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Who is the Angel of Gettysburg? This and More on Stories & Myths.

Who was the 'Angel of Gettysburg?' Why did Union soldiers give their lives to save High Bridge near Appomattox? All this and more on this week's Stories & Myths with Dr. Craig von Buseck and his special guest, Aaron von Buseck.

Stories & Myths Transcript: June 24, 2021

and good evening good morning good

afternoon wherever you are tuning in

around the world

we are so glad for you to join us


on stories and myths and you might


in the lower part of the screen uh

that the last names of both people

are the same this week and even though

he looks a little bit like

john c farrell this is not john c

farrell this is my son aaron

c von busick and we want to welcome

aaron to the program tonight so glad

that you could be with us

thank you yeah this is awesome i'm

really excited to be a part of this

this is uh well i am excited to have you

as well

and uh for those who are tuning in

um aaron has just uh made some history


in the last couple of weeks and uh

you're coming up on the two-week

anniversary am i right

yep me and my wife we tied the knot


we did the not tying ceremony in our

wedding and

yeah it's been it's been amazing so it's

certainly a new

season so it's been really awesome so

that is exciting and uh

we uh we did this uh and

very wisely uh aaron and his

wife julie are both

graduates of the regents school of


where they studied tv and film and video

and so this wedding was prepared

uh as you know from through the eyes of


and so because of that uh

they wanted us there uh for golden hour

at sunrise and we were right on the

shores of

lake erie and the sun rose behind us

as uh well i say behind us

i mean um because i co-officiated

the ceremony with julie's father who's

also an ordained

minister so what gave you guys the idea

to uh to do this cinematic

type of wedding

yeah it certainly is cinematic um yeah

we just you know we both

we you know we've worked on plenty of

film projects in the past and

you know there's just something about

early morning light that is just

incredible and lake erie

uh they have a bang that it's like the

third most beautiful sunrise

you know they don't set the standards

too high but it's but it's certainly


and so we just knew that it would look

gorgeous and

you know from a

you know from an emotional standpoint in

our connection we wanted to look at this

as a new season

and so we wanted to start it at the

beginning of the day so we wanted it to

symbolize as much of a new beginning

for the two of us as possible which you

know was

kind of always the idea so there's an

element like that there to it but it was


simply because we knew that the photos

and videos would look pristine and

and so far yeah everything that we've

seen from our amazing photographer uh

daryl morgan i'll give him a little plug

has been amazing um so we're we're

really thrilled

and really excited to see the rest of it


uh i am as well as you said the uh

photos that i've seen in the one little

clip of video that i've seen

have been amazing and i can't wait to


more so that is very exciting

yeah so uh one of i was going to say my

uh that was there she was saying that it

was amazing because as soon as

julie got down the aisle the clouds

parted and the sun shone through it was


kind of spectacular the way that it all

came together so

yeah it it really was it was uh

for me uh it was almost like a dream

moment or a movie moment uh living it

felt like it was we were in a movie

yeah right i was waiting for someone to

shout cut

yeah well hopefully no one will ever do

that so let me just let the movement

absolutely keep playing yeah

that's awesome well uh we said earlier

that you and julie

attended the regent film school uh tell


what the two of you are are doing now in

the film and video

and television industry

so uh currently julie is working

um as a producer uh for cbn

um specifically with the uh

show gizmo go and uh the soup and

also on the side uh super book show

where she does a lot of editing but also

you know a lot of producing and so

that's kind of been

where she's been going but she's also

excellent uh behind camera like as an


and so uh we've been able to work

together actually on a couple projects

which is really cool

you know you know a lot of people you

know don't necessarily get the

opportunity to go to work with their

wife you know

it's really cool to be able to be on set

and to collaborate

because you know film is such an

artistic medium you know and so there

have been a couple opportunities that

we've had where it was really great

getting to work together um and getting

to see her shine in that way because

you know i've only ever seen the product

i've never gotten to see

up until recently gotten to see operate

that one

as for me i just got done working on um

a show up in richmond

uh called swagger uh it's

produced through apple tv and it looks

like it's gonna be amazing i'm really

excited to see it

uh the you know it's a show about um

basketball and youth programs and and


the struggles that you know young people

go through

trying to carve their way you know

