Sunday, December 4, 2011


December 2011
Lake Charles, Louisiana


          Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390 will have its annual Confederate Christmas Party  at 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 13, at the home of Compatriot and Camp Chaplain Tommy Curtis, 1928 21st Street in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Please bring a side dish, soft drinks or dessert and call Tommy at 478-5038 to let him know what you are bringing. We’ll have plenty of food,  Christmas music (provided by  Susan Jones) and good  cheer. We always have a great time so please come.

      Congratulations to our new  officers elected at the November meeting. Here is the line up of our 2012 officers, who will be installed at the Lee-Jackson Banquet at Pat’s of Henderson Restaurant in Lake Charles, 6 p.m.  Saturday, January 21: Commander—Archie Toombs; 1st Lt. Cmdr—Michael Clanton; 2nd Lt. Cmdr—Ronnie Fox; Adjutant---Luke Dartez; Chaplain---Tommy Curtis; Quartermaster-----Wes Beason; Sergeant-at-Arms---Kevin Guillote; Surgeon---Dr. Charles T. White; Judge Advocate---Andy Buckley and Historian----Al Cochran. We are also planning to add a 3rd lieutenant commander position, which we briefly discussed at the November meeting but didn’t get around to enacting. We’ll take care of that piece of unfinished business at the Christmas party.
     We have an outstanding speaker and SCV leader for our guest speaker at the Lee-Jackson Banquet, Granvel Block, commander of the Texas Division, SCV, and who is leading the effort to establish a Confederate flag display along Interstate 10 at Orange. This is a great project and just what we need to do to promote our heritage and fly our flags in a prominent public place without depending on the permission of elected officials to use government flag poles. Cmdr. Block will give us an update and also talk about “Little Dixie Bell.” Please make every effort to attend so we can honor our Confederate heroes, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, in grand style. Have a most Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Your obedient servant,
Mike Jones, camp commander


Henry  Louis Mencken
Editor’s Note: Below is H. L. Mencken's very insightful essay bursting some of the Lincoln myths that have been told to generations of school children in the United States. Mencken was born in 1880 in Baltimore, Maryland and died there in 1956.  He  was one of the most influential American journalists, authors, columnists and essayists of the first half of the 20th Century and was famous for his iconoclastic viewpoints, one of which was challenging the Lincoln legend. I don't agree with many of his views on other subjects, particularly his anti-religious views, but I think he was right on target with his views about Lincoln. I especially like his take on The Gettysburg Address, contained in the last two paragraphs. This essay was first printed, in part, in the Smart Set, May, 1920, and then "Five Men at Random," Prejudices: Third Series, 1922.

H.L. Mencken on Abraham Lincoln

          Some time ago a publisher told me that there are four kinds of  books that seldom, if ever, lose money in the United States—first, murder stories; secondly, novels in which the heroine is forcibly overcome by the hero; thirdly, volumes on spiritualism, occultism and other such claptrap, and fourthly, books on Lincoln. But despite all the vast mass of Lincolniana and the constant discussion of old Abe in other ways, even so elemental a problem as that of his religious ideas—surely an important matter in any competent biography—is yet but half solved. Was he a Christian? Did he believe in the Divinity of Jesus? I am left in doubt. He was very polite about it, and very cautious, as befitted a politician in need of Christian votes, but how much genuine conviction was in that politeness? And if his occasional references to Jesus were thus open to question, what of his rather vague avowals of belief in a personal God and in the immortality of the soul? Herndon and some of his other early friends always maintained that he was an atheist, but the Rev. William E. Barton, one of the best of later Lincolnologists, argues that this atheism was simply disbelief in the idiotic . . .dogmas of his time—that nine Christian churches out of ten, if he were alive today, would admit him to their high privileges and prerogatives without anything worse than a few warning coughs. As for me, I still wonder. 
          Lincoln becomes the American solar myth, the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality. Washington, of late years, has been perceptibly humanized; every schoolboy now knows that he used to swear a good deal, and was a sharp trader, and had a quick eye for a pretty ankle. But meanwhile the varnishers and veneerersindistinguishable from that of a Tammany Nietzsche.
          Even his handling of the slavery question was that of a politician, not that of a messiah. Nothing alarmed him more than the suspicion that he was an Abolitionist, and Barton tells of an occasion when he actually fled town to avoid meeting the issue squarely. An Abolitionist would have published the Emancipation Proclamation the day after the first battle of Bull Run. But Lincoln waited until the time was more favorable—until Lee had been hurled out of Pennsylvania, and more important still, until the political currents were safely flowing his way. Even so, he freed the slaves in only a part of the country: all the rest continued to clank their chains until he himself was an angel in Heaven.
Like William Jennings Bryan, he was a dark horse made suddenly formidable by fortunate rhetoric. The Douglas debate launched him, and the Cooper Union Speech got him the Presidency. His talent for emotional utterance was an accomplishment of late growth. His early speeches were mere empty fire-works—the hollow rodomontades of the era. But in the middle life he purged his style of ornament and it became almost badly simple—and it is for that simplicity that he is remembered today.

