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Gettysburg 150 Years Later

It’s been 150 years since the Battle of Gettysburg turned the Civil War and our history. A new book takes a soldier’s-eye view.  We put you on the battlefield.

A visitor to Little Round Top views the Devil's Den during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Monday, July 1, 2013, in Gettysburg, PA. (AP)

A visitor to Little Round Top views the Devil’s Den during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Monday, July 1, 2013, in Gettysburg, PA. (AP)

One hundred and fifty years ago today, Union and Confederate troops were in the belly of the Battle of Gettysburg.  In the second of three days of terrible fighting.  Lined up along Seminary Ridge, Little Round Top.

Pickett’s charge was yet to come, and fail.  The Union would win.  And Abraham Lincoln would come and pronounce a new birth of freedom – proof positive that Americans would die and triumph for democracy.

They’re re-enacting today on the battlefield.  And we’re talking about the most famous battle of the Civil War.

This hour On Point:  Gettysburg, at 150.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Allen Guelzo, Professor of the Civil War era at Gettysburg College. His new book is “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion.”

David Blight, professor of American history at Yale University. His latest book is “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era.”

Gary Gallagher, professor of history at the University of Virginia. His new book is “Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty.”

Kyle Wichtendahl, reenactor at the Gettysburg battle reenactment, where he serves as aide-to-camp for the commanding Union general. He’s been involved in Civil War reenactment for 10 years.

From Tom’s Reading List

Yahoo News: Debunking the Myths of Gettysburg, 150 Years Later: Historian Allen Guelzo — “For something that happened 150 years ago, the Battle of Gettysburg still generates its share of controversy. And myth, according to historian Allen Guelzo, ‘grows like weed out of controversy.’”

The Atlantic: 150 Years of Misunderstanding the Civil War — “In early July, on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, pilgrims will crowd Little Round Top and the High Water Mark of Pickett’s Charge. But venture beyond these famous shrines to battlefield valor and you’ll find quiet sites like Iverson’s Pits, which recall the inglorious reality of Civil War combat.”

Washington Post: Reenactors swarm Gettysburg for tributes to Civil War’s turning point –  ”Don Husler was sitting in the shade with the rest of the grimy Yankees, seeking respite from the heat and awaiting the Confederate onslaught, when two quick cannon shots boomed.”

The Gettysburg Address

Excerpt: ‘Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” by Allen Guelzo

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  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    in many ways the civil war was one of the first modern wars

    • Ray in VT

      In some ways it was a bit like World War I, as the weaponry had advanced but the tactics had not.  A great deal of the infantry tactics were not a whole lot different from those used during the Revolutionary War, but the firearms were far more accurate.  The Civil War also saw the use of some limited trench warfare and something much closer to modern total war, where industrial output and transportation infrastructure played greater factors than they had previously.

      • JobExperience

        Starvation and epidemics were the greatest killers. Doctors were not able to save more patients than they killed until 1913. Even the President lost children.
        The Shenandoah Valley was a breadbasket, and it was disrupted.
        Contractors made phenomenal profits from both arms and provisioning so that businessmen began to see the advantages of war.
        The contradictions about slavery built into our Constitution were legally (but not culturally) settled. Hardened men and advanced means speeded AmerIndian genocide after the war. Because of endemic racism Reconstruction was abandoned and paramilitary terrorism tolerated in the South. (And that’s why fascists still display the Confederate battle flag as an expression of White Supremacy.)

        • Ray in VT

          As horrific as the battlefield losses were, disease did plague the armies, the camp followers and the local populations, in much greater numbers.  It is amazing to think that disinfection of medical devices wasn’t something that was done, as germ theory was just beginning to be discussed.  I remember that when I heard about the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland I thought “what is it, a room full of saws?”

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            “Now hold still, Private, while I balance your humours.”

          • Ray in VT

            “and literally bite that bullet.”

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         I had always been under the impression that the Civil War was similar to WWI.  However, I read recently (in Mr. Guelzo’s book) that the effects in weaponry advancements (rifled bore artillery and guns) is often overstated.   In fact, he details the casualty rates at Gettysburg and they are very similar to the European Napoleonic wars in the prior decade.  Remember, civil war muskets were still single shot and barrel heat limited firing rates.  Also, the tremendous gun powder smoke apparently limited visibility.

        Based on anecdotes in the history books, you didn’t want to be part of the color guard.  They appeared to be bullet magnets.  It also seems that  many senior officers were killed or wounded during the battle.  I haven’t seen hard data if their casualty rates were higher than the average soldier.  I wonder if it they were specifically targeted because they were often on horseback.

