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(Smithsonian Magazine) Video In the 1930s, Confederate veterans were asked to step up to the mic to record, for the last time, the sound that turned union blood blue. Ladies and Gentlemen... This is what the Rebel Yell sounded like... *ahem*... WHEEEEEEEeeeee   (smithsonianmag.com) divider line 17
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7566 clicks; posted to Video » on 10 Aug 2012 at 1:22 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-08-10 12:05:21 PM
4 votes:
Chills. Seriously. It's incredible to realise that these men served in one of the most brutal wars in world history, certainly in our nation's history. The South was short on everything from the get go -- everything except heart and conviction. It's probably easy for people to laugh at these old guys in this clip, but they're actual veterans of an actual war -- one they lost. They deserve a lot of credit just for doing this, never mind for actually serving, no matter what anyone thinks of the CSA's larger policies and practices. All soldiers and especially all veterans deserve respect, no matter who they are.

This seems to come from a period when the nation didn't instantly, reflexively, and inextricably link the CSA Battle Flag* and CSA service to slavery and racism. Though inescapably linked, modern people forget that the War was over much more than slavery. As a Yankee with some Southern roots and kin, and the daughter of an historian, my own view of it is complex, to say the least. But I think it's important to remember that CSA soldiers were, first and foremost, soldiers in service and in war.

* What most people think of 'the Southern flag' was actually a battle flag, not the national CSA flag. I'm not sure what post-War states were thinking when they incorporated the Battle Flag into their state standards, but it seems unnecessarily inflammatory to me. Incorporating the National Flag would have been less so, and probably sustained to this day the latent subnationalism that's still there but rarely spoken of now.
2012-08-10 12:46:16 AM
4 votes:
I'll admit, I didn't know "Rebel Yell" actually referenced something historical. That said, it sounds like a bunch of 19th century white guys imitating a Native American war cry.

Given the absolute stupidity of Civil War fighting tactics, I have no doubt this might have proven an advantage in some skirmishes.
2012-08-10 12:30:23 PM
3 votes:

Krieghund: It's nice they have it recorded, but I'm a little squicked by people that celebrate the Confederacy, whether in the 1930s or now.

/Southerner born and bred
//We were wrong, we lost, most of us got over it


I'm sorry you feel that way. And I'm especially sorry that us Yankees have put so much energy into trying (and apparently succeeding) to make you feel that way. I want to tell you that it was much more complicated than what they teach in school. In a way, that can't be helped, because it was extremely complicated even then, and almost impossible to understand from our modern vantage point.

In the most simplistic sense, it was indeed about slavery. But that's where the simplicity stops. We had slaves in the North, too, we just haven't been forced for a century and a half to suffer insults over it -- and Northern segregation, while not as overt as post-War Southern bigotry, was no less prejudiced. Overlooked now is that at the outset of the War, Lincoln didn't really care about freeing the slaves, and explicitly said so; the War wasn't about that for him. The Emancipation Proclamation was a late-term provision meant to bolster flagging Union commitment to the War. Had it not been for that, and the CSA loss at Gettysburg, the CSA might well have won independence.

More, the CSA itself recognised that slavery was, if not actually evil (though any decent person must now agree that it is), at least a failed economic strategy: in over a century, it had failed to bring the South up to Northern standards, and they finally realised that it never could or would. And they also knew that slavery would soon damage their few remaining options for international trade, as powerful Western nations had already banned it and were pondering sanctions against nations still doing it. The CSA did not outlaw slavery, but started the process, banning the slave trade. To be fair, this was made easier by necessary Northern links in the Triangle Trade that were now severed. And about that Triangle Trade: as a necessary link in it, our hands were not clean; we just liked to pretend they were. But we were knowingly complicit in evil, and as accessory no less guilty. Finally, plenty of Yankees didn't care about slavery or about Black justice; many still don't. We have our share of bigots to, and given the passage of time, and the fact that we haven't been forced to confront it the way you have, I suppose we may be uglier about it now than the South.

So please don't beat yourself up over it. We were *all* wrong, in our own ways, the War was a huge mistake, and the right thing to do is for all of us to take what lessons we can from it and move forward.

