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Posted By: on: 07/26/2000 15:08:00 EDT
Subject: RE: THe Great Charge.... Was it Stupidity or Raw Courage or????

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I was browsing through the pictures that I took that are now on the web. (Thanks Bill!!).... It took me back to that Saturday.. I remeber when I took those, thinking, you have got to be kidding!.. They marched in formation across of a mile in spots of rolling country side, maintaining formation as much as possible... I am out of shape, but I kept thinking, ok they are under fire at this point and at this point they had the presence of mind to dress lines and go back at it. They kept going despite friends, brothers, fathers uncles, family! getting hit, falling, the carnage, and horror. But they KEPT GOING!.. They get to the fence at the Pike, at this point catching the first solid volley fire of the troops on the ridge line, push over through, the fence and now at the double quick get to the wall........ What was it that drove them? what kept them going? Dedication to cause? such fear of dishonor and disgrace that they would rather die then turn back? WOuld we have been of such medal? Could you, I or any of our friends done that??? Was it stupidity on the average soldiers part to keep going? Or was it Raw courage?

I wonder, I wonder......


Hi Jim,
Good question! I thought about that, too, as we walked across. I was in the group walking Pettigrew's route and we had no swales to occasionally hide us from the guns behind the wall. Like you, I couldn't help but marvel at their courage. Shelby Foote once said that if he'd been there and looked across that field at the wall, he might have said "no sir, marse Robert, I ain't going." Then he said, "but I wouldn't have had that much nerve. Nobody would have." I guess maybe it was not only courage that drove them on, but trust in Lee as well as their sense of honor.

Jim and Carolyn,
I felt the same thing as I crossed that field. There I was in front, carrying the banner, and thinking "I'm a brillant flash of color in a green field. What am I doing?" I cannot imagine doing that while shot and shell are being fired at me from across the way, especially since Pettigrew's men did not have any swales to take cover in. To face the enemy, certain death and to keep going is pure and simple courage. I am sure I would not have had that if it had been 1863 and I was crossing that field. Those men are, to me, heroes..each and every one.shari

Well I found this place for good or bad. I hope you folks were not tring to lose me and my spelling. Anyway I have thought about this for along time. Armys up until W.W.II would ecept almost any amount of dead. I think two things come into play. Unlike us in this day in age. The civil war era people where some what use to a lot of death. A lot of children died . adults often died early. Today something that would of killed most folks then are just routine now. I know this is pretty basic. I konw myself at the age of 32 would of died in 1863. My lungs filled up but for me it was just a 5 day hospital stay. Back then I would of left a pregnent widow and 5 year old son. Now that would of been thought of as a rareity but back then it would of been almost a common place event. The next thing that changed the way we think about honor and such things was W.W. I the "great war" changed everything from art to poltical thought to the way wew think about life and death. It showed how totally savage how man could become. The boys that went off to fight the Spanish in 1898 felt almost the same way as the boys of 1861. And yet in 1917 the dough boys knew that they were getting into a blood letting and went about in a more straight forward we got to get this done mentality. Anyway thats the only answers I could come up with. I don't know maybe Im tired and this is some sort of ramble:Old Juan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have no idea at all,whether or not this charge was insanity.I do know this....that each time I've visted the field or its environs,the chills become more profound. I think this is due to increased knowlege with each trip,elevated empathy if you prefer......For what they all-defenders and attackers-did in making us one great nation.......I am grateful.

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Dan's Civil War Page
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