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August 28, 2007



you wouldn't know it by listening to some, but they still make them like that.

Mr. Peperium

Yes, they do. One of them grew up in the house next door and is due back in the front line in November. Many would not believe it, but he can't wait to get there.

Old Dominion Tory

Where I live and work, I see men of this caliber by the hundreds every day. And, every day, I thank God for all of them--and pray for those who went before them and now serve their country.

Old Dominion Tory

On a lighter note, it is interesting to note that many of the National Guard units in this part of Virginia still use the appellation, "The Stonewall Brigade." In fact, some have a patch that shows, in silhouette, the statue of Jackson at First Bull Run/Manassas.

Old Dominion Tory

Well done, Mr. Peperium!

Mr. Peperium

Thank you, ODT. Posts always sound better in my head than they read on the blog.

I just had a sobering thought. That casualty figure: 912 for two hours' fighting. Granted, that's killed, wounded and missing. But do we recall the paroxism of national berevement the Democrats tried to throw the country into on the accasion of our 1,000th casualty in Iraq (after how many months of fighting)?

Dan Patterson

The rebel cause, an act of armed rebellion against the loosely united United States, was doomed from its beginning; forged from a confederation of agricultural economies dependant on slave labor and with casual societal ties to neighboring states, the secession movement may have some academic parallel to the earlier declaration and war for independance of the colonies from the King of England. But any bookish comparison is diluted by the weight of romance associated with the struggles on both warring sides during the civil war.

It may just be the passing of time and the oddly quaint, naive tone of the writing of the day, but the of-course acts of those men of both sides are elevated by a sense of brotherhood and welded-together purpose known only to those who've worn a military uniform. The Rebel army fought with vigor and some early success, although greatly outnumbered by men and material, and were able to make the most of their strengths for a time. The Union army had to fight against itself for much of the war, and against a current of poor leadership and poorly executed plans for the first two years. But the Union prevailed and, as nicely written by historians and story-tellers, that victory allowed the Union to emerge stronger than before.

Academic similarities between the American Civil War and the effort in Iraq and Afghanistan against a carefully named insurgent force might be made, and might look pleasing on paper to a soft-palmed teaching assistant. But a strong alloy exists going all the way from the military in Iraq to at least as far back as the men on both sides in the Battle of Brawner Farm. And it is precisely that metal that is missed by the clucking tongues writing for the major media outlets: The terrorists in Iraq are fighting to prevent liberty and freedom, not to protect it. The men at Brawner Farm fought either to protect one union or to create another.

The romantic fog that surrounds the rebel cause during the American Civil War might be largely due to the behavior after the war of the Union forces that faced them. The people who hold the Confederate effort in some esteem do not do so for love of the cause, but for the valiant struggle against a superior foe. General Grant may have healed more than any other by his treatment of the defeated enemy at Appomatox, and by his respect for his gentleman opponent, Lee. A reunion of the men at Gettysburg in the 1920's (earlier?) retraced the steps of Pickett's Charge. When the former rebels made the fence just yards before the stone wall, the Union veterans behind the wall stood and cheered. We hear of similar reunions between tin-can sailors on WWII destroyers and Japanese airmen, or grey-haired Vietnam vets and their former Victor-Charlie enemy.

It seems that it is not the men that are hated, but their cause. The great shame of our time is that in some very vocal sections of our society both the cause and the men are misunderstood and hated. I do not deserve the freedoms I enjoy, but it is because of the sacrifice and bravery of the military, past and present, that I am able to make whatever of my life that I choose. My thanks to the bond that ties military men together, and to the ability of those men and women on "our side" who are able to preserve liberty and freedom.

Dan Patterson
Arrogant Infidel

Mr. Peperium

Thank you, Arrogant Infidel. A great, thoughtful, insightful comment. Yes, there is a direct line from Brawner Farm to today. The spirit still lives. I know because I have seen it. There is a direct line from Valley Forge, from Antietam, from Normandy. I have only briefly worn a uniform (in ROTC my first year of college) but I witnessed that brotherhood among my officers, all of them Viet Name veterans. I meet it every time the captain who grew up next door comes home on leave. It is an attitude of mind and spirit I admire no end and secretly suspect I would be incapable, if given the chance, of ever emulating.

For some insight into the healing process and the Lost Cause aura that grew out of it, a good book is Carol Reardon's Pickett's Charge in History and Memory ( I think I have that title right). According to her, after the veterans ofthe Charge reached the wall the old men in blue refused to let them over, saying they had stopped them once and they could do it again. Apparently there was some violence involving walking sticks.

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