Archive for November, 2009

HELLO CIVIL WAR WORLD

When PVT Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross set out he had just left command of a Ranger Company and was recovering from Arrow wounds from a hand to hand fight with Chief Nacona. Both himself and Earl Van Dorn had been severely wounded,  Nacona was dead, and they had to be hauled from the field on Indian traverse. Two poles dragging behind a horse with a buffalo or some other skin used to make a platform or bed in this case.

He was surprised when he was made Major of the 6th Texas Cavalry at muster in September of 1861. His commander was removed by election 9 months later. the deputy commander was hurt to be passed over for command of the regiment when Ross was elected to the post. John Griffith was a good man and would have done well. Ross was a little more popular. Griffith stayed on to fight through the Corinth campaign and recommend and lead the great Holly Springs Raid. Ross commanded the 6th Texas Cavalry Regiment until December of 1863, even though he was usually the Acting Commander of the Brigade. He had been recommended for Brigadier General after Corinth. His Commander was not well known, and Colonel Mabry of the 3rd Texas Cavalry was also in the way. Finally Whitfield was transferred to higher command and Mabry was sent to Forrest to command a brigade.

The PVT was finally a general. He took the job and went to work. First he had to restore moral and then he was ready to start the fight of his life. His brigade had to prevent Sherman from turning the left flank of Johnston’s Army. Others got the glory, but he did the dirty work. Often his unit fought as Infantry to get the job done. His brigade was described doing a blocking action against a Corps while Johnston stabilized his line and built up defensive works. Once they were complete, his unit fell into the Confederate line. No report to higher command is found, but it was written up in the Detroit and Dallas news papers.

When you consider that Ross went on to farm, became a sheriff, wrote regulations that govern a the Texas Sheriffs today. He went to the Texas Constitutional convention, he became a legislator, he became Texas’ most popular governor, ever. He retired after two terms to become the President of a run down agricultural an mechanical college. He turned it into a top notch University,  gave it sole, provided it with character that remains today. Texas A&M University.  After he died they named another University after him. Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas. He was truly a great man.

Today, the editor of Texas A&M University would remove the statue of Sul Ross, “Ol Sully” because he was a racist. How would a product of today’s culture be able to judge a man of the 1800s. There is no real frame of reference. If you use standards of today, no one in the past would be accepted. All would be ruled as not worthy. But maybe we need to look at the standards of today. Maybe they do not fit the past and maybe even the present. Standards have to stand the test of time. You just can not set them up and say these are the finest that have ever been made and we all must use them.  I am sure that Sul Ross would not have accepted this concept in his time. He did not rush to judgements.

I often just at Aggies for I was a graduate of another Agricultural and Mechanical College, Texas Tech University. But having read the stories of Sul Ross and his affect on that University, I have to admit that his tenure there was of great and lasting affect on the University. His establishment of the Corps and the character of the cadets of A&M is one of great fore site. I am not sure how he would have judged the addition of women to the school and even to the Corps. That may have been a little to much for a man of the 1800s. But again, we see him from the 20th century and not from the 18th were schools for men and women were separated.

Many of today look at a university as a place of play and growing up. In the 1800s the university was a place of study and a place where a man learned to think and judge. Often today we do not develop these capabilities well into our 30s. The roll of the woman was defined a mother, caregiver, homemaker. It has changed since then, but history has not judged this change in rolls. The future will surely look at it different than we do today.

Perhaps learning to think and judge, correctly, without the diversion of women was an important item. Certainly we would not have many of the college graduates that we have today, that are worthless. Even some of the degrees offered are worthless. At least to me. I will offer an explanation. A degree that is worthless is one that has absolutely no value to humanity. It creates no earning capability, and is useful to no one. My degree was in Architecture Construction. With it you could get neither an Architecture or Engineering license, without farther study. It usefulness was that the translation of architectural idea to a constructed building or structure, was often difficult. Some of the best Architects, were trained as engineers first. They learned how to build first, and then knew how to design. But my degree was not so useful that it survived. It is no longer offered, because they have beefed up the engineering requirements for architects.

We tend to judge the past with the present view point. To me this is viewing through rose colored glasses. We must view the past with the moral and standard of that time. Any other view, has to put a bias into the picture that was not there in the original time frame. We are adding judgements that were not there before. Had they been there, the act being judged, would probably not happened. Thus the error is occurring on this end of time.  Ross has been judged as a racist for the actions of his troops at a battle at Yazoo City. During the battle, more than a normal number of blacks were killed. This has been judged as racist and placed on the command of Ross. Days before the battle, a black platoon of cavalry captured two of Ross’ soldiers. They murdered and tortured them. They left them dead along side the road. Witness attested to this happening. Ross’ men then chased a black cavalry platoon back to Yazoo City, killing most along the way. To say that the men were angry, would not have measured the incident. Did this carry over into the Battle of Yazoo City? Probably. Should it be tagged to Ross and make him a racist? No. We are judging from this end of history. This was a war and certain things happen in war. From Ft Pillow, General Forrest has been called a racist. But a correct look at Forrest shows him a very gentle owner of slaves. He also freed his slaves that fought in the Civil War. Again the Black mob rule and judgement of today can not be used to judge the past.

It is time to think and reason.

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