- Historic Sites
Letters to the Editor
Spring 2011 | Volume 61, Issue 1
On the Beach With Burns
I was much interested in James Mac-Gregor Burns’s article in the Fall 2010 issue, “The Naked Truth of Battle,” about his experience as a combat historian during the World War II battle for Saipan. I was a Marine Corps combat correspondent attached to the 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, during the Saipan-Tinian campaign. Like Burns, the Marine Corps CCs carried typewriters and carbines, and held the rank of staff sergeant. Burns, however, collected firsthand information as a historian for postwar historical records, while our assignment was to write news stories (we all were experienced news reporters) about the campaign that were distributed from Marine headquarters in Washington to wire services and newspapers nationwide.
The Saipan landings on D-Day June 15 were made by the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions in tandem, with the 27th Army Division held in reserve. I landed in the first wave with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, at approximately 8 a.m. that day. Because of unexpectedly intense Japanese resistance—heavy fire from artillery, mortar, machine guns—it was decided to commit the 27th Army Division to the battle on the next day (D plus 1). Because Burns was attached to the 27th Army Division, I assume he landed with them on D plus 1 (June 16). This means the caption writer was in error in stating that the picture was taken on June 15 during the first wave of amphibious landing on Saipan, but it does not detract from this fascinating memoir of a famous historian.
Still Fighting the Civil War
Your Winter 2011 article, “The First to Secede,” which looked at South Carolina’s reasons for leaving the Union, brought back memories of my middle-school history lessons on the Civil War more than 70 years ago.
The local United Daughters of the Confederacy from my small southern Georgia town sponsored an annual essay contest themed on the life of a famous Confederate, such as Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, or Stonewall Jackson. Contestants researched their subject, practiced writing, and then on a given day went into study hall. We had an hour to compose our essays.
Papers that referred to the term “Civil War” anywhere in the essay were automatically disqualified. “War Between the States” was to be used. To this day I still have problems referring to this as the Civil War!
Temple Terrace, FL
Loewen’s Simplistic View
South Carolina seceded from the Union to protect her sovereign right of self-determination—the right to own slaves obviously being one of those rights. To suggest otherwise puts forth a simplistic view of mid-19th century United States history. James W. Loewen’s recent article in the Winter 2011 issue, stating the reason for South Carolina’s secession, focuses narrowly on the slave question and ignores other relevant issues. The motives for secession were far more complicated than he proposes. He suggests that states rights issues, such as tariffs and taxes were not in play, citing numerous pro-slavery sources in his argument that slavery was the real reason for secession. His argument places much weight on the mention of slavery in the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.”
Of course, the writers focused on slavery in that document; they were making a legal case for secession. Lincoln’s policies concerning taxes and tariffs were not banned under the Constitution, however, the actions related to slavery enumerated in the Declaration of Causes were illegal and therefore the focus of the writers of that document. I am extremely disappointed in Loewen’s scholarship and now will, regrettably, have to reassess the positions he has taken in his earlier work.
—H. Jerry Morris