Monday, February 17, 2014

A Little Help, If You Please

Repost:

The historian in us has been stymied by a dilemma. Someone sent an email to us with a quotation attributed to George Washington. Here is the quotation:


"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceived veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." -- President George Washington


We have been unable to verify that this is indeed from our first president. We have the works of George Washington in our library, and have been browsing through it several times over looking for it. Supposedly it was said by Washington in 1789. We have been through that section of his complete works several times over, and have not been able to find the source of the quote.


Can anyone help with this dilemma and provide a link to a verifying source?


Novus Livy


”Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history."-- Abraham Lincoln


Copyright © 2005-2014: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Blog just on Battle of Gettysburg

There is a new blog  up and running over at Three Days at Gettysburg.  It is all about the Battle, including most recently, a review of the newly released [as of May 14, 2013] book by Professor Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College titled 'Gettysburg, the Last Invasion.'

Some new ground is being broken in the interpretation of the Battle of Gettysburg on this blog.  Give it a try, and if you like it, subscribe. It is a scholarly look at the Battle and the application of technology, like Google Earth imagery, and some plain old common sense. 

Three Days at Gettysburg

Novus Livy

”Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history."-- Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2005-2013: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Fight for Houck's Ridge

[Reprinted with permission from GettysBLOG]

Late in the afternoon of July 2, 1863, the members of Brigadier General J. H. Hobart Ward’s Brigade of 6 regiments from Maine, Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania, plus elements of the 1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooters, prepared to receive the assault of Confederate General John Bell Hood. Perched atop the south end of Houck’s Ridge, the southern terminus of which is Devil’s Den, Ward placed his men in a line stretching generally north, almost to the Wheatfield. Behind him lay Plum Run Valley, soon to become known as the Valley of Death, and several hundred yards farther east lay the two Round Tops, “Big” on the south, “Little” to the north. There was slender Union presence in between Ward and Little Round Top.

Facing Ward were two Brigades of Hood’s shock troops, under Brigadier General Jerome Bonaparte Robertson [Texas and Arkansas], and Brigadier General Henry L. Benning [Georgia], on Robertson’s left. The terrain was difficult for the Confederates, but what Benning’s men had to go over was so impassable that his men split Robertson’s Brigade with the 1st Texas and 3rd Arkansas moving to the left of Benning’s men, while the 4th and 5th Texas got mixed in with Brigadier General Evander Law’s Alabama brigade assaulting Little Round Top.

Anchoring the left end of Ward’s line [at the south end of Houck’s Ridge, with the worst of the Devil’s Den Boulders at his back] was Smith’s 4th New York Light Battery, with Captain James Smith commanding the six 10 pounder Parrot guns. Union artillery batteries were comprised of 6 guns, divided into three sections of two guns each. Smith had posted one section of his guns to his right rear about two hundred yards, on the floor of Plum Run Valley. They were pointed south, across the stream at a tree line at the base of Big Round Top. The area was littered with large and small boulders. When the Alabama troops emerged from the tree line, Smith’s two guns roared into action, firing explosive shells over the rocks, which in many cases added rock splinters to the shrapnel from the exploding shells. As the Confederates withdrew back into the tree line, Smith’s two guns elevated their muzzles and opened fire on the treetops of the wood line. This created hundreds of wood splinters raining down on the Alabamians sheltering there. The area became known as The Slaughter Pen. Below is a photo of the two gun section of Smith’s Battery which has been missing for some time due to repair and restoration of the guns. Its location is on the west side of today’s Crawford Avenue at the spot where Smith had posted them.  Houck's Ridge is in the background.



In the meantime, Smith’s other two sections [four guns] were on top of the south end of Houck’s Ridge covering the left flank of Ward’s brigade line. To Smith’s right was the 4th Maine and 99th Pennsylvania Infantry [both moved there during the battle], and on their right, the 124th New York. Farther to the right was the 20th Indiana in the edge of the Rose Woods. Other regiments from Ward’s brigade were posted down on the floor of Plum Run Valley, facing the elements of Evander Law’s Alabamians coming up through the boulders of Plum Run Gorge.

As Benning’s Brigade approached Ward’s position, they found the 1st Texas Infantry and the 4th Arkansas Infantry in front of them, entering a triangular shaped field on the western slope of Houck’s Ridge. At the top, along the base of the triangle, was a stone wall, behind which were Colonel VanHorn Ellis’s 124th New York Infantry, his “Orange Blossoms” from Orange County, New York. As the Texans began their assault up the ridge, the Orange Blossoms poured a deadly fire into them, causing them to fall back. Ellis’s men, encouraged by this, and led by the Colonel who jumped his horse over the wall, began to march in line abreast down the Triangular Field toward the Texans. While withdrawing down the hill, the Texans reloaded, and at the bottom, on a small knoll, they turned and fired a volley into the approaching New Yorkers. The regiment was decimated. Major Cromwell, the second in command was down, and many others were dead or wounded. The New Yorkers began to withdraw. In the ensuing fight, the Orange Blossoms drove off the Texans, but not without a great price. Cromwell and Ellis were both dead, and many of their compatriots were as well. It was a sad day for Orange County, New York.

Benning continued to press forward, and the fight became hand to hand, lasting for almost an hour, before the 99th Pennsylvania, fighting from a circle of large boulders, was forced to withdraw. The rest of Ward’s Brigade had already done so, heading to a spot north of Little Round Top.

