Recently I stood on the battlefield of Fredericksburg, Virginia where nearly 20,000 soldiers from the North and South died. Just 4 months later and only 10 miles away, another 30,000 were killed at Chancellorsville. For those of us who value freedom, you appreciate the sacrifice of these men who died to preserve our liberty. Over 620,000 soldiers died in the Civil War, by far the most significant losses we ever suffered in any fight.
There are differences of opinion as to the causes of the war. Two reasons do emerge without much difficulty, and that is the preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery. Abraham Lincoln had long advocated for a plan to abolish slavery over a period of years, thus avoiding military conflict. Upon being sworn into office as the sixteenth president, the succession had already begun. Once the war had begun, it appeared there was no way to stop it short of victory for one side and defeat for the other. Over four years, President Lincoln reviewed the losses, such as those at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, with overwhelming agony. A weaker and less committed man would never have stood the test and weathered the storm for a final victory. The South hoped that the losses the North suffered, which were much higher than the South’s, would produce political pressure on the president, causing him to accept a negotiated peace. If he had done that, and many people wanted him to do that, we would have two countries instead of one. The barbaric practice of slavery would have continued for many more years.
The cemeteries of the Civil War, scattered all over this country, are a testimony to the cost of freedom. Today, our politically correct society, which is so quick to attack with the label of racist anyone who does not agree with their point of view, would do well to visit some of those cemeteries. This was a war that preserved our nation and won the right for all men and women to be free, and for this we give thanks. With all the problems we have in this country, we still have so much for which to be thankful. We also have every reason to do everything within our power to be vigilant to preserve the freedom these brave soldiers died to defend.