Sunday, April 13, 2008

Appomattox Court House

Reading has always been a passion for me. It started early with books about the American Civil War. The earliest book I can recall reading was the book Jeb Stuart, The Last Cavalier by Burke Davis. It started me on a hobby that continues unabated through today. I am fascinated by the stories told by the soldiers themselves. Its better than any fiction out there. 143 years ago yesterday, Lee formally surrender his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia ending a 4 year struggle that nearly tore this nation apart.

What saddens me today is the fact that all the political idiots out there cannot or will not learn from the example set by those two extraordinary men. Picture this if you will, 4 years of bloody hand to hand combat between soldiers born in the same country. The fighting was so ferocious that only a week before at Sailor's Creek, the men were locked in combat so fierce that guns were not good enough to assuage their anger within. They fought so hard that the soldier bit each others throats, ears, noses. Rocks and stones were used in close quarter combat. By the end of the battle, 6,000 Confederate soldiers were captured along with 6 Confederate Generals.

Now go to April 9th, after a few days of notes passing between the lines, Lee sees the futility of continuing the struggle. His men though want to fight on. They think they found a way out to North Carolina where the Army of Northern Virginia can link up with Joe Johnston's Army of the South to continue the struggle. Realizing the end is at hand, Lee tells his men no, it is time to surrender and tell their sons to go home and become Americans. He stops an effort that would send Confederate soldiers in the hills to fight a guerilla war that would last for years to come.

When Lee meets Grant, they make small talk of the old days when they served in Mexico together. Grants terms are magnanimous. the men can go home they must remain until exchanged. They must lay down their arms and flags. Initally, Grant required the surrendered soldiers to turn in their horses with the rest of the equipment. However, Lee informed him that in the Confederate cavalry all mounts were personally supplied by the soldiers and the horses would be needed for farm work. Grant graciously allowed the horses to stay with their riders.

What I find so remarkable is that after this 4 year long titanic struggle and 620,000 deaths, we could end it all virtually in a few days with a handshake. Yet today, we have Democrats and Republicans at each others throats not willing to give an inch on anything, polarizing the entire country. What the heck is wrong with these idiots. Everyone of them should be thrown out of office with a "do-over" and we should start over again.

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