Shotgun's Opinion Page
These are opinions I have developed over the years and are not intended to be presented as facts. They are exactly as the name implies "OPINIONS." It does not make them right, nor does it make them wrong, it merely makes them mine.
"My Southern roots run deep and are well nourished by the blood of my ancestors, but when the dust has settled and the discussions are finished, I am first, foremost, and always, proud to be an AMERICAN!" Shotgun
Sometimes when reviewing my email, a statement just jumps out at me and causes me evaluate who I am, where I come from, and where I am going. I read one email recently that stated, "If the facts underpinning an opinion change but the opinion remains the same, then it's not an opinion, it is a dogma." I had to stop and think just how true that statement really is. For instance, growing up in the deep South, I have to admit to having had a bias (read bigot) against blacks. I don't like to use the word prejudice because that really comes from the word prejudge, meaning to make a decision before all the facts are known. As far as I was concerned all the facts were in and I still didn't like them.
However, I joined the military at the very young age of 17 and spent the next 22 years wandering around the world. In that environment, especially in a war zone, I found that a black man would bleed just as red and die just as dead as a white man. The facts as I had known them had changed and therefore my opinion changed. I no longer choose my friends, and have not for many years, for the color of their skin, but for, to quote a great American, "the content of their character."
The same holds true for many of my opinions about the Civil War. Growing up, and even for many years after I was grown, I would have fit right in with the "Lost Cause" crowd. However, as the years passed and I was exposed to more and more of what actually happened in the war, rather than what was passed down through my family, my facts changed, therefore my opinion changed. I now believe, as John B. Gordon wrote, "the four years of fratricidal war between the North and South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperiled liberty: that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood."
Definition of War:
War is not a John Wayne movie. It is a man made hell that is a dirty, filthy, stinking, and most of all, deadly business which respects neither social position, age, nor gender. It is about killing people and breaking things. If you kill more of them and break more of their things, your side generally wins. This is what war is, never forget it!
"Ever since man banded together for the laudable intention of killing his fellow man, war has been a dirty business"
George S. Patton, Jr.
When war is rife and danger nigh
God and soldier is the nation's cry
When war is done and wrong is righted
Gods forgotten, the soldier slighted
Definition of an Optimistic in Combat:
This is a man who has been shooting at you all day, suddenly runs out of ammunition, throws his arms up, yells "I surrender" and fully expects you not to kill him.
Definition of an Enemy in Combat:
War is War! Your enemy is your enemy! He no longer is your fellow countryman, your brother, your cousin, or your father--he is your enemy. Men going to war do not believe this. Men in war despise this. Men coming from war preach this!
Professor Ernest Butner
Definition of a Soldier's Life:
"Days and weeks of sheer boredom, interspersed with times of stark terror!"
Definition of Peace:
Peace is not the absence of war, it is the result of victory!
Definition of Victory:
In war it is called a "victory", in sports it is called a "win", in the business world it is called "success." Regardless of the circumstances or name, the definition is always the same, "preparation meeting opportunity". Whether you are in combat, on the sports field, or in the business world, when the opportunity presents itself, unless you are prepared, you will fail!
Causes of the Civil War:
Here's how I feel about the cause(s) of the war (remember, my opinion only): Try to imagine the war as being an old wagon wheel. At the center is a "hub." For the sake of discussion, I will call the hub, "States Rights." If all we have is a hub, there is no wheel (war). Now extending from the hub are spokes. For the sake of discussion, I will call the spokes "injustices" (tariffs, unjust laws, etc.) either real or perceived by the South. With only a hub and spokes there is still no wheel (war). Now around the outside of every wagon wheel there is a rim, the rim is what binds the spokes and the hub together to make it a wheel. The rim, for the sake of discussion, I will call slavery. Now if you take the hub, and the spokes, then bind them together with the rim, you now have a wheel. In other words, I believe that States rights were at the center, injustices were the support, and that slavery was the catalyst.
Now, having said that, I would like you to take a look at what, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest men to come out of the war had to say, Lt. Gen. John B. Gordon, CSA. He was not only a great warrior, he was a great politician after the war, a great speaker and a great writer. This is from his book, "Reminiscences of the Civil War"
Causes of the War
Necessities of Life:
1. Duct Tape: To keep those things from moving that do move that shouldn't move. 2. WD-40: To make those things move that don't move that should move.
