Wednesday, July 3, 2013

RNLA Salute to President Abraham Lincoln

On the week of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg the RNLA would like to salute President Abraham Lincoln, a great man, a lawyer, and our first Republican President.

The battle of Gettysburg lasted three days and the 150th anniversary the battle happened on Monday. Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War because it effectively ended Robert E. Lee's invasion of the north and set in motion the events that won the war for the Union.

National Review Editor Rich Lowry recently authored the best selling book "Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream — and How We Can Do It Again" and gave some comments about Gettysburg and Lincoln to Newsmax.
"Altogether, between the Confederates and the Union troops, there were about 50,000 casualties over the course of those three days — killed, wounded, missing,…….. And of the 3,900 dead who were buried there at Gettysburg, a quarter of them were unknown, so you couldn't figure out who they were, which gives you an idea of just how astonishingly bloody this was."

Lowry said even before the key battle, it was clear the South could not have conquered the North, "but there was a chance it could force the North to give up."

"We tend to think big historical events are inevitable — the way they turned out, that's just inexorably the way they had to go," said Lowry. "It's never the case. And if a few things had bounced a different way in Gettysburg, we might have an entirely different Civil War."

While the battle was ongoing, President Abraham Lincoln kept an eye on events from the White House. His famous Gettysburg Address was delivered four months later at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery.

"He famously monitored military operations very closely, spending a lot of time in the telegraphy office," said Lowry. "It hadn't been good times generally for the Union Army….on July 2, the second day of the battle, Lee really thought he had won and nearly had won on that day. The Confederate troops nearly broke the Union lines, and that's why on July 3, the final day of the battle, Lee thinks it just takes one final push — this is the famous or infamous Pickett's Charge — 10,000 or so troops going straight at the Union line. They have to run about a mile through fearsome Union artillery and it turned out to be just kind of a meat-grinder. ... It broke the Confederate Army. Lee was defeated, he had to retreat, he offers his resignation to Jefferson Davis. It's not accepted because now the only way it seems the South can survive is by relying on the kind of magical generalship of Robert E. Lee, but he'll never again regain the military initiative after that."

The Gettysburg victory was "bittersweet" for Lincoln, said Lowry. He felt the best course of action for the Union would be to pursue General Lee's forces as they retreated and destroyed them, but General Meade was more cautious.  President Lincoln was frustrated with the war and knew this battle was a much needed turning point for the North.  If a win could not be secured, then conflict and the draft "which was extremely unpopular" would continue.  However, when most people think of Gettysburg, they think of President Lincoln's 272-word speech starting with "Four score and seven years ago," rather than the three bloody days of conflict. President Lincoln’s speech followed noted orator and statesman Edward Everett, who spoke for more than two hours. By contrast, Lincoln's speech was done in two minutes.

"It was a very word-oriented culture," Lowry pointed out. "That's why people tend to contrast Lincoln's short brilliant speech with the supposed windbaggery of those who spoke before him who went on for two hours, two-and-a-half hours....He cared so much about words, especially what was going to be such an important speech at such an important occasion. So he revised it repeatedly before he delivered it, and revised it even after it was delivered for the newspapers," Lowry said.  
 On the eve of Independence Day, we salute those who fought in not only Gettysburg, but every battle that keeps the United States of America the land of the free and home of the brave.

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