Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Civil War correspondent C.C. Coffin on the horrors of war

The American Civil War, like many wars, has been romanticized endlessly in books and on film. For those observers who view from such safe and secure distances, the everyday toils and the absolute horrors of battle and death may become somewhat sanitized. Charles Carleton Coffin, Civil War correspondent to the Boston Journal witnessed firsthand the gruesome nature of war and the very real impact it has on young lives. Of this horror, Coffin writes:

But let me say if those who envy the war correspondent were once brought into close contact with all the realities of war — if they were obliged to stand the chances of getting their heads Knocked off by an unexpected shell, or bored through with a minie ball, — to stand their chances of being captured by the enemy, — to live on bread and water and little of it — to sleep on the ground, or on a sack of corn, or in a barn with the wind blowing a gale and the snow whirling in drifts, and the thermometer shrunk to zero,— and then after the battle is over and the field won, to walk among the dying and the dead and behold all the ghastly sights ... to hear all around sighs, groans, imprecations and prayers — they would be content to let others become the historians of war.

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