Skip to comments.Rebel Re-enactor with a Cause
Posted on 07/01/2002 2:49:16 PM PDT by TexConfederate1861
Spotsylvania resident Willie Levi Casey Jr. is an African-American member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and proud to be Southern.
By LAURA MOYER The Free Lance-Star Date published: Sun, 06/30/2002
ROCKVILLE--In the Hanover County woods where men in blue and men in gray are shooting at each other, it's all noise and smoke and stink.
Across a field there's cannon fire so loud it resets your heartbeat for you. Horses whicker, and men shout. Fog-thick gunpowder smoke gives off a rotten-egg reek.
For Confederate Pvt. Casey of the 6th North Carolina State Troop, a Civil War re-enactment unit, the conflict is all external.
In real life, the Rebel private is Maj. Willie Levi Casey Jr. of the U.S. Army--a tasty bit of irony if you're looking for it.
But Casey sees no irony at all in re-enacting as a 19th-century soldier in gray and being a 21st-century African-American.
Casey, a 40-year-old resident of Spotsylvania County's Chancellor area, is a Southerner by birth and proud of it by choice.
He's been re-enacting since 1997 and was welcomed as a full member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Matthew Fontaine Maury Camp No. 1722 two years ago.
It all makes sense, he said, if you view the Civil War not as a textbook struggle between good and evil, but as the nuanced conflict it truly was.
"Look at the mentality of a black person in the South" at the time of the Civil War, Casey said. That person's ancestors might have been living in the South for 150 years before the war.
In such a case, he said, "You may be a Southerner by force, but you are a Southerner."
Historians have long held that black Southerners, free or slave, did not serve the Confederacy as soldiers, but worked instead as teamsters, laborers, cooks and personal servants.
If those black men took up weapons in battle, this official version of history goes, it was because of circumstances and self-defense, not because they believed in the Southern cause.
But recent scholarly works--many by African-American academics--have alleged a historical understatement and even a cover-up of blacks' real participation.
Casey, who earned a degree in history from Presbyterian College in South Carolina, said his reading over the past few years leads him to believe that tens of thousands of blacks, slave and free, fought for the Confederacy.
Their motivation, he believes, was not to support slavery but to support what they saw as their country--the South--and to improve their own lot in life.
"You would fight to gain status. Because you know that even if you lose, you're still one of the brothers in arms," Casey said. "You're fighting to make your life better."
Casey's persona as a re-enactor is a free black cabinetmaker from eastern Tennessee, able to read and write, with a wife and a child at home.
But he has a real-life link to the Confederacy as well--one he always vaguely knew about but pinned down only in recent years.
Casey grew up in Cross Anchor, S.C., in the 1960s and '70s. It was an area full of Caseys, black and white.
He and his siblings knew they had a white great-grandfather, a man who had never married their American Indian/African-American great-grandmother even though they had six children together.
A family photo of the couple's son Barney Casey shows a bulky man in overalls with lank gray hair and white skin. He's Willie Casey's grandfather.
Willie Casey was well into adulthood when he decided to research the white side of his family.
In the course of his genealogical effort he came across the Civil War record of one Pvt. Martin Luther Casey, a South Carolina soldier killed in 1862. That man was the older brother of Casey's great-grandfather.
Being a collateral relative of a Civil War soldier qualified Casey for membership in the SCV. He's twice been elected aide-de-camp of the local group.
His acceptance into the organization doesn't surprise him. "Most people will welcome you according to how you treat them," he said.
The SCV denounces racism and has vehemently fought the usurpation of the Confederate battle flag by the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.
"These are guys who are trying to remember their ancestors in a positive manner," he said. And that's what he wants to do, too.
Still, Casey is often asked to explain himself--not to his fellow re-enactors or SCV members, but to people who just can't understand where he's coming from.
"People say to me, 'Do you support slavery?'" he said.
"I say, 'No. I support preserving Southern history and telling it the way it is.'"
Speaking as a white guy from New York, I say: "Amen."
Do the Rebels get to win this time?
On a side note, here's a brief attempt to add some innocent humor into this thread before the yankees inevitably show up and start their south bashing, revisionist history, and bizarre denial of confederate blacks all together.
Speaking from personal experience, and in observation of an experience no doubt encountered by other southerners on FR, most can attest to debates with Lincoln defender Walt in which he accuses anybody who differs from his line of history of "Soviet style disinformation."
Walt has accused me personally, almost always without cause, of "Soviet style disinformation" many times including in one of my most recent encounters with him. I recently discovered an unusual friendliness to the northern cause expressed by a particularly notorious historical figure who was also often the subject of Soviet rantings perhaps more than any other person. So I decided to take a look at Walt's accusation in another light regarding the accuser. Accordingly...
