Keep the Radio On

The other day in comments, Unit and I got to talking a bit about listening to the radio. I commented then that often I have the BBC local station in Norfolk on. I use an internet radio almost exclusively anymore, not least because I’m not all that fond of contemporary country music, which is about all that I can get here.

If I spent more time in the truck, I would likely bite the bullet and get me a Sirius radio, it’s an impressive service, but my internet one is just fine for here, and yes, I’ve been known to record a few hours of something to playback when I’m travelling. What can I say, I’m a cheap old curmudgeon.

It’s hard to describe the appeal of the BBC’s local stations because unless you are like me, you don’t really remember what local radio was like in the US. For quite a while now, it has mostly been the same wherever you go, delivered by satellite to the stations. That’s even true for AM talk radio. In a way, it’s good, I can listen to Rush at the same time that you do, wherever you are, but there’s little that’s personal about it.

Interestingly, the BBC local stations started coming on air 50 years ago, to counteract the pirate stations that were operating offshore. Some of these also ran shortwave service, and I can remember listening to Radio Caroline myself when I was a kid after it got dark and the propagation picked up. Them and the World Service, Radio Moscow, Radio Vatican, and for some reason Radio Quito. That’s how my interest in long-distance radio got started.

The other day The Spectator ran an article on the local stations that I found quite interesting. Here’s a bit.

It’s 50 years since the first local radio stations were launched by the BBC in yet another instance of the corporation working hard to stay ahead of the game, on this occasion responding to the challenge of the pirate stations, whose audiences were local and known to be very loyal. Radio Leicester was the first to go on air on 8 November 1967, launched by a very plummy-voiced postmaster-general as ‘the first hometown radio station in Britain’. (The BBC executive behind the idea, Frank Gillard, had spent time in America and been impressed by local radio there, wishing to replicate its homespun feel.) Others followed quickly, dependent on whether the local council was happy to provide part-funding (they are now solely funded by the BBC). Known for their cheesy jingles (Radio Merseyside boasted that their call-sign was composed by Gerry Marsden, of the Pacemakers), the BBC’s local stations were often treated like a poor relation of grand old 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Underfunded, understaffed, relegated to the back pages of Radio Times,they were designed for listeners like ‘Dave and Sue’ (the fictional target audience created by the Beeb’s marketing department), who were in their fifties, not interested in politics or piano concertos, shopped at Asda, wore ‘casual clothes’, and wanted to be cheered up and made to laugh by what they listened to. […]

That is a formula that still works, at least for me, and why listening to the radio has become in America, mostly something one does in the car, I think.

There is something very different about the conversation local stations have with their audiences. As Vanessa Feltz of Radio London explained on the World At One last Wednesday, it is ‘very, very intimate. You can be talking about specific houses, specific window boxes’; it’s broadcasting in the raw. Jack Thompson, one of the first presenters on Radio Sheffield, recalled how instead of phoning in, callers would turn up at the station and be put behind the mike, talking directly to other listeners. Local stations can react more quickly, the Radio Manchester presenter Allan Beswick staying on air until six in the morning after the Manchester Arena attack earlier this year.

That continuity and flexibility creates a bond with the listener that could be said to be ‘the culture of encounter’ interrogated by Douglas Alexander, the former Labour MP and cabinet minister, in his programme for Radio 4 on Tuesday morning. He wonders why so many of us now have the sense that we’re living among strangers, incredulous that anyone can have voted to leave the EU, or on the other hand to remain. […]

Yep, he’s right, I think. Several of the announcers have become welcome voices in my ears, one, whose name I shamefully have forgotten, got his start on Radio Caroline, and is as good as he was there, Some are just fun to listen to, where else will you find someone addressed as Thunderfairy, and some just ooze personality, like Georgey Spanswick, whose laugh is so infectious that I think she is now on all the local stations in England and the Channel Islands. Combine that with old music, both top 40 and country, and even the weekly gardening show, and it’s a calm and winning combination. Even Postman Pat shows up, and if that registers with you, you spend, like me, entirely too much time with Brits.

Shared activities bridge the difference, like the project in Peckham that brings young professionals together with older people, the young teaching techie skills, the older people telling stories, giving advice, Just like local radio.

