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"The Bonnie Blue Flag" Topic

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1,902 hits since 1 Apr 2016
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Ostrowski01 Apr 2016 3:03 p.m. PST

I'm a british wargamer and I field both federal and confederate armies in 15mm. Is it just me, but is the union side is so dull, boring and lacking in any real passion?. All of the swagger, romance, bravado and style is with the confederacy. Did the 'wrong guys lose' do you think?

Calico Bill01 Apr 2016 3:17 p.m. PST

Not PC, but yes. Still, considering the massive difference in population, manufacturing, navy, and transport, it's difficult to see how things could have turned out differently. Even freeing the slaves, then leaving the Union wouldn't have saved them.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP01 Apr 2016 4:18 p.m. PST

I find the Union forces quite splendid, Chamberlain at Gettysburg on little round top, the Hornet's nest at Shiloh are 2 examples showing how brave and resourceful the boys in blue could be!
Much of the mythos surrounding the Confederates seems to me to be due to their desperate struggle against the huge forces arrayed against them!

Both sides had heroes and villains, good and bad, I salute them all!

RudyNelson01 Apr 2016 4:21 p.m. PST

As a guy from Alabama, I say that the union won, should have since they had all of the significant advantages. Railroads, industry, manpower numbers, naval control and food commodities. No way the South could win. The best that they could do was a conditional peace in 1861. Any year later was a no go as too much blood lost on the union side.
I thought you were going to ask about the different Bonnie blue flag. The Florida and Alabama had yellow stars with their names in yellow as well. Texas flags had the white stars.

DJCoaltrain01 Apr 2016 4:28 p.m. PST

The South has a better press agent. The Union were methodical and persisent to a fault. Sort of like European football.

dBerczerk01 Apr 2016 4:56 p.m. PST

Ostrowski -- it's just you.

Paint up a regiment of New York zouaves, a Pennsylvania zouave regiment, a unit of Berdan's sharpshooters, a General George Armstrong Custer command figure, and a brigade of Michigan cavalry -- then let someone call your Union army dull, boring, and lacking in any real passion.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Apr 2016 5:01 p.m. PST

Paint up a regiment of New York zouaves, a Pennsylvania zouave regiment, a unit of Berdan's sharpshooters, a General George Armstrong Custer command figure, and a brigade of Michigan cavalry -- then let someone call your Union army dull, boring, and lacking in any real passion.

Dress them yankees up real purty like…My boys have shot them down in games against my nemesis Bill Rosser time and time again….those bright red puffy pants let us know they are coming….

dBerczerk01 Apr 2016 5:25 p.m. PST

Squadron Rule #1, Murphy: Gentlemen never parade their military achievements.

Charlie 1201 Apr 2016 6:35 p.m. PST

Ostrowski- It is just you…

By 1863 (my period) both sides are boring. Union blue-over-blue, Confederates grey-over-grey. The dashing days of technicolor uniforms, for both sides, was long gone by then… (maybe I should start doing 1861… yeah! that's the ticket!)

zippyfusenet Inactive Member01 Apr 2016 7:05 p.m. PST

Ostrowski…presuming you haven't just come here to wind us up…your problem is that you're listening to the wrong music. "Bonnie Blue Flag" was an anthem of the mad, treasonous, fatal rebellion, though it was a jaunty little marching song. The Federal armies had their own characters, which could also be captured in music.

The Army of the Potomac was stubborn, determined, cynical, jaded, but implacable. Defeated in battle after battle, they rolled back upright under a new commander for another campaign, rallying again, and again, and once again. Richmond was a hard road to travel, but in 1865 they finally got there:

YouTube link

YouTube link

YouTube link

The Federal armies in the west, the Armies of the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee, were avenging angels of destruction. They made a habit from the first of winning battles and liberating territory, livestock, cotton, the family silver. They exulted when they "drove them back nine miles and stacked them up in piles, besides what was drowned in the river…":

YouTube link

YouTube link

They finished off the rebellion when they met the Army of the Potomac in North Carolina, after their long march across the south. They left a mark that smarts to this day. President-elect Jimmy Carter specifically requested that their song 'Marching Through Georgia' not be played at his inaugural parade:

YouTube link

Are you dancing yet?

DJCoaltrain01 Apr 2016 8:06 p.m. PST

They all sound like Hillbillies. My Grandfather was from KY and my Grandmother from WV. When they sang they sure didn't sound like these artists.

zippyfusenet Inactive Member01 Apr 2016 8:40 p.m. PST

You say The Weavers sound like Hillbillies to you, DJ? I hear nothing but upper Midwest. The lead singer for the 2nd SC sounds very 'proper' to me in his pro-noun-ci-ation, not much of a regional accent at all. Maybe it's the banjos setting off some kind of long-dormant conditioned reflex of yours. You say your Pappaw and Meemaw didn't sound like these singers? Maybe it was the material. What was their usual repertoire?

epturner01 Apr 2016 8:58 p.m. PST

Well, as a Union man, both in the classical sense and in he historical sense, I think we dress out just fine, thank you very much.

