Sunday, June 9, 2013

The March V.

This is coolbert:

Centipede or Millipede?

Continuing with extracts and commentary from the novel by E. L. Doctorow, "The March".

That Army of the West under the command of Sherman, three corps sized columns marching in parallel, moving eastward the forward progress twelve to fifteen miles per day in some respects analogous to a living organism.

Moves, uses energy, responds to stimuli, has an organized structure, etc.

Here Wrede the army surgeon [Union] in conversation with Emily, a southern woman of patrician bearing, now a refugee in the aftermath of the Yankee destruction of Milledgeville.

"She [Emily] found in the steady peaceful march thought the pine forest a reason to admire men. As Northerners these soldiers were far from their homes and families. Yet they persisted and walked the earth as if the earth were their home . . ."

"I [Wrede] confess I no longer find it strange to have no habitation, to wake up each morning in a different place, he said. To march camp and march again. To meet resistance at a river or a hamlet and engage in combat. And then to bury our dead and resume the march . . ."
We have everything that defines a civilization . . . We have engineers, quartermaster, commissary, cooks, musicians, doctors, carpenters, servants, and guns."
. . . .

"Imagine a great segmented body moving in contractions and dilations at a rate of twelve or fifteen miles a day, a creature of a hundred thousand feet. it is tubular in its being and tentacled to the roads and bridges over which it travels. It sends out as antennae its men on horses. It consumes everything in its path. It is an immense organism, this army, with a small brain. That would be General Sherman . . ."

NOT necessarily a centipede or millipede but perhaps better thought of as army ants. The social insects and man those "creatures" of the animal kingdom that wage war. Ants "responding to stimuli" by chemical reactions, that Army of the West responding to orders and commands issued by W.T. Sherman.


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