Thursday, April 12, 2007

A HARD NIGHTMARE

PART TWO
"I have just this moment heard from the front. There is nothing yet of a movement, but the Troops are continually on the alert, expecting something. To think we are to have here soon what I have seen so many times...
trains and boatloads of pale and wounded young men again; for that is certainly what we shall have. I see all the signs."
walt whitman, 1864

"War is all Hell"
tecumseh sherman

"Kill 'em. Kill 'em all"
stonewall jackson

"A Black Man has no rights a White Man is bound to honor"
Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1859

"I feel I have been living a hard nightmare"
abraham lincoln, 1865

The first major battle of the War was fought at Bull Run Virginia in July of 1861. Confederate forces under General Beauregard commandeered the farmhouse of Wilmer McLean. Headquarters were set up in his front parlor and a hospital in his barn. after the battle, McLean moved his family 100 miles to the West to escape the ravages and dangers of the War.
During the Battle Union forces did well early. Crowds of onlookers from Washington came to cheer their troops. But around midday the Confederate General Jackson held a stone wall that he became famouus for. At the same time, the Union General McDowell was making a huge blunder with his artillery; the tide of battle turned.
Emboldened by the arrival of reinforcements and by the first use of the "Rebel Yell", the Confederates charged forth in the late afternoon. The Union line melted away. Retreat quickly transformed into mindless rout as the Northern troops rushed head-long back to Washington, discarding much of their equipment along the way.
From a personal account by a Union private:
Our artillery and baggage wagons became fouled with each other, completely blocking the bridge, while the bomb shells bursting on the bridge made it "rather unhealthy" to be around. As I crossed on my hands and knees, Capt. Smith who was crossing by my side at the same time was struck by a round shot and completely cut in two. After I crossed I started up the hill as fast as my legs could carry and passed through Centreville and continued on to Fairfax where we arrived about 10 o'clock halting about 15 minutes, then kept on to Washington where we arrived about 2 o'clock Monday noon more dead than alive, having been on our feet 36 hours without a mouthful to eat, and traveled a distance of 60 miles without twenty minutes halt.

The Nation was horrified at the 5000 casualties. They did not know that 1 year later the battle would be fought again, over the same ground, with 5 times that number of casualties; 25,000!

April 9th, 1865
General Lee sent two members of his staff into Appomattox Courthouse to find a place suitable for meeting with General Grant for the purpose of discussion of the terms of surrender. The first civilian they came to was Wilmer McLean. The very same Wilmer McLean who had moved from Bull Run almost 4 years earlier to escape the conflict. The meeting and terms of surrender were drawn up in his front parlor.
Is that ironic or what?

6 comments:

steve said...

While telling my daughter about this battle and the turning of the tide, she could not help but grin, though her sentiments truly lie with the North. Southerners are very funny about that war.

red-dirt-girl said...

Ha - your comment.......but nothing funny about your post. Was just having this conversation the other day: why I think it is important to go back and revisit horrific events (in this case my desire to see Dachau...) I don't know....it's not a morbid interest....I just don't want to forget how close to the surface in me lies this ability to just be a cog in a machine of cruelty....and justify my actions in the name of.....(fill in the blank)....somewhere between history and the facts lies truth......I don't want to lose my connection to that - truth.

rdg

GEWELS said...

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

We must learn from our history to prevent our repeating it. Ah yes, but do we ever learn? Nope!

Annelisa said...

Some of us do, Gewels... trouble is, it's not the ones that count/ who are in power :-(

This was a moving post, Steve. Especially the bit about the guy getting split in two by a bullet. And yet, the young man continued, because there was so much death around that one more was one more than he could stop for...

War is always sad. It's always a waste of life. It's always over something that could be battled out in a boardroom/ courtroom/ Room for debate, but it never is. What the heck do these guys think they'll achieve in the long run? I just wish they wouldn't.. (think, that is) because they don't do a very good job of it!! :-(

Mother of Invention said...

The irony of his life probably! War is the history of man continued.

steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.