One of my favorite things is to scan old issues of the Piedmont Virginian to find things for Throw Back Thursday. This can actually take a very long time, considering I can get very lost re-reading all our past issues. This article was written in the Spring of 2009, when the Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) began. With the Spring of 2015, we have come full circle, and April 9 of this year was the sesquicentennial of the end of the war, at Appomattox. I do love this story and its point of view.
By Charles J. Shields
As the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Civil War approach, the author reflects on previous reflections during the 100th anniversary.
Almost 100 years to the day of the surrender at Appomattox Court House, my father and I were among the hundreds in April 1965 at the outdoor ceremony commemorating the end of the Civil War. In front of the two-story, brick McLean farmhouse where the surrender had taken place, a pair of bearded men in costume — impersonating the Union commander, Ulysses S. Grant, and the Confederate army general, Robert E. Lee — walked across a dais and shook hands, smiling. Improbably, they
waved. The crowd applauded.
To my young heart, nothing could be worse. How ridiculous, what a disappointment! We had driven hours from Illinois to see a pantomime that lasted all of two minutes.
My father, on the other hand, was pleased at having witnessed an “historic moment,” as he called it. If only his camera hadn’t jammed precisely when the ersatz generals greeted each other like lodge brothers.
“Perfect,” I thought bitterly. Like most adolescents, I hated phoniness, and calling this debacle an “historic moment” gave me a twinge of stomach cramps. My reason for coming to Virginia — the cauldron of the conflict between North and South — was to see an era better than my own. The history of the War Between the States enchanted me, and the glory that surrounded it in my imagination was like a nimbus of gold.
To read the entire article click here: TBT appomattox
Image: “Confederate Soldiers Taking the Oath of Allegiance” by Edward F. Mullen, Graphite on heavy gauge woven paper, 9.75″ x 13.25″ From the Becker Collection, Oct. 1, 1864