I just saw the comments posted about Walt Whitman regarding an alleged massacre by Colonel John S. Mosby’s cavalry.
Frankly, I don’t know anything about that incident or "Two Rivulets." It’s entirely possible that Whitman was taken in by some propaganda and wrote a piece that was not based on fact . . . that happens all of the time and is beside the point.
What is overlooked in these comments is the fact that the bulk of Whitman’s work shows an even-handedness between North and South that should be celebrated today and put forth as a rationale to view the soldiers of both sides as true American Patriots.
Walt Whitman was certainly very fair in his commentary on William Prentiss, the mortally wounded Southern soldier featured in my book. It is well known that Whitman visited and comforted the wounded of both sides without discrimination during his numerous visits to hospitals. This experience furnished him with a unique perception of patriotism and courage which is revealed in this passage from "The Wound Dresser": "(Arous’d and angry, I’d thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face droop’d and I resigned myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead;)
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,
Of unsurpass’d heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave;)"
My book recognizes that the patriotism of both sides was rooted in the legacy of the American Revolution. Southerners viewed their struggle as a second war for independence and Northerners fought to preserve the
union created by their forefathers. This had to be the foundation of "Two Brothers: One North, One South" as it is about the Prentiss brothers from Baltimore and follows their experiences throughout the war. Below is an excerpt from a review that makes this point.
" . . . a highly dramatic and original story line . . . meticulously researched for maximum believability. The characters in Two Brothers read very real, because they are . . . a wonderful read that will appeal to history buffs on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line." – Michael Aubrecht, Historian & Author, Pinstripe Press Blog – June 2008
In my opinion, preserving and honoring the memory of Confederate soldiers is best served by recognizing that all participants were "unsurpass’d heroes."