So you think your life was wasted – part three (11)

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

7:25 a.m. Wednesday April 26, 2006

Wheezing a little this morning – just as I was wheezing, very slightly, on Cemetery Ridge. Just enough for me to note for later significance – for it is tied in to Joseph’s experience, I think.

I can feel that someone else is in the wings for the next part of this little demonstration. Come on ahead.

Continue reading So you think your life was wasted – part three (11)

Two Views of the Civil War and Reconstruction

So You Think Your Life Was Wasted — Part Three (8)

This is a continuation of the very productive sessions I had one day in March, four years ago. This particular conversation took place at first with Claude Bowers, whose book The Tragic Era dealt with Reconstruction from a position of total sympathy with the white South of the day, then with Joseph Smallwood, perhaps a past life, who was one of the Union soldiers who counted the destruction of slavery among the results that mitigated the terrible suffering and dislocation that war caused.

Thursday March 9, 2006

(6:30 p.m.) I don’t mean to quarrel, Mr. Bowers, but the final taste your book leaves in my mouth is one of partisanship. All the nobility on one side, rascality the only motive on the other side. It is overdone, and ultimately doesn’t wash. This book looks to have been written at least in part for partisan purposes, not as a testimonial. It is somewhere between history, journalism, and propaganda.

Say that is so, it will not find itself alone on the shelf! As I said, books are written to be tools or weapons, not as monuments.

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The South’s pro-war history, and our times

I found this article, which was forwarded to me by a friend, to be most interesting in light of what Joseph Smallwood had to say (in Chasing Smallwood) about the causes of the Civil War.

By Sherwood Ross

The South is far more inclined to war than the rest of America and its politicians played a major role involving the U.S. in Iraq, a noted legal authority says.

“We’d better find some way of ending the solidly-conservative-to-reactionary-bloc- power of the South or it will cause us disaster again in the future,” writes Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.

Continue reading The South’s pro-war history, and our times

The world’s invisible Internet (5)

On December 18, I told the TMI Explorers list what had been happening, and what had just happened that day:

Email, 12-18-05:

“Speaking of beyond time and space, something interesting has been happening these past couple of days. You may remember that I connected to that life as Joseph Smallwood, the young man who visited Emerson one day in the 1840s. Well, when I was in Oregon in September I went looking for signs of his having been there (hoping to find traces of a monograph that I think he wrote) and a researcher I was talking to suggested that maybe he returned east after getting there. A thunderclap! Of course he did! He was a Transcendentalist, and probably an abolitionist. He would have been about 40 when the Civil War began, and no way would he have sat it out.

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The real enemy



This 19-year-old risked his life on Marye’s Heights to give aid to the wounded on the other side while the battle was still going on. The federals when they realized what he was doing stopped shooting and sent thunderous cheers. The boy was killed the following September, a month after his 20th birthday–but his generous act had assured that his name would live.

Overcoming the real enemy

Last Friday and Saturday, my friend Jim and I visited the sites of two Civil War battlefields: Fredericksburg and The Wilderness. In 2006, similarly, we had gone together to visit the battlefield at Gettysburg,

Those who have been following this “Chasing Smallwood” thread know that I am in contact with a Union veteran named Joseph Smallwood. Jim is similarly connected to a Confederate veteran named Hank who, like Joseph, survived the war. But Hank, unlike Joseph, has continued to be bitter about the war, having lost his home and his previous way of living to what he considered to be an unjustified invasion of his homeland.

When Jim had suggested that we visit the site of Fredericksburg I instantly agreed–but I also felt butterflies in my stomach. I wasn’t sure that Joseph was looking forward to revisiting that particular ghastly experience. Yet I knew it was important.

Continue reading The real enemy