        • Ray in VT

          I’ve never seen comparisons to Napoleonic figures.  I do recall that Russell Weigley, in A Great Civil War, did draw some comparisons to the Napoleonic idea that he argued that Robert E. Lee pursued of one great battle that would end the war, such as an Austerlitz.  He argued that Lee was a great tactical leader, but that he failed to have the greater logistical thinking that was increasingly necessary with broader, modern wars.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             I’m not sure that Lee wasn’t correct and came very close at Gettysburg to getting his wish on Day I and Day II.  The ‘end the war’ movement was growing in 1863 after the many Union defeats at the hands of Lee.

            I was amazed to learn of the political infighting embedded in the officer corps of the Army of the Potomac.  Apparently, they were divided into McClellanites and abolitionists and there was no trusts between the two groups.  Also, several of the generals (on both sides) weren’t professional soldiers but hack politicians.

          • Ray in VT

            It is a possibility, although we should also not forget that this was merely the major action on one front.  It was also July 4, 1863 that Vicksburg, MS also succumbed to the Union seige, effectively cutting the Confederacy in two.  A defeat at Gettysburg could have fueled anti-war sentiment, although it would perhaps have depended upon how significant that defeat was (a defeat or a rout).

            It was an interesting time in terms of the organization of the military and its professionalism.  The regular army was very small, and people could rise through the ranks, either by ranks or connections.  Dan Sickles is a pretty interesting character as a political general.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Dan Sickles — the father of the insanity defense of his murder of the son of Francis Scott Key.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup.  That’s the guy.

        • Ray in VT

          It is also interesting to think about how the war may have been different had it happened just a few years later, as the Gatling Gun was patented in 1862 and caseless ammunition that allowed for the use of repeating rifles, which saw some use in the war, became much more common just after the end of the war.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Oh boy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        plus ironclad ships, rifled barrels, the telegraph, repeating arms and metallic cartridges. I read an interesting article the other day about how we advanced and redefined cavalry tactics during the civil war

  • Ray in VT

    The Gettysburg battlefield is quite a place, and I would highly recommend a trip to those who have not gone.  A number of years ago two of my best friends and I went down and spent a couple of days walking the Union lines.  It was awesome in all senses of the word.  It really is something to stand on the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge and look out across the ground to the Confederate lines and realize just how important an event it was in our nation’s history, as well as how many soldiers lost their lives there.

    • Wahoo_wa

      As a landscape architect and landscape historian I would add that the battlefields are a huge preservation concern.  Development around them threatens to disturb the solemnity of the landscape.

      • Ray in VT

        I’ve heard that that is especially the case in Virginia, which is littered with battlefields.  On another trip, my friends as I travelled to Fredericksburg in order to see the new Vermont monument at the Wilderness battlefield, but it had yet to be placed.  That area had been slated for development in the late 1990s-early 2000s until it was also set aside for posterity.

        • JobExperience

          I don’t advocate a sea of condos but arable land is a precious thing. I see little harm in growing crops on battlefields that were farmed during the Civil War period. I’m sure some entrepreneur is approaching the Park Service with Fracking contracts right now.
          (“It’s just one derrick because we can now drill the whole thing sideways. and it’ll bring jobs, jobs, jobs.”)

          • Wahoo_wa

            For many historic battlefields there is a push to interpret the historic landscape properly.  Since it is a national park the reference for interpretation would be the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes.  If the period of interpretation is the era of the Civil War (which seems logical) the crops would certainly be fitting.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Any opinion on that c. 1965 tower which was at Gettysburg and was recently removed (to much acclaim)?

        I’d really like a landscape historian’s take on it.

        • Wahoo_wa

          It’s a complex question.  The tower was on private land and seized through eminent domain.  It was not architecturally significant and interfered with sight lines.  It was opposed by many government offices (who do maintain an authority on issues of aesthetics and preservation).  On the other hand it was a wonderful interpretation tool from which the public could get a broader understanding of the landscape through an engaging perspective.  Perhaps the government had “tower envy.”

      • TheDailyBuzzherd

        Quite right. Capitalism should take a cue from history and not repeat mistakes. Some of those fields – Fredericksburg I believe one – is riddled with disrespect in the form of tract housing at its edges.  It’s heartening to read that one landscape architect understands that land conservation is more than just a priority and consideration in the development process.

  • nj_v2

    An appropriate topic for July 2, one of our Independence Days.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-july-2-is-really-americas-independence-day/2012/07/02/gJQABsMHIW_blog.html

    Why July 2 is really America’s independence day

    Was reminded of this in the excellent 60 Minutes interview with David McCullough (who should be declared a national treasure).

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50149976n

    • JobExperience

      So we finally get around to the nitpicking just as national sovereignty is displaced by corporate rule under  global trade  agreements.  

  • J__o__h__n

    The title should have said seven score and ten years ago. 

