Skip to comments.Presence of the Past
Posted on 03/21/2004 1:09:44 PM PST by stainlessbanner
In February 1996, the Museum of the Confederacy, located in Richmond, Virginia, held a fund-raising ball celebrating its centennial and invited participants to come in black tie or period clothing. This created a controversey that launched a televised face-off between former Gov. Douglas L. Wilder, a grandson of slaves, and Robin Reed, the museum's director. Wilder drew comparison between Confederate soldiers and Nazi prison camp guards. Reed said the ball was a non-political event, designed to raise money and attract a younger audience. Denunciations and affirmations piled up, and the publicity swelled participants in the event. To some critics, it seemed business as usual in a city where the losers of the Civil War are glorified on Monument Avenue.
Nelson Winbush, a native of Ripley, Tennessee, offers on perspective on the issue. A retired high school assistant principal living in Florida, he plans to attend the SCV convention because his grandfather, Louis Napoleon Nelson, went to 39 reunions before died at the age of 88. He was buried with great ceremony, dressed in full Confederate uniform with a Battle Flag draping his coffin. SCV members from three states came to see him off on his last campaign. Louis Nelson was black.
Winbush was 5 years old at his grandfather's death.. He has that funeral flag and speaks proudly of his grandfather's life. I was raised in his house, he says. He originally went as a bodyguard for E.R. and Sydney Oldham. E.R. Oldham became a general, and he was in the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, Co. M and he was in it, 1861 to 1865. My grandfather was at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Brice's Crossroads, and Vicksburg. He was orginally a cook and forager, and of course, when they needed him, well, he fought just like anybody else.
Winbush insists that historians who find it difficult to square with their interpretations of the conflict have deliberately ignored black involvement on the Southern side of the Civil War. He says that blacks fought for many reasons. Those include loyalty to masters, genuine patriotism, and anger. "If someone burns down your house, and you know who they are, you mean to tell me you aren't going to try to get back at them?", Winbush asks.
The notion of the Northern liberator wasn't accepted by all blacks, nor demonstrated well by some Federal soldiers. Winbuh says that in several instances United States troops would treat black women as prizes of war and abuse them.
"You wouldn't pick up a gun after that?" he says. "The Yankees came down to free the slaves, and it confused them, to see a black man shooting at their ass for keeps."
Winbush travels widely to SCV posts and other organizations to speak about his heritage. "Contrary to what Yankees want to believe," he declares, "the war wasn't about slavery. It was about states' rights, and we still have that problem today."
In Memory of Pvt. Louis Napoleon Nelson, Co. M, 7th Tennessee Cavalry
By a real grandson, Nelson W. Winbush, Jacob Summerlin Campt #1516 -SCV
Excerpt from article: "Sons of the Great Rebellion", Harry Kollatz, Jr. page 62, publication "Richmond", The Metropolitan Monthly, August 1996
Pvt. Louis Napoleon Nelson, Co. M, 7th Tennessee Cavalry
Lest we forget!
He was in a small tent at the Battle of Narcoossee Mill (Southern victory yee-haw!) greeting folks with a firm hand shake and a friendly smile. He showed me various pictures of the reunions his grandaddy attended and his brothers in arms with which he served. He was the last of 3 from his company when the Lord called him home.
It was an honor to finally meet Mr. Winbush and hear his story. Please meet him if you ever get the chance!
i first met Nelson in 1986, at the 100th reunion of the SCV in Richmond.
i have to tell you a funny story ON Nelson. when i met him, i was escorting my DAUGHTER, who was a debutante that year. he was heard to say:"that guy is with a girl young enough to be his daughter."
i said, "she IS my daughter! would you care to meet her????"
he then said, " UH, WELL----you don't look old enough to have a daughter that age."
at THAT, i cracked up laughing. so did she.
Southern Heritage Bump!
Amen!! Thanks for the ping Stainless Banner.
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