But I want to emphasise that despite modern conflations, the CSA was a proud nascent nation, with much to be proud of even now. Slavery was the trigger behind it all, but bear in mind that all the way back to Colonial days, the North and South acted like separate nations, and often regarded each other that way. Adams and Jefferson both predicted the War, more than half a century out; everyone knew it was coming, one way or another, and if it wasn't over slavery it would have been over something else. Bear in mind also the tremendous courage it took to decide to secede: on paper, the CSA wasn't merely smaller than the North, it was much weaker. It was an extremely dangerous gamble. And yes, they did lose; but just to imagine what it took to try is humbling.
2012-08-10 01:11:58 AM
3 votes:

Lsherm: NowhereMon: Lsherm: That said, it sounds like a bunch of 19th century white guys imitating a Native American war cry

Pretty much this. Kinda sad really considering the high regard with which tea baggers and rednecks hold the confederacy.

I don't see how that historical fact would influence them one way or the other.


Certainly no other sort of fact seems to have any effect
2012-08-10 02:11:23 PM
2 votes:

furiousxgeorge: So that's what treasonous terrorist hatred of America attempting to overthrow the constitution sounds like. It's almost as good as the Al Qaeda yell.


The CSA had no interest in overturning the USA Constitution, and certainly never entertained any notions of whupping the North. All they really wanted was to be left alone. We chalk all this up to slavery now, and that's not wrong, but it's a vast oversimplification of what really happened and why.

The CSA expressly respected the USA and the Constitution; they just didn't want any part of it anymore. You can make of that what you will, but it's invalid to say that they sought to overturn either.

You might be referring to the presumed invalidity of secession. Lincoln based most of his 'union' argument on this, but so far as I know, it's never actually been legally tested, and never been strictly validated. About the best you can do -- and I want to say that I subscribe to this legal theory myself -- is note that it's not expressly permitted under the Constitution. But legal scholars still wrestle with the question, and it's more of a political and historical truth than a confidently legal one. And it's worth pointing out that the idea of secession under the Constitution was not born in the South. It was born in the North: During the War of 1812, a number of New England states entertained the notion, quite publicly. For Southern states to do the same only a few decades later is therefore not as surprising and radical as many people seem to make it out to be. And they were not alone: Abolitionists such as Lloyd Garrison fervently argued for *Northern* secession, effectively exiling the South, creating a kind of CSA by default even if the South hadn't been thinking the same thing. Even today, these notions are still out there.
2012-08-10 11:00:39 AM
2 votes:
Those who are making snarky unimpressed comments have a poor grasp of history. The civil war was fought flesh to flying lead, and these were the last battles that would be won through sheer valor and fearlessness. The tactics used might today seem suicidal, but they were appropriate and effective given the arms technology of their day.

Today, bayonet charges are things of the past. The bayonet lugs on modern rifles are there as a last resort only, with retreat often preferable (and rightly so) to charging. At Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Mannassas, these were orders of the day. Imagine being 16 years old, perceiving that your land and freedom were at stake, fixing your bayonet and knowing that you would fire at most ten bullets before engaging in direct hand to hand combat. That is, if you survived the charge. No armor, no cover, just a desperate prayer and courage over your heart.

These men fought for an unjust cause, but few saw it that way. Listening to these old men give their war cries, I could easily imagine myself more than a little unmanned at the sound, fury, and sight of a charging battle line.
2012-08-10 02:46:05 AM
2 votes:
Sounds similar to when a pack of coyotes start yipping outside my house in the middle of night.
2012-08-10 01:06:02 AM
2 votes:

NowhereMon: Lsherm: That said, it sounds like a bunch of 19th century white guys imitating a Native American war cry

Pretty much this. Kinda sad really considering the high regard with which tea baggers and rednecks hold the confederacy.


I don't see how that historical fact would influence them one way or the other.
2012-08-10 06:42:07 PM
1 votes:

Sylvia_Bandersnatch: Krieghund: It's nice they have it recorded, but I'm a little squicked by people that celebrate the Confederacy, whether in the 1930s or now.

/Southerner born and bred
//We were wrong, we lost, most of us got over it

I'm sorry you feel that way. And I'm especially sorry that us Yankees have put so much energy into trying (and apparently succeeding) to make you feel that way. I want to tell you that it was much more complicated than what they teach in school. In a way, that can't be helped, because it was extremely complicated even then, and almost impossible to understand from our modern vantage point.