    • JobExperience

      In his Address Lincoln refers to 1776 (four score and 7  in 1863), which would now total  21 score and 17 years. (He was attempting to depict the coming re-union as a pre-ordained Biblical event.) He focused on confederation, not division, as so we should.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        My favorite part of the speech is how highly-regarded Edward Everett, famed orator of his day, gave a two-hour speech before Lincoln.

        Then Lincoln came in and, well, we know what happened.

        To his credit, Everett wrote Lincoln “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the
        central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

  • creaker

    Didn’t realize it was a slow news week – if Gettysburg and grilling are the high points, it must be.

    • Wahoo_wa

      I find it a refreshing break from divisive politics.

      • jefe68

        Somehow I think for some, Gettysburg and the Civil War are still divisive politics.

    • Ray in VT

      150th anniversaries of one of the most significant battles in American history don’t just happen every day.

    • jefe68

      Well I guess millions of people taking to the streets of Cairo are not news worthy. Or that 
      Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi Rejects Military’s Ultimatum.

      • Ray in VT

        Well, maybe tomorrow, or maybe after the clock runs out and/or somebody blinks.

        • jefe68

          We shall see.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    I just finished Allen Guelzo’s book and found it riveting.  I never knew that the Union General John Reynold’s was the visionary and was actually the single individual that pushed the battle to take place at Gettysburg because he thought it would give the Union an advantage if they could build their lines around Cemetery Hill.  Reynolds forced his will on the new Union commander -  General Meade–  who wanted to pursue a more defensive posture in northern Maryland because he was only 3 days on the job and really didn’t know where is Army was and was naturally cautious.   Unfortunately, Reynolds was killed within the first 2 hours of fighting.  I wonder if Day I results would have changed if Reynolds directed the Union chaos that ensued after his death. 

  • Yar

    What is war all about? How does it fit into the evolutionary picture of humans?  I suspect it has something to do with reducing the number of young males to the advantage of older males for a mating advantage.  The bottom line is exploitation regardless of motivation.  Has anyone studied this?

  • MrNutso

    Bring back the Cyclorama.

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

      To Boston, you mean? It’s pretty amazing down in Gettysburg.

  • northeaster17

    I’ve recently started re-reading Gary Will’s book on The Gettysburg Address. A good read. The notion that all men were created equal was ahead of it’s time when the Declaration of Independence was written just as it was in 1863. Just as it is today.
    For some the idea stops at our borders. For others it was never taken seriously. We’ve a ways to go.

    • Coastghost

      Notions of political equality, however, were not to play much of a role in fulfillment of Joshua Chamberlain’s stirring vision: to have an undivided country from shining sea to shining sea meant depriving Plains Indians of the humanitarian concerns just accorded to disenfranchised slaves. In fact, it meant wholesale killing of them: distinct pity Americans never solicit Native American views on the Civil War. (Did “On Point” produce a show that I missed last year on the 1862 Sioux Uprising in Minnesota? a result of which gave civil libertarian Abraham Lincoln the opportunity to preside over the single largest mass hanging in US history.)

      • northeaster17

        There should be such a show. Such a disussion on a larger national level is badly needed. I do think that to pin Chamberlains vision on what happened in the 30 yrs after the war is a stretch. But you do buttress my point that our notion of equality is pretty weak.

        • Coastghost

          Or perhaps I suggest the intrinsic unreliability of “equality” as a political virtue, since it was not accorded by the victorious North without first initiating a great civil conflict and was never accorded to Native Americans to speak of, even by so humanitarian and philanthropic a Republic as Mr Lincoln’s. “Equality” merits all the skepticism that can combat the self-evident status given it by its advocates, who succeed also in never defining their term properly.

          • Ray in VT

            “first initiating a great civil conflict”

            Who was it that refused to accept the democratic process and fired the first shot?  It wasn’t the North. 

            Spare us the Lincoln the tyrant meme.  Did he have a modern sense of racial equality?  No.  Was he more enlightened than the leaders of a region who staked their future in the continuation of a perpetual system of race-based inequality?  Yes.

          • Coastghost

            Ray: A tad anachronistically I’d say, you castigate “leaders of a region who staked their future in the continuation of a perpetual system of race-based inequality”. Because I think you cannot know that, I argue you cannot say that: the institution of slavery was doomed even without the War of Northern Aggression waged by Mr Lincoln: mechanization of agriculture was already well underway by 1860, was further along by 1865, and had begun to transform the South’s economy by the end of WWII. You can impute the ambition to ”perpetuate slavery” to (white) Southerners all you like, but I think your assumption is not credible.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that your logic is flawed in that you assume a sort of determinism when it comes to the economics of slavery.  Perhaps it would have ended in 20 or 50 or 100 years on its own, but given the stated positions of many people who held the levers of power in the south in 1861, that would likely have only come about after much loss of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

            I think that your economic argument is flawed.  Slavery and forced labor have continued to be viable systems that have existed in places such as Nazi Germany or in parts of the Third World.