Below is a photograph of the Artillerist statue, which marks the spot of Smith’s 4th New York Light Artillery Batter [2 sections] on the south end of Houck’s Ridge. Anyone who has ever driven or walked up from Devil’s Den will recognize the four cannons of Smith’s Battery represented atop Houck’s Ridge. Several years ago, the Artillerist’s statue was pulled down and decapitated, with the head stolen, during a pre-dawn attack of vandalism on the Battlefield. [Two other monuments were damaged along Emmitsburg Road]. The statue has been repaired and restored as you can see.  Little Round Top is in the background.


Of Smith's guns on Houck’s Ridge during the battle, all four were captured, one of which was damaged or spiked, and three were carried off by the Confederates.

Novus Livy

”Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history."-- Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2005-2012: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Battle for Little Round Top

 [Reprinted with permission from GettysBLOG]

On July 2nd, 1863, General Gouveneur Kemble Warren stood on the rocks of Little Round Top and gazed upon a disaster about to befall his army. As the Chief Topographical Engineer for the Army of the Potomac, it was his job to look at terrain, decide what could be attacked, what could be defended and how best to arrange troops in order to do either one - or both.

This day had been quiet so far, but by late morning a dangerous gap in the lines had been discovered. Major General Daniel Sickles, a politically appointed General who commanded the Third Corps of the Army of the Potomac, had dislodged his men and guns from the knoll just to the north of Little Round Top, moving them forward and up the elevation to the Emmitsburg Road, over a half mile forward. Sickles placed one brigade in the Peach Orchard next to the Sherfy House, and then sent a whole division to stretch up along the road almost to the Codori farm. Sickles had also left a Brigade behind and to the south along a ridge that ended in a jumble of enormous boulders. When the commander of the Army of the Potomac, Major General George Gordon Meade, was alerted to Sickles’ move, the two rode out to look at Sickles lines. Meade explained the problems with being so far in front of the Union lines, and that enormous gap left in his own lines between the men in the Peach Orchard and the men on that rocky ridge a half mile to the southwest. Sickles offered to return his men to the assigned position just as the Confederate artillery opened up on his troops. Meade remarked that he didn’t think ‘they’, the Rebel guns, would give him the time to do so. Meade turned his horse and rode back to the Union lines to try to fill the gaps that Sickles had left.

The result was troops from two other Union Corps engaging the approaching Confederates in the bloody battles of the Wheatfield. Nearly seven thousand men lay as casualties, dead and wounded, when the afternoon’s fighting ended there.

What Warren was seeing was the line of men, a half mile wide, of Confederate General John Bell Hood, approaching toward Sickles men on the ridge. And Hood's line extended even farther to the left than that. Some of them were starting up the southern face of Big Round Top, the highest elevation in the vicinity, just several hundred yards to Warren’s left. He sent a messenger to the Commander of the Union Fifth Corps asking for a brigade of men to take up a line on the south face of Little Round Top to stop the end of Hood’s line. If they flanked the Union position on Little Round Top, well, it was possible that the Union Army’s strong position at Gettysburg would be so threatened as to cause it to withdraw southward into Maryland.

On the lane below Little Round Top, Colonel Strong Vincent, a Harvard educated lawyer from Erie, Pennsylvania, stopped his small brigade and stopped the messenger, asking for his message. When told he was sent for troops to defend the hill, Vincent told him that on his own responsibility, he would take his brigade to the crest of the hill and place them at General Warren’s disposal. Vincent ordered the men to the top of the hill and proceeded to move ahead of them to scout the terrain. After a brief consult with Warren, who merely had to point to the advancing Confederate troops, Vincent set off to look at the south flank of Little Round Top.

The two Round Tops [not known by those names until after the battle] were physically separated by a small saddle of ground through which a lane ran, coming up from Plum Run Valley to the West and running out between farms on the east side of the two hills, to the Taneytown Road. A spur of ground jutted from Little Round Top into this saddle of ground from north to south. It came to a point and descended perhaps 15-20 feet very sharply to the saddle. The ground was strewn with boulders large and small. After perhaps ten minutes, Vincent’s men started to arrive.

Historians for years have written that Vincent arrayed his troops along the military crest [A lower crest than the top, on which men could stand and fight and not be silhouetted to attackers from below.] with the 16th Michigan Infantry at the southwest corner of the crest, and on their left, the 44th New York, then the 83rd Pennsylvania, and finally, on what would eventually become known as Vincent’s Spur, the 20th Maine. However, recent work clearing the south slope of Little Round Top has resulted in the [re-]discovery of the flank markers [stone markers which marked the left and right ends – flanks – of a regiment, placed there by the Veterans of the battle] of the 83rd Pennsylvania. And they are not in line with the rest of the Brigade. Instead of a line of defense, Vincent, who once commanded the 83rd Pennsylvania, placed his men in a very sophisticated defense in depth. He placed the 83rd Pennsylvania about fifty yards in front of the 44th New York, facing south. They were also twenty-five feet lower than the 44th New York. To the right rear of the 83rd Pennsylvania was what is essentially a 25 foot cliff leading up to the position of the 16th Michigan. To the left is a gap between the 83rd and the 20th Maine, arrayed on an angle leading away from the 83rd, and ending at the end of Vincent’s Spur. The gap was an invitation to the attacking troops to enter and become a killing ground as the Maine troops opened on them from behind the rocks on the spur.

