The April Rains of History

All the brouhaha about the Confederate flag has prompted me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for years (decades, actually): join the Sons of Confederate Veterans. My great-great-grandfather was a 2nd lieutenant in the 4th Virginia Cavalry, so I definitely qualify for membership. My consanguineous connection to the Recent Unpleasantness is further reinforced by my great-great-granduncle, Brigadier General David Weisiger, who led the charge at the Battle of the Crater* during the siege of Petersburg in 1864.

The current controversy has not altered my longstanding position on the flag. I consider it an honorable symbol of men who deserve our respect for their valor and sacrifice. I would not display it in front of my home or on my car, however, because to do so would be impolite — the flag holds a different symbolic significance for my black neighbors.

What is commonly known as the “Confederate Flag” is actually the battle flag of the Confederacy. In its original form it was square, and bore a legend identifying the unit that carried it. I couldn’t find the flag for the 4th Virginia Cavalry, so I’ve headed this post with one for the 4th Infantry (part of the “Stonewall Brigade”) instead.

My great-great-grandfather fought in Second Manassas (or Second Bull Run, if you’re a Yankee). Officially, he was wounded there, but according to family lore he actually fell off his horse and broke his leg. After the break was set, he was strapped on his horse, which carried him home to his plantation led by his servant — that is, his slave.

Confederate fortifications at Manassas Junction, 1862

The family plantation lay between Richmond and Petersburg. That area experienced an extensive incursion by Union troops near the end of the war, especially after Richmond fell and the siege of Petersburg was broken. Union soldiers arrived at the plantation and informed my great-great-grandfather that they were going to burn down the house and outbuildings. The family was given enough time to rescue some of their belongings, which according to the stories had to be lowered out of the windows.

Needless to say, the family was reduced to near-penury. They moved to Richmond and opened up a boarding house to eke out a living after the war. One of their tenants was a former Confederate officer who had fallen on hard times, like his landlord. When he moved out, he was unable to pay the back rent, so he left his hosts a set of side chairs — clunky old dark wood pieces upholstered in faded red brocade — as part payment. After passing through the hands of another branch of the family for more than a hundred years, those same chairs ended up at Schloss Bodissey. They’re too damaged and disreputable now to be used downstairs, so they’re stacked up here in the eyrie just a few feet away from where I’m typing these words.

Such are the connections between the April rains of 1865 and a steamy August night in 2015.

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The above descriptions are drawn from family anecdotes. To elevate them to the status of “history” would require additional research. Old letters would provide an excellent source — I have some stashed away up here, and my cousins probably have more. Photographs would also be helpful. There’s one of my mother sitting on her great-grandfather’s lap when she was a toddler and he was very, very old.

A fully fleshed-out account of historical events is a worthy goal. But that’s not the way things are done here in the second decade of the 21st century. Thorough, accurate historical accounts are no longer welcome unless they support the Narrative. If such support is lacking, then appropriate historical descriptions are fabricated out of whole cloth (see: Carly Fiorina).

During the Sesquicentennial back in April I went to the Walmart in Appomattox. The store was packed with Civil War memorabilia, including many instances of the Confederate flag. Then the Charleston massacre intervened, and Walmart made the corporate decision to withdraw all Confederate flag merchandise. When I returned to the store last week, there was still a big display of Civil War items, but no sign of any Confederate flags. The Union flag was well-represented, however, as were pictures of Generals Grant and Lee.

I suspect that General Lee’s days are numbered, however. How long can the image of a “racist” slave-owning Confederate general be allowed to sully our public spaces?

After I left Walmart I paid a visit to the new western branch of the Museum of the Confederacy just outside of town. The museum doesn’t seem to have any problem with the battle flag — there were plenty of flags for sale in the gift shop, along with printed versions on books, cards, mugs, and other knick-knacks. Or maybe they just haven’t got the order yet from Richmond to pull all that stuff from the shelves. This time next year — who knows?

While I was there I went to the information desk and got the email address of the contact for the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the Camp (that’s what the local chapters are called) nearest me. I’ve downloaded the form from the SCV website and filled it out. I plan to attend the next Camp meeting to pay my fee and join my fellow Confederates.

The assault on the battle flag has awakened a spirit of defiance in me. Dymphna told me: “It got your Irish up.” But I don’t have much Irish blood, so it’s more likely to be Scots. The Scots are known on both sides of the Atlantic for their independent spirit and fierce defiance of any outside interference.

In any case, it’s a Celtic thing.

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This wholesale rewriting of history to reinforce the Narrative is a growing trend. It’s been around for decades — Diana West has chronicled the phenomenon at length, and paid the price for doing so. But the process seems to be accelerating, now that there is a dumbed-down, sedated, and infotainment-addled populace ready to fall for any sort of claptrap that blares at it from a screen.

And history is not the only casualty. Take Christian doctrine, for example. The mainstream Protestant denominations have jumped onboard the gay-marriage branch of the Narrative, but in order to do so they have to rewrite their own scriptures — or, at the very least, ignore them. There is no way the epistles of St. Paul can be made compatible with pastorally-sanctioned homosexual marriage unless the meanings of the words are changed, or the appropriate passages reinterpreted to make them “relevant”. Like the post-modern Constitution, the New Testament must become a “living document”.

So let’s discuss the reality of the Civil War while we still can, before the underlying matrix of facts and occurrences becomes too damaged to have any further meaning. It will eventually be dismantled and replaced with the Narrative, but for the time being we still have the resources to examine it.

First of all: yes, the war really was about slavery. If the Peculiar Institution had not been under threat, there would have been no war.

But it was about much more than slavery, especially after the first few months of the conflict.

Federal troops crossed the Potomac and invaded the Valley of Virginia, burning crops and barns, requisitioning livestock, taking hostages, and threatening the local population with starvation. If you were a loyal, patriotic Virginian, how would you react to such aggression?

Many thousands of ordinary Southerners owned no slaves and joined the Confederate army anyway, not to keep the black man in chains, but to defend their homes. Stonewall Jackson, the greatest general of the Confederacy (and one of the greatest generals of all time) was a staunch Presbyterian who detested the institution of slavery. But he loved his homeland, so he threw himself into its service and died defending it.