            You cite mechanization dooming slavery, however I am currently reading a work on Jefferson, and he greatly mechanized and industrialized his operations in the early 19th century while still reaping financial rewards that allowed him to live lavishly off of the labor and the sale of human chattel.

          • northeaster17

            Slavery and the tractor would have worked just fine for those incliened.
             

  • Ray in VT

    What about historical references to the Army of Northern Virginia rounding up African Americans during this campaign and sending them south to slavery?  Is this touched upon in the book?

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Yes.  The author points out that there is no record of what happened to them or if any were able to return.

      • Ray in VT

        Well, it was a murky world in that peculiar institution.  One would figure that those who survived capture, transportation and perhaps sale could have returned home at the end of the war.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Yeah, you would think with up to 500 captured there would be some documentation and resulting personal stories.

          • Ray in VT

            One would think even bills of sale, but perhaps records were lost and personal reminiscences were not recorded or preserved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1125975244 Aaron K. Hallquist

    Hey Tom; ask them about what the 1st Minnesota did 150 years ago today.  They saved the Union.

  • nj_v2

    Wow, caller Neil asking about what tactics the South should/might have used, uses “we” to refer to the Southern army.

    Still fighting the war?

    • Ray in VT

      I noticed that too.  Interesting.

      • jefe68

        And sad.

      • nj_v2

        Tom A. noticed it, too, and asked one of the guests about it, but the answer the guest gave seemed to me not to really address it.

    • J__o__h__n

      The South needs to get over that they lost.  The Germans don’t sit around saying, if only we hadn’t invaded Russia. 

      • Wahoo_wa

        That makes no sense.  The Germans did not “get over” WWI…hence WWII.  Ignoring one’s heritage and tradition is never a good idea.  The Germans know that and that is why the results of WWII guide German identity to this day.

        • J__o__h__n

          I meant WWII. 

      • Coastghost

        Or: the North needs to get over that it won. It can then proceed to take full and complete responsibility for the genocidal campaign the victorious Union waged against Plains Indians for the remainder of the 19th century.
        We can then begin to assess the distinct contributions made by Ray’s favorite tyrant to today’s events, since it was Lincoln’s Administration’s interception of domestic mail and monitoring of telegraph communications that arguably laid the foundation for domestic surveillance that Americans have had to contend with off and on since 1865. 

        • Ray in VT

          What a shame it truly was that that tyrant Lincoln took the extreme measures that he did to save the Union.  So extreme were some of those measures that they can only be found in the Constitution.  Had he not, then the great and noble South could have gone its own way, let slavery die, and perhaps even extend its own benevolent hand to the West.  As it was, that region fell under the boot of the wicked Northerners, as assuredly no noble Southerners would dare to violate the rights of others.  We can look to history to show us how greatly Native Americans were treated under Southern leaders and in Southern states.  Let us look at the liberties bestowed upon the Five Civilized Tribes under the Indian Removal Act.  Truly such kindness was never shown to one people by another.

          • Coastghost

            Executive suspension of habeas corpus without Congressional imprimatur: that’s in the Constitution? Trying civilians in military tribunals: that’s in the Bill of Rights? Suppressing newspapers, closing hundreds at various times over four years: which Amendment allows that?
            The Northern apologist has not been born yet who dares to explain how the moral fulminations that led to the North’s participation in (errr ummm uhhh, initiation of) The Late Unpleasantness led DIRECTLY in the years immediately following the conflict to the protracted genocidal campaign against the Plains Indians. (Why, Indianfighter Lincoln may have waged an even bloodier campaign against the Indians had he survived his last visit to Ford’s Theatre.)

          • Ray in VT

            Article 1, Section 9:  The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended,
            unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may
            require it.

            Now, that is in the Article pertaining to the powers of the Congress, which should have been involved, however, desperate times do call for desperate measures.  When a rebellious force capable of overthrowing or dissolving the government, action must be taken, and there is certainly a long tradition Presidents acting in ways that are Constitutionally questionable, such as Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.

            I find it interesting that you seek to lay at the feet of the North the travesty and tragedy that befell the Plains Indians while attempting to ignore any Southern role in poor treatment of the natives while also seemingly seeking to be an apologist for the racist regime that was the Confederacy.

            But, please tell us, if you can, how the enlightened people of the South treated the Freedmen once the evil, occupying Union forces withdrew.  I think that a proper portrait was painted in Blackmon’s Slavery By Another Name, which detailed the lengths that were gone to to keep people legally free in virtual slavery for as long as possible.

