The Charlotte News

Saturday, January 13, 1940


Site Ed. Note: Mr. Alexander, the last of the Confederates to die in Mecklenburg County, as chronicled in "Tale's End", had been the subject of previous editorials in The News. (See "1841-1938", June 4, 1938, and the links from it.) Also, you may hear his late authentic Rebel yell, as recorded by radio station WBT in Charlotte in 1935, here--bearing in mind of course that the yell was likely less viscerally chilling to the hearer when evoked thusly a capella, and at 90 years old, than when originally conveyed in youthful ardor en masse across that wide field that day, aiming for the Angle by the copse.

And so the last of the soldiers were finally laid to rest, though with some their spirits lingered, and in an unholy way, as active wedding guests, while toward others they sought to continue the sabre's charge, and for decades to come, anbelзen in large.

...On the side of a hill a sprinkling of leaves.
Washes the grave with silvery tears.
A soldier cleans and polishes a gun.

War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions.
Generals order their soldiers to kill.
And to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten...

Tale's End

Last Of The Confederate Soldiers Passes From Life

It is 75 years ago, with the return of April, since General Lee, in his best uniform, rode out to hand over his sword to the stained and shabby Grant, and get it back again. And in Mecklenburg the actors in that great pageant, with the death of the last of the old soldiers from the county, Tom Alexander, are forever no more.

Ninety-five years is a very long while to live, and perhaps none have been longer than those he lived. When he was born, the Mexican War was yet to be fought and the memory of Old Hickory was green in the land. When he was a child there were still old men about who had looked upon the face of General Washington, men who themselves remembered the Revolution and had heard the war whoop of the Cherokee.

And all the years of his manhood the guns at Gettysburg were to ring in his ears with a greater reality than all the guns that were to come after--from Dewey's at Manila to those of Pershing under the Vosges. The world in which he died was as unlike the world in which he had been born and in which he had grown up and performed his most vivid deeds as though he had been in fact translated to Mars.

So the tale is ended in Mecklenburg. Not hereafter will any child born in these boundaries be able to say: "I remember the faces of the Confederate soldiers." Nor will any born anywhere else be able to say the same, for the roll is dwindling swiftly to its end everywhere. It is an old war now, and its heartburning and bitterness soften into twilight. But one thing will remain: the South's everlasting pride in these men who fought the good fight for a cause that was lost before it was joined.

Site Ed. Note: The practice was, however, not dead after all. It was revitalized, and to deadly effect, along the hedgerows in back of Omaha Beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Death Drop

This Form Of Attack Turns Out To Be A Dismal Flop

Another legend is gone. Before the European war began, one of the most feared of all methods of attack developed by the Russians and Germans was the landing of troops behind the enemy lines by parachute. More, in the early days of the war there were rumors that it worked well in Poland.

But it hasn't worked in Finland. The Finns simply stand calmly by and pick off the helpless Russian devils as they float down, bump off what few reach the earth with deadly marksmanship. It is plain enough, therefore, that wherever the defending forces are decently organized, there is little chance for the scheme to succeed.

It might have succeeded once if it had existed alone, but not in a day when it exists coincidentally with the telephone and the radio. No matter how isolated the point selected for landing may be, it can only be a matter of a very short time until the defenders have notice of it. And that inevitably destroys its effectiveness.

For, mark you, it is not enough to succeed in landing a small force. It is not even enough to succeed in landing a force big enough to seize and hold for a brief period some point of strategic value. To strike the enemy effectively in the rear, you have somehow to get in that position a force big enough, a force with firepower enough, to disorganize his frontal defenses. Else, you simply send it to slaughter for nothing.

(In the first battle of the Marne in 1914, Conneau's cavalry corps, pursuing Bülow's army, found a great gap open on the Aisne, galloped 40 miles behind the German lines, but did not even bother to attack when it discovered that there was nothing behind it to back it up.)

Site Ed. Note: Object lesson: Don't mess with the actors.

Chicago, Too*

The Case Of Willie Bioff Reminds Us Of Something

In Chicago they seem, sometimes at least, to have the same sort of sloppy court administration we get in Charlotte and Mecklenburg.

Governor Horner of Illinois has signed extradition papers for the return of Willie Bioff from Hollywood. Seventeen years ago Bioff was convicted in a Chicago court of pandering for a backroom prostitute and was sentenced to jail. But somehow he never served his sentence.

