Monday, May 12, 2014

AAM Monday: Reflections on Time

Yesterday, we took a drive down Interstate 81 to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to a book sale. We haven't been down there for quite a while, a year or more, and it was a beautiful day for the drive. I have always been aware that the drive takes us through Civil War territory but it's mostly been in the back of my mind. Not on this trip.

This year, the road was dotted with signs and a lot of sprucing up of towns that played a role in the many Civil War battles.  If Northern Virginia is Mosby territory, my dh told me that the Shenandoah valley is Stonewall Jackson territory.  Both Confederate officers, Colonel Mosby and General Jackson, still have Virginia schools named after them which tells you that you are in the South.

This is the 150th anniversary of many of those battles and it got me to thinking. 75 years ago my dh was born. That means that when he was born, it was also 75 years ago that these battles took place.  Just one lifetime away. 

When I was a child of about 10 we drove from Maryland to Florida one winter for a very special Christmas vacation. Before interstates, this was quite a drive, and I clearly recall my father pointing out the 'Sherman' monuments' as we entered the deep south. Homes that had been burnt in General Sherman's March to the Sea from Atlanta, no longer existed except for brick chimneys and the occasional wall. The areas we drove through back in 1954 still reflected a defeated Confederacy and the poverty that remained after this scorched earth policy. Had I really understood this it would have made me realize that I could be seeing people a bit older than myself who had grandfathers who fought in our Civil War, or the War Between the States, as it is still known in this part of the US.

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, May 12 a day in which 17, 000 lives were lost in a 22 hour period. "Clubbed muskets, and bayonets were the modes of fighting for those who had used up their cartridges, and frenzy seemed to possess the yelling, demonic hordes on either side." By dawn, when Union forces approached the trenches,  "They were lying literally in heaps, hideous to look at. The writhing of the wounded and dying who lay beneath the dead bodies moved the whole mass..." 

Just two lifetimes ago.

1 comment:

Photocat said...

My God Maureen, we could have crossed on the highways. We did Manassas on monday, our last day in the States. And I only just caught up on email and found your phonenumber and adress. I could not keep up with email while travelling and now I missed you... Darn.
On Sunday, we were just there, in the Shenandoah valley. and stopped at a small cemetary at a bridge somewhere, on our way to Front Royal... How weird is that, that we keep coming through spots that we both now know... I wished I would have met you. But then after October of 14, the chances will defnitely rise. Stonewall Jackson is one of my personal favorites (if that is at all possible) of the war, even if he is a Southerner. Aaron is still very much Yankee in thoughts, we do not agree on this one... Grin. Manassas has a huge statue of the General overlooking the battlefield...

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