“Hell no, our kids won’t go!”

Posted on July 30, 2010 by

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I was going to post another installment of D.H. Strother’s “Recollections” today, but will hold off till tomorrow. I saw something posted by David over at Inconvenient South that caught my eye.

This photo was taken a few years prior to the First World War, but shows (seated) Confederate Veteran John W. Grove, and his son Arthur Ashby Grove. A.A. Grove later served as a lieutenant in the 29th Division during WWI. Both were from Page County, Virginia

David cites an article (from The Journal of American History, and written by Jeanette Keith) published in 2001 focused on Southern draft resistance during WWI.  The snippit that he decided to include raised an eyebrow initially, as all I have ever seen (so far) is a rather robust amount of support from my home county (Page) in Virginia. Then again, what am I not seeing? What legacy was left from that era that may be impeding my ability to see resistance?

For one thing, I can’t rely entirely on the “objectivity” of the newspaper at the time. I’m certainly well aware that the editor was completely in support of the war, and was top dog with the War Bonds Commission in the county… not to mention, I think he printed every letter a soldier sent to him (or did he only print those that supported the war? Hmmm.). Because of this, I don’t think it’s possible to see any resistance to the war… oh, I take that back… I do recall a story about a short gun-battle between the sheriff and one deserter, but that’s about it. What isn’t obvious through the newspaper are the number of folks who may have held back. Well, that is unless you actually look at the number of draftees listed in the newspaper… not only in numbers, but by name… yes, by name… and it took up quite a good amount of space. So, why did they hold back? Lack of enthusiasm for the war, President Wilson, or simply because they would rather be “leave-aloners”? Starting to see a parallel with another time here? Southern people were not monolithic in 1917, nor were they in 1861. But, I digress…

Two points that are quite interesting in this snippit are the reasons why 1) some Confederate veterans didn’t support the war because of the lingering memories of the carnage and devastation and 2) some other Southerners (I suppose some Confederate veterans are included in this number) the idea of a national draft. The one Confederate veteran cited stated,

I know what it takes to face and charge a line of battle, or retreat, for I was in the Civil War. Entered in 61 came out in 65 a cripple for life… I don’t want to see my sons and the sons of our country men to see such slaughter as I and those who fought the late war.

Then too, with the resistance to the national draft, all that the Wilson administration had to do was revisit the Confederate draft (the first real “national” draft on the continent… implemented in three separate conscription acts…) and point out that conscription was anything but un-southern. Excellent point Woodie :-) .

Without supposing too much, I need to find and read the entire article… but it sounds like an interesting read.

On a related note, it’s not the point of my trip to Kansas City, but coming up real soon, I will have the opportunity to visit the National WWI Museum, so I’ll be posting some about that when the time comes.

*See this later post for another image of a Confederate veteran and his Doughboy son.

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