          • Coastghost

            Though a (white) Southerner, I am no apologist for the Confederacy as much as I am a critic of the Republic that Mr Lincoln founded. Continuous harping on whip, shackle, and auction block testifies to Northern interest in managing historical narrative so as not to focus comparable attention on the victorious North’s genocidal treatment of Plains Indians. (Id est: how was it exactly that abolitionist tenderness to the plight of enslaved blacks was not extended to the plight of displaced aborigines? This story STILL has not been told, not even by Ken Burns.) (Somehow, too, we Americans never get around to admitting to ourselves and each other that slavery was a native European institution for well over twenty-five hundred years prior to its elimination in the New World within four centuries of its establishment.)

          • Ray in VT

            Continual emphasis and attempts to saddle the victorious North with all of the blame for the treatment of the Indians of the Plains, while at the same time seemingly ignoring the harsh treatment of Native Americans in the South strikes me as highly hypocritical.

            There is plenty of room to highly criticize the actions taken against the Native American population from the time of first European contact and settlement down to the 20th century, and it did take longer to recognize the rights of those people, even after the battle against slavery was won.  That, however, should not be a reason to downplay the great victory that was abolition, and I do not think that too much emphasis should be given to our abolition of slavery within four centuries in the New World.  Slavery has existed in nearly every human society, and the American system, largely based upon race as it was, was somewhat distinct from the sort of slavery that had existed in the Classical World, and one must not forget that we were behind the curve on the abolition front.  The states of Western Europe were moving against it faster than we were, and there was certainly plenty of sentiment here in the various states to arrest that movement towards abolition at any or all costs.

            For whatever our faults as a nation, I will take the Republic that Lincoln helped to forge over both the Republic that existed before and the Confederation that sought to destroy that previous vision, which was great (sort of) for an 18th century agrarian vision where the United States are, but largely unsuited to a modern nation where the United States is.

          • Coastghost

            Gee, Ray, I just happen to see some difference between institutional enslavement and institutional genocide. Or do you see these two as strict moral equivalents?

          • Ray in VT

            So somehow perpetual enslavement, along with which comes abuse, rape and the legal killing of untold thousands is not also morally abhorrent?

          • jefe68

            And yet the subtext of your comment eludes one to think otherwise, that you are not on one level sympathetic to the idea of the Confederacy. 

        • jefe68

          So the Trail of Tears means nothing to you?

          You are aware that the Cherokee nation and the other tribes of the South such as the Creek were driven out by Southerners with the help of one Andrew Jackson, a Southerner.

          Funny how people are so selective when they want the narrative to support their ideology.

          • Coastghost

            Sorry: western Cherokees in the Oklahoma territory largely supported the Confederacy, as did a fair number of eastern Cherokees.

          • Ray in VT

            Excepting, of course, the several thousand who died when they were forcibly removed from their lands and sent west.

          • Coastghost

            Just downright peculiar and perverse of those surviving Cherokees to side against the Union, hunh? Somehow they gave full credit for their forced migration to the US Federal government.

          • Ray in VT

            Maybe they had forgotten that the role the Andrew Jackson, a Southern, played, as well as the eagerness that Southerners had for their eastern lands.  Perhaps they believed the promises made to them by the Confederacy to respect their western lands.  My personal opinion is that that promise, like just about every other promise made to the Native Americans by European settlers, would also have turned out to be a lie.

          • jefe68

            Sounds to me that you seem to support the idea of the Confederacy with it the institution of slavery.

          • Coastghost

            –which may say far more about how eager your ears are. I’m only arguing that the Northern practice of genocide is at least as momentous historically as the Southern practice of slavery and may even be more repugnant insofar as “moral victors” were the ones doing most of the killing in the decades after 1865.

          • Ray in VT

            Would you care to back that up?  For instance, what were some events, and what is the evidence that the perpetrators were either primarily or exclusively from the North?

          • jefe68

            Except until the Cherokees were forceable removed there were no Western Cherokees.

            I can’t speak to why they supported the Confederacy other than the wealthier Cherokees were slave owners at one time and were sympathetic to the culture.

            It seems that for some weird reason because Andrew Jackson was president him being a Southerner, and his ties to the Southerners who want the rich land owned by the Cherokees, one has to wonder why they never made the connection in that case.

      • jefe68

        Some do.

    • Wahoo_wa

      I don’t think people who are identifying with their ancestors are necessarily “still fighting the war.”  This is true of both southerners and for the northerners.  The south has a beautiful culture that fosters a sense of self.  When I was in graduate school at UVA a dear friend would always introduce me as his “Yankee friend.”  I am from Connecticut originally (where “Yankee Doodle” is our (opps…rather ‘the’) state song).  He was from Roanoke, Virginia.  He also refered to the Civil War as the “War of Northern Aggression” as many Southerners do.  It’s culture, history and tradition….and identity.  All regions in the United States rightfully have some sense of self.  That sense of identity should be celebrated and enjoyed and not ridiculed.

      • nj_v2

        Fair enough (mostly), but i’ve lived in New England my whole life, and if i were inclined to ask a question about the Northern Army’s tactics during the war, it would never even occur to me to use “we” to refer to them.

