Came Marching Home Again
On April 12th 1861, The bankers, the money people, got their way, and Johnny Reb marched north amid hurrahs toward a war that would ultimately ultimately kill 240,000 southern soldiers and support personnel. A quarter million husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins, to say nothing of best friends and community leaders; all dead. It is safe to say that more than the flower of southern youth died in that pitiless war. The glue that bound southern society together was undone. The financial foundation of the south died on those bloody battlefields too, as did any vision of a future that that held southern towns, counties, states, and regional authorities on a rational course, for the past had been stolen by destruction too utter to comprehend, and without a past, the future has no father to guide it.
Southern hospitals were decimated, as were the schools. Hell came to the south, and, on May 9th, 1865, when Johnny finally came marching home, home turned out to be a word without meaning. Setting aside those few families who were lucky enough to see the return of a loved one, there were no hurrahs: only the weeping of the inconsolable. The devastation of the south was complete. Agriculture, gone. Livestock, gone. Property, destroyed. Roads, torn and unusable. Railroads, useless due to sabotage. It beggars the imagination doesn’t it? But that is the way of war, and that is what the surviving remnants of the southern army came home to.
And more desolation was on it’s way thanks to the final performance of James Wilkes Booth on that cursed day of April 14th 1865, for that act ensured that the fate of the south would lie in the hands of Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s Vice President, a petty, vengeful martinet who would make 150 years of third world status a certainty for the south. But more of that in the next article in this series, ”A Laudable Intent”.
Now, thanks to westward expansion, and the opportunities that existed everywhere, but the south, Johnny’s descendants live among us, in every state in the union; but the descendants of his widows still dwell in the south, as do the progeny of his orphans, and the truth is, the south is still a separate state. Southern customs, culture, and identity abound, and they differ widely from the rest of the country. No matter how many Walmarts, or McDonalds, or malls the money people put in the south, it will always see outsiders when people from other parts of the union come to their land, trying to assimilate them into the growing wasteland of corporate commercialism that has taken root in America. So, the next time you see a confederate monument pulled down, you think this: that’s not a statue of Saddam that got pulled down, that’s a piece of American history. And, pulling down Saddams statue didn’t weaken Iraqi resolve in the least, why should we believe it will birth anything but resentment and a stronger resolve to remain separate in southern folk? Shouldn’t the present allow the future a glimpse of the past? Shouldn’t American children be allowed to know that Johnny went off to war, and what it was When Johnny Came Marching Home Again?
Clevenger and Witt
Bill the Butcher