Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gettysburg: The History Channel

In the beginning of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in Pennsylvania. The History Channel recently had a 2-hour documentary on the subject.  Regardless with which side your sympathies lie, some of the statistics are staggering.

In this 3-day battle, almost 50,000 men were killed or wounded. If this were to compare in today's population, that would be the equivalent of 6 million men. And these were all American men.

Nearly 25% of the men who came to the battle were killed or wounded.

While watching the reenactments and listening to the words of the soldiers that were memorialized and sent home to their families, I wondered at the motivation of the men. Battle conditions were incredibly fierce. Soldiers trudged across open fields into artillary fire, knowing that if they were hit by the cannon shot, it would mean almost certain death or dismemberment. Was is dedication to the cause? Was it bravery? Was it that in the heat of battle, there was no other choice but to move forward?

As General William Tecumsah Sherman famously said, "War is hell." I am sure it is necessary at times, but hell nonetheless.

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