Tag Archives: Civil War

Charge Into the Fray

Story of the Day for Monday December 11, 2011

Charge Into the Fray

                 Then David said to Solomon, his son, “Be strong and courageous, and act . . .”  

                                                                             1 Chronicles 28:20

 During the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed Gen. George McClellan to lead the Army of the Potomac, and capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

When he took command in July of 1861, McClellan’s troop strength was 50,000. By November it had swelled to 168,000 – the largest army ever assembled in modern times.

As the mighty Northern army slowly rolled toward Richmond, the Confederates knew, with their 35,000 men and few cannons, they could not defend their capitol.

False reports came to McClellan that the enemy troop strength was three times what it actually was. McClellan still had almost twice as many men, but he became so alarmed he refused to attack. Instead he gave his fears free reign. He began to imagine his adversary’s troop strength as greater than his own, and make panicky pleas to Washington for more reinforcements.

McClellan’s forces were bolstered to 192,000, but still he refused to attack. He still believed he was outnumbered.

The Confederate generals were brilliant at assessing the character of their opposing generals. Once they concluded that McClellan was easily unnerved, they did everything they could to accommodate his fears.

In order to gain time in bolstering their defenses at Richmond, the Rebels set up cannon emplacements to block their advance. When their jittery leader finally had his troops advance, they discovered the “cannons” were simply logs that had been stripped of their bark and painted black. “Quaker guns,” they came to be called.

But the showstopper was left to the southern general, John Magruder. His pathetically skimpy troops were no match for McClellan’s troops. So, he sent his troops up a hill and then made them walk past a gap in the hills where the Union troops could observe them. They then formed a circle. All day long they would march in a circle – leading the wide-eyed McClellan to believe they were vastly outnumbered.

Back in Washington, President Lincoln repeatedly wrote to his general, urging him to “strike a blow” – that he must act. But McClellan refused. If he had “acted,” he could easily have taken Richmond. But he never tried.

 

When King David neared the end of his reign, he appointed his son, Solomon, to succeed him. In addition to governing a nation, David called upon his son to build a magnificent temple for the Lord.

This mammoth undertaking was large enough to scare anyone from attempting it. But David gave his son what he needed. He told him not to be afraid; the Lord would be with him. “Be strong and courageous,” David counseled, “. . . and act.”

 

Fear can assemble troops faster than General Magruder to cow you into submission. Sometimes, the only way to puncture the illusion is to charge into the fray.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Not Just “Pie in the Sky”

Story of the Day for Wednesday July 13, 2011

Not Just “Pie in the Sky”

                  Hope that is seen is not hope, because if he sees it, why does he still hope for it? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it patiently.

                                            Romans 8:24

 One of the marks of our secular age is the loss of hope. If we believe that the future will not fulfill our longings, then the result is despair. Hopelessness means not only that the future will be bleak, but the very realization means that our present lives will be marked by gloom.

John Maxwell talks of a small town in Maine that stood in the way of a proposed hydroelectric dam. All the residents were told that their town would be submerged by the dam and they would have to relocate.

As construction began on the dam, the town changed. No one painted their house. Roads and sidewalks were not repaired. Long before the dam was finished, the town looked shabby and abandoned. One resident noted, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”

When modern man abandons God, he abandons hope. Sigmund Freud was honest enough to admit, “My courage fails me, therefore, at the thought of rising up as a prophet before my fellowmen. I bow to their reproach that I have no consolation to offer them.”

Many ridicule our Christian hope. They see it as a illusory dream which lulls us into inactivity in the present world. “Pie in the sky by and by.” But that is not how hope works. It does not weaken our daily actions but invigorates them.

To break the back of the South and end the Civil War, General William T. Sherman marched through the heart of the South. As Sherman’s army pushed toward Atlanta, his adversary, General Hood circled north and began attacking his supply line. Hood’s men tore up nine miles of the railroad that supplied Sherman’s huge army. Then the Confederates moved toward the Union’s main supply post at Altoona, which held over a million and a half rations for Sherman’s army.

The Union army had less than 2000 men under Brigadier General John M. Corse to defend Altoona Pass from an advancing Confederate division of over 3000. After furious fighting, Corse had lost a third of his men and was forced to retreat to another position further up the pass. How much longer could Corse hold out?

But then, General Sherman, on the top of Kenesaw Mountain twelve miles away sent a signal-flag message to Corse to “hold fast; we are coming.” Corse’s men let out a cheer. Although the fighting was fierce, Corse’s outnumbered men stubbornly refused to surrender or retreat. They fought valiantly because they knew that help was on the way. It was that hope that enabled them to hold the pass and save the Union supply depot.

The Bible says, “We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.” But this hope is not just “pie in the sky.” Hope gives us power to persist through all adversity. And that is why Scripture continues, “Not only that, but we also rejoice in our trials, because we know that trials produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us. . . “

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)