especially in something as

huge as a sport you know that and you

know national sport like basketball you


the competition is so high and so it

makes for a lot of good drama

so uh i'm excited to see that i was a

part of that on their lighting team

um started as a set lighting technician

and then moved to the rigging electric


and uh it was very rewarding being a

part of such a large production

uh and now now i just got to work on the

pilot for

a uh a tv series that they're trying to


for uh history it's called hidden

history and the episode that we made for

the pilot

uh was about the train that was buried

in richmond uh when they the tunnel


and it you know buried like four or five


people that are confirmed and then they

think that there might have been

you know up to a dozen or so you know


that were buried as well and so it's

this kind of almost titanic like

story but he hit it you know hidden in


ground you know it's kind of incredible

yeah i have never heard this story

before you

worked on this project yeah i mean

either it was really kind of incredible

but uh when i was talking to the

um the producer and uh the

cinematographer ryan pace uh we were he

was telling me the story

about how they've been trying to make

this show

for like 10 years and just now i've


uh the green light to go make this hook

and then they're working on the second

one which will be happening soon and so


waiting to hear about that that one too

so it's gonna be cool i love these

stories of you know not well-known


you know from our history but they have

really great lessons i mean

lessons of hubris you know you can be


you know so well that's what the stories

of this program

is all about to tell those kind of

stories that are amazing interesting

thought-provoking informative sometimes

they make you furious

but then on the myth side you know

the program is meant to also debunk

some of the myths that are out there as

well because

not all history is completely

what happened so there are some things

that we call history

that we find out later as uh further

documentation is discovered

were not exactly what we thought that

that it was

so i'm so glad to have you on the

program uh tonight aaron

yeah no i it's awesome i'm excited to


more about these things i saw your uh

your post on uh the angel of gettysburg

and i was immediately like

well that sounds like a movie

oh my gosh what a title it it really is

so just before we go into the questions

and do you have those questions ready

yeah yeah i have some questions here

that uh okay you know got me thinking


before we go into those questions we

want to um announce that

um aaron and i are actually

working on developing one of my books

into a video project the details of


will be announced uh in further

upcoming episodes once we get further

down the road

but we are taking the things that i have

been working on

and combining with aaron's video skills

and both of our writing skills because

aaron is also

a talented writer and uh we are

developing a very interesting project

uh so we will announce more about that


time goes by yeah i certainly think so


like my mind has been blown so many

times i'm like how has this

how are we the first ones to be talking

about this

coming to being a project like this is

that type of thing where you know

in my mind it's in the ranks of you know

the stories that we hear of like you

know george washington crossing

you know and like all that stuff like

all these huge historical stories

that make american history so rich

and i'm very excited to bring more light

to it

so yeah me too and it's also exciting to

be working together

as father and son but in this capacity

as partners

yeah no it's it's amazing it's funny you

know um

growing up in a you know you definitely

didn't hide history from us

so uh i guess it was inevitable that we

would eventually work together when

you shared so much and you you know talk

so much of you know the lessons that can

be learned and

you know and to value what we've gone

through and to learn from our mistakes

but to also

honor you know the good that has been


and you know the times that humanity's

goodness has shown through you know

especially in a world that can be so

dark and you know unpleasant

so absolutely well one of those stories

of light

uh is the angel of gettysburg that you

talked about

earlier so what's your question about

the angel of gettysburg

well number one that monument the photo

of the monument

is stunning oh my goodness it's the

artistry behind that alone

was enough to keep my interest much less

you know i know that there's an

incredible story behind it

but i wanted to hear like you know what

is that story and

you know is there some you know other

significance to the monument

itself absolutely well

elizabeth thorne is the woman that is

now known as the angel of gettysburg

she was the mother of three children and

she and her husband

had been hired in 1855

they were immigrants from germany and so

they were hired to be the caretakers of

the new

evergreen cemetery in gettysburg it was

newly established and laid out and they

had just

built uh the archway

