26 August 2020

A Piece by Ellis Millsaps: Little Soldier

Southern Man

Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don’t need him round 
Sweet Home Alabama--Ronny Van Zant/Gary Robert Rossington/Edward C. King
We say grace and we say ma’am
If you ain’t into that,we don’t give a damn

A Country Boy Can Survive--Hank Williams Jr.

The Majestic Home City

 Leave the little guy alone. Pick on somebody your own size. I'm talking about the little guy on the pedestal in the center of the Covington town square.

 He didn't ask to be there. He was put there in 1906 by white women who had lost fathers, husbands, sons and boyfriends just over fifty years earlier. That's as far back as the Vietnam war is for us today. Imagine how fresh wounds still were.

 Twenty-five percent of their menfolk had died. Many others were missing limbs and eyes so I think we should cut them some slack for thier delusional fiction engraved about the noble cause on the pedestal.

 Many times over the past thirty-four years I've read the inscription and wondered how millions of bluecoats managed to subdue the little bastard. 

He likely wasn't a slaveholder. Only twenty-five percent of southerners were and they would likely have been officers. Looking at him up there I see a small farmer or maybe a blacksmith whose elected officials put him in a war he didn't want. Think Vietnam.

 He didn't go off to fight for the enslavement of kidnapped Africans. He fought because the only land he knew had been invaded by soldiers who were killing his fellow citizens and stealing his livestock and crops whether or not he chose to fight.

 He was not a traitor as lately I’ve heard him described by some on the left. Benedict Arnold was a traitor. The little Confederate was fighting to defend his family and friends, and even though their reason for doing so was unholy-- to keep their slaves and expand slave territory-- the slaveholders who succeeded from the union will not “traitors” either. They simply said they didn't want to play anymore. 

Beginning seventy-three years earlier they had voluntarily agreed over the next fifty years as five sovereign states & six territories to unite in a coalition with other former colonies & territories. Now they said we want to get out. Nothing in the constitution  they had signed said they couldn't change their minds.. It was sort of like leaving the European Union. If they were traitors then they don't compare to the revolutionaries who fought against the king who had defended them from French and Indians.. 

I don't support sandblasting Stone Mountain. We should make it a learning experience. The State of Georgia which now owns the park should visibly and audibly relate its history to visitors, that at the time of the carving on the rock the mountain was owned by a man who was instrumental in the second forming of the Ku Klux Klan and that until 1958 it was a venue for klan rallies, detail the many lynchings they executed during that time.

 The same should be done with plaques around the little guy on the square, explain the climate of Jim Crow at the time the women put him up there. point out that the largest lynching in our state's shameful racial history occurred the year before in nearby Oconee County.

 As to the statues of slaveholding generals, I’d ideally like to see them all peaceably removed to a museum of the Jim Crow Confederacy. Wouldn't it be cool to enter an arena with all these ghostly statues surrounded by truthful accounts of who erected them and why.

 Back to the little man on the square, He don't mean nobody no harm. He’s seen a lot from his perch. He’s seen discrimination against the descendants of former slaves. He’s seen civil rights marches. He watched me face down masked klansmen from the balcony of the old courthouse in 1990.

 He’s furthermore a part of our modern history as the Hollywood of the South. I've seen tourists have their pictures taken with him not because he's a confederate soldier but because he's a part of our place in entertainment history.  He didn't ask for the job. Leave the little guy alone. 

Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...


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