One of the rules of America’s second Civil War seemed to be that those who started off best, ended up worst. In that respect it was like the first Civil War. The South’s star had shone most brilliantly at the beginning at Bull Run on the peninsula with Lee and in the Shenandoah Valley with Jackson. After those brief shining moments, the industrial and financial sinews of the North put forth their strength and the South withered. Plus, the Union found two generals who could competently command armies, and the South had only one.
When the union broke up a second time, the Confederacy resurrected itself smoothly, almost as if it had been there all along. The southern Senators and Congressmen again left Washington for Richmond. Old Senator Sam Yancey of Georgia was elected Mr. Davis’s successor and installed in the Confederate White House (on Monument Avenue, the trivializing statue of tennis player Arthur Ashe was replaced by a heroic cast of the black Confederate soldier). Southern officers and men of the former U.S. Army turned in their Yankee blue uniforms for Confederate gray.
The Confederate economy took some shocks from the usual loss of markets and suppliers, but the South was big enough and prosperous enough to recover quickly. Beyond the low-level guerrilla war between blacks and Hispanics that had been going on in south Florida since the 1980s, there was little internal disorder. All in all, for most Southerners, not much seemed to change.
In fact, it hadn’t, and that proved to be the Confederacy’s undoing. The southern wing of the old American Establishment held on to power. The politicians were the same people, the university presidents and newspaper editors and television commentators were the same types, and the leading businessmen played up to those in power, interested only in maintaining their status as members of the club.
These people all belonged to the “New South.” A product of post-World War II Southern prosperity, the New South abjured the old Southern ways and culture. It embraced the rules of political correctness, found the Stars and Bars “offensive,” and lived the hedonist modern lifestyle. It favored Bauhaus architecture, not neoclassical columned porticoes. It listened to rock and rap, not Stephen Foster, and read Günter Grass, not Walker Percy, much less Sidney Lanier. It shuddered at the Southern Agrarians and sought its heroes among the carpet-baggers.
The wealthy, ugly, overgrown crossroads of Atlanta, Southern only in its inefficiency and corruption, was the New South’s home and shrine. Charleston it regarded not as a wonder and an inspiration but as some sort of antediluvian theme park. The recovery of Southern independence and the restoration of the forms and symbols of the old Confederacy were, to the New South, not the triumph of The Cause but an unavoidable embarrassment, hopefully to be mitigated by time.
Because the New South ruled the new Confederacy, the recovery of Southern independence did not bring with it any recovery of will. After a brief revival incident on proclamation of the Southern Republic, the old slide continued. Crime resumed its racial cast and upward trend, with the same old judges letting off the same old criminals. The schools – “attendance centers,” as they were already called in Mississippi by the 2000s – continued to turn out illiterates who had learned only that their own feelings were the most important thing in the universe. Television and other video entertainment (the South had plenty of electricity, thanks to coal and TVA) still sucked out brains like an ape sucking an egg. Ted Turner became Secretary of Education in Mr. Yancey’s second cabinet.
But the New South was not the only South. Outside Atlanta and Miami and Charlotte, the Old South still lived. It hung on in the small towns and the hollows, on the farms and the shrimp boats, and in the real Southern cities: Charleston and Savannah, Montgomery and Natchez and Vicksburg. It resided among the country people – black as well as white – and the old folks and the Independent Baptists, and also among a genuine southern intelligentsia who did read Walker Percy and knew the Southern Agrarians and realized the whole civil rights business was just a second Reconstruction.
Unlike the New South, the Old South had will. It didn’t have to recover it. It had never lost its will, the will to preserve and restore the old Cavalier Southern culture.
It took about two years for the Old South to figure out that the New South despised it no less than the Yankees did. By 2030, the first rumblings of discontent could be heard. From country pulpits, Richmond was denounced in the same words earlier reserved for Washington. That year in Mississippi, an initiative put a referendum on the ballot to open each school day with a Christian prayer. When it passed by 78%, the Supreme Court in Richmond struck it down. A few months later, the Commanding General of the Confederate States Army asked the Senate Military Affairs Committee to end the recruitment of women as “incompatible with Southern chivalry.” The Committee responded by demanding the general’s dismissal. In the truck stops and the garden clubs, heads shook and tongues clucked.
In most of the Old South, race relations were not a problem. Contrary to Northern propaganda, they had never been, for the simple reason that local blacks and whites got along. They lived largely separate social lives, but when they came together, they did so courteously, with understanding of the roles and responsibilities proper to each. That’s the way people work things out when they live side-by-side for centuries and are left alone by ideologues.
The cities of the New South were a different story. There, a black underclass had formed by the late 20th century. Nurtured on phony resentments and imagined “injustices,” that underclass generated its own little Africa of crime, drugs, noise, and dirt. The government in Richmond proved as vulnerable to mau-mauing as its Washington progenitor, and with no will to contain it, black terror soon spread its bloody hand into an ever-widening circle of the white community.
