At 4:30 a.m. on April 12th, 1861, the American Civil War began.
Four years later on April 9th, 1865, after 620,000 men mostly boys many between the ages of 13 and 17 died, ended.
President Abraham Lincoln being told, there was no one more capable, offered Robert E. Lee total command of the Union Army.
Lee, though moved, declined unable to turn his back on his beloved state of Virginia though knowing, he would lose his home that fell on the outskirts of Washington D.C.
We know it today as Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
The Custis-Lee Mansion, now called Arlington House, can still be seen along with the graves of the first Union soldiers Quartermaster General Mongomery C. Meigs, buried in Mrs. Lee’s rose garden out of anger after losing his own 22 year-old son, John, in battle also interred there.
To me, those graves always look embarrassed, about to apologize.
Meigs himself is buried at Arlington, along with Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert.
The term hooker is attributed to Union General Joseph Hooker having a succession of war groupies following his regiment.
Union General, Ambrose Burnside, sure had them, siring the trend also referred to as, mutton chops.
Mr. Lincoln, on that fateful, farewell night at Fords Theater, had invited General Grant and his wife Julia to the performance of Our American Cousin starring Laura Keene, the Meryl Streep of her time, but Julia who couldn’t stand Mary Lincoln, refused to go, probably saving her husband’s life who was also on John Wilkes Booth’s greatest hits list.
Why didn’t she like Mary? On one occasion, she accused her of flirting with Abe when the two couples went on a carriage ride, so Julia got pissed.
Apparently even in 1865, women fought like cats, in petticoats.
On September 17th, 1862 the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Maryland was the bloodiest battle in American History, 23,000 men died, were wounded, or went missing over the course of one day.
Hard to fathom when you see it now.
The Battle of Shiloh, that same year, in Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, in two days, lost 23,000 men.
The irony…Shiloh in Hebrew means, place of peace. Like Gettysburg, it also has its own cemetery, the fallen meticulously tended to as if they were still in pitched tents, awaiting orders.
William Tecumseh Sherman, nicknamed Uncle Billy by his high-spirited Division of the Mississippi, who during their infamous March to the Sea to stop the south from getting their food supplies, mangled all the railroad tracks coining them, Sherman’s neckties.
Sherman and U.S. Grant were best friends after meeting at West Point, loyal to a fault. Sherman said…Grant stood by me when I was crazy, I stood by him while he was drunk, and now we stand by each other.
They sure don’t make men like that anymore, do they.
As for Robert E. Lee, when he couldn’t bear to see his men suffer any longer, on April 9th, 1865, sent a white Confederate Flag of truce that in reality, was a mere towel (preserved atWashington’s Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History) to Ulysses S. Grant at the now iconic Appomattox Court House in Appomattox, Virginia who after accepting Lee’s defeat, kindly gave back all their food.
They were also able to keep their horses in exchange for the promise to never take up arms against the Union again.
Bighearted Abe, just like in the Bible’s Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32), only wanted his boys to come back home.
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