“He was struck by a cannon ball, taking both legs nearly off between the body and the knees.” So reads the memorial of my 31-year-old Great (three times) Uncle David Christian Hite, whose body was never recovered from the Third Battle of Winchester in September of 1864.
A member of the Stonewall Brigade, a great-grandson of three Revolutionary War veterans and a non-slave-holding farmer from Page County, Va., David was preceded in death by brothers First Lt. William (23, chest wound at First Manassas) and John (22, shot “near the heart” at Gettysburg). David, who was married, had already survived numerous battles, wounds (arm and neck) and POW camp (captured as he buried his brother at Gettysburg). His only surviving adult brother, Isaac (one of Lee’s bodyguards who was paroled at Appomattox), wrote his father concerning David: “He died in defense of his country, and no mortal man I believe, can ever say ought against (him).”
Most fair-minded people agree that David deserves to be honored, and he has earned a voice. David and other Confederates and their descendents have the right to define for themselves for what they so often died — self-defense and Constitutional principle, in short, the very same liberty articulated and contended for by our Founding Fathers.
Let me warn you, friends, when the sacrifices and voices of men like David are maligned and silenced, then other Virginians, like our Founders, are next! And it will not be possible to maintain even the present semblance of a democratic republic without respect for Washington’s character, Jefferson’s pen, Madison’s Constitution, Henry’s voice and Mason’s Bill of Rights.
Although I’m not necessarily a proponent of dividing history into commemorative months, the recent comments of men like Kaine, Wilder, and Warner have convinced me that now, more than ever, Confederate History Month is needed to help dispel the inaccuracies, stereotypes, and, sometimes, quite frankly, the intolerance of those who value only their own view.
As everyone knows, there are two sides to every story, and David’s side — one of those who honorably contended for liberty — deserves not only to be heard, but to be honored and emulated!