A Real Southern Man is… #61

How do you define a Real Southern Man? We’d love to hear your comments. But first…

Today’s entry of “A Real Southern Man is…” reveals the disparate sides of the double-edged sword that is Southern history. It’s a sad, sobering fact that, depending on the color of our skin, our view of certain aspects of our collective past can vary widely.

One thing is certain: we all embrace and own up to that history, knowing full well that mortal man comes with a boatload of imperfections of body and soul. That’s why we say …

“A Real Southern Man can name at least one ancestor who fought in the Civil War … or who was freed by it.”

Okay, this RSM can’t actually name the name, but does know of at least one ancestor who was a Confederate P.O.W. at Rock Island Prison. Knowing the family history, it’s doubtful that soldier ever owned a slave. In fact, that part of the family was so poor they likely came to the continent as indentured servants themselves. It’s not known whether he fought for state pride, states’ rights or out of a pseudo-religious belief in the “benevolence” of slavery. Maybe he was coerced. Maybe he simply wanted adventure.

But the fact remains that he fought for a government trying to protect a dying and “peculiar institution” – as did many more in the author’s heritage, I’m sure. The upside is that slavery ended. Though it can be debated endlessly how well the U.S. government prepared freed slaves for their new existence – or how well it protected them from abusive, discriminatory laws – freedom is freedom. And we at RSM who are pale of complexion hope that our brothers of African descent proudly claim their own heritage: the heritage of survivors, the heritage of the free.

6 Responses to “A Real Southern Man is… #61”

  1. My mother always said that Jefferson Davis was my 5th cousin. Does that count?

  2. My grand father used to tell of walking the fields of Chickamauga as a young boy with his Great Uncle, who pointed out where the pickets were posted during the night, where the corn field ended and cotton started, where the creek bed ran red with blood after the early morning skirmish, and the willowy fingers of fog, hid blue from grey until men fired at the red blasts in the haze of dawn while praying they weren’t shooting at their own troops…….. and then, finally, they came home, tattered, scarred, and picked up what pieces they could, with silent fortitude, and unwavering conviction. Returning to families rocked by hardship, a world torn asunder, and tried to step to the beat of a new drum. And to some degree they did or I would not be here. A middle aged woman, sheltered and protected by the world of Real Southern Men…….the gentlemen of the old, merged in to create the gentlemen of the new, allowing women to be magnolia strong resting in the strength of these special men. That is my opinion of a Real Southern Man………

    • Beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Leslie.

    • Wow, Leslie, can’t put that any better than Wayne. Thanks so much for sharing those beautifully crafted words. I should get with you (or maybe your sister) about the history of the Leslie Home (not sure that’s how it’s referred to) … I remember bits and pieces, how it was once used as a hospital during the Civil War, .. and maybe something about a ghost? Who lives there now, your mom and dad? I’ll be doing some posts in the future about that area (Franklin Gold Mines, the old Shingle House, Indian Removal, etc.) … and I’m sure you all have stories that I could use/incorporate into that piece. Thanks again for visiting our site. Be sure to check out the piece on “The Family That Broke A Nation.” … i think you’ll find it interesting.

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