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Officers Of Gettysburg Essay

715 words - 3 pages

The American Civil War was a unique event in world history for it was a war fought over a definition. It was not the first time a nation’s people turned on each other, to settle in combat differences seemingly irreconcilable through diplomacy and discourse. It was unique in that the people of the United States did not share a long history, a common ethnicity; they were not united by religion or language. The United States was a conglomerate, a nation of people from every corner of the Earth. Lacking the usual commonalities shared by countrymen from the old world, the United States was defined by the idea of freedom. The words of the constitution created a nation where any man was free to rise or fall by his own abilities, free to forge his own destiny free of restraint by condition of birth. The idea of the American freedom is what welded together a diverse people, it gave a tradition to those who shared little else. The American freedom transcended all other ties, yet while uniting a nation with an ideology stronger than any religion it also served as the source of division that ultimately led to war. Together the Confederate States and the Union fought to preserve the unifying idea of freedom, yet it was over the precise definition of this concept that lead to war.

The Battle of Gettysburg must be told from the perspective of the officers for the full measure of the tragedy is to be understood. The bromide characterization of the Civil War as a brother’s war has the same numbing effect as does summing a battle into impassionate numbers, lists of total dead and wounded. It was the officers of the Confederacy and the Union who were forced to meet in battle despite long careers as professional soldiers, serving together from education at West Point through the Mexican-American war. It was during these years of service together that close friendships were formed, yet as the nation divided so did they. As a native Virginian, General Robert Lee choose to fight for the...

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