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As I sit down to write these words, just about 6 p.m. EST, 142 years ago the greatest (or worst, depending on how you like to choose your adjectives) holocaust in American history was coming to an end.

Those who tell you that the events of September 11, 2001 was the most apocalyptic, destructive, violent day in American history are either lying or ignorant.  It can't even lay claim to be the worst September day in American history.

No, my friends, that will always belong to September 17, 1862.  In the hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., 100,000 men engaged in a titanic death struggle along the banks of Antietam Creek, Maryland, that would change the course of American and by extension world history.

The numbers speak for themselves.  3,000 Americans dead on 9/11.  Exact figures are hard to come by, but it's fair to say that at least 4,500 were killed outright at Antietam.  Some 2,000 more would later die of their wounds, making 6,500 Americans dead as a result of the events of September 17, 1862.

The South was running at its high tide in the late summer of 1862.  Confederate forces had beaten back naval attempts to take the vital city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest had been turned loose in Tennessee and Kentucky to make life miserable for Union forces.  The Confederate Army of Tennessee was on the march through the state from which they took their name to Kentucky and perhaps even Ohio.  Most famously, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia had driven the Northern Army of the Potomac back from within 3 or 4 miles of Richmond until it huddled under the protection of its gunboats on the James River.  The Rebels had then turned North and delivered one of the severest beatings ever administered to an American general at Second Manassas, against the hapless John Pope and his Army of Virginia.  From there, they had turned north into Maryland, with the ultimate goal being the rail center of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Jefferson Davis had long seen that foreign intervention was key for Southern hopes of independent nationhood to have any real chance.  Napoleon III, emperor of France, was eager to recognize the Confederacy, but realized he could not act without Britain.  Britain, under the leadership of the extremely politically able Lord Palmerston, had adopted a "wait and watch" stance.  Though very desirious of the opportunity to deal the young American nation a severe blow, Palmerston was not anxious to take steps that might embroil his nation in another costly war with America--who, it should be noted, had already defied seemingly insurmountable odds twice and dealt the British as many heavy defeats.  Only when Southern victory seemed nearly assured would Palmerston act.  

Throughout the summer, the Southern armies had amply demonstrated their ability to defend their own territory.  Now, if they could defeat their enemy's armies on the enemy's soil, it would be a clear demonstration of the army's--and thus the Confederacy's--true viability.  Europe would at last intervene.  Robert E. Lee saw this fact as well as anyone, giving it as one of his primary reasons for invasion in a long letter to Jefferson Davis.

Meanwhile, the North was in a state of near panic.  The new greenback currency and government war bonds were in free-fall on Wall Street.  Lincoln had issued calls for 300,000 new volunteers, as well as scraping up some 88,000 nine-month short term troops, mostly from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Pope's army was in a state of near mutiny , so great was the anger and bitterness at their commander.  Lincoln, over the protestations of much of his cabinet, shuffled Pope off to a backwater and folded the short-lived Army of Virginia into the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George Brinton McClellan.

McClellan probably needs no real introduction, so notorious has he become.  Conservative, excruciatingly cautious, prone to realizing hallucinations, McClellan was, in short, a moral coward.  Yet the days to come were to be his finest hours as a commander.

Lee, meanwhile, was having a niggling problem.  In truth he was having many, not the least of which was a shoeless, half-naked, hungry army marching over rocky turnpikes and subsisting on unripe corn and apples.  His biggest concern, however, was what to do about the 12,000 man Union garrison at Harper's Ferry, Virginia.  Though he wanted to move on with all speed to Pennsylvania, he did not feel comfortable leaving that many enemy soldiers lurking in his rear.  Knowing full well how cautious McClellan was, Lee felt comfortable in sending Stonewall Jackson with a large party of the army off to seize the place, along with its garrison.  In Special Orders 191, Lee ordered Jackson to split his force into three different columns, each to move by different routes, in order to surround Harper's Ferry and cut off all escape routes for the soon-to-be-trapped Union soldiers.  

Next, he ordered the remaining part of his army to divide in two, each to cover a likely approach route of the Army of the Potomac.  Lee, known for taking risks no other person would even consider, was making a huge gamble even for him.  He was dividing his army--outnumbered 2 to 1--five different ways.  George McClellan, however, seemed to be just the sort of person to take this gamble against.  Timid and slow in the extreme, it did not require too much imagination to picture McClellan letting his opportunity slip away before he even became aware it existed.

Fate, as so many know, can be a cruel mistress, especially in war.  In this case, and perhaps never more dramatically, she turned her icy fickleness upon Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.  McClellan was turning in his best performance ever, whipping the dispirited and bickering elements of the Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac into a cohesive, determined fighting force with high morale.  What was truly remarkable was the fact that he accomplished this task within 10 days.  It is doubtful that such a great change was ever wrought in so short a space of time.  With a newly invigorated army, McClellan set out after Lee, though at his usual tortoise like pace.  

It was then that Lady Fate smiled upon George McClellan.

A copy of Special Orders 191 had been inexplicably used a cigar wrapper--it would never be determined who did, or why they thought this was a good idea.  These cigars likely fell out of someone's saddlebags in a field just outside Frederick, Maryland.  On the day the Union army marched into town, two Indiana soldiers discovered it quite by accident.  The paper quickly rocketed up the Union chain of command.  Determined to be authentic, it revealed to McClellan that Lee had presented him with every general's dream come true--the opportunity to destroy his opponent in detail.

Here, as he so often did, McClellan took his gun away from his enemy and pointed it at his own foot.  Despite the knowledge he now had, he did nothing for 18 hours...hours that would prove critical.  

