Question of the Week: February 23


This week’s question comes from Chris Kolakowski:

Throughout my career I have drawn great lessons and inspiration from historical personalities and events. From the Civil War, General Grant’s campaign against Vicksburg stands out for me in this regard.

What Civil War event or person inspires you?


8 Responses to Question of the Week: February 23

  1. Abraham Lincoln. He seemed to waffle a little on the slavery issue earlier in his life and his presidency. It is clear to see that by the time he drew up the Emancipation Proclamation he had taken a firm stance. I think this shows great character in a person. He continued to weigh what was happening with public opinion and saw enough atrocities to take an unpopular stance. He was also smart enough and brave enough to appoint to his cabinet men whom he knew disagreed with him. Plus, there is no doubt he had a way with words.

  2. Colonel John T. Wilder, commander of the Lightning Brigade in the Army of the Cumberland. He combined mobility (mounted infantry) with firepower (armed with Spencer Repeating Rifles) and saved the 8th Kansas (commanded by a possible distant relative) from total destruction on the first day of Chickamauga not to mention the use of firepower and maneuver to defeat a Confederate cavalry regiment and two Confederate infantry brigades at the earlier battle of Hoover’s Gap.

  3. William T. Sherman takes Atlanta saving the election of 1864 for Lincoln. In the summer of ’64, Lincoln conceded that the war weary North would probably elect George McClellan in November. In turn what would follow? An armistice? Recognition of Southern nationality? I’ve always admired ‘Uncle Billy’. A fierce fighter but also a skilled battlefield strategist who consistently side stepped strong entrenchments. His ‘march to the sea’ was great political fodder for Lincoln, culminating in the taking of Savannah at Christmas. There are thousands of Civil War ‘what if’s’, but a defeated Lincoln in the election of 1864 is profound.

  4. Varina Davis, first lady of the Confederacy, is one of my favorite “role models” from the Civil War era. Modern studies and books about her have not always been kind, but when I did some deeper research I was impressed with her character.
    She was a very well-educated woman who had opinions. She loved her husband and family. She was known for her hospitality and generosity. Sadly, like her husband, she became a “scapegoat” for the Confederate press, but much of the accusations were without foundation. She never gave up. She was always there, offering advice when her president asked for it. Writing letters which he dictated, meeting with generals or political leaders on behalf her president during his bouts of illness. After the war, she worked tirelessly to release her husband from prison and bring their family back together.
    In summary, she was a lady with strong character, devout faith, and unfailing courage. She was opinionated and somewhat forward thinking, but in every challenge she was always a lady with true Southern feminine grace.

  5. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, of course! He directed his own life, became a self-made man, and took on every challenge sent his way. He is the quintessential Yankee “Boy of ’61.” Dying so young was a loss to the Union, for sure. He just embodies, for me, so many other young men who were proud to call themselves Americans.

  6. Jackson’s Mapmaker : Jed Hotchkiss, continued his brilliance after the war mapping out Virginia towns. His measurements of Grottoes, Va was so accurate, modern contemporaries stated he was only off a ” centimeter”

  7. If I had to pick one person from the Civil War, I’d say Stonewall Jackson inspires me. As a child, I was (and to an extent still am) painfully shy and socially awkward, and I take great comfort and inspiration from the fact that despite being such a social oddball, he become one of the greatest soldiers this country has ever produced.

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