"Are We Killing Civil War History," James "Bud" Robertson

Jun 4 2019 - 7:00pm

The legitimacy of Civil War statues and monuments dedicated to the Confederacy and existing throughout the country continues to be under scrutiny, over 154 years since the last shots of the war were fired. Especially during the past several years, this issue has intensified. Opinions regarding their legitimacy or detriment as a symbol of America’s history continues unabashed. Renowned historian James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr., Ph.D., is returning by popular demand and will take center stage at the Tuesday, May 28th meeting of the Brunswick Civil War Round Table. The title of his presentation is, “Are We Killing Civil War History?” The meeting will be held at Hatch Auditorium on Caswell Beach. Registration and refreshments begin at 6:15PM, and the meeting begins at 7:00PM. Everyone is cordially invited to hear his unique insights on this question on this special last meeting before the summer break.

Bud’s thesis focuses on how we think about the importance of the Civil War in present day America. He will articulate how the lack of education and common sense of small groups of agitators (e.g., white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan), have the ability to destroy our past, and thereby doom our future. In essence, he feels we can no longer ignore their presence.

 In the wake of the Charleston church shooting in June 2015, several municipalities throughout the country removed monuments and statues on public property dedicated to the Confederate States of America. The momentum intensified in August 2017, after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The removals there were driven by the belief that the monuments glorify white supremacy. Many of those who object to the removals believe that the artifacts are part of our cultural heritage. Thus, the memorials issue continue to be highly politicized and problematic.   

In a recent Marist poll, 62% of Americans believe monuments should remain as a historical symbol, and somewhat surprisingly, 44% of African Americans agreed. Robertson believes monuments allow us to remember the past with pride. By demolishing them, we tend to forget where we were, who we are, and how we can get better. And, as Maine Governor Paul LePage recently said, “how can future generations learn if we’re going to erase history?”

“Bud” Robertson is one of the most distinguished names in Civil War history; the recipient of every major award given in the Civil War field; and, a lecturer of national acclaim. He is the author of 20 books, including biographies of Gen. Robert E. Lee and A.P. Hill, as well as several works on the common soldier. His massive biography of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the base for the Ted Turner/Warner Bros. mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. He was chief historical consultant for the film. Bud has served as Executive Director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission in the 1960s, and worked with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in commemorating the Civil War’s 100th anniversary. He taught for 44 years at Virginia Tech, where his upper division course on the Civil War-era attracted 300 or more students per semester, and made it the largest class of its kind in the nation. At his retirement in 2011, the university named him Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History.