Saturday, July 4, 2009
July 4 has always had a bad taste to me. It was the day of the surrender of Vicksburg in the Civil War -- the bloodiest war in the history of this country. The casualties were many and I have read the most of any war we have ever been engaged in. Aubrey and I made a lifetime research of the facts of this war. He was a history buff and I went along with him for the ride. Here is an excerpt from an old newspaper article during some of our research at the National Park in Vicksburg.
July 4, 1863, was the turning point in the Civil War. In the battles from Port Gibson to Vicksburg Grant lost 9,855 men, of whom 1,223 were killed. In these engagements he had made 37,000 prisoners; and the Confederates had lost, besides, 10,000 killed and wounded, with a vast number of stragglers. Two days before the surrender a Vicksburg newspaper, printed on wallpaper, ridiculed a reported assurance of Grant that he should dine in that city on July 4, saying, "Ulysses must first get into the city before he dines in it."
The same paper eulogized the "luxury of mule-meat and fricasseed kitten".
And a few days ago I thought about the date I was born and the date the Civil War ended and there is only about a 70 year spread there. My great grandfather was an officer in the Confederate army and was away at war when the Union army came through our little village in Yazoo County, Mississippi and set up camp in his back pasture, where the soldiers proceeded to vandalize the house. From the old family tales from my grandmother who was a young girl they did not try to harm his family. They did take a lot of the valuables and kill enough cattle to eat. They stayed a few days and then moved on, probably to Vicksburg. Several years ago I donated my great-grandfather's old uniform and sword, along with some personal letters to the archives in the state capital.
About 25 years ago, I wrote a poem which I cannot find now which was published in a statewide newspaper about war and lack of freedom worldwide and ended saying I would be free only when the world was free. And from the looks of things there doesn't seem to be much chance of that happening.
Happy 4th of July to everyone!