Pelham’s Letter

9 12 2008

NPS historian and Civil War author extraordinaire John Hennessy stopped by to comment on the Pelham Letter.  Here’s his note:

Harry,

I have always felt that Pelham’s description of his feelings in battle, and his shame at having felt as he did, was one of the more vivid revelations about the human condition as it relates to combat. Clearly his reaction to battle was not universal. Is there something about the makeup of true warriors that in the moment renders battle appealing rather than horrific? I don’t know….

Thanks for sharing this….

And here’s my response:

John,

Yes, I found the letter striking for the same reason. I view his closing sentences as essentially a rationalization in light of what preceded them.

Thanks for stopping by – knowing you’re out there reading this stuff at least every now and again helps keep me honest!

The closing sentences to which I refer are these:

We are battling for our rights and our homes. Ours is a just war, a holy cause. The invader must meet the fate he deserves and we must meet him as becomes us, as becomes men.

What preceded them was Pelham’s description of the horrors of battle.

Any thoughts from my readers?








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 894 other followers