entrance and if you've ever been to

gettysburg or you've ever seen the


you see that that archway entrance has

on the two sides

uh they were basically two apartments

so there was an apartment on uh one side

where elizabeth and her husband lived

with their three

boys and then on the other side of the

archway was another apartment

that was housed that housed elizabeth's

parents her elderly parents now in 1862

i'm sorry 18 yeah 1862

i believe it was that her husband

um felt that

he needed to join the union army

and so he joined the army

and he went off uh to fight and was

actually fighting

ironically was actually stationed in


when general robert e lee and the

army of northern virginia invaded


and eventually invaded gettysburg

so she was elizabeth was alone

uh caring for the cemetery she and her


had an average of about five burials

per month until the battle of gettysburg

and you can imagine uh what happened


their home was literally on ground

zero it was the central

point for the union army their home

that that uh wow was called cemetery


and uh it was the high ground apartment

what's that yeah i was gonna say i

couldn't i could imagine the high ground

would have been

like tactically you know advantageous

for them to

hold yeah and as i pointed out with uh

my co-host john last week

general reynolds had been

overseeing the pennsylvania militia

earlier in the war

and he was actually from lancaster which

is not far from gettysburg

and so he had studied all of the ground

in and around gettysburg he knew it very


and so when lee started to approach


had a very strong suspicion that lee

would want to consolidate his army

in gettysburg because gettysburg is like

the hub of a wheel with spokes going off

in every direction

and all of those roads converged on


which is one of the main reasons why the


was not fought in harrisburg it was not

fought in carlisle

it was not fought in pipe creek where

general mead wanted to fight it was

fought in gettysburg

because that was the place where lee

could say

to all his different army corps come


let's come together in this place and uh

and reynolds had a suspicion that that's

what would happen and that's exactly

what happened

and so reynolds had been studying the

ground and he met

with one of the other core commanders


otis howard the night before the first

day of the battle

and they unrolled some maps and they

looked at it and they agreed

that they needed to hold cemetery hill

which is exactly where

elizabeth thorne's house was

and so um she

they um when they moved into gettysburg

after general buford who was in charge

of the cavalry

sent word back to general reynolds

saying lee and his course

they're gathering here move in we need

your help

and so on july 1st reynolds

and howard moved in in the morning

howard stopped and left one of his


on top of little or on top of uh


hill and he went up to the door and

knocked on the door

of elizabeth thorne and said um just to

let you know

when i tell you to leave don't ask


leave but for now go down into your


and i'll tell you when it's time to go

and so

um the first day of battle was a an

overwhelming confederate victory

and so the union army

got pushed all the way back to cemetery


and then there was a little bit of a

saddle between

and then next to it was culps hill and

that is where the union army was

at the evening of the first battle well

they were sitting in the yard

of elizabeth thorne and so elizabeth and

her parents were down in the basement

with the three boys

and early the next morning when the

battle erupted

general howard sent an assistant to go


elizabeth thorne to get out of there and

so the

the family left and they moved uh far

south beyond a little round top uh where

several people in town had gathered

waiting out the battle

well uh the battle was absolutely

hellacious on uh both uh

cemetery hill and culps hill it was

hellacious all the way down cemetery

ridge and out into the peachfield the

wheat field

devil's den and especially strong and

difficult on little round top uh which

we talked about a little bit last week

with uh

general strong vincent and um

so the third day of battle actually

uh the tables turned the second day was

about a draw between the union and the


a little bit of a union victory in that

they held their

high ground the third day was pick

pickett's charge which was a total

annihilation the uh

union wiped out the confederates

and that is why the union won the battle

of gettysburg

so it was first day uh a confederate

victory second day almost a draw with a

little bit of a victory for the

union third day was a union victory and

so the union

won the overall battle of gettysburg and

lee had to withdraw on ironically

the reigning day of uh july 4th under

the cover of the rain

and the clouds uh general lee uh

and the army of northern virginia


as the army of the potomac and general


were licking their wounds because there

was tremendous

you know there were 50 more than 50 000


that doesn't mean 50 000 deaths that

means wounded

missing or dead sure probably around 11

or 12

000 dead between the two sides

now you think of 911 there were 3 000

dead on 911.

