Friday, June 21, 2013

The March X.

This is coolbert:



Finale! Extract with comment from the novel by E. L. Doctorow, "The March".

As described by Doctorow, General Sherman subsequent to the surrender of Joe Johnston and the armies of the Confederacy, considering his actions.

Did I go too far?

Was I given over to callous excess?

Did the ends justify my means?

"ONLY AFTERWARD, IN the late night, as Sherman sat by the hearth in the billet provided him, did he feel a peculiar envy for Joe Johnston and the South he represented. How unsettling. In one hand Sherman held his cigar, in the other his schooner of brandy. He stared into the fire. There was this about the end of a war, that once the cheering was over, you were of two minds. Yes, your cause was just. Yes, you could drink your flagon of pride. But victory was a shadowed, ambiguous thing. I will go on wondering about my actions. Whereas General Johnston and his colleagues of the unjust cause, now embittered and awash in defeat, will have sublimed to a righteously aggrieved state that would empower them for a century."


1. "Embittered" and "righteously aggrieved".

* Indeed the American Southerner for a period of almost one hundred fifty years even unto this very moment has had a nostalgic and very long-lasting affection for what is generally referred to as the "Lost Cause". The Confederacy, the Old South, secession as a RIGHT and everything that goes with it.

2. "Of two minds" and The Great Compromise.

* The Great Compromise in the aftermath of the war was that: 1. The American Southerner generally agreeing it was probably better that the Union was preserved. [it was] 2. The American Northerner generally agreeing that the Confederates had fought bravely for their cause with honor [they did]!

3. Further.

* Those states constituting the Confederacy during the time of the American Civil War economically devastated and NOT sharing in the general prosperity of the rest of the nation for about a period of one hundred years.

4. The penitent?

* Sherman having his doubts about his actions even in that period shortly after a cessation of hostilities without question. The man hastening south in an effort to alleviate as best possible suffering of the southern population. It that regard Sherman in a manner acting as a penitent?

A penitent much as did another military man from two thousand years earlier. Ashoka the Great King of India. A unifier of the Indian sub-continent who in the aftermath of victory is recorded as lamenting the means and measures necessary for victory. Ashoka too a penitent seeking to make atonement and make amends when possible.

“What have I done? If this is a victory, what’s a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other’s kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant…. What’s this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?” - - Ashoka.

Such is war, such was the American Civil War, and such will always be war.

Thanks again in all cases to E. L. Doctorow.


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