Tag Archives: Veterans Day

A Soldier’s Love

George McClellan said goodbye to his beloved… Army of the Potomac on November 11, 1862.  He cared deeply for their well being(much too deeply it turned out) and they repaid him with unwavering affection.  Lincoln had to make the decision- The “Young Napoleon” was fighting like the war could go on for decades.  But to his troops, he would forever be “Little Mac.”  He left them with this thought….

Little Mac

Little Mac

“In parting from you I cannot express the love and gratitude I bear to you. As an army you have grown up under my care. In you I have never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have fought under my command will proudly live in our nation’s history. The glory you have achieved, our mutual perils and fatigues, the graves of our comrades fallen in battle and by disease, the broken forms of those whom wounds and sickness have disabled—the strongest associations which can exist among men—unite us still by an indissoluble tie. We shall ever be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nationality of its people.”

 

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A Soldier’s Love

George McClellan said goodbye to his beloved… Army of the Potomac on November 11, 1862.  He cared deeply for their well being(much too deeply it turned out) and they repaid him with unwavering affection.  Lincoln had to make the decision- The “Young Napoleon” was fighting like the war could go on for decades.  But to his troops, he would forever be “Little Mac.”  He left them with this thought….

Little Mac

Little Mac

“In parting from you I cannot express the love and gratitude I bear to you. As an army you have grown up under my care. In you I have never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have fought under my command will proudly live in our nation’s history. The glory you have achieved, our mutual perils and fatigues, the graves of our comrades fallen in battle and by disease, the broken forms of those whom wounds and sickness have disabled—the strongest associations which can exist among men—unite us still by an indissoluble tie. We shall ever be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nationality of its people.”

 

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Veterans Day Profile

Alexander Stewart Webb is a hero…as discussed in an earlier post, the term is bantered around loosely in our society.  Such imprecise remembrance has resulted in men(and women) like Webb being relegated to the footnotes of our history…

Webb was born  in 1835 into a prominent military family from New York City.  Webb’s father was an officer and diplomat, his grandfather had served on George Washington’s staff during the Revolution.  Webb graduated from the US Military Academy in 1855 and served as an artillery officer during the Second Seminole War.  Webb volunteered for the Union in 1861 and rose quickly through the ranks of the volunteer army.  He fought bravely at Bull Run and received a commendation from General George McClellan for his actions during the defense of Malvern Hill in 1862.

He marched to Gettysburg in command of the gristled Philadelphia brigade of the Army of Potomac’s Second Corps.  The brigade had lapsed from its former glory before Webb took command and in just a few short weeks he had restored some discipline to the dispirited veterans.  His men did not see action until July 2, but fought well for their new commander.  When Lee’s attack reached the center of the Union line Webb’s veterans repulsed the confederates and pursued them to the Emmitsburg road capturing nearly 300.  Later, Webb led reinforcements to help push the confederates back on Cemetery Hill.

Alexander Webb received the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 3, 1863.  Webb’s brigade occupied the crucial position at the “copse of trees” which was the focal point of Lee’s attack.  Webb marched defiantly up and down his line during the fierce bombardment that preceded Pickett’s charge.  The confederates under Armistead  charged into Webb’s position and the two brigades were locked in deadly combat.  Seizing the colors of the 72nd Pennsylvania, Webb led a charge into the confederates  at the famous “angle” in the stone wall.   The two generals nearly came to personal blows as Webb’s counter attack brought them to within feet of each other.  Armistead fell mortally wounded while a ball passed through Webb’s upper thigh, but he remained on the field.  Webb describes the action in his report of the battle.  General George Gordon Meade nominated Webb for the Medal of Honor which he received in 1891.

Webb served with distinction the rest of the Civil War rising to the rank of Major General of Volunteers.  After the war he was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army and served as an instructor at West Point.  He retired from the Army in 1870 and spent 30 years as the president of New York’s City College.  He died in 1911 and was buried in the cemetery at West Point.

Generic descriptions of heroism  cheapen the bravery of men like Alexander Webb.  Not every deed carried out in a uniform is heroic.  Take time this Veterans Day weekend to remember the brave men and women who have served this country.  Heroism is not difficult to define when we look to examples like Webb. 

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Action Before Words

Olive Wendell Holmes Jr. was a soldier...  Many present day Conservatives strongly dislike him. They accuse him of being a eugenicist (tantamount to being a communist these days,)  and his opinion on national security makes their blood boil.   If ever there were sunshine soldiers and summer patriots, they are in the modern Conservative movement.  Oliver Wendell Holmes was a man of action.  His career as a jurist wasn’t forged in smoke-filled offices by arm-chair warriors.  Holmes answered the call and put on a uniform.