The same cause was what made so many of those Scots-Irish mountain boys come down out of the hills and join the battle against the aggressor. Many of them had never seen a Negro, much less owned one. Many of them came from the counties that eventually seceded from Virginia to become West Virginia. Nevertheless, they understood what aggression was, and they knew how to shoot, so they picked up their guns and joined the army.

None of that fits the Narrative.

According to the Narrative, Southerners were racists who ignited the war to maintain the evil of slavery. Anyone who looks back on their Confederate heritage with anything but repugnance is also a racist. All images and symbols of the Confederacy are inherently racist. And any account of what happened between 1861 and 1865 that treats the South with respect is dismissed as racist apologetics.

Yet to view the period through the lens of race is to engage in “presentism” — the imposition of present-day standards and concepts on a time that knew nothing of them. From a 21st-century standpoint, virtually every white American in the 1860s was a “racist”, even Abraham Lincoln. Northerners who considered slavery an abomination still viewed Africans as a lesser race that deserved compassion and needed to be taken care of.

The argument over slavery was not whether a Negro was the equal of a white man, but whether he could be treated as property. The North and the South were at each other’s throats over that issue, but they were in broad agreement that blacks were inferior.

In other words, they were all racists.

No, that doesn’t fit the Narrative.

It’s the same with Margaret Sanger’s enthusiasm for Eugenics and Hitler’s status as a committed Socialist ideologue. Those don’t fit the Narrative, either, so down the memory hole with them!

The truth is no longer considered valuable or useful in Modern Multicultural America.

Let the April rains wash history away! Who needs it?

*   The Crater is a fascinating topic, one that could provide enough material for its own post.

In the summer of 1864, one of the Union commanders decided to dig under the Confederate earthworks to the east of Petersburg and detonate a charge beneath the enemy’s defensive line. Welsh miners — who had the greatest expertise in the engineering of mines, and probably still do — were brought in from Pennsylvania to do the job. The mine tunnel ran for 500 feet from the Union lines to a chamber fifty feet below the Confederate earthworks. When it detonated at 5 o’clock on a July morning, Lee and his troops were taken completely by surprise. Dozens of soldiers were killed instantly in the huge blast, and the resulting crater made a wide gap in the Confederate lines.

Gen. Grant’s troops failed to exploit their opportunity in a timely fashion, however. The Confederates were able to regroup and charge before the enemy could get behind their lines. Gen. Weisiger was one of the commanders who led the charge.

The title of this post is a reference to the poem “Sayler’s Creek”, which was posted here to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the surrender at Appomattox on April 9th, 1865.

63 thoughts on “The April Rains of History

  1. The current nonsense of the left going after and erasing history really infuriates me to no end. Im the opposite, with my family on my dads side having fought for the union, and lived in the family farm house that’s been there since the early 1800’s, and still miraculously standing after all these years. In my grandparent’s living room is U.S. Grant’s desk on one side with Colonel Ayers and his bible that stopped a musket ball on the bookshelf adjacent. Lots of other civil war memorabilia there that unfortunately will probably eventually be forgotten. To me there’s no shame in having ancestors that fought on either side and anything else is an affront to history.

    • You’ve summed up the essence of this thorny issue quite well, using concrete examples to make your point, especially with this:

      there’s no shame in having ancestors that fought on either side and anything else is an affront to history.

      The power behind The Narrative w/ its ever-more rigid rules re what may be uttered publicly is the same power bent on destroying our bonds all the way down to the root level of family. Individual ‘liberty’ is a kind of myth since it begins-always -in a social context as member of a family. Each child is busy making his own way within the confines of the family matrix long before he steps out into the larger world. Thus, the many dicta that begin, “in our family we_____”. These rules, to be learned and navigated, can be as simple as “in our family we always eat supper together”. Or, the opposite: “in our family, we take our own piece of pizza from the box and go eat where we want”. Big lessons for every child in both those family behaviors. Conflicts begin when some members want to do daily routines contra family behaviors and unwritten rules.

      Government can now intrude on that foundational unit, thereby obliterating parents’ moral authority in the eyes of their children. The ONLY means parents have for molding the already-encoded DNA of each child is the mother’s and the father’s moral authority. Children learn by observation and, subsequently, by using their own inborn moral calculus to understand the adults around them. Kids understand at a gut level the fact of their dependence on adults; they feel it in their bones. If their own observations/experiences about the adults in charge leave them feeling safe – i.e., an intuitive knowing that the grown-ups are watching out for them – then they are free to grow and flourish to their optimum levels. If they have to be on guard against the very people who should be guarding them, the inner conflict is deep. If they watch their parents tossed around by government rules, then their deep-down existential security is threatened beyond any words to heal it.

      Under all the “history” of war, the reality remains family in all its permutations. Kin and near-kin: long lines of aunts and uncles and cousins, plus degrees of linking – a first cousin once-removed is different in what way from a second cousin? And who cares? As Hillary Clinton (in)famously said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”.

      [The Clintons have both given their country a number of quotes that will ‘live in history’. The most similar in gravitas to Hillary’s quote, above, is Bill’s answer, under oath: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” * – this link gives you the whole paragraph:


      Imagine. Existential fast talk from the-then First Fast Talker of the land. So years later we have Hillary in all her fury being grilled by Congress about Benghazi, with the quote above- the full minute + video, here:

      Is there a familial rule about moral relativity in Clinton, Inc.? It would seem so; we ought to watch with due scrutiny Chelsea Clinton’s proposed climb into politics .]
      As for our American ‘family’ it is surely and deliberately being sundered from its foundational structure. Our founders were a remarkable coming together of men who valued Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. For their times, they were prescient. But now Thomas Jefferson is on the block and George Washington is probably next. Will the Adams family – John and John Quincy – come up for scrutiny? Was any family member involved in the Massachusetts’ lucrative slave trade that flourished in the 18th century?

      Note the Triangle Trade.

      Bigotry against blacks in the American North and Midwest was, and remains, a thorny problem. I lived through the busing conflagration in Boston during the early ’70s. It was as ugly and brutal as anything in Mississippi during Reconstruction. Cities in the North remain as deeply segregated as the Midwest’s St. Louis County, Missouri still is. St. Louis COUNTY, an entity separate from the contiguous CITY of St. Louis, has been carved and recarved into more than ninety municipalities. The whole thing- city and county – is a nightmare for many of those who live there.