Still, when McClellan finally did move, it was straight toward the enemy.  Lee, being informed of McClellan's sudden advance, sent riders pounding off to Jackson, telling him to speed up the Harper's Ferry operation and then come to him with all speed.  Meanwhile, part of his army fought a desperate delaying action along the slopes of South Mountain, on September 14th.  Though a tactical Union victory, the Confederates had bought the time required to stave off disaster.  The rest of Lee's army had taken up a strong defensive position along a three mile ridge outside the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, at the base of which ran Antietam Creek.  During the night of the 14th, the soldiers that had fought at South Mountain fell back to Sharpsburg, to be joined the next night by Jackson's command, who had seized Harper's Ferry the day of South Mountain fight.

McClellan's army began gathering opposite Lee's the afternoon of the 15th.  Here McClellan let another opportunity slip away, delaying attack for a full 40 hours, to be sure all was ready.  Had he attacked the evening of the 15th, Jackson's command would not have been there, or at any rate have been in little shape to fight.  McClellan set the opening of the battle for dawn, September 17th.  He would attack and drive Lee into the Potomac River, just a few miles behind Confederate lines.

The night of September 16th was a tense one for both armies, even for the eve of battle.  The Confederates knew a battle was coming in the morning.  They knew they had a river at their backs, a bad position for an army to be in.  They knew the survival of their army, and thus the Confederacy, rested on if they would be able to break the Yankee wave as it came on the next day.  The Northern soldiers knew also a battle was coming.  They had been inexplicably forbidden to build fires that night, even though the rebels knew damn well what was coming in the morning. That night, the Federal army shivered and chewed coffee grounds, each man having plenty of time to contemplate his possible fate the next day.  They knew they had brought Lee's army to bay.  They knew they were fighting on their own soil.  They knew that a victory the next day might spell the end of the rebellion.  Soldiers on both sides steeled themselves and marshaled their courage.

The battle that began the next day and lasted all day was so horrible that soldiers declared that no words could describe it.  Thus, it would be impossible for me, writing 142 years later, to attempt to do so.  Many have wondered what made the battle so ferocious.  I offer two possible explanations.  First, both soldiers knew the high stakes they were playing for and acted accordingly, thus affording the battle an until then unheard of intensity.  Secondly, they could see each other.  Much of the previous eastern fighting had been done in woods and swamps.  Except for some scattered patches of woods and a few cornfields, the battleground was cleared and open.  At ranges so close that soldiers could often see the expressions on their opponents faces as they slugged it out, such intimacy bred savagery.  

I offer two anecdotes from the battle to illustrate its horror.

First, from Crossroads of Freedom by James McPherson, copyright 2002, page 6.  (I should also note the diary title is taken from a chapter title in the same book...it says everything, really):



Stark memories of Antietam haunted many for their lives.  A private in the 1st Delaware...recalled a Union soldier, "stumbling around with both eyes shout out, begging someone 'for the love of God' to put an end to his misery."  A nearby lieutenant asked him if he really meant what he said.  "Oh yes," the blinded soldier replied...Without another word, the lieutenant drew his revolver, "placed it to the victim's right ear, turned away his head and pulled the trigger...'It was better thus,' said the lieutenant, replacing his pistol and turning toward [me], 'for the poor fellow could--'  Just then a solid shot took the lieutenant's head off."

The shock of such scenes caused psychiatric casualties among even the most hardened and experienced soldiers.  Colonel William R. Lee of the elite 20th Massachusetts, who had gone through a half-dozen previous battles without losing his poise, rode away from his regiment the morning after Antietam and was found..."without a cent in his pocket, without anything to eat or drink, without having changed his clothes for 4 weeks, during all which time he had this horrible diarrhea...He was just like a little child wandering away from home."

The most concentrated hell came during the opening phase of the battle, on the Confederate left.  Union forces had succeeded in driving in the rebels and were following up their advantage when they were struck by the most ferocious counterattack launched during the war.  The best fighters in Lee's army--2,300 men under John Bell Hood--went into the fight shrieking at the top of their lungs, enraged because the Union advanced had interrupted their breakfast...and they had not eaten in almost three days.  

The 30 minutes that encompassed Hood's attack was, for my money, the worst fighting of the war.  So severe would Hood's losses be (nearly 1,200 in a half hour) that later that evening, in reply to an inquiry where his division could be found, Hood replied, "Dead on the field."  But his men succeeded in stabilizing the line, allowing more reinforcements to be brought up.

A Union officer, caught like the rest of his fellows in a situation not unlike a boxer who has fallen for a rope-a-dope and just stumbled into a vicious left hook, described the scene:

(Taken from Landscape Turned Red:  The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears, copyright 1983, pages 193, 194, and 198)



"Men I cannot say fell; they were knocked out of ranks by the dozens..."

Men were "...loading and firing with demoniacal fury and shouting and laughing hysterically..."

"Men and officers...are fused into a common mass, in the struggle to shoot fast.  Every body tears cartridges, loads, passes guns, or shoots.  Men are falling in their places..."

The first volley of Hood's counter attack "is like a scythe running through our line."

I should draw your attention to the fact that, even though he was writing this decades later, the memory remained so strong and vivid for the officer that he slipped into present tense.  Also, in addition the two previously mentioned books, another excellent full length treament is James I. Murfin's The Gleam of Bayonets.

The battle that ended at dusk was a standoff.  McClellan had missed several distinct opportunities to shatter the Southern lines and end the war.  His caution, however, always overcame him.  Still, as said, this was his finest hour.  He had pulled the army from a crisis of morale and had stopped Lee's invasion...though he could have accomplished so much more.  Lee retreated on September 19th and the war went on.

The real importance of the battle of Antietam was realized five days later.  On September 22nd, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.  Unless the South gave up her fight and returned the Union by the end of the year, all slaves in non-Union held territory would be declared free.  

The import of the Emancipation Proclamation has been studied in great detail by dozens of authors.  I shall not make an overlong diary even longer by rehashing such arguments.  Suffice it to say, that the war--and consequently, this country--was changed irrevocably and forever.  The idea of foreign intervention--the real key to any serious hopes of Confederate victory--was crushed.  Britain would never oppose a government that had officially come out against slavery in favor of a pro-slavery one.  Though it took 31 months more to finally perish, the Southern Confederacy began to die on September 17, 1862.  Lee's chief aide Walter Taylor, Confederate General James Longstreet, and thousands of soldiers on both sides would agree, writing years later, that Antietam was the pivotal event of the war.  Thus, it was one of the most pivotal events in United States and world history.  

