Distinguished at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Confederate Captain Nate Starbuck's career is jeopardized once again by the suspicion and hostility of his brigade commander, General Washington Faulconer. The outcome of this vicious fight drastically changes both men's fortunes and propels AX into the ghastly bloodletting at the Second Battle of Manassas.
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August 31, 2001
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Excerpt from Battle Flag by Bernard Cornwell
Young Bedford (July 13, 1821-1842)
"With him life was at best an uncertain game, and he recognized the usual percentage in favor of the dealer."
-- Bret Harte
"Bedford had plenty of sense, but would not apply himself. He thought more of wrestling than his books; he was an athlete."
-- John Laws
The New England transcendentalist surveyed his audience of eager, young faces. They were the cream of New England, indeed American, society. On this day, August 31, 1837, Ralph Waldo Emerson would challenge them to become "Man Thinking." He would admonish these young men-members of Harvard's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa--to cast off the restricting bonds "of dependence [upon] ... the learning of other lands" and thus free themselves from the "courtly muses of Europe." But he considered a threat from within their own country even more insidious. In his closing remarks he specifically warned the Phi Beta Kappas not to allow themselves "to be reckoned in the gross, in the hundred, or the thousand, of the party, the section, to which we belong" and, therefore, have their "opinion predicted geographically, as the north, or the south."
A little over a month later, Emerson recounted in his journal an evening spent in the company of the Reverend and Mrs. Samuel Ripley. Since Ripley and his wife ran a boarding school for boys that assisted a number of young Southerners in their preparations for Harvard, the conversation surely touched upon the transcendentalist's recent address. In any event, Emerson used the opportunity to express himself furtherconcerning Southern students in New England. "The young Southerner," he explained, "comes here a spoiled child with graceful manners, excellent self-command, very good to be spoiled more, but good for nothing else, a mere parader. He has conversed so much with rifles, horses and dogs that he has become himself a rifle, a horse and a dog, and in civil, educated company, where anything human is going forward, he is dumb and unhappy, like an Indian in a church. Treat them with great deference, as we often do, and they accept it all as their due without misgiving. Give them an inch, and they take a mile. They are mere bladders of conceit. Each snipper-snapper of them all undertakes to speak for the entire Southern States.... They are more civilized than the Seminoles, however, in my opinion; a little more. Their question respecting any man is like a Seminole's, How can he fight? In this country, we ask, What can he do? His pugnacity is all they prize in man, dog, or turkey. The proper way of treating them is not deference, but to say as Mr. Ripley does, "Fiddle faddle," in answer to each solemn remark about 'The South.'"
And so, in one great sweep of his pen, the Sage of Concord dismissed Southerners "in the gross." As historian, Lewis P. Simpson observed of the entry, "Indeed, it seems clear that in his description of Southern students Emerson had discovered an absolute cultural contrast between the South and New England: the one was a culture of no mind, the other a culture of mind." From this and other writings emerged a sense, for Emerson, that far from the hallowed halls of Harvard lay a dark and sinister land, an immoral and barbarous place--the American South.