Golden Thread Anyone ever change their mind?

O' Be Joyful

Sergeant Major
Thanks to this forum, I learned about the Braxton Bragg Memorial Manhole Cover.
And that forever changed my opinion of Galveston.

I have absolutely no wish to derail this thread, but my curiosity is forcing me to ask. Someone please explain to the uninitiated, what is the Braxton Bragg Memorial Manhole Cover? It sounds like it is story much good to remain in the dark about. :smile:
 

Georgia Sixth

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
I have absolutely no wish to derail this thread, but my curiosity is forcing me to ask. Someone please explain to the uninitiated, what is the Braxton Bragg Memorial Manhole Cover? It sounds like it is story much good to remain in the dark about. :smile:

If I recall correctly (my memory can be as erroneous as your standard Civil War memoir), the monument came about as a quip in an exchange between myself and Andy Hall. Mr. Hall is a resident of Galveston, Texas, and he mentioned that shortly after the war General Bragg fell dead in Galveston while crossing the street. Yes, his corpse created a traffic hazard right there in the middle of the boulevard. Somewhere in the midst of light-hearted banter about such an unceremonious end, one of us concocted the notion of the memorial manhole cover. It's not true, but it ought to be. The memorial, that is.
 

O' Be Joyful

Sergeant Major
If I recall correctly (my memory can be as erroneous as your standard Civil War memoir), the monument came about as a quip in an exchange between myself and Andy Hall. Mr. Hall is a resident of Galveston, Texas, and he mentioned that shortly after the war General Bragg fell dead in Galveston while crossing the street. Yes, his corpse created a traffic hazard right there in the middle of the boulevard. Somewhere in the midst of light-hearted banter about such an unceremonious end, one of us concocted the notion of the memorial manhole cover. It's not true, but it ought to be. The memorial, that is.

Thanks for that. I had suspected that it was an inside joke that I was unaware of, something along the line of the nickname for "He who shall not be named." Truly, an opportunity was missed by the good people of Galveston.
 

Tom Reagan

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Location
Caldwell County, NC/Chesapeake, VA
I have not been a member for long, so the site hasn't swayed me to anything, per-se, but on a related note, I have recognized some changes in my opinions over the years. I wouldn't so much say that I have been swayed, but that I have a better understanding now than I did say, when I was fifteen.
Growing up, Robert E. Lee practically walked on water in my eyes. He was a genius, the perfect and most skilled general, and could do no wrong. Now that I am older, I am able to see that he, like everyone else in this world, had his flaws. At first, it hit me like a ton of bricks, like it did when I realized that my father wasn't perfect like I always believed him to be, but as I got older, I realized that nobody was perfect, so to expect Lee (or my father, for that matter,) to be so was unrealistic.
I used to think of McClellan as a bumbling, pompous and bombastic idiot, scared of his own shadow. But now I also know that he was an efficient organizer, and that he cared greatly for his men.
Also, growing up, we were taught (wrongly, of course) that the South fought for slavery, and that was it. They made no mention of any other factors, and portrayed all who sided with the Union as being staunch abolitionists. Of course, with my seemingly excessive interest in the Civil War, and having many ancestors that fought for the Confederacy, (some for the Union as well, but most were Confederate) I knew better than what they taught us in school- but I never realized exactly how wrong they were until I got older. By this, I mean that it wasn't all as black and white as they tried to make us believe. Not everyone in the north held abolitionist sentiments (in fact, the hard-core abolitionists were somewhat of a radical minority at the time. Also, think of McClellan and his views on abolitionism) and not everyone that fought for the South was necessarily fighting to keep the Negro down, as they tried to teach us. There were far many more factors than the schools let on.
As others have stated in this thread, I try to leave myself open to learning, even if it's not something I want to hear. To remain open to new knowledge is to grow, and the day I stop growing is the day I start dying.
I have, in my short time here, received a bounty of new information, and have purchased several books recommended by fellow members. I am eagerly awaiting them in the mail- oh, and by the way, purchasing secondhand books from Amazon is the way to go!
 

Dedej

Retired User
Joined
Mar 17, 2017
Great thread!

I can't express how much I have learned here on CWT. I first lurked the forum for months -- debating on joining -- mainly because of how I viewed The Civil War and The Confederacy as a Black woman who is a descendant from the enslaved.

Most of the Civil War resources, videos, blogs/forums where comments and people gathered online are not inviting, racist, one-sided and non-educational.

My interest in this topic came directly from wanting to learn more about slavery - especially in the states where my ancestors lived. I was obsessed with what they went through, what did the plantation/farm look like, who were the people who enslaved them and what did they look like. I wanted a connection to my ancestors - any kind. I never thought discussing and learning about topics surrounding Slavery, CW and Reconstruction would become another hobby for me - who knew!?