      If the faux-freedom fighters who make up the Professional Black Grievance Ministry in this country were for real, they’d begin with the problems facing Ferguson’s poorest families. In turn those problems ultimately stem from Big Guv’s destruction of the social fabric of poor black families via its poisonous entitlement programs.

      • >em>The power behind The Narrative w/ its ever-more rigid rules re what may be uttered publicly is the same power bent on destroying our bonds all the way down to the root level of family.

        Which is why another round of unpleasantness may quite well be in the offing.

  2. “Gen. Grant’s troops failed to exploit their opportunity in a timely fashion, however. The Confederates were able to regroup and charge before the enemy could get behind their lines. Gen. Weisiger was one of the commanders who led the charge.”

    Actually on the talk of narratives I remember visiting the crater. My history teacher was also a registered National Park Guide for civil war sites, and was as good an expert as any, and it was pretty interesting to visit the site. From what I remember of why they failed to take advantage of the gap, my recollection is that a division consisting largely of black freed soldiers was prepared to lead the charge after the explosion, but at the last minute the top brass felt them to be inferior for the task, and replaced them with another division that was not prepared, which allowed enough time for the confederates to close the line again and rebuff the attack.

  3. “The Peculiar Institution was under threat.” Indeed it was – but the question that seldom gets asked is just *why* the Peculiar Institution was under threat, and that opens up further questions about sectional rivalry and power dynamics which – well, let’s just say that humanitarian motives aren’t necessarily the answer.

    • As is the case nowadays, and probably in all eras of history, cynical and dishonest power-hungry people exploited credulous and idealistic people. The fervent Abolitionists were used by those who aimed for political and commercial dominance. ‘Twas ever thus.

      • Welcome to the Historical Heritage groups of the War Between the States.

        UDC here.

        Modern Wars( WBTS Too ) ultimately are all about MONEY and POLITICAL POWER no matter what ANY person says,

  4. ‘The Crater’ also allowed Confederate troops to shoot Union Troops like fish in a barrell. They plowed straight into the pit with no way up the massive sides created by the enormous blast, and with more ”Blue Bellies” by the minute piling in, there was no way to properly retreat from the slaughter. Yet another battle of Fredricksburg, but this time it wasn’t Burnside marching his troops to certain death, but Meade.

  5. Although one aunt (by marriage) managed to find a line to the Daughters of the American Revolution as well as a minor (non-military) historic spot in Texas, most of the kin arrived on the shores around 1900 and hence missed the Civil War. This then is an objective view of someone born and bred just a few miles north of the Mason-Dixon line and now existing a few miles south of it.

    Personally speaking, I find that battle flag extremely irritating and offensive. See, it’s not really an American flag. If someone wants to claim a southern heritage, every state has a flag that _is_ an American flag. For that matter, there’s a load of stuff that’s rather symbolic of the south including some that indicate a special value to human life (oranges immediately come to mind).

    In a similar vein, city “X” may hold an annual Columbus day or St. Patrick’s day parade with people displaying Italian flags or Irish flags, but most people would take those to mean nothing but a distant heritage of loyal Americans and not the principles of some alien governmental ideas even if friendly.

    “They thought they were right” sounds good, but the consensus is they weren’t right. One might assume the followers of the likes of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin ( who promoted ideologies that crop up on these kind of sites a lot) also thought they were right. Does that mean we should appreciate (if not venerate) statues of either of them?

    • They may or may not have “thought they were right”. But they fought in defense of their homeland — my homeland, the Sovereign Commonwealth of Virginia — and for that I will always respect them.

      Regardless of the “right” and “wrong” (and I think slavery was wrong), Virginia was invaded by a hostile army. As I said, the Union Army burned crops and took hostages in the Shenandoah Valley. Which side was “right” or “wrong” there?

      • Did burning the crops and taking the hostages hasten the end of the war?

        As I understand it, the failures of the first confederacy (at the time of the revolution) proved that what was needed was a federal republic, not simply a confederacy, if the colonies were to stay independent of England and survive. The country is not simply a republic. It’s a federal republic, a federation of states (a state is a nation). All thirteen colonies agreed to belong to a federal republic.

        If there are no states’ rights, there is no federal republic although there might be a republic of another sort. The notion of a more or less independently functioning state — “Commonwealth of Virginia” — is a valid notion but only insofar as it goes. That “hostile army invading” was not from another country even if the arrival may have been both hostile and invasive.

        Perhaps some northerners had incentive in a notion that the south was willing to use them to wrangle independence from England but once that was accomplished there was little interest in forming a nation, thus leaving small states in the north at the mercy of the British in Canada.

        Well, you did ask….

        • In effect you are saying that the ends (ending the war quickly) justify the means (burning crops, starving civilians, taking hostages). I’ll leave it to moral logicians to parse that tradeoff; I’m not qualified. History supplies a long list of incidents that required a similar calculus — the firebombing of Dresden and the atomic bomb at Hiroshima are just two examples from World War Two.

          But from the perspective of a people who were invaded — for that is what we Virginians were — the moral calculus of the war was that we were defending ourselves.

          And the right for a state to secede was widely understood to be included in the Federal compact until the force of Union arms determined otherwise in 1865. I suggest you read more broadly on the topic — you’ll find that I am correct. That’s why the “United States” were grammatically represented as a plural until the Civil War.

          And yes, Virginia did consider itself a sovereign state until compelled by force of arms to acknowledge its absolute submission to the federal overlord.

          • When king George III, surrendered after the war, he SURRENDERED to EACH individual state.

            This was because EACH state was sovereign and was considered to be so until the time of Lincoln.

  6. I can certainly understand your frustration and your personal resistance to what is basically bully boy tactics by a snowballing agenda that is rapidly getting out of control. At some point that agenda has to reach its climax and begin to wane especially when the era of MC/PC also begins to lose its hold over the masses.

    Hang onto your history, nurture it for another day when you and those who share your simple truths of times past will once again be appreciated.

    There is also an aspect to the Civil War that is rarely mentioned today, and that is this; a federal government went to war against its own citizens in 1861-65 and as sure as God made little green apples, another federal government is just as likely to commit the same tyranny some time soon.