at gettysburg there were 10 000 dead

you can't even imagine it so elizabeth


who by the way was six months pregnant

that's the other thing i forgot to


and she arrived uh back i think on the


uh and there were um

dead bodies everywhere and there were

dead horses

everywhere and there weren't just the

dead bodies that were killed

on cemetery hill but people from town

were bringing dead bodies in and

stacking them

uh because they needed to be buried they

had been killed

in town and so um

the town tried to get people to


uh to help and even offered to pay some

people to help

elizabeth and her elderly father to bury

these they ended up uh bearing i think


bodies now remember this was the

sweltering heat of july

and there were all those dead horses

and can you imagine the smell of all

these dead people

all these dead horses um yeah

six months pregnant woman out there

in the sweltering heat with her elderly


and eventually the town's people uh got

overwhelmed and they left

and then the father got overwhelmed he

was too tired

by the smell he left overwhelmed by the

smell and the heat

and just exhaustion and so elizabeth


by herself dug 75

graves and buried 75 people

by herself and so

um sadly the she the

you know the toll took or the toil

took a toll on the baby and the baby was


but was never healthy and died at a very

young age

which is very sad um but

elizabeth finished the job buried all

the people that she needed to bury

and her husband continued in the war

till the end of the war

and uh came home and um

they ended up uh continuing at the

cemetery for a few years and then they

went on to

other things but the great irony is that

elizabeth and her husband

are still buried uh or were buried then

in evergreen cemetery and so their

graves are there

in the cemetery and then about uh 12

years ago or so

um a group got together to honor

what elizabeth thorne did and they

created this statue

of her which actually uh was

representing her but it was also


all of the women who served in the civil


and um so it is the women's memorial

for the civil war but the person that is


is elizabeth thorne the angel of



wow oh my goodness

so this i had two questions while uh

that kind of came to my mind so you're

saying that

it was because of pickett's charge did

he just they just lost too much man

too many men that when the rest of the

battle kind of came about they

the confederacy was just too undermanned

and that and they weren't able to

stand it yes

it was as devastating uh to the

confederate army

the pickett's charge was on july

3 as the

assault on marie's heights in


was to the union army if you remember

the union army got blown away

trying to move up the heights to uh

on it was called marie's heights on the

outskirts of fredericksburg

and that was in um late

1863 under general burnside

and um it was a complete disaster for

the union

who had to retreat back across the


um and lick their wounds and so

the same thing happened at pickett's

charge only

at pickett's charge the union was behind

a stone fence a much

shorter stone fence but there was a

stone fence there

and lee sent his uh

you know pickets division along with a


other divisions that were borrowed from

the other

uh core of the army um and so

they attacked across a mile wide

uh sloping incline and

uh you know it was a field day for the

union artillery

who just started sending shots out and

they would send these shells out and

they would blow up

over the troops and they'd just drop

like machine gun

bullets onto this huge mass of troops

then as they got closer they would use

what were called

grape shot or canister shot

which was basically these balls that

looked like

pinballs from the old pinball games

in a can that's why they called it

canister and they would shoot them out

and it was like

shooting a shotgun out of a cannon

and it would just mow them down oh my

god then when

the confederates got close enough the

union infantry

stood up took aim and blasted them

with their guns which were rifled

uh guns that were much more accurate

than any guns up to that point in

history and so it was a

it was so devastating that uh lee

uh decided the next day that they were

too wounded

plus the other side of it was that they

were running low on ammunition

and they were so far from their supplies


they didn't feel like they could uh you

know lee didn't feel like he could do


uh battle and so they turned and escaped

back over the potomac into the safety of


and you'll remember this because every

time we would drive home to erie we'd go


fredericksburg and i would i would pump

my fist in the air and say


fredericksburg fredericksburg well that

was what the union said

at the end of pickett's charge as if to

say we got you back

now you get what we got at

fredericksburg right

this is our revenge right oh my gosh

right well the in the film business

you know we have a little saying or a

little like

term called foreshadowing and the

the confederacy running you know a

fourth of july

the irony is not lost on me you know

when you kind of like consider the the

meaning and you know

the kind of picture that that paints you

know on on

is well and the further the further

historical irony

is that on the very same day out in

vicksburg mississippi

the confederates surrendered vicksburg

to ulysses s grant

so the same day that lee was

retreating after the defeat in


uh they were also suffering a defeat in

vicksburg and both things happened on

the 4th of july

1863 right wow

