Mr. Kollinger’s snarky column responding to Messrs. Hess and Foxwell and myself offered half-truths and outright falsehoods while either unknowingly or willfully ignoring the key issues being made.
I add Rick to the list of lifelong Talbot County residents who don’t have much of a clue what happened here during the Civil War other than the Lost Cause mythology. Once again, the idea that the “Talbot Boys” all died for the Confederacy is almost obscenely false. And one doesn’t need to be a historian to be able to read that several of those listed on the monument came to live in Talbot County after the Civil War. It’s right there on the monument! I can recall first reading the comments of County Councilmember Corey Pack making that very false statement — worse yet, as an abased rationale for leaving the bronze statue where it is.
One doesn’t need to have psychic abilities to understand that Confederate soldiers from Maryland believed in white supremacy and/or slavery. If not, they’d have been serving with the other Eastern Shore residents who fought in support of our state in Union armies. They were the ones who didn’t believe in slavery and could claim the honor of following their state.
In reality, Kollinger’s comment that Union “heavy handedness” galvanized Talbot County youth is another distortion. The events Kollinger described occurred long after most of the Talbot Boys went south in 1861 to join the Confederacy, most likely having served in the local secessionist-leaning local pre-war militia centered in Easton. The Carmichael event happened in late May 1862 and the Star editor Robson event in May 1863. But don’t let the facts disrupt your story, Rick. And regarding Mr. Robson, he didn’t flee to Richmond, as Rick claimed. The warrant against him was served, and he was taken to the Shenandoah Valley and made his way to Richmond. As the historian Dickson Preston tells it, Robson was soon drafted into the Richmond defense forces. His dedication to the “cause” quickly dissipated when he claimed he was in “exile” entitled to “asylum in a friendly nation.”
Kollinger claimed that “at the onset of the war, feelings were running against the Union because of their heavy handedness.” In reality, at the outset, secessionists took heart at the Baltimore Riot. Talbot County’s secessionist leaders effectively declared martial law with their declaration of secession and establishment of a “Committee of Safety” with a $20,000 special tax to pay for their commissioners was a grievous abuse of power, complete with instructions for citizens to stay at home, orders to close stores and suppressing anti-Confederate expressions — with the support of Judge Carmichael. This action simply reflected the abuse of power of the few powerful political elite to control local society and the press.
Six weeks later, Union troops responded to this by entering an Easton stronghold and removing the cache of weapons and ammunition being used to suppress resistance to the secessionists. Rick’s claim is Lost Cause distortion.
It’s time that the half-truths and outright fallacies that support the presence of the Talbot Boys bronze statue on the Talbot County Courthouse grounds be blown away. That Confederate soldiers themselves can be considered “veterans” in our country does not include any honorable connotation for the Confederate battle flag, which represents the military effort to dissolve our great union. The Confederate flag has devolved into the foremost symbol for the KKK and other white supremacist groups, along with the swastika — both of which were used interchangeably in Charlottesville. Dylan Roof’s murderous actions in Charleston, S.C., were accompanied by photos of him with that flag and his exhortation to others to join him in his race war against blacks and minorities. That was enough, finally, even for South Carolina to take down the flag from the state capital. And with confused, uninformed spokespersons like Rick Kollinger working to distort and misstate the facts, it isn’t difficult to skewer his feeble misstatements. While I acknowledge that I taught Maryland Civil War courses at a community college for several years, many of the facts I provided here came directly from Dickson Preston’s “Talbot County, A History” and Robert Brugger’s “Maryland, A Middle Temperament 1634-1980.” Maybe Rick will get around to reading them someday.
The Lost Cause mythology which dominates most folks’ interpretations of the Civil War needs to be addressed in detail as it relates to Maryland. That war remains a divisive factor in the country because too many misinformed people believe the mythology that glorifies Robert E. Lee, the Confederate flag and the illusion that the Confederacy was worth supporting. It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now.
If the Talbot Boys were like most other Confederate soldiers, they would have demonstrated their disdain for the cause by disappearing from the ranks as they could. Ironically, it was the fear factor that drove many non-slaveholding southerners to support the Confederacy. Those people were afraid that abolition would allow blacks to become educated, purchase property, build families and compete in open markets and as farmers. For a century after the war, blacks have been targeted by white supremacists to limit their civil rights as citizens. This isn’t because white supremacists feel superior to everyone else. It’s because they fear a level playing field. The Lost Cause mythology twists the facts. It allows some Marylanders to believe this state was bludgeoned to remain in the Union by Lincoln. It wasn’t. But that myth is required in order to claim it was honorable for some Marylanders to support the Confederacy and the Confederate flag.
Kollinger’s claim that “federal law, where soldiers from both sides are considered veterans” suggests equal recognition. This is deceptive. The 1958 law allows only for legitimate burial markers for Confederate veterans and pensions for their few surviving spouses. In 1968, President Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers but did not grant them U.S. veteran status. And there never was any hint of honorary status for the Confederate battle flag. Once again, I ask that Gov. Hogan step in and use his influence and/or authority to remove the bronze statue from the county courthouse grounds.
Dominic “Mickey” Terrone writes from Oxford.