Jacob S. Rhyne. Private. Georgia State Guards, Cherokee Legion, Company B “Canton Infantry”
Daniel Blanton. Private Georgia State Guards, Cherokee Legion, Company E “Cherokee Volunteers”
James Herod Blanton. Private. Confederate Army, 23rd Georgia Infantry, Company E
Joseph O. Heard. Private. Confederate Army, 43rd Georgia Infantry, Company H
I am a “son” of Confederate Veterans. I am not a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, though I meet their eligibility requirements many times over. The men listed above, all of whom enlisted to fight in Georgia infantry units supporting the Confederate rebellion, are my ancestors. The top two are my great-great-great-great-grandfathers, and the bottom two are great-great-greats. They are not my only ancestors who fought within Confederate ranks, but they all enlisted, as you can see clearly in the names of Jacob Rhyne’s and Daniel Blanton’s units, from Cherokee County, Georgia. Their fathers and grandfathers moved south from Virginia and North Carolina into what became norther Georgia (sending others of my great-great-great-great grandfathers and grandmothers on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma). I have visited the town of Canton, where they lived, and driven past the cemetery of the old Sardis Baptist church where they and their families are buried. Like their grandfathers, who worked the land from Albemarle County, Virginia to Rutherford County, North Carolina, they owned modest farms and, yes, they also owned several people.
My ancestors were Confederate soldiers. While I do not hide or run from that fact, I also see no reason to celebrate their time as soldiers or the cause for which they fought. They may or may not have believed they were defending their homes from invaders. They may or may not have been philosophically committed to the perpetual extension of racial slavery (though their state and the Confederacy it joined certainly were). It would be nice, I suppose, to believe that deep down they were decent men who believed in the equality of all men, but, that, in itself, would not be reason to celebrate their fighting on the wrong side of a catastrophic war fought to save and expand the even more catastrophic institution of racial slavery. Continue reading