The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world…
Tennyson, from Idylls of the King
You could tell you were getting close when you smelled the marsh. Just before, on the right, was Sol Legare Road, down which was a Black settlement, including Backman’s Seafood. That was owned by Mrs. Backman, but it was run by her eldest son, Junior Backman. Her other sons were captains in her trawler fleet. Passing Sol Legare Road and looking out over the first tongue of marshland, you could see the trawlers tied up at the dock - pretty wooden boats with their graceful sheer and high bows, freshly painted white with red trim, and with red mast, boom, and outriggers. The nets hanging in the rigging were tar-dipped instead of the newer green dip, and they waved like gossamer in the balmy southwest wind, heralding an early opening of the season in May when the wildlife people had decided enough of the big white shrimp had spawned.
The tides run around six feet in those parts, and at low tide you could see the exposed black mud banks of the sloughs lined with clusters of oysters, and smell the heavenly smell of the golden green marshlands.
Past the first tongue of marsh you passed a stand by the side of the road run by a Black woman, who advertised on a hand-painted plywood sign: “LIVE AND STLL CRABS.”
Next after that was the turnoff onto a long sandy causeway leading out across the marsh to Bowen’s Island, where the road forks to make a loop around the island. Taking the right hand fork you pass several funky houses up on blocks to the left, and on the right, a little cinderblock house painted pink. Around the bend you emerge from the thick palmetto and live oak jungle and arrive at Mrs. Bowen’s laid-back restaurant on the creek, a restaurant noted up and down the Carolina Low Country. Entering one of the side doors, one faced a table and some chairs and a counter with the cash register beyond, where Mrs. Bowen presided as proprietress, cashier, and waitress. Behind the counter was the galley, which was John Sanka’s domain. Here fried fish, shrimp, oysters, and home-made hush puppies were created, garnished with a slice of pickle for a balanced diet, and served up on paper plates, which were delivered balanced on Mrs. Bowen’s arms to the joyous customers, who would wash down these delicacies with cold beer. On top of the refrigerator was a cardboard pyramid wherein John stored his knives when not in use, so that the Cosmic Forces would be concentrated in order to keep them sharp.
From this area of management, one went into the main dining area through one of the two portals in a cinder block petition. On the right, in the corner, was a juke box that would play “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” for a nickel. Down the aisle between the two rows of tables, at the other end of the restaurant, sat Mr. Bowen in front of the big black-and-white TV set. He had to sit close because his eyesight was not the best. He also had it turned up full blast because he not only was a little hard of hearing, but because of the noise of the patrons.
“When she dies, I’m going to sell this damned place and move to California!” he would say.
Mr. Bowen was born the year of the Spanish-American War, played the trombone in the US Marine Corps Band in both world wars - and in a jazz band in between, until Mrs. Bowen took it away from him.
Continuing on past the Bowen’s Island turnoff, just before the bridge across Folly Creek, was Geezer’s place - not a tourist destination. Passing beyond Geezer’s and the bridge, and just before crossing the next bridge over Folly River leading onto the beach, you have almost arrived at your destination. Here, on the right, one turned down another sandy road behind a bait-and-tackle shop. A little way down the road was a deep dip that must have been a prehistoric dinosaur wallow, for rainwater would fill it up to the hubcaps of a late fifties Chevrolet pickup truck with a straight six, three on the column, and the passenger-side door tied shut with a piece of rope. But just beyond that, there you were at one of the last refuges for individuals in this Brave New Corporate/Bureaucratic/Conform-or-Die-from-Political-Incorrectness World – the Folly River Boatyard.
The proprietor’s name was Jim. His office was in an old trailer there on the yard. His wife ran the store room and his ex-wife was the receptionist in the office. Both of them were mad at Jim because he was running around on his girlfriend who lived over on the beach.
There was an assortment of boats around – little ones blocked up out on the yard and bigger ones at the dock waiting their turn to be hauled out on the marine railway. There was the usual resident kibitzer who lived on a little blue and white wooden cabin boat that never left the dock. He would come over and tell you how you were not doing things the way they were supposed to be done. To give credit where credit is due, sometimes he was right.
Mr. Richardson was the caulker and he taught me the fundamentals of that dying art. He used a regular carpenter’s hammer but he had an old set of caulking irons with which to drive the cotton and oakum into the seams. I found a set of irons available from an old cooperage firm in Charleston and purchased it. For a mallet, I took a piece of seasoned live oak and had a cabinet maker in town turn it down into a traditional cylindrical shape on his lathe. The mallet head was about a foot long and about two-and-a-half inches in diameter – a little thicker in the middle where the handle was fitted. I split each end of the hammer head lengthwise with a saw cut about four inches long to give it a bounce, and then banded each end with a short piece of thin-walled copper pipe of the same diameter. I drove wedges into the split ends to keep the bands tight as I knocked on the irons with the mallet. The handle was just a regular ball peen hammer handle that I got from the hardware store. I drilled a hole for it into the middle of the mallet head and wedged the handle in place, giving the whole mallet a “T” shape.
Mr. Richardson showed me how to clean and roll the ropes of caulking cotton and how to knock it into the seams with successive little tucks. Then he showed me how to paint the seams and the caulking cotton with bottom paint and to putty the seams when the paint had dried.
Mr. Richardson was from over there on Sol Legare Road. One of his most noted accomplishments – other than caulking - was his remarkable talent for conserving his strength. We had a two-masted schooner hauled out on the railway in which he had been assigned to do something up forward inside the hull. The insides had been stripped out amidships except for the bulkheads and I was in there building a fiberglass-over-plywood fresh water tank in the floors of her. I kept hearing an occasional tap-tap-tap with a hammer coming from forward of the bulkhead. At first I didn’t pay any attention to it, but eventually I got curious and went forward to see what was going on. Mr. Richardson was lying in one of the fo’c’s’le bunks with his hammer and every now and then he would give a few raps with it on the bunk overhead.
“Whatcha doin’ Mr. Richardson?” I asked.
“Oh, Aye studyin’ de psychology ah de sitiation,” he said in his old Low-Country Gullah dialect, tapping again a couple of times.
When we were getting the schooner ready to go back overboard I asked Mr. Richardson if he was going out in her for sea trials.
“Oh, no,” he smiled, “Aye ain’ gwine’ out dey. No sah!”
“How come?” I asked.
“Aye ain’ gwine’ out dey ‘cause dey got sea munksters out dey!”
“How you know that?” I asked, “You been takin’ a little nip?”
“Oh, no!” he said. “Aye a good Chrustian! Aye ain’ use no anchor haul!”
“Well then, how you know ‘bout sea monsters?” I went on.
“Aye seen um on de talliwidgeon las’ night,” he replied.
“Is that right? Wha’d they say?”
“Well, Aye b’n watchin’ wi’de chillun’ an’ dis big munkster come up out de wa’ddah an’ sta’at stompin’ t’r’u’ de city knockin’ over bu’ldins and ma’ashin’ up cya’as and pickin’ up de people an’ t’rowin’ ‘em down, an’ all de people b’n runnin’ an’ hollerin’ an’ ca’ain’ on an’ de whole place catchin’ on fiyah an’ all like dat!” he said, getting more exercised as the description went on.
“What happened after that?” I asked.
“Aye ain’ knows. Me an’ de chilluns b’n screaming an’ hollerin’ so much de wife come in an’ shet de talliwidgeon off!”
So I never did find out any more information about sea monsters.
Later on Mr. Richardson told me about the root medicine – or “the root” as it is called – which is a form of Voodoo that was still practiced back in the swamps and remote Sea Island settlements in the Low Country. Love potions, money potions, windows painted blue to keep the root off, “cunjie” bags, roots put on a doorsill or under a gate in the dead of night, all had powerful effects. Mr. Richardson told me that down around Ladies Island, near Beaufort, if you needed to see a noted root doctor named Dr. Buzzard, he would come across the creek at midnight in a skiff towed by a flock of buzzards. His medicine was so powerful it would put people in the hospital. At the Medical College of Charleston, people who would come in who had had the root put on them would be treated with a diuretic that made them pass urine in different colors to cure them. They would be told that if they passed one color it was the root going out of them, but if they passed the other color the doctors would have to try something else.
One Monday morning Mr. Richardson and I were working on the quadrant at the head of the rudder post on a boat that was up on blocks out on the yard. A couple of police cars pulled up and carried the proprietor off in handcuffs. Mr. Richardson tossed his hammer aside and fell back listlessly against the waist exclaiming, “Aye ‘clare! Aye feel so ba’ad ‘bout de police ca’in’ Mist’ Jim off, Aye cya’an’ hardly work!”
I tried to sooth him and said, “There, there, Mr. Richardson. It’ll be all right!”
Evidently, Jim had had a little kerfluffle with his girlfriend over on the beach and had gone over to her house that weekend to get his TV set. She wouldn’t let him in so he kicked a panel out of the door and went in and got the TV anyway. She filed a complaint and Monday morning the police came around to the boatyard and hauled him off in handcuffs. Jim’s wife and ex-wife were both ecstatic over the developments and immediately took Jim’s girlfriend into their ever-expanding sisterhood.
