Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Churchill Series - July 9, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

A few years ago I began a post saying, "I mean to tempt you today."

Well, I mean to tempt you again today and with the same "bait."

Read on and see if your tempted:

Here's part of historian and museum curator Joseph B. Smith’s review of Churchill’s American Civil War history in The History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. IV, Book XI, “The Great Republic.”

Throughout his book Churchill often surprised me. For instance, he did not say what almost all the history books do today - that West Virginia seceded from Virginia because of slavery - which is completely wrong.

He gave the true reason. The people in that region "had long chafed under the oppression of the state Government at Richmond which ignored its interests and exploited it for the benefit of the Tidewater section. It now seized the opportunity to secede from Secession."

How did Churchill learn that, when practically no one in the United States is aware of the true facts? It is also interesting to note that a large number of West Virginians then fought for the South, the most notable being Stonewall Jackson. […]

When Churchill came here, what battlefields did he want to see? What else but the battlefields of Virginia? I don't mean to say that he neglected the rest of the war because he definitely did not. However, in his book he certainly emphasized the war in the East.

And we have the evidence of his daughter Mary who, in a question/answer session at the 1990 ICS [International Churchill Society] Conference in San Francisco, identified President Lincoln and General Lee as two of the five most influential persons in her father's life - both of them spent the war years in the East.

Finally, on his visit in 1929, Churchill went over the Virginia battlefields with Douglas Southall Freeman, who was then working on his famous four-volume biography entitled R. E. Lee (sic).

Stonewall Jackson is obviously also a favorite of Churchill's. There is no doubt in my mind at all that Sir Winston had studied Colonel G.E R. Henderson's outstanding book, Stonewall Jackson, which is truly a masterpiece.

I don't know whether Churchill knew, but General Lee said later that if Jackson had been at Gettysburg he would have won that battle. I would assume that he did not know that fact. Yet Sir Winston ended his discussion of Gettysburg with the words, "Above all he had not Jackson at his side."

I personally agree with Colonel Henderson that Jackson was a genius in the art of war and feel sure that Churchill would agree.
I hope you now want to read Mitchell’s entire review, and that doing so will tempt to you delve into Churchill’s Civil War writings.


Anonymous said...

Anyone who reads and understands the history of The War Between the States will undoubtedly realize the true greatness of both Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. Neither of these two gentlemen supported the evil institution of slavery, yet they both gave their all in fighting for the Confederacy. They were honorable and admirable Americans. It does not surprise me one bit to find that W.S. Churchill felt the same about both men. There isn't a politician in America today who could be the equal of Lee, Jackson, or Churchill.
Tarheel Hawkeye

JWM said...

To TH,

You are right in everything you say.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: your comments add a lot to this blog.