And just like radio used to be here,

So often we cousins steal the absolute worst in each other’s culture, but here the Brits managed to steal something that was really good in America, and to get it right not long before we threw it away. Good on you, BBC. You do lots of stuff on on your big national stations radio, and TV, that is deplorable, but your local stuff is quite wonderful.

It’s a formula that worked so well that for a time in the mid 60s the best music came either from London – or Chicago. It still works for me, even if I have to listen to a station in Norwich, England. And every once in a while, someone gets on the station, that actually speaks with the Norfolk accent, if you hear it, you won’t forget it, although you may not understand a word they say.

But you know, I was never the complete rocker, for years my clock radio lulled me to sleep, set on WGN, listening to Jack Eigen talking to whatever show biz folks happened to be in Chicago that day. Nothing important, just chatting with them, maybe spinning a record of two, or maybe not. Things were simpler then, maybe because we simply didn’t hear all the noise we do these days.

And this week, one of my favorite Gingers celebrated her 85th birthday, so we’d best remember her, as well.

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The Immortal Memory

During the negotiations with France when we were trying to buy New Orléans President Jefferson wrote an open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, meaning if France took control of Louisiana it would mean war between France and the United States, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark” Of course we know that France sold Louisiana to the US so it ended well.

But, this is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English-speaking peoples with our concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the south-west coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British on the other hand had blockaded the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage, and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind (and against standing orders) they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory , HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command was Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s Cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

It is also interesting Nelson being Vice Admiral of the White is the reason that the Royal Navy from that day flies the White Ensign, before it flew all three depending on the fleet commander’s rank. The black hatband on British, American, and Russian naval enlisted caps all memorialize Nelson as well.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

Great Britain would hold uncontested command of the sea, even joining World War I partly to prevent Germany from overtaking the Royal Navy until, in 1921, she agreed to parity with the United States at the Washington Naval Conference. And it should be noted, that even then, it was not willingly, Britain was exhausted and bankrupt from the Great War, and probably recognized that the US would use her sea power much as Britain had, which has proved to be the case. It is also from this date that the United Kingdom began to recede from the first rank of great powers, although her legacy has been for the most part upheld by the US and the Commonwealth.

That’s fine, I hear you say, what’s that got to do with me, especially as an American, these 212 years later? Several things which we will talk about a bit here.

  1. The Atlantic Slave Trade ended because the British decided that it should and the Americans agreed. This led to the establishment of patrols by both navies off the west coast of Africa, effectively ending the trade. Without this, and without the Abolitionist sentiment in the United Kingdom, it is almost inconceivable that slavery would have ended in the western world.
  2. The South and Central American Republics remain independent (and sometimes free) countries. After the Napoleonic wars Metternich’s Council of Vienna considered all of continental Europe helping Spain recover her American colonies, until they found out that they would have to go through the Royal Navy. Yes, we proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 after Prime Minister George Canning proposed a joint statement, the story is that Secretary of State John Q. Adams said that would make us look like a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of-war. Therefore, we proclaimed it unilaterally. But it was enforced almost exclusively until the Spanish-American War by the Royal Navy because it was to the advantage of British mercantile interests. Britain thereby performed the same service for the New World that the US would for Europe in the last half of the Twentieth Century.
  3. The growth and development of America, if a continental power had regained control of Mexico there is a very good chance that it would have expanded into the heartland of America, certainly Texas and entirely possibly all or most of the Louisiana Purchase.

And so we, as Americans, even as the British, should remain grateful for those ‘distant storm-tossed ships’ of the Royal Navy, led by one of the great commanders of history.

And so, I give you the toast that will be drunk tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places. It is the one traditionally naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is: Rule Britannia.

And so today as the Queen Elizabeth, the first of the CVFs prepares to join the fleet, we again see the Royal Navy prepare to take on all the tasks that the Anglo-Saxons have performed for the world’s benefit since the Armada, itself.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.

Time for the Red Pill?

An interesting story came out of Fox News last week. It speaks of women, minorities and such who are coming to understand just how oppressive the Democratic Party has become, and are making YouTube video explaining how they took the red pill, and how it is down the rabbit hole. Here’s some of it.

