Requiem for a Culture, Part 2: The Battle Flag

This is the second essay in an occasional series. Part 1 is here.

Requiem for a Culture

Part 2: The Battle Flag

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

— William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, Act I, Scene III (page 80 in the Vintage paperback edition)

In Part 1 I wrote about the statue of the Confederate rifleman that was removed from a public park in Farmville, Virginia during the George Floyd hysteria of 2020. It was eventually relocated to the Confederate Cemetery, which is in an out-of-the-way location across the river in Cumberland County. The sentinel now guards his fallen comrades in their unmarked graves under the oak trees on a shady hillside.

The statue was just the beginning of controversy over Confederate issues in Farmville and the surrounding counties.

Back in 2011, in response to the mania for pulling down statues and erasing Confederate symbols, a group known as the Virginia Flaggers was formed. Their mission was to put up flagpoles and fly the Confederate battle flag in as many places as possible, on private property but visible from public thoroughfares. Their most famous success was to erect an enormous flag in Northern Virginia that was visible from I-95.

[Rather than a regular website, the Flaggers have a Facebook page, which I haven’t looked at, because I don’t do Facebook. I’m surprised it hasn’t been taken down. However, they also have a blog — it’s on Blogspot, and for some reason Google hasn’t yet taken it down.]

After the long hot summer of 2020, the Flaggers intensified their efforts to put up more flags. Travelers on major highways all across the Commonwealth can now see them. Last year a patriotic Virginia property owner donated space for a flag just outside Farmville, on a hillside next to US 460 adjacent to the Third Street exit into Farmville. The Flaggers went through the necessary legal steps before they raised the flag, acquiring the permits from Prince Edward County and jumping through all the zoning hoops. Early this year the flag went up on a sixty-foot pole (see the photo at the top of this post), and a predictable uproar ensued.

In the public discussion about the issue, there seems to be widespread confusion about what the flag actually is. It is not a national flag. It is a battle flag. It was carried into battle by Confederate troops between 1861 and 1865. Each unit had its own version of the flag. It was an important symbol for the soldiers who fought under it, and if the bearer fell, it was the urgent duty of any man nearby to pick up the flag and raise it again.

My great-great-grandfather Daniel Weisiger fought in the 4th Virginia Cavalry. I haven’t been able to find a photo of his battle flag, but this is the flag for the 4th Virginia Infantry:

As you can see, it was very specific to the group that carried it. By the time this particular flag was sewn, the 4th Virginia Infantry had seen combat at all the battlefields listed on the flag.

All the brouhaha about the flag raised outside of Farmville was, of course, based on the fact that it was deeply offensive to all right-minded citizens. However, the flag’s detractors were well aware that lip service had to be paid to the First Amendment, and that opposing the battle flag based on its symbolic meaning could never succeed. The preferred strategy was, as it often is, to use zoning ordinances to force the removal of the offending flag.

In this case, however, the anti-racist bien-pensants had a problem: Prince Edward County didn’t regulate flagpoles with its zoning ordinances. The county hurriedly passed a new one, and then appealed to the zoning board to force the removal of the flag.

The Farmville Herald, which is getting more woke with every issue, was fairly salivating over the prospect of sticking it to the nasty Confederate racists by bringing down the flag. Numerous articles appeared in advance of the June meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Unfortunately for its opponents, forcing the removal of the flag was not the slam-dunk they had hoped for. Not only had the permit for the flag been issued before the zoning change went into effect, but the flag had already been flying for longer than the statutory 60-day period during which a building permit could be revoked.

The issue was obviously a hot potato that the board was anxious to get out of its hands. The Herald and Longwood University may be modern and progressive, but the surrounding rural areas most certainly aren’t. Country people have a fierce respect for custom and tradition, even the black folks among them. If a referendum had ever been held about the issue, the Confederate Battle Flag would have won by a large margin.

In the end, three members of the board voted to reject the appeal, and two members abstained. The flag stayed up.