Instead he quietly removed to Hollywood and proceeded to prove that Horatio Alger was right by becoming one of the brightest stars in the labor rackets. That is, he became head of the stage hands' unions in those parts, and for one of his locals, the privilege of joining came to $3,000. And since, naturally enough, most of the stage hands couldn't pay that fee, he created one of the nicest little monopolies yet heard of in America--and grew greatly prosperous on his own account. But it was not until he irked the actors by attempting to take them over too that anybody ever thought about recalling that he was a jailbird who had flown the coop.

Governor Horner suggests that Willie ought by all means have an opportunity to explain to the grand jury how it was that that long lapse of memory on the part of the court authorities in Chicago transpired.

Well, we could guess. Maybe Willie's friends fixed it by greasing somebody's palm. But it is just as likely that there was a great big kindhearted State's attorney around who thought it would be a shame to send such a nice, promising sort as Willie to jail. Which is maybe one of the reasons for Chicago's great eminence in crime--all of one-eighth as great as that of Charlotte.

Site Ed. Note: Once, it is known, a few years on, one of Cash's relatives warded off some city workmen in Charlotte bent on taking a tree away from his property trumped on much the same excuse as that described below. Whether he was ultimately successful or not, we've forgotten, but, for the moment he was. For, after first cajoling, then argument, then demand had all in turn failed, he resorted to the barrel of a shotgun to accomplish his purpose. (We don't recommend it, incidentally; that was many years ago and, while he was not arrested, sensibilities are more delicate these days.) In any event, the workmen got the message and left without bothering that tree that day.

Object lesson: Don't mess with boys come to the city who grew up in the country and are fond of their trees.

The Two Trees

A Little Healthy Walking Would Save Them From Harm

With the views of Dotty Knox and Dick Young on the cutting down of those fine old trees on the City Hall lawn to make room for widening Davidson Street, we are in accord.

Excuse given is that it is necessary to make the street wide enough for a fire lane through that particular block. But the widening would be unnecessary if parking were forbidden in that block. Excuse for that, again, is that the customers who come in to pay up their taxes or water bills want parking space there. But the report is that the parking space is mainly used by officials and employees at the City Hall.

The automobile already makes entirely too many demands, and is constantly making more. Gerald W. Johnson recently pointed out in an article in the Baltimore Evening Sun that parking in the public street is not a right at all. It is simply a practice which got established when automobiles were few and nobody thought about the time when streets would be clogged to the point of being impassable and cities would have to pour out more and more money in trying to provide lanes through which traffic could be kept moving.

It is a solidly established practice, however, and we aren't proposing to do anything about it this late. But when it comes to a choice of having a fire lane impossibly clogged up or putting out a lot of money to cut down several pine trees and ruin the appearance of the City Hall lawn, all to the end that the officials and employees can have a convenient parking place in the public thoroughfare--then we are dead against the parking.

A little walking won't hurt these honest burghers.

Site Ed. Note: "Now your crosses are burning fast..."


A Southern Man Who Almost Converts Us to Gavagan

When we run into people like the Hon. Gene Cox, Representative in the Congress of the United States from Georgia, we are almost minded to switch sides on the anti-lynching bill and plump for it hard.

The Hon. Mr. Creal had the floor in the House Tuesday, as reported by the Congressional Record. He was describing his own experience with a "lynching case" when he was prosecuting attorney in his district in Kentucky. A young white girl was alleged to have been raped by two young Negroes. But when he (Mr. Creal) had a physician to examine her, it turned out that there were no signs of the crime. And then a little inquiry on Mr. Creal's part brought out the fact that the whole idea of the crime had been planted in the little moronic head by her father's insistent suggestions.

After hearing which, up rose the Hon. Gene Cox to defend Southern womanhood. Said he:

"If the gentleman will yield to me I would say that he is casting a most damnable reflection on the young womanhood of the South... The gentleman is making the insinuation that wherever a lynching is alleged to have occurred the violation of the person of a child or a woman was not involved."

Mr. Creal didn't have to answer that. The Southern Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching answered it years ago when it carefully studied the record, and reported that in less than one-quarter of all known cases of the lynching of Negroes has rape even so much as been charged.

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