        The reference the caller used was specific to the army, not to some generalized concept of Southern culture.

        The use of that pronoun just leapt out at me.

    • Wahoo_wa

      On a lighter note you could also liken the “we” in regard to the Confederacy with the “we” of a sports fan who identifies with the team but will never take the field.

  • Ray in VT

    Having been to the approximate site where Stonewall Jackson was shot (by his own men), I found this to be very interesting a while back:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/stonewall-jackson-death-moon-position-phase-civil-war_n_3200052.html

    Also, in reference to the charge and the High Water Mark, there is a unit marker for a North Carolina near the Union lines which states that out of 500 men in the unit, 490 were either killed or wounded during the battle.

  • fairbrooks

    You guys need to be playing Storyhill’s “Better Angels” for your intro’s and outro’s!  

  • Jim_thompson

    Tom,

    As usual, wonderful program today.  I too heard to us and we in the caller from Waxhaw,NC.  I live just a few miles from Waxhaw in Fort Mill,SC.  On the town square-called Confederate Park there is a monument dedicated “to the loyal slaves who bravely fought for the Confederacy”.  Being a Boston transplant I find the monument shameful and just historically inaccurate.  Slaves never have a choice to be loyal.  No black folks fought for the Confederacy.  Being a Boston transpalnt I have always found the use of us and we a century and half later strange.  However, it explains a lot about the southern politics of today.  When I want to get my southern friends Irish up I just say you do realize that the Confederacy and confederates were/are traitors to the United States of America.  You never hear northerners lament the Civil War, but they still do here…however it is called the war of northern aggression.

    • Coastghost

      “Slaves never have a choice to be loyal.” –Simply not true, at least not on the testimony of Juvenal’s Eighth Satire, which at the end celebrates the “faithful slave” Vindicius, who helped save the fledgling Roman Republic from the restoration of the Tarquins plotted by the sons of Brutus (the Republic’s first consul).
      Nor do I know it utterly true that “no black folks fought for the Confederacy”, but then you might have to explain the few cases of manumitted black slaves owning un-manumitted black slaves.  

  • NewtonWhale

    Robert E. Lee killed more Americans than anyone else in history. 
    He should have been hanged.

    Instead, there are monuments to him everywhere.
    Including Gettysburg.

    Grant described Lee’s cause this way:

    “…that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Just remember where Arlington National Cemetery’s land came from if you want some level of solace.

      • NewtonWhale

        I’ve been there many times. It’s Lee’s former home.

        It’s located on Jefferson Davis Highway.
        Should have hanged him too.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           Your very natural impulse exemplifies, yet again, why Lincoln was such great leader.

          • NewtonWhale

            I understand Lincoln’s thinking, and if he had lived reconstruction might well have gone better.

            My problem is less with Lincoln’s “malice toward none” approach, and more with the unholy alliance between northern and southern whites after the war that glorified the “lost cause” at the expense of civil rights.

            Prof. Blight, a guest on the show, has a wonderful set of podcasts on the Civil War. He deals with the topic of my frustration in podcasts # 24-27:

            https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/civil-war-reconstruction-era/id341650730

        • Wahoo_wa

          You must be screaming for Manning and Snowden to be hanged on a daily basis!

          • NewtonWhale

            I certainly do not think their crimes are on a scale with Lee and Davis, but I do think they should be prosecuted and punished.

    • Wahoo_wa

      I don’t think hanging Lee would have helped Reconstruction.

      • J__o__h__n

        Impeaching Johnson would have. 

      • NewtonWhale

        It could scarcely have gone worse:

        Reconstruction was a significant chapter in the history of civil rights in the United States, but most historians consider it a failure because the region became a poverty-stricken backwater and whites re-established their supremacy, making the Freedmen second-class citizens by the start of the 20th century. Historian Eric Foner argues, “What remains certain is that Reconstruction failed, and that for blacks its failure was a disaster whose magnitude cannot be obscured by the genuine accomplishments that did endure.”[5]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstruction_Era

        • Wahoo_wa

          I think my point was more along the lines that hanging Lee would not have helped relations with the south and with the process of re-establishing the Union.

      • William

         The North won the war but lost the peace.

  • LoganEcholls

    I honestly just don’t get the romance that east coasters have with the civil war.  It was tragic, hordes of kids with guns got mowed down in their prime because people in the south were too lazy to grow their own food.  What is there to celebrate here?  It’s an awful, shameful, dark chapter in American history that we should remember only for the cost of supreme idiocy, selfishness, and cruelty that spawned it.    Yet instead we glorify the battles and fatefulness as if the conflict was inevitable and both sides carried honor to and from the field.  Ridiculous.  There were people building the country in the west while the east was busy tearing it all down.  We are one of the few countries in history that had to kills hundreds of thousands of boys to settle the issue of slavery, as opposed to a peaceful act of good civil governance found in most countries.