The mainstream media failed to see the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Now it’s overlooking another grassroots movement that may soon be of equal significance— the growing number of liberals “taking the red pill.”  People of all ages and ethnicities are posting YouTube videos describing “red pill moments”—personal awakenings that have caused them to reject leftist narratives imbibed since childhood from friends, teachers, and the news and entertainment media.

You might say that those who take the red pill have been “triggered.” But instead of seeking out “safe spaces,” they’re doing the opposite, posting monologues throwing off the shackles of political correctness.

Their videos can feature the kind of subversiveness that was once a hallmark of the left—before the movement lost its sense of humor.

Candace Owens, a charismatic young African American, posts commentaries on her YouTube channel whose titles seem expressly designed to make PC heads explode.

A sample: “I Don’t Care About Charlottesville, the KKK, or White Supremacy.” The commentary calls out liberal fearmongering over white supremacists. “I mean there are, what, 6,000 Klansmen left in our nation. You want me to actually process that as a legitimate fear every day when I wake up?”

Here’s one of hers, on escaping the Democratic Plantation…

That’s some powerful stuff, I think. Continuing:

Not insignificantly, her video got nearly 500,000 views and overwhelmingly enthusiastic comments. (“you rock, girl!” “this woman is awesome.”)

A later episode about Black Lives Matter got nearly 700,000 views and had the distinction of being briefly taken down by YouTube. Unapologetic, Owens responded with a follow-up commentary — “What YouTube and Facebook REALLY Think of Black People.”

She declared, “There was only one version of a black person that these platforms are willing to help propel towards fame and notoriety—and that is an angry black victim.”  Owens calls her channel “Red Pill Black.” It invites viewers: “Sick of the alt-left. Welcome, I prescribe red pills.”

The term “taking the red pill” derives from the movie “The Matrix,” the trippy sci-fi classic. Morpheus, the resistance leader played by Laurence Fishburne offers Neo, the movie’s hero played by Keanu Reeves, a choice: He can take the blue pill and remain in the repressive artificial world known as the Matrix where “you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.” Or he can take the red pill and tumble down the “rabbit hole” where he will come to realize that everything about his life was a lie.

The left’s intensifying war on free speech has produced a surge of red pill videos. Some take Owens’ in-your-face approach. Others are meandering, hipster confessionals delivered with the wordy earnestness of characters in a Duplass brothers movie.

In his YouTube Channel, Dissent Report, a young, one-time “Bernie Sanders supporting progressive Democrat” admits from behind large sunglasses that he’s made “a pretty hard turn to the right.”

Well, its far enough from my experience that I don’t have much of an opinion, but all my life I have hope that minorities would someday see that many of those who claim to help them mere want to rule them. Maybe they are finally waking up. That would make the pain of the last few years almost worthwhile. And besides, this talk of rabbit holes reminds me of this, maybe we can reclaim it too.

Hurricane Interlude: HMS Pinafore

English: A lithographic poster for one of the ...

English: A lithographic poster for one of the many American productions of H.M.S. Pinafore, mostly unlicenced. Français : Affiche lithographique pour l’une des nombreuses mises en scènes de l’opérette H.M.S. Pinafore. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Look, I’m a realist, and if you’re spending time online today, you’re mostly reading about the hurricane in Florida. In truth, so am I, and I have little to contribute to that. No doubt, we’ll talk about it soon. But right now, I have little to contribute. But we have been seeing already stories about the Royal Navy (and Air Force) and their relief efforts, and soon the United States Navy will also be involved. But if you’ve a little time, perhaps a little classical nonsense, referred to by Bart Simpson, Captain Picard, and Indiana Jones. In other words, the operetta that made Gilbert and Sullivan a watchword, not only in England ( although he certainly was an Englishman) but also in America. First published on 9 August 20015. Enjoy, it’s been one of my greatest pleasures all my life.

I’m in the mood to mostly screw off today, so here’s an old friend, for your (and my) enjoyment.

There’s no deep message intended here, it’s Saturday, and time to wind down from another week. Cause we ain’t gonna fix it before Monday, anyway. So sit back and enjoy some of the first (semi) serious music that I fell in love with as a kid. The old Golden Records survey of music opened a lot of doors for me, and this is one of them.