It was innovative, sophisticated, and deadly to the enemy. Sadly, Strong Vincent did not survive the Battle of Little Round Top. The fight made a Medal of Honor recipient of Lt. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, commanding the 20th Maine. Chamberlain was not only the left flank of Vincent’s Brigade, but of the Army of the Potomac. He wound up facing one regiment of Alabama Troops in the killing ground and in front of the 83rd Pennsylvania, and then another Regiment appeared in his rear. After fending off repeated assaults, including one that reached inside his lines, Chamberlain’s men were out of ammunition. Thinking the enemy was forming for another assault, he seized the initiative, and ordered his men to fix bayonets, and charge the enemy. They drove the enemy regiment off, capturing many prisoners.

Below is a recent picture of the 83rd Pennsylvania’s position on the south flank of Little Round Top.


The view is looking west. The crest of Little Round Top is to the right, and Warren Avenue [visible to the left] which comes up from Plum Run Valley and runs out to Taneytown Road over the saddle of ground that separates Little Round Top from Big Round Top. The monument is that of the 83rd Pennsylvania, and the statue on top is that of Strong Vincent. Unlike most regiments, the regimental marker for the 83rd Pennsylvania is not in the center of its line, but rather about twenty yards behind, and closer to its left flank than its right. The right flank marker of the 83rd Pennsylvania is under the pine tree in the center of the photo. The left flank marker is not visible in this photo, but another marker near it is visible to the left in a completely bare ground spot to the left of middle of the fallen tree [see detail photo below]. The line of the 83rd runs parallel to Warren Avenue about 20 yards in, and follows a line of boulders, which no doubt was used for cover.


Next time you are out on the Battlefield, go explore this for yourself!

Novus Livy

"Fellow Citizens, we cannot escape history." -- Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2005-2012: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog;; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Welcome back, gunner!

The Artillerist on the 4th New York Independent Battery monument [Captain James E. Smith] located on the south end of Houck’s Ridge [behind Devil’s Den] has been restored and is now standing as a silent sentinel over the Gettysburg Battlefield area once again. For those who drive through Devils Den area, and then up and around to where Benning’s Brigade of Georgians assaulted the left of Ward’s Third Corps Brigade, the cannon and the Artillerist are well remembered figures that greet you when you reach the top of the ridge.

Damaged several years ago in an ugly attack of vandalism early one morning, the statue was pulled off its pedestal and the head was removed and carried off. Two other monuments, both along Emmitsburg Road, were also damaged. The 114th Pennsylvania Infantry monument [Collis’s Zouaves], was also toppled, but was restored fairly quickly. The 16th Massachusetts Infantry monument also had damage when the ball on top was pulled free and smashed on the ground.

All were members of the Third Corps [Dan Sickles], and were involved in the fighting on the second day, when Sickles, without orders to do so, ordered his corps out of a defensive position just north of Little Round Top, and forward to the Emmitsburg Road. He left Ward’s Brigade and Smith’s Battery to cover his left by stationing them on the south end of Houck’s Ridge. Sickles covered some of the gap between Ward and Graham’s Brigade, stationed in the Peach Orchard a half mile, away by aligning some artillery on the Wheatfield Lane facing south. Sickles move remains a bone of contention to this day, and his actions then, and for the rest of his life, seriously damaged the career and reputation of General George Meade.

The fight of Ward’s Brigade and Smith’s Battery against several assaults by brigades and regiments from the Confederate Army division under General John Bell Hood is legendary. Smith, in particular, fought his battery well, splitting off one section of two guns onto the floor of the “Valley of Death” where they stopped advancing Alabama troops by firing into the boulder field of the “Slaughter Pen”. The other four guns remained on top of Houck’s ridge where they supported Ward’s infantry brigade aligned on the right of the battery.

Park restoration specialists had to travel out west to cast the head for the Artillerist from another copy of the statue.

Welcome back, gunner!

Novus Livy

”Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history."-- Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2005-2012: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Ride of Paul Revere

On the night of April 18-19, 1775, Boston silversmith Paul Revere and fellow Sons of Liberty member William Dawes were sent to the villages of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts to warn the leaders of the Sons, John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the advance of British Infantry troops out of Boston toward those villages. After warning Lexington, and joined by Dr. Samuel Prescott, the three men were detained briefly by British troops at a roadblock while on their way to Concord, but Dawes and Prescott escaped. Revere was escorted under guard toward Lexington until the British troops escorting him heard the firing of the battle from there. They took his horse, riding on toward Lexington. Revere made his way back toward Concord, finally meeting up with Hancock and Adams.

An inspiring story.

More thrilling is the same tale related in the stirring poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
And in Revere's own words:

"...The Saturday Night preceding the 19th of April, about 12 oClock at Night, the Boats belonging to the Transports were all launched, and carried under the Sterns of the Men of War. (They had been previously hauld up and repaired). We likewise found that the Grenadiers and light Infantry were all taken off duty.

From these movements, we expected something serious was [to] be transacted. On Tuesday evening, the 18th, it was observed, that a number of Soldiers were marching towards the bottom of the Common. About 10 o'Clock, Dr. Warren Sent in great haste for me, and beged that I would imediately Set off for Lexington, where Messrs. Hancock and Adams were, and acquaint them of the Movement, and that it was thought they were the objets. When I got to Dr. Warren's house, I found he had sent an express by land to Lexington—a Mr. Wm. Daws..."