    • methos1999

       Then you need to study your history better. Putting it as an “east coast” vs “west coast” issue ignores the reality that slave holding south wanted to see slavery expand into the territories of the time. Also I don’t believe all east coasters romanticize the civil war. But your statements about the negative aspects of the civil war could be applied to any war, and any abuse of human rights, including our modern day wars and surveillance of US citizens. 

    • jefe68

      You should read more history on the years leading up to the Civil War. It’s not as simple as you make it out to be. 

      • LoganEcholls

        I have studied the civil war era extensively in college.  I’ve read one giant historical analysis in my free time, visited Gettysburg, and been regaled by historians ad nauseum with the details of politics, economics, and political turmoil and “real motivations” for the war.   Not sure how much more history I can take before I suddenly become awestruck by the wonders and glories of the war.  Nope.  I find this revolt revolting in every extent possible.  To me, the real heroes of the Civil War are the Canadians, who manage to inhabit a harsher climate, form a more diverse culture, and avoid killing off their young men in pointless civil strife without ever sinking to the institution of slavery.

        • jefe68

          Who said anything about the wonders and glories of war. 

          If you read as much history as you said you did then how is it that the economics of the South and the North are not parsed.

          The comment about the South being to lazy to grow their own food is absurd. If you read as much as you claim you should know that some states, such as Kentucky had smaller farms and not many plantations which meant that most of the farmers could not afford slaves.

          By the way slavery was legal in Canada until 1830.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Spartacus disagrees.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    While Reconstruction was a failure and tragedy, think what would have been the result of a humiliating Union rout at Gettysburg: a permanent racist state at the Mason / Dixon line. For all our faults, there are many: Watts, Tulsa, the MLK assassination, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and on, we surely would’ve fought the CSA again, probably many times.

    So yes, Gettysburg and its surroundings must remain hallowed ground as a warning to what could have been: A pathetic, decadent monument to White Supremacy, not Liberty for All, as imperfect as it currently stands.

  • Coastghost

    @ Ray in VT from his narrow right-margin post down below:
     
    Yes, slavery is morally repugnant. But as this Forum demonstrates, the South has never been permitted to forget the role it played in extending the life of its peculiar institution beyond the colonial roots that Britain, et al., gave it; whereas the North has never been invited to face the question of what explains its moral failure in its perpetration of genocide IMMEDIATELY AFTER waging its war of slave liberation, just as we never hear our dependable media spend much time discussing or even noting racial segregation up North (sorry, but I have visited Detroit and its collar counties, and I lived in Chicago for almost a decade, and NOTHING the South ever did to blacks explains why Detroit and Chicago remain two of the most racially segregated cities in the US, comparable perhaps to Boston, but I’ve spent next to no time in Boston).
     
    I know of NO historian that has addressed this historical discontinuity between the North’s “moral victory” in defeating slavery and its “moral disgrace” in perpetrating outright genocide. I mean, to read the histories of the last half of America’s 19th century, I’m regularly tempted to believe that victorious Unionists saw their Northern victory as their license to exterminate Plains Indians. (The logic continues to elude me.)

    In other words: shows like today’s only amplify the hypocrisy that continues to animate our betters in the Vaunted Northeast Corridor and across the northern tier of states at least as far west as Minnesota. (And Ray: how will you ever properly appreciate the contributions of African Americans if you insist on remaining in a state that is THE WHITEST in the US? Hint: don’t move to either New Hampshire or Maine.)

    • Ray in VT

      As well it should never be allowed to forget the lengths that it, as a region, went to in order to preserve that abomination.  That having been said, I don’t think that any part of the American public has ever been held to account for what was done to the Native Americans, and in that respect North was no better than the South.  The fact is that people are great at compartmentalizing.  Take for instance the grand notions embodied in the Declaration as compared to facts on the ground.  People as individuals, and in groups or nations, make choices that are often contradictory.  It seems to me that this is a pretty universal quirk in people.

      “I mean, to read the histories of the last half of America’s 19th
      century, I’m regularly tempted to believe that victorious Unionists saw
      their Northern victory as their license to exterminate Plains Indians.”

      Would you care to support that with actual quotes?  Manifest Destiny and notions regarding the terrible ways in which Native American populations could be treated were well established prior to the Civil War.

      I would merely suggest that while Lincoln and the North absolutely had their own flaws concerning race relations and the treatment of Native Americans, on the latter note I don’t see any evidence that the South was any better, and regarding the former it was abominably worse, although one shouldn’t ignore the fact that there were Southern abolitionists prior to the war.  I also feel that I can appreciate aspects of the cultural contributions of various groups from here in Vermont.  I have a long connection to this land, and if others want to bring the aspects of their own cultures here, then they are welcome.  The Vietnamese refuges that came here in the 1990s have made some nice contributions to the local cuisine.  It’s not like we’ve had a history of forcibly trying to either keep anyone out or make anyone stay, and I would certainly take what we have to offer over the offerings of Southern culture.  I quite like my old Yankee ways.