The defining moment of the United States was defined by the Emancipation Proclamation, and its meaning and the struggle over it continue to affect us to this day.  Based on Lee's retreat, the Lincoln Administration claimed Antietam as a victory.  The Emancipation Proclamation could not have happened without Antietam.  Much of what Americans live with today grew out of what happened on that beautiful fall day so long ago, a beautiful day of nature made horrible by man.  

Finally...

The reality of war came home to the Northern public like it never would in the aftermath of Antietam.  Matthew Brady's photographers arrived on the battlefield on September 19th, before the burial crews had finished their work.  The pictures they took would change the American psyche, American ideas about war, and, indirectly, journalism forever.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Dead Louisianians lying along the Hagerstown pike.  The battle lines were so close that, at one point, Federal forces were exchanging fire with the Louisianians standing behind the fence on the other side of the road.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Dead Confederates, likely North Carolinians, in "Bloody Lane"  Note how they lie in heaps.

This diary is dedicated in loving memory to the soldiers--Blue and Gray, Americans alike--who laid down their lives at Antietam.  Forgive us for what we have become and may we work to create a country that would be worthy of your sacrifice.

UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: Wow! Thanks to all who liked this...I didn't expect such a positive response from something so long and rambling. For now, I'll pass out ratings and respond a little later...got a few things to do first

Originally posted to Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 05:22 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If you're interested in a companion piece.... (4.00)
    ...I wrote a similar diary about the battle of Spotsylvania, entitled, We Cannot Believe Americans Can Do These Things.

    I apologize in advance, as I wrote this almost entirely from memory, except the blockquoted portions, which I transcribed.  Any errors in facts or spelling are entirely my own.  

    I hope y'all like it and maybe learn something, or at least think a little.

    "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

    by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 05:23:36 PM PDT

    •  Would you believe... (4.00)
      I used to live in Spotsylvania County?  I was glad to leave, too.  The whole Fredericksburg area is a commuter enclave for DC and Richmond now.

      Great job on this, BTW.  I'm not a huge fan of Civil War history, but this was a compelling read.

      -AG

      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 09:48:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  See, I liked Spotsylvania County... (4.00)
        ....when I visited.  I thought I wouldn't mind living there!  Thanks for the kind words!

        "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

        by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:20:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  thank you (none)
      I posted a link above to other images. While browsing there i came across this one.

      The photo shows two veterans (of opposing sides) of the action at Gettysburg meeting at the 50th reunionof said battle. I thought it would look good here.

      "What they found is a silver bullet in the form of a person."

      by subtropolis on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 11:11:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just love it (4.00)
    when you talk history, Raybin.
    •  Thank you very much! (4.00)
      If you like it, I'm flattered, since I have a high opinion of your historical knowledge.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 05:26:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I have of yours (4.00)
        You obviously love your subject, and that passion shows through in your writing about it. It's barbarous that most Americans are as ignorant of their own history as they are of that of the rest of the world. I have tremendous respect for anyone who takes the time to learn all those "dry, dull facts" about our past--and doubly so for those who love them enough to make a compelling tale of them.
        •  My husband is (4.00)
          Australian and he's quite obsessed with the US civil war.  We did a tour of battle fields as a honeymoon.

          He says the same thing.  How come Americans don't know their history?

          •  It's not just (4.00)
            our own history. Americans, as a whole, are ignorant of history, period. Also non-English languages, cultures other than our own, geography, mathematics, basic science....
            •  Can I re-visit my longing for an Irish pub theme? (4.00)
              Europeans, regardless of "collar" - white, blue, ring-around - are incredibly knowledgable about American history, geography, and politics. The aforementioned (on another thread)Irish boatman knew exactly where St Louis was, he and his brother had travelled extensively, and and could speak in detail about different parts of the US.

              Americans are very ethnocentric and willfully ignorant of other cultures.

              Great bass - Lesh filling.

              by Glic on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 07:43:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I can't speak (none)
                to the average European's knowledge of American history--it wasn't a subject that came up much when I was in France this January, researching some of their history for my M.A. project. But I sure as hell saw more coverage of U.S. news--even in the regional papers in Alsace--than I see of European news in major American dailies. I don't remember seeing a single newscast--even given that when I arrived it was less than a week after the Indonesian tsunami, and while I was there Florence Aubenas (a reporter for a major French news organization) was kidnapped in Iraq along with her translator, and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was coming up just as I was getting ready to leave--that didn't include at least one U.S. item.
  •  Wow. (4.00)
    Just... Wow.

    HEY - Why haven't you visited my blog?

    by RenaRF on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 05:30:18 PM PDT

    •  Second that!!! (none)
      Words can't describe the passion that came through on that diary!!  Thanks!  You've got me headed for some of my (too) dusty Civil War books to brush up on much history.  
    •  Thanks, Rena (none)
      You've been kicking some ass on your diary output lately.  When I can be as proflific and consistently good as you, I'll consider myself lucky, because skills will have nothing to do with it. :-)

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:21:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And still yet.... (4.00)
    we leave out the massacres and genocide of the original owners of these lands - the Native Americans.  WHY OH WHY do we still deny the nature of this country, which was based completely on destroying the inhabitants of this continent - on all levels.

    How can we possibly expect a "better future" when it was based on destroying its original people.  A culture of philosophy, poetry, harmony with nature, and plenty of warnings from their elders 300 years ago, predicting the very things accosting us now?

    I'm just not enough of a "here and now" instant gratification and instant solution-type person.  I read the words of Native American Elders hundreds of years ago, and they - to the point - predicted our demise.