--From a
letter written by Paul Revere
Revere remains today one of the most famous heroes of the American Revolution. Revere went on to establish a gunpowder mill to support the Revolution, and then became an officer in the Army.

He serves as an example of the individual heroism of all who risked all in defying what had become the tyannical authority of the British King, George III.

Novus Livy

”Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history."-- Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2005-2009: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Your Help Urgently Needed [repost]

Fellow vets. As you all know, the Gold Star Mothers is an organization of women who have lost a son or daughter in combat. Renowned artist Andrew Chernak has been commissioned to design and sculpt the National Gold Star Mothers Monument in Washington, D.C. Chernak, of suburban Philadelphia, recently unveiled the original Gold Star Mother’s monument in Putnam, New York. Below is a photo of the Putnam monument, dedicated in early July of this year.
A US Army Vietnam vet, Chernak needs help locating photographs of deceased Navy and Air Force veterans and their Gold Star Mothers. The plan is to etch and carve the photographs into the granite base. He has arranged for Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corp photos, but needs the Navy and Air Force Gold Star Mothers and their sons or daughters.

Preferred are full face photos of both the Gold Star Mothers, and of their sons or daughters in Uniform.

Anyone in contact with a Gold Star Mother who would be willing to submit a photograph of herself and another of her son or daughter should please put them in contact with Mr. Chernak at the following email address:
gsmmemorial@vetsnet.us

Thanks, Veterans, for all you have done. We must also never forget to thank the Mothers of the sons and daughters who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. The sacrifice of the Gold Star Moms must be counted, remembered and honored as well.

Thank you in advance for all your help on this matter, and thank you again for all you've done.

Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Plea for Help

Fellow vets. As you all know, the Gold Star Mothers is an organization of women who have lost a son or daughter in combat. Renowned artist Andrew Chernak has been commissioned to design and sculpt the National Gold Star Mothers Monument in Washington, D.C. Chernak, of suburban Philadelphia, recently unveiled the original Gold Star Mother’s monument in Putnam, New York. Below is a photo of the Putnam monument, dedicated in early July of this year.
A US Army Vietnam vet, Chernak needs help locating photographs of deceased Navy and Air Force veterans and their Gold Star Mothers. The plan is to etch and carve the photographs into the granite base. He has arranged for Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corp photos, but needs the Navy and Air Force Gold Star Mothers and their sons or daughters.

Preferred are full face photos of both the Gold Star Mothers, and of their sons or daughters in Uniform.

Anyone in contact with a Gold Star Mother who would be willing to submit a photograph of herself and another of her son or daughter should please put them in contact with Mr. Chernak at the following email address:
gsmmemorial@vetsnet.us

Thanks, Veterans, for all you have done. We must also never forget to thank the Mothers of the sons and daughters who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. The sacrifice of the Gold Star Moms must be counted, remembered and honored as well.

Thank you in advance for all your help on this matter, and thank you again for all you've done.

Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Index to Battle of Gettysburg Series

Hello History fans! Here is an index to the recent series on the Battle of Gettysburg.

The 8 posts are listed in order and numbered as such. Each post contains links at the bottom taking you to the next in the series, the previous in the series, or home to the History of the World Blog’s main page.

Enjoy! And thank you for reading!
Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

“Housecleaning”


We will be moving this blog to a dedicated server sometime next month. It is highly recommended that those of you who receive email notifications from us every time an essay is posted, please subscribe to the blogs through the subscription window at the top left of the page. This will result in your receipt of notification of new posts every morning from Feedblitz. If no new post has been made, you will not get any notification. The Feedblitz notification carries the first 250 words of the post, and links to the post.

After we move, we will send one announcement out by email and post on the blogs another message that we have moved. This emailing and the post announcing the move will include the link to the blogs, which you may save if you wish.

That will be the last email notification we send out. If you do not wish to register with Feedblitz, then we suggest you save the link to the blogs in your Favorites or Bookmarks, and remember to visit us often. And don’t forget to tell others – friends and family- where to find us!

We regret that Google’s Blogger has become more of a hindrance than a help in posting blogs. However, Things Change (one of our favorite movies) and so we will be moving. Not going away, just going someplace different, and we hope, better.

We appreciate your loyalty as members of our readership, and hope that you will accompany us on our move.

Thank you!
Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"America's Town"


Frequent reference is made to “small town America”, as opposed to “urban America”, and “suburban America”. When the Main Stream Media does it, they usually find some farm community in Iowa, or someplace like Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, scene of the most horrific battle of America’s Civil War, is small town America, also. It is surrounded by peaceful farms, and abundant orchards, nestled near the famous South Mountain, which protects the east side of the fertile Cumberland Valley.

Adams County, in which Gettysburg sits, has some light industry (publishing, for example), but its economy is based on the delicious apples, peaches, pears, plums, and nectarines grown in Adams County (on 20,000 acres of orchards!), and other agriculture in corn, and wheat, and dairy products. But its economy is also rooted deeply in its history. That history was thrust on it over about a two week period in late June, and early July of 1863, when the Union’s Army of the Potomac turned back the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia, culminating in three days of pitched battles that saw over 50,000 casualties.

