Wednesday, April 03, 2002

I'm always melancholy after my Civil War History class. It's taught by the renowned (seriously) Dr. James I. Robertson, Alumni Distinguished Professor, and is absolutely heartbreaking. The Civil War was the most tragic event in American History, and it's worth remembering. Two sides, both utterly loyal and honorable, were ordered to butcher each other for the sake of pride. The Army of Northern Virginia was led by Robert E. Lee, probably the most brilliant combat engineer to ever come from America. It was his brilliance, aided by Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's daring and J.E.B. Stuart's masterful reconnaissance that allowed the Confederacy to last for as long as it did. These men weren't racists. Lee freed all his slaves before heading off to war, and while a professor at VMI, Jackson taught a Sunday school class to blacks in defiance of Virginia law. On the other side, the Army of the Potomac was assigned the task of killing their brothers in order to save the family. Led by General Meade, a man Lee highly respected, it had the awful task of trying to outfight one of history's best generals. Under Meade was Grant, who fought relentlessly, hammering Lee repeatedly and with terrible casualties until finally beating him into submission. Two of his best generals were Thomas and Sherman. Thomas was from Virginia, but decided to remain loyal to the Union, while Sherman was a Midwesterner who greatly loved the South but was forced to destroy it. If you haven't seen Gettysburg, rent it. It'll sadden you, but that's a good thing. Sometimes it's only in sadness that we can really appreciate the sacrifices others have made for us, and we owe it to them to remember.

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