During a work break on one of my first days at the yard I noticed a little crowd of yard hands gathered around the boat shed laughing at someone holding forth with some harangue or other. I went over and caught the last part:
“…. but he thought it was a tugboat coming up the river so he opened up the swing bridge. The mule ran off into the river and drowned and the hounds ran off and swam to the other side. It just so happened that the bridge tender was running for sheriff at the time and he didn’t get but seven votes, because everybody thought that anybody who couldn’t tell the difference between a tugboat blowing for the bridge and a mule with a fox horn up his ass ought not to be sheriff of the county!”
This was Abbott, who liked to be called “Blackie” (not to be confused with Captain Blackie, who used to be seen walking up and down Folly Road winter or summer with his short sleeves rolled up to his armpits, his captain’s hat at a jaunty angle upon his head, and his shirt unbuttoned halfway down with his chest hair sticking out in a gray ruff.) At that time Abbott was renting a place over on the beach where he was taking care of a fellow he had found living under the Folly Beach Pier. Abbott went around and told everybody on the yard that if they wanted to each chip in something like a bag of rice or beans or a can of vegetables or something every now and then, we could go over to his place at lunchtime each day and his buddy - who was living over there - would have a big pot of stew or beans or something for our lunch. So some of us went in on the deal and it was a pretty satisfactory arrangement for a little while until they got evicted. I don’t know what happened to his buddy but Abbott moved into the back room of Geezer’s place, which situation evidently was a little more stable.
The other arrangement seemed sort of like the halt leading the blind.
Geezer’s place, as noted above, was on the right hand side just before the Folly
Creek Bridge, right after the Bowen’s Island turnoff. Geezer never said too much. He mostly just sat in a chair sidled up close by the window so he could keep an eye on whomever was turning in to his place from up the road.
I had a double-breasted, pin-striped suit that a local tailor had made for me when I was on “R & R” in Thailand, and I asked Abbott if he wanted it. He did, and he used to wear it around Geezer’s place after work. He said people would ask him if he had undertaken to being an undertaker. He cut quite a sartorial figure around there for a while. All that he lacked to top things off were a white carnation in the lapel, a white fedora, and a violin case - and probably a set of spats to cover the brogans he wore that still had copper bottom paint drips on them from working at the boatyard.
Abbott had once served as a deputy sheriff in Columbia and had witnessed the first execution of a woman in South Carolina. It was done by the electric chair, and Abbott said he never wanted to see anything like that again. He had also served in Navy gun crews on merchant ships during the Second World War – probably as hairy as any job in the war. I am told that the Merchant Service – often backlit by the lights on shore along the coast despite the blackout regulations - were sitting ducks for the U-boats, and they had a higher rate of casualties than did any other branch of service, including the US Marine Corps.
Abbott had been torpedoed twice - once on an oil tanker that set the sea on fire off Newfoundland. He said he remembered seeing the German U-boat on the surface beyond the flames. He and some others were in one of those life rafts with the webbing in the bottom, and in the cold North Atlantic waters everybody got frost bitten except for the Bo’s’n and him, because – as he said – they were both alcoholics and had plenty of antifreeze in them. They were all rescued by a French Corvette.
One Saturday – before he had moved to Geezer’s place - I went over to the beach to get Abbott so we could go downtown and register to vote. Before we got off the beach he asked me to stop so he could run into the liquor store and get a half-pint, which he stuck in his pocket. When we got downtown we saw two different doors for voter registration. He went into the one marked A-M, while I went into the one marked N-Z. I told him I’d meet him out by the truck after we had gotten registered. When I came back out, there was no Abbott, so I waited at the truck. I waited - and waited some more. Finally I went into his end of the building. No Abbott. Somebody was standing outside on the sidewalk and I asked them if they had seen anyone fitting the description I gave them.
“Oh, yes,” they said. “The police carried him off about a half an hour ago.”
Well, that was pretty good. So I went down to the police station looking for him. I was told they had him back there in the jail. He was in a cell with a pretty big crowd and he was glad to see me. When I bailed him out he swore fealty to me forever and promised that he would pay me back. I said I could use a hand getting some sheets of tin up onto the roof of my boat shed over on Bowen’s Island if he was free next Saturday morning for a little while. He said he was, and I went and picked him up about eight o’clock.
It was a muggy, still morning and the sand gnats were about to eat us alive when I climbed up onto the roof, but fortunately a nice little breeze soon sprang up and blew them away. Unfortunately it also blew Abbott over into the honeysuckle when he tried to hand me up about the third sheet of tin, so that pretty much wound things up on the boat shed project for the day.
We had some pretty interesting boats come into the yard from time to time. One of the most beautiful boats I ever saw was the Louis B. Fuerstein, built in 1901. She was a big old Chesapeake Bay oyster “buy boat” – one of those boats that used to go out on the oyster grounds and buy oysters from the men tonging on the oyster reefs. The Fuerstein was about seventy five or eighty feet long with a very broad beam and a beautiful sheer line over a low freeboard. Her hull was planked fore-and-aft and she was round-bottomed and round-sterned. She had a varnished mast forward by the forepeak hatch, and a wheelhouse aft. The lines of the top of the wheelhouse followed the sheer line, and there was a small break aft of the pilothouse with narrow windows that allowed the pilot to see aft over the cabin top. The pilothouse was rounded off forward, and it and the cabin house were made of narrow strips of vertical tongue-and-groove. The engine room was below the pilothouse but it had a raised trunk with port lights near the deck, and one had to take a step up to enter the pilothouse through the side doors. Both the main deck of the vessel and the overhead of the cabin and the wheelhouse had not only a graceful sheer, but also a pronounce camber. And all was set off by a low, ornamental rail around the stern. She had been purchased by some Cubans, if I remember, who had tried to trawl shrimp with her, but she was underpowered for that, so they were taking her out offshore to use her to fish for grouper and blackfish (or black sea bass). Years later I saw a painting of the Fuerstein in an antique shop near Gloucester Point, Virginia, near where she had been built.
Another big Bay boat came in, got hauled out on the railway for repairs and a paint job on the bottom, and was bought where she sat for forty thousand dollars cash - all in twenty-dollar bills. There was a lot of smuggling going on back in those days, and this boat was last seen heading south.
A little decked over Bay boat came in for haul out, and I was to sail away in her.
The boat was built in 1917 in Perrin Creek, across the river from Yorktown, Virginia. She was of “deadrise” construction, built with a hard chine and cross-planked on the bottom in the traditional Chesapeake Bay fashion. She was about forty-five feet long, and had a GM 6-71 engine below the pilot house. One gained access to the engine compartment through a hatch in the pilot house deck. She was decked over with the wheel house and cabin aft. Earl, the Captain, had been a civilian contractor in Vietnam with Pacific Architects and Engineers (PA&E) and had married a Vietnamese girl. He name the boat Mai Ly after his wife, and he was getting the boat fitted out to go blackfishing.
Captain Earl had a brother George who fished and shrimped out of his dock in Shem Creek, up in Charleston, and he was planning to take up the same endeavor with his boat. One day Jim came over and said Captain Earl was looking for someone to help him pilot the boat out of Stono Inlet and up to Charleston, and he asked me if I could do it. I told him I could. I had practiced land navigation extensively, running Long Range Patrols during Ranger training in the Army. I figured I could read a chart and a compass well enough to get us out of the river, out of the inlet, up the coast, and into Charleston.
When we got to his brother’s dock, Captain Earl offered me a job, which I accepted. The pay was a percentage of the catch, and all the beer I could drink and all the tuna fish and Saltine crackers I could eat. I accepted on the spot. How could anyone turn down a deal like that?! I told Captain Earl I had to go back to the boat yard and give Jim my notice, and it might take a few days or so before I could start work as his deck hand. I told Jim about it at the boatyard and there was no problem and there were no hard feelings. People around there pretty much sort of drifted in and out of the place anyway. And eventually the boatyard, too, drifted away like the rest.
The Folly River Boatyard is long gone now, like Geezer’s place, and like Mrs. Bowen and her restaurant, which burned and got rebuilt into an upscale restaurant by her grandson. Gone, too, is the little stand on Folly Road with the hand-painted sign that read “Live and Still Crabs.” Now there is a stoplight, a shopping center, and a Piggly-Wiggly. Backman’s Seafood is gone, too. When some Arab Sheik bough Kiawah Island and developed it, that killed the shrimping. Just like off Folly Beach, the trawlers were not allowed to work within a half a mile of the shore where the best shrimping is, because they brought in the sharks. The Backman fleet either rotted in the marsh or went south, Junior Backman went to Fiddler’s Green, and Backman’s Seafood is no more, all gone the way of non-conformists and replaced by lock-step corporations, and by McMansions and condos that have popped up around there like mushrooms.
Nothing stays the same but the Absolute.
Ah! My Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?
For now I see the true old times are dead…
Tennyson, from Idylls of the King
My grandfather loved Tennessee Walking Horses, a breed so named for their beautiful run-walk, a gait which they carry in place of the trot found in other breeds. It is like a magic carpet ride, and it is a gift from Heaven. Grandaddy would go to Shelbyville, Tennessee to see about them when he could find time to get away from his medical practice in the little town of Cameron, in Calhoun County, South Carolina. Grandaddy had a dapple gray in the paddock out back named Traveler, after General Lee’s famous charger. We’d bring him apples, but you had to hold it in your palm with your hand wide open flat so he wouldn’t nip your fingers. We were barefooted most of the time, and if we didn’t watch out when we climbed up on the fence, he would try to nip our toes.