The American Civil War was a war which redefined the United States of America, and gave us a national identity on the world stage. It came at the height of the nationalism movement around the world. It was, in the minds of Americans, at Gettysburg that the tide was turned in the war, where Union defeats became Union victories.

The American Civil War, and the Battle of Gettysburg redefined the town of Gettysburg, and Adams County as well, for better or worse, for all time. The worse part was pretty much taken care of over the past 142 years with the ongoing removal of commercial intrusions on the Battlefield, the establishment of the Gettysburg Battlefield National Military Park, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Presidential Site. Administered in fine fashion by the National Park Service, GBNMP (for short) is staffed by trained historians, licensed Federal law enforcement officers, and preservation artisans, and a support staff that oils the wheels. They are constantly improving the park, and delving deeper, and deeper into its history, thus providing a clearer understanding of what occurred here, and why.

The Park has become a national shrine, bringing over a million visitors each year. It also brings in millions of dollars to the local economy.

Like it or not, the town of Gettysburg, and GBNMP are inexorably linked. While little in the way of actual combat occurred in the Borough, the battle was fought in the immediate environs of all sides of the town. One civilian was killed while baking bread in her kitchen. Homes were occupied by Confederates, and some were used as sniper positions by the Rebs. Union soldiers nearly captured in the rapid retreat through town on July 1st found refuge in civilian cellars, and sheds, and some of them had their wounds cared for while in hiding. Pennsylvania College, now Gettysburg College, and the Lutheran Seminary, and many of the town’s churches became makeshift hospitals, and the town’s people ministered to the dead and dying of both sides.

Adams County was, originally a Quaker farm settlement, part of a land grant given to a son of William Penn. It quickly became filled with German farmers as well. Eventually, James Gettys developed the area around the many crossroads, and the town of Gettysburg grew up. Adams County was a part of York County until the early 19th century, when it was split off and named for our second president, John Adams. Gettysburg was named the County Seat of Adams County. It became the haven of free Blacks and escaped slaves crossing north of the Mason-Dixon Line up to the Civil War on what is known as the Underground Railroad.

How appropriate that so many Blacks settled here, where, eventually, the greatest battle was fought in the War that ended slavery.

Because of the location of the Battle areas immediately surrounding the borough, the town can never physically grow.

In the statistics of the United States Census Bureau, and those of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Adams County lags behind, or below the other counties in the state in almost all the categories listed (average education level, for example) but has higher than average household size, higher than average home ownership (single family dwellings), and a substantially higher than average household income (though per capita income is lower than average due to the migrant workers in the fruit industry). The cost of living is lower here, as well.

What’s not to love? While it has changed since the great battle of 1863, the town has not really changed that much. Many of the town’s buildings present during the battle are still present, and in use. The hospital has modernized, the hotel has expanded, and some new businesses surround the “Diamond”, as the town square is called. It has a commercial strip along what is known as Steinwehr Avenue that basically subsists off the tourist industry. In spite of these intrusions, Gettysburg has retained its quaint charm. The train station into which President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver his remarkable Gettysburg Address is almost fully restored, as is the house of David Wills, the local attorney with whom Lincoln stayed the night before he delivered his address dedicating the National Cemetery.

It is a small American town steeped in American history. Freedom didn’t start here, but America’s claim on Liberty was renewed and expanded here. The freedoms outlined in the Declaration of Independence were here won for those to whom those freedoms had been previously denied.

There really is no other place in the country as deserving of the title, “America’s Town”.

Say it. It rolls so smoothly, and sweetly off the tongue, it feels right, and, indeed, it is right. “Gettysburg - America’s Town”.

Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 02, 2006

“We Shall Nobly Save…”


At the time, Maryland was a slave state, and Pennsylvania basically a free one, though there were lingering effects of slavery almost up to the Civil War. The last legal slave sale in Pennsylvania took place somewhere between Lancaster and Reading around 1842. It so outraged everyone in the state (well, almost everyone), that the practice was outlawed.

Along the southern border of Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as the Mason-Dixon Line, the Underground Rail Road was in full swing from just after the American Revolution (when we took over control of what happened here), through the American Civil War. During that period, an unknown number of escaped slaves (some estimates are in the tens of thousands, others in the hundreds of thousands), came north to freedom above the Mason-Dixon Line. There were branch lines of the URR in most of the eastern counties along that border with Maryland. From east to west, they are Delaware, Chester, Lancaster, York, Adams, and Franklin Counties, almost all with rich farm soil, though much of Delaware County has been swallowed up by sprawl from neighboring Philadelphia County.

Many slaves escaping to free soil stopped running as soon as they crossed the line and settled into one of those six counties, either too exhausted to run any farther, or ignorant of the Fugitive Slave laws, or both. The Fugitive Slave laws had their basis in the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted in 1789. In Article 4, Section 2 it says:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
Under this law, slave owners routinely crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania, drafted the assistance of a local sheriff and rounded up whatever Blacks met their fancy and took them back to slavery in the South. It was one such raid in 1851 that particularly fired up both sides. It was called the Christiana Riot, and took place on the border of Lancaster and Chester Counties, some few miles above the Mason-Dixon Line. A Maryland slave owner was killed by a group of Blacks resisting their arrest and return to slavery. There is no indication that they were owned by the slave owner, meaning they were likely not his runaways.

