DeVos: Confederate cross-dresser |

DeVos: Confederate cross-dresser

Jon DeVos
Staff Photo |

In 1861, Fort Sumter was sitting like a Union duck in the South Carolina Confederacy. The fort’s Union commander, Major Robert Anderson, had just politely declined to surrender, shaking hands with his enemies as they left, saying, “If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we may meet in the next.”

The barrage of the island fort began the next day. Designed to repel invaders from the sea, the fort and the 85 men manning it were defenseless to an attack from the rear. The Civil War had begun.

History belongs to those who write it down. Today in the South, the Civil War was fought over state’s rights. Each state should have the right to control its destiny through popular vote. That’s how it’s taught in schools throughout the South.

This sounds like a reasonable and sound democratic principal, and indeed it is, but it conveniently stops short of mentioning that the destiny sought by the Confederates was based upon owning other humans, coupled with a Biblical demand to punish them while profiting from their miserable existence. No, seriously.

One simple fact can help you winnow the chaff from today’s presidential candidates: If they claim the Civil War was only about state’s rights, you know they are liars, pandering to a base of bigots. One has only to read the Cornerstone Speech by Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens to reveal that lie. Here’s a quote:

“With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system.”

Two questions today still haunt the South. First, was it an act of cowardice or cunning for Jefferson Davis to try to escape capture dressed as a woman and hiding behind his wife? That’s what he did when he took the Confederate treasury and fled for the Philippines. Of course, if you live in the South, the story goes that Jefferson Davis was not fleeing the country at all; instead he was headed to Texas to stage a guerilla-style comeback.

The Southern version says he was valiantly defending his wife as the Union soldiers closed in. It was a chilly night so he ducked into his tent and in the dark, he understandably, but nonetheless mistakenly donned his wife’s housecoat. As he left the tent, his wife was still concerned for his welfare and tossed her shawl over his head just as the damn Yankees pointed their rifles at him.

As you might expect, the Northern version is different. Dressed and hobbling like an old woman, Davis’ wife told the soldiers that Jeff was her mother and they should respect her age and leave her alone. They might have fell for it but for one of the soldiers noticing that granny was wearing spurs on “her” boots.

One thing is certain: Davis left the Confederate capitol of Richmond with over $775,000 in gold bullion and coins, today worth a very nice neighborhood of $200 million. When he was apprehended in Georgia, there wasn’t a cent in his pocket. Where’d it all go?

Theories abound. Rhett Butler was nearly hanged for not giving up the Confederate gold in Gone with the Wind. Clint Eastwood got a big chunk of it in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and in Timecop, a thief from the future steals it all. It sailed to Africa, it blew up in a Confederate submarine, it was buried under Alcatraz and it was smuggled to Mexico to fund the fight against the Emperor Maximilian. And so forth.

Put the Confederate flags away, you’re embarrassing yourself. Even if the South had won, I can’t imagine Lincoln sneaking off in a dress.

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