Our passion may be more restrained, but it's no less intense…

My two Pine Tree Shillings worth.


DJCoaltrain01 Apr 2016 9:15 p.m. PST

Mr Zippy
I grew up with a TV show called the Mid-Western Hayride. My Grandmother loved The Red River Valley. My Grandfather liked hymns. My Dad was a T. E. Ford fan and liked Burl Ives and Marty Robbins. My freinds and I used to make up lyrics for some of the bluegrass classics, especially square dance songs. I did Square Dancing while in VA. Our caller had a very nice voice. He also had a rebel Grave in his cowpasture, which he couldn't disturb because it was a National Gravesite. I got HillBilly kin in KY, WV, MO, and GA. I have more in other states, but I don't have any contact with them anymore. Maybe I've been away so long everything sounds Hillbilly to me? HAH, wouldn't that be a kneeslapper. firetruck

Ostrowski01 Apr 2016 9:29 p.m. PST

Dear all, thanks for all of your postings. I need to look again at my NY zouaves in a new light and limit my referral to 'Gone With The Wind' for my historical backdrop. That said, the South will always have the better tunes! Thanks again

Grelber01 Apr 2016 10:09 p.m. PST

According to my Civil War history teacher, after the war, the veterans would get together and argue about just why the Union won. He said one former Confederate officer told the Yankees, "If we'd have had your songs, we'd have won!"

As far as the original question goes, Mssrs. Sellar and Yeatman, authors of that classic work on British history, 1066 and All That, characterize your Civil War as being "between the Cavaliers (Wrong but Wromantic) and the Roundheads (Right but Repulsive)." Yes, there has been a tendency to characterize our Civil War in a similar way. As somebody mentioned, this is partly a publicity issue, for the Army of Northern Virginia got the best press. As far as sheer spectacle goes, there is little that could challenge or beat the four divisions of the Army of the Cumberland advancing in a line two miles from left to right, driving back the Confederates in the rifle pits at the foot of Missionary Ridge, then going on to storm the ridge itself in November of 1863.

Beyond that, I suspect that part of the price we paid to re-unify the country after the war was acceptance of a joint collection of myths. The Union had Lincoln, the Great Emancipator and Grant, the determined general, magnanimous in victory, while the South got Lee and Stuart, the knights of old Virginia. Oh, and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine--nobody on the Union side got a shrine!


Zargon Inactive Member02 Apr 2016 5:26 a.m. PST

Yes! But has the rebellion ever stopped? I wish I was in,,,, Look away! Look away! Yup just brings a lump. My favourite Yankee unit that I have is my Michigan Zouaves that I converted from Foundry in short jackets advancing and Redoubt fezz heads, for The Battle of Bull Run.

kallman02 Apr 2016 8:42 a.m. PST

Yes the correct side won. The myth of the lost cause and the grandeur of the South is mostly post war propaganda and hyperbole. As someone stated above both sides of the ACW had their heroes, villains, and just plain crazies. As an example I will toss in General Sickles on the Union side and his preservation of his leg bone from his injury at Gettysburg. Braxton Bragg for the Confederacy seemed to be a person caught up in all sorts of phobias and personal demons.

As to colorful units of the Union, while many will talk about the Zouaves, I think it is hard to beat The Iron Brigade who were a tough bunch wearing their Hardee Hats and white leggings and didn't one of the Iron Brigade units carry a live eagle on a standard into combat?

donlowry02 Apr 2016 9:29 a.m. PST

Better tunes? Hard to beat The Battle Hymn of the Republic or even Rally 'Round the Flag!

No, it wasn't an Iron Brigade unit that had a live eagle -- that was a regiment in Grant's Army of the Tennessee ('though another Wisconsin regiment, IIRC).

If you want to paint fancy, colorful, varied uniforms, do Napoleonics. To get passionate about the ACW, you have to get caught up in the history.

jowady02 Apr 2016 11:21 a.m. PST

Killian, a big plus one, for daring or elan it's hard to beat Sheridan toasting the Confederates at Missionary Ridge, William Cushing's sinking of the Albemarle or his brother Alonzo at Gettysburg working his guns at Gettysburg as he was dying. Read about Grierson's raid or Sheridan's Valley Campaign. Think about the USCT, men who faced enslavement or worse if captured and yet fought for the right to fight anyway. There was bravery, skill, incompetence and cowardice on both sides. But to think that the only reason that the North won was because they were methodical is to not understand the Civil War at all.

vtsaogames02 Apr 2016 1:00 p.m. PST

8th Wisconsin carried Old Abe, the eagle mascot. I have one in 15 mm.

Watched a whole lot of Gone with the Wind, have you? Try Red Badge of Courage (the Audie Murphy version) and Glory to balance that out. Maybe (just maybe) the coming Free State of Jones though I suspect that may have more than a whiff of Hollywood about it.

