Monday, July 1, 2013

Gettysburg 150 Years Later

150 years ago, as Independence Day approached, our nation was engaged in its most bloody war to date. More American lives died during the Civil War than in any other war the US has engaged  in.

Both sides of the war contain stories of American courage, bravery, and morals. The war itself is a black eye on US history. In many ways, it was a war of ideals and the priority of morals based upon individual natural rights.

Though slavery is considered the most propagated cause of the war, it was just one issue. In fact, it was not the most important issue that led to the secession. The more agricultural south protested taxation on their goods. They also protested what they saw as inflated prices of manufactured goods bought from the North that were made from the raw materials the South produced.

The South also rebelled against what it saw as executive overreach into private property rights, violating the 4th Amendment among other portions of the US Constitution.

The "slavery" debate arose because many in the South still saw human beings (slaves) as among the property that the North wanted to confiscate under an overreach of eminent domain.

The US Supreme Court even ruled that the South's secession was constitutional. Amendments to the US Constitution have since taken that right away from the states.

Many of the same issues are points of political contention today. The allegations of racism and modern slavery are shot back and forth across the political aisles. Historically, however, the left side of the aisle is notorious for segregation, civil rights violations, and support of slavery. The real issues, however, still remain natural law, natural rights, and the federal government's authoritative limits. 

Those who have studied the writing of the US Constitution will know that many of the delegates, including Madison, opposed slavery and wanted it abolished in 1787. In order to get the US Constitution ratified, they dropped those clauses. The majority of Americans, even as the seceded to form the Confederacy, opposed slavery as a violation of those basic individual rights. The issue, to them, was that the federal government had no right to choose their morality for them, or impose its will over the states.
There were 63 Medals of Honor (link contains most of the citations) issued for actions Soldiers took during the Battle of Gettysburg. That remains, perhaps, the most awarded for any single battle in US History. If not, it is a record that no battle should ever seek to break.

Nine generals died as a result of the battle.There were a total of 120 General Officers on the field those days.

There were actually two battles. The second, more famous one, lasted three days. The fighting lasted from July 1-3 1863, as a bloody prelude to Independence Day.

Gettysburg is often named as the most bloody battle US Forces engaged in. The casualty count is among the highest. However, in adjusted dollars, Gettysburg probably still remains one of the most costly, in terms of finances and human life combined.  It also remains one of the most important battles in history. It can be said to mark a turning point in the war.

One rumor about the battle is that it was about the supply of shoes. The strategic reason behind the battle, however, was for control over a nexus of supply routes, primarily roads. 

President Lincoln spoke for two minutes on November 16, 1863, dedicating the national cemetery on the sight of one of our republic's bloodiest battles. Lincoln was not the keynote speaker, though his speech has gone down as one of the greatest speeches in US History.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal"

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow, this ground-- The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

To our faithful Soldiers (on both sides) who fought bravely and valiantly, we will not forget.