      • Coastghost

        You can take comfort that NPR agrees with your view that the South should ever remain America’s whipping boy whenever matters of race arise.
        So for instance: ATC JUST ran a five-minute segment about a “riot” that did not in fact occur last fall on the campus of the Univ. of Mississippi. (While burning an Obama campaign poster in the Magnolia State indeed might be viewed as impolitic and inflammatory, it’s hardly illegal.)
        Beating up on the South for ALL of white America’s racial sins, though, is perfectly normal and enjoys the advantage of being socially acceptable in states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois, and in the District of Columbia. 

        • Ray in VT

          It must be terrible to be so put upon.  I find it interesting that there are several people who regularly contribute to this forum that do not have such as rosy view of race relations in the modern South who actually live, or grew up, down there.

          • Coastghost

            You’re right, Ray, it is galling to be scolded, upbraided, lectured continually by the rest of the country, as if white Southerners and their ancestors were somehow responsible for ALL the shortcomings in race relations across the nation: but it’s impossible to take too seriously.
            As I noted elsewhere: it’s hardly the case that Southerners engineered the racial segregation that afflicts the County of Cook, Illinois, just as Southerners played no significant role in white flight from Detroit into the surrounding suburbs. Yet we hear no comparable amount of rebuke to all those nasty white racists in Cook County, never hear about white racism in Michigan . . . it’s these kinds of omissions that help make visible NPR’s regional/sectional sympathies, which in itself is galling.

          • Ray in VT

            It could be in part due to the fact the white flight is a quieter form of prejudice than burning crosses, lynchings and the effort across multiple generations to keep an entire population uneducated, poor, and subservient.

          • Coastghost

            Ahhh, but never neglect to face “an entire population’s” responsibility for educating, enriching, and ennobling itself. Sub-Saharan Africans of c. 1500 CE were in the weak comparative position they found themselves in vis-à-vis European powers largely because prior to that era, sub-Saharan Africans had never independently invented or adopted the wheel, had not domesticated equine mammals for military or trade, and had not devised alphabets for their numerous languages.
            This was no matter of “keeping them uneducated, poor, and subservient”: to argue otherwise is to say that their descendants can attain equality only if they are offered assistance every step along the way, which verily is the odious paternalism progressives have been decrying for decades. 

          • Ray in VT

            Ahh, the white man’s burden?  One doesn’t need to look at Sub-Saharan Africa to find a system dedicated to marginalizing an entire ethnic population, or do you ascribe to Haley Barbour’s theory that segregation wasn’t that bad?  Perhaps the pre-modern state in which many Africans existed prior to American slavery meant that they were only entitled to that state once they were brought here.  I think that people of every stripe can attain an equal level of abilities, and certainly education and the services and benefits of a modern society help in that regard.  If that is paternalism, then I will welcome that, especially when compared to that which has been offered historically by the other sides.  Regressives let us call them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fred.jordan.528 Fred Jordan

    to bbrowniii. It was about slavery. What you learned was correct.  And get this, I am a descendent of many Confederate soldiers who fought in Tennessee, where I live as a 52 year old 5th generation Tennessean. Please read the documents from the secessionist conventions; the secessionists themselves wrote that slavery was the main reason that they were leaving. Example: from Robert Hardy of Alabama, confederate Congressman: “We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the Negro quarrel.”   And this from CSA Vice-President Alexander Stevens: “Our new government” …its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery is his natural and normal condition…. [ I could continue the quote but it sickens me]. As for my Confederate ancestors…they fought bravely…but for a very bad cause.

  • Larry Nolan

    I heard part of this show on KWMU in St. Louis but didn’t listen to the entire segment.  It is not showing up as a podcast on my iPad in the Podcasts app.  

    The second hour also did not appear as a podcast.

    Is there something wrong with podcasts this month?  They worked all through June for me.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I’ve found a feed.

      (Currently it looks weird, because the first four MP3 links are different filenames but the title of them all are the same.)

      • Larry Nolan

        The web  feed provides only links to the Hollywood program. Nothing from Tuesday.  I called WBUR and they acknowledged that podcasts are messed up; working on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.bartlett1 Marilyn Bartlett

    Great show, including call-ins!

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

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Apr 22, 2014
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As a new Tyrannosaurus Rex arrives at the Smithsonian, we’ll look at its home – pre-historic Montana – and the age when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

 
Apr 22, 2014
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We look at Iraq now, two years after Americans boots marched out. New elections next week, and the country on the verge of all-out civil war.

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