Cisco the Harwich Spirits Shoppe cat here. We’re coming up on Memorial Day, and before we move on to yard sales (including ours!), soda, beer, hot dogs, salads, etc., maybe we should step back and think about the holiday itself for just a moment…
Obviously, we all know Memorial Day commemorates those who died in service to this country. In fact, it was initially introduced to pay tribute to the fallen of the Civil War. But before you noddingly agree and then head for the BBQ, I want to relay a very simple story from the American Civil War…
The battle of Chancellorsville Virginia lasted from April 30 to May 6, 1863. Basically, it pitted the Union Potomac Army of General Hooker against General Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The battle was famous for a number of reasons:
- Literary influence: Crane’s “Red Badge of Courage” was based on Chancellorsville.
- General Lee’s brilliance: Though outnumbered by at least 2 to 1, General Lee still won the battle and in doing so clearly established himself as one of the greatest military minds of all times.
- The death of Stonewall Jackson: Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire at Chancellorsville.
- Bloodshed: In ballpark figures, the Union fielded 90,000 men and suffered 17,000 casualties. The Confederacy waded in with roughly 50,000 and suffered 13,000 dead or wounded. It wasn’t pretty…
But the skirmish I hope you keep in mind raged in a dense patch of underbrush, vines, and scrub pines called “The Wilderness”. Union General Stoneman and his men were trying to access Lee’s supply lines in the rear, and of course the Confederates fought back in The Wilderness. Fighting was fierce, but perhaps the most ghastly aspect had to do with the rifles involved. In the 1860s the typical long arm was a muzzle-loaded rifle musket that used bits of linen called patches that were rammed down the barrel, and when fired, were ejected out of weapon – often smoldering. As night fell, both armies backed out of The Wilderness and made camp. Tragically, the patches caused small brush fires in The Wilderness. Those wounded who could crawl out of the way of the flames did. Those who couldn’t were burned alive. All night both sides listened to the screams of men being cremated alive. In the morning both sides had to go back into the smoke of The Wilderness and start the process all over again.
So that’s the story… If only it was the only one… I hope you think of it as you head for the BBQ… Of a Hell on earth, and the price others paid so that you could have your burger and beer in a secure and a united America.
Thankful by the racks…
Two cats blogging
* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.