  7. Some wounds heal slower than others. My maternal g-grandfather was one of 5 brothers from Kanawha Valley, he set up a farm on the north bank of the river thus was drafted into the union, his brothers and father the CSA – all of whom were killed. My paternal g-g grandfather was wounded CSA. The dignity lost, and financial ruin, of those unfortunate few who happened to survive in East Bank continues to ruins lives 150 years on. I never noticed either flag solving those problems; they only stir up bad feelings in some southerners in ways most people wouldn’t imagine.

    • Yes. That’s why I would never display one. What it means to me is different from what it means to others.

      But I would vehemently defend the right of anyone to display the flag as they see fit.

      And I would do the same for the right to display any other flag — Nazi, Commie, ISIS, EU, whatever — no matter how many people it offends. I’m a First Amendment purist.

      • I, sir, wholly concur. Westboro Baptist, ACLU, Black Panthers and the like – all despicable – have the same endowed rights and must be allowed to vent their grievances. Once that right is corked, the slippery slope will carry us all into the dark.

      • “First Amendment purist[s]” need “to hang together, or most assuredly, we will hang separately.” Words uttered first by (was it?) Benjamin Franklin.

        Agreed. That’s why these lists of “triggering” words on campuses–which campuses should be places of wide-ranging discussion–are so evil. They transgress the First Amendment and put speakers into a position of needing to censor themselves so that others won’t feel they “must.”

        Dhimmitude, anyone?

        Look at what’s happened to our friends across the Atlantic in the UK, France, et al. Quite sad–and scary.

        • This whole debate reminds of that harsh comedian of the 1950s and 60s .. and heaven help me I cannot remember his name… he used really dirty words just to validate his belief in the 1st Amendment.

      • Except when a flag expresses, inspires and motivates deadly seditious plots to mass murder our people and destroy our infrastructure for the ultimate ideal of destroying our society and subjugate those of us who remain. That would be the black flag of Islam, which should be banned, along with all the rest of the claptrap of Islam, and along with all its followers.

  8. Baron, this piece was absolutely fascinating. I came to America in 1950, as a child, after my parents survived WWII in Hungary and managed to escape to Austria. So anything to do with the war between the states is history, foreign history, to me. But I find it very interesting and the fact that America survived such a war is a credit to her. And that brings another thought — why do we call America a she? Is there some historical reason for that or are all countries called a she? I always think of Germany as a he, for some reason (maybe because of Hitler). Anyway, I’m being nonsensical but I do think that history should be preserved as it is, not as some people would like it to be. The Narrative be damned, tell it as it was!

  9. My great-great grandfather having worn Union blue to his death in Mississippi in 1862, my favorite Reb flag is that of the 28th Virginia Infantry, which has been on display in Minnesota since it got captured by the First Minnesota Volunteers during the repulse of Pickett’s charge on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. I also agree with Ulysses S. Grant, who said in his memoir that secession was one of the worst causes for which people had ever fought.

    That said, however, the current campaign to anathematize the Reb flag rubs me the wrong way — so much so that I’m about ready to go get one and fly it myself.

    • Well… I would say, “Stonewall Jackson” by James Robertson. But then, I’m prejudiced.

    • The best book on the Civil War is “Battle Cry of Freedom,” by James McPherson, which covers not just the fighting but the entire era, from the Mexican War to Appomattox. The pre-war conflict is well covered in Thomas Fleming’s “A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War.” Fleming is as hard on the fanatical abolitionists of the North as he is on the Southern secessionists, debunking the part of “The Narrative” that depicts the antebellum South as a huge concentration camp.

    • “The Real Lincoln: a new look at Abraham Lincoln, his agenda, and an unnecessary war” by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

      Quite the eye-opener, Lincoln makes me ashamed to be a Republican and is another reason I’m considering going Independent.

      • I wrote a novella revolving around the fantastic idea of Lincoln surviving his assassination (because the assassin actually only killed a decoy), then living for a preternaturally long time, to age 154. Haven’t found a publisher for it yet…

  10. While on the North side of the war, I quite agreed with you on this matter. As someone with a long family tree, there is an especially disgusting quality about the present age that has real power to change the past. I mean in this – the Left’s lovefest with ‘narrative’, and increasingly strength to alter history.

    Our ancestors were who they were, and regardless of who they were we exist because of them. They, like most of us, were complex. This wish to rewrite history is a fool’s wish to deny facts. It is also a wish to control with the present-day Left’s desire to shame what it wants to shame – for political control.

    Personally, I can know that my family was nearly all supporters of the North and Union. However, I believe Robert E. Lee was indeed a great man and gentleman. These forces of Left were not rest until his memory is first trashed, and then remove from history.

    You are quite correct – in this age these forces have no use for truth, facts or even the polite behavior of a victor over a loser. We are all losers in this war on history.

  11. I am appreciative of you sharing your family history. I have a lot of southern blood and am in the process of applying for the DAR. I am certain I could apply for DAC as well. And a person I am close to works at Manassas Battlefield, and there have been so many folks out there upset about what the NPS did w/removing confederate flag image and items from the gift shop. Very disturbing…..
    That said, can I say that I have more optimism regarding our history and historical monuments and memorabilia. I see Americans fighting back, such as Jindal now working on legislation to protect monuments in LA, and the SOC filing a lawsuit against moving Jefferson Davis at the UT campus.
    I think if we get someone like Donald Trump in, there will also be a wave of strong patriotic Americans who also will be voted into office, inspired to run because Trump was courageous and didn’t back down. There is a lot of excitement in the air, and many are engaged in the political process that otherwise pay no mind except on election day.
    I think that we have a chance to turn this around, as Trump said, PC is killing America.
    Also, see that Trump’s (really, Jeff Sessions!) immigration plan calls for review of refugee resettlement!
    There are great days ahead for America, I am no longer as cynical as I was just a few months ago.

    • Excuse me but what is a DAC? I am a member of the United Daughter’s of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution for many, many years.

      I must have missed the DAC.

      You might find the DAR had become a lot more PC in the Northern States and only slightly less in the South.

      The UDC has been against the use of the Battle flag on any state flag like forever! They see the Flag of the Confederacy as a memorial to the dead Confederates and oppose and always have, any political uses of it ever.

      “I salute the Confederate flag with affection, reverence and undying remembrance. ”

      I love it when we wear white at the laying of flowers on the graves. It is to symbolize the lives taken from their family.

