This post is historical with a touch of commentary. First I must address the disturbing trend of eliminating everything Confederate out of the history books, the town squares and tourism brochures.
I can only imagine that those in charge have based their decisions on today’s politically charged environments. It’s safer to only publish pictures of Union reenactors , discuss Union achievements and important contributions made by Unionists in certain areas.
It’s safer that way. It keeps protestors out of communities. It doesn’t damage income from tourism and after all, the Union fought against the evils of slavery. Right?
There are a couple of problems with this strategy. Yes it may be safer economically and politically but it damages tourist areas historically.
First of all, if the Confederates never exist, then who did the Unionist fight? Second these economic development strategies could severely backfire on them with this “riding the high horse while taking the low road” strategy.
It’s no different in Southeast Missouri. Our monuments still exist but for how long? If they do remain how long will it be before “someone” demands an interpretive plaque be installed on the monuments to tell you how evil Southerners were?
History can be tricky. Missouri history can be more tricky. Many Unionists were slave owners. Many Confederates were dirt poor farmers who never owned slaves.
Many “home guard” militias affiliated with the Union cause lacked leadership and discipline. That’s what makes a clip from the June 5, 1864 Chicago Tribune so interesting. The paper reported that Southeast Missouri was filled with “rebels” and attempts to stifle them by the forming of “Home Guard” units were unsuccessful, mainly because the (Union) government appointed their leaders.
The Chicago Tribune reported:
“The Rebels are conscripting all able bodied men in Stoddard and Bollinger counties, but as the commodity is scarce the product will be small. Our cavalry is after them but the Southeast [ Missouri -Ed.] is overrun with rebels.
Attempts to raise two regiments of 90 day’s militia for home service promise to be a failure on account of the poor quality of officers usually appointed by the government.”
I promise you won’t see that in any economic development / tourism brochures these days. So what’s the solution?
For starters lets stop sacrificing historical facts for marketing dollars, history can’t be changed and it shouldn’t be changed. The tourism dollars will still follow and possibly generate even more tourist dollars if entities are honest with them. Honesty is a cornerstone of business and it should be the cornerstone for those who are in the business of tourism.
- Clint Lacy is a lifelong resident of Southeast Missouri and has lived the past 20 years in the Ozark Foothills of Bollinger County. He is the author of “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition”