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150 yrs ago today, the Birth of Modern War and the End of Chivalry

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posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 01:45 PM
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Appomattox,VA 150 years ago:

Today marks an important anniversary in American history. It is a demarcating line from Napoleonic warfare to the era of Modern Warfare, from masses of infantry marching in formations to weapons of mass destruction rendering such tactics useless. From the age of civilian armies meeting on clearly defined battlefields to today's War on Terror where everywhere is the battlefield. From a time when the line between combatants and non-combatants was not only known but respected to the present where even the police now see everyday citizens as potential threats.

It marks more than that however and it is exemplified by the simple acts of these 2 men who fought in that earlier age of warfare. The conduct contained in this single incident reveals great insight into the character and quality of these men.

150 years ago this day 2 American heroes were to meet at a little road junction in Virginia by the name of Appomattox. Each of these men were chosen to lead their respective troops in a ceremony of surrender. Maj. Gen John Brown Gordon was leading the Confederate troops, a man wounded 8 times in battle rising from civilian volunteer to a rank directly below Lee himself by countless acts of courage and a superb grasp of military tactics. Receiving the surrendering army was Union Brigadier General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Medal of Honor winner and the hero of little round top, a man of similar courage and stature once thought mortally wounded only to recover and lead again. Here is the surrender as Chamberlain described it:


"The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. ...... Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?

Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier's salutation, from the "order arms" to the old "carry"—the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,—honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead! "- Joshua L. Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies.


When wars were fought between men rather than machines men of such character existed and in the final moment of the war each side would pay supreme tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the other. The last act in the dying age of chivalry was staged.

It has been said that Gen. William T. Sherman was the father of modern warfare. He did this by destroying the agricultural base from which the people of the South kept themselves fed. Nor was he the only Union General to employ such tactics as places like the Shenandoah valley where barns and mills were burned, food stocks destroyed and livestock was taken. Combined with the Union Naval blockage preventing the Confederacy from receiving either food or medicines from abroad led to the deaths of thousands of civilians as well.

Technological innovations were the other aspect of Modern warfare that made their first appearances during the Civil War include: rapid fire weapons, steel warships, trench warfare, submarines and landmines - all weapons that would kill and maim millions in World War 1; "the war to end all wars" which as we now know it wasn't - but should have been.

There is a certain romance to Napoleonic battles imbued in the bravery and bravado of the men who fought. An honesty to fighting where you see the face of your enemy and you met on the field more or less equally matched. Where each man bore the brunt of the killing or the dying in a very personal fashion. The US Civil War was the stimulus to create modern warfare and it was imposed against the South and her people. The old ways of fighting would become obsolete and a new mentality, weapons and tactics would expand the war beyond defeating armies to destroying the very peoples of the Nations involved. It was genocide, plain and simple though history now glamorizes Sherman's march to the Sea and the sufferings of the South are largely forgotten even by those who live there now.

So it was that 150 years ago today an age passed away and a new age began. Let not the humanity, respect and salute between former foes be forgotten as the monumental occasion in our history it truly was. Winning - yet not gloating, losing - yet with dignity, paying tribute to each other and showing the way to reconciling a Nation torn asunder. Let us never forget the legacy of these 2 men for they are supreme examples worthy of emulation in every age to come. . Long live Generals Gordon and Chamberlain, 2 of the finest men our Nation has yet produced. Read the following posts for a brief description of the remarkable feats of these men.
edit on 12-4-2015 by Asktheanimals because: corrections




posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 01:48 PM
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a reply to: Asktheanimals

Nowadays, most wars are simply for fun and profit. Look at the various US invasions of Latin American nations and the Middle Eastern nations.
edit on 12-4-2015 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 01:52 PM
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Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon



Present at Bull Run, the first battle of the war and fittingly commanding the last Confederate attack to break out at Appomattox was a man all but forgotten in today's America - Georgian John Brown Gordon, 6 feet tall, ramrod straight with black hair, piercing gray eyes and a martial bearing. With no prior military experience he rose to the rank of Major General Commanding one of 3 corps of Lee's army Of Northern Virginia. He led his men in many of the bloodiest fights of the war: Malvern Hill, Antietam, Gettysburg, Wilderness and Spotsylvania. Commanding from horseback ahead of his troops with bullets often finding their way through his uniform Gordon unflinchingly led the men
under his command to victory after victory.

Wounded twice in the leg, once in the arm and another in the shoulder he continued to command his troops in the bloody lane at Antietam until a 5th ball tore through his face. 7 painful months later he would return to duty. His bravery was legendary and won the supreme loyalty of his troops. One private said of him: "it'd put fight into a whipped chicken just to look at him". Gordon would be wounded twice more before the end of the war.

After the war Gordon would become Governor of Georgia and a member of the US Senate, leading efforts at National reconciliation. He would become the first Commander in Chief of the United Confederate Veterans, a position he held for life and second only to Robert E. Lee in the reverence shown by Confederate veterans.

Union General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain



Receiving Gordon's sword in surrender was another man of supreme bravery, the Union hero of Little Round Top, Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. A brilliant professor and linguist who spoke 10 languages, Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor for his defense at Gettysburg that saved the left flank of the Union army. At Petersburg he would be so badly wounded to be reported as dead. A ball had torn through his groin and hip but propping himself up using his sword he admonished his men forward in their attack until collapsing. He would return to duty and be wounded twice more before the fighting ended creating a legacy of bravery that endeared him to his countrymen and led to his being elected Governor of Maine for multiple terms.

Eta: Upon further research I would discover both men had wives named Fanny, as did my father's father. Always feeling drawn to battlefields since very young I also found this quote by Chamberlain from his dedication of a monument at Gettysburg that seems most appropriate:


In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.
edit on 13-4-2015 by Asktheanimals because: added commentary



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 01:54 PM
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There were on both sides many observers, from various nations, who were in fact arms manufacturers and those who financed them, carrying out live assessments on their latest innovations effectiveness in theatre. It's not generally talked about but this was another first in warfare that was part of the beginning of the modern conflict as defined in the twentieth century.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 02:19 PM
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a reply to: Asktheanimals

That was a well thought out and well-presented post, but I take issue with most of the opinions in it.


Romancing battles because of their civility only ensures that they continue. You sound like yearn for the good old days when wars were civil and actually had rules. I have never understood that concept and I doubt that I ever will. When you hate something or someone so much that you're willing to kill them, all other rules fly out the window. To water it all down by imposing rules on it, only shows that the act of war is only for show. Or as another poster pointed out, a real-time field test for new weaponry.

You also left out the missing link of how we went from a violent show on an open battlefield to guerilla warfare. The kind we saw in Vietnam. The Native Americans here in the states taught soldiers that the hard way. On both sides. Now that was a fight and it would have shown any sane person that fighting for something like land in that way just isn't worth all the dead and maimed left behind.

In my opinion, the only way to really celebrate war is to celebrate those who fought for a local purpose and were smart enough not to put themselves in the line of fire while they were doing the killing. Think Native Americans And keeping in line with that, look into what a segment of the Appalachian population did to the Armies in the civil war when they came in and tried to recruit the locals and use their land for a war that the locals wanted no part of. The highly trained soldiers who wanted to play by the rules got their collective a$$es kicked.

Fast forward to today. Ask the soldiers who have recently returned with PTSD, chemical poisoning, and are homeless while on a 3 month waiting list to see a VA doctor, how they feel about celebrating this turning point in modern warfare.



edit on 12-4-2015 by Taupin Desciple because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-4-2015 by Taupin Desciple because: Clarity



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 02:34 PM
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a reply to: Taupin Desciple
I'm not romancing the battles but it certainly was a different mode of fighting from what we see today. It took real bravery (or stupidity depending on your view) to charge a line of men firing big balls of lead at you. My main point was the remembrance of the salute between former foes, an act of uncommon grace and civility after 4 years of the most savage fighting the American continent had ever seen.

It was military historians who coined the US Civil War the "First Modern War" and it marked not only a change in how they were fought but the attitudes of those involved. Chivalry is more than a trite description but a code of conduct nearly a thousand years old that was held by the knights of Europe. Elements of that code were still strongly adhered to even at the time of the Civil War. Unfortunately space does not allow a full description of chivalry nor even the men I address in the OP. I could have easily filled the whole thing with nothing but the accomplishments of Gordon alone.

My other hope was kindle some curiosity in the readers to learn further of these men and what really happened during the Civil War. It is, IMO, the most singularly maligned and misunderstood period of American History today. I hold no romantic notions of the Civil War, it was as brutal and bloody as war gets yet despite that those doing the fighting held on to their humanity somehow.

Eta: You are correct, I did leave out guerrilla fighting which did take place especially in the frontier states and territories. Missouri and Kansas were particularly nasty in the respect. Those killings were more or less universally condemned by everyone save those involved who could only see getting revenge and continuing the cycle. Let's not forget who started that either - the John Brown of Harper's Ferry fame = a fanatical abolitionist.
edit on 12-4-2015 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 02:57 PM
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a reply to: Asktheanimals

I appreciate the fact that you want people to learn from our history.

I think where we differ is what parts of history need to be learned. You want the people who were typically in the history books to be highlighted and paint a noble picture of our history with that. By all means, point out everything that was done and by whom, but I think it needs to be done in such a way that turns people's stomachs and makes them feel very uncomfortable about it all. All the survivors and how war has changed their lives for better or worse? I hear nothing about that. There are two sides to every page, but we only ever get to see one. It's like watching a black and white movie when color is an option.

In my opinion, that's the only way to turn people against war in general. Let them see the end result of it through the eyes of the ones who fought them and lived to tell about it. It paints an entirely different picture. Just as factual, but different. Whole.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 03:23 PM
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a reply to: Asktheanimals

Funny how things develops.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 04:06 PM
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a reply to: Asktheanimals

i have to disagree with you just a little bit.

the end of Napoleonic warfare started in the Revolutionary War. with the advent of guerrilla warfare used by the militias and continuing on until from there. the U.S Army continued to use it from then on in one form or the other, they continued to use both in all wars fought after that up till modern warfare started. actually it started in North America by a British army Major by the name of Robert Rogers in 1756, he called his soldiers Rogers's Royal American Rangers. He wrote a set of guideline called "Rogers’ Rules for Ranging" the last i heard a modified set of rules / guidelines are used by U.S. Army Rangers since the 1950's until today. his idea and fighting tactics were considered ahead of his time. The Queen's York Rangers of the Canadian Army,U.S. Army Rangers, and one of the U.S artillery battalion called him the founder of the Rangers.

if you want to get down to it, guerrilla warfare started in ancient china, and used by them to fight the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, and Alexander the Great.









edit on 12-4-2015 by hounddoghowlie because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 04:09 PM
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Chivalry is dying as self entitlement is rising. So many people are wrapped up in their own misguided sense of self importance that they have little time for anything (or anyone) else.

Even the simple act of opening a door for someone gets a "oh, it's so nice to find someone who still does that".



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 04:13 PM
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a reply to: babybunnies


Even the simple act of opening a door for someone gets a "oh, it's so nice to find someone who still does that".


i still do that for people where ever i go, and you would be suprised at the people that don't even acknowledge you, or look at you like your crazy. but for the most part people do thank you and are surprised someone does that.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 05:01 PM
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the fall of rome is the biggest reason the western world has become so warlike, chivalry of medieval times to colonial times was merely a sad attempt at imitating roman methods of warfare, i'd say modern warfare is much more inline with how rome fought at it's peak, much more organized, logical, structured, geared towards volunteerism and minimising losses.

it took rome hundreds of years to understand what we just recently started learning the past century after almost 1,500 years of warring, war has minimal benefit in the long run and should only be used when you really need it, trade and diplomacy is much more useful.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 05:20 PM
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originally posted by: hounddoghowlie
a reply to: Asktheanimals

i have to disagree with you just a little bit.

the end of Napoleonic warfare started in the Revolutionary War.


Hate to nitpick but the Revolutionary War happened before the Napoleonic Wars. Even during the "War of 1812", the Napoleonic Wars were still ongoing.

As for the OP, I know what you're trying to convey. But the truth is, even wars like the Civil War were far from civil. Remember, there were 600,000 plus Americans killed in it & hundreds of thousands of crippled, wounded, etc. Maybe instead of "chivalry", we can say it was the end of naivete and/or gullibility. There's no honor in a true fight to the death. So if you can beat your opponent by hiding or from a distance, that's a much smarter way to fight. Otherwise, we can say that the creation of weapons or armor were the end of civility, since a hand to hand fight is much more civil.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 06:37 PM
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edit on 12-4-2015 by hounddoghowlie because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 06:44 PM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant


got ahead of myself again, should have said that Napoleonic warfare started to end during the Revolutionary War.
but i think you understood that.

thanks anyway.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 07:40 PM
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originally posted by: hounddoghowlie
a reply to: enlightenedservant


got ahead of myself again, should have said that Napoleonic warfare started to end during the Revolutionary War.
but i think you understood that.

thanks anyway.



No problem



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 08:18 PM
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I think the shift from Napoleonic tactics began well before Lee's surrender. I mean we had major shifts like modern transportation systems with the railroads. We saw a submarine sink a warship. We saw ironclads, which started the shift to modern warships. Communications systems were vastly improved, which conferred a great advantage to commanders. The main thing that caused a decline in Napoleonic tactics, aside from the sheer increase in the length of battles, was the use of modern repeating rifles, rifles being rifled and not smooth-bored. This increased accuracy at range and the increased firepower essentially meant that Napoleonic tactics were no longer viable. When you go from being semi-accurate at 50 yards to completely accurate at 200 or more, you can see how line formations would no longer be viable. The entire point of such formations were to concentrate firepower, thus increasing the chance of inflicting damage on the enemy, since accuracy of non-rifled weapons was a huge problem. Some people wonder why men lined up and shot at each other, and that is the reason.

Once accuracy came into the picture, which happened well before the end of the war, things changed. This gave rise to the Confederate saying that the Union troops could load on Sunday and fire all week, as they were using repeating rifles in some engagements. I do not know if there were any major formations who all possessed such weapons, but there were smaller formations who definitely did. Some of the military theorists and commanders in Europe were watching the Civil War quite closely, and some of them learned pertinent lessons from afar. So the shift in warfare, while it still took a while for it to arrive completely, had already begun years before the end of the Civil War.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 08:33 PM
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originally posted by: namehere
the fall of rome is the biggest reason the western world has become so warlike, chivalry of medieval times to colonial times was merely a sad attempt at imitating roman methods of warfare, i'd say modern warfare is much more inline with how rome fought at it's peak, much more organized, logical, structured, geared towards volunteerism and minimising losses.

it took rome hundreds of years to understand what we just recently started learning the past century after almost 1,500 years of warring, war has minimal benefit in the long run and should only be used when you really need it, trade and diplomacy is much more useful.


Wrong. It's generally accepted that Romans had an extremely warlike and violent culture, and there are instances of Romans prosecuting campaigns/military invasions simply for the sake of "glory". The invasion of Caledonia ( modern Scotland) under Agricola could be seen as an example of that, there were very few resources and very little wealth in northern Britain, basically no pragmatic reason for Romans to attempt an invasion. The place was barren, dirt poor, and home to nothing but empty hills and violent, wild tribesman. I suppose it could be argued that the incursion was a preemptive move, or a reaction to some of the Caledonian small scale raids, but for the most part it was a classic example of a "quest for glory". There are countless other examples of this that I could give you.

Romans could also be excessively, exceedingly brutal, and in the case of Caesar's conquest of Gaul they could rightly be called genocidal. Mass killing of Gaulish noncombatants would have been a fairly common sight, done to instill terror, and that particular conquest was exceptional in it's savagery.

Rome also had a well-known culture of recreational violence (gladiatorial games), and Romans had a well-attested honor culture, and were almost fanatical in their esteem of "honor and virtue". Probably has it's roots in the early Italic and Etruscan ancestor worship tendencies, but that's a different topic. In many cases they were far more savage than their "barbarian" adversaries.

The point is that Romans were far from strictly pragmatic, and in no way did they begin a trend of warfare anything like what we see today. It's true that they revolutionized warfare in tactics and technology in more ways than one could list in one post, but warfare of that era can in no way be compared to modern warfare.
edit on 12-4-2015 by Connell because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 09:10 PM
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a reply to: JiggyPotamus

Very good points all Jiggy


Before the Civil War 100 men could line up on each side and shoot from 100 yards away, maybe 3 men would be hit. With the rifled bullet giving accuracy to 200 yards and beyond suddenly it was 10 -12 men getting hit in a single volley. Having been trained in traditional tactics marching in tight formations was a difficult habit to change as it was a great offensive advantage.
Many of the developments like repeating rifles were considered "unfair". Digging tunnels under earthworks and blowing them sky high like they did at the Crater in Petersburg was "unmanly" and "treacherous". War was considered an affair of honor with each man feeling they had to prove their bravery. You didn't shoot a fallen foe or one surrendering and you wouldn't aim for their horses. Winning lost it's meaning if one were given some unearned advantage. You also didn't attack the enemy at night (everybody has to sleep, who can fight a war if you're awake all the time?). These were the unwritten rules for combat in that day.
Things got to the point however that in their desperation to win the North began burning towns and cities and laying waste to all food production and industry. Nearly half the industry in the South had been ruined by the end, Atlanta and Columbia burned to the ground.
The largest expense for the government of Mississippi in the year after the war was for artificial limbs for soldiers.

As for Europe they watched, waited and secretly egged things on to their advantage, Britain especially wanting to see the country laid waste so they might expand their Canadian holdings. Of course the country went in to terrible debt to pay for the war, England being the big winner there. $$$$. Northern manufacturers discovered the profits war could bring and couldn't wait for the next big one.

While the South was laid waste the North in fact was booming, industry and railroads had sprung up everywhere and immigrants provided a constant stream of cheap labor, so cheap in fact their employees often didn't even fare as well as many slaves did before the war. So while loudly condemning slavery the same Northern industrialists were creating a new, more deceptive form of oppression and bondage, opening the way for unionizing and eventually socialism that could be manipulated for profit.

The fallout from all this led to WW's 1 &2, as well as the creation of the Soviet Union and Red China. Communist revolutions were all quietly guided by banking interests as you know. So indeed, the fallout from the US Civil War was considerable when viewed in the context of world history. The knowledge gained at the expense of American blood was used to create a ruling elite that willingly promoted war and revolution to increase profitability.



posted on Apr, 12 2015 @ 09:23 PM
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To quote another famous general from the civil war:


It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it.
Robert E. Lee


Perhaps that is why America seems to have grown too fond of war,because America isn`t on the receiving end of all these new high tech weapons?
edit on 12-4-2015 by Tardacus because: (no reason given)




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