Being here has taught me how the American education system in terms of teaching history is very flawed and doing a disservice to our children. And by fixing it - it could help and change SO much - especially our relationships with each other and the enhancement of self-love and understanding.

Outside of all the historical things I have learned - CWT has helped change some of the things I used to believe ...
  • I used to think people who loved talking about the Civil War and The CSA were all pro-slavery and monolithic when it came to people who looked like me. And there was nothing more I could learn about - because I thought -- what was it for me TO learn? I was so wrong. It's so much Black history and figures who lived during slavery and The Civil War. I learn something new all the time.
  • I never believed the reason people celebrated The Confederacy and it's symbols were for "their history" or "honoring ancestors" -- I thought it was a disguise for hate, racist beliefs and the KKK. Now, because CWT-- I believe there really is a percentage of people who that truly do celebrate it for that reason - with no hate harbored for others. Many are on this forum.
  • I used to think most white Southerners were not empathetic, nor even cared about those who were enslaved - only wanting to honor their ancestors -- but never wanting to confront/acknowledge the enslaved or the damage the institution of slavery has left behind in an honest way. But, I no longer believe that.
My most important lesson I have reminded myself to always do is -- putting myself in the other person's shoes. At first it wasn't always easy to do, but hearing personal stories and trying to understand the full picture from both sides has allowed me to do so. Even when someone's shoes (ancestors/history) are hard to look at and hear about at times.

I am very grateful for this forum and it's wonderful members. :smile:
 
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CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
In my opinion, the most dramatic change of mind was that of the late historian Eugene D. Genovese. Brooklyn born and open Communist for most of his career. He was the author of Roll, Jordan, Roll and The World the Slaves Made --not a lot good said about the South in these books. By the 1990s he put aside communism for the Catholic Church and his whole outlook on the South changed. By the publication of his The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism he was writing such thing as:

“Certainly, I am devoted to the sentiment expressed on the Bumper sticker: Get you heart in Dixie or get your *** out.” And “To speak positively about any part of this southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity-- an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of their heritage, and, therefore, their identity.They are being taught to forget their forebears or to remember them with shame. Still, we may doubt that many young southerners believe that Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, John C. Calhoun and James Henley Thornwell, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were other than honorable men. It is one thing to silence people, another thing to convince them. And to silence them on matters central to their self-respect and dignity is to play a dangerous game-- to build up in them harsh resentment, that sooner or later, are likely to explode and bring out their worst.”
 

Georgia Sixth

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
Great thread!

I can't express how much I have learned here on CWT. I first lurked the forum for months -- debating on joining -- mainly because of how I viewed The Civil War and The Confederacy as a Black woman who is a descendant from the enslaved.

Most of the Civil War resources, videos, blogs/forums where comments and people gathered online are not inviting, racist, one-sided and non-educational.

My interest in this topic came directly from wanting to learn more about slavery - especially in the states where my ancestors lived. I was obsessed with what they went through, what did the plantation/farm look like, who were the people who enslaved them and what did they look like. I wanted a connection to my ancestors - any kind. I never thought discussing and learning about topics surrounding Slavery, CW and Reconstruction would become another hobby for me - who knew!?

Being here has taught me how the American education system in terms of teaching history is very flawed and doing a disservice to our children. And by fixing it - it could help and change SO much - especially our relationships with each other and the enhancement of self-love and understanding.

Outside of all the historical things I have learned - CWT has helped change some of the things I used to believe ...
  • I used to think people who loved talking about the Civil War and The CSA were all pro-slavery and monolithic when it came to people who looked like me. And there was nothing more I could learn about - because I thought -- what was it for me TO learn? I was so wrong. It's so much Black history and figures who lived during slavery and The Civil War. I learn something new all the time.
  • I never believed the reason people celebrated The Confederacy and it's symbols were for "their history" or "honoring ancestors" -- I thought it was a disguise for hate, racist beliefs and the KKK. Now, because CWT-- I believe there really is a percentage of people who that truly do celebrate it for that reason - with no hate harbored for others. Many are on this forum.
  • I used to think most white Southerners were not empathetic, nor even cared about those who were enslaved - only wanting to honor their ancestors -- but never wanting to confront/acknowledge the enslaved or the damage the institution of slavery has left behind in an honest way. But, I no longer believe that.
My most important lesson I have reminded myself to always do is -- putting myself in the other person's shoes. At first it wasn't always easy to do, but hearing personal stories and trying to understand the full picture from both sides has allowed me to do so. Even when someone's shoes (ancestors/history) are hard to look at and hear about at times.

