Our Driving Tour of the South

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On
January 11, my article "No
Thank You — This Time We're Driving"
was posted on LRC.
The same day, we loaded up the rental van and headed for Virginia.
Over the course of the following week we visited a host of sites
that are relevant to our freedom (or what is left of it) and heritage.
It is our fervent belief that history has been badly distorted in
an attempt to justify an ever-encroaching central government. Our
reason for driving was a protest against the ineffective police-state
tactics at airports and the desensitization of the American public
to the abhorrent march to tyranny that this country is experiencing.
Enough of the soapbox – now on to the story.

The
first stop was at grandma's house to deposit my four-year-old daughter.
This was also the first accomplishment not afforded by air travel.
My daughter has been living it up for a week and got an extra week
due to the snowstorm that forced a change in our return route. We
ate some home-cooked hamburgers that are certainly not available
on the airlines and hit the road again.

As
promised in the previous article, we visited Lexington, Virginia,
the following day. The first stop was the home formerly owned by
then Maj. Thomas Jonathan Jackson (Stonewall) while he was an instructor
at the Virginia Military Institute. This period of his life is documented
in pp. 118–124 of The
Life and Campaigns of Lieut. Gen. T.J. (Stonewall) Jackson

by Robert Lewis Dabney. I highly recommend this book as primary
reading for the student of the Old South and the Confederacy. The
peacetime pursuits of Gen. Jackson are evident in his garden and
his study. The house has been painstakingly restored and the tour
is well worth the $5 price.

We
left the Jackson house and drove the two blocks to the George
C. Marshall Museum
. Gen. Marshall was perhaps the most famous
graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. He is the architect
of the "Marshall Plan" to rebuild Europe in the wake of
World War II. Naturally, the museum is a shrine for European Reconstruction.
Gen. Marshall was obviously a student of history both recent and
ancient. The mistakes of WW I and the American Reconstruction were
not repeated (from the viewpoint of an imperialist foreign policy).
Instead of extracting reparations from the conquered, a massive
wealth transfer program was instituted to rebuild the economies
of the devastated countries. This is reminiscent of the economic
model followed by the ancient Romans. After conquering a country
by waging total war, the Romans would return some autonomy in return
for tribute (taxes) and exclusive trading within the Romans Empire.
For Europe, this institutionalized the socialism prevalent there
to this day. While the museum glorifies the apparent success of
the Marshall Plan, an Austrian School adherent will recognize the
inconsistencies due to the Keynesian bias.

The
third stop was at Lee Chapel
on the campus of Washington and Lee University. Having just walked
the path described in Gail
Jarvis' article
, I can appreciate the quiet reflection that
Gen. Lee must have given to the events in his life while he was
president of Washington College. The shrine is not a war memorial
but rather a remembrance of how an honorable Christian gentleman
should conduct his life. The recumbent statue of Gen. Lee is without
parallel and awe-inspiring. Because Mary Custis Lee was the granddaughter
of Martha Washington, a portrait of Gen. Washington in his Virginia
militia uniform hangs at the front of the chapel on the left side.
This is a powerful reminder of who inherited the battle for freedom.
The Lee Museum and the family crypt are on the floor beneath the
chapel. In addition to Gen. Lee, his father, Light-Horse Harry Lee,
a colonel of cavalry in the first War for Independence was re-interred
in the crypt. Gen. Lee toured the South in 1869, a year prior to
his death and visited his father's original grave. It is fitting
that the two heroes in the battle for independence and decentralization
are now lying together awaiting the resurrection. For good measure,
Traveller, Lee's horse and faithful companion, is buried just outside
the door.

We
would have spent more time in Lexington but our schedule required
us to press on. Lexington is a beautiful place, quiet and scenic.
I have driven by it a few times before without stopping. That was
my loss.

We
continued along I-64 and arrived in Richmond late in the afternoon.
Our original plan was to tour the Museum
and White House of the Confederacy
but due to the late hour,
we chose to drive down Monument Avenue and tour the Cold
Harbor Battlefield
instead. Monument
Avenue
in Richmond is awesome if you have never seen it. The
street is made of brick and is divided by a green common. Statues
of Gen. Lee, Gen. Jackson, Gen. Stuart, Pres. Davis, and Arthur
Ashe adorn the intersections. The Lee and Jackson statues are so
large that the intersections are roundabouts (circles). The Davis
and Stuart monuments are large but do not physically alter the flow
of traffic. The Arthur Ashe monument was the newest and smallest
of the group.