Grandaddy gave my mother and father a Walking Horse (with papers) named Allen Slave for their wedding present, and Dad would take me riding with him when I was just a little tyke. He would perch me in the saddle in front of him with his arm tight around my waist, for Allen was pretty frisky.
Later, my father got another Tennessee Walker named Sox. He was a big chestnut gelding (with maybe a bit of roan) and had four white stockinged feet and a white blaze all across one side of his face – lots of “chrome” as they say these days. My father had originally gotten him to serve as his charger in the jousting tournaments - a sport that had been carried on in the South since antebellum days - and he rode in them until the pageantry faded from the tournaments in Virginia.
These tournaments originated with the old sport of Squires, who would gallop at rings and try to spear them with a lance. But the roots were far older than that. Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, a veteran of the British Army and the Commander of the Arab Legion during the Arab-Israeli War, tells that cavalry fighting with the lance dates back to the Bedouin camel herders of the Arabian desert before the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him). As the Arab Conquest burst out of the Arabian Peninsula, the Bedouin cavalry exchanged their camels for horses to carry them (along with their code of chivalry, their fierce code of honor, and their contempt for settled communities) eastward to the Oxus and westward across North Africa and into Spain. The Bedouin’s code of chivalry and his mode of warfare was emulated and retained by the Spaniards and spread across the Pyrenees into France and England. Chivalry came full circle during the Crusades, when Richard the Lion-Heart rode out before his army with his lance to challenge a champion from the army of Saladin.
General Glubb relates that while this form of warfare eventually disappeared from Europe with the advent of gunpowder, it lasted with the Bedouin until just before the First World War – the last occasion being at the battle at Jumaima in 1910, when two champions rode out and met in personal combat in front of their respective tribes. After the First World War an immense number of rifles from the old Ottoman Empire fell into the hands of the tribes, ending the ancient custom of personal combat between champions and transforming this dangerous sport of limited warfare - waged for personal honor and glory - into total war.
We are now horrified and disgusted at acts of terrorism (“the poor man’s atomic bomb”) coming from those parts of the world, but those old warriors would have been just as horrified and disgusted at our mile-long sniper shots and the bombing of mountain villages by remotely controlled predator drones. As Edmund Burke had written of the French Revolution, the Age of Chivalry is dead. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded.
In 1859, J. Alexander Patten, a contributor to the weekly New York Mercury, came down to Southside Virginia and sent back a series of sketches for publication. One of his sketches was of a tournament in Bedford County. I do not remember seeing such pageantry as he described, but it was not much different from that which my father described of the tournaments he rode in as a young man growing up in South Carolina. They were held at the high school, and each “Knight” had a Lady for whom he rode. Each of these Ladies, dressed in their finery, was seated in the stand near the announcer, and at the end of each of his rides at progressively smaller rings her Knight would present to her on his lance the rings he had caught. The Lady whose Knight won the tournament (by catching the most rings) was crowned Queen.
That much pageantry in the Virginia tournaments that I saw had faded, but I do remember the big tournament parade in Farmville, with all the Knights in their colors mounted upon their fiery chargers parading up Main Street. At the tournaments, the cars with their horse trailers would be pulled up in a row facing the track. In the middle there would be an announcer in an elevated stand with a PA system. The track ran down along three poles, each with a cross-bar higher than the rider’s head. The crossbars reached out over the track and were each fixed with a clip to hold a ring. The first round consisted of rings maybe two or three inches in diameter, and each Knight would have a go at them with his lance. The announcer would call each knight in the lists, and as his turn came the announcer would say “Charge, Sir Knight!” The Knight would charge down the track at a gallop and make his run at the rings. Those who did not catch all three rings in that series were eliminated from further competition, but those who did would make successive runs at successively smaller rings – all the way down to maybe a half an inch in diameter - until the champion of the tournament was determined.
There was one noted difference between the tournaments held in South Carolina and the ones held in Virginia. In South Carolina, the requirement was for the lance to extend at least seven feet in front of the grip and the lance must be held under the arm. In Virginia the lance need extend only three feet in front of the grip, and it might be held either under the arm or over the shoulder like a javelin. I used to think that the Virginia way skimped on tradition for the sake of utility, but on the Bayeux Tapestry (late Eleventh Century) it shows examples of Norman knights attacking at the Battle of Hastings carrying the lance each way. The caption under the picture in Marc Bloch’s Feudal Society notes that some Knights are using the lance as a javelin while others are carrying it in “the new manner.” My father held his under his arm in “the new manner” – Carolina style - as did most (but not all) Knights on the Virginia tracks. He did not hold the lance clamped to his side, however, but – standing in the stirrups at a gallop – he aimed it at the rings while sighting along it with his elbow held up.
My father’s Carolina lance was not ornate. It was a plain shaft with a tip fashioned from a 30-06 cartridge. But I remember going down town with him in Lynchburg to have his new lance made for the Virginia tracks. He had a long stainless steel rod about two feet long ground into a point on one end. This was then welded to the inverted base of a stainless steel cup that had been milled on a lathe to allow the tip to be fitted and attached onto the end of the shaft. The lance was a wooden, straight-grained shaft that had also been turned down on a lathe with a taper and a little decorative swell at the other end, and shaped in such a way that it was perfectly balanced at the grip point. It also had some heft to help stabilize it with inertia and keep it steady when at a gallop. At the three foot point my father ran a piece of copper tubing through a drilled hole and turned it back a little to keep his grip in the proper place – which gave a homely touch to a traditional warrior’s carefully crafted, ornate, and personalized weapon. When held at this point the lance was perfectly balanced, and I remember it being kept propped up behind the kitchen door long after my father had given up the tournaments and turned Sox out to pasture.
I rode Sox quite a bit - sometimes with a McClellan saddle, sometimes bareback, and sometimes with a Western saddle. My father (who had spent all of his life on a flat saddle) said you couldn’t fall out of one of those Western things if you tried - “and for God’s sake, don’t grab hold of the saddle horn!”
In the front pasture there was a line of three telephone poles. If you were riding Sox and weren’t paying attention and rode to the fence up by the road and then turned back, the old war horse would see that line of poles and break into a gallop down along them, thinking he was back on the tournament track.
Taking Sox back to the stables, I would unsaddle him and wipe him down. One day, while giving him a drink of water at the trough and putting a block of hay in his stall and some sweet feed in his box, I wondered where his blood had been. Had it pulsed in the veins of a horse in Stuart’s cavalry? Or had it been in Tennessee with Forrest? Had it been in Carolina with “Lighthorse Harry” Lee or “The Swamp Fox”? Was it there at Camlann when Arthur fell? Had it known the chafe of a chariot shaft or a pull on the reins from Hector, breaker of horses, before the walls of windy Troy? Did it race with the horsemen across the Eurasian Steppes when the worlds collided and the seas parted and the oceans churned as Lord Shiva danced the Tandava across the thunder-cracked skies at the Fall into Time? Sox only gave me a nuzzling shove, rubbed the side of his head up and down against my shoulder, and went back to munching his sweet feed.
The last thing I saw of the tournaments in Virginia was a picture in the newspaper of some “Knight” - with a plug of tobacco in his jaw - wearing a flannel shirt and a feed store hat. My Father had long since gone fox hunting with my sister. He later became Master of the Bedford County Hunt, but I remember him best thundering down the tournament tracks – glory at a gallop! His sash was of red and gold, and it is now carefully folded in the drawer of my bedside table. He was “The Knight of Melrose” - Champion of his mother’s plantation in Buckingham County - and I was his Squire. Like the Knights of old, he taught me to ride, to shoot straight and to speak the truth.
“Always mount from the left. That’s the way horses expect you to do. It comes from centuries of cavalrymen having to mount from that side with their sabers on their left hip.”
“Reach over with your left hand - palm down - and take the set of reins in your fist. Let the right rein come out between your middle finger and your ring finger, and the left rein come out from the bottom of your fist. That way you can neck-rein him and leave your right arm hanging straight down by your side, or free for wielding a saber or a pistol.”
“Sit up straight! Don’t flop around like a feed- sack!” And “Don’t flap your elbows up and down like some buzzard or those people in the cowboy movies!”
My father ran the Small Arms Committee at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, before he was sent to India and Burma. “When you shoot for accuracy, take a breath and let it out. That calms your heartbeat. Take another breath, let half of it out, and catch it in your throat. Then press the trigger! If your front sight wavers off the target, hold the pressure you have on the trigger until you bring it back, and then press some more. It is supposed to surprise you when it goes off. If you jerk the trigger you are going to miss every time!”
After the war there were a great many war movies that were produced by Hollywood. When we lived on Landon Street, we boys on the street loved to go see them. One would go and the rest would check him out: “Was it in color or black-and-white?” “Did it have a lot of war stuff, or was it a bunch of all that lovey-dovey stuff?” We always thought that Hollywood ruined perfectly good war movies when they filled them up with all that lovey-dovey stuff, but my father said that the hugging and kissing were his favorite parts. I once asked him if he had ever shot anybody in the war.
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, looking into the distance, “there were two times I might have. It was at night, and you can’t see anything in the jungle at night. The Japs attacked us and everybody was shooting. I shot at two men and they each went down - but everybody was shooting at the same time, so I don’t know if it was me or not.”
But my father was a crack shot and I knew what had happened.
