Civil War Interactive Discussion Board Home
Home Search search Menu menu Not logged in - Login | Register


Seeing the Elephant - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
 Moderated by: javal1
 New Topic   Reply   Printer Friendly 
 Rate Topic 
AuthorPost
 Posted: Sat Aug 29th, 2009 10:50 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
1st Post
Doc C
Member


Joined: Sun Oct 1st, 2006
Location:  Eastern Shore, Maryland USA
Posts: 822
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I'm constantly amazed when visiting battlefields (Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, etc.) how these individuals, whether north or south, could step off and march forward. For instance, the Picketts-Trimble-Pettegrew charge on Gettysburgs' 3rd day. Many of these soldiers were present at Fredericksburg and had seen the devastating effects of a frontal charge on a prepared position. My point of this post has a couple of points - 1)what was the personal motivation of these veterans and 2)could or would modern day soldiers do the same thing. The second point comes from a recent conversation with an Iraq War veteran over an adult beverage. By the way, anytime you have the opportunity to do so, do something to express your gratitude to these veterans, whether it's buying them a beer, coke or just saying we appreciate your service.

I'm Back

Doc C



 Posted: Sun Aug 30th, 2009 10:49 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
2nd Post
javal1
Grumpy Geezer


Joined: Thu Sep 1st, 2005
Location: Tennessee USA
Posts: 1503
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Good to see you Doc.

As to #1, many of the soldier's journals and diaries I read seem to agree as to the motivation of what these men did. In most cases it wasn't " I believe in (insert favorite Northern cause here)" or "I believe in (insert favorite Southern cause here)". It was more personal than that.

In the Civil War, the guy on your right may very well have been your neighbor. Your Mom probably knows his Mom. The guy on your left may be your hometown's preacher's son. To refuse to do as ordered, or show cowardice in any way, directly affected not only your reputation, but that of your family and friends at home. If you shirk your duty, would you be able to face your family and friends once the war was over? Worse yet, would you be able to face the mother of your buddy who died doing his duty while you ran?

Add that to the "unit cohesivness" that naturally develops through training, etc. and I think the option of not doing what you're ordered may have be worse than doing it.

As for #2, that's a question I've always asked myself. Bravery has many faces. Would today's soldiers stand in an open field 50 yards from a well-armed enemy and trade fire? I just don't know. But the face of combat has changed, and we'll probably never know.



 Posted: Sun Aug 30th, 2009 02:54 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
3rd Post
Mark
Member
 

Joined: Mon Mar 30th, 2009
Location:  
Posts: 434
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I think Javal hit it on the head pretty nicely, but on point two...  I've seen soldiers do some pretty heroic things under fire in Iraq, but your question brought up a story my college history advisor told me:  he had just come back from the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and he took some of his subordinates on a tour of Shiloh battlefield to discuss the principles of war.  He was describing the Confederate assaults on the hornets nest and one of his guys said, "hell Sir, we couldn't get our guys to cross an open field like that to attack a position."  Just food for thought, but Javal is right, two different times and places can't be compared properly.  Cheers!

Mark



 Posted: Sun Aug 30th, 2009 03:37 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
4th Post
fedreb
Member


Joined: Tue Jan 16th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 239
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Fifty years after the ACW, in WW1, soldiers were marching across open fields into the teeth of machine guns for all the same reasons as Javal gives above.



 Posted: Sun Aug 30th, 2009 03:58 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
5th Post
TimK
Member
 

Joined: Thu Apr 10th, 2008
Location: Aurora, Colorado
Posts: 311
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Hey, Doc. Glad to see you're posting again, especially since college football is here again.

I've often pondered the exact question you posed. Where does this courage come from? Javal, I think, explained where a lot of it came from. But what about the courage of the people making the decisions for the frontal attacks? As a lot of us armchair generals like to discuss strategies and "what ifs", very, very, few of us have had to make the decisions to send men to what will surely be certain death to many people, forever changing the course of history.

Another thing that I think about is when, at Shiloh for example, when talking about Fallen Timbers, we read about a small skirmish that totaled only about 200 casualties as if it is insignificant. Is a casualty at Fallen Timbers any less significant than a casualty at Shiloh just because it wasn't at a "sexy" battle? Probably not to the soldiers family.

Sorry to ramble. I guess this thread made me think again about the courage of most all soldiers (like the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan") and how it is so easy to dissect their actions from the comfort of our chairs in front of our computers.

Last edited on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 03:59 pm by TimK



 Posted: Sun Aug 30th, 2009 05:42 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
6th Post
19bama46
Member
 

Joined: Thu Mar 23rd, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 146
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

TimK wrote: Hey, Doc. Glad to see you're posting again, especially since college football is here again.

I've often pondered the exact question you posed. Where does this courage come from? Javal, I think, explained where a lot of it came from. But what about the courage of the people making the decisions for the frontal attacks? As a lot of us armchair generals like to discuss strategies and "what ifs", very, very, few of us have had to make the decisions to send men to what will surely be certain death to many people, forever changing the course of history.

Another thing that I think about is when, at Shiloh for example, when talking about Fallen Timbers, we read about a small skirmish that totaled only about 200 casualties as if it is insignificant. Is a casualty at Fallen Timbers any less significant than a casualty at Shiloh just because it wasn't at a "sexy" battle? Probably not to the soldiers family.

Sorry to ramble. I guess this thread made me think again about the courage of most all soldiers (like the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan") and how it is so easy to dissect their actions from the comfort of our chairs in front of our computers.

 

Take the comparison a step further... what would be the public reaction to a "skirmish" that cost 200 casulties in Iraq or Afghanistan...


Ed



 Posted: Sun Aug 30th, 2009 07:28 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
7th Post
Doc C
Member


Joined: Sun Oct 1st, 2006
Location:  Eastern Shore, Maryland USA
Posts: 822
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Thanks all for the discussion. Good points made by all. As to #1 - did the behavior of your fellow company mates factor in to your motivation? #2) - modern day combat is very different from that of the cw. Only a complete idiot would do what those soldiers of the cw era did in todays army. Though I've never served in the military it would seem to me that combat tactics essentially change with the type of weoponry available. By the way, congrats from all, I just became a grandpa earlier this summer. I've seen well over 5,000 newborns over my 30+ year carreer and must say my new grandson is in the top 10 I've ever seen (no prejudice intended).

Doc C



 Posted: Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 07:57 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
8th Post
susansweet3
Member


Joined: Tue Sep 11th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 312
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Welcome back Doc , glad to see some of the old guard posting again.  Missed all of you guys here.

Bell Wiley in Johnny Reb talks about stepping out and marching into the enemy fire .  I remember he said one Reb held his flying pan in front of his face for protection.  He was so scared but didn't want to let his fellow soldiers and friends down.  Sadly later the young soldier was found slain.  The skillet no help at all.

 



 Current time is 05:31 am
Top




UltraBB 1.17 Copyright © 2007-2008 Data 1 Systems
Page processed in 0.3409 seconds (10% database + 90% PHP). 27 queries executed.