    Their wisdom did not come from blackberries, emails or MSM.  It was based on being in touch with everything that surrounds us, the appreciation of it's inherent worth and value, and a succinct comprehension of our need to stay in balance with our earth.  

    Oh how my heart gains power from the words they spoke (and still do). But they too are poor right now, and their messages are only found on detailed Google searches by those who already know what they're looking for.

    "How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right." Black Hawk

    by Gabriele Droz on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 05:34:58 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (none)
    This is what diaries are supposed to be like.
  •  Thanks for the reminder (4.00)
    Just beautifully written. Really excellent diary. Sometimes historical perspective is badly needed. This is something I needed, thanks.

    A Conservative government is an organized hypocrisy- Benjamin Disraeli

    by vcmvo2 on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 05:47:23 PM PDT

  •  Great diary Raybin (4.00)
    I stood in the Sunken Road, Bloody Lane, on a bright sunny day in early September 1993. I had read Stephen Sears's book.

    I shivered.

    I have only ever had that feeling in two other places, the Devil's Den at Gettysburg and the Sommes battlefield in Belgium.

    The vodka's good, but the meat's gone off. People and fish can peacefully co-exist.

    by NeutralObserver on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 05:52:08 PM PDT

    •  You've read Sears too? (none)
      I love you, NeutBob :-)

      Bloody Lane is truly chilling, isn't it?  

      and you've been to the Somme and I haven't, damn you!  I'm jealous.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:23:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kudos, applause, standing ovations to you (4.00)
    This is the kind of diary I would have read and run over to my sister's, a true lover of history, house that would have resulted in an all night dialogue on what it means to be an American, now and in times past.  

    Thank you Raybin.  An absolutely amazing diary, your passion shows through each and every word.  Thanks also for bringing sweet, sweet memories of Sister back and the pure and utter glee she would have knowing there are 'youngsters' like you who care as much as she did about those who came before us.  

    Katrina changed everything, you bet your sweet ass it did. "Women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy." Reuel Gerecht

    by caliberal on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 06:01:52 PM PDT

  •  Not long enough (4.00)
    ::ducks::

    Great writing Mr. Bin.  Thanks!!

    The toll of war was never so great a burden as it was in that war, that civil war which was not really so long ago.  I'll never forget the weekend my mom and dad came to visit when I lived in Washington DC some years ago.  We drove the couple hours north to Pennsylvania and toured some of the battlefields at Gettysburg.  We sat atop Red Top and looked down at the fields and the creek running through them, imagining the horror that happened right there some 15 decades prior; the stream running red with blood from the thousands of oozing corpses.

    A day or two later, we visited the (then almost new) Vietnam War memorial wall on the Mall in DC.  As always, I found my high school buddies names and ran my hands over them, losing the battle to fight back the tears that always came when I bumped against this terrible, beautiful black wall of granite with all those 50,000+ names on it.  That wall reminds us of the terrible toll of lost American lives in over 15 years of the Vietnam war.  Then it struck me in a way I'd never thought of it before.  That battlefield we'd just visited the day before is a testament to the 50,000+ Americans who died there in two days.  Two days!

     

    80W-71S
    The most un-American thing you can say is, "You can't say that." -G. Keillor

    by Eddie Haskell on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 06:08:20 PM PDT

    •  It's Round Top (none)
      And you were probably on Little Round Top.

      /ducks

      Sorry, just being an annoying pedant :-)

      Thank ya, Mr. Haskell!

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:25:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  History (4.00)
    I have a most serious disdain for people who choose to ignore, forget, or never learn about their own past, when everything we are comes from it.  All that happened, whether good, bad, or ugly, still has an effect on all of us today.

    Which is why, as a free-time learner of history, it is so refreshing to see a diary like this which talks about our past, when so many don't want anything to do with it.

    Humbly recommended.

    (Yes, there really are 19 year-olds like myself who enjoy history :) )

  •  and Antietam proved McClelland's incompetence (4.00)
    given that he had Lee's battle plans thanks to the captrued dispatch case, that he failed to strike overwhelmingly and knock out Lee's army undoubtedly meant that the war dragged on far longer than necessary.  He failed to get the decisive victory that was there for the taking. Still, it was enough of an achievement that Lincoln decided to issue the Emancipation.  

    Thanks for the detailed history lesson.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 06:26:19 PM PDT

    •  McClellan's indecsiveness... (none)
      ...at Antietam undoubtedly prolonged the war.  The fact that it was his best performance is really kind of sad.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:27:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Modern Day McClellan (none)
        Your description of McClellan's timidity and inability to act sounds eerily like FEMA's response to Katrina...  Could Michael Chertoff or Mike Brown be McClellan reincarnated?

        Great diary Raybin, thanks.

         - Trendar

        Visit The Blog Roundup - the Best of Politics on the Web.

        by Trendar on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 07:53:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent (4.00)
    I hope to read it in more detail when I have more leisure. I never even heard about Antietam until I wondered why a band had used it in their name. And I went to a pretty good school. As far as most American's are concerned the Civil War happened on another planet, and this forum is a great way to counter teh whitewash that has been done on the American public regarding this stain on our national honor.
  •  Interesting.... (none)
    Raybin, someone on Kos did something on the Civil War several months ago that I found really interesting.  It had something with the above ground fortifications they were using.
    Was that you?  Anyway, its nice to have something different on here occasionally, thanks!
    •  Hm......maybe.... (none)
      I posted a lengthy paper on the battle of Cold Harbor and the fortifications there, etc....but that was at Liberal Street Fighter...I don't think I cross posted it here.  Maybe I did though.  Honestly, I can't remember.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:28:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post (2.00)
    I really enjoyed it.

    I have to get this off my chest though...

    "This diary is dedicated in loving memory to the soldiers--Blue and Gray, Americans alike--who laid down their lives at Antietam..."