“Man, Daddy, I wish you’d’a shot a hunnerd of ‘em!” I said excitedly.
“Oh, no, Bud,” he said quietly, looking at me with earnest conviction. “Don’t say that, Son. That’s not right. Those men might have had families waiting for them to come back home. He might have even had a little boy just like you. You mustn’t think that way.”
The bravest are the gentlest…
“Tell the Truth,” he would tell me. “Don’t deceive people. Look them in the eye. Being deceitful is common. It is unmanly and unworthy of a gentleman,” and he taught me integrity by trusting me.
I was pretty trifling when I was a little boy coming along. One of my duties was to feed and water the horses, but often I would go down to the stables and dawdle around and fiddle around and shoot at the chickens with the bb gun and all that, and get the job only half done before it was time to leave for school. This only happened during the week, of course, when my father – who traveled - was away. My mother would then have to take me to school and finish my chores after she got back home. (I must admit, we children sometimes got a little spoiled by our mother!) Then my father would have to start all over again with me when he returned home at the end of the week.
“Did you water the horses?” he would ask.
“No, Sir, I forgot.”
“Well, go water them. They can’t water themselves, and they can’t talk and tell you when they are thirsty. You have to look out for them. They are depending on you to see to it that they have something to drink.” And I would go back down and water the horses.
The next time I forgot, my father said, “Alright. Tomorrow I want you to go all day long without taking a drink of anything so you will know how they feel.” So I went along and went along next day, getting thirstier and thirstier through breakfast, dinner and supper, with nothing to drink then or in between. Nobody was looking over my shoulder. I was just not drinking anything like he had told me. Then, after supper that evening, two of my cousins and I got dropped off at the movie theatre downtown. We got a box of popcorn. Salty popcorn. This was a very bad move. After eating that, I got to feeling about as dried up as an Egyptian mummy. I couldn’t stand it anymore, but what was I going to do?
With the Apotheosis of Attorneyism – that “blackest of terrestrial curses,” as Thomas Carlyle called it in one of his Latter-Day Pamphlets - the splitting of hairs has not only been elevated into one of the highest forms of art, but into a sanctified virtue. I did my part to make it so when I brought my case before the bar of my conscience.
I knew my Father wanted to teach me the timeless things that a man ought to know about duty, honor, and responsibility towards others – particularly towards others that are dependent upon you. I also knew that I did not want to betray his trust. On the other hand, I knew how sad he would be to learn that his son had died of thirst in the lobby of the Paramount Theatre, and I certainly wanted to spare him that grief. The verdict that I handed down to myself, therefore, was probably one of the most masterful splittings of a hair that has ever occurred in the history of American jurisprudence: I would not “drink” anything at all. I would merely “eat” a cup of ice from the concession stand!
It worked! I lived!
However, when we got home I neglected to mention any of this to anyone.
As Carlyle also observed, all lies are cursed and damned from the beginning. I soon found out that a calculated distortion of the truth – no better than a lie - is equally cursed. My father was proud of me. He would tell the story over and over again. “I knew he wasn’t going to take a drink!” he would always end by saying. With each telling I felt worse and worse. So one day - after I couldn’t stand it anymore - I determined that a true confession would be good for my soul. I spared him the pettifoggery. I just told him that I had indeed not taken a “drink” at all that day, but I had gotten so thirsty at the movie theater that evening that I had “eaten” a cup of ice.
He didn’t say anything - but he never told that story anymore.
One night, many years later, I dreamed. Like Crazy Horse I went to the shadow world where the spirits of things abide. In a familiar room, but one filled with shadows, my father came to me and said, “Everything is alright, Bud,” and I woke up crying like a little boy.
History is the propaganda of the victorious. Voltaire
“The Myth of American History” claims that the righteous North went to war against the evil South to free the slaves, and that Confederate war memorials are monuments to Treason, Slavery, and Racism and must be torn down. This myth has become “the lie agreed upon” by all, to make the conveniently-dead Confederacy the scapegoat for our sins. But as Thomas Carlyle said, all lies are cursed and damned from the beginning. Only the truth will make us free.
Consider the truth: To accuse the Confederacy of treason, one must wipe one’s feet on the Declaration of Independence, signed by the thirteen slave-holding Colonies (1) that seceded from the British Empire in 1776. Lincoln’s war on the Southern States, which he did not recognize as being out of the Union (2), is treason according to Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution. Self-defense is not. No Confederate was ever tried for treason, much less convicted, but why not Lincoln?
As for slavery, the wealth of New York and New England was founded on the African slave-trade and the manufacture and shipping of slave-picked cotton (3). To claim the North went to war to free the slaves, one must ignore Lincoln’s disclaimer in his First Inaugural Address, ignore his Emancipation Proclamation two years later plainly stating that slavery was alright as long as one were loyal to his government (4), and ignore that West Virginia, a “slave State,” was admitted into the Union afterwards. Slavery was not abolished in the United States until Lincoln and the Confederacy were in their graves (5).
As for racism, please note that the first “Jim Crow” laws originated in Northern States long before the war (6). Alexis de Tocqueville, in his Democracy in America, testified to the virulent racism in the North. The North’s strong opposition to slavery in the Territories was due to its strong opposition to Blacks in the Territories. Lincoln, a documented and life-long White Supremacist, supported these “Jim Crow” laws (7) and worked until the day he died to deport freed Blacks to Central America or back to Africa (8). As for Black racism, remember that it was Black Africans who captured and sold Black Africans into slavery in the first place (9). Furthermore, early US census records listed many free Black owners of slaves - from New Orleans to New England (10).
What, then, is the truth about that war? Do not confound the many causes of secession with the single cause of the war, which was secession itself. Follow the dollar and know the Truth. Cotton was “King” in the mid-nineteenth century, and with the South’s “Cotton Kingdom” out of the Union and free-trading with Europe, the North’s “Mercantile Kingdom” with its piratical tariffs would collapse (11), so Lincoln – rebuffing all peace overtures by Confederate diplomats - launched an armada against Charleston Harbor to provoke the South into firing the first shot. South Carolina responded to Lincoln’s provocation just as Massachusetts had responded to King George’s provocation at Lexington and Concord, and Lincoln got the war he wanted (12). Virginia, “The Mother of States and of Statesmen,” stood solidly for the Union until Lincoln called for her troops to invade and subjugate the Confederacy, whereupon Virginia refused, indicted Lincoln for “choosing to inaugurate civil war”(13), and immediately seceded. Four other States (including occupied Missouri) followed her out. There stands the Truth - not with the North’s mythical “Battle-Cry of Freedom.” Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” claiming his war of invasion, conquest, and coerced political allegiance against the South was to save “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” is pure Orwellian doublespeak. How else would one define political allegiance at the point of a bayonet? Slavery was just the smelly “red herring” dragged across the track of an unconstitutional and murderous usurpation of power, but that takes the wind out of the sails of the Racial Grievance Industry, and knocks a hole in “The Myth of American History.”
Today’s political virtue-postings and “hue and cry” against the South’s Confederate monuments honoring her soldiers is based upon the specious charges of Treason, Slavery, and Racism. This, however, is “presentism,” which is history twisted to conform to present-day politics – in this case to today’s racist Progressive Identity Politics. Progressives have taken a page out of George Orwell’s 1984: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
To accuse the Confederacy of treason, one must first wipe one’s feet on the Declaration of Independence, signed by the thirteen slave-holding Colonies that seceded from the British Empire in 1776. Lincoln’s invasion of the Southern States, which he did not recognize as being out of the Union, is treason according to Article 3, Section 3 of the U. S. Constitution. Self-defense against invasion, conquest, and coerced political allegiance is not. No Confederate was ever tried for treason after the war.
To claim that the Confederacy “took up arms to destroy the Union in defense of slavery” please see above. To claim that the United States waged war against the Confederacy to end slavery, one must ignore not only Lincoln’s emphatic disclaimer to the contrary in his First Inaugural Address, but also the fact that his Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years later, stated plainly that slavery was alright as long as one was loyal to his government - proven the following summer when West Virginia, a so-called “slave State,” was admitted into the Union.
As for racism, please note that the first “Jim Crow” laws originated in the North. After many Northern States abolished slavery for its inutility in their mercantile economy, the owners sold their slaves South and the States passed “Jim Crow” laws prohibiting any Blacks – either slave or free - from returning. The North’s strong objection to slavery in the Territories was based on Northerners’ strong objection to Blacks in the Territories. The sainted Lincoln - himself a White supremacist who supported his home State of Illinois’ “Jim Crow” laws - worked until the day he died to have the freed Blacks deported to Central America or back to Africa.
As for Black racism, remember that it was Black Africans who captured and sold Black Africans into slavery in the first place. Furthermore, United States Census records in the nineteenth century listed many free Black owners of slaves in both the North and the South – some owning hundreds.
So what was the War “about”? Don’t confuse the many causes of secession with the single cause of the war, which was secession itself! The peaceful withdrawal of any State from the voluntary Union of sovereign States would have in no way prevented those remaining from having “a more perfect Union.” So what was the real reason for Lincoln’s war to “save the Union”? Follow the Yankee dollar and know the Truth. With the South’s “Cotton Kingdom” out of the Union, the North’s “Mercantile Kingdom” would collapse. So Lincoln – rejecting peace overtures by Confederate diplomats - launched his armada against Charleston Harbor to provoke South Carolina into firing the first shot. South Carolina responded to Lincoln’s provocation just as Massachusetts – the self-anointed “Patriot State” - had responded to King George’s provocation at Lexington and Concord in 1775.