wow man that just gets my mind going

with ideas of like tying these

things together it really is like

incredibly providential looking at these

things and how you know so much had to

come into place

together to a just stop the bloodshed


you know it could go on for years more

than what it already did but also just

to maintain the union and to you know


the the country together you know like a

lot yeah

and despite these two losses the

confederacy went on for another year and

a half

so i mean the war was far from over even


these were two defeats for the

confederacy at that time

so they um they continued to fight

valiantly uh but as grant said they

fought for a cause that was one of the


that people ever fought for and i echo

grant sediments in that yeah

it's awful wow um

so actually we had um we had talked

about the high bridge

this is a little bit of a topic change

but um

i wanted to hear some more about that

because i was blown away by like how

pivotal this sounds

sounded like in the little bit that we

got to talk about i'd love to hear more

um about this because it sounded like it

was dramatic like

you know like you know you think of


uh old hollywood films of like the last

stand and stuff like that and like it

sounds like that kind of story

yeah um i had not heard this story


and i was doing some uh reading probably

about five years ago

and i stumbled across this and i i don't

remember the source i wish i did

because i remember thinking oh my gosh

i've never heard this but it

it really could have changed the course

of the end of the civil war and what had

happened is that

after the fall of petersburg and


lee got a one-day jump on

fleeing to the west now you need to


that his army was really depleted

they were running low on food

they had a lot of disease and so

it was a much weaker army than it had

ever been but they still were following

their commander

and so they started moving west along

the railroads coming

out of richmond and petersburg with the


of making it to lynchburg

and getting refitted finding food and


and then they were going to turn and go

down south

into north carolina where they would

join with general joe

johnston and the remainder of the army

of the west well

if they did that then they would have a


army that could go against

general sherman's western army or

general grant's army

of the potomac and army of the james

it was a long shot but with general lee

in command

and with uh very committed soldiers

it was within the realm of possibility

and so

grants they could not go for their their


but there was a hope there so grant knew

that he needed to get around and

surround them

and so what he did was he sent uh

under general sheridan phil sheridan was

the head of the

cavalry and grant told him

stay to the south of the army of

northern virginia and don't let them

turn south

we cannot allow them to link up with joe


then uh grant sent general ord

and his army of the james uh which was

infantry and said follow and stay as

close to the cavalry as you can

so that you also provide a block

to keep lee from turning south and then

he said to meade

general meade who was the head of the

army of the potomac

you follow on the tail of lee

and his army uh and remember they were a


behind so they had to catch up and so

um you know this was back when it was


and and trains when they could run a

train but

normally it was horses and infantry on


so the most of these soldiers were


but most of lee's soldiers were marching

or on horseback as well

and so it was a race a literal race

to try to catch and then surround the


of northern virginia well they

started to catch up what happened is the

second day after

the southerners fled to the west they

were supposed to get food

and other supplies at a place called

amelia courthouse

and when they got there they were

starving and they were so excited to see

these train cars

that were supposed to be loaded with

supplies they opened up the train cars

and there were guns

and ammunition and cannon and all kinds


you know cannonballs and all that and


shells and no food

and these people were starving and so

lee had to say to them go out into the

fields and and farm houses and scout

scour and see a scavenge

and see what you can find and so

basically that day that they had

advanced of grant they lost

because they had to go find food and

they came back with like

parched corn and not much else you know

radishes and

you know carrots maybe uh but nothing

of substance because the countryside had

been picked over because of the war

and so they there hasn't been a wildlife

uh they might have found a little bit

but again

when you have an army trying to live off

of the land for

four years um that wildlife is either

going to be killed or it's going to be

scared off and so there wasn't a lot

and so um lee gathered his forces back

together and started marching again well

that allowed the army of the potomac

to catch up and they started getting

towards the end

and started taking shots at the tail end

of the army of northern virginia well

at this point they're exhausted and now

they're starving and you know if you

ever watch the tv show survivor

when people start to get to that point

they're not thinking right

they're sluggish uh they're kind of

dazed and

uh they you know they get weak and that

was what was happening to the army of

northern virginia at the same time the

army of the potomac the army of the


the cavalry they're eating like kings

they're eating steak

and uh you know i mean they're just