Many northern states offered freedom to the runaways. They enacted laws providing protection for them, yet all these laws were struck down as unconstitutional because of Article 4, Section 2. A number of legal cases occurred in the ante-bellum period, but one in particular was the basis of widening the sectional rift between slave and free states almost to the breaking point – Dred Scott. In the Scott decision, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, a Maryland slave owner, declared that Scott had no standing to sue in American courts because he was not an American citizen, and as a Black ‘inferior being’, could never become one, therefore, any lower court decisions declaring him free were vacated. Taney’s brief went much farther than that, but needlessly. Once Scott was denied citizenship (something not guaranteed to Blacks until passage of the 14th Amendment in July of 1868), there was nothing else on which to rule. Yet Taney went on excoriating the interference of northern agitators in southern affairs by declaring the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. He made no explanation of how that “property” quite unfairly counted as 3/5th of a person, was determining Congressional districting, giving an enormous advantage to the south in the early days of the Republic. That advantage was about to disappear with the addition of new states to the Union, hence, secession and civil war on Lincoln’s election.

[Ever since the passage of the 14th Amendment it has been contested in the courts. Some of the most important of these many cases rooted in the 14th Amendment’s clarification of citizenship are the 1883 Civil Rights Cases, which were a set back for Federal protection of civil rights, Plessy vs. Ferguson, an 1896 setback for the intent of the Amendment by upholding de jure segregation (separate but equal), and Brown vs. the Board of Education, a 1954 case that was the watershed of civil rights, though rooted in the field of public education, that reinstituted Federal authority over civil rights as intended by the 14th Amendment by declaring the de jure segregation of schools under the “separate but equal” policy of Plessy vs. Ferguson could not guarantee equal education in public schools. The Brown decision essentially overturned Plessy.]

In the Gettysburg area, as in many other areas along the Mason-Dixon line, many Blacks took up farming. It was likely what they were skilled at doing, and it was the main industry of the area. Others, who perhaps had other skills, such as tanners, carpenters, wagonwrights and wheelwrights, etc., settled on the southwest side of town. There, at the edge of their town, the Blacks built their cemetery. It was tucked away on a western slope, out of sight of the town, but with a grand view of the majestic South Mountain to the west. Here, the cemetery was dedicated as "Lincoln Cemetery - Established in 1867 by the Sons of Good Will for the proper burial of Gettysburg's African American citizens and Civil War veterans.” In 1906, Gettysburg’s older black cemetery was cleared to make way for new buildings, and the bodies were re-interred in the Lincoln Cemetery.

Today, Lincoln Cemetery overlooks the magnificent Gettysburg Borough Recreation Park, in addition to the wonderful mountain view. But today, it is also a near forgotten piece of history, for inside its iron fence lie the remains of many Black veterans of the American Civil War, those who volunteered to fight in a number of Black state regiments, and those who fought as United States Colored Troops. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (brought to fame by the movie Glory) had a recruiting office in Gettysburg. There are veterans of the 54th buried there. There are men who served after the war, in our western campaigns against the Indians, who were known as Buffalo Soldiers, and who served with distinction in the United States Army’s Cavalry. There were Black Army units that went up San Juan Hill next to and in front of Teddy Roosevelts Rough Riders. These men were denied burial in National Cemeteries because of the color of their skin, a policy that existed until all too recently.

Nearly 200,000 men served as USCT. They fought, and bled, and died for the Union during the Civil War, with as much ferocity, tenacity, and courage as the men in the white regiments, and sometimes more, when they were deliberately and repeatedly placed in positions of extreme danger and exposed to the worst effects of enemy fire.

It is time to honor these men. It is time to erect a monument to these men for the monumental efforts they gave in the cause of freedom, and the monumental wrongs they endured in the cause of civil rights.

Abraham Lincoln, the man for whom the Lincoln Cemetery is named, remarked in his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1863:

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

And so, we have an opportunity now, to carry on what Lincoln so nobly advanced. He came to Gettysburg in 1863 to dedicate the National Cemetery. It is time to rededicate the Lincoln Cemetery, both in his honor, and in honor of those Blacks who so nobly served the cause of Liberty by serving the United States of America.

Let us strive to honor these dead as Lincoln honored their white brothers in 1863. Let us raise the funds, and construct a monument to them on the grounds of Lincoln Cemetery, and a proper, tastefully designed and built propylaeum (entrance) from Washington Street into Lincoln Cemetery.

Let us resolve to do so in time for the Anniversary Week of 2007. Let us resolve this New Year to support the efforts of the Lincoln Cemetery Committee. Let us resolve this New Year to “…nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”

Details will be posted shortly about what you can do to help.

Novus Livy

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

“Grant: Master of Combined Operations”


One of the first officers of either side to recognize the efficacy of joint Army/Navy operations in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant wasted no time in demonstrating that the use of Naval assets to provide both transport, and water-borne artillery in support of army operations allowed extra advantages that paid dividends for the Union war effort.

At the Battle of Belmont, Missouri, Grant planned to attack Confederate works on the west side of the Mississippi River at Belmont, and those works were protected by Confederate artillery on the east bank bluffs at Columbus, Kentucky. Transporting his force by boats, Grant landed his regiments about three miles north of Belmont. After leaving a few regiments behind as a reserve, and to guard the transports, Grant’s force set off for the short march to attack the Rebel works. Meanwhile, a few Navy gunboats steamed south to shell Columbus from the river, and divert the attention of the Confederate artillerists from Grant’s land attack.