Virginia, “The Mother of States and of Statesmen,” stood solidly for the voluntary Union of 1788 she had given so much to create and perpetuate. But when Lincoln called for her troops to invade and subjugate the Confederacy, Virginia refused, indicted Lincoln for “choosing to inaugurate civil war,” and immediately seceded. Four other States (including occupied Missouri) followed her out. There stands the Truth, not with the North’s “Court Historians” and their mythical “Battle-Cry of Freedom.”
Union at the point of a bayonet is slavery to a despotic government. Confederate monuments speak Truth to this Power. No wonder the Marxist heathen rage and have been incited to rioting, vandalizing, and tearing them down under the approving eyes of “The Party of Big Government” and its handmaidens in the media. And no wonder public schools, colleges and universities – government funded indoctrination centers for “The Myth of American History” – have cast the Truth down the Orwellian “memory hole.
I read your OpEd piece published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on this date. The VMI Honor Code, may I remind you, simply states that "A VMI Cadet neither lies, cheats, or steals, or tolerates those who do." You both are tolerating a lie in your assertions that "Stonewall" Jackson, a VMI professor, "took up arms to destroy the union in defense of the institution of slavery." This is "The Myth of American History," which is a lie. Voltaire said "History is the propaganda of the victorious," propaganda are steeped in lies by definition, and thus you both have tolerated a lie in violation of the VMI Honor Code.
If Jackson's statue offends your righteous sensibilities now that you have graduated, I question the sincerity of your convictions. Why didn't you speak out while you were a cadet? Better yet, why did you go to VMI in the first place? Now you post your righteous virtues by claiming as VMI graduates that VMI should "move forward" and remove Jackson's statue from in front of Jackson Arch. Will that appease your "Woke" sensibilities? As Kipling observed, "As long as you pay the Dane-geld/You never get rid of the Dane."
If your righteous sensibilities compel you to advocate the removal of Jackson's statue, won't they compel you by the same token to advocate renaming Jackson Memorial Hall? What about doing away with the New Market Day Parade, and the passing in review and saluting those ten boys who died fighting for the Confederacy who rest beneath Sir Moses Ezekiel's "Virginia Mourning Her Dead"? Or will you suggest digging them up and getting them off of the post altogether? Or how about removing Ezekiel's statue along with them? He, you know, was in C Company at the Battle of New Market, making him another one of those reprehensible people who evidently offends your righteous sensibilities.
There is more. How about digging the Yankee cannonballs out of the barracks that were fired there by the vandal Union General David Hunter, who shelled and burned the Institute, who burned Governor Letcher's home in town, and who left in his wake on his march to Lynchburg burning houses and plundered and wailing civilian women and children, both white and black, until he met General Jubal Early, who chased this Yankee "Georgie Porgie, puddin' and pie" clean out of the State like the coward that he was in meeting real soldiers.
Now I know there are "extenuating and mitigating circumstances" that you might plea in your defense before the VMI Honor Court. You may not have realized that your accusations against General Jackson and his statue are based upon this hundred-and-fifty-year-old lie known as "The Myth of American History." Therefore, I would think an honorable VMI Honor Court would not have you drummed out had you honestly not known the Truth. Therefore, I have taken the liberty to attach the Truth herein, so that in the future you will not find yourself in error. But now that you do know the Truth, you cannot be exonerated next time on a plea of ignorance.
H. V. Traywick, Jr.
VMI Class of 1967
“Divide et impera” – Ancient political maxim quoted by Machiavelli
The agitation over Confederate monuments rests upon The Myth of American History, which proclaims that “The Civil War was all about slavery, the righteous North waged it to free the slaves, and the evil South fought to keep them. End of story. Any questions?”
Well, yes. Something doesn’t compute, here. If the North were waging a war on slavery, why didn’t she wage war on New England cotton mills and their profits from slave-picked cotton? Or on New York and Boston, the largest African slave-trading ports in the world according to the January 1862 Continental Monthly? Or on Northern shipyards that outfitted the slave ships? Or on New England distilleries that made rum from slave-harvested sugar cane to use for barter on the African coast? Or on the African slavers themselves, such as the Kingdom of Dahomey, who captured their fellow Africans and sold them into slavery in the first place? And why did Abraham Lincoln choose to inaugurate the bloodiest war in the history of the Western Hemisphere to, in effect, drive Southern slavery back into the Union? And why did his Emancipation Proclamation – a cynical, desperate war measure of his total war against the South that did not pretend to free any slave who was not behind Confederate lines, and which was not issued until halfway through the war when the South was winning it - say that slavery was alright as long as one was loyal to his government – proven the following summer when he admitted West Virginia, a “slave State,” into the Union? And why did he work until the day he died to deport blacks back to Africa? And why was slavery Constitutional in the North throughout the entire war?
Do not make the common mistake of confusing the many causes of secession – including slavery in the Territories (racist Northerners wanted to keep the Territories, as well as their own States, “lily-white”), Radical Abolitionist terrorism, the North’s extortionate tariffs against the agrarian South, Southern States’ rights vs. the North’s unconstitutional empowerment of the central government, and, finally and particularly, the election of Lincoln, the presidential candidate of a strictly Northern sectional political party in vitriolic enmity against the South – do not confuse all of these causes of secession with the single cause of the war, which was secession itself! With the South’s “Cotton Kingdom” out of the Union and set up as a free trade confederacy on the North’s doorstep, the North’s “Mercantile Kingdom” would collapse! So Lincoln rebuffed every Southern overture for peace, launched an armada against Charleston Harbor to provoke South Carolina into firing the first shot, got the war he wanted (causing Virginia and four other States to secede when he called for their troops to help subjugate the “Cotton Kingdom”), and drove the Southern States back into the Union at the point of the bayonet. Then, with an Army of Occupation and the pretense of law, a corrupt Northern political party imposed a vindictive Reconstruction on the South that transformed the voluntary Union of sovereign States into a coerced industrial Empire.
Results? For the North? “The Gilded Age.” For the South? Grinding poverty in a land laid waste until the Second World War. For the Blacks? A recent study of military and Freedman’s Bureau records has revealed that between 1862 and 1870 perhaps as many as a million ex-slaves, or twenty-five percent of the population, died of starvation or became seriously ill from disease epidemics and neglect under their Northern “liberators”! Freed from their master’s care, Lincoln had told them to “root hog, or die.” Black enfranchisement in the South (but not in the North), was merely another cynical tool of the North’s subjugation of the South, and once she had achieved it, the North abandoned her Black puppets to the upheaval she had wrought in Southern society and turned her attention to the Plains Indians, who were in the way of her trans-continental railroads. But let the Indians tell you that story. Freedom? Union at the point of the bayonet is slavery to a totalitarian government. Equality? Chronic Black riots in segregated Northern ghettos speak for themselves, but they keep Desperate White Liberals busy designing crusades upon which to post their own specious virtues and to divert credulous Black attention onto Southern scapegoats.
The latest are attacks on Confederate monuments honoring men who defended our homeland against invasion, conquest, and a coerced political allegiance - just as their fathers had done in 1776 when the thirteen slave-holding Colonies – from Georgia to Massachusetts – seceded from the British Empire. But I have some bad news for the crusaders: You may tear down every Confederate monument on the face of the earth and it won’t change a thing. That is the monumental truth! But these attacks have nothing to do with the truth and everything to do with Progressive virtue-posting and their divide-and-rule identity politics, so when all of the Confederate monuments have been vandalized and torn down, who will their next targets be?
In his book History in Three Keys, author Paul A. Cohen says there are three ways of looking at history. The first is the historian’s objective to understand the past intellectually and then explain it as “event”, or for its own sake. This is the definition of “historicism,” and is the objective of all who seek the truth. The second way of looking at history is that which is related by those who made it, those who lived it and lived through it, that is, history explained as “experience.” These narratives may necessarily have a more restricted view than those of the professional historian. The historian may be compared with the general on the hill with his broad view of the battle as it unfolds, while those relating their experiences may be compared with the soldiers in the ranks down on the field assaulting the breastworks in the smoke and confusion of battle. Another difference is the historian tries to look at the past with a detached objectivity, whereas the people who made the history tend to look at it more subjectively, and in a fashion that tends to be psychologically tolerable to themselves. If such subjectivity becomes validated by communal consensus, then myths can be created in place of intellectual truth. “Myth” is the third way of looking at history (1). If this myth, this collective view of history, is made to conform to the politics of the day, then this is called “presentism,” which is not history at all, but political propaganda.
