Reply to my response from Robert Walton ….
Dear Mr. Ramsey,
I received a number of responses – ranging from rabid racist rant to obscurantist historical nitpick – to my column in the Salinas Californian. Yours, which I do not include among the others, is the only one to which I will reply. I do so for two reasons.
First, I suspect your historical scholarship is much greater than mine. It was astute of you to note that I ran across the Forrest quotation in Mr. Sandberg’s work. I subsequently found a more colorful version via internet search. I needn’t tell you that the internet has opened vast archives of primary source material. The Clark letter, by the by, is quite legitimate. I found it some years back while looking for primary sources students could access. I doubt Mr. Sandberg ever saw it.
Second, you are the only person among the responders who admitted that slavery might have played some small part in the worst trauma our nation has endured and continues to endure.
My eldest son and I visited Gettysburg in July of 2009. It was late in the day and we had only a few hours to spare for our walk around the battlefield. We began on Cemetery Hill, passed the Little Clump of Trees and continued to Little Roundtop. We visited the monument to the 20th Maine, walked down through Devil’s Den and past the Peach Orchard. We returned via the dirt margin of the Emmetsburg Road. We looked for and found a break in the fences and followed Pickett’s path up to the Clump of Trees. We stood in the place where young soldiers of the 26th North Carolina regiment were decimated by canister. As you no doubt know, a flag-bearer miraculously survived. Soldiers in blue behind the wall held their fire out of respect for his courage. One called out, "Come over to this side of the Lord." He did and was made captive.
The respect and honor showed by these young soldiers for each other inspires me. We should emulate it as we can. It is truth to build upon. Was the South ravaged and wronged? Absolutely. Was the South invaded? Undeniably. Were there multiple proximate causes of the war? Yes, but I still hold slavery underlay them all. Even your General Cleburne hops very high over the issue of 4,000,000 slaves. If slavery was a great sin, then we expiated it together with oceans of blood and decades of pain. Was slavery ended by the Civil War? Yes and we all should be proud of it.
I ask you in all honesty: if we don’t join in claiming the achievement gained by such immense sacrifice, what future do we have together?