The Farmville Herald was so dejected by the decision that it waited more than two weeks to report on it. The full article is below:

Flagpole will remain standing

July 7, 2022

A public hearing was held in Prince Edward County on Tuesday, June 21, by the Board of Zoning Appeals to discuss the removal of a flagpole that flies a confederate [sic] flag 35 feet over the height limit. Two board members abstained from making a decision and three voted to affirm the appeal, leaving the flagpole up.

Russell Dove and John Prengaman were the two that abstained. The remaining board members, Paul Hoffman, John F. Townsend III and James Davis, voted in favor of the appeal applicants.

“This was a huge win for our Confederate veterans, our First Amendment freedom of expression and landowner property rights in the Commonwealth,” stated Grayson Jennings from Virginia Flaggers in an email.

The hearing was opened by a collective pledge of allegiance followed by a special request from a board member. People were asked not to discuss the content of the flag at the start of the public hearing. It was emphasized that the flagpole was the only topic of discussion.

The contents of the public hearing were reviewed and presented to the people in attendance. Carolyn and Corbette Bowman, property owners of the flagpole and appeal applicants, were offered the first opportunity to speak, but let their attorney, Herschel Keller, speak on their behalf.

Keller began by explaining the reasoning behind the appeal. Their argument was based on the premise of a Senate bill not allowing the recall of a building permit approval after 60 days unless obtained by malfeasance or fraud. He then went on to describe the process of how the permit was acquired.

The standard process for obtaining a zoning permit and building permit for new structures includes submitting an application form that contains the property location, tax map number, drawings showing parcel changes and denoting distances to all property lines, according to Robert Love, director of Planning and Community Development. The form is then reviewed by the assistant zoning administrator and payment of the application fee finalizes the zoning permit. Next the applicant must submit a building permit application that is reviewed by the Building Official. Payment also finalizes the building permit.

The hearing opened for public comments after the review.

A flagpole advocate spoke in favor of the landowners’ legal rights. The process was followed step by step, he said.

“Put yourself in the shoes of the property owner,” he said. “How would you feel if you took the proper steps by law and this illegal action is taking place now?”

Another speaker suggested adjusting the height of the pole to measure up to 25 feet which a board member said they would write their suggestion down on paper.

Public involvement ceased and the county council, Andrew McRoberts, came up to speak.

The Bowmans’ counsel made an argument that the building permit issued by a building official can satisfy the requirements needed to obtain the permit, according to McRoberts. McRoberts opposed this argument by stating that in Prince Edward County only the zoning administrator, also serving as county administrator, and the assistant zoning administrator are authorized to issue permits.

The county made two clerical errors during the issuance of the permit, according to McRoberts. The first error was the inclusion of language on the building permit form from many years ago. The language speaks of consistency of the permit with the zoning ordinance. The zoning administrator does not review or sign off on building permit forms, according to McRoberts.

The second clerical error was made by the building official who signed off on the building permit. The official signed without omitting the language regarding consistency of the permit with the zoning ordinance.

The building official testified at the hearing that he was not authorized to sign and never intended to state that the permit was consistent with the zoning ordinance because he didn’t realize the statement was on the form, according to McRoberts. The language was included on the form and over his signature in error.

One of the board members addressed McRoberts and said that he made a very compelling case presenting the errors made by the county.

“But those errors should have been caught within the 60 days,” the board member said.

Questions arose about other flagpoles, specifically one at the Trinity Memorial Gardens cemetery exceeding the limit. The flagpole is in a different zoning area, A-1 agricultural, where there is no height restriction, according to Love.

An appeal can be made by the board within 30 days, but the board has not met to discuss future plans, according to Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley.

“We are thankful to the hundreds of citizens who reached out to offer support and/or to contribute to our legal defense fund, most of whom expressed anger and dissatisfaction with the ‘woke’ actions of the board of supervisors and other county officials, and thankful that the memorial will stand… to the glory of God, and in memory and honor of the men who fought and died in the nearby battles of Saylor’s Creek and High Bridge,” Jennings added.

Alas, the issue is not yet settled. The Board of Supervisors has brought the case of the battle flag before the Circuit Court, and a final resolution has yet to be reached.