From the 2005 Proms: HMS Pinafore

Any resemblance to the US Government is (I hope) coincidental,

but I wouldn’t bet much on it.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, I have to get on a jet plane in a few hours. It was unplanned, which is always unpleasant, perhaps we’ll talk about it when I get back, we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve selected several articles for you from the top twenty all time read articles here (from the several thousand we have written. I’ll only have my phone but will try to check in periodically. Uffda! In the meantime, from my friend, Oyia Brown…

An 85-year-old man was requested by his doctor for a sperm count as part of his physical exam. The doctor gave the man a jar and said, “Take this jar home and bring back a semen sample tomorrow.”The next day the 85-year-old man reappeared at the doctor’s office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day. The doctor asked, what happened and the man explained.

“Well, doc, it’s like this–first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing. Then I asked my wife for help. She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, still nothing.

We even called up Arleen, the lady next door, and she tried too. First with both hands, then an armpit, and she even tried squeezin’ it between her knees, but still nothing.”

Continued at: If You Don’t At First Succeed…

See you soon.

Palm Sunday, Looking Back

Almost every year I have published the same post for Palm Sunday, sometimes supplemented by one from Jessica. Mine deals with the leadership Jesus showed during the Passion week. I do recommend it and it is here, two years ago, Jessica picked up on the theme with a quite wonderful article, which is here.

But I want to recall a Palm Sunday, also April 9th, from American history. It was an important day, which echoes forever in American, and world history. For this is when it was decided that the republic really was indivisible.

On the 15th of April, in 1861, Confederate batteries opened on Fort Sumter, leading to a poignant scene showing the honor of the American Army.

And so, the president called for volunteers, and all the officers made their choices and soon their was a war on. The war would be the end of the old United States and would show the outlines of what we would become. As we made that course change many a legend was created, for change on this order doesn’t happen cheaply or easily. If you know anything about American history the names echo in your heart: Longstreet, Pickett, Stuart, and always Stonewall, and Chamberlain, Meade, Sheridan, and Custer, and so many more.

And the places they had been: Bull Run, the Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and now Appomattox Court House. Almost all have been preserved and on all of them if you listen carefully, you can still here the cries of the wounded, the orders of the officers, and always the guns and the rattle of musketry, for in these places, at the cost of 600,000 dead Americans, the future was forged. Note that preserving these battlefields is what President Trump donated all but a dollar of his salary to the other day.

It’s fascinated everybody ever since because of something unique in history. The two main armies, The Federal Army of the Potomac, and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, fought each other up and down the eastern theater, fighting battles as hard fought as anything in history for four years and neither one could defeat the other.

There have been and still are two strains in American war-fighting, they first became evident in the Mexican War, and they are still part of our heritage.

The first is superb leadership, especially in small units but extending up to army leadership. This was the forte of the Army of Northern Virginia, especially the combination of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. One of Lee’s staff officers said that Lee’s middle name was actually Audacity, never has there been an officer who was better at taking a reasoned chance and having it work out, especially with Jackson as his strong right arm. In any other conflict they would have defeated nearly any enemy easily but they had the misfortune to be fighting the very first of the moderns.

Because once he came east as the Lieutenant General, America has only rarely had a better general than US Grant. He was never loved like Lee and he wasn’t as daring, although he could be witness his campaign leading up to Vicksburg. But when he came east, he realized that while he could lose the war with the Army of the Potomac, he could not win it, that would be up to Sherman. His task as Patton would have put it was to hold the Confederacy by the nose, so Sherman could kick it in the rear. But Grant, like Sherman, and Sheridan, was a modern general, really more of a manager than a leader. Grant wrote superbly clear and succinct orders, that were easily transmitted by telegraph. If you doubt this you need to read his autobiography which he finished as he was dying of throat cancer, and he wrote the last few chapters in longhand, and they are almost perfect copy. He also was a master of logistics, and concentration of force.

And these are the two thrusts of the United States military ever since. Overwhelming force applied at the point of decision and an incredible ability to move around and surprise enemies. With the leadership skills down to the squad level to make it work.

