Tag Archives: Union

Gettysburg Sacred Trust Weekend: Summary Recap

IMG_4219Greetings!

As you all most certainly know, especially if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, I have spent the last few days in Gettysburg participating in the Gettysburg Sacred Trust talks and book signing event. I met a number of captivating people on and off the battlefield, took part in a great panel discussion featuring a lengthy and engaging question and answer section,  and I signed a shit ton of books. I could not have had a better time.

Though I have been to Gettysburg many times over the years this was the fist time I have  been during the anniversary of the battle. I was surprised that there were so few people on the field itself. Folks with whom I spoke said that interest had died down since the 150th anniversary. Go figure. The people I did meet on the field had quite a bit to say, what with the flag controversy and all. Let’s just say there were strong opinions all around and leave it at that.

I took about a zillion photos and videos – here are a few highlights:

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With compliments,

Keith

 

The Face of (Post) War

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 10.28.56 AMGreetings all,

I found this rather extraordinary image on the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park Facebook Page. This is Jacob Miller, a veteran of the 9th Indiana Infantry and member of the Grand Army of the Republic, who was wounded in the face while fighting  in the Brock Field at Chickamauga on September 19, 1863.

His stern countenance reflects his memories of battle: “I have an everyday reminder of it in my wound and constant pain in the head, never free of it while not asleep. The whole scene is imprinted on my brain as with a steel engraving.”

With compliments,

Keith

 

One of the Best Independence Days Ever

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.35.24 AMGood morning friends and a Happy Independence Day to you all! Today I would like to take a moment to commemorate the fall of the Rebel stronghold at Vicksburg – July 4, 1863. I am quite certain that the loyal citizens of the United States appreciated the significance of such a victory on such a day. Huzzah!

With compliments,

Keith

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The Americanist Independent: A Monthly Journal of United States History

John A. Logan’s General Order #11 Designating Memorial Day

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.20.07 AMGrand Army of the Republic commander John A. Logan issued GAR General Order #11 on May 5, 1868. Note that the twin themes of Union and emancipation hold equal significance:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.19.23 AMwarmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude, — the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

With compliments,
Keith

Reconciliation at Grant’s Tomb

Screen shot 2014-02-14 at 10.14.53 AMWrap your head around this – Ulysses S. Grant shaking hands with that rebel Robert E. Lee enshrined forever at his own tomb!!

And why not? The whole point of the war was to bring the country back together – why not show a little spirit of reconciliation? After all, Grant’s campaign slogan (or rather, the Republican Party’s slogan) for the election of 1868 was “Let Us Have Peace.” So there you have it…peace.

But remember, Union veterans had a very clear vision of what peace and reconciliation would look like. Don’t forget that. When Americans would learn the history of their greatest conflict, former Union soldiers were determined that they would learn what the war had been about. The Confederacy had fought to destroy the nation and perpetuate the institution of slavery. Period.

Sure, they would say, let us have peace…let us promote reconciliation. But don’t forget what happened. Even Grant himself wrote in his memoirs: “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

With compliments,

Keith