      Another thing, I know thousands of CW re-enactors and have found them willing to honor BOTH sides of the conflict. One of those young Marines killed in Chattanooga was a CW re-enactor and volunteer at the Kennesaw Battle field in North Georgia.

      I have attached a link to the information and a tribute to him at Stone’s River National Park. … should the Baron and his good lady decide to post it.

      An article about that MArine, Skip Wells is on this page. It can be found by scrolling down to the date July 17,2015 here: 2015

      • In every reenactment I have seen, the participants all respect their “enemies”. In general, the same was true during the actual war itself. If each side acted honorably to the other — and honor was widely respected as the primary characteristic of a good soldier, alongside valor — then the enemy was accorded respect.

        That manner of waging war has disappeared in the past 150 years. I’m not sure quite when it died, but it is gone.

  12. Now for something completely irrelevant; to me the flag is pure history, and looking at those battle honours lets me conjure up just how far that regiment must have marched in the 4/5 years of the war, and much of it without proper footware I understand.

    I am somewhat cynical of the supposed ‘abolitionist’ cause, apparently the North did not liberate slaves, the legislation always allowed for the slaves in the northern states to die in slavery, even if their offspring were eventually free (but then kinapped and sold further south it would appear). In New York State:

    In 1799 the Legislature passed “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” with only token opposition. It provided for gradual manumission on the Pennsylvania model, which allowed masters to keep their younger slaves in bondage for their most productive years, to recoup their investment. The law freed all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799, but not at once. The males became free at 28, the females at 25. Till then, they would be the property of the mother’s master. Slaves already in servitude before July 4, 1799, remained slaves for life, though they were reclassified as “indentured servants.” The law sidestepped all question of legal and civil rights, thus avoiding the objections that had blocked the earlier bill.

  13. My maternal ancestors were Irish and came to this country in about 1880. My Grandmother was born in 1888 and had to drop out of school in 2nd grade to wash clothes in order to eat.
    Just as an aside, she was standing in a line to receive a basket of food from the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving when she passed out from hunger. She was 7 years old. The Salvation Army took her home with a basket of food.
    My paternal ancestors were German/Swedish farmers living in Minnesota that immigrated here in the late 1800’s.

    We owe nothing to the relatives of slaves.

    And quite frankly, I am pretty much sick and tired of this ridiculous line of reasoning. And yeah, my Grandmother washing clothes in some hell hole in NYC wasn’t one step away from being a slave? Does anyone remember “Irish need not apply?”

    If I claim nothing to do with slavery, what must all the immigrants after mine think of this? Should the Italians and the Poles pay reparations? How about the Philippine’s or the Asian Indians?

    Hey, you Philippine’s pay up! We need free stuff and we need it now!

    As another aside, my Grandmother never passed a Salvation Army Christmas bell that she didn’t donate to. I once asked her why she always gave money and she told me the story of her being 7 years old and them helping her out…

    To this day it turns out that the Salvation Army uses the majority of their funds in outreach. The head of the charity takes $1.00/ year for his services… Please keep that in mind if you have clothes or other items to donate.

    In contrast, the “Clinton Foundation” spends over 80% of their funds on administration…

    • My maternal grandparents were Salvation Army. Staunch Bible readers who lived their lives according to the scriptures. I enjoyed going to visit them as a young child and also as an adult because their home always exuded unconditional love. Wonderful people who I now miss.

      I don’t pass by a Salvation Army collection depot or fundraiser without donating something. Of all the Christian charities, the Salvation Army is the only one that walks the walk and talks the talk, IMHO.

      A little story: Back in the dark days of 1942 when the Japs were threatening Australia and Australian militia were sent to fight them on the Owen Stanley ranges in New Guinea ( because our regular army was still in Africa fighting Rommel ) who was waiting for the ‘chocolate soldiers’ at the summit of their long march to contact with the Japs? – The Salvation Army Major – who with no personal protection at all had set up his stall to hand out hot coffee and biscuits to the unblooded militia.

      • The Salvation Army has a generally excellent reputation for using its donations on behalf of those who most need them.

        This is one reason why Target’s name has been MUD in the Bay Area–and perhaps elsewhere in the country?–ever since they forbade the Salvation Army bell-ringers from standing on “their” property during the holidays several years back. There was general outrage, even here in the quite liberal, even leftist, San Francisco Bay Area: we couldn’t donate to the S.A. at Target???

        The holiday income of several Target locations around here dropped, year over year, after this corporate decision.

        This may be old news, but during the October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the downtown Oakland S.A. became a relief station for victims and responders. It was the only place DH and I could find that was accepting food donations. We had electrical power, and so did our local grocery store, so we bought terrific sandwich fixings and drove them to the S.A. Not once, for even a second, did we have a shadow of a doubt that the sandwiches would be made and served as we intended.

        I would do it again tomorrow if needed. The S.A. does good work at an amazing efficiency and with a good heart.

      • My father knocked around Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Mexico in the teens and early ’20s. He said the SA could always be relied on to provide a meal and a bed. Needless to say, it’s with great pleasure that I donate anything to them now.

        It’s a tragedy that relief has become such an important part of the functions of the modern state. The money exacted from taxpayers disappears into the maw of organizations whose activities have done great harm, as The Baron has noted here and I will.

        Organizations such as the SA provide an outlet for individuals to be of service to people they know and/or can see, such as that wonderful man in New Guineau. Settlement houses were also widespread in the 19th century and later, giving charity a very local character.

        Both they and the SA acted from a position strongly influenced by Christianity and there was more of an opportunity to focus on the deserving poor and to pressure some to become or remain deserving. (As one with a little experience in a state welfare organization I could give you examples of undeserving and deserving.)

        The current government approach puts charity or relief in the hands of bureaucrats, affirms no community values (other than those of people who are intent on upholding The Narrative), is funded by plunder, and has created something satanic for its ability to suck all life and vitality from where its influence is felt. It is an instrument of decay and destruction.

        It seems, too, that the pursuit of 501c3 status has opened the door to government control. On the surface the list of organizations participating in the Combined Federal Campaign includes a wide variety of genuine charitable work but Planned Parenthood is very much in that list and no one without the requisite status is included. Loss of that status by government action is something all have to contemplate. Without question, tax exemption regulations have also neutered our religious establishment. Politics may not now be addressed from the pulpit.

