Awhile back I was speaking with a friend of mine on a wide variety of subjects concerning the Civil War, namely poor commanders and how utterly incompetent some were. As the conversation wore on we came to the officers that commanded Berdans Sharpshooters, the unit that we portray in re-enactments. My friend made the statement that he had no respect at all for the first regiment's commander, Hiram Berdan, for whom the sharpshooter regiments were named. This took me aback quite a bit. I told him that I respected Berdan very much for his other skills, and if nothing else, just for the fact that he was considered intelligent enough to get the position of Colonel. He then stated that the only reason that he got Colonel was because his friends secured the position for him. And while this was true of quite a few officers, I believe that none of these people would have put someone in a position of power if they didn't believe that he was capable of doing the job. He stated then that those other people may not have been responsible people either, and didn't care whether the other person was capable of the job.

After pausing, and thinking quite a bit, I stated that those people were put in their positions by a higher up commander, and those commanders by even higher up commanders, and so on, until you get to the president, who is put in command by the people. So, in my opinion, even down to the lowest field officer, all officers and commanders are put into their commands by the people, and the only fault in that system is that no two men share the same opinions on what capable is, or what is right, or on anything for that matter. And if you think on this a bit, you will realize that this is the very foundation of America's philosophy, and what makes this country great.

This brought us to our next topic, loyalty. The war, in my opinion, was a clash of loyalties. Different men hold different things in their hearts. This may not be a new statement to any of you, but it is one that is so easily overlooked by the historians of the war. I personally am above all, loyal to the United States of America, as are a good majority of people are nowadays. But back in the 19th century, many people were loyal to their states above all else, thus the word Union, a word that little thought has been given to, but meant a great deal. In the 19th century, the states were bound together by the government, and the Constitution, a organization and a document which every one of them had agreed to, and every one of them had taken as law.

However, when things didn't seem right, and the government didn't seem to be doing it's job, a number of states decided to go back on their word, and dissolve the Union for which they had promised their lives. Loyalty, and honor were very important back in that time, as it is now. But the great problem arose with the question of with what should a man's loyalty lie? The Civil War answered that question forever. Loyalty, above all, should lay with the government, and the success of the United States in the years after the war show that this is the truth.

Loyalty is the cornerstone of successful civilization. Whether it be for your commanding officers, your family, or your country, you must be willing to follow them with all your heart, and give your greatest sacrifice for their preservation.