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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hallowed Ground



While in Richmond last week I spent a few hours at the Hollywood Cemetery. They have a wonderful website here. This pyramid is dedicated to the 18,000 confederate soldiers buried there. The pyramid is 90 foot tall. Click the pictures to get the full effect. There was a little discourse in the blogosphere about Lee-Jackson Day. My feelings match this inscription at the Confederate Memorial.
NOT FOR FAME OR REWARD, NOT FOR PLACE OR FOR RANK, NOT LURED BY AMBITION OR GOADED BY NECESSITY, BUT IN SIMPLE OBEDIENCE TO DUTY AS THEY UNDERSTOOD IT, THESE MEN SUFFERED ALL, SACRIFICED ALL, DARED ALL, AND DIED
Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States rests here. His wife and some children surround him. The writings on his marker are true.
While walking this hallowed ground I could not deny a sense of pride and sorrow for these brave men. I was reminded of a song by Henry Paul titled Cold Harbor.
It wasn't far from Richmond
The second day of June
The year was 1864
The end was closin' soon
A long and bitter struggle
For the boys in blue and gray
The battle of Cold Harbor
Was only hours away

I woke up long before the sun
Cut through the morning sky
Wondered as I lay there
Was this my time to die
Somewhere through the darkness
The Union fires glowed
A distant bugle's reveille
Was playing soft and low

Oh oh, Cold Harbor
The battle line was drawn
Through the heart of Dixie
The thrill of war was gone
Rebel flag was faded
Waved it far too longed
Oh, Cold Harbor
The last of the proud
Will carry on

The morning shook like thunder
As through the smoke they came
Heavy guns and the musket fire
Were pouring down like rain
In just one half an hour
Ten thousand Federals died
My blood ran cold to watch'em fall
I closed my eyes and fired

Yeah

Whoa oh oh, Cold Harbor
The battle lines was drawn
Through the heart of Dixie
(Through the heart of Dixie)
The thrill of war was gone
Our Rebel flag was faded
We waved it far too long
(Far too long)
Oh, Cold Harbor
The last of the proud
(The last of the proud)
Will carry on
Carry on
Indeed. I am proud of my mother and fathers confederate heritage. I feel no shame, and in fact I would have joined my ancestors in Virginia if I had lived in that time. One of the few things my senetor Jim Webb said that I agree with is this excerpt from his speech at the memorial.

And so I am here, with you today, to remember. And to honor an army that rose like a sudden wind out of the little towns and scattered farms of a yet unconquered wilderness. That drew 750,000 soldiers from a population base of only five million-less than the current population of Virginia alone. That fought with squirrel rifles and cold steel against a much larger and more modern force. That saw 60 percent of its soldiers become casualties, some 256,000 of them dead. That gave every ounce of courage and loyalty to a leadership it trusted and respected, and then laid down its arms in an instant when that leadership decided that enough was enough. That returned to a devastated land and a military occupation. That endured the bitter humiliation of Reconstruction and an economic alienation from the rest of this nation which continued for fully a century, affecting white and black alike.

I am not here to apologize f or why they fought, although modern historians might contemplate that there truly were different perceptions in the North and South about those reasons, and that most Southern soldiers viewed the driving issue to be sovereignty rather than slavery. In 1860 fewer than five percent of the people in the South owned slaves, and fewer than twenty percent were involved with slavery in any capacity. Love of the Union was palpably stronger in the South than in the North before the war -- just as overt patriotism is today -- but it was tempered by a strong belief that state sovereignty existed prior to the Constitution, and that it had never been surrendered. Nor had Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in Kentucky and Missouri when those border states did not secede. Perhaps all of us might reread the writings of Alexander Stephens, a brilliant attorney who opposed secession but then became Vice President of the Confederacy, making a convincing legal argument that the constitutional compact was terminable. And who wryly commented at the outset of the war that "the North today presents the spectacle of a free people having gone to war to make freemen of slaves, while all they have as yet attained is to make slaves of themselves."

American by Birth- Southern by the Grace of God.

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Comments on "Hallowed Ground"

 

Blogger SWAC Girl said ... (7:37 PM) : 

"SIMPLE OBEDIENCE TO DUTY AS THEY UNDERSTOOD IT, THESE MEN SUFFERED ALL, SACRIFICED ALL, DARED ALL, AND DIED."

That says it all.

 

Blogger JohnMaxfield said ... (3:46 PM) : 

Excellent post, Kilo. Sorry it's taken me this long to read it in its entirety. Hollywood Cemetery is truly a magnificent and humbling place. I was there for a memorial service a number of years ago with the 5th Va. Co. E reenactors. Great experience.

 

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