        Allow me to recommend a delightful Finnish movie involving the SA, “The Man With No Past.” Brilliant dialogue.

  14. Baron,

    Thanks for mentioning the 4th Virginia — the Wytheville Grays. My g-g-grandfather, William Robinson Terry, was a 1st Lieutenant with them before the War, and was at the execution of John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. He rose quickly through the ranks, being brevetted Brigadier General, and became the last commander of what remained of the Stonewall Brigade. I will always be proud of him.

    • God bless – the Stonewall Brigade set the standard.

      North Carolinians remain unwelcome in parts of WV…

  15. Good article, Baron, and I agree with the right to display the Confederate battle flag, even if I think that the “peculiar institution” was one that needed to die and do not sympathize with secession. I descend mostly from people who came a bit too late to have had anything to do with slavery or the Civil War, although my father had a great-aunt who married a fellow Austro-Hungarian Jewish immigrant who had fought as a Union soldier (and who arranged for my father, as a very young boy, to witness one of the last parades of the Grand Army of the Republic).

    If we forget our history–with all its complexities–we condemn ourselves to repeat its mistakes. The memories of all sides, whether Confederate, Union, former slave, or whatever, are part of the American heritage. I cannot object to anyone who wishes to discuss any facet of that heritage. Maybe the Civil War, with its appalling casualty rates, the devastation of much of the South, and the intensification of racial animosity that followed it, should stand as a lesson that even as resilient a polity as the USA can have its failures; and that our politicians and judges should take heed lest they push anyone too far.

    I believe that one of the serious problems of the Left is that it is anti-history, save for the grievances of its clients of the moment. Its determination to suppress narratives other than its own needs to be exposed and countered.

    As a professional swindler of the young–oops, public high school social studies teacher–I plan to do the following to subvert the curriculum:

    Point out that the first use of Darwin’s theory of evolution in America was to promote white supremacy.

    Point out that one of the first “Mainstream” voices against the slave trade was that of Samuel Sewall, the same who ordered the hanging of the Salem witches.

    Point out the links between urban Democratic machines with criminal activities.

    Point out the slavishness of 20th century radicals towards Stalin.

    Point out that John Marshall Harlan, the dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson, came from a slave-holding family (he was also fiercely anti-Chinese, as witness his dissent in US v. Wong Kim Ark).

  16. Babs, what an interesting story! I have always supported the Salvation Army. . . not sure why, but they seem to be the best out there in terms of direct help to the needy. And, from your comments, they do not waste the money on themselves, another good reason to donate to them.

    I remember reading about “Irish need not apply” and I am aware of all the discrimination over all the years. The black people need not feel alone about discrimination. It is always and forever, it’s what people do. Unfortunately.

  17. Oh, and Baron — I have noted the book and will go see if the library has it, if not I will actually (gasp!) buy it. Because I trust you. . .

  18. @babs

    The “Irish need not apply” stuff is, as far as researchers can determine, a piece of bogus history cooked up by venal politicians and used as recently as the mid 1990s by someone as super rich (and worthless) as the late Senator Ted Kennedy who claimed, on one occasion, to have actually witnessed this phenomenon in his youth.

    Many American journals and newspapers dating back to the 1830s have been converted to searchable PDFs. Help wanted ads, where they specify religious or ethnic preferences, are quite few in number and usually involve innocuous things, such as requests for a governess of good character – Presbyterian, Methodist or Catholic – to help look after and educate a few small children.

    As for having a sign behind an eminently breakable glass window stating that “No Irish Need Apply”, does anyone seriously believe that this is even remotely plausible?

    • As a child, my maternal grandmother told me of how terrible she felt seeing NINA signs in store windows. Her family originally came to American to escape the British genocide of the Irish in the mid-1800’s, but her experiences were around 1910. As most historians admit, although there was a potato blight, the exportion of the remaining food by the English occupiers is what starved the Irish and forced a diaspora.

      • That’s “exportation of the remaining food”.
        “Ahem”, I have also read pro and con articles about the existence of NINA signs. My grandmother was recalling her childhood experiences, without an agenda.
        I see this controversy as an example of stolen history, which is the general topic of the Civil War discussion.
        The Irish have had history rewritten both in regard to NINA signs and the famine.

        Also, with thanks to Babs, my father praised the Salvation Army as thy served coffee,donuts and kindness to Dad and the other cold and exhausted American aviators returning from missions during WWII.

    • I see SJWs have begun infecting GoV. The so-called myth of the “Irish need not apply” phenomenon was started by a liberal history professor, who probably fashioned himself a SJW, too. Among other things, this type believes that Whites discriminate against only non-whites, and never against their own color, and if you have to falsify history to convince others of this “truth” — well, that’s a small price to pay for social justice. In fact, in the 1800’s the Protestant U.S. often did tell the immigrant Irish not to apply, as proven in this article at the Daily Beast, which is no conservative web site.

  19. I’ve been involved in a few arguments on these pages on the origins and causes of the Civil War. They motivated me to do some additional reading on the history of the Civil War and the question on whether it was fought to end slavery.

    I think we have to look at different parts of the Civil War.

    1) The secession of the southern states.

    This is perhaps the most interesting and complex of the questions. Some claim it was to protect slavery, and some claim that the North was using its votes to impose ruinous tariffs on the South, treating the South as an exploited colony.

    However, the tariffs had actually become reasonable with the passage of the Walker tariff in 1847, and the South was not being unduly exploited. It was in 1860, after several southern states had seceded, that the really ruinous Morrill tariff was able to pass. It would likely not have been able to pass the Senate if the southern states had not seceded. So, secession came before, not after, the exploitative tariffs.

    On the question of slavery, Lincoln made it perfectly clear he intended to maintain slavery: he supported, while President, a Constitutional amendment protected slavery in perpetuity. This would have been the first actual mention of slavery in the Constitution. Lincoln also supported the Fugitive Slave Act, and supported its enforcement and the return of runaway slaves to their owners.

    So, it was simply irrational to suppose the southern states seceded to maintain slavery. These were educated people, so they must have been aware of Lincoln’s statements and intentions.

    Secession absolutely, positively could not have been about maintaining slavery. And it also was also not in direct response to ruinous tariffs that could not have been enacted in the absence of secession.