The Soldier:It's the soldier, not the reporter, who gives you the freedom of the press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who gives you the freedom of speech.
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who allows you to demonstrate.
It's the soldier who salutes the flag, serves the flag, and whose coffin is draped with the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag!
Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC
If it were not for the "brave" there would be no "land of the free!"
This is how one Southerner felt about the bombardment of Fort Sumter and one that I whole heartily agree with.:
“The firing on that fort will inaugurate a civil war greater than any the world has yet seen. ... Mr. President, at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet's nest which extends from mountain to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal.”
Robert Toombs, April 11, 1861
Turning Point of the Civil War:
Most historians agree that Gettysburg was the turning point of the war. However, as in many things in life, I disagree. I firmly believe that Gettysburg was the loss of a battle only. Lee escaped with his army intact. Agreed it was a beaten and battered army, but it was still intact, as the next two years would prove. Another battle one must look at when discussing the "Turning Point" is Vicksburg. When Vicksburg fell, the Mississippi was lost, and when the artery is severed the body will die. This is somewhat of a moot point though because of the timing, the battle of Gettysburg was over on the evening of July 3, 1863 and Pemberton surrendered the city of Vicksburg July 4, 1863.
My personal choice of the main "Turning Point" of the war is Antietam, or the Battle of Sharpsburg as the Confederates referred to it. Although this battle, according to many, was a "tactical" drawn, it was a "strategic" victory for the Union. This single battle, as no other, would change the course of the war. On September 22, 1862, Lincoln, because of a perceived victory at Antietam, issued the draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. While this document, in and of itself, did not free a single slave, it would have far reaching effects. It quieted the very vocal "abolitionists" in the North and it stopped Great Britain and France from entering the war on the side of the Confederacy. No country could support a "slave holding" country in a war against a country whose now avowed purpose was to free those slaves. The Confederacy was doomed to fight on alone after this battle. Finally, an unintended side effect of the Proclamation was to open to the ranks of the Union forces to the Black Soldier. This would prove to be of enormous benefit for the Union as the war dragged on and manpower became increasingly scarce for both sides.
In summary, as a direct result of this battle, the war was suddenly not only a war to save the Union, but was also now a crusade to free the slaves.
Slavery was an evil institution and should have never been allowed to exist, much less have a whole country grow up around it. I believe that as the Industrial Revolution moved into the South, slavery would have been died of its own evilness. Thus, 620,000 American lives would not have been lost. However, this is easy to say when you are in the 20th century and not living in bondage.
I believe that "Reconstruction" began as punishment and was carried on as a means of transferring wealth from those that had to those that had not. In my opinion, the racism that exists in this country today is a direct result of the "Reconstruction Era." Had Lincoln lived, there would have been no "reconstruction" as it occurred. The Southern people would have gotten over losing a war and the ex-slaves would have gradually been assimilated into society. However, no one gets over having their homes taken away.
Shotgun's Favorite Quote From the Civil War Era:
" . . . It will be a glorious day for our country when all the children within its borders shall learn that the four years of fratricidal war between the North and South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperiled liberty: that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood."
- Lieutenant General John B. Gordon, CSA
Shotgun's Favorite Quote From a Fictional Book:
To set the scene, Lee is talking to Longstreet on the second day of Gettysburg: "...They rode on for a while in silence, a tiny island in the smoky stream of marching men. Then Lee said slowly, in a strange, soft, slow tone of voice, "Soldiering has one great trap."
Longstreet turned to see his face. Lee was riding slowly ahead, without expression. He spoke in that same slow voice.
"To be a good soldier you must love the army. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. This is . . . . . a very hard thing to do. No other profession requires it. That is one reason why there are so few good officers. Although there are many good men."