    Fuck the confederate soldiers
    They were fighting for a way of life that was predicated on the enslavement and torture of fellow human beings.  Why must we celebrate them?  Other countries throughout history have also had run-ins with those who proclaimed a "confederate" worldview.  In Germany, they were called Nazis.  Today's Germans, to their credit, express nothing but contempt for those who held such abhorrent beliefs.  It is embarrassing that Americans feel compelled to paint yesteryear's racists traitors with a romanticized brush.  Fuck 'em.

    •  I'm not rating this comment (4.00)
      But if I were, I'd give it a 1. You don't piss on the memory of the dead, even if they died for something you find abominable. I don't agree with what they were fighting for, any more than I agree with what our men and women are fighting for in Bush's War right now. Doesn't mean I don't remember them in my prayers.
      •  don't bother (4.00)
        i caught hell from a pair of idiots for daring to say 'rest in peace' after rehnquist died. Some people here think they're toughguy 'fighting dems' by acting like repugs and spitting on the dead.

        anyway, terrific diary, raybin. i remember learning about the battle in middle school through the ken burns series, and 'antietam' has been synonymous with 'mass carnage' for me ever since.

        "I told them on Inauguration Day. I said look into my eyes: no new enhancements." - President Johnny Gentle (Famous Crooner)

        by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 08:25:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do you pray for Hitler too? (1.00)
        asdf
        •  give it a rest. n/t (4.00)

          "I told them on Inauguration Day. I said look into my eyes: no new enhancements." - President Johnny Gentle (Famous Crooner)

          by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 08:54:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not by name, no (none)
          But one of my standard prayers during the Canon of the Mass when we are invited to pray for "our departed brothers and sisters" is "for all those who have died because of hatred, violence, or prejudice," which I suppose covers Hitler.
          •  Not just those who have died 'because of' hatred (none)
            Jesus said:
               "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." MAT 5:44

            Anyone can love a friend or acquaintance. It takes a special (divine?) quality to apply your faith in the cases of the least of us and the worst of us.

            ...learn something new every day...

            by nhwriter on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:41:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Friendly advice (4.00)
          Whenever Nazis or aliens have to come into your argument, you've lost.

          And I mean that in a nice way.  You were complimentary to me, I'm just trying to help you out.

          "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

          by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:29:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know that every (4.00)
      single individual believed in slavery. I believe that the majority of white people in the South didn't own any slaves. They believed that the North was out to destroy the South economically and dominate it politically. I won't deny that the main instigators of the war were motivated by their fear of losing slavery, but I wouldn't say that every Confederate soldier was gung-ho on slavery.
      •  This is a good point (none)
        and it is also a fact that many German solders didn't have anything against the Jews - that doesn't diminish from the unspeakable evil they were fighting for.
      •  For the average Confederate private... (none)
        ...slavery wasn't an issue.  Armed men on their home soil was.

        "I'm fighting 'cause you're down here," as the legendary (and possibly apochyphal quote) goes.

        Slavery was more important to the politcal leaders, because it was the great symbol of the "Southern way of life."

        Of course that's all a gross oversimplification, but you get the basic idea.

        "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

        by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:30:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My obligatory explanation (3.00)
      for low rating you:

      This site is a partisan site dedicated to partisan politics, and ultimately helping shape a new era of progressive political ideology in America.

      If you keep posting the crap you are posting, your post is going to end up on fifty conservative blogs and about 200 thousand emails. That is gonna hurt our cause. You are picking a petty fight that disrespects an entire portion of the country.

      Our cause is larger than your petty hate.

      The GOP and the Elephant are both Introduced Species

      by roboton on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 09:28:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Apparently Lincoln's phrase (none)
      in his 2nd Innaugural Address "with malice toward none, with charity for all...." doesn't register on your radar screen.

      ownership society - you are on your own

      by Sam I Am on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 05:10:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Surprised Priest Wasn't Cited. (4.00)
    Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle (ISBN 0-19-508466-7) is required reading for any student of the battle, IMHO.

    A spotted cow stampeded through the 18th Mississippi. With its tail raised high in the air, the firghtened animal lumbered across the field like an awkward race horse. A shell exploded in front of it. The cow disappeared into the resulting crater for a moment before it scrambled out and kept on running.

    "Boys, she's a Confederate cow," Kit Galmer (C Co.) shouted. "She's going South."

    Kit should have gone with her because he went down shortly after when a bullet crushed his leg. (p.119)

    •  Good story, but.... (none)
      ...be careful of Priest.  The NPS won't sell his books on the Wilderness at their bookstores because he's considered too unreliable.

      At all costs avoid his book on Pickett's Charge too.  Earl J. Hess' is much more convincingly argued.  

      For a better writer who writes with a similar style to Priest, look to Noah Andre Trudeau.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:31:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I tend to rely on my favourite four books (none)
        with a touch of scepticism and intelligence thrown in of course.

        The books?

        Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volumes 1-4, plus of course the fifth volume Naval Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

        Then I add my favourite two volumes from more recent times, Davis & Wiley's Photographic History of the Civil War. If I ever caught a burglar in my apartment, my weapon of choice would be one of these books.

        The vodka's good, but the meat's gone off. People and fish can peacefully co-exist.

        by NeutralObserver on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 05:24:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You know (4.00)
    who I'll be sending this link to. I know he'll love it and I hope it inspires him to aspire to be half a good a writer as you.

    "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

    by hono lulu on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 08:10:43 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, hono (none)
      I truly hope he does like it.  And I love that he and I share this interest...it's such a special thing in my life.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:32:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In scouts we had the opportunity (4.00)
    to camp at many civil war sites.

    Antiem is the only one that was utterly eerie to spend the night in. We camped right at the major river bend. It was a cold and foggy night and I remember seeing campfires out in an open field. It is also haunted with the cries, shrieks and moans of dead men.

    "Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?" -George Washington

    by House on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 08:12:44 PM PDT

  •  Man Raybin, that was awesome. (none)
    Thanks.

    "Do it again, Daddy.  Do it again."

