September 2013 Web Mailbag
To the Editor:
Your July, 2013 article “Ten Myths of Gettysburg” by Ralph Peters was an overall excellent and timely piece for the 150th anniversary. There is no question that the author’s scholarship is dead-on with respect to the comparative performances of the armies and their commanders. While I’m surprised that anyone would still regard Meade as a failure or even timid after his Gettysburg performance, Peters’ analysis is certainly correct. Except …
… the author seems to discount whatever factors allowed the North to “move on” while the South had need to salve its pride. To broadly accuse the Southerners of sanitizing the Lost Cause ignores the realities of Reconstruction, which caused no suffering to the occupying victors. Recognizing the grim odds knowingly accepted, and the ghastly losses endured by the Confederates does not mythologize them. Col. Peters’ point that a chivalric code got a great many more Confederate commanders killed is a strong point; to extend his line in suggesting that this is somehow less worthy of celebration, in the context of the struggle and its aftermath, was gratuitous and undue.
Port Saint Joe, Florida