The North’s war to prevent the South’s independence is a glaring example. Today, the simple and obvious truth in that description of what the North calls “The Civil War” is derisively dismissed as “The Myth of the Lost Cause.” The story trumpeted from the heights is that the war (2) was all about slavery, that the righteous North fought to free the slaves and the evil, treasonous South fought to keep them. End of story. Any questions? Well, yes. Something doesn’t compute, here. Could it be that this is what Voltaire called “The propaganda of the victorious?” Could it be that this in itself is a myth, “The Myth of American History” – a smelly “red herring” to throw us off the scent of a colossal usurpation of power? The North was just as complicit in slavery as the South. Slave-produced staples were the backbone of the North’s economy, while Northern-induced tariffs sucked the life’s blood out of the South for the profit of the North’s industries. Northern wealth was further built on the African Slave-trade, from Colonial times right on until the war of the 1860s. The January 1862 Continental Monthly stated that New York was the largest African Slave-trading port in the world, with self-righteous, Abolitionist Boston second (2). Many of the most prominent families with the fine old names of New England made their fortunes importing “Black Gold” from the African coast. The founder of Brown University, in Rhode Island, who founded it with money from the African Slave-trade, said he saw no more crime in bringing off a cargo of slaves than in bringing off a cargo of jackasses (3).
So what was the war really all about? Follow the “Yankee dollar.” The slavery issue was the North’s “red herring” used as moral cover for the true “Irrepressible Conflict” that was building within her classical mercantile system: the conflict between an increasingly predatory Northern industrial and mercantile center that wanted to burst the constraints of the Constitution and centralize the power of the Federal Government into its own hands through the tyranny of its ever-increasing majorities in order to promote its ambitions, and a resistant Southern agricultural periphery that insisted on the federative nature of the Union each State had acceded to with its ratification of the Constitution – the charter of the Union - since the Founding in 1788. This came to a crisis in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln, which brought to power an economically exploitive and strictly Northern sectional political party in vocal and vitriolic enmity against the South, which resulted in the secession of seven States of the Deep South.
As we all know, the peaceful secession of the seven “Cotton States” should have resolved the differences, but “Cotton was King,” and with these States out of the Union, the North would have lost its largest source of cotton for its mills, its largest source of tariff revenues, its largest source of exports for its shipping, a major market for its manufactured goods, and control of the mouth of the Mississippi. The free-trade South would do business with England while the North’s economy would collapse into bankruptcy and social anarchy. Therefore – at the behest of the Northern industrialists, railroad magnates, financiers and crony capitalists who had gotten him elected – Lincoln provoked the South into firing the first shot and got the war he wanted, which drove Virginia and four more States out of the Union and into the Confederacy when Lincoln called for their troops.
For four years Lincoln marched his armies across the South to the tune of the militantly Puritanical “Battle Hymn of the Republic” - burning, pillaging, raping, and killing - and drove the Southern States back into the Union at the point of the bayonet. As many as 38,000 citizens in the North who disagreed with Lincoln’s policies got locked up without trial after he suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1862, with opposition printing presses being destroyed by Federal troops. Lincoln’s lofty rhetoric in his Gettysburg Address – claiming his war of invasion, conquest, and coerced political allegiance was in order to save “government of the people by the people for the people” – is pure Orwellian doublespeak, while his Emancipation Proclamation - a desperate war measure issued halfway through the war when the South was winning it – plainly stated that slavery was alright as long as one was loyal to his government. This was proven the following summer when he admitted West Virginia – a so-called “slave-State” – into the Union. But that exposes “The Myth of American History” as a “red herring” masking a murderous usurpation of Power. As a result, any attempt by the South to expose this truth is derided and dismissed as “The Myth of the Lost Cause.” It has so corrupted our culture that even the Virginia Historical Society’s web site states that the “Lost Cause” narrative was “developed by former Confederates who claimed that states’ rights, not slavery, caused the war; that enslaved blacks remained faithful to their masters; and that the South was defeated only by overwhelming numerical and industrial strength…” Paul Kennedy, in his book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, debunks the Virginia Historical Society’s corrupt, Politically Correct Yankee narrative by detailing the North’s advantages in men and materiel and making the truth of the “Lost Cause” narrative abundantly clear (4). But Winston Churchill, in his monumental four-volume work entitled A History of the English Speaking Peoples, sums it all up with a clear and unbiased picture of not only the disparity between the combatants, but the loyalty of most of the slaves: “Twenty-three states, with a population of twenty-two millions, were arrayed against eleven states, whose population of nine millions included nearly four million slaves… Most of the slaves, who might have been expected to prove an embarrassment to the South, on the contrary proved a solid help, tending the plantations in the absence of their masters, raising the crops which fed the armies, working on the roads and building fortifications, thus releasing a large number of whites for service in the field” (5).
The loyalty of the slaves was a problem for Lincoln during the war, and led in part to his issuing his Emancipation Proclamation. In addition to helping to keep Britain and France from recognizing the Confederacy, it was hoped that it would disrupt the South’s “support troops” and perhaps even provoke a slave insurrection, which would empty the Confederate ranks. But beyond causing runaways to be enlisted into the US Colored Troops, and the internment of so-called “contraband” slaves in pestilential contraband camps in Union-controlled areas, there were no insurrections. The loyalty of the slaves during the war made for treasured stories in Southern family lore and headaches for the Lincoln war effort, while after the war it caused political problems for the carpetbaggers and the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction. They needed the votes of the newly freed blacks to cement their political control over the conquered Southern States. It took them two years to accomplish this, as we shall see.
Lincoln’s plan of Reconstruction was for the same State governments that had taken the Southern States out of the Union to bring them back in, but Lincoln’s assassination interrupted that plan. As Walter Lynwood Fleming wrote in his book The Sequel of Appomattox, Vice-President Andrew Johnson, sworn in as President, tried to continue with that policy, and a majority of the war-weary Northern people would have supported it - except for three personalities: President Johnson’s obstinacy and bad behavior; Radical Congressman Thaddeus Stevens’ vindictiveness and parliamentary tyranny; and Radical Senator Charles Sumner’s obstinate and misguided humanitarianism (6).
During the war, Lincoln had recognized the Virginia Unionist government of Governor Francis H. Pierpont, which consisted of Pierpont, and thirteen others acting as the “General Assembly of Virginia.” Their domain encompassed the Cities of Alexandria and Fairfax (right across the river from Washington) and from it Lincoln claimed “Virginia’s” electoral votes in the election of 1864. In February of 1864, Pierpont drafted a new State constitution that abolished slavery in Virginia and denied the vote to any who had supported the Confederacy. After the war, President Johnson decided to use the Pierpont government, naming Pierpont as the provisional Governor of Virginia, and subjecting him to the Federal military authorities of the State. Pierpont called for an October election for both the Virginia General Assembly and for Virginia’s representatives in the US Congress (7).
In December, 1865, the Virginia General Assembly and the US Congress met on the same day. The Virginia and other Southern representatives to Congress could not take the oath prescribed by the Radicals who were in control, and they were not allowed to take their seats. For four more years, Virginia had no representation in the US Congress. Virginia’s few original “Union men,” under the Radical John C. Underwood, petitioned Congress to set aside the State government and organize a Territorial government for Virginia (8). With the Southern States out of the Union, the Northern Radicals were in control and they intended to keep it that way. Representative Thaddeus Stevens stated: “The future condition of the conquered power depends on the will of the conqueror. They must come in as new States or remain as conquered provinces. Congress … is the only power that can act in the matter… Congress must create States and declare when they are entitled to be represented… As there are no symptoms that the people of these provinces will be prepared to participate in constitutional government for some years, I know of no arrangement so proper for them as territorial governments. There they can learn the principles of freedom and eat the fruit of foul rebellion…” (9)
In that session, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the US, was drafted, sent to the States, and ratified. But immediately thereafter, the Fourteenth Amendment was proposed over President Johnson’s veto. This Amendment gave illiterate Blacks – North and South - the right to vote and serve on juries. It provided that if any State denied the right to vote to any of its citizens, its representation in the House of Representatives would be reduced proportionately. It barred from Federal and State offices all supporters of the Confederacy, and it required the Southern States to repudiate their war debt, but share in the payment of the Union war debt. Tennessee ratified, but the ten ex-Confederate States that rejected it lost their identities in March of 1867 with the passage by Congress of the First Reconstruction Act (10):
“WHEREAS no legal State governments or adequate protection for life or property now exists in the rebel States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas; and whereas it is necessary that peace and good order should be enforced in said States until loyalty and republican State governments can be legally established: Therefore
It might be asked that if these States were out of the Union and under martial law, how could they ratify an amendment to the Constitution of a Union they were not in, and if they were in the Union, how could they be compelled to ratify it? The answer, of course, is, at bottom, Federal bayonets. The voluntary Union of sovereign States created by the Founders was being revolutionized into a coerced Yankee Empire. As Walter Fleming said, “The war had been fought upon the theory that the old Union must be preserved; but the basic theory of the reconstruction was that a new Union was to be created… Northern observers who were friendly to the South or who disapproved of this radical reconstruction saw the danger… In this connection the New York Herald remarked: ‘We may regard the entire ten unreconstructed Southern States, with possibly one or two exceptions, as forced by a secret and overwhelmingly revolutionary influence to a common and inevitable fate. They are all bound to be governed by blacks spurred on by worse than blacks – white wretches who dare not show their faces in respectable society anywhere…’” (12)