Unfortunately for the lightly experienced Grant, his men began to celebrate after driving the Confederates from their works, rather than maintaining their ranks, and a Confederate counterstrike mounted from Columbus struck them, along with cannon shot from there as well. The Navy gunboats were unable to stop the Confederate transports. Grant’s force fought its way back to their landing spot with heavy losses.

Grant never made the same mistake twice. He used the weeks after Belmont to re-equip, shelter, and drill his men. Then he engaged Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote as his Naval partner in an expedition up the Tennessee River to capture Forts Henry and Donelson. Though Fort Henry fell to Naval forces after a brief exchange of artillery, Fort Donelson was a different matter. Foote traveled downstream to the confluence of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers and sailed up the Cumberland to Fort Donelson, where much of the Confederate garrison from Fort Henry went after its fall. Grant’s men traveled the twelve miles from Fort Henry over some muddy roads. While Donelson was not nearly as easy as Fort Henry, it fell to Grant and Foote after a three day fight.

At one point, Grant’s right wing was forced back by a massive Confederate assault. Grant reasoned that the Confederates would have moved troops from their right to support that assault, and based on this, ordered his left wing forward. While they were in action, Grant rallied his right and ordered them to counter attack, thus regaining what they had lost. Foote, after some initial difficulty in using his Naval artillery against the elevated Fort, began to lay on an effective fire against the fort. The Confederates managed to get many of their troops out toward Nashville, but Fort Donelson surrendered the next day. What was becoming clear was Grant’s ability to perceive the battle as a single event of combined Army and Navy forces, cooperating together effectively.

Grant proceeded up the Tennessee River to Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee, where he was joined by some fresh divisions, including one commanded by William T. Sherman. Here he demonstrated his abilities as an infantry commander in battle. Even though pushed back to Pittsburg Landing by a Confederate attack at the end of the first day, Grant took the offensive on the second day of the Battle of Shiloh, and forced the Confederates from the field.

Back in action some weeks later, Grant took on the prospect of dislodging the Confederates from their near impregnable position on the bluffs above the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Mississippi. It would take him almost a year, and would require the major involvement of Foote’s Naval force, but by July 4, 1863, Grant would claim victory at Vicksburg. Before that victory, however, there were many defeats, false starts, and outright mistakes made that would have discouraged lesser men than Grant, Foote, and Sherman.

One of the major cooperative successes occurred in the late winter of 1862-63, when Grant, preparing for his final push to surround the town, wanted Foote to move his gunboats down the Mississippi River past Vicksburg. This meant running the gauntlet of Confederate artillery along the bluffs. Cooperatively, Grant ordered a series of small expeditions by his infantry up several creeks and bayous north and south of Vicksburg, causing the Confederate commander there, John Pemberton, to move 41 of his guns to seven different locations protecting those creeks and bayous, leaving Pemberton with only 27 guns still covering the river. This gave Foote’s gunboats enough relief that they safely passed south of the town.

After the fall of Vicksburg, Grant was ordered to relieve the besieged Army of the Tennessee at Chattanooga. He moved his forces by train, and by the Tennessee River to that town, where he would, in shortly more than a month, direct his forces to lift the siege, and win impressive victories at Lookout Mountain, Orchard Knob, and Missionary Ridge.

Lincoln rewarded him with a promotion to Lieutenant General, and command over the entire Union Army. Grant went east and took his headquarters to the field with the Army of the Potomac. One of the first things he did was to establish the use of Naval assets for transport, and supply. Although these assets had been used in the east prior to Grant’s assumption of command, they had not been used on such a scale, nor made such an integral part of the war effort in support of the Army as Grant made of them. Grant established his advanced base of operations along the south side of the James River at a small town called City Point. It would become an enormous base of logistical operations for the Army of the Potomac, and was located only about ten miles from the siege works at Petersburg. It offered safe passage to the interior of Virginia, and had a rail spur leading toward the siege lines and the Confederate capital of Richmond. This was Grant seeing the whole picture again, as he had learned to do at Forts Henry and Donelson. Lessons learned early in the war along the Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers were influential in Grant’s planning as Commander of the Union Army.

Novus Livy

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2005, Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

“The Last Best Hope of Earth”


I have always believed that when a president is inaugurated, swears that oath and enters the Oval office for the first time, he undergoes a sea change. Suddenly, he becomes wise, and just (there have been some few exceptions, one of whom was from Pennsylvania), and this is because when they swear that oath, they don the Mantle of Constitution. It can sometimes wear very heavily, as it did with Lincoln, and as it is with our current President.

I believe Lincoln stands out as perhaps our wisest, if not greatest Chief Executive (close call among Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and the two Roosevelts). To me, his wisdom was on so much a higher plane than the others, that it is almost supernatural.

When you look at the hand he was dealt, the slavery issue, secession before he even entered office, the seizure of Southern forts and arsenals by secessionist mobs -- and he never complained, never excused, just quietly went about his work, formulating his plans, and devising a path to ultimate victory. It would not be easy, would require his most skilled persuasions, and above all, would take patience, and consistency.

