Tuesday, July 3, 2012


     If you are like most, your knowledge of the Civil War is hazy or, if of a certain age, almost non existent.  Such is the sad state of how, all too frequently, history is or was taught.  
     The Gettysburg Address can be recalled by most. And most history lessons recall the Battle of Gettysburg and Pickett's charge, where on the last day of the battle Robert E. Lee ordered a confederate charge by 12,500 men, one half of whom were killed or injured.
     I've thought the history lessons were incomplete.
 This scene from July 3, 1913 is symbolic of a history lesson that is sadly under appreciated.  This is from the 50th Anniversary of the historic Battle of Gettysburg.
         53 thousand Civil War veterans, Blue and Gray, gathered to remember the terrible battle and days of fighting.
In the scene below, from the Gettysburg living history site, Pickett's Charge is memorialized by re-enactment of those who were there 50 years before.  
      On July 3rd, 1913 Union vets took positions on Cemetery Ridge and watched as the former Confederates came from the woods of Seminary Ridge.  This time when they came together they embraced in brotherly love.
 And why isn't this astounding moment being taught?
 This is from the 75th and final reunion and memorial, July 3 1938. The average age of the vets was 95, still 2000 men made the pilgrimage and again, embraced in unity, a final act of closure of the time when this nation tore apart and made war on itself.
    Even if history books, lessons and other media barely make note of those other historic 3rds of July, we note it here.
Thanks to film and YouTube
here is a short but lasting remembrance of the
extraordinary final reunion.
   More images and information are available at      's 75th Anniversary site.
   Haunting and important moments to keep in mind as you prepare for and celebrate the 4th.
    See you down the trail.


  1. Wow. Even my hometown in North Dakota had Civil War vets and a sqaure with a monument to them.

  2. On the heels of Tom's post, a couple of reactions.

    Thought #1
    I'm currently slogging my way through William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (is listening to a book via MP3 file "slogging"?) Because of this, Independence Day and its reminder of our personal liberties will, I'm sure, take on greater meaning when compared to Hitler's trampling of individual rights as he marched Germany into a second, devastating world war.

    Thought #2
    Thanks to Tom Cochrun's confidence in my video production capabilities, I was privileged some years ago to shepherd through final production seven videos telling the story of Indiana's role in, and the effects of the Civil War. Today, these continue playing as video displays in the Civil War Museum housed in the lower level of Monument Circle in Indianapolis - a monument erected, in part, as a symbolic gesture welcoming Hoosier soldiers home from the South.

    Bonus Thought
    Always remember those whose blood was shed for thee, be it revolution or in defense of liberty.

    1. Neal-
      Shirer's work is a classic. You make me want to read it again, though perhaps I'll listen this time.

    2. This article and movie brought tears to my eyes.What a great piece of history we have here.And on this 4th of July 2012 I pray for this great country harder than I have ever prayed because somewhere things have changed and I pray we can return to the greatness of our forefathers.
      Thank you Tom.

  3. I don't know why this event isn't given more media attention, but it should be. Your post reminds me of how much I enjoyed the Ken Burns special on the Civil War.

  4. Perhaps the only real way to appreciate the depth of the unfortunate but necessary tragedy of the American civil war is to walk the battlefields and cemeteries. I have been fortunate to visit Shiloh, Antietem, Gettysburg, Manassas, Fredericksburg, Bull Run, Richmond and Petersburg. Such visits have given me the perspective of time, place and the extent of loss. There is a restless pall as one walks along places where young and middle aged men bled, were maimed or died because a "grand compromise" could never be reached over the issue of slavery and "state's rights". Good men on both sides lost their lives and their property defending their honor and pride. Other signs, such as the scorch marks on the wooden hall floor of President John Tyler's Forest Lawn where the Union soldiers tried to burn a "traitor's" home or the scars of Union occupation and use as a military hospital of and around Benjamin Harrison's (the signer of the Declaration of Independence, father of William Henry and grandfather of Benjamin of Indianapolis) plantation home, "Berkeley" on the James River give an indication of how much the conflict inflamed the passions of partisans to the brink of hatred. At least at some point, the passions reconciled because we Americans are not like the Serbs, the Croats, the Albanians and other groups in the Balkan conflicts. Oddly, the only place were I found a tranquil peace has been on the grounds of Valley Forge northwest of Philadelphia. While not a battleground of warfare, Valley Forge was a test of endurance for those few men and officers to wait for an opportunity to confront the British with an element of surprise. As imperfect as nations are, the story of the United States of America is still a great one despite the injustices and excesses. 236-years as a nation and we are still learning how to keep it together. Imagine !

    1. Jed,
      Thanks for the eloquent note and historical notation. You make a powerful point.
      I agree with your view we remain a nation with greatness and can remain so providing we provide for flexibility, intellectual growth and expression and dwell close to the "bones"-the Constitution and honor the Bill of Rights.