Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reminiscences of the Civil War by John Brown Gordon

Confederate Major General John B. Gordon

       I just finished reading John Brown Gordon's book called Reminiscences of the Civil War. Gordon was an outstanding combat commander in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia although he had no formal military training. He learned his warfare serving under Richard Ewell and Jubal Early and at the end of the war. He commanded half of Lee's Army at Appomattox. 
       The book was a great read, of course some paragraphs were two pages long and sentences tend to go on forever, which is how they wrote back then. Still, it's a great read and I highly recommend it. 
       The reason I wrote this blog is to present a few quotes from the book that truly impressed me. I was so impressed that I highlighted them in mine so I could go back and find them. We always hear of how tough the Confederate soldier had to be to survive the war, but Gordon called something else to my attention. It's something that isn't given a lot of thought and that is how rough things were for the survivor of that war in the South. Here are the quotes I wanted to share with you.

       "Reared under a government of their own choosing, born and bred  under laws, State and federal, enacted by their own representatives, habituated for four years to the watchful eyes and guarding bayonets of army sentinels, accustomed to the restraints of the most rigid regulations, they found themselves at the close of the war suddenly confronted by conditions radically, totally changed. Their State governments were overthrown; State laws were in abeyance; of chosen representatives they had none. Sheriffs, other officers of the court, and the courts themselves were gone. Penniless and homeless as thousands of them were, with the whole financial system in their States obliterated, the whole system of labor revolutionized, without a dollar or the possibility of borrowing, they went bravely and uncomplainingly to work. They did not rob, they did not steal, they did not beg, they did not murmur at their fate. With all the restraints to which they had been subjected, both as citizens and soldiers, not only relaxed but entirely removed, they kept the peace, lived soberly and circumspectly, each ready to lend a helping hand to maimed and helpless comrades..."

       At the end of the book was a section where he was speaking to us today. We have gotten to the point in this country where anything Confederate is frowned upon. The past has been rewritten by politicians and historians to downgrade the Confederate soldier to nothing but a lowly criminal. Here is what Gordon said about future generations pertaining to that war.

       "American youth in all sections should be taught to hold in perpetual remembrance all that was great and good on both sides."

       The next few years will determine whether we allow this country to turn its backs on these brave heroes or whether we will stand up for them. We live in an age where the government wants to tear down all monuments to these brave men. These men fought for self government and federal government wants the memory of that forgotten. I hope we can listen to General Gordon before its too late.

Me standing at the grave of John Brown Gordon in Atlanta, Georgia a few years ago.