Disclaimer: It should be noted from the outset that this expose´ on the exploits of the four historical horsemen who shall be introduced momentarily is rather overdue. The events shortly recounted occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Queen City in common parlance, in early November 2010. This belle of a city hosted the Annual Meeting of the Southern Historical Association, affectionately known simply as “The Southern.” Like any memoir—or, for that matter, any tale of fishing feats, hunting heroics, or barroom bravado—it should be taken with a grain of salt . . . or preferably a shot of bourbon.
Our story begins not in the royal court of the Queen City but in the halls of the Classic City—a place whose name and function pays homage to the brilliance of antiquity—Athens, Georgia. Here your humble horsemen trod the proven historical grounds of LeConte Hall, home of the University of Georgia’s distinguished History Department. A brief sketch of these historical equestrians reveals their common interests in all things Southern, a commonality which spawned a commitment to become knights in The Southern Roundtable, an intellectual knighthood designed to encourage and expand research and writing on Southern culture. From hunting dogs and irregular guerrillas to honor-bound politicos and pious preachers, the four horsemen’s interests cover the gamut of the Southern cultural landscape. Being thus armed, their first knight’s errand brought them into the service of the Queen City on the weekend of The Southern.
Any account of a historical conference, involving such honorable historians as our horsemen, would be remiss if it neglected to mention the conference itself. Each of our gallant knights performed certain courtly duties with esteem (namely guarding the wares of scholarly publishers, and reaping the benefits of said protection in literary kind). These duties thus ably performed, our knights proceeded to hone their oratory by observing others practiced in this trade, and came away mightily impressed by several such speeches on topics ranging from the Southern frontier to Southern gender dynamics. This education spanned both days of the conference, and allowed our knights to dream of the possibility of one day joining the ranks of the historical nobility.
After such enlightening pursuits, one naturally finds himself in need of bodily sustenance and “spiritual” replenishment. The Queen City met these needs most ably with her soulful food and spirituous drink. The bacchanalia that ensued included cigars and billiards with a local artisan who garnered the moniker of “coach” for his expositions on the finer points of pool, as well as repeated run-ins with visiting Ohio carpetbaggers celebrating a family betrothal. Amongst this intemperate Yankee contingent was their indomitable “Aunt Kate,” who especially appreciated the professed prestige and wit of our four horsemen. The aforementioned “coach” unwittingly provided the humorous highlight of the entire excursion when a respected historian (who shall remain anonymous) was mistaken for “coach” by one of our knights while supping the following evening, resulting in much embarrassment for said knight and much amusement for his comrades. All of this debauchery occurred with squires (prospective UGA graduate students) in tow, and upon their return to the Acropolis, the four horsemen could rightly conclude that they had undoubtedly “done the department proud!”