having everything that they could

ask for so they're very strong while the

army of northern virginia is getting

weaker and weaker

and so the

real tragedy for the confederacy


at a place called sailors creek where

one third of the army got cut off from


forward two-thirds and they

uh the army of the potomac finally

caught up

and they went into battle and they were

able to surround

this one-third of the army of the

of northern virginia and they defeated


soundly they took in five major generals


as prisoners they took in hundreds and


of soldiers as prisoners and several

a hundred were killed or wounded

uh in the battle well lee was up on a


uh overseeing this and he turned to a

needy an aide and he said

my god has the army evaporated

because he didn't know how many soldiers

were left but he could see

all these hundreds of soldiers


right in front of his eyes and he

thought that the army was gone

uh but he he turned and started moving

um forward and he found out that

two-thirds of the army was still there

much smaller but still enough of an army

to fight

and now they were approaching a place

where the appomattox river

took a turn at what a place called

farmville and there were two bridges

that went across

the appomattox there and um one was

called the high bridge

and it was a union trestle and at the


it was considered an engineering marvel

and the southern railroad went across


i think it was 150 feet in the air and

the amazing thing is

i've been there and those original


the you know uh the they were made out


stone those are still there now the

bridge is long gone and they built an

iron bridge

next to it but those original stone


that the original wooden bridge was on

are still there which is really

amazing to see this thing from back

during the civil war

then there was a second bridge that was

very low

and it was called a cart bridge and it

was basically for

carts and for foot traffic to go across

and it was

it was so low you could reach over and

fill your canteen

with water uh from the river below

and so we was meeting with longstreet

and they saw this

and they said this is an opportunity if

we could get across there and burn the


then the army of the potomac is going to


have to go way around and that's going

to give us time to get to

to lynchburg and we'll you know we'll be

able to get food and refit

and this could be what we have been

looking for

and so oh my gosh that would have just

made everything last

that could have given them distance to

go on for

what months or maybe years

wow maybe years if they would have

gathered with joseph johnston

and they weren't tied down to cities

they could just go from one strategic

place to another

and fight on ground of their choosing

and whenever they did that the the uh

army of northern virginia quite often

won those battles

because they knew how to entrench you

got to remember that

lee was one of the top generals

in the core of army engineers uh you and


have many times gone to fort monroe

there in

uh you know hampton virginia that was

built by

robert e lee and you've you and i have

stood up on the side of that fork

that thing is it's it's truly a fork

it is not something that you could get

you know through

easily at all it was amazingly built so

lee knew how to build things

and he knew how to do entrenchments and

that is why

at places like cold harbor and

um petersburg

uh the the army of the potomac had

a terrible time because they would go up

against these entrenchments and just get

mowed down

because they were so well built and even

though they were firing into the


the southerners were were kept safe

because these uh were so well built

that the the shells and the bullets

couldn't get through

whereas they would have these openings

where they could see through and shoot

the north or the uh you know the

northern troops

who had no defenses and that's why cold

harbor was another

uh pickett's charge or fredericksburg


now it was the opposite and the union

got mowed down

yeah so at any rate um

so lee sent uh

one of his um uh cavalry

uh groups along with a couple of uh

core or divisions of infantry to go

and burn that bridge and uh to make sure

that the union didn't get there first


uh grant was also a brilliant strategist

and he saw

the uh problem that they were facing in

the danger

he saw exactly what lee and longstreet


and so grant had uh general ord

of the army of the james send out his

cavalry and some of his infantry

and basically the northern and southern


met at the bridge

and it was a war or a battle to the


because the union knew that they had to

keep the bridge open

the confederates knew that they had to

get across and burn the bridge

before the rest of the army of the

potomac got there and so

it was a really terrible sad

uh battle and so uh general ord

uh sent his second in command

his chief of staff which was brigadier

general thomas

reed and reed took his troops

there uh to fight um

against uh the southern troops under

brigadier general

thomas rosser and colonel thomas munford

and so like i said it was a race they

got there and they started to fight

and um reed and uh the other

uh general uh or colonel i'm sorry that


fighting on the side of the northern


they literally gave their lives and

um they they were both killed

and um the um

the the second in command was a man

named washburn

and so washburn uh was killed and

reed was killed and uh at the same time

um one of the confederate generals who

was over the cavalry

was mortally wounded as he fired at

