"Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown for lifting up once more to the gaze of a nation grown fat and flabby on the garbage of lust and oppression, a true standard of heroic philanthropy, and each coming generation will pay its installment of the debt. . . . John Brown saw slavery through no mist or cloud, but in a light of infinite brightness, which left no one of its ten thousand horrors concealed." Frederick Douglass

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Monday, November 14, 2011

From the Field:
The Roving 21st Century Editor Writes from Deep in the South

I write you from Tupelo, Mississippi . . . awash with the ghosts of Elvis. I have been without computer access since New Harmony, but have had a most successful sojourn in both Vicksburg, Miss. and New Orleans, La. . . .

     I survived my seventeen mile jaunt at the Vicksburg battlefield. Pretty good for an old guy. While enroute, I found out that there is still work to be done in the "Red States."

     I had halted for lunch at a point known militarily as "Thayer's Approach." I was happily ingesting some biscuits that I had purloined from breakfast, when a group of unreconstructed Confederates pulled up in their enormous SUV. Their "leader" (or at least the fellow with the biggest mouth) promptly began to lecture the others in this way (with the proper Suthin' lilt):

"Don't y'all wish you coulda been up there shootin' Yankees?"
"Y'all bet," they responded in unison.

"Too bad the Confederates didn't win," said the leader. "We sure wouldn't have all these problems we have today. For sure we wouldn't have all these folks on welfare."
"Y'all are right there," said the disciples.

 I had my back turned during this discourse and, having finished eating, I headed down the road. About ten minutes later they drove up beside me, and the leader rolled down his window and said:

"Why y'all wearin' that Yankee hat?" ( I was wearing a Union kepi.)
"Well," I responded, "we are inside the Union lines, aren't we?"
"True enough," said he, "so y'all better change it on the other side."

Having experienced these showoffs yearly (and knowing them to be essentially cowards), I slipped in the knife by saying:

 "You know, you Rebs are good at two things."
 "What's that?" said the blowhard.
 "Making Bar-B-Q and surrendering," I answered.

The redneck turned redder, and sped on into the sunset.

True story. Will send you something on my return.

From the (battle)field,

H. Scott

* H. Scott Wolfe is the Historical Librarian of the Galena, Illinois, Public Library District and now a regular correspondent and contributor to this blog. He has devoted many years of grassroots research on John Brown, the Harper's Ferry raiders, and related themes. 

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