From our Archives . . .

THE SOCIETY OF TRUE HIGHLANDERS MEETS THE SSCV (2002)

(Author’s note: These words have gone largely unheeded.)

Once upon a time in Scotland there existed an organization called the Society of True Highlanders (SOTH). It was formed in 1815 by Alastair Ranaldson of Glengarry scarcely two generations after the heroic, but tragic, battle of Culloden (1746). The Society allowed those descendants of once-proud Jacobite Highlanders, a generation of men willing to fight for the preservation of their culture and civilization, a means of saving face. The Society’s members ostentatiously imitated the warrior class to which their grandfathers had genuinely belonged. Their raison d’etre was to celebrate the history, language, dress, music, and martial character “of our illustrious race in the Highlands and Isles of Scotland.” In order to belong to the SOTH, a man had to prove descent from a real Highland chief; thus it was an exclusive, genealogical-based organization, a sort of club for men who had no heart for a real fight. The Highland gentleman and his lady, now thoroughly anglicized, were happy to play-act the part of their noble ancestors.

But unlike the Jacobite warriors of a century earlier, the members of the SOTH were no threat to the established imperial order of the day. In fact, the men of the SOTH were quick to pledge allegiance to an alien banner (the Union Jack) and the imperial designs it represented. They conveniently forgot the red-coated troops who had invaded their homeland within living memory, and by giving their allegiance to the empire they also, by implication, gave approval to the depredations committed against Scotland.

Under Glengarry’s direction, the Society flourished for some years. The members, inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, spent festive nights with their ladies at Fort William drinking toasts and boasting of their forebears’ deeds against the hated Sassanach (Gaelic for “Saxons”). But while the men of the SOTH played at warrior, the Scottish people were being deprived of their birthright by a British Empire all too eager to emasculate Scottish culture while at the same time employing tens of thousands of Alba’s sons to fight and die for London’s imperial aspirations.

Just in case the reader missed the parallels, there are lessons for Southerners in this illustration. At present, there is a faction within the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) calling itself “Save the SCV” (SSCV) that seemingly wishes to emulate the Society of True Highlanders. They make a show of honoring their Confederate ancestors, but when it comes to breathing life once again into the principles that motivated Lee and Jackson (as well as Washington and Jefferson) to stand against the encroachment of centralized tyranny, they hide behind the dubious assertion that the SCV ought to be nothing more than a club of amateur historians and gravestone polishers. While claiming honorable intentions in regard to their forebears, the men of the SSCV are unwilling to admit that the principles for which they struggled—States rights and secession, in particular—were right. How can a man claim to honor his Confederate ancestors and at the same time deny the very things for which they fought and died? The disgruntled SSCVers can blather on until they are Yankee-blue in the face, but their words ring hollow. To equate the righteous principles of the Confederacy with treason, revolution, and radicalism, and to pledge allegiance to the usurper’s flag that denied the right of self-government to the Southern people is to spit on the graves of noble men and a noble cause.

Simply stated, those who support the SSCV platform and are unwilling to commit themselves to the sound principles so staunchly defended by our Southern forebears do not deserve to be called by the name of “Confederates.” If they were honest with themselves they would furl the battleflag, forbid the playing of “Dixie,” and forget the heroic sacrifices of the men in grey. Once these things are cast aside, then they can content themselves with reciting the mantra “one nation indivisible” while saluting the flag of their conquerors and the destroyers of American constitutional liberty.

The SSCV has chosen to target for exclusion SCV members who hold joint membership in The League of the South, among other Southern organizations. To those joint League/SCV members I say this: Do not let the small-minded fanaticism of the SSCV witch-hunters cause you to abandon your commitment to either organization. If you are a League member who is considering membership in the SCV, then by all means go ahead and join. If you are an SCV member who is thinking about joining the League, do the same. It is time for the truly bold men in the SCV to join hands with their compatriots in the League of the South and other Southern organizations so we can more effectively fight the battles that lie before us for the preservation and advancement of our culture and our liberties. Our brave ancestors would expect nothing less of us. Let us, then, not follow the SSCV into shameful oblivion. Rather, let us help the SCV avoid the sorry fate of the Society of True Highlanders.

Dr. Michael Hill

Member, Thomas O. Benton Camp, SCV, Monroe, Louisiana

& President, The League of the South

Categories: Uncategorized

About Author

Michael Hill

Dr Michael Hill is President of the League of the South. He is a retired university professor of history and author of two books on Celtic warfare.