What Happened to the Warrior’s Ethic?

Frank Getz, American Renaissance, September 29, 2015

Yankees respected Confederates. Why must we despise them today?

Back in 2006, my wife and I went to a friend’s house to watch Oscar De La Hoya fight Ricardo Mayorga for the World Boxing Council light–middleweight boxing championship. My wife was unfamiliar with professional boxing and was taken aback by the trash talking between the two foes, which HBO recapped during the intro to the show. “You’re going to be my bitch in my bed anytime I want you,” was one of Mr. Mayorga’s more printable insults.

Mr. De La Hoya won handily with a 6th round TKO, to the delight of many fans and my wife as well. But, to her surprise, the fighters embraced after the fight and appeared to let bygones be bygones. “You are a great fighter, a great champion,” Mr. Mayorga said. “I apologize for everything I said to you.”

How, she wondered, could everything be so easily settled?

The fact is, settling grievances through combat is pretty common. Kids at schools everywhere still “take it outside” and are often friends afterwards. Fighters in the boxing ring, the UFC, and other combat sports routinely find their grievances settled after a fight.

This is sometimes referred to as “the warrior’s ethic.” If a problem can’t be talked out, it can be settled by combat, often followed by mutual respect between winner and the loser.

David Yeagley, who spoke several times at American Renaissance conferences, was a Comanche activist who understood the warrior ethic:

The white man may have taken my land. But he took it like a warrior, fair and square. He never denied our bravery, never besmirched our memory as warriors. When one general surrenders to another they salute each other. It doesn’t mean that there’s no bitterness between them. It just means that a warrior respects his foe.

Like the Indians and the white man, the Confederates had irreconcilable differences with the Union. When time for talk was over, they met on the field of battle and fought like men. Each side respected the other. In A Stillness at Appomattox, Bruce Catton recounts an event at the Battle of Petersburg. It was late in the war: June, 1864. After years of slaughter, had Confederate and Yankees learned to hate each other?

The 39th Massachusetts won an advanced position, losing three color-bearers, and at last was forced back, leaving its colors on the ground. Its colonel asked for volunteers to go out and get the flags. A corporal and a private responded and ran out to get them, and suddenly–and quite unexpectedly–the Confederates stopped firing, allowed the men to pick up the flags, and as they went back to the regiment the Rebels waved their hats and raised a cheer.

The Confederates know how much the colors meant to the enemy; they cheered the men who risked their lives to retrieve them.

At the surrender at Appomattox, a Union soldier felt none of the jubilation he had expected. Instead:

I remember how we sat there and pitied and sympathized with these courageous Southern men who had fought for four long and dreary years all so stubbornly, so bravely, and so well, and now, whipped, beaten, completely used up, were fully at our mercy–it was pitiful, sad, hard, and seemed to us altogether too bad.

Fifty years after Appomattox, a soldier from the Pennsylvania Fifth Corps wrote how he was received when he slipped across the skirmish line and visited the Confederates, their rifles stacked for the last time:

As soon as I got among these boys I felt and was treated as well as if I had been among our own boys, and a person would of thought we were of the same Army and been Fighting under the Same Flag.

The Confederates were a defeated but worthy adversary. They erected monuments and memorials to their dead, and named streets, neighborhoods, schools, and sports teams in their memory. Their former enemies understood and admired their reverence for their dead. In a gesture of heartfelt respect for their former foe, the US Army gave the names of Confederate generals to army bases. Ten still bear names such as Lee, Bragg, and Beauregard.

Dwight Eisenhower–a Kansan with no connection to the South–kept a portrait of Lee in the Oval Office, calling him “one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation.”

But now, 150 years after the end of the war, though we still admire the fighting qualities of the American Indian, we are supposed to have nothing but scorn for Confederates. Down comes the battle flag, and monuments must be moved out of sight. Southern soldiers are even dug up and their graves hauled away so as to not offend contemporary sensibilities. Today’s Americans are taught to despise men who were deeply respected by their adversaries. This, of course, is because Southern heritage has been reduced to one word: slavery. American Indians committed shocking atrocities but we still accord them the respect due to warriors.

It started in Jamestown. In 1608, Chickahominy braves lured George Cassen ashore from his canoe by having some of their women gesture alluringly to him. His comrades, from their own canoes, watched what happened next:

The natives prepared a large fire behind the bound and naked body. Then a man grasped his hands and used mussel shells to cut off joint after joint, making his way through Cassen’s fingers, tossing the pieces into the flames. That accomplished, the man used shells and reeds to detach the skin from Cassen’s face and the rest of his head. Cassen’s belly was next, as the man sliced it open, pulled out his bowels, and cast those onto the fire. Finally the natives burned Cassen at the stake through to the bones.

During the French and Indian War, neither side could prevent their Indian allies from torturing and mutilating prisoners.

Here is an account of how Comanche squaws disposed of a score of captured white settlers in 1840:

One by one, the children and young women were pegged out naked beside the camp fire . . . . They were skinned, sliced, and horribly mutilated, and finally burned alive by vengeful women determined to wring the last shriek and convulsion from their agonized bodies.

In December 1866, the Oglala chief Red Cloud ambushed Captain William Fetterman’s troop of 80 cavalry and infantry and took no prisoners:

From the condition of the horribly mutilated bodies, it was obvious Red Cloud’s warriors intended to make a statement. One corpse . . . had 105 arrows in it. Fetterman and his second in command, terrified at the prospect of being captured alive, evidently committed suicide by shooting each other in the head.

After the Battle of Little Bighorn, Indian women came onto the battlefield and mutilated Custer’s men. The General’s brother, Thomas Ward Custer, was scalped, castrated, his heart cut out and reportedly eaten. He could be identified only from his tattoos.

In some cases Indians cooked and ate their enemies, and they routinely made sex slaves of captured women. Their treatment of their own women was often little better than slavery. Should we therefore apply to them the standards we apply to Confederates? Should we rename Indiana, originally meaning “land of the Indians”? Should we change the names of our Comanche and Apache attack helicopters? Should we tear down the Dakota Sitting Bull monument and other statues meant to honor fallen Indian warriors, because they glorify rape and cannibalism? If not, why not?

It is because the Confederates had the great historic misfortune of having mistreated black people. Indians only brutalized white people and each other; these are forgivable crimes. Blacks almost never met Confederates on the battlefield, but it is their sensitivities and those of their white anti-Southern allies that must be coddled. That is why we must no longer accord to Confederates the honor and respect their foes so readily granted them. We must suspend the warrior’s ethic and spit on the graves of the Confederacy’s sacred dead. To do otherwise would offend black people.

Topics: , ,

Share This

Frank Getz

Mr. Getz works in the defense industry.

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.