Sunday, October 21, 2007
What he fought for. Killer Angels 2
Are all men brothers? I think many Christians would answer that question with a "yes". But it would not be my first thought, and I do not hear it much. There is stronger theological support to say all Christians are brothers. However it also seems true that we should at least treat all men as brothers. According to Michael Shaara in "The Killer Angels" Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a believer in the brotherhood of all man kind. Above is a painting of him saving the day at The Battle of Gettysburg. He was protecting the Union flank. Out of ammo he knew if they did not hold the line the Rebels would get behind the union army and all would be lost, the battle and perhaps the war. So, he ordered a bayonet charge. But I get ahead of myself. Why was he there? He was a Professor and sometimes Christian Theologian who taught himself Greek. He passed on going to the mission field to study languages and learned nine! (Greek, Latin, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac) But he always wanted to be a soldier. Why?
At Gettysburg he was colonel in command of the 20th Maine infantry. 120 deserters were assigned to his detail that day. His orders were to make them fight or shoot them. The deserters thought they had signed up for two years and their time was up. But they had actually signed up for three years and felt cheated.
From the Killer Angels: (Chamberlain Address the deserters)
"I've been ordered to take you men with me. I've been told that if you don't come I can shoot you. Well you know I won't do that... Well I don't want to preach to you. You know who we are and what we are doing here. But if your going to fight along side of us there is a few things I want you to know. This regiment was formed last fall back in Maine. There were a thousand of us then. There's not three hundred of us now. But what is left is choice."
He was embarrassed. He spoke very slowly, staring at the ground.
"Some of us volunteered to fight for Union. Some came in mainly because we were bored at home and this looked like it might be fun. Some came because we were ashamed not to. Many of us came... because it was the right thing to do. All of us have seen men die. Most of us never saw a black man back home. We think on that too. But freedom.... is not just a word."
He looked up into the sky over silent faces.
"This is a different kind of Army. If you look at history you'll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we're here for something new. I don't.... this hasn't happened much in the history of the world. We're an army going out to set other men free."
He bent down, scratched the black dirt unto his fingers. He was beginning to warm to it; the words were beginning to flow. "The is free ground. All the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here you can be something. Here's a place to build a home. It isn't the land - there's always more land. It's the idea that we all have value, you and me, we're Worth something more then the dirt. What we're all fighting for, in the end, is each other..... Didn't mean to preach. Sorry. But I thought... you should know who we are."
He turned left silence behind him. Tom came up with the horse. "My Lawrence, you sure talk pretty."
According to Shaara all but six of the men joined the fight. Those six came along under guard. Three more joined in at the battle since they were there anyway. Fascinating. His bayonet charge sent the Rebs running. A very rare thing. Don't know anything about the guy other then what I am reading in this book. But I intend to find out more.