I am very grateful for this forum and it's wonderful members. :smile:

Dedej, this is one of the best posts I have ever read on this forum, certainly one that has moved me like few others. I sincerely admire your struggle to be free of the stereotypes you held and of your own understandable emotional "cargo" in order to understand the people of the time. I cannot encourage you enough. You are a beautiful example of how to approach the past.

I've been struggling with this myself over the past many years, that effort to put myself in the shoes of others in other times. I'm coming from a different direction, that of a southern white. To put my feet in your shoes, I do think this would be much harder. As a black person, it would be extremely hard to look past or beyond or around slavery in any fashion, especially how the white supremacist views that supported the slave system in turn gave birth to the Jim Crow system. I salute you. You are made of better stuff than me.

I have come to realize that ordinary, good people are capable of buying in to bad, even horrific ideas. We see it in the world today. And I think that's the key to unlocking 19th century America -- identifying those ideas, understanding where they came from, how they were supported and how they seemed so defensible, even normal, at the time. This should make history a reality check for every generation!

I wish there more memorials and monuments throughout the country that remembered all the many threads of our civil war story -- the "contraband" camps, the work of enslaved men in building impressive fortifications and defenses, the antiwar northerners and the antisecession southerners and all. I believe we need more monuments not fewer, because that would help people understand how multifaceted and complex this period really was.

As a black woman, you would particularly enjoy reading the historian Thavoilah Glymph. She's wonderful. Also, William Marvel's four-volume history of the northern side of the war is eye-opening, definitely not the usual narrative. Here's a link to a talk by Ms. Glymph. Keep your head clear, your eyes open and your heart pure.
 

Jimklag

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Location
Chicagoland
I can't say my mind was changed regarding a subject that, in my opinion, I have studied extensively. I daresay that those with opposing views will say the same, and that is fine. If two people with opposing views have studied their view sufficiently, then there is little chance it can be changed.....

I will say, however, that IF a person makes a POLITE, well-thought argument, I will most certainly have a BETTER respect and understanding for them and their opinion. I may not agree with them, but I can appreciate and understand their point of view....which is cool, too, because that is a good way for me to learn.....I hope the people I talk with can say the same about me....Sometimes, "agreeing to disagree" is a good way to learn.....
Ditto.
 

civilken

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 25, 2013
I don't know about the rest of the members but for myself. I had always felt slavery was part of the civil war but never the main course that was over 30 years ago and since then after some 700 to 1000 books Roundtable groups seminars college courses and lectures I have certainly changed my mind. My biggest thought now is how can someone be a civil war enthusiasts and still not grasp this concept or should I say.fact. Thank you
 

Booklady

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 19, 2017
Location
New England
I find what is written in these threads absolutely fascinating, thought provoking, insightful, and sometimes just plain enjoyable. Much of what is written here seems to be designed to convince readers that such and such a perspective is more accurate and posters marshal facts and figures to prove their point. I wonder though, just how many readers here have ever really had their minds changed by what they have read here or perhaps in books recommended by writers.

....
So what I am asking here is, have any readers have ever been forced to reevaluate long held, cherished convictions based on what they have read here or in books recommended by other readers.?

There are six pages of posts between me and thee, but I would almost be willing to bet money (I do not gamble, generally), that every new member of CWT wonders this after reading the same names post the same thoughts in argument/debate on various topics for a couple of months.

Looking forward to reading the next six pages of comments. Thanks so very much for asking the question I have wondered often.

ETA: Great reading, and thought-provoking comments. :smile coffee:
 
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alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
In my opinion, the most dramatic change of mind was that of the late historian Eugene D. Genovese. Brooklyn born and open Communist for most of his career.

I agree. When in college I had the honor of corresponding with Genovese around the time of the publication of "Southern Tradition." His letters to me I will treasure forever! His wife was just as powerful a writer and historian too! Their passing left a definite void!
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
I agree. When in college I had the honor of corresponding with Genovese around the time of the publication of "Southern Tradition." His letters to me I will treasure forever! His wife was just as powerful a writer and historian too! Their passing left a definite void!

You are so fortunate, I wish that I had had the presence of mind to write Dr. Genovese when he was still alive.
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
So what I am asking here is, have any readers have ever been forced to reevaluate long held, cherished convictions based on what they have read here or in books recommended by other readers.?

One of the earliest books I read when I started learning about the war was Shelby Foote's Civil War vol. 1. When I came back to re-read it a year later, as I told my wife, I had different reactions to some things because "I have opinions that I didn't have before." Yes, a LOT of my perceptions have changed. But as Albert Sailhorst said, it's the polite, well-reasoned argument that makes a difference.
 
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