Sunday, July 10, 2011

Civil War Sunday - You Are All Green Alike

For Ultimate Blog Challenge readers, welcome to my Civil War Sunday posts.  I am not a "Civil War Buff" but a layperson interested in history, and the Civil War is one of my interests.  (It has been for years; this isn't just a 150th anniversary of type of thing.)  I like to think of history as living, and ongoing.  In some ways we are still fighting the Civil War today, even to how we name the battles.  So on to our story...

Since the shelling of Ft. Sumter in April of 1861, some people, both North and South, continued to feel that the war would conclude rather quickly.  The Federals, in particular, were so confident that many militias were asked only to commit to the "rebellion" for only 90 days.  Some thought there would be little bloodshed.  For others, the coming battles were promises of entertainment.

Come July, the 90 day enlistments were almost up.

So far, this July of 1861, there had only been several skirmishes.  Both sides were basically green, untrained in fighting war.

That would soon change.

On July 11, 1861, the Battle of Rich Mountain would be fought in what is now West Virginia.

Ten days later, the first "true" battle of the Civil War would be fought, near Manassas Junction in Virginia.  On July 21, 1861, both sides would realize that this wasn't going to be a 90 day war.

Before the battle, Abraham Lincoln famously said "Your men are green, it is true, but so are those of the enemy; you are all green alike."

I will be writing more about First Bull Run later in July.  Call this post a "coming attraction".  But first, this note:

You will note that I call the battle First Bull Run, thereby revealing that I am a Northerner.  So a quick word of explanation to those new to learning about the Civil War so you don't get terminally confused.

A number of battles have two names.  (And, there are some cities or towns that "hosted" more than one battle:  in fact, less than a year later, there would be a second battle at Manassas. So you may also have the first battle of, the second battle of, etc.)  Northerners tended to name battles after bodies of water:  hence, Bull Run (which is a creek) and, 14 months later, Antietam (again, a creek.)  Southerners tended to name battles after the nearest town or landmark- hence, to a Southerner, the same battles would be called  Manassas and Sharpsburg.  I note that the National Park Service calls the respective battlefields Manassas and Antietam, probably because the first is located in the former Confederacy and the second is located in Maryland, which stayed with the Union.

That's all part of the excitement of studying this war.

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