But, today we are met to commemorate another day in April for on Palm Sunday, 9 April 1865, the fabled Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to the Army of the Potomac. It was trying to break through Sheridan’s cavalry and had just discovered that there were two fresh infantry corps behind the cavalry. There was nowhere left to go, and so, on Palm Sunday would come this scene.

 https://i1.wp.com/farm4.staticflickr.com/3125/2807817622_1e3e70809b_z.jpg


[Much of what follows is from Joshuapundits’ haunting account of the day. I strongly recommend that you read it all]

Lee and Grant and their staffs didn’t meet in an actual courthouse. Instead, they met in a private home, that of Wilmer McLean, at 1:30 PM on a balmy spring afternoon.

For two and a half hours they sat and talked. After pitting every muscle and sinew, every ounce of intelligence, every iota of courage and will the two of them and their armies possessed against each other, the two adversaries finally met face to face.They had not seen each other since the Mexican War two decades earlier.

Here’s how General Horace Porter, one of Lee’s staff described what happened next:

“We entered, and found General Grant sitting at a marble-topped table in the center of the room, and Lee sitting beside a small oval table near the front window, in the corner opposite to the door by which we entered, and facing General Grant. We walked in softly and ranged ourselves quietly about the sides of the room, very much as people enter a sick-chamber when they expect to find the patient dangerously ill.

The contrast between the two commanders was striking, and could not fail to attract marked attention they sat ten feet apart facing each other. General Grant, then nearly forty-three years of age, was five feet eight inches in height, with shoulders slightly stooped. His hair and full beard were a nut-brown, without a trace of gray in them. He had on a single-breasted blouse, made of dark-blue flannel, unbuttoned in front, and showing a waistcoat underneath. He wore an ordinary pair of top-boots, with his trousers inside, and was without spurs. The boots and portions of his clothes were spattered with mud. He had no sword, and a pair of shoulder-straps was all there was about him to designate his rank. In fact, aside from these, his uniform was that of a private soldier.

Lee, on the other hand, was fully six feet in height, and quite erect for one of his age, for he was Grant’s senior by sixteen years. His hair and full beard were silver-gray, and quite thick, except that the hair had become a little thin in the front. He wore a new uniform of Confederate gray, buttoned up to the throat, and at his side he carried a long sword of exceedingly fine workmanship, the hilt studded with jewels. His top-boots were comparatively new, and seemed to have on them some ornamental stitching of red silk. Like his uniform, they were singularly clean, and but little travel-stained. On the boots were handsome spurs, with large rowels. A felt hat, which in color matched pretty closely that of his uniform, and a pair of long buckskin gauntlets lay beside him on the table.” 

The two men talked briefly of their experiences in Mexico, including the one time the two men had met as young officers near Vera Cruz. Then Lee, with an emotion that can only be imagined, asked Grant to write out his terms for surrender.

Grant took out his order book, and began to write: 

“In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them.”



At that point, according to the men who were there, General Grant gazed at General’s Lee and at his sword for almost a full minute. And then continued writing:

“This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.”

Grant said later that after looking at Lee and thinking about the matter for a moment, he realized that it would be an unnecessary humiliation to require officers to surrender their swords,and that requiring members of the Confederate Army to lose their privately owned horses and mules would be a great hardship, because those animals would be badly needed to carry out the spring plowing and planting and to help rebuild the devastated South.So in the end, all officers and men were allowed to take their privately owned horses and mules home with them.

Lee read over the terms, which were as generous as he could have possibly wanted. He had fully expected that senior officers like himself might be arrested and prosecuted for treason on the spot, with Grant demanding unconditional surrender. 

So Lee took up a pen and wrote out a short note agreeing to the terms, which was officially recorded at 4 PM that same afternoon.