Strangers and unscrupulous adventurers from the North, often with their entire worldly possessions carried in a carpetbag, came flocking into the South with the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Union Leagues to pick over the bones like buzzards. The Freedmen’s Bureau was an agency whose purpose was to help the Blacks adjust to the new order. Many in the Bureau were honest and charitable, but many were corrupt. The Freedmen’s Bureau with their promises of “forty acres and a mule” did much to break down the influence of “Ole Marster,” but it was the Union Leagues that had the real influence in organizing the Blacks for Radical purposes. The Union League was formed in the dark days during the war to revive the failing spirits of the Northern people. After the war, emissaries of the League flocked to the South to organize the Blacks and turn them into good voting Radicals. As Claude Bowers wrote in his work The Tragic Era, “Left to themselves, the negroes would have turned for leadership to the native whites, who understood them best. This was the danger. Imperative, then, that they should be taught to hate – and teachers of hate were plentiful…” (13)
Walter Fleming described the work of the Union Leagues: “The Union League of America had its origin in Ohio in the fall of 1862, when the outlook for the Union cause was gloomy…. The members were pledged to uncompromising and unconditional loyalty to the Union, to complete subordination of political views to this loyalty, and to the repudiation of any belief in state rights…. With the close of the Civil War the League did not cease its active interest in things political. It was one of the first organizations to declare for negro suffrage and the disfranchisement of Confederates; it held steadily to this declaration during the four years following the war; and it continued as a sort of bureau in the radical Republican party for the purpose of controlling the negro vote in the South…. By the spring of 1866 the negroes were widely organized under this leadership, and it needed but slight change to convert the negro meetings into local councils of the Union League… Over the South went the organizers, until by 1868 the last negroes were gathered into the fold…. The influence of the League over the negro was due in large degree to the mysterious secrecy of the meetings, the weird initiation ceremony that made him feel fearfully good from his head to his heels, the imposing ritual, and the songs. The ritual, it is said, was not used in the North; it was probably adopted for the particular benefit of the African… He was told to the accompaniment of clanking chains and groans that the objects of the order were to preserve liberty, to perpetuate the Union, to maintain the laws and the Constitution, to secure the ascendancy of American institutions, to protect, defend, and strengthen all loyal men and members of the Union League... The council then sang Hail, Columbia! and The Star Spangled Banner, after which an official lectured the candidates, saying that though the designs of traitors had been thwarted, there were yet to be secured legislative triumphs and the complete ascendancy of the true principles of popular government, equal liberty, education and elevation of the workmen, and the overthrow at the ballot box of the old oligarchy of political leaders. After prayer by the chaplain, the room was darkened, alcohol on salt flared up with a ghastly light as the ‘fire of liberty,’ and the members joined hands in a circle around the candidate, who was made to place one hand on the flag and, with the other raised, swear again to support the government and to elect true Union men to office... White men who joined the order before the negroes were admitted and who left when the latter became members asserted that the negroes were taught in these meetings that the only way to have peace and plenty, to get ‘the forty acres and a mule,’ was to kill some of the leading whites in each community as a warning to others. In North Carolina twenty-eight barns were burned in one county by negroes who believed that Governor Holden, the head of the State League, had ordered it… That outrages were comparatively few was due, not to any sensible teachings of the leaders, but to the fundamental good nature of the blacks… The relations between the races, indeed, continued on the whole to be friendly until 1867-68… With the organization of the League, the negroes grew more reserved, and finally became openly unfriendly to the whites…” (14) To further cement power, the Blacks were compelled to join the Union League Militia to keep any Conservative Blacks in line, and to intimidate the Whites (15).
Radical Republican plans were well-laid for control of Virginia: The Freedmen’s Bureau, Union League, and office-holding carpetbaggers would deliver the Black vote, while the Federal Army of Occupation would correct any slips. Two prominent Radicals were the carpetbagger Judge John C. Underwood and the scalawag Reverend James W. Hunnicut. Underwood included Blacks on a Virginia jury for the first time, and delivered an inflammatory address to the accusing Confederates of being motivated by the “fiery soul of treason” and deliberately murdering Federal Prisoners of War by starvation, yellow fever, and smallpox. Hunnicut operated a Radical newspaper in Richmond after the war in which he told the Blacks: “The white race have houses and lands. Some of you are old and feeble and cannot carry the musket but can apply the torch to the dwelling of your enemies…” (16)
Robert Somers, an English visitor to the South five years after the war, describes the upheaval wrought by Reconstruction and the Union Leagues: “The negroes, after the Confederate surrender, were disorderly. Many of them would not settle down to labour on any terms, but roamed about with arms in their hands and hunger in their bellies; and the governing power, with the usual blind determination of a victorious party, was thinking only all the while of every device of suffrage and reconstruction by which ‘the freedmen’ might be strengthened, and made, under Northern dictation, the ruling power in the country. Agitators of the loosest fibre came down among the towns and plantations, and, organizing a Union league, held midnight meetings with the negroes in the woods, and went about uttering sentiments which, to say the least, in all the circumstances were anti-social and destructive. Crimes and outrages increased. The law, which must be always more or less weak in all thinly populated countries, was all but powerless; and the new Governments in the South, supposing them to have been most willing, were certainly unable to repress disorder, or to spread a general sense of security throughout the community. A real terror reigned for a time among the white people; and in this situation the ‘Ku-Klux’ started into being. It was one of those secret organizations which spring up in disordered states of society, when the bonds of law and government are all but dissolved, and when no confidence is felt in the regular public administration of justice. But the power with which the ‘Ku-Klux’ moved in many parts of the South, the knowledge it displayed of all that was going on, the fidelity with which its secret was kept, and the complacency with which it was regarded by the general community, gave this mysterious body a prominence and importance seldom attained by such illegal and deplorable associations. Nearly every respectable man in the Southern States was not only disfranchised, but under fear of arrest or confiscation; the old foundations of authority were utterly razed before any new ones had yet been laid, and in the dark and benighted interval the remains of the Confederate armies – swept, after a long and heroic day of fair fight, from the field – flitted before the eye of the people in this weird and midnight shape of a ‘Ku-Klux-Klan’” (17). As a result, harsh new Federal “force” laws were enacted, usurping the power of state courts, and enabling the Federal Government to enforce the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment (18).
In October, 1867, the eligible voters of Military District Number One elected delegates to a Constitutional Convention. Of the 102 delegates seated, 32 were Conservatives and 70 were Radicals. Of the Radicals, 25 were Black, 6 were from foreign countries, and the rest were carpetbaggers or scalawags. Judge Underwood presided, and therefore it was known as “The Underwood Convention” (19). It met in Richmond in December of 1867. A letter written by Joseph A. Waddell, a Conservative member of the Convention, representing Augusta County, gave a description of the body: “The white Radicals are a motley crew. Some of them have apparently little more intelligence than the negroes, and have doubtless come from the lowest ranks of the people. The leaders, with three or four exceptions, are Northern men who came to this State with the Federal army in the capacity of petty officers, chaplains, commissaries, clerks, sutlers, etc. Others were probably employees of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and when that institution dispensed with their services were left here stranded like frogs in a dried-up mill-pond. Having no other resource they plunged into politics. They are now jubilant in the receipt of eight dollars a day from the treasury of the State, and happy in anticipation of the fat offices they are to get by means of the same voters who sent them to the Convention. In regard to the latter particular, however, they may be disappointed. The negroes have their eyes on the same places for themselves, and will probably claim them. ‘Dr. Bayne’” (a Black Radical from Norfolk) “would not hesitate to take a seat on the bench of the Court of Appeals… The Radical members of the Convention were of course elected by the votes of negroes, the whites yielding to apathy in many counties where it might have been otherwise. Some of the Northern leaders were men of good talent, but all were, more or less, possessed by a spirit of vindictive hostility to everything distinctively Virginian, and sought to frame all the institutions of the State according to the New England pattern” (20).
In a description of the proceedings of the 29th of January, 1868, Waddell states: “I have a suspicion that some of the white Radicals are getting sick of their black allies. The white leaders expected the blacks to be a very tractable set of voters, so excessively in love with ‘the old flag,’ and so thoroughly ‘loyal,’ as to give all the good fat places to the pale-faces. But genius will assert itself, - the star of Africa is in the ascendant, and the light of its civilization is dawning upon us. The new era, beginning with ‘equality before the law,’ has now reached the stage of ‘manhood suffrage,’ and the consummation of no distinction anywhere ‘on account of race or color’ is hastening on. No, not exactly that, - there is to be distinction, for the blacks seem to claim the honors and emoluments without bearing the burdens of government. The black speakers scold and hector their white associates, whom they suspect of an indisposition to toe the mark. Some of the latter cower and cajole, and do everything possible to conciliate. Others of the whites, however, are evidently restive. They have caught a Tartar” (21).
Eventually, and one-by-one, the Southern States – under carpetbag governments, “Black and Tan” conventions, and Federal bayonets – created and ratified Radical Constitutions that met with the approval of the Yankees, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, and the States (in the Union for purposes of rule and plunder but out of the Union for any recourse to Constitutional rights) were re-admitted to the Union and representation in Congress. With the voluntary Union of sovereign States thus transformed into a coerced Union “pinned together by bayonets,” (such a one as “held no charms” for General Lee), the Army and the carpetbaggers then went away to deal with the Indians and the trans-continental railways, leaving their Black puppets to the upheaval they had wrought in Southern society, but leaving also - as a legacy of their corrupt Union Leagues - a bloc of voters ready to be again exploited as Tools of Power by the Party of Big Government.