As
the daylight waned, we made our final pilgrimage of the day to the
Cold Harbor Battlefield
site. I have always been curious about Cold Harbor. I have read
many references to the slaughter that Gen. Grant ordered his men
into at Cold Harbor. I had envisioned a massive embattlement and
works that Gen. Lee's men were defending. The reality was a seven-mile
long series of interlocking trenches with overlapping fields of
fire. In battles like this one, Gen. Grant expended the lives of
many immigrant draftees like so much cannon fodder.

After
checking in to the hotel in Newport News, I awoke early the following
morning and made a pilgrimage to the Francis
Makemie Monument
and park in Temperanceville, Virginia. This
was about a 100-mile trek from Newport News across the Chesapeake
Bay Bridge and Tunnel and up the Eastern Shore.

Francis
Makemie is the brother of my great-great-great-great-great-great
grandfather, John Makemie. Francis was a Presbyterian minister,
educated at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, ordained by the
Presbytery of Laggan (Northern Ireland) during the waning days of
the reign of Charles II. He preached and planted churches on the
Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland, the Carolinas, and Barbados
from 1683 until his death around 1708. He is most famous for his
defiance of Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, the Governor of the Colony
of New York and for his election as moderator of the first Synod
of Presbyterian Churches in the colonies. The latter accomplishment
earned him the title of the "Father of American Presbyterianism."
By declaring his right to preach under licenses granted in England,
he came under persecution by Lord Cornbury. His exoneration by trial
established the extension of the "Act of Toleration" to
the colonies and had a direct influence on the inclusion of the
1st Amendment as part of the Bill of Rights to the US
Constitution. Additionally, because Cornbury used the power of his
office to charge Makemie an exorbitant sum for the cost of the trial
in spite of his acquittal, his legacy is also evident in the Eighth
Amendment, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive
fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

Late
in the day we visited the site of the British surrender at Yorktown.
The entrenchments at Yorktown are impressively deep compared to
those at Cold Harbor. It was obvious from this battlefield that
Washington showed much more patience than Grant and thus spared
thousands of British, French, and American lives that would have
been squandered in a frontal assault. The most disappointing aspect
of Yorktown was the Victory
Monument
. Commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1781,
it was not built until 1881. The inscription on the lower most ring
reads, "One Country, One Constitution, One Destiny." This
would have been an abomination to the soldiers who won that hard-fought
victory. It is speculation, but knowing a little about the debate
over ratification of the Constitution, I can imagine the Anti-Federalists
using this inscription to say, "we told you so." The Anti-Federalist
Papers
are worth studying. You may be amazed at how accurate
their predictions were.

We
headed south along I-95 on the return trip to avoid a brewing snow
and ice storm. We wanted to stop at the Bentonville,
North Carolina, Battlefield
but decided that time and weather
were pressing so we continued on. When we reached Columbia, South
Carolina, we stopped to sample some of Maurice's
Famous Barbeque
. Many of you know the story of Maurice Bessinger.
Standing up to the PC police who wish to do away with all Confederate
symbols, he was stripped of the retail sales of his barbeque sauce
that he had worked so long to build up. His barbeque chain is doing
well and we stopped there for supper. Maurice has an excellent tract
on the biblical significance of flags and I recommend it highly.

After
crossing the Georgia State line, we considered driving by the smokestack
of the old Confederate
Powder Works
on the Riverwatch Parkway in Augusta. Again, time
and weather chased us on toward Atlanta. Up to this point, we had
essentially retraced in reverse a large part of Sherman's genocidal
march. We did make it to Stone
Mountain
about 20 minutes before they closed the park for the
night but unfortunately, they had shut off the lights a few minutes
earlier. I believe that Stone Mountain is the largest Confederate
monument in existence. The equestrian images of Lee, Jackson, and
Stuart are honored there, and are well worth seeing.

After
staying overnight in Atlanta, we headed back to Huntsville. Just
before crossing the Tennessee State line we veered off again to
visit the Chickamauga Battlefield.
The Chickamauga Park is the oldest and largest of the Park Service's
War For Southern Independence parks. Chickamauga was most disappointing
because of the obvious anti-South slant of the visitors’ center.
It would take the average government-schooled person a long time
here to figure out that it was the Confederates who won. Even then,
too much credit goes to Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg. The gift
shop has already begun the barrage of Uncle
Tom's Cabin
-approved versions of Southern history which
had little to do with the war itself. In fact, a better place to
spend your money is the privately owned J. Reb's store just a couple
of blocks from the visitors center.

Our
tour was lightning fast compared to the journey of Robert E. Lee
in 1869. After refreshing my knowledge of Lee visiting his father's
grave off the coast of Georgia, I lamented that I had driven right
past my own father's grave in Claxton, Tennessee, without stopping.

January
23, 2003

Steve
McKamey [send him mail]
is an engineer. His wife and he homeschool their seven children
in Taft, Tennessee.


     

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