    "Whatever they want the answer is no. Now is not the time to fold, now is the time to up the ante." -- Charles Pierce

    by baba durag on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 08:21:43 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this (none)
    I wrote a paper on Antietam in school, and this brings back the strong feelings I felt back then.

    Nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus... (Now is the time to beat the earth with unfettered foot...)

    by a2jean on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 08:34:36 PM PDT

  •  Studying history .... (4.00)
    is the path to a real lasting wisdom. Thanks for making us all a little bit wiser today Raybin. Much appreciated.

    "I don't reject conservatism because it is followed by conservatives, I reject poor thinking, which conservatives seem especially expert at."

    by dicta on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 08:44:14 PM PDT

  •  Killer Angels, Glory et al (none)
    Great diary, Raybin.

    I'm sure you're familiar with Shaara's book -a fictional, but very true to the facts novel about Gettysburg, focusing on Maine's Joshua Chamberlain.  A great book.

    Your Antietam account reminds me of the opening of Glory, one of the best war movies ever made.  (Just saw parts of it again on cable the other night.)

    It opens with that battle, showing the utter brutality of close combat.  But what was so moving about the film was the visceral desire of the troops in the black regiment to go to battle not just to free their brothers, but to prove that they were equal to any other soldier in courage and compentence.

    This makes it both an anti and "pro" war movie -- anti, because it vividly showed the brutality and waste of war; pro, because the ardor of the black troops to fight compellingly showed that there are sometimes good reasons for war.

    There are many gripping and meaningful moments --

    Denzel Washington's character is about to be flogged for going AWOL (to get shoes).  He removes his shirt and reveals the scars of his floggings as a slave;

    the white troops lining the sides of the road cheering the black regiment as they pass on their way to their suicidal charge on Fort Wagner;

    Just before the charge Andre Braugher's character's offer to carry the flag if the bearer falls in battle.

  •  Great Stuff (none)
    Of course when anyone talks of the Civil War, lots of opinions arise.
    McClellan probably needs no real introduction, so notorious has he become.  Conservative, excruciatingly cautious, prone to realizing hallucinations, McClellan was, in short, a moral coward.
    I think this is a little harsh on McClellan to be honest. The fact he fought Antietam points to this. I think he had a little too much powell doctrine in him for sure - but also without his organizing of the army into a real army, capable of the kinds of functioning that Generals such as Meade and then Grant were able to put to use so effectively the war might well have gone on much longer.

    The emancipation Proclamation. Where to begin. It was more a political statement, and in and of itself was meaningless at the time. It was a lot of inside DC politics that brought it about, rather than a grand gesture. Lincolns political savy, once again however was spot on. It was surely a huge gamble Lincoln played. Armies of the North in many instances were infuriated by it.

    It did have an impact on the British view especially.

    Was Antietam a tipping point ? Not militarily perhaps, but politically - though the election of 1864 was of vital importance, as was the 3rd day at gettysburg. But i think on full reflection and consideration, without European intervention, the South was doomed to defeat before the first shotwas fired at fort sumpter.

    The North simply has an overwhelming advantage in logistics, manufacturing, material, food, man power, money, shipping. the real surprise is how long the South were able to make a fight of it.

    Real glad you mentioned Matthew Brady.

    One of the things that saddens me about Civil War photography was just how many glass plates, literally thousands upon thousands were used in green houses after the war, and of course destroyed forever.

    •  McClellan was a hack (none)
      The best possible thing would have been for him to be put in charge of discipline and training. Making him a field commander was a colossal farce: he literally didn't have the head for it.

      I'm not sure what you meant by "too much powell doctrine," but I think I'd say he had a lot of Montgomery in him--or vice-versa if you want to keep the entropy arrow moving in the right direction. Monty was another commander who dithered around waiting to achieve complete superiority while pissing away tactical opportunities.

      •  Powell (none)
        Overwhelming force. McClellan never thought he had enough. I don't think his heart was ever in the fight, and his 1864 platform bore that out.

        As for Monty, Market Garden was his idea and it moved fast - too fast. HE also was one of the ones wanting to go on D Day.

        I think Monty was tempered by North Africa and fighting Romel to victory - where he never had the upper hand in term of man power nad fire power.

        •  D-Day (none)
          was about the last time Monty wanted to go anywhere. He dithered and putzed his way across northern France, across the Rhine, and across Germany thereafter. They should have retired him in disgrace after Market Garden.

          The problem was not that he went too fast. It's that he wrote an ops plan that required action at a pace that was unsupportable in terms of men, matériel, and the transport available to him. After those great bloody parachute drops that were still too big to be accomplished at once, his plan called for all his armor to move at double-quick lightning speed up a narrow, virtually one-lane road  just to prevent the advance paratroop units from getting slaughtered--as happened, predictably, when his armor, predictably, got bogged down on the road.

          Excessive haste is just as bad in a general as is excessive delay. Trying to end the war before Christmas was exactly the same problem that McClellan and other Union generals had faced (with the same results) a century previously.

          •  Not arguing tactic (none)
            Just you cant claim Monty as a procrastinator while ignoring d day and market garden.

            but as you said, not getting the armor there in time was a killer. If they could have accomplished that, i think the war would have been over sooner  - and we would have beat the russians to germany - completely changing the complexion of Europe. that is something to think about - that was what Monty was thinking about.

            •  Exceptio probat regulam (none)
              The exception proves the rule. He sat on his hands in the Caen offensive, and even worse, when he was supposed to be clearing the Scheldt estuary so the Allies could use the port of Antwerp instead of having to run the Red Ball Express 400 miles from the Normandy beachhead to the front lines. I'm sure there are other instances I'm forgetting, but those two stand out in memory.

              Moreover, while Market Garden might mitigate his general reputation as a procrastinator, it should also brand him as complete idiot when it comes to strategy.

    •  Eh (none)
      The fact that he fought Antietam doesn't prove much, you have to examine his performance during the battle.

      That performance bears out his earlier performances:  he didn't have the stomach to strike the killing blow, to take the risk, to order the last assault.