The only other thing I remember that we did before leaving Sydney was to go up to a theater in King’s Cross and see the play Hair. The “Age of Aquarius” had been dawning now for a few years and we thought we ought to go see about it. There we heard all the songs that had become familiar, and heard a sweet young thing sing a sweet duet with some young man about all sorts of creative sexual activities. Then the curtain dropped and rose again and there was the whole cast – men, women, black, white, and everything in-between - standing right out there buck-naked in front of everybody. Of course we had heard about this attraction ahead of time, and we wanted to go and make sure it was true. Then they all sang about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and exhorted us to let the sun shine in….
Onto the End Times?
The revolution of the ‘60s was going on full blast, and Hair articulated it in a nutshell. It was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, wherein Peace was to reign with Free Love and Flower Power. Everyone would “Make Love, not War,” and all would be “Free at last!” from the traditional conventions and restraints and bonds of our society – which evidently included (as Karl Marx said at the conclusion of his Communist Manifesto) all other existing social conditions as well – which, boiled down to its essence, of course, is the recipe for Anarchy. Much was said in Hair about personal freedom. Not much was said about personal responsibility.
But Hair was an eye-opener all right, and it got to me at a time when I was beginning to seriously question some things that, before, I had taken for granted. Hair capped the first milestone for me. The Aquarians would have been proud to know that. They probably wouldn’t have been as proud to know my considered conclusions, arrived at later.
“Anarchy is the chrysalis state of despotism,” said John Randolph of Roanoke, arguing with the authority of Classical Antiquity to back him up. The Greek historian Polybius observed that there are three successive forms of government, each with its good and bad aspect, and each giving way to the next in a retrogression: Monarchy brings order out of chaos, but it devolves into Tyranny; Aristocracy deposes Tyranny, but it devolves into Oligarchy; Democracy deposes Oligarchy, but it devolves into Mob Rule and Anarchy, and the cycle begins again. A revolution is only a paradigm shift that – if left to run its natural course – leaves the social structure in balance again at its conclusion. But there are those who profit politically from revolution, and who stand to lose when it ends. Therefore, in order to effect an artificial prolongation of the process and preserve their positions of revolutionary power rather than let the revolution run its natural course, they erect a totalitarian government – a Tyranny – over the body politic. This may be accomplished by the State’s deliberate destabilization and destruction of civil society (such as church, family, neighborhood, local government, etc.) which atomizes the people and leaves them exclusively dependent on the central government – which is the very foundation of totalitarianism. The methods employed to create this dependency vary from fear on the one hand to persuasion on the other - including the promotion and encouragement of a belief in both radical individualism and radical egalitarianism. Such a belief and practice verily defined the radical ‘60s revolution and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
“None but the people can forge their own chains; and to flatter the people and delude them by promises never meant to be performed is the stale but successful practice of the demagogue….” warned John Randolph of Roanoke. True Freedom is a noble and a precious thing, and is not to be found wallowing around in such as “the flesh-pots of Egypt” that the Children of Israel murmured for during the Exodus. Its rarity carries a high price that must be paid for in the coin of self-denial, not self-indulgence. While those who were paying for it were rolling in the mud in Vietnam and dodging AK 47 fire, the Aquarians were rolling naked in the mud at an indiscriminate groupie-grope called Woodstock, high on drugs and dodging the draft. Cloaking self-indulgence in robes of Freedom, and weak character in robes of self-righteous indignation, they were running away to Canada, burning draft cards, burning flags, burning cities, running for office, and – while better men were gone – getting themselves elected by squandering that which they had done nothing to earn. So much for the freedom of radical individualism.
As for radical egalitarianism, one need only to consider the works of God, “for who can make that straight, which He hath made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13) God did not crank out mankind on an assembly line, as we are exhorted to believe according to the Communist philosophy and the machine age that spawned it. If “all men are created equal,” then Albert Einstein could go fifteen rounds with Mohammad Ali and fight him to a draw, and then Mohammad Ali could sit down with Albert Einstein in the locker room afterwards and intelligently discuss with him the Theory of Relativity. So, when we talk of Freedom and Equality we must define our terms, for the two conditions are mutually exclusive. If equality of opportunity is the goal, that is fine. If equality of outcome is the end promised, then it is a lie promulgated by political demagogues and revolutionaries. God created all men free. He did not create all men equal. It takes a totalitarian government to do that. Let the sun shine in….
Hamlet: Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?
Horatio: Ay, my lord, and of calf-skins, too.
Hamlet: They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that…
Hamlet, Act V, Sc. 1
Virginia today is under a Constitutional crisis. The Party of Big Government has absolute power here and is wielding it arbitrarily under authority of the tyranny of the majority. It is arbitrary power because it is unconstitutional. Notwithstanding any pettifogging legalese, “shall not be infringed” is as plain as English can be spoken. Recognizing that tyranny may come from a majority as well as from a monarch, the Founders constituted as the best guarantee against despotism a federal form of government that diffused power. Further recognizing that power corrupts, and that ambitious men will always find a way to gain power over constitutional restraints, the Founders implemented a Bill of Rights, which are the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution. These enumerated rights are not rights granted by the government. They are inalienable, God-given rights that no just government may infringe, violate, or destroy. They may only be voluntarily relinquished by the people themselves. Ambitious men seeking dominion over their fellow citizens, therefore, may not force this on them. They must use persuasion. Powers of enforcement may come later. History has shown us the effectiveness of persuasion by the ministries of propaganda in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Today, modern information technology gives power-seekers advantages undreamed of by Stalin and Hitler.
The First Amendment protecting the right of free speech, and the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms have both been infringed with the acquiescence of the citizens by persuading them that these infringements will make them safer. One cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, and one may not walk the streets with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Most have agreed that these are reasonable infringements, but the danger to our civil rights and liberties lies in the fact that “reasonable” and “common-sense” are arbitrary terms that can be manipulated by power-seekers in government.
The more the inalienable rights of citizens are restricted, the more power accrues to government. Now we have arbitrary laws against “hate speech”, and arbitrary “common-sense” gun control laws. “Big Brother” is watching. Once implemented, there is no end to more. For one example, the Southern Poverty Law Center – a hate-based scam – may provide government with specious rationale for surveillance with its arbitrary “hate map,” potentially intimidating law-abiding citizens into silence; for another, gun registration schemes and “red flag” laws are the first steps towards unwarranted government search and seizure.
Government cannot implement these laws without the consent of the governed, but “the consent of the governed” is not universal. It is only the consent of a simple majority who have been persuaded to have their inalienable rights diminished or destroyed. But this destroys the inalienable rights of the minority who have not been so persuaded. There, then, is the tyranny of the majority: a naïve majority who are selling our inalienable rights down the river to the Party of Big Government in exchange for a specious promise of “security” - or a calculating majority in league with the Party of Big Government!
As Alexis de Tocqueville observed, political parties may be looked upon as lesser nations within a greater one, and in this country they are increasingly alien to each other. If one nation can act tyrannically towards another, can it be denied that a political party can act tyrannically towards another? If a man possessing arbitrary power may abuse it by wronging an adversary, may not a collective of men possessing arbitrary power do the same? Men do not change their character by uniting with one another. Asserting that the majority can do no injustice, and therefore its Rule of Law must be submitted to without question, is the language of a slave. In the reign of Henry VIII, Parliament decreed that one Richard Rose “be boiled alive without benefit of clergy” under the Rule of Law.
These arbitrary, unconstitutional “common-sense” gun laws imposed upon Virginia infringe not only on our guaranteed rights under the Second Amendment, but, with the frighteningly dangerous “red flag” laws, they infringe on due process, assuming a citizen is guilty until he proves himself innocent. As a result, Second Amendment sanctuaries have arisen like a flood tide across Virginia. They do not deny the right of the majority to command justly. They deny the right of the majority to command arbitrarily.
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. - Aeneid (II, 49)
With the Democratic sweep of the Senate and House of Delegates, and with the statewide offices held by the Democrats, the party of Big Government and Progressive Identity Politics has triumphed in Virginia, “The Mother of States and of Statesmen.” The transformation is due to many factors: the Big Government tumor afflicting the brow of Virginia metastasizing and crossing the Potomac down I-95; the energy of civil society and social responsibility that is required for good government being undermined by the entropy dispensed by the welfare state and its subsidized destruction of the family and civil society; the technology of the internet, television, and social media that has abetted this leveling; the increasing prevalence of the public academy’s Marxist indoctrination of malleable minds and its sometimes intimidating discouragement of alternative discourse; the universal suffrage which has opened the field to demagogues, whose greed for office has them delving ever deeper in the mire for ignorant and irresponsible votes; and our godless radical democracy which deems the highest civic virtue to be that which is determined by the mob with the most people.
Progressives are celebrating. They love to lord it over conservatives and claim that they are on “the right side of history,” marching towards the Utopian dream of perfect equality. But conservatives know that history is not a linear march towards Utopia, but a cyclic march of folly, where Utopian dreams turn into totalitarian nightmares. Let us hope this one doesn’t.
A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, the author graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1967 with a degree in Civil Engineering and a Regular Commission in the US Army. His service included qualification as an Airborne Ranger, and command of an Engineer company in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star. After his return, he resigned his Commission and ended by making a career as a tugboat captain. During this time he was able to earn a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond, with an international focus on war and cultural revolution. He is a member of the Jamestowne Society, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Society of Independent Southern Historians. He currently lives in Richmond, where he writes, studies history, literature and cultural revolution, and occasionally commutes to Norfolk to serve as a tugboat pilot