"The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
Another Great Quote From a Fictional Book:
To set the scene, the time is September, 1860 and Lee is at home in Arlington preparing to leave on another assignment when "Nate", a former slave that Lee had freed, came to see him. After talking for a while Nate tells Lee that he wants buy his crippled brother Bo's freedom. Lee told him that all the slaves were free to go whenever they wished so buying him was not necessary. After Lee wrote Bo's freedom papers, Nate, holding the paper, asks Lee when everyone would do like him and set the slaves free. "...Lee thought, ran a hand through his hair, said, "I believe . . . . the Negroes are where God wants them to be, and when God wants the Negros to be free, then he will free them. God has set you free, through my hand. He has set your brother free through your hand. There will come a time---"
"Colonel, you is a good man, a decent man, and I thanks you for what you done for me, and for Bo. But forgive me, Colonel, not meanin' no disrespec', this here is your name on this paper, not God's. If'n we waits for God to set all of us free, we be waitin' for a long time."
"Gods and Generals" by Jeff Shaara
Shotgun's Life Rules:
I will not lie, I will not cheat, and I will not steal. I will harm no other person, save in defense of my life, my country, or my family. Every other rule in life is someone else's and I am not bound to follow them unless I so choose.
Shotgun's favorite description of Robert E. Lee:
"The Character of Lee"
"He possessed every virtue of the great commanders, without their vices. He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guilt. He was a Caesar without his ambition; a Frederick without his tyranny; a Napoleon without his selfishness; and a Washington without his reward. He was obedient to authority as a servant, and loyal in authority as a true king. He was gentle as a woman in life; modest and pure as a virgin in thought; watchful as a Roman vestal in duty; submissive to law as Socrates, and grand in battle as Achilles."
(From the Address of the Honorable B.H. Hill before the Georgia branch of the Southern Historical Society at Atlanta, February 18, 1874.)
Here is a great modern day newspaper article written about Lee. I think you may find it interesting. Article on Lee
Shotgun's Thoughts on the ConstitutionIn my mind this is the greatest single document ever written but I think many look at it the wrong way. Contrary to what most believe, the Constitution does not give us the right to speak our mind. It does not give us the right to own a gun. It does not give us the right to worship as we please. It does not give us any of these rights. These rights were ours when we were born. You can say they were given by God, by the creator, or simply by virtue of being born. However, they were not given by the Constitution. What the Constitution does is guarantee that no man can take away these rights that we were born with and it is that guarantee that makes this such a great document. A document so great that men are willing to lay down their lives to insure that all who live under it can enjoy its protection equally.
When we have an election in this country where you do not agree with the outcome just remember because of this wonderful document we call the Constitution of the United States the results are only temporary. Despite the outcome of an election, this country will survive. Perhaps not in the political light you would like it to, but survive and flourish it will. This will not happen because we are a great people, of course we are that. It will not happen because we have the greatest technology in the world, of course we have that. It will not happen because we have great natural resources which we protect better than any other country in the world. It will happen because of that wonderful document we call the Constitution. We will survive and flourish because we are a nation of laws and our Constitution is what defines those laws.
Shotgun's Combat Rules to Remember:
1. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you are. 2. In coming has the right of way. 3. No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection and no inspection ready unit has ever passed combat. 4. Never make yourself conspicuous in combat. It draws fire and irritates all those around you. 5. If you fortify your position so well the enemy can't get in, you can't get out. 6. There is nothing more dangerous than an officer with a map. 7. If the enemy is in range of your guns, you are in range of his. 8. The buddy system is essential to your survival in combat; it gives the enemy somebody else to shoot at. 9. There is nothing more satisfying than having someone take a shot at you and miss. 10. When in doubt empty the magazine. 11. Never underestimate the killing power of untrained soldiers in large numbers. 12. There are no atheists in combat. 13. Forget the bayonet. If they are close enough to stick, they are close enough to shoot!
Shotgun's Temper Rule to Remember:
Lose your temper in combat and it can get you killed. Lose your temper in public and it can land you in jail. Lose your temper with your friends and you will dine alone!
Shotgun's Monkey Principle of Management:
"When someone comes into your office with a monkey on their back, you make sure that they leave with that monkey. The care and feeding of other people's monkeys can get very time consuming and expensive."
Words of War:
"It is a classical maxim that it is sweet and becoming to die for one's country; but whoever has seen the horrors of a
battlefield feels that is far sweeter to live for it"
John Singleton Mosby
This Page last updated 11/03/10