      The courage to face bullets and shells and the courage to order thousands of men to their deaths are two very different things.  McClellan had plenty of the former and none of the latter.  Study his excursion aboard the ironclad Galena on June 30, 1862, while his army fought for its life at the battle of Glendale for further insight.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:38:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not saying you are wrong (none)
        Just a little unfair. One could easily paint a number of Union leaders with that definition. Meade comes to mind.

        It is easier to judge in hindsight, but at the time reckless action is far more devastating. One only needs look at Cold Harbor, Gettysburg 3rd day, Fredricksburg.

        I think one of the things that made Lincoln so great was his ability to weigh and judge these factors and take decisive action - and it is one of George W bush's biggest failures.

        there is a balance between passivity and recklessness.

        Would Grant have struck from the peninsula ? Mighty tough to move lots of men around there (lots of rivers and creeks - and mud) and keep supply lines open, especially if you are looking at a protracted siege and all kinds of confederate action up and down the shenandoah.

        •  Careful now... (none)
          ...you're starting to stray into hypothetical situations and "what-ifs"...I'll have to lash you with a wet noodle. :-)

          But to play along a little...Grant's greatest asset was his ability to keep calm and think clearly no matter what was happening.  McClellan had a complete nervous breakdown by Day 3 of the Seven Days.

          "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

          by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:55:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Grants Greatest asset (none)
            hehe - was being sober during the fighting i think. The man had a remarkable ability to turn his rampant drinking on and off.
          •  Grant had (none)
            what Shelby Foote called "four o'clock in the morning courage." You could wake him up in the middle of the night with news of some tremendous build-up of opposing forces, and he'd calmly adjust his dispositions to take care of it. William Tecumseh Sherman himself said of his friend that while he (Sherman) was a better general in almost every respect when it came to book knowledge of tactics and the like, where Grant shone was in not caring what his enemy did out of his sight, but which bothered Sherman "like hell." McClellan was even worse than Sherman in that regard, and unlike either Sherman or Grant, as you say, never learned how to order the men he'd trained and turned into an effective fighting force into any situations where some of them were going to die.
    •  The Emancipation Proclaimation (none)
      solved one Union problem - foreign recognition of the Confederacy- but created another- a conservative backlash in the North against continuing the war because the Proclamation meant that htere would be no negociated peace and that the war would have to continue until the South was completly crushed.

      The two Northern states where anti-war sentiment was the highest were Indiana and Ohio.

      In the present day, Indiana and Ohio are the "reddest" of the Northern states.  Coincidence? I think not.

      ownership society - you are on your own

      by Sam I Am on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 05:22:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nicely done (none)
    I don't think I mentioned in my diary September 19, 1862 but during the preliminary stage of the Battle of Iuka Grant sent a message to the Confederate General trying to get him to surrender on news of Antietam. The Confederate General doubted the report and replied to Grant that he wouldn't surrender anyhow.
  •  Excellent Diary. Thanks So Much. (none)
    I read MacPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom", which I really enjoyed.  I don't know enough specifics about the war, and McClellan, and all.  So I haven't formed a final opinion.  But the opinion I hold now is that the Civil War was a complete waste of life, a complete waste of energy, and a complete tragedy.  The Ken Burns series painted the War in a glowing, sentimental, romantic light-- I think that's a tragedy too.  

    After Reconstruction, much of what was fought for, race-wise, was lost anyway.  Well, "slavery" ended; but blacks lived in horrible conditions for decades upon decades upon decades.  I wonder what would have happened if the North in 1860 had just boycotted cotton and other Southern goods.  I mean, it's weird-- those that ran the North felt that it was necessary to fight a 4-year war, costing 500,000 lives and devastating the country, yet up until Secession, the Northern money interests still "imported" cotton for their Northern mills.

    The photos of the dead are sickening.  Everyone should look at them quietly without the Ken Burns music.  This was just another foolish war that could have probably been avoided, or just not fought.  What if the South seceded successfully and the North had just let them go?  Maybe we'd be all better off in the long run too.  Boycotts and economic strategies could've brought them to their knees eventually anyway.

    Also, while thinking about McClellan during MacPherson's book-- heck, he just seemed like a guy who didn't want his men dead.  Grant won eventually by just throwing his men into a non-stop meat grinder for weeks upon weeks upon weeks.  This strategy often wins if you're playing games like "Risk" or "Civilization". If you're dealing with human beings, I tend to think caution, and a reluctance to send people to their deaths, can be noble.

    Thanks again so much for this thread.

    Sincerely,
    N.B.

    "It's not that I'm lazy... it's that I just don't care..."

    by npb7768 on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 09:50:21 PM PDT

    •  Reconstruction (none)
      The South enslaved more black people after the war than before it, with the abhorent share cropping.

      Surprised you thought Ken Burns epic romanticized the war - i found it quite moving.

    •  Do not judge Grant too harshly (none)
      Gordon C. Rhea has done some AMAZING work re-examining the Overland campaign the past decade.  A much newer, different picture of Grant emerges, though I think Rhea tends to go to far in his Grant admiration, especially in the Cold Harbor book.

      No general wants his men dead, but generals must have the stomach to order them to their deaths, even when doing so may still result in failure.  McClellan could not do this.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:41:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  agreed (none)
        I dont ascribe to the Grant meat grinder narrative either.

        He did lose a lot of men, but so too did Lee, who was able to take defensive positions.

        Cold Harbor was the aberration, and even Grant himself in his autobiography admitted such - begrudgingly.

        •  Cold Harbor was absolutely inexcusable (none)
          ...and Rhea basically lets him off the hook for it.  It's one of my greatest beefs with his work.  

          "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

          by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:51:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Cold Harbor Myth or fact ? (none)
            Anyone reading most books on this battle would come ot the conclusion that thousands of union troops dies in the opening 20 minutes or so - but i have seen writings recently (i wish i could recall where) where this has come into question, and that perhaps a lot of these casualties are double counted from the previous day(s)
             and that the casualties are more in the region of 1,500.