In the Old South, eyeholes were cut in sheets. But the courts and police remained mostly in New South hands, so the Klan stayed in the hollows, where it wasn’t needed. Alienation between people and government grew like kudzu in a wet July.
By 2032, the guerrilla war in south Florida could no longer be mislabeled a crime problem. In Dade county, the body count from battles between blacks and Hispanics was upward of a hundred a week. Gangs and militias ran a network of feudal fiefdoms. If anyone, including grandmas pushing prams, ventured off their turf they were dead meat. Raiding parties of blacks were working steadily north, while Cuba threatened to send troops to protect the Hispanics.
In March, 2032, the Confederate Congress finally ordered the army to take over Florida and restore order. Had the CSA been allowed to do what was necessary, the Confederacy’s disintegration might have been checked at that point.
The Confederate Congress, being New South, had no stomach for anything of the sort. Instead, it laid a set of rules of engagement on the forces it sent to Florida that made them first impotent, then laughingstocks, and finally targets. All crew-served weapons were forbidden, and individual weapons could be used only to return fire, not initiate it. Fleeing felons could not be shot. “De facto local authorities” were to be respected and negotiated with, not rounded up and hanged – and the Army had to negotiate in Spanish if the locals demanded it. Habeas corpus remained in force. Black and Hispanic ombudsmen were to accompany the troops to investigate any charges of “racism” or “insensitivity,” with Confederate soldiers subject to courts-martial on either charge.
It was the same old cultural Marxist crap as used to flow out of Washington, for the simple reason that the same people were sitting in Richmond who had sat in Washington. Just as when the Soviet Union fell apart in the 1990s, the nomenklatura simply transferred its allegiance to the new system, kept the same jobs, and got richer.
By the Fall of 2032, the Confederate forces sent into south Florida had been pushed into enclaves by the effects of their own rules of engagement. As in intervention missions by the old U.S. Army, “force protection” had become the top-priority mission. A military that is most concerned with protecting itself can’t do anything else, so the local tribes and gangs became bolder than ever .
Ominously, blacks and Hispanics began concluding local nonaggression pacts so they could cooperate in raiding into white areas up north. On October 2, a column of over three hundred vehicles and almost 5000 gang-bangers hit Tallahassee, sacked the city for three days and made it back to Dade with a train of loot that stretched for seven miles along the highway. The Confederate Army threw up a roadblock, but the raiders, wise to their enemy’s weaknesses, literally pushed their way through it without firing a shot. Not having been fired upon, the Southern soldiers couldn’t use their weapons.
This pathetic display of impotence on the part of an army with a noble fighting heritage enraged the Old South. Rallies, marches, and torchlight parades were held in protest in all the Southern states, with hundreds of thousands of people turning out. When one came right down Monument Avenue in Richmond, old President Yancey joined it himself, telling the crowd he was “disheartened and dismayed by the disgrace to our ancestors and our flag.” In response, the Confederate Congress removed itself to Atlanta, where it passed a joint resolution “reaffirming the South’s commitment to a diverse, tolerant, and multi-cultural future.”
New Orleans had long been a strange Southern amalgam. Physically, it was one of the finest cities of the Old South, not just in its unique French Quarter, but also in the old Anglo section along St. Charles Avenue, the site of America’s most beautiful homes and quaintest streetcar line.
Its population was another matter. Run since the 1970s by the usual corrupt and inept black city government, the city had long been a hell-hole of violent crime and sexual perversion. The scenes in the French Quarter on a Friday or Saturday night would have given pause to a citizen of Sodom. A walking tour of the Garden District was dangerous even in daylight.
The city depended on tourism, but the breakup of the union put an end to most of that. Under the Confederacy, there were some half-hearted efforts to sweep the French Quarter’s dirt under the rug, but the lowest class grew steadily more worthless and more violent. From events in Florida, it drew the lesson that it could get away with anything. On the prematurely stifling evening of May 17, 2033, it erupted.
At first, there was some organization, as much as gangs could manage. Columns headed out into the suburbs and surrounding countryside to loot and kidnap. But Louisiana wasn’t Florida, and the local refinery workers, shrimpers, and good old boys had long ago put together the Coon-ass Militia, as they called it. The black raiding columns were met not with roadblocks, but ambushes. The Coon-asses knew how to hunt, and the raiders who left New Orleans did not return.
The state government in Baton Rouge was corrupt but white, and it swiftly mobilized the official State Militia and marched on New Orleans. Mississippi sent reinforcements, and from Richmond President Yancey ordered CSA units to assist – this time with heavy weapons. Within ten days, New Orleans was sealed and under siege.