Presented in the spirit of the famous "Who Said It: Al Gore or the Unabomber?" quotation quiz, and to add a little humor to the often bitterly divisive FR debates on Lincoln's War...
The "Who Said It: Walt or Karl Marx?" Quiz
DIRECTIONS: The following quotations are statements made either by Karl Marx, the father of communism and big government thuggery, or by Walt in his pro-Lincoln postings on Free Republic. Without consulting outside sources, identify who you believe to be the author of each quote by indicating so. Each correct answer will be worth 1 point.. Answers will be displayed shortly after ample time has been allowed for response. Yankees are welcome to give it a try as well.
1. "Part of Lincoln's genius was in knowing what the country would accept, and another part was helping to guide it where it needed to go."
2. "[Abraham Lincoln was] one of the rare men who succeed in becoming great, without ceasing to be good. Such, indeed, was the modesty of this great and good man, that the world only discovered him a hero after he had fallen a martyr."
3. "In accordance with the principle that any further extension of slave territories was to be prohibited by law, the Republicans therefore attacked the rule of the slaveholders at its root. The Republican election victory was...bound to lead to open struggle between North and South."
4. "[Lincoln] was firm "as with a chain of steel" on there being no expansion of slavery from where it already existed. That alone was enough to cause the war, because the slave owners knew that their "futures" in slaves and slave breeding would be compromised unless slavery were allowed to expand."
5. "This geographical barrier [containing slavery] was thrown down in 1854 by the so-called Kansas-Nebraska Bill...[which] placed slavery and freedom on the same footing, commanded the Union government to treat them both with equal indifference"
6. " Lincoln was alarmed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act into becoming more politically active -- because he had a personal abhorance of slavery...he had a solution to at least begin the ending of slavery. And that is what the secessionists found so repugnant."
7. "Lincoln was a very pracical man. He did discover a way to begin to end slavery in the United States. If slavery were confined to areas in which it already existed, it would die"
8. "The whole movement was...based, as one sees, on the slave question. Not in the sense of whether the slaves within the existing slave states should be emancipated outright or not, but whether the twenty million free men of the North should submit any longer to an oligarchy of...slaveholders; whether the vast territories of the republic should be nurseries for free states or for slavery...whether the national policy of the Union should take armed spreading of slavery in Mexico, Central and South America as its device."
9. "[Lincoln] knew that if slavery was limited to areas where it was currently legal, it would die. The slave holders knew it too. That is why slave holders were continually trying to expand territory favorable to gang-labor slavery. That was why the Mexican War was fought and that is why the federal government tried to buy Cuba and that is why slave holders sent expeditions to disrupt Nicaraugua and other Central American locations."
10. "Lincoln bent over backwards to avoid war in his first inaugural. But Jeffeson Davis couldn't allow secession fever to cool. So he fired on Fort Sumter."
11. "It is above all to be remembered that the war did not originate with the North, but with the South...For months [the North] had quietly looked on while the secessionists appropriated the Union's forts, arsenals, shipyards, customs houses, pay offices, ships and supplies of arms, insulted its flag and took prisoner bodies of its troops. Finally the secessionists resolved to force the Union government out of its passive attitude by a blatant act of war, and solely for this reason proceeded to the bombardment of Fort Sumter near Charleston."
12. "[F]rom 1846 to 1861 a free trade system prevailed...Representative Morrill carried his protectionist tariff through Congress only in 1861, after the rebellion had already broken out. Secession, therefore, did not take place because the Morrill tariff had gone through Congress"
13. "[We are fortunate] that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln...to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world."
14. "Lincoln's words show what a great and good man he was, and his actions show [his critics] for a fool or poltroon."
Go ahead and make your guesses! Answers will be posted shortly.
In the spirit of "Al Gore or the Unabomber," take the 'Who Said It: Walt or Karl Marx' quiz. See post 9 above.
Who knows maybe Mortin Sult aka LLAN-DDUESSANT aka Titus Fikus will show up in his new persona and get all the answers correct, considering his familiarity with the father of totalitarian thugs and his known tendency to post lengthy passages of Marx garbage on FR.
Answers will be posted shortly.
Identify the author of this quote denying the sovereignty of the states and advocating the union just like Lincoln did. It could be Walt. It could be Marx. Or it could be somebody else. Take a guess!
"[In America] it is impossible to speak of original sovereignty in regard to the majority of the states. Many of them were not included in the federal complex until long after it had been established. The states that make up the American Union are mostly in the nature of territories, more or less, formed for technical administrative purposes, their boundaries having in many cases been fixed in the mapping office. Originally these states did not and could not possess sovereign rights of their own. Because it was the Union that created most of the so-called states."