4

The Army of Northern Virginia

Furling the Flag

 

 

 

Army of Northern Virginia, fabulous army,

Strange army of ragged individualists,

The hunters, the riders, the walkers, the savage pastorals,

The unmachined, the men come out of the ground,

Still for the most part, living close to the ground

As the roots of the cow-pea, the roots of the jessamine,

The lazy scorners, the rebels against the wheels,

The rebels against the steel combustion-chamber

Of the half-born new age of engines and metal hands.

The fighters who fought for themselves in the old clan-fashion.

Army of planters’ sons and rusty poor-whites,

Where one man came to war with a haircloth trunk

Full of fine shirts and a body-servant to mend them,

And another came with a rifle used at King’s Mountain

And nothing else but his pants and his sun-cracked hands,

Aristo-democracy armed with a forlorn hope,

Where a scholar turned the leaves of an Arabic grammar

By the campfire-glow, and a drawling mountaineer

Told dirty stories old as the bawdy world,

Where one of Lee’s sons worked a gun with the Rockbridge Battery

And two were cavalry generals. Continue Reading

24

Not Enemies, But Friends

When writing about the Civil War I always marvel that it did not inflict mortal harm on this Republic.  That it did not do so, was because many good men and women, on both sides after the War, lived up to the prophetic words of Lincoln, uttered at the end of his First Inaugural Address:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

This was all put nicely in a conversation that Douglas Southall Freeman, the great Civil War historian, had with his father Walker Freeman, a Confederate veteran who had served in the Army of Northern Virginia, while Douglas was writing his magisterial four volume R.E. Lee. Continue Reading