Tuesday, July 14, 2009

daily snapshot: thin gray line

Confederate Memorial, Rockville Town Center (1)
During my first lunch break on my first day working for Montgomery County (and, as always, bearing full responsibility for any opinions held or statements made) I walked around Downtown Rockville, anxious to discover places far, far away from the Town Square, where I'd already spent a year and a half scooping ice cream and hunting down security guards. I decided to sit and eat over by the Red Brick Courthouse on Maryland Avenue; there was a little path that seemed to go nowhere, so I followed it and this is what I found:

"To our heroes of Montgomery Co. Maryland," it read, "that we through life may not forget to love the thin gray line." It was the base to a statue of a soldier. I'd heard about the Confederate memorials in Virginia, and in Leesburg just two weeks ago watched a mother take her three children to the statue displayed prominently in their town square and explain to them how the South "just wanted freedom from the North," or something like that. Perhaps it was a good idea, whether intentional, to let the plants overtake this one here in Rockville. Those who chose to remember can, and however they want. And the rest don't even have to get upset that it's there.


Thomas Hardman said...

Dan, keep in mind if you would, Maryland was one of the Slave States.

That's all over and done with, but go ahead and see the lyrics of the current "Maryland, My Maryland", which is mostly about the locals fighting those mean old Union Army folks imposing the Republican dictum that took away the Democrats' slaves.

Economic forces would have doomed slavery in any case. Yet slavery is an argument and issue utterly separable from that of States' Rights, and Constitutionally, the Federal government might have been thought to have gone far outside of the then-extant Constitution to run roughshod over States' Rights.

That this turned out to be a good thing, and absolutely had to be done to put the
US on the right side of ethics and morality, in no way affects the arguments of whether or not the Union exceeded its constitutional authority. But that issue having been settled by military force, you will find that in the future, any arguments for States' Rights will simply be referred to history of the First Civil War. The Federal government's decisions -- right or not -- outweigh the intentions of the States in absolutely all cases.

Whether the issue at hand is decriminalization of marijuana, banning handguns, enforcing immigration law, or prohibiting chattel slavery, the thing you have to remember is that the only issue here is that Federal power trumps States' Rights.

To argue otherwise is to argue for the return of slavery, eh?

Robert said...

You don't have to go to Rockville to find a Confederate monument. Silver Spring has one at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Grace Church Road. It marks the graves of 17 Confederate soldiers who died in General Jubal Early's attempt to take Washington in July 1864. Early's army marched from the Battle of the Monocacy near Frederick through Rockville and then down Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue toward Fort Stevens in Washington. The fort was lightly defended with a few troops augmented by government civilian clerks and invalids from the army hospitals. U.S. Grant shipped troops up the bay and then Potomac from near Richmond. They got to the fort in time to persuade Early not to mount a full scale attack. He retreated the next day.

By the way, Early's troops who were camped north of what is now downtown Silver Spring came under artillery fire from Fort DeRussy, west of Fort Stevens, near today's Military Road and Oregon Avenue in Rock Creek Park. An outbuilding on John Wilson's farm at Spring and Georgia was damaged by shelling and another shell is known to have landed near Alton Parkway and Woodside Parkway. The Confederates had to move their camps back into the woods north of Highland Drive.

The dead Confederates were moved from individual graves in the Grace Church Cemetery to a common grave in 1896 and the monument was constructed by the "Southern sympathizers of the community."

Thomas Hardman said...

Robert -- don't forget that Gen. Early's troops supposedly camped overnight in Aspen Hill, supposedly right near the site of the present-day intersection of Connecticut and Georgia Avenues.

No information has yet come to light as to how they were received by the locals.