The tactic seems to be to wear down the flag’s supporters with state-funded litigation. The opponents of the flag can draw on unlimited taxpayer-funded reserves to litigate against the Virginia Flaggers. The Flaggers, however, rely on donations from like-minded people who want to keep the battle flag flying on its hillside above Farmville. I myself have contributed (via the Sons of Confederate Veterans) to the defense fund for the flag.

So I am unable to give you a final resolution to the battle over the battle flag. Lawyers for both sides will make a whole lot more money before the issue is settled.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Collecting and collating the material for these posts has made me realize that the Civil War, at least in my part of Virginia, is a personal and familial issue, rather than a historical one. The rural areas of the Central Virginia Piedmont are riddled with families whose ancestors served in the Recent Unpleasantness. Families that have passed down memories of what happened in 1861-1865, stories of battles and suffering and sacrifice and privation.

The polemicists of woke modernity would make it all about race, but it isn’t. Based on my experience in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the important issues concern liberty, tradition, and honor. Slavery was an abomination, but that’s not what the current conflicts are about.

Writing it up just makes me realize how much more there is to say, but that will have to wait for future installments in this series.

Deo Vindice!


The Charlotte Grays

35 thoughts on “Requiem for a Culture, Part 2: The Battle Flag

  1. Stars and Bars flag is here at the comrade’s hovel.
    It is hated because it is the symbol of standing up to Yankee imperialists.
    The same Yankees that made Chairman Mao at Yale and funded the first Bolshevik revolution.

    • Ironic, given that when Mexico’s government went Bolshevist, the Confederate flag-wavers collected funds for the Bolsheviks, not the Cristeros.

      Or how they voted for every leftist government that handed over Eastern Europe and China to the kremlin.

  2. This is comparable to South Koreans descended from the North Koreans who fled south in 1950 founding “the daughters/sons of the North Korean Army,” waving North Korean battle flags, and referring to the Korean War as “the war of NATO” aggression, because “like, fight the power, dude.” Whilst downplaying the role communist ideology played in their romanticized version of history.

    The Confederacy was America’s first French Revolution, and we should be glad the collectivists lost. All leftist revolutionaries think of themselves as freedom fighters, but the Confederacy was no more defending Liberty than North Korea was between 1950-53.

      • Are you confused about the Confederacy being collectivist revolutionaries who didn’t fight for freedom, or something else?

        • Dladius:
          Tell us how long you rhode the little blue school bus. Did you ever complete your gender studies or did you attend a cosemtics school instead?

          • Neither, comrade controlled-opposition. I just happened to read the primary sources, and the confederacy could not shut up about slavery being the justification for everything they did.

            But “like, fight the power, dude” is simpler and easier to rally behind than “the negro is not equal to the white man, and slavery is his natural and lawful condition. Our government is the first in history to be established on this great natural and moral fact.”

            And don’t get me started on Woodrow Wilson, the man who seamlessly connects the Confederacy to modern progressivism and Marxism.

      • Noticing the parallels/rhymes between the Confederacy and communism is a lot less ridiculous when you put them side-by-side:

        1) Communism starts wars and claims the other side is the aggressor. The Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter and had no qualms about firing the first shot. Lincoln, like the militia at Lexington/Concord, let the other side fire the first shot. Likewise, slavers invaded Kansas in the 1850s like a migrant invasion and forced a pro-slavery constitution upon a free state, yet claimed anyone who resisted was the aggressor.

        2) Communism says they fight for freedom while implementing slavery. The Confederacy officially went to war to defend slavery, as evidenced by the constant references to it in their legal documents. There was also a desire to annex Cuba as a slave state. Only after they lost did they pretend to be libertarian miniarchists who just wanted to be left alone.

        3) Communism is reckless and short-sighted. The Confederacy made few plans, had no unifying strategy, and thought that charging into the muzzles of Unionist guns would win. The Confederacy lost 30% of its males in the war due to a lack of planning, staff work, and foresight.

