Thursday, June 18, 2020

The More You Know

I am currently reading "April 1865" by Jay Winik. My emotions run from extreme pride to the depths of despair while reading this book.

I am on several FaceBook pages, like WRIC TV8, WTVR TV6, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and others, where I try to introduce some history and rational thinking to the readers. Sadly, my efforts seem to be for naught. I really do try to engage in a rational, thought-provoking discussion, but the mob mentality of others takes over and they simply will not hear of it. The funny part is that they tell me that I need to "read a book." You know the snarky comment. Hell I use it, too, yet when I use it it seems to be an accurate statement considering the people I am dealing with. I truly believe that none of them has ever picked up a history book since leaving school, and probably didn't bother even then.

The most frustrating aspect of all of this is the fact that the information is out there and not at all difficult to obtain, but so few people are interested in actually learning something. Their mob fueled animus is all they need to believe that they hold some moral high ground. A high ground based on feelings rather than facts and a knowledge of history. Two historical facts immediately jump out at the person who actually reads about the War of Northern Aggression.

The first is the constant, incessant, inaccurate claim that the Southern soldier was "fighting for slavery." This over looks human nature and the life style of the average Southern family at the time. The majority of Southerners were poor farmers who simply strove to feed their families. Only 4.8% of the Southern white population owned slaves (U.S. Census of 1860). Just as many Americans today dislike and rail against "the rich" and the political class, so too did the average Southerner. You've heard the term before, "Rich man's war, poor man's fight." Imagine trying to make the claim that all of these poor Southern farmers were fighting and risking death, so that a rich plantation owner, whose very efforts undercut their own ability to make a living, could keep his slaves. The thought is ludicrous, at best. The simple fact is, and this is documented many times, the majority of Southern white men were fighting because their state was being invaded.

The second thing that stands out is just how ignorant Americans are of who Robert E. Lee was. They do not know, and do not want to know, what kind of man he was. It is easier to just do as their TV or some activist celebrity tells them and hate the man. I challenge them to read about Lee, but you know where that goes. I will not attempt, in this venue to give a detailed account of the life of Lee. There are books that can do that and I will be happy to provide a reading list for anyone who truly desires to learn. I will simply relate one aspect that should be considered and is well documented in "April 1865."

As the tattered remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia was making its way South, out of the trenches at Petersburg, in an effort to meet up with Joe Johnston's army in North Carolina, the inevitable end became more clear. Calling his generals together to discuss the situation, Lee mentioned the word "surrender." There were those among them who suggested dispersing the army into the countryside and continuing an ongoing "guerilla war."The desire was to wear down Union morale and wear them out, until they sued for peace. These were mean who understood the meaning of guerilla war. You see, there was a history of such war to learn from. Not just in the current war, but from wars past. They knew how it had been used throughout history. Even Grant, Lincoln, Sherman, and others on the Union side feared the possibility of this move.Lee, too understood its meaning. He would not assent. Instead he refused the further effusion of blood and said it was time to end the slaughter.
 Lee would meet with Grant and surrender the Army of Northern Virginia. In doing so he asked that his men return to their homes and become good citizens again. This they did, because "Marse Robert" asked them to. Does this sound like something that the hate-filled, racist man portrayed by today's ignorant activists would do? With but a word Lee could have done as his generals asked and continued the war indefinitely, until more had died and until the Union had had enough. However, having seen the suffering and understanding that his men had done all that men could do, he sought to put an end to the bloodshed. I challenge anyone, liberal or conservative, white or black, to read of the suffering and privations of Lee's army during the siege of Petersburg and the subsequent retreat toward Appomattox and tell me that those men did that, suffered that, so that rich men could keep their slaves. If you still wish to believe that then you know nothing of human nature and you simply feel more comfortable living in hate than in trying to learn more about your own nation's history.