We no longer have ears to hear or eyes to see. The eyes and ears of the Civil Warriors were taught during two centuries. Europe’s very first program of universal education began in Protestant areas of Germany in the second half of the 17th century, and the teachers’ manuals offered instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic and four-part harmony. As many German Protestants sought refuge in America as Englishmen, and the hymn-singing culture that produced a Bach or Haendel also informed the soldiers of the Civil War. That is America’s true popular culture, the adornment of its true Protestant mission.
No longer. As Joseph Bottum explains in a 2013 book that I reviewed here, the old American Protestantism has all but been replaced by a secular religion inspired by the old Social Gospel, in which religious categories are twisted to fit the narcissistic sentiments of the descendants of the old Puritans. How did this happen? Perhaps because the sacrifice of the Civil War was too great: it killed or crushed the spirit of the most enthusiastic members of that generation.
Appomattox Through a Glass Darkly — read it, the discussion of music is well worth the time.
Reading through the Richmond Virgina Daily Dispatch from January 1, 1864, is a strange experience. I can only think of the Civil War from the Union side. There are ads for the sale of human beings and rewards for run away slaves which make me shudder. There are also things which are more pointedly true than any paper would now print. Appleton stole a slave’s coat! It is hard to imagine the heart of a man who had gone to such a depth. Thus, paper’s appelation of Mr. Appleton matches both man and action:
AN OLD ROGUE.
–George Appleton, an old basin rat, too lazy to work, was before the Mayor yesterday, on charge of stealing a coat of Charles, a slave. After hearing the evidence, George was handed over to the Manager of the chain-gang, to be usefully employed on the public streets.
McClellan was better at organizing than fighting. He was highly intelligent, but couldn’t wage a successful campaign. He always had an excuse for not engaging the enemy: his men were outnumbered (actually, they were not); he needed more troops; and it wasn’t a good time or place or season for a battle. Once, Lincoln was so frustrated at McClellan’s failure to act that he sent the general a telegram that read, “If General McClellan does not want to use the Army, I would like to borrow it for a time, provided I could see how it could be made to do something.”
(I take it he did not like Yankees)
The real source of Northern prosperity has been misunderstood; so, in the author’s opinion, has the real character of the Yankee people. The nasal-toned, tobacco-chewing, and long-limbed gentleman of the present day inhabiting the New-England States, speaks the English language, it is true, in his own peculiar way, but Indian, Canadian, Irish, Dutch, French, and other bloods, course through his veins; and from his extraordinary peculiarities of habit and character displayed in this present war, it is extremely difficult to imagine which caste or shade predominates in him. He is a volatile, imaginative, superficial, theatrically-inclined individual, possessing uncommon self-confidence, and is very self-willed, arrogant, and boastful. His self-conceit is boundless: any one who disputes his ideas is a fool.
BATTLEFIELDS OF THE SOUTH FROM BULL RUN TO FREDERICKSBURGH; WITH SKETCHES OF CONFEDERATE COMMANDERS, AND GOSSIP OF THE CAMPS, ix.
By T.E.C., an English combatant of the Southern Army, 1863