            Got anything on this ?

            •  That's been dealt with a lot in recent years... (none)
              ...though even if you go as far back as Catton, he paints a much more accurate picture of the battle.  The "7,500 in 20 minutes" bit was cemented shortly after the war ended and has never let go.

              The main action of the day was over in an hour or so.  Rhea estimates Union losses at 3,500, but if you want what I think, based on what I've researched and read, is that he undercounts.  I'd guess something more like 4,500-6,000 is a better estimate.  I realize that's a big range, but to be truthful, I've currently misplaced my research folder on the battle, so i'm giving myself a lot of play on the estimate.

              "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

              by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 11:02:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Cold Harbor was a (none)
            major blow to the morale of Grant's Army.  

            Compared, however, to Lee's disastrous assault on the Union center on the 3rd day at Gettysburg aka Picket's Charge(TM), Cold Harbor was a minor incident.

            ownership society - you are on your own

            by Sam I Am on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 05:30:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Very good (none)
      Remaining ignorant of the past makes the public hostage to manipulation of the present.  As bad as September 11 was, it still seems to be an exmaple of the "mountain climber effect".  There have been many worse tragedies in history: some natural, some not.  How many children starve each week in places we would just as soon forget?  Are these not also tragedies?  And for sheer mass violence, we should not forget a particular week on the Somme in WWI or the Rape of Nanking in WWII.  Because America was more or less insulated from the effects of warfare between nation states in the 20th century, the public forgot that huge tragedies are not uncommon in human history.  They forgot that "it" can happen anywhere.  We need to remember that.  Great diary.  History may have happened in the past but the effects of our actions live with us.
  •  Mclellan's performance at Antietam (4.00)
    certainly didn't advance his own political ambitions.

    In response to some of the posts upthread concerning what honor, if any, is due the Confederate dead:

    Well, there is very little honor, if any, in war.  Most of the dead on both sides were conscripted young men who fought to survive the day. Many on the Union side were Irishmen, Germans and Italians barely off the boat.  Many on the Confederate side were farm boys who had never worn shoes before, much less read a newspaper.  Many of the black troops who fought bravely for the Union went on to participate in genocide as 'buffalo soldiers.'

    Lots of teenaged kids died on the wrong side of history, most of them without the slightest comprehension as to the whys and wherefores.  Honor?  No.  There's none to be had when rich, powerful old men send boys to die.  But grief, yes, and anger.  All the promise of those dead kids, reb and yank, American and German and Japanese and Vietnamese and Iraqi...

    'Fuck 'em?'  Most of them were well and truly fucked before they even knew what fucking was...

    www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:12:58 PM PDT

    •  Agreed with your last statement, but... (4.00)
      Most of the dead on both sides were conscripted young men who fought to survive the day. Many on the Union side were Irishmen, Germans and Italians barely off the boat.

      Be careful with the generalizations.  Drafted soldiers didn't start fighting and dying in large numbers on the Union side until 1864, over 18 months after Antietam.  Also, the Confederate draftee was, by and large, a much different animal than the northern draftee.

      Also, while many soldiers on both sides were illiterates, a significant majority of them were literate and able to express themselves on paper very well.  To a large degree, the ignorant soldier of the south is a stereotype.

      "It's time to come home, America"--Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), September 13, 2005

      by Raybin on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:44:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Writing (4.00)
        I am still astonished by some of the civil war writings by soldiers and the like. Incredibly well written prose, far superior to the kind of writings we see today from people from similar backgrounds.

        the first person history is what gives us so much today i think, in lieu of much war corresponding, which was mainly after the fact.

      •  Thanks for the correction (none)
        And I certainly didn't intend to demean southerners then or now.  I was conflating history to make a point, which is not a particularly good idea!

        Thank you for this great diary.  I visited the Antietam battle site many years ago.  It was a haunted and haunting experience...

        www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

        by chuckvw on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 11:05:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  more images (none)
    Antietam

    Thanks for this diary.

    "What they found is a silver bullet in the form of a person."

    by subtropolis on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 10:54:33 PM PDT

  •  Beautiful diary (none)
    You moved me to tears.

    I never was interested much in American history until one day I stopped at Chickamauga.

    Thanks for this.

  •  Great stuff, Raybin (none)
    I 'enjoyed' it, in the sense that it stretched my thinking.

    I had the chance to meet this civil war historian before he died. Are you familiar with his work?

    "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

    by RubDMC on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 01:17:58 AM PDT

  •  hmmm... (none)
    Agreed Antietam was horrific. Calling it the worst holocaust in American history is a bit off though.

    The decimation of Native Americans was much worse by several factors of 10. Whether through disease (small pox or measles), starvation or war - (in some peoples' definitions: genocide) - what Europeans and Americans did to the natives is disproportionally so much worse than anything that happened during the civil war. No reliable figures will ever be known, but somewhere between 8 million and 40 million Native Americans succumbed to the advancing Europeans/Americans between 1492 and 1900.

    "Just a quick observation, when people don't want to play the blame game, they're to blame." --Jon Stewart

    by Marcus Junius Brutus on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 01:57:52 AM PDT

  •  Little Round Top (none)
    Right - that was the place.  Very moving.

    I always get that wrong.  What seems to come to my mind when I think of it is Gene Ammons' wonderful jazz standard "My Little Red Top" to which Eddie Jefferson added vocalese lyrics some time later.

    My Little Red Top
    You know you got me spinnin'
    I go round and round......

    Inappropriate, I know, for the place at Gettysburg.  But it really did leave me spinning in awe and wonder over the sheer enormity and ferocity of the battles there.  50,000 young Americans, dead on one long weekend.  God knows how many injured.

    War was, and still is, hell.


    80W-71S
    The most un-American thing you can say is, "You can't say that." -G. Keillor

    by Eddie Haskell on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 09:22:52 AM PDT

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