Saturday, June 3, 2017

"There are always 2 sides to every issue." Sure!

This morning I had to respond to a "2 sides" comment in JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION:
               An even-handed judicious see-all-sides-of-every-issue sort of fellow, I have been reading Holger Hoock's SCARS OF INDEPENDENCE. Now, it's relevant to deduce that "educated at Freiburg and Cambridge" with a doctorate from Oxford means that, well, that Hoock is German-born and England-educated. One can expect a certain amount of sympathy with the British in his book. And one does find remarkable passages, such as on 319 his declaring: "Among the most notorious rebels was Colonel Benjamin 'Bull Dog' Cleveland, who terrorized Loyalists in the Yadkin country." I have been following Cleveland for many months because some of my cousins rode with him and I never heard him called "Bull Dog." I have a strong desire to celebrate Cleveland in a little article I have been calling “What Was Wrong with Hanging Tories?” Bull Dog?           I just checked Google and find that of all people Patrick Ferguson, the “if you choose to be pissed on forever by a set of mongrels” man, was known as “Bull Dog.”
              Then you turn the page to 320 and find this: “Loyalists gave as brutally as they got.” Well, given the sequence of brutality a true not-quite-rabid Whig might mutter something like, “Loyalists continued their unspeakable brutality.” What I am getting at is an apparent instinctive bias which in fact Hoock overcomes as best he can.      
               Whether or not you will agree about the instinctive bias, I point to pages 308-313, the “Beasts of Prey” section. Hoock makes it clear that the Patriots who cried “Tarleton’s quarter” knew exactly what slaughter they were avenging. The fact that Tarleton was celebrated once he got home says more about the British need to justify themselves than it says about their knowledge of what kind of brutality Tarleton engaged in—even assuming they knew more about it than they likely did. I have not tried to find what reports were published in England.
               The paragraph on 320 beginning “such sadistic American-on-American cruelty” (equating what happened to Thomas Brown with what William Cunningham did) is devoted to “Pyle’s Massacre” conducted by those amazingly successful tricksters led by Henry Lee. I have been waiting years to say “I have a dog in this hunt.” I have a dog in this hunt because my Uncle John, Dr. John Pyle Jr., lost an eye and part of a hand in this event and had cousins (one was David Cockerham) on the other side. In all even-handedness I judge that Pyle’s Hacking Party went far to deter Tories from rising up to welcome Cornwallis’s triumphal march through North Carolina.
               I am not saying Hoock’s bias runs all through but I am saying that if even he understands the horror of Tarleton’s slaughter of wounded rebels, then this is not the time for our pulling the opposing fighting boys apart by their collars and saying Shame on both of you! Go play nicely! I am going to let myself try being judgmental for once, about Tarleton, just as Hoock is. And think about writing “What Was Wrong with Hanging Tories?”

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