The Best Defense

Sherman (XI): The Confederates I worry about most after the war will be the young men with guns and horses -- but no land

Let's finish off this week's celebration of the defeat of the Confederacy with a look at a lengthy letter written in September 1863, in which Gen. William T. Sherman laid out his concerns about postwar reconstruction.

His biggest worry, he wrote, was a certain type of Confederate soldier -- specifically...

The young Bloods of the South, sons of Planters, lawyers about Town, good billiard players and sportsmen. Men who never did work, or never will. War suits them: and the rascals are fine, brave riders, bold to rashness, and dangerous subjects in every sense.... As long as they have a good horse, plenty of Forage. This is a larger class then most men suppose, and are the most dangerous set of men which this war has turned loose upon the world. They are splendid riders, shots, and utterly reckless. Stuart, John Morgan, Forrest, and Jackson are the types & leaders of this class. They must all be killed, or employed by us before we can hope for Peace. They have no property or future & therefore cannot be influenced by anything except personal considerations. I have two Brigades of these fellows to my Front.... They are the best Cavalry in the world."

Tom again: As I read this over again, I wondered if this note contains the essence of how the Union lost Phase IV of the Civil War, or at least didn't win it until 1964. Forrest became a major member of the Ku Klux Klan, of course. I wonder how many cavalry vets rallied to him.

BTW, Morgan's nephew won the Nobel Prize in medicine.

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The Best Defense

Women in combat: A vet's message to today's women about how to proceed

By Amanda Cowell
Best Defense guest columnist

What I would say to those women is this: We are the women who longed for this day and wanted it for ourselves.

So, when the raw skin on your feet breaks and your boots slowly begin to slosh with blood during that 20-mile ruck march, we will be with you.

When you have intentionally over-packed your ruck just to prove you can carry the weight and then have to have your battle buddy pull your hair into a bun for you because you can't lift your arms, we will be with you.

When it finally hits you that you will never be able to stop trying to be twice as good, twice as funny, twice as smart, twice as fast, twice as strong, or twice as hard as every man around you, we will be with you.

When you climb that rope, when you go another day without sleep, when you don't think you can run that last mile, when you are hungry, when you are injured, and when you make mistakes, we will be with you.

And the day you realize that it is actually possible to pee into an empty water bottle without a penis ... well, we won't be there for that one, but you can tell us about it later. 
I can't WAIT to see you kick some ass.

Amanda Cowell served in the active-duty Army and Army Reserve from 2002 to 2010, during which she did two deployments to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division in military intelligence. She currently is living in Ohio and working as a stay-at-home mom.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Catie D. Edwards