History is people.
It’s amazing how often the lives of history’s most celebrated protagonists’ crisscrossed the paths of other protagonists. School history textbooks were written about events and protagonists at their peak. Modern historians look more deeply into the lives of heroes and villains seeking the seeds of their importance to events of their making.
This book elucidates the culture of pride and violence that allowed college alumni and roommates to lead two massive opposing armies of young men—all speaking the same language, practicing the same religions, borne of the same nation-state, with the same personal goals, and with the same skin color—to clash in the deadliest modern war up to that time.
It was a war over the seemingly esoteric governmental philosophies of ‘federalism” and “statism” (states’ rights) and the concrete concept of the right to own slaves.
By studying the far-flung, distant origins and backgrounds of two commanding generals during one climactic battle of the U.S. Civil War battle—Gettysburg—we can learn much about our nation’s history and the personal forces that made it what it is today.
If one thing is abundantly clear from this book it is that our society today, with its social safety nets, health care, antibiotics, mandatory universal happiness, and political correctness is a far different society than the one that gave rise to the Civil War. That culture was one of hardship, death, orphans, poverty, violence, strength, weakness, duels, hubris, anger and pride.
The question we must ask today is whether or not there will ever be a need to call upon emotions and men like those described in this book or if we will be able to gently massage the problems facing us today with nothing more than technology, bravado, and financial legerdemain. I am not optimistic.
This book is a woven tapestry of lives surrounding two generals whose troops would meet in a peach orchard on the Gettysburg battlefield.