Controversy equalizes fools and wise men – and the fools know it.

As a member of the famous ‘Harvard Regiment’… Holmes saw his first action at Ball’s Bluff, Virginia in October of 1861.  He was grievously wounded, shot through the lung while leading his men into action.  Holmes returned to the ranks only to see his next action on September 17th, 1862, America’s bloodiest day.  Shot through the neck and left for dead, he survived a second serious wound to return to the ranks.  He would be wounded a third time in his service, rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel of volunteers.

“Comrades, some of the associations of this day are not only triumphant but joyful. Not all of those with whom we once stood shoulder to shoulder—not all of those whom we once loved and revered—are gone. On this day we still meet our companions in the freezing winter bivouacs and in those dreadful summer marches where every faculty of the soul seemed to depart one after another, leaving only a dumb animal power to set the teeth and to persist—a blind belief that somewhere and at last there was rest and water. On this day, at least, we still meet and rejoice in the closest tie which is possible between men—a tie which suffering has made indissoluble for better, for worse….But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.”

A man of action

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Hero Worship vs. Intellectual Honesty

Salon magazine writer doubts… the heroism of our veterans.  He’s offended at the concept of someone in a uniform “protecting” his freedom-  honoring of veterans is a “childish” endeavor.  Our society should view people in uniform with “skepticism”- and in all honesty, disdain.  Real heroes think, talk, protest, complain, whine… anything but act.

Perspective, please.

Perspective, please.

In the cozy confines academia…action rarely extends beyond swanky  cocktail parties.  The intelligentsia of this country, reeling from their diminished status following the failures of the 1960’s, long for a day when policy makers will listen to them once again.  The American people should be held in contempt for their “patriotic sentimentality.”  The America we should love is a collection of lovers, writers, and thinkers- harmoniously espousing the virtues brotherhood(sisterhood too?)   Let the unwashed, stupid masses believe we are the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

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Veterans Day Profile

Alexander Stewart Webb is a hero…as discussed in an earlier post, the term is bantered around loosely in our society.  Such imprecise remembrance has resulted in men(and women) like Webb being relegated to the footnotes of our history…

Webb was born  in 1835 into a prominent military family from New York City.  Webb’s father was an officer and diplomat, his grandfather had served on George Washington’s staff during the Revolution.  Webb graduated from the US Military Academy in 1855 and served as an artillery officer during the Second Seminole War.  Webb volunteered for the Union in 1861 and rose quickly through the ranks of the volunteer army.  He fought bravely at Bull Run and received a commendation from General George McClellan for his actions during the defense of Malvern Hill in 1862.

He marched to Gettysburg in command of the gristled Philadelphia brigade of the Army of Potomac’s Second Corps.  The brigade had lapsed from its former glory before Webb took command and in just a few short weeks he had restored some discipline to the dispirited veterans.  His men did not see action until July 2, but fought well for their new commander.  When Lee’s attack reached the center of the Union line Webb’s veterans repulsed the confederates and pursued them to the Emmitsburg road capturing nearly 300.  Later, Webb led reinforcements to help push the confederates back on Cemetery Hill.

Alexander Webb received the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 3, 1863.  Webb’s brigade occupied the crucial position at the “copse of trees” which was the focal point of Lee’s attack.  Webb marched defiantly up and down his line during the fierce bombardment that preceded Pickett’s charge.  The confederates under Armistead  charged into Webb’s position and the two brigades were locked in deadly combat.  Seizing the colors of the 72nd Pennsylvania, Webb led a charge into the confederates  at the famous “angle” in the stone wall.   The two generals nearly came to personal blows as Webb’s counter attack brought them to within feet of each other.  Armistead fell mortally wounded while a ball passed through Webb’s upper thigh, but he remained on the field.  Webb describes the action in his report of the battle.  General George Gordon Meade nominated Webb for the Medal of Honor which he received in 1891.

Webb served with distinction the rest of the Civil War rising to the rank of Major General of Volunteers.  After the war he was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army and served as an instructor at West Point.  He retired from the Army in 1870 and spent 30 years as the president of New York’s City College.  He died in 1911 and was buried in the cemetery at West Point.

Generic descriptions of heroism  cheapen the bravery of men like Alexander Webb.  Not every deed carried out in a uniform is heroic.  Take time this Veterans Day weekend to remember the brave men and women who have served this country.  Heroism is not difficult to define when we look to examples like Webb. 

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