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Fort Jackson And Fort St. Philip In Louisiana On April 16th to the 28th, 1862 AD
Many years ago, in AD 1965, when I was a very young teenager, a mere thirteen years old, my eighty-eight years old great-grandmother – a most formidable Boston (that great city which grew out of the Puritan Colony on the Shawmut Peninsula) matron – took me on a tour of the American Civil War Battlefields. She left to the very last our visit to New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. We visited the sites of Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the Sixteenth of April, by her design.
My great grand-mother told me that Flag-Officer David Farragut of the Union Navy started his operations against the Forts and the City on that day, though I have read, since then, that operations started two days later. No matter. For my great grandmother it was the Sixteenth of April which was the date which was important. For her the action started on the Sixteenth. She knew that because her own mother, my great-great grandmother, had told her so. The date was important to her because at sometime in the ensuing twelve days she lost two uncles – one on the Union side and one on the Confederate side – people whom she had never known in life but people she described to me, and she made me feel the reality of them and their lives in her telling of their stories, stories born from her own mother’s memories of those two men. Through her vivid retailing to me of their truncated existences, perhaps more fiction than truth by the time she passed their tales on to me, I came to some juvenile appreciation of what that horrific Civil War meant – families torn asunder, carnage and loss, countryman pitted against fellow countryman.
Today, one hundred and forty-seven years later, I still feel a connexion to those two men because of her determination to ensure that I grew up with a proper appreciation of the American side of my family. Every Sixteenth of April I remember that formidable grande dame, my great grandmother, and those two brothers, her uncles whom she never knew, who fought on opposite sides for, as they saw it, the rights of the States and the real meaning of freedom; and I wonder, as I’m sure that you do too, just what is freedom and what rights and perquisites can the States claim to have within the Union in the face of the cries for freedom by so many minorities – a freedom which many States seek to withhold from some few of their citizens on spurious, and sometimes religious, grounds. It is also a freedom which many States refuse to defend in the name of some spurious and unjustifiable notion of religious equality without examining the facts about those religions which seek to supplant Christianity. Do the States, today, understand freedom in any better a way than they did on that fateful day (April 12, 1861 AD) when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter?
Somehow, I doubt that they do!
Equally, I know in my heart of hearts, that in the never ending political battle between the States and the Federal Government there is some nugget, some notion, of freedom. In that battle, in that never-ending tension, somewhere in there, that’s where freedom is. I wish that Europe, the EU, could see that and emulate it!