          The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly, it is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.
          But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination—"that government of the people, by the people, for the people," should not perish from the Earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The earth. Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary. 

                The deadline for dues renewal is past, but it is never too late to rejoin. If you didn’t get your dues in on time, please do so without further delay. However you will need to submit a $5 reinstatement fee along with your $42 as soon as possible. Make your check for $47 out to Sons of Confederate Veterans and send it to Camp Adjutant Luke Dartez, 908 Henning Road, Sulphur, La. 70665.
                Here is our mission statement, given to us in 1906 by Gen. Stephen Dill Lee:
            To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the Cause for which we fought.  To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.  Remember, it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations.
                We are not just fighting to defend our heritage, but also to keep alive for our children and grandchildren the honorable principles of limited, constitutional government that the Confederacy was trying to preserve for us all. Please rejoin as soon as possible.

Lee and Jacksn's last meeting

All members and friends are cordially invited to  attend the Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390’s annual tribute to Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, which will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m. Saturday, January 21, at Pat’s of Henderson Restaurant at 1500 Siebarth Drive in Lake Charles. We are most honored to have as our guest speaker Texas Division SCV Commander Granvel Block of Orange. He will update us on the Confederate Flag Memorial project along Interstate 10 in Orange, and speak about “The Little Dixie Bell.”
                The banquet cost will  be the same as last year, $30 per person, which includes appetizer, main course, dessert, drink and tip. The menu choices as last year are Crawfish Fettuccine, Fried Shrimp, Stuffed Snapper, 10 oz. ribeye (cooked medium), and Italian Chicken Breast; dessert, cheesecake with blueberry or strawberry topping or pecan pie. The appetizer will be fried bite-size catfish and fried popcorn shrimp.
                Please send your reservation to Camp Adjutant Luke Dartez, 908 Henning Road, Sulphur, La. 70665. Make your checks out to Sons of Confederate Veterans. We need to have reservations in by January 15, 2012 to let the restaurant know how many to expect.


Cmdr. Granvel Block
          Texas Division Commander Granvel Block, speaker for Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390’s Lee-Jackson Banquet 2012, has been an outstanding spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Texas, as well as the leader of the Confederate Memorial Flag project planned for Interstate 10 in Lake Charles. He is a life member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and of the Texas Division, SCV.
                His past offices include Texas Division Lt. Commander, 2nd Lt. Commander, Elm Springs Planning Committee, Flags Across Dixie Committee, 10th Brigade 1st Lt. Commander, Gulf Coast Brigade 2nd Lt. Commander, Gulf Coast Brigade Aid de Camp, Chair Gulf Coast Brigade Historical Committee and Texas Division Awards Committee.
                Among his awards are the Distinguished Service Award, Heritage Defense Award, Gen. Jo Shelby Award, Dixie Club Award, SCV Commendation, Bonny Blue Society, Texas Division Gold Cross and Order of St. George.
                He has researched and wrote about “The Little Dixie Bell,” which was the only paper machine to be in the service of the Confederacy. The remaining pieces of the machine were salvaged in 2004 before it was destroyed. The restored pieces are now for display in local museums. He has also presented a salvaged piece of “The Little  Dixie Bell” for display at the SCV International Headquarters at Elm Springs.
                Commander Block is also a member of the “Orange County Historical Commission,” where he was able to have the marker “Orange County and the Civil War” placed on the Orange County Courthouse lawn.
                He also designed and commissioned the Davis Guard Medal through the Texas Division. Over $6,000 in sales were received and placed in
the Texas Heritage Defense fund.
                I will defend the fact that our ancestors were honorable men who fought an invading army, and it was their constitutional right to self-government, which compelled their actions to form a new country,” Commander Block said. “I am proud of our Confederate ancestors, and I consider it an honor to be a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.”

          I pledge allegiance to the flag of the state of Louisiana and to the motto for which it stands: A state, under God, united in purpose and ideals, confident that justice shall prevail for all of those abiding here.

         I salute the Confederate flag with affection, reverence and undying devotion to the cause for which it stands.

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