University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Passing of the Armies: An Account of the Final Campaign of the Army of the Potomac, Based Upon Personal Reminiscences of the Fifth Army Corps
Civil wars are part of historical events that have had a huge impact on how different civilizations came to be or are currently. America is one such country. The events that transpired during the war period are significant as historians use them for reference and research in the field. Such is the case with two documents whose reviews follow-“The Furling of the Flags” and “Lee Farewell Address to Northern Virginia Army.”
“The Furling of flags” is an excerpt from the “passing of the armies”, a memoir written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who was a commander during the civil war period. In it, Joshua recounts his experiences during the last moments of the civil war in the battlefield. As a historian, one is able to associate with his experience. In any war, the end is always a significant event. The ceremony undertaken during the surrender of arms by the enemy is important as it signifies submission. The description of the same during the civil war by the author is thus well placed historically. Historians put great emphasis on such events and dates for future reference thus Joshua’s recount of the same is appropriate. In the same way the text appreciates the significance of surrender in war, so should the same have happened with the events that lead to the surrender. However, Joshua’s excerpt does not provide this. One feels that more information on the rest of the events that transpired and led to the surrender would have been appropriate. As an interested historian and with the impact of the civil war in future generations, one would want to have more details of the preceding events. While reading it, one feels that more accounts of what happened before the surrender would have been enlightening. (Chamberlain, 120-207).
“Lee Farewell Address to Northern Virginia Army” lithograph accounts General Robert E. Lee’s surrender moments as a confederate general to his enemies in this case the unionists. As a first-hand account by General Lee on his feelings towards soldiers serving under him upon their defeat and subsequent surrender to their enemies in this case the unionists, one is able to appreciate the author’s contribution to the historic event whose impact is felt up to today. In wars, Generals are highly placed and significant individuals whose decisions have a huge impact. With forces to command, their decisions are of utmost importance. The surrender of a general like in Lee’s case is thus a huge historic phenomenon whose impact is felt immediately and afterwards. The surrender of General Lee left a huge historic impact on the civil war. The same impact and results helped shape America to what it is today thus the appreciation by any historian of the events of that day. Documents from the civil war period serve as references for America people on their national heritage and sovereignty as a nation which makes one associate with what General Lee went through. Were it not for such an account as presented in the document, aspects such as patriotism and a feeling of belonging would be lost with the people. General Lee’s surrender letter as a recorded material is a significant document in the past and current time. Though with impact, one feels that General Lee’s letter would have had more impact had it included some more account of what he and his army had gone through and undertook in the liberation. This way, the significance of the same historically would be even greater as reference and resource material (Crehen, 1-2).
Chamberlain, Joshua L. The Passing of the Armies: An Account of the Final Campaign of the Army of the Potomac, Based Upon Personal Reminiscences of the Fifth Army Corps. Lincoln, Neb. [u.a.: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. Print.
Crehen Ernest. Lee’s Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia. 1866 Lithograph. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.