        4) Communism breaks promises and violates neutrality. The Confederacy violated Kentucky and Missouri’s neutrality, and twice as many southerners from the border states fought for the Union than the Confederacy (as volunteers, not conscripts) as a result. When Lee invaded Maryland in 1862, he was not welcomed as a liberator but instead found a hostile reception.

        5) Communism has no internal checks and balances. The Confederacy had none, either, with Jefferson Davis de facto running everything due to congressional deadlock. Lincoln had far less power over his government than Jefferson Davis.

        6) Communism uses an inefficient, stagnant economic model built on forced labor. The Confederacy‘a administration was so inept, they resorted to confiscation of private property. Lincoln’s government was capable of waging the war without going this far.

        There are other examples, but the pattern becomes clear the deeper one delves. Just because one claims to be fighting for liberty doesn’t mean he is.

        • It is too bad Lincoln didn’t live long enough to see his dream of shipping back every African to Africa, where we are paying for that mistake to this day.

        • Poor Comrade Gladius:

          Parading his education, such as it is, like someone bragging about being a member of the Biden clan.

          The Constitution was ratified only when three states insisted that they would ratify it if all states agreed that any state could leave the union for any reason, at any time.

          Look it up skippy.

          Lincoln could have let these states leave peacefully, but if he did 70% of Federal revenues would disappear. Tell us about Communists again comrade.

          Noble Lincoln denied the war was about slavery, and for good reason. It was about power and money-central to good socialists everywhere.

          Lincoln refused to allow the South to leave peacefully. They offered to pay their share ofthe debt and for any federal properties on Southern soil and Lincoln refused.

          His hypocrisy was so great that his great Declaration freed slaves where the Union had no power and preserved it where it did exercise power. Typical Marxist.

          The final proof of how laothsome Lincoln was contrary to his myth is this. Imagine the largest most powerful industry in America today, lets say the computer industry. And imagine what you’d say about their chief lawyer promoting their interests. A utter knave and sell out, a capitalist running dog.

          Guess what Lincoln was, the most highly paid railway lawyer in America. Nuff said about this loser.

          • Exhibit A of why “like, fight the power, dude” isn’t the same as true knowledge.

            First, the constitution does not prohibit mutually-agreed separation, like Czechoslovakia’s velvet divorce. It does not allow unilateral secession. If it ain’t in writing, it’s not legally-binding, no matter what “the will of the people” demands.

            70% of federal revenues??! The Old South was akin to modern Detroit in terms of its wealth. And if you’re referring to tariffs on foreigners, then you’re still wrong; only New Orleans was worth a merchant’s time and effort. The rest of the southern ports were [sumps].

            Lincoln didn’t say the war was about slavery, but the declarations of secession did. Many indifferent unionists eventually figured it out and Lincoln didn’t play his hand too early like the impulsive rebels.

            Yes, Lincoln had no requirement to make unilateral concessions to a government his did not recognize. What makes them so special? Oh yeah, “the will of the people.”

            Classic claptrap about emancipation. One question: how would it be enforced? Oh yeah, the army was the only federal organization capable of enforcing it. So emancipating slaves in regions under military governance is not hypocritical, it’s the only workable solution. And the leftists there whines about being under a military dictatorship, like their heirs do today.

            No, someone working in their own best interests is normal. And Lincoln was not exclusively a railway lawyer. So trying to “fight the power” against the railroad boogeyman is pretty flimsy, comrade.

      • That’s like saying anyone who is skeptical of your motives for saying “fight the power” is a Nazi. Same mistake, equal and opposite direction.

        And do you really think Joe Biden would denounce the Confederacy for being a batch of left-wing collectivists? Or would he take the Soviet angle of claiming they’re right-wing?

          • That doesn’t answer my question. Would Joe Biden punch the Confederacy from the left or from the right?

            Confederate apologists think they’re right-wing, and often assume they can only be criticized from the left. But this is as myopic as their plan for winning the war, and as true as heir belief that the north would starve without southern agriculture. Leftists who think they’re right-wing are nothing new.

