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There is an irony in Senator Dick Black’s fears that removing monuments would constitute “erasing our history,” while he simultaneously asserts that, “None of those soldiers fought to defend slavery.”

As a historian who literally wrote his dissertation on Loudoun County, I can say unequivocally some Loudoun Confederates did fight for slavery. You need look no further than the most famous Confederate in Loudoun’s history: Col. John Singleton Mosby, the “Grey Ghost” himself. Writing to a friend in 1907, Mosby complained that former Confederates were retroactively rewriting the cause of the war to make their fight seem more noble 40 years after the fact. In the letter Mosby argued southerners should stop trying to hide what they fought for, saying, “People must be judged by the standard of their own age. If it was right to own slaves as property it was right to fight for it. The South went to war on account of Slavery. South Carolina went to war – as she said in her Secession proclamation – because slavery wd. not be secure under Lincoln. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding. [...] I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery.”

I think Mosby knew better than Sen. Black what he and his men fought for.

As a veteran Mosby disliked his former comrades erasing their own personal histories to seem more valiant; as a historian, I dislike politicians making up alternative facts about the nation’s past to win cheap political points. Whether people should be judged by the standard of their own age or not is a separate debate, but as Americans engage in current debates about Confederate monuments we must avoid the temptation to make up facts.  Whatever you believe about the future of monuments, we should all strive to keep this debate historically accurate, especially those who accuse others of trying to “erase history.”

While the senator can’t imagine soldiers at Pickett’s Charge fighting for slavery, the soldiers who died there could and did just that.


Dr. Adam H. Domby, Assistant Professor of History at College of Charleston (S.C.)

The views expressed here are the author’s alone.


Is Senator Black’s war on facts similar to the Democrats war on our Heritage and Culture? If so, I’m happy to defend Senator Black.

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