In the most simplistic sense, it was indeed about slavery. But that's where the simplicity stops. We had slaves in the North, too, we just haven't been forced for a century and a half to suffer insults over it -- and Northern segregation, while not as overt as post-War Southern bigotry, was no less prejudiced. Overlooked now is that at the outset of the War, Lincoln didn't really care about freeing the slaves, and explicitly said so; the War wasn't about that for him. The Emancipation Proclamation was a late-term provision meant to bolster flagging Union commitment to the War. Had it not been for that, and the CSA loss at Gettysburg, the CSA might well have won independence.

More, the CSA itself recognised that slavery was, if not actually evil (though any decent person must now agree that it is), at least a failed economic strategy: in over a century, it had failed to bring the South up to Northern standards, and they finally realised that it never could or would. And they also knew that slavery would soon damage their few remaining options for international trade, as powerful Western nations had already banned it and were pondering sanctions against nations still doing it. The CSA did not outlaw slavery, but started the process, banning the slave trade. To be fair, this was made easier by necessary Northern links in the Triangle Trade that were now severed. And a ...


Even beyond this, I would say that when men carry the weight of years that these did, any celebration they are a part of becomes more about survival and the tremendous persistence of life than any passing social episode. To me, their yells (at least the yells of those that weren't clearly in the throes of dementia) weren't saying "yeah, slavery was a good thing", they were saying "I'm still here Life, you bastard - what else do you got?"
2012-08-10 02:11:58 PM
1 votes:

Sylvia_Bandersnatch: Krieghund: It's nice they have it recorded, but I'm a little squicked by people that celebrate the Confederacy, whether in the 1930s or now.

/Southerner born and bred
//We were wrong, we lost, most of us got over it

I'm sorry you feel that way. And I'm especially sorry that us Yankees have put so much energy into trying (and apparently succeeding) to make you feel that way. I want to tell you that it was much more complicated than what they teach in school. In a way, that can't be helped, because it was extremely complicated even then, and almost impossible to understand from our modern vantage point.

In the most simplistic sense, it was indeed about slavery. But that's where the simplicity stops. We had slaves in the North, too, we just haven't been forced for a century and a half to suffer insults over it -- and Northern segregation, while not as overt as post-War Southern bigotry, was no less prejudiced. Overlooked now is that at the outset of the War, Lincoln didn't really care about freeing the slaves, and explicitly said so; the War wasn't about that for him. The Emancipation Proclamation was a late-term provision meant to bolster flagging Union commitment to the War. Had it not been for that, and the CSA loss at Gettysburg, the CSA might well have won independence.

More, the CSA itself recognised that slavery was, if not actually evil (though any decent person must now agree that it is), at least a failed economic strategy: in over a century, it had failed to bring the South up to Northern standards, and they finally realised that it never could or would. And they also knew that slavery would soon damage their few remaining options for international trade, as powerful Western nations had already banned it and were pondering sanctions against nations still doing it. The CSA did not outlaw slavery, but started the process, banning the slave trade. To be fair, this was made easier by necessary Northern links in the Triangle Trade that were now severed. And a ...


"The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution." -Alexander Stephens
2012-08-10 12:46:10 PM
1 votes:

Krieghund: It's nice they have it recorded, but I'm a little squicked by people that celebrate the Confederacy, whether in the 1930s or now.

/Southerner born and bred
//We They were wrong, we they lost, most of us got over it were born over a hundred years later and had nothing from that era to "get over".


FTFM
2012-08-10 08:45:48 AM
1 votes:
czei:

Anyone who'd seen any significant action in the civil ANY war and lived is not going to be particularly nostalgic about it. Well, the sane ones, anyway.
2012-08-10 05:26:33 AM
1 votes:
Great find...especially for the history buffs.

Though a chorus of yelps by James Brown, Steven Tyler, and Diamond Dave would have been scarier. Keep that in mind when the Communist Overlords take over.
2012-08-10 04:24:30 AM
1 votes:

NowhereMon: Lsherm: That said, it sounds like a bunch of 19th century white guys imitating a Native American war cry

Pretty much this. Kinda sad really considering the high regard with which tea baggers and rednecks hold the confederacy.


Not only that, but they were very gracious and not a bunch of butthurt losers.
2012-08-10 12:01:47 AM
1 votes:
I thought it sounded like More! More! More!

/no?
2012-08-10 12:00:17 AM
1 votes:
Thought it sounded like this.
2012-08-09 11:51:31 PM
1 votes:
That was incredibly cool. Although I bet it sounded fiercer when they were young men and smoke and bullets were flying.
 
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