    • Re: “This is comparable to South Koreans descended from the North Koreans who fled south in 1950 founding “the daughters/sons of the North Korean Army,” waving North Korean battle flags, and referring to the Korean War as “the war of NATO” aggression…”

      I’m not nitpicking, but was it NATO those people were protesting, or the UN? NATO was formed in 1949, but existed only on paper until the mid-1950s, by which time the Korean conflict 1950-1953 was over.
      President Truman, on the other hand, invoked Article 51 of the United Nations charter, which states roughly that an attack against any member is an attack against all. That’s how UN member forces came to be in Korea.

      If it was, however, NATO being protested… well, that would be news to this historian.

      Thanks!

      • Given the dogmatic historical illiteracy necessary to see the Free World as the aggressors to both the Civil War and Korean War, they probably would use the rhetoric “NATO is at fault” like Putin is today. The Lost Cause has already anachronistically turned Lincoln into Woodrow Wilson (ironic, since Wilson was central to popularizing the Lost Cause), so why stop there?

        “Fight the Power” is the sort of slogan that doesn’t concern itself with specifics or reality overall…

  3. Just imagine for one second our side would behave like Antifa / BLM etc.

    Then the opponents of the flag would suffer.

    They should be on their knees thanking God that we are civilized.
    (Unfortunately that means in the end we loose. But we upheld the rules.
    A short time ago there was an article in another blog where one said: Forget the rules! Winning is all that counts! I think ist was on the blog of Sarah Hoyt, but I dont remember the guest author who wrote it.)

  4. Isn’t it interesting that slavery existed beneath the Stars & Strips much longer than beneath the Stars & Bars and no one has complained.
    I searched for a source for a quality-made Battle Flag not long ago and couldn’t find a single supplier. I guess all the flag makers have knuckled under.
    There is/was a beautiful huge Battle Flag flying along the Danville, Va. by-pass. When I drove past the other week the flag was gone and only the flag pole remained. Hopefully it was only due to flag repair or replacement. I did find a so-so quality state flag that now flies from my house on appropriate occasions.
    During Union General Hunter’s raid on Lynchburg a Union calvary detachment was sent out to reconnoiter. They rode entirely around the city. My Great-great-great Grandmother was just a little girl at the time and was playing out in the yard when this calvary detachment rode up. They stopped and ask, “What are you doing little girl?” She replied, “I’m hiding my doll so the Yankees won’t get her.” They laughed and rode on. Hunter’s calvary was lead by some officer named Custer.

    • I discovered during my volunteer stint at the SCV booth at the Heart of Virginia festival that all the Confederate merchandise, battle flags included, is now made in China. I don’t think anything we sold was made in the USA (much less the CSA).

      • Exactly, my Battle Flag is American made . And we’ll made at that, you know like American made products of the past

  5. Even more ridiculous is the move by the New Woke Army to remove Civil War Battle Honors from regimental flags for units descended from Confederate Army Regiments.

  6. The Union Army ended their Republic at Appomattox, VA, in 1865. So IRONIC that the American (Union) Empire was born that day. Next came the Genocide of the remaining Free American Indians in violation of the Union’s Treaties. Then came the Spanish-American War of colonization of Puerto Rico and the Phillipine “Insurrection” as those that fought for Freedom from the Spanish were crushed by the Union.
    No one is perfect and certainly No nation is either, but to demonize the South after 157 years is just more evidence of the Tyranny of the Union.

    • Spoken like a true anti-imperialist Communist in the 1960s, comrade. “Who cares that the Confederacy wanted to preserve inefficient slavery and collectivism? The will of the people must not be inhibited by such notions as integrity or morals!”

  7. One of the ways you can tell you’re over your target, is how much flak you’re getting. The wokesters, (communists) really don’t have anything noble or honorable to refer to in their world, so they make a profession of tearing down everyone and everything that does.

  8. One of Ann Coulter’s best essays, in my opinion, was titled “The Battle Flag” and it comprises an entire chapter of her book “How to Talk to a Liberal.” It is the most moving writing of hers that I’ve ever read. It was so poignant I had to stop and remind myself at one point that I was reading Ann Coulter.

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