic politicians, self-serving special interest groups, a hostile and cynical communications industry, and, apparently, the nation’s entire academic edifice. Now we are on the cusp of the sesquicentennial observance of America’s most tragic war, and if the initial rhetoric is any indication, what ought to be a time for collective remembrance and solemn reflection will instead be a shallow and hypocritical morality play, with the South as slaveholding traitors and the North as noble liberators. Deviation from this official party line will be viewed with suspicion or even opprobrium. Please know, therefore, that in asking you to re-endorse this project (in whatever manner you may deem appropriate) we are acutely aware that we are asking you to risk exposure to this same sort of disapproval and its possible consequences. We would not presume to approach you if we did not believe your integrity and sense of fairness would override any such consideration.

As for us, The Southern Legal Resource Center is undertaking a public awareness program, the Harvard Confederate Memorial Initiative, which involves circulating background information about the memorial issue through our newsletter and our Internet outlets. We also plan to contact certain local Harvard alumni chapters, urging members to support our Initiative individually, as well as by and through the Harvard Alumni Association at large. We do not postulate the form or location of a Confederate memorial; that, of course, is Harvard’s business (although the 1995 suggestion of tablets similar to the Union ones in Memorial Church certainly has symmetry in its favor).

As Harvard’s late Professor Emeritus Mason Hammond wrote in 1988, “Harvard’s dead on the Confederate side gave their lives for a cause in which they selflessly believed.” Their concept of “Veritas” may not have jibed with that of their Union counterparts, but they acted on it in good faith and paid a soldier’s price for doing so. As Yeats put it, “We know their dream enough/to know they dreamed, and are dead.” Harvard could go a long way towards healing some long-held bitterness by giving its Confederate dead equal recognition. They deserve no less. We ask no more.

Yours very truly,
Roger W. McCredie
Executive Director


The Harvard Confederate Memorial Initiative (HCMI) is the name the SLRC has given to the project it has undertaken (see “Ed. Note”, above) to raise support among Harvard alumni, undergraduates, parents, friends and the general public for the installation of a non-campus memorial to Harvard’s Confederate dead. Contacting and working with members of this projected core support source will, of course, require funding since the chronically strapped SLRC is in no position to undertake such a public relations campaign out of its own shallow pockets.

We have designed a full-color logo for the HCMI, which we hope will find use as the unifying campaign symbol. (You’ll find it on the SLRC website ( ). We hope it will be picked up and displayed by those with Harvard connections, including alumni chapters and individuals, who commit to supporting a memorial to Harvard’s Confederate fallen. We will also be making HCMI lapel pins and blazer badges available as thank-you premiums for those who want to donate a portion of a contribution to the SLRC to help fund the HCMI, or to make a contribution entirely to the HCMI itself. Please watch our website, our Facebook page and our eUpdates for details.

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