The blacks responded by letting loose the red cock. It wasn’t merely random mob action, which usually concentrates on liquor stores and leaves civic monuments alone. It was systematic self-destruction. The mayor of New Orleans, Mr. Tsombe “Big Daddy” Toussaint L’Overture Othello Jones, climbed up on a Mardi Gras float (a vast statue of Aunt Jemima pouring syrup into a pool where high yellow beauties wrestled with “White Planters”) and harangued the crowd in Jackson Square. “The white folk like things pretty. The white folk love this beautiful city. Well, I’m here to tell da white folk that this here city ain’t gonna be beautiful no more. Blow it up! Tear it down! Burn it to the ground! That’s the word we have for da white folk of Dixie – burn, baby, burn!”
This, their final promise to their glorious city, the blacks accomplished. The cathedral on Jackson square was blown up by the New Orleans’s police SWAT team. The little cafe across from it by the river, famous for its beignets and cafe au lait, was bulldozed with city equipment, as were the gardens of the square itself. Bourbon Street was burned, along with Tulane University. Audubon Place, which 20th century writer George Will said contained “America’s noblest collection of stately homes,” was first burned by the city fire department, then razed. The stately, ancient Perley Thomas streetcars of the St. Charles Avenue line were stacked in a pile, doused with gasoline and set on fire. A mob then ripped up the tracks, heated the rails over bonfires and twisted them around trees, just as Sherman had done to southern railroads during the first Civil War. By the tenth of June, everything that had made New Orleans what it was lay in smoking ruins. Like Dresden in 1945, the city was no more than a bend in the river, covered in ash.
The Confederate Army, state, and militia forces around the city were strong enough to have intervened, but they did not. The orders to do so never came. No one believed the blacks would really destroy one of the South’s most historic places, until they did it. When it happened, the authorities in Baton Rouge and in Richmond were too stunned to react.
In Atlanta, the New South Congress did react. Blaming the death of New Orleans on “racism and intolerance that tried the patience of loyal African Americans beyond endurance,” they called for a series of “reforms to eliminate the symbols and substance of the South’s racist heritage.” The first reform was to abolish both the Confederate national flag and the battle flag as the nation’s emblems. In their place, they raised over the Congress’s temporary quarters, the Atlanta Convention Center, a new flag that showed a rainbow on a U.N.-blue background. Beneath the rainbow was a black-and-white dove, behind and beneath which floated a sprinkling of silver stars, one for each Confederate state. The banner was immediately nicknamed “the Pooping Pigeon.”
Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Alexandria, Baltimore, Birmingham, Little Rock, and other New South cities promptly raised the new flag. The Old South stuck with the old flag. Pointedly, the St. Andrew’s Cross still flew over the Confederate White House in Richmond.
Often, a people will put up with unimaginable abuses on matters of real importance, but rebel when their sacred symbols are defiled. So it proved in the new Confederacy. The official replacement of the old Confederate flag with the Pooping Pigeon recalled the people of the Old South to their founding tradition: rebellion. On June 23, Coffee County, Alabama, announced its secession from the Confederacy, “in order to uphold and preserve the traditions of our Southern people and culture.” Interestingly, Coffee County was peopled almost wholly by blacks.
As the news of Coffee County’s action spread, it set off a chain reaction. All over the South, towns and counties, cities and some whole states – Mississippi was first – seceded from the Confederacy. They still recognized Mr. Yancey as President, and called themselves True Confederates, but they would have no more of Atlanta, the Confederate Congress, and the New South.
The New South responded in mirror-image fashion. New South cities (there was no New South countryside) withdrew their recognition from the executive branch in Richmond and from most of the state governments as well, pledging their loyalty to the Congress in Atlanta. That Congress elected a new President, a Dr. Louis Greenberg, formerly head of Duke University. True Confederates replied by electing a new Congress, which once again met in Richmond. This time, there were no holdovers from Washington.
By the winter of 2033, two states existed on one territory. There was no geographic separation, beyond urban and rural. One city owed allegiance to one government, one to another. So far, there was no shooting, but it was obvious the situation was too unstable to endure. In the New South cities, militias were being organized (largely by combining black gangs) and weapons smuggled in. In Richmond, President Yancey was desperate for peace, but the Confederate Army was thinking about the war it knew was coming.
On March 4, 2034, Bill Kraft asked me to stop by his office.
“John, I received a letter this morning via our embassy in Richmond from the Commanding General of the Confederate States Army. He is of course aware of the vote up here to provide military advice to people elsewhere in the former United States who share our beliefs. The True Confederates meet that standard, without a doubt. Are you ready to do some traveling?”
“Have they formally asked for our assistance?” I asked.
“They have,” Bill replied.
“Well, it should be an interesting war,” I said. “When do you want me to leave?”