Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Today in History

Today, Confederate forces under the command of General Beauregard began the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  This action was the spark that lit the powderkeg of the American Civil War. 

The South spent the next four years learning the hard lesson that no matter how well led or how brave your soldiers are, if you can't feed them, arm them, and replace losses in both privates and generals, you will lose in a long war against a foe that has a deep bench of generals, a huge pool of young men, and an industrial base that can crank out guns, wagons, shoes, uniforms, and food as fast as it is needed.

The family legend I heard growing up was that my Irish ancestor got off the boat, learned that there was money to be made signing up for the Army, and signed up with one of the local regiments for the bonus.  He then moved over a few blocks, signed up with another regiment, took the bounty, and moved on again.  The third time his timing was a bit off, and there wasn't time for him to slip away to continue his entrepreneurship before he was marched south.  Thus began my tradition of military service and being sneaky.

The Civil War was the bloodiest war in American history, and saw the transformation of warfare from a gentleman's pursuit to an industrial endeavor.  By the end of the war, at least on the Union side, muzzle-loading rifles and muskets were being replaced with breech loading single-shot and repeating rifles.  Telegraphs and railroads were being used as weapons of war.  Military leaders were learning that destroying a field army was easier if you destroyed the supply chain that fed it first. 

Every so often, someone on the Internet spouts off about the necessity of another Civil War.  I've heard the family legends, read the histories, and walked the battlefields and cemeteries.  It is my earnest hope that it will never be necessary for Americans to kill Americans again.  We are better served with reform and elections in Washington than we would be with bullets and bombs in Los Angeles.

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