July 21, 2005

July 21, 1861

From the Library of Congress, an entry marking not only the birth of Earnest Hemingway in 1899, but also the First Battle of Manassas (what the Yankees term Bull Run.)

As always, it can be misleading to try to project onto the present the goings on of the past, but it's probably still instructive to consider that after the Federal defeat at Bull Run, many were further convinced that Confederate victory would soon come, and that it was best to sue for peace and allow the country to be divided up.

The battle stories in Harper's Weekly of the second week in August are quite a read (as is Edward Bulwer Lytton's new serialized novel), with tales of incompetent leadership, superior enemy resources, cowardice up and down the line, and a continual patter of defeatism.

We all know how it turned out. But the inevitability of the South's defeat looks certain only in retrospect, and things could have turned out much differently had the Copperheads (and many in the press) gotten their way, or if a few crucial battles had tilted differently.

Worth remembering today when we keep hearing about how we should be more open in trying to find "root causes" for the reasons radical Islamists hate us so much, or the odd necessity some of our fellow Americans feel in contradicting even the most common sense methods of fighting our current conflict, merely for political gain, and even if it strengthens the hand of our enemies.

Difference between then and now? Well, the Confederacy would more than likely have been satisfied with the territory it held, an uncomfortable thorn in the side of the United States, but generally not a further threat to the Northern border. The enemy we fight today will not be satisfied until everyone either bows to Mecca, or is dead.

It's best to make sure we win this one, possibly more than any other war we've fought.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at July 21, 2005 01:14 PM