He had to look into the morass of issues and divine where the vulnerabilities lay. He had to deal with those vulnerabilities, and he did so, offering reconciliation with the South for a year and a half at the start of the war. He made promises that must have galled him personally, but were agreeable Constitutionally. He became a president locked into enforcing the Constitution’s protections of slavery, at the cost of his personal beliefs.

Horace Greeley, the Radical Republican editor and owner of the New York Tribune chastised Lincoln in an editorial for not having a clear policy on the secession issue and with emancipation. Lincoln responded with a letter essentially saying he would do almost anything to re-unite the nation, no matter what effect it would have on slavery. He wrote:

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the neared the Union will be "the Union as it was". If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

Many of Lincoln’s modern detractors seize on this to declare him a closet pro-slavery politician, and a racist to boot. [Lincoln, indeed, was as much a racist as most Northern white men were in the era. They were anti-slavery, but against accepting the Blacks into society as full partners. Lincoln’s stance on race was softened over time, by his relationship with Frederick Douglass, and the work of the many Blacks in uniform, who fought bravely for the Union during the Civil War.] What those detractors miss, as did many who read his printed response to Greeley, is the closing paragraph of Lincoln’s letter.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln

Here, Lincoln clearly enunciates the difference between Lincoln the man and Lincoln the President, and clearly draws the line between what he personally desires, and what he is legally, Constitutionally bound to do as President.

When this strategy did not achieve the reunification with the seceded states, he took a harder line. He got to the heart of secession by going directly at slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation. His strategic thinking that early in the war showed a foresight and confidence that would have failed lesser men. The confidence that the North would prevail, and would do so completely is clearly part of his thinking when issuing that document. To go along with that, the war declaration (the Emancipation Proclamation was a Presidential War Aim Proclamation) that freed the slaves in territory then under non-US control was a masterstroke of social, military, and political strategy. In so doing, he essentially removed the slavery issue from the reconciliation/reconstruction track at the end of the war. It was delivered in a document that is layered with meaning, and cause and effect, both immediate and long term, militarily, politically and socially. In so doing, he not only created the appearance of causing labor problems at home in the South, but he also softly, indirectly began to bring his Northern constituency around to the view that the war wasn't just about the Union, it was also about slavery.

He mollified northern abolitionists, and emancipationists, and took those who were less than against slavery and began to move them toward that end. He leaked it to his cabinet in the summer of 1862, and then the issued a preliminary release after Antietam, giving the South 100 days to return to the fold WITH slavery, or do so without when forced to return later. This carefully crafted document put no direct pressure on slavery in the non-Confederate states where it was legally protected by the Constitution, yet it hit the heart of slavery, the deep South.

It was a true stroke of genius. And it is still greatly misunderstood today.





What a pity. The man had perhaps the greatest mind of any president. And to be faced with such adversity, both that of disunion and civil war, and the personal losses he faced in his family, yet he maintained his humble humanity, again and again. (After someone publicly commented that he was two-faced, Lincoln self-deprecatingly replied, “Madam, if I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”) That escapes public knowledge these days. The many nights he and Mary spent tending to the wounded at the hospitals in Washington, is a story seldom told. Neither is the fact that he spent many a late night...often until the wee hours of the morning sitting in the War Department’s telegraphic office reading stacks of daily dispatches from the armies in the field, writing responses, getting the picture of what was going on, so he could intelligently give orders to Halleck, and later to Grant. Neither is the story told that during his days, he spent hours greeting visitors to the White House (a presidential tradition long since gone), and listening to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who came to "call on the President".

When did the man sleep? When did he have time to craft these great strategies that worked? When did he have time to write those magnificent speeches, and letters? When did he even have time to mourn the death of his young son, or console his wife, or care for her in her grief and madness?

He was not just a genius, he was a great man who was also a genius, and one of our greatest communicators ever.

Witness the words of the Gettysburg Address, and try to tell me that he was not including the Confederate fallen, even though they were not included in the National Cemetery he was dedicating.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have onsecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we may take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

After four years of hard war, he gave his second inaugural address in March of 1865. The war was almost over. He knew the North had prevailed, and mightily so, and that the Confederate surrender was weeks, if not days away. His thoughts were beyond that point. 600,000 dead from both sides.

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan --to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

People argue that he was, or was not a Christian. It has been my personal belief that Lincoln was a Deist, like many of our Founders and Framers. I also believe that he espoused a personal philosophy with which he faced daily life, that was the embodiment of Christianity. In other words, officially he was a Deist, but by example a Christian, and one of the greatest that ever walked the earth.

Certainly, his transformation of the United States during the period when western civilization was nationalizing, is as important to us as our founding. This Great Emancipator, this Great President, this Great Man shook a tired, worn national blanket that was rent from sectional strife, and made it whole and smooth again.

Look at his words concluding his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862. Note that he had issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September, just after the Union victory at Antietam. The Emancipation Proclamation’s offer of restoration to the Union with guarantees for slavery and compensation for eventual emancipation was about to expire in a month, when the proclamation would become official on January 1, 1863.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We -- even we here -- hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

The “last best hope of earth”. What a remarkable phrase, and so accurate. It is a measure of the value he placed on the cause of Union, and emancipation, and the liberties extolled in the Declaration of Independence. “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free."
Abraham Lincoln did just that.

Novus Livy

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2005, Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.