Red Badge has some good battle scenes though the end of the Union charge with guys going prone…
Glory has some really well done battle scenes.
Why they felt the need to exaggerate the losses and all at the end…

Choctaw02 Apr 2016 1:35 p.m. PST

I think the Union regiments carried a splendid assortment of colors.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2016 1:48 p.m. PST

We talk about swagger and no one's mentioned Phil Kearney? Of bold uniforms, and no one mentions the Garibaldi Guards? And I'm just being polite to my Pennsylvania kin: the direct line marched with the Union western armies. (He was one of those German immigrants Ashley Wilkes was whining about.) And have we missed the Lightning Brigade? Oh, and after the movies mentioned so far, try The Horse Soldiers and They Died with their Boots on--John Wayne and Errol Flynn both as Union cavalry officers leading charges.

There IS no more swagger than that.

And another for the First Minnesota.

John Miller02 Apr 2016 2:50 p.m. PST

Ostrowski: Just a thought, but when it comes to swagger, romance, bravado, and style, IMHO the Army of the Potomac needs to take a back seat to no other outfit, Union or Confederate, East or West. My personal favorite, the Irish Brigade, then the Iron Brigade, the Excelsior Brigade, come immediately to mind. Then you have the 5th New York at 2nd Manassas, the 114th Pa. and 14th Brooklyn at Gettysburg for some colorful uniforms to accompany the other desired characteristics. For leaders, mentioned above, Kearney the "Magnificent", then Hancock the "Superb", "Fightin" Joe Hooker, Sickles, the consummate politician, John Reynolds. In the Cavalry, John Buford, Judson Kilpatrick, and of course, George Armstrong Custer. Some lessor known characters, "Greasy D---" Richardson, Alexander Hayes, George Willard, Regis DeTrobriand, and these are just a few that come to mind. For my money the Army of the Potomac contained as great a collection of historical characters as your likely to find. These guys have kept me fascinated since 1954. Thanks, John Miller

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2016 4:16 p.m. PST

"…but is the union side is so dull, boring and lacking in any real passion"

The Iron Brigade [especially at Brawner's Farm, Antietam (Miller's Cornfield, and Gettysburg (McPherson's Ridge)] is my personal favorite to counter this slanderous outrage! You Sir, are a Cad! I challenge you to a duel…of banjos!

donlowry03 Apr 2016 1:24 p.m. PST

…but is the union side is so dull, boring and lacking in any real passion

Go West, young man. Consider the Army of the Tennessee, for instance, or even the Army of the Cumberland. You want swagger and bravado? try Sherman's "bummers" marching through Georgia! (And the Carolinas.)

Bill N03 Apr 2016 3:28 p.m. PST

You want swagger and bravado? try Sherman's "bummers" marching through Georgia! (And the Carolinas.)
Against no significant opposition.

The little guy winning against long odds, or at least putting up a good fight tends to be more interesting than the bigger guy that competently moves from victory to victory. This is a shame, because in many actions where the U.S. won or avoided catastrophe you find the same kind of heroism by select U.S. units that the Confederacy is typically credited with. I think this is part of the attraction of the events at Little Round Top.

donlowry04 Apr 2016 9:22 a.m. PST

Well then, how about Grierson's Raid? Two cavalry regiments against Pemberton's entire department.

Cleburne1863 Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2016 6:40 p.m. PST

How the Army of the Tennessee handing the Confederates their ass at Atlanta (July 22), Ezra Church, and the entire Vicksburg Campaign. Lots of hard fighting worthy of accolades for any unit. With the exception of Tunnel Hill, Chickasaw Bayou, and Kennesaw Mountain, they were masters of the field whenever they met the Rebels. Even Tunnel Hill and Kennesaw Mountain were only a tactical defeats. They earned their swagger.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2016 6:40 a.m. PST

Since we are talking splendid Union men, how about the Irish Brigade? Closest to the wall at Fredericksburg, sweeping all before them at the Wheatfield at Gettysburg.

Before anyone gets all nostalgic about the "moonlight and magnolias" of the noble pre-war south, please read the Cotton Kingdom by Frederick Law Olmsted. He traveled through the South in the late 1850's and his observations are a must read for anyone who wants to understand southern society.

uglyfatbloke Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2016 9:49 a.m. PST

My wife is n't watching so I can say 'the Federals were the good guys and deserved to win on every level'. I may have to delete this post later…..

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2016 12:00 p.m. PST

My personal votes for badasses is the cavalry blokes who, badly outnumbered, checked the confederates outside Gettysburg on that vital first day.

Don't need fancy singing or yelling when there's a job to be done :-)

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2017 9:10 p.m. PST


Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 12:18 p.m. PST


Grumble8710622 Aug 2017 5:11 p.m. PST

Mention of the Irish Brigade compels me to say that *The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became and American Hero* is an excellent read about the life of Thomas Meagher, who founded and led the Brigade.

Major Bloodnok31 Aug 2017 6:00 p.m. PST

Just remember "Dixie" was written in NYC by an Irish born Buckeye

Ostrowski01 Sep 2017 4:37 p.m. PST

I've got interested in, and painting, western zouaves- 33rd and 35th New Jersey.

Apparently they retained much of their Zouave uniforms through Atalata Campaign and Sherman's March to the a Sea.

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