The 150-Year War
(illustration by Lou Beach)
Two military men who marked so decisively the history of the Civil War, Gen. Sherman about Gen. Grant: He stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk. If you are not impressed by this quote, here's another one, also from the years of the Civil War, a Pennsylvania muster roll: Sgt. Frank Mayne; deserted Aug. 24, 1862; subsequently killed in battle in another regiment, and discovered to be a woman; real name, Frances Day.
Rebel Choctaws and Union Kickapoos, Confederate Rabbis and Arab camel drivers, Corps d’Afrique, Creole Rebels, Slavonian Rifles and European Brigade: three days at Gettysburg killed and wounded more Americans than nine years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have. It was big, and it was awful. The Civil War marked the coming of American nation to self-awareness. The coming to terms with itself. It was necessary. It was awful.
Tony Horwitz was born in 1958, when the last Union drummer boy had only just died and plastic blue-and-gray soldiers were popular toys. You should read his essay from today's NY Times.