Grant immediately issued orders to send food rations to Lee’s starving army, and then Lee took his leave. From the account of General Porter:

“At a little before 4 o’clock General Lee shook hands with General Grant, bowed to the other officers, and with Colonel Marshall left the room. One after another we followed, and passed out to the porch. Lee signaled to his orderly to bring up his horse, and while the animal was being bridled the general stood on the lowest step and gazed sadly in the direction of the valley beyond where his army lay – now an army of prisoners. He smote his hands together a number of times in an absent sort of way; seemed not to see the group of Union officers in the yard who rose respectfully at his approach, and appeared unconscious of everything about him. All appreciated the sadness that overwhelmed him, and he had the personal sympathy of every one who beheld him at this supreme moment of trial. The approach of his horse seemed to recall him from his reverie, and he at once mounted. General Grant now stepped down from the porch, and, moving toward him, saluted him by raising his hat. He was followed in this act of courtesy by all our officers present; Lee raised his hat respectfully, and rode off to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded.”

As Lee rode away and the news of the surrender spread, the Union soldiers broke out in wild cheering. But as Grant recounted later, he ordered an immediate halt. “I at once sent word, however, to have it stopped,” he said. “The Confederates were now our countrymen, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.”

[…]

Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, 10th April 1865.

General Order
No. 9

After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.

But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.

With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

— R. E. Lee, General, General Order No. 9

On April 12, the rain had stopped and the sun broke out, almost as if the heavens had allowed the southern officers and men an appropriate background to mourn over their dead and the Lost Cause, and then signaled that it was time to move on. Something like 28,000 Confederate soldiers passed by and stacked their arms on that day as the victorious Union Armies held a ceremony of surrender.

The Union officer chosen to lead the ceremony was not General Grant or any of the professional soldiers. Instead, it was Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain, the former Maine college professor who could justifiably be said to have won the Battle of Gettysburg, holding the left flank of Little Round Top at Gettysburg against all hope by leading the survivors of the 20th Maine in a successful bayonet charge down the south slope when they were almost out of ammunition to push the enemy troops out.

Chamberlain did an unusual thing for a victor in a hard won war, something that showed he was a man of rare courage and insight both on and off the battlefield. As the Confederate Army trooped by to stack arms, Chamberlain ordered his men to present arms in salute to their defeated enemies. As he recounted later in his book:

The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier’s salutation, from the “order arms” to the old “carry”—the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,—honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!


The passing of the dead..an interesting and moving phrase.

General Chamberlain, like many others who stood on the grounds of Appomattox that bright spring day day was undoubtedly thinking of the men left behind, and it is to his credit that he had the depth of empathy and understanding to see it from both sides. But that was then. At Appomattox today, you don’t find the ghosts you find in other civil war sites. No matter how bulldozed,cleaned up and changed the landscape is, the spirits of the dead remain in easy reach at those other places. But not at Appomattox.

Even the furnishings at the McLean House are mere replicas with no real history of their own.

https://i0.wp.com/farm6.staticflickr.com/5035/7061262379_d41dc74257_z.jpg

Appomattox today is a shrine to something else entirely.Not to the dead, but to the living, the ones who survived that great conflict that ran like a livid scar across the American landscape.

Just as there was a time of war, there came a time of peace. Just as there was a time of bitter divide and conflict,there came a time of healing, a time when men who had fought each other with an uncommon ferocity for four years remembered again that they were all still members of one American family with more in common than they realized.

That should give us hope in our own times, when morally bankrupt charlatans and their willing stooges seek to manipulate us, divide us and turn us against ourselves for their own power, enrichment and aggrandizement. 

Take a moment today, if you will, to remember what occurred that long ago, almost forgotten April day, what happened there. It’s something worth thinking about.

Appomattox: The Fire Is Quenched ~ J O S H U A P U N D I T.

I am going to add a bit more to this already too long article but realize that Grant (and later Sherman) as well as Chamberlain took their cue from President Lincoln, who shortly before had told Grant and Sherman to “let ’em up easy’. In fact very soon as word spread and a celebration was taking place in the evening in Washington, he came out and requested a tune from the band, saying that it now belonged to the nation, as it still does. It was this one

And so the Confederacy dissolved into the Lost Cause to be forever revered by Americans, not because of any of its beliefs but because brave Americans, so many of them, revered their freedom enough, on both sides, to sell their lives at a very high price. And in the remembrance of glory we move forward to the point that by 1898 this could happen in “… the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Johnny Reb and Billy Yank; the twin images of America

 

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