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RESPONSE TO EILEEN IRWIN


Monday, 23 July, 2001

Eileen..............I thank you for your email and the reason for my delay in replying is because I have been at our largest re-enactment of the year. As you have shown an interest in my views and opinion, I shall give you the most detailed response I can.......

I am somewhat surprised that you ask me to describe SOUTHERN HERITAGE to you, especially as when you stated I needed to do much, much, more research on the war. I assumed from this statement that you were quite knowledgeable on the subject? ...I am pretty sure that you know very well what Southern Heritage is, however, I am sure that it can mean different things to different people, and I shall be happy to define it for you both as I see it and as its defined in the title SOUTHERN HERITAGE IN BRITAIN.

I care for the graves of my family here in Britain going back to the 1840's, I also had relatives that went to America, the three branches arriving in 1770,1800,and 1852. One of my ancestors lies in Higginsville Confederate Cemetery, Missouri. He lies there with a bullet in his back from a Yankee irregular, a man little better than a criminal. I tend the graves of my family here ,and the SCV and UDC tend the grave of my ancestor in MO, this is of importance to me ...if I could have one wish it would be to have my grandparents back, and if I had a second wish it would be to have THEIR parents back.

In the War of 1861 there were 200,000 participants that were British born, and in 1861 140,000+ of the population of the Southern States were British born. I have been aware for sometime that some of those participants were buried here, and it is largely by my efforts and research backed up by Tony Jones's incredible knack of tracing difficult examples with little to go on, that most of these sites have been found here.

250,000 Southern dead in an effort for Independence, and even more Northern dead, I believe it is only right that these gravesites should be preserved as a tribute to their bravery, if these gravesites are left to become ruins what sort of people have we become ?

Britain also has other historical connections with the South, the commerce raider CSS Alabama is the most successful warship in history, and the CSS Shenandoah had the most epic voyage of the 19th century. This is a part of our history ...our heritage.

When the CSS Shenandoah arrived in Liverpool many of her crew were Afro?Carr. And as of Feb 1865, there were 1,150 black sailors in the CS Navy, but I am sure you will have heard the large number of instances of black people fighting for the South especially as you are knowledgeable on the subject.

You mention slavery...of course slavery was wrong, it was wrong then and it is wrong today, but in the 19th century, world bonded labour was an accepted form of economy in many parts of the world, and we have now progressed from that situation.

I believe that the Southern soldier was a brave man and so was the Southern sailor none more than those who served on the HUNLEY, what bravery it took to enter that craft I cannot comprehend, these men were among Americas bravest men, yet the NAACP have only recently been against a museum to their memory using the same old "crock of horseshit "as reasons to deny these men a fitting tribute.

Men from my town here in the UK ,as well as my ancestors deserve to be remembered for their service in that war. If a group of foreigners or people of a different ethnic background want to celebrate or commemorate their past or their ancestors past, I have no objection, in Fact, none whatsoever, in fact I would actively support their right to do so, but ....certain people whose rights I would support object to me commemorating my ancestors past.

Lets have no ( NO) discrimination here....there is talk of black people being paid reparations because of slavery ....am I to be denied some of this ( if it ever materializes) because my slave ancestor was white?

I like yourself was not about in the 1860's ,but my ancestors were ,and I will not have anyone telling me I cannot honour their memory. I honour Southern servicemen buried here ,and I tend Yankee gravesites too.

Last month a CSS Alabama sailor with six surviving grandchildren was honoured here in a town 15 miles from my house. I organized the tribute, and considered it an honour. These men took part in some of the most historic battles on record, I would consider it immoral if I had done nothing and allowed their gravesites to remain lost and become decayed ruins.

And now comes the most interesting part.................who do you think is RIGHT, the person who locates & tends these gravesites or the person who describes the whole process with the opening statement "What a crock of horseshit"?

Yours ...............John Collier in Scarborough, England


Copyright 2001
23 July 2001


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