    So, why did the states secede?

    My conclusion is that the southern politicians and leaders thought of the South as being materially different in character and culture from the North. They would be allowed to keep slavery, and might even have prevented exploitative tariffs, but the union was beginning to seem like an unnatural and stressful marriage between two very different people.

    Perhaps they were tired of continuing to fight a perpetual political battle to defend slavery and freedom from tariffs: the battles were winnable, but eventually they wanted to live in a more homogeneous society with its own culture.

    I challenge anyone who claims that slavery could have lasted in a Confederacy for more than 20 years or so, even if there had not been a civil war. Slavery was coming to be abhorred in civilized countries. Several contributions to this blog have pointed out that prominent southerners, like Stonewall Jackson and Robert Lee, were against slavery. In the absence of the Civil War, likely these leaders would have lent their talents to abolishing slavery, eventually, in the South itself.

    2) The outbreak of the Civil War

    This can be laid completely on the head of the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. He was warned to his face by Robert Toombs, a staunch secessionist (and a fervent supporter of slavery) that to attack Fort Sumter would be to ruin the Confederacy.

    Once war had been initiated, Lincoln relentlessly pressed the South for complete surrender and continuation of the union. Lincoln reminds me in some ways of the faceless bureaucrats of the European Union, who wish to subject all of Europe to their diktats, appropriate or not.

    The early stages of the Civil War also had nothing to do with slavery. Lincoln made clear he would not abolish the institution of slavery where it existed.

    3) The continuation and winning of the Civil War.

    After Gettysburg, Lincoln refocused the orientation of Northern propaganda to make the Civil War about slavery and freedom. Given Lincoln’s previous stands on the continuation of slavery, it was a ridiculous but effective tactic. The presentation of the war as a fight for freedom reignited the enthusiasm of the north, and helped propel Lincoln into another term, where he thoroughly and utterly crushed the southern military and southern economy.

    So, the last two years or so of the Civil War became a fight against slavery. The Northern soldiers were fighting to end slavery, while, as the Baron pointed out, the majority of Southern soldiers were fighting to defend their home states from what they saw as an invasion.

    I think I’ll conclude with the thought that the Civil War was won because of slavery, but was not fought because of slavery. It might have been avoided altogether if the head of the Confederacy had been someone wiser and smarter than Jefferson Davis.

    • I think it was the State of New Jersey that only freed their remaining slaves in 1865. The abolitionists should have started closer to home it appears; or else slavery was irrelevant to the war aims of the North. So here we see a ‘narrative’ which translates directly into the 21st century. Divide and rule…..

      I would suggest that the ‘Banksters’ were not idle at this time. The whole of Lincoln’s ‘greenback’ saga seems to point that way.

    • Thank you for taking the time to write this interesting analysis.

      No one foresaw the killing that was to come, which was hideous. My grandfather took a ball in the shoulder in a Union regiment at Perryville and fortunately was not killed. (Readers of my various comments here might disagree.) Considering that ghastly toll, the poisoning of politics following (even down to the present day with its pettiness, stridency, and vindictiveness), and the destruction of the magnificent structure of government created in 1789, I wish that the leaders then had not been so intemperate.

      I have little respect for Lincoln and his tyrannical and unconstitutional suppression if dissent.

      War should not be lightly entered into and I can’t help but think that the outcome was not worth the cost of achieving it. As you say, slavery wasn’t the issue and no way would it have survived another 20 years. 600,000 dead to prevent secession? So what if I were to need a visa to visit Miami?

      Jefferson envisioned a collection of small confederations rather than the Leviathan we have now, did he not?

      At 71, I’m much inclined to the view that separation is the way to go when the bonds have broken or were illusory to begin with. Enforced, duplicitous, happy-happy integration (not least by mass immigration) is the Prime Directive of our day and, in the eyes of many, it’s enough to irritate the Pope. I think this particular blog occasionally posts articles on this very subject.

      Fast forward to WWI and the then-regnant, smug fellow whose parents were not married to each other and his little war on people who dared to disagree with Himself and his own little stampede into the Game of Nations. What the hell was the rush to get men killed in a distant war?

      Civilization paid dearly for that as well as in version 2.0 of his little obsession (as events developed).

      The point of this is even now Barackus Magnus and the political class of the U.S. are itching to involve us in wars in the ME and are doing their utmost to provoke or embitter the Russians toward us. This is unseemly in view of what we know of primitive-by-comparison 19th-c. warfare, of modern weaponry, and of the enormous and multi-generational costs of war.

      I can’t see the value of our present major foreign policy objective, which appears to be to ensure that there is only one controlling power in the world that rules over some kind of federation if vassal states. We can now see the danger to us of a chief executive ignorant of and indifferent to our Constitution, a Supreme Court ever willing to lick the boots of their ideological buddies in Congress and the presidency, and a supine Congress in thrall to 50 or so big money people, if not one-tenth that number.

      • Hi Col. Bunny,

        You and I are so close in opinion it’s scary. I hope it’s not mainly due to the fact that we’re not that different in age.

        Let me elaborate on a few points.

        I believe right now it would have been positively beneficial for everyone involved now, including the descendants of slaves, for secession to have resulted in a stable Confederacy that existed up to the present day. Here are my reasons.

        1) The Confederacy saw itself as a child of the American Revolution, and entailed the same liberties in its constitution as the US Constitution. Slaves were not included in the rights granted, as they were not in the US Constitution. The Confederacy would be a third political entity on the North American continent based on representative government and individual liberties, in addition to Canada and the US.

        2) I refer to the series in Gates of Vienna by El-Ingles: “Ethno-Religious Diversity and the Limits of Democracy”.

        El-Ingles does a pretty good job of showing that a society which is too culturally and politically heterogeneous becomes unstable and progressively less representative.

        As I mentioned before, the US was becoming diverse, with multiple regional interests, almost too many to comprehend, let along reconcile. You had the industrial north, the plantation south, individual farm south, light industry south, farming Midwest, etc. The southern representatives were always fighting off attacks on their interests, specifically slavery and tariffs.

        If the southern states had not seceded, most likely they could have fought off tariffs and preserved slavery. But, the question is, was this a beneficial situation to either the south or the rest of the country?

