Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life of Hardin Vol. VI, No. 2

A Translation Guide for Civil War Battlefield Brochures

A visit to a Civil War battlefield is an excellent way to spend a breezy summer afternoon. At the least you exercise your legs and soak up some history. (Take note, kids: You can procure extra credit with your history teacher if you take her a brochure and discuss why such-and-such battle changed the outcome of the whole blamed war.)

Your main guide at each park is the aforementioned brochure. These are acquired in each park’s Visitor’s Center. Inside you will find a map of the park and a brief description of the battle. Read the description, but know that all of the writers went to the same school on the same day. They have a formula they use and just add facts to the proper blanks (like a MadLib, only not funny). Until you learn to interpret brochure-speak, you might become confused and think you have already visited a particular park. In order to encourage the proper treatment and understanding of “Our Late Unpleasantness,” I draw your notice to the following points.

Thing to Notice in the Brochure #1:

Without exception, according to the brochures, every battle is “one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.” They all lay claim to that distinction in some way. Some are the bloodiest single day. Some are the bloodiest en total. Some have the highest casualties on the Union side; some have the highest casualties on the Confederate side; some just have the highest casualties all lumped together. Don’t let this confuse you. They were all bloody. Roughly as many Americans were killed in the Civil War as in all other U.S. involved conflicts combined.

Thing to Notice in the Brochure #2:

The lead-in for every description begins with a short recount of the soldiers camped out on the eve of battle. They all end with this line: “For many of those who slept that night, it would be their last.” The author who penned that line never wrote anything further of note, but he is now safely retired and continues to draw an excellent stipend from his royalties.

Thing to Notice in the Brochure #3:

Every battle had a plot of ground that was more hotly contested than any other. This has a name, usually along the lines of “the Devil’s Den,” “the Slaughter Pen,” “the Bloody Angle,” “the Hornet’s Nest,” etc. They are all gruesome and descriptive. Again, don’t be confused if you find six different “Bloody Ponds” and eighteen “Hell’s Half-Acres.” You are not necessarily at the same park.

Thing to Notice in the Brochure #4:

Every battle was a crucial point of the war. Had the outcome of any battle been reversed--had the South won Shiloh, had the North won Chancellorsville--the war would have ended right then. Somehow every battle turned out just as needed to prolong the thing another year or two.

You may also see the oldest standing memorial of some sort-or-other at a number of parks, the largest mass grave, the longest row of massed cannon, etc., etc., according to the brochures. Be assured, the battles were all distinct. The soldiers didn’t fight in one spot, pack up, and stage the battle again the next state over. So read something about each battle before you go--preferably by Shelby Foote or Bruce Catton--and use the brochures for the extra credit mentioned above.

And watch out for ticks. The brochures don’t mention tick fever being a problem during the war, but it certainly is now.

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