To the editor: With all the talk about removing Confederate statues and renaming military bases, the true apocalyptic character of the Civil War has been much miss-represented lately. Recently, Joint Chiefs’ Gen. Milley complained that a Southern general stated that the South seceded from the Union to preserve slavery. While the base name will be changed, at least the long dead general spoke the truth.
The case against Lee, after turning down Lincoln’s seemingly naive request to head federal troops, is stronger. Lincoln’s platform was to stop expansion of slavery but not abolish it in the South. He reasoned that slavery was dying (freed Maryland Blacks outnumbered those in chains), and that this would kill it. Lee, having drunk the Kool-Aid, chose Virginia, thereby losing his chance at redemption forever and plunging the country into a fiery Gotterdammerung.
The political issue with the Civil War was that had Lincoln not brought out the sword to stop the Confederacy from leaving (which indeed had questionable constitutional grounds), who knows where we would be today. Moreover, had Lincoln lost the 1864 election, which he figured was likely, the Confederacy would probably have prevailed. While demonstrators may wish to tear Lincoln’s statue down, I think that replacing it with one showing some Black battle-hardened Union troops saluting their commander in chief might be more appropriate. But of course, Sherman finally took Atlanta in July. Someone started the fires and the final apocalyptic days of the war, memorialized in the antiwar novel “Gone with the Wind,” commenced with Sherman’s march to the sea.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Wagner was working on the Ring Cycle but hadn’t yet finished “Gotterdammerung” (“Twilight of the Gods”). Having won the election aided by Sherman, and with about 750,000 North/South men dead, Lincoln stepped to the podium for his second inauguration and unflinchingly described the real world Gotterdammerung: “… until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword …” will this scourge be lifted. Indeed, numerous Southern soldiers, who effectively gave their blood to expiate their states’ sin of slavery, also deserve our nation’s respect.