        Right now, there are so many interests in the US, the legislative branch is almost perpetually paralyzed. Congress is unable to rein in unilateral actions by the executive branch, nor able to limit the scope of the Supreme Court judgments, which seems to be the preeminent power at this point.

        A unified and separate South would not only be another entity with representative government. The borders would be a point of immigration control, a very good thing right now. Further, chances are the Southern states would be a lot less compromising on illegal immigration from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, experiencing the consequences directly. Both the Confederacy, the US, and even Canada would benefit tremendously from a Confederacy taking a much harder stance on population movements into North America than they would have been able to if they had to negotiate with Northern states with a different cultural outlook.

        3) Continuing in the mode of a homogeneous society: political and economic activity would simply be more efficient if the interests of the south and the north, midwest, and west did not all have to be reconciled for any legislation. Government would simply be more efficient and less costly.

        4) I absolutely can’t see any way slavery would last for more than 20 years, regardless of how profitable cotton was. The plantation class was the only group that really benefited from slavery. They sent their children to elite colleges and England to be educated. Their own children would press for emancipation. It’s happened before and after: the children of the elite class are the prime supporters of a revolution.

        The freed Negroes would universally be better off in a south with its economy and superstructure intact than in the devastated, impoverished, subsistence south of the post-civil war era. Call it “trickle-down” economics, but workers prosper more in prosperous economies.

        I come into contact with many Canadians on the internet, I have visited Canada. I love Canadians, love Canada, love the separation of countries, and do not mind at all having to have a passport to visit Canada. I do not need a visa, by the way.

        • Yes, I see that our thinking on this is similar. A few years ago I listened to a podcast of a speech by Hans-Hermann Hoppe who extolled the virtues of polities of 50K people or less, that being a rough upper limit of governability, accountability, and responsiveness. All quite theoretical in view of what we are saddled with right now.

          Our elected representatives are wildly unreachable by us when you consider that each member of the House of Representatives has 733,000 constituents on average. Those are long odds on any individual constituent being able to shift his congressman even a millimeter off center. Not to mention the very different geographic interests that the Congress itself must attempt to harmonize that you mentioned.

          This would be more tolerable if Congress operated within the confines of the enumerated powers. There’s not a lot of boodle to fight over were that to be the case. As it is, absolutely everything is up for grabs for lobbyists and money men who only have to deal with 535 federal legislators not the more numerous state legislators.

          I see nothing to interest me here. Why waste one’s time and money trying to influence distant strangers? I do it some, esp. on immigration, but I ought to quit. Charles Murray is advocating ramping up civil disobedience creatively and I rather like that. Withdrawal of support is, I think, basically frightening to politicians.

          I think some tectonic shifts are in the offing that may stimulate a re-examination of the abuse of the idea of enumerated powers, the degradation of the currency, the degradation of our sovereignty, the degradation of the electoral process, and the abuse of spending.

          The only reason that splitting the U.S. into six different nations concerns me is because it will require unusual cooperation in the defense realm but in a way, we already successfully do just that. As with immigration, the ruling class is sure to complexify and amplify the problems but if we can fake a moon landing this will be a piece of cake.

          The true situation concerning who actually buys what in our political system now is opaque, to say the least. Smaller entities would dilute the power of money, I am sure. Too, I like to think that regions would garner more allegiance and sense of belonging than our present megastate. At present I feel more like we’re all being jammed in one big shoebox with and by people I detest.

  20. Did the Federal government, before jumping into that war, consider offering monetary compensation to all the owners of slaves in the process of abolishing the institution? The British did it and the institution seemed to have ended relatively peacefully. What if the Unites States government had made such a proposal instead of going to war? Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone in the end?

  21. “Jefferson envisioned a collection of small confederations rather than the Leviathan we have now, did he not? ”

    This rather common view which often coincides with those who take a dim view of the Yankee North seems to indulge the unrealistic assumption that the human nature that comprises, and jostles and boils ebulliently if not often lid-rattlingly within, society can and will remain relatively stable (even if not sedately so like placid army of Gentlemen Farmers with multiplying Monticellos advancing without metastatically expanding and flexing its imperfect (or, if one wants to be quaint, sinful) muscles as it grows — a view oddly mirror-imaging the utopian fantasy of its ideological opposite, Marxism.

    I.e., given the advance in science and technology lengthening life spans and making life more comfortable (in the West) thus fostering more and more people needing more and more bourgeois comforts and pursuits of livelihood, amid the ongoing and parallel growth of more and more crime and disorder on the edges and in cracks throughout society, and more and more freedom accommodating more and more diverse appetites & lfestyles — with the country expanding more and more to reflect, absorb and accommodate this — it seems highly unrealistic a) to expect a republic to remain frozen in a past that hadn’t grown so much; and b) even if the United States had evolved into a fragmentation of 5 or 10 or 15 separate nations with trade agreements, to expect those 5 or 10 or 15 separate nations to have fared & weathered the spectacular, wondrous, and often disturbing and disruptive Progress that imperfect humans have grown into in the intervening two centuries any better than it has in actuality.

  22. All of my ancestors on both side were CSA. After the War, my g-grandfather on my mother’s side returned to farm the poor soil of Alabama while my paternal g-g-grandfather struck out for Texas. There he became a prosperous merchant for a while before becoming a foreman on the King Ranch in deep south Texas. I’ve been looking for a Battle Flag to put on my truck, but have not found the one I want yet (mainly because they say I cannot). They are correct when they say that it is a flag of rebellion; it is, and always will be.

    RonaldB said, “… but the union was beginning to seem like an unnatural and stressful marriage between two very different people.” That is a very accurate description of the US today, although the geographic lines are a bit different. Today we have two coastal regions that are wildly liberal, a much more conservative middle section (between the Appalachians and the Rockies), and the South. It is essentially a four-way split, but it is certainly a forced union of people who no longer have much in common.

    • For a wry view of a fragmented United States, check out one of Robert A Heinlein’s last novels, “Friday”.

  23. My forebearers fought on both sides of that bloody war. IMHO all of this brohoha over the Stars and Bars is a form of Marxist revisionism, a cultural revolution brought on by the lunatic left.

  24. Was the American civil war about black emancipation? Was WW2 about saving the Jews from genocide?

    • WWII was about stopping the enslavement of everybody who was not a Nazi, a Japanese shintou fanatic or an Italian train schedule fanatic. !

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