The Washington Times - July 4, 2008, 10:28AM

Another Fourth of July is here, the time to celebrate America’s independence, and to celebrate all that we have come to derive from our system of government. “…and that Government  of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

So what has that to do with the Civil War?    


Well, the concept of using  hot air balloons for reconnaisance was first used there.  Here in Northern Virginia, down near Alexandria, one of the first trial areas saw balloons going up into the sky for a quick look around.

Cdr. Matthew Fontaine Maury was the original developer of floating land mines and torbedoes, staples of today’s water defenses and offenses.

Horace Hunley launched his little submarine off the coast of Charleston to prove that invading ships could be attacked by underwater devices.  Unfortunately Hunley believe iin his invention so well that he died on the second attempt.  On the third attempt, the “little fish boat” as it was called, sank after connecting with its enemy;  the wreckage was recovered several years ago, is in a museum in Charleston, and the remains of the brave sailors on board were recovered and buried with honors in Magnolia Cemetery there.

Some of the innovations in  battlefield medical care were first seen during the civil war, with - thankfully - many to come thereafter.

Another innovation dating to the 1861-1865 period was the “first use of repeating rifles chambered for metallic cartridges in warfare, the Spencer and the Henry,”  this  according to good friend Joe Bilby, author of numerousl books on weaponry and warfare.[ Thanks, Joe.]  Obviously the presence of repeating rifles provided a distinct advantage over single shot ones.

The participants in the war, on both sides, frequently had children and grandchildren who followed them into the military.  A friend of mine, Tim  Pletkovich of  Peoria, Illinois, interviewed aging veterans of World War II all of whom  had sons in Korea and Vietnam’s conflicts.  One of my own great  uncle’s, William Henry Tucker, was a prisoner of war in a hospital commissary for over a  year during the civil war.   His son was a male nurse in World War I,  and HIS son was a male nurse in World War II.

See how many of these things that relate to the civil war in today’s era  you can think of, and drop me a note to add to the list.

Today fly your flag, put on a CD of patriotic songs, wear red, white and blue, find a veteran or soldier to say “Thanks for  your service”  to,  visit a cemetery and put a flag on a veteran’s grave, and pause for a moment during the ball games, barbecues and other festivities to remember those who went before us in the ultimate sacrifice.  As they say, all gave some, and some gave all.