general reed

and there's a possibility that they shot

and killed each other

they don't know that for sure but

reed was shooting towards during

and deer or deering and deering was

shooting towards reed

we know that deering killed reed but


deering was also shot and eventually


and deering was the last confederate

general to die in the civil war

at the battle of highbridge so the


won the battle and they took the entire

union brigade all the cavalry that

survived all the infantry that survived

everyone either was killed or became a


and so the lee took the army of northern

virginia across

the uh the bridge the footbridge

and they were thrilled when they got to

farmville on the other side

because there was food in some train

cars there

well right after they got there

the union forces approached

um and so while

they were distributing the food the word

got to general lee that the union troops

were approaching the bridge

and so lee said stop eating and they

closed up the um

they closed up the train cars and we

sent them to the next station

which was appomattox station

so the train moved back to the west


appomattox station and so

um the the confederates

turned and set fire to the bridge so

that the union could not get across

but because of the sacrifice of those

union forces it gave time

for the union army to catch up and so


a couple of the spans of the high bridge


the lower bridge was a much harder wood

and it was the confederates were having

a hard time setting the bridge on fire

and the union army got there they shot

and scared them off

and the union army took blankets and

canteens and they dipped them in the


and with the wet blankets they put the

fire out

and so they were able to keep the lower


from burning which allowed the union

army to cross

and stay right on the tail of the army


northern virginia so there were two more

days or about a day and a half

more of of um

the army of northern virginia running


the west and then um

cavalry the cavalry of the united states

got out in front of them

at appomattox station and a person

that's very famous from history general

george custer was the one who captured

the food

and the trains there in appomattox and


uncoupled the food from the uh

from the train and then they destroyed

the train so that the food could not

go anywhere and um

right and then uh sheridan came with his


and came around the front of the

army of northern virginia at the same

time general ord

and the army of the james marched

through the night

they were exhausted but they knew that

they were close to bagging

their enemy so they marched through the


yeah and what happened yeah at first

light uh general lee said to general


uh we have cavalry in front of us we've

got the army of potomac behind us

we've got the appomattox river to the

north of us and there's

uh you know the we're having a hard time

because there's an approaching army down

to the south

see if you can break through the cavalry

so that we can keep moving towards

lynchburg and so

gordon came up and started fighting the

cavalry that was

unhorsed at that point and he was

starting to push him back

because he had infantry which is much

stronger than cavalry

and they pushed him to the crest of this

hill and they felt like

we might be having a breakthrough you

know and they got hopeful

but then when they hit the crest of the

hill they looked over the side

and there were scores hundreds and

thousands of blue-coated

union army troops from the army of the


that were emerging from the woods and

spreading out all across their front

and they were surrounded and there was

no hope

and so uh general gordon immediately as

soon as he saw that

his instincts told him retreat because

he knew if they kept fighting they would

be annihilated

and they went back to general lee and he


we could do no more and that was what

led to

the surrender that later that day there


appomattox courthouse in uh uh

wilmer mclean's house and um

so the battle of highbridge was

a critical battle that helped to lead to


surrender two days later at appomattox

wow wow what a dramatic

story oh my gosh the way

like just i mean it really it's you know

it's very easy to

demonize the confederacy and to be like

oh you know these

you know people that were fighting for

slavery but like when you look at

just how devoted both sides are to fight

that tooth and nail man there must be

some like

you know there must be like

psychological studies out there like

how what will cause someone to fight so


you know that like in this in these

moments that they'll

you know burn their own you know their

own bridges and they'll do

everything like that they can

you know especially when they when

someone's cornered like that that's


i mean it's so incredible to hear

stories like this of people

you know just holding on and in such



uh as he wrapped up his memoirs he said


you know i i give full credit to

these people for how valiantly they

fought and so there was always great

respect uh there and remember

that in the beginning of the war the


uh army chief was winfield scott who was

the hero of the war of 18

or i'm sorry the war of uh the mexican


and winfield scott said to lincoln the

very best soldier in the army

is robert e lee and so lincoln went to

robert e lee well he sent an emissary

uh blair his his uh republican

friend uh over to talk to lee

to offer lee the to be the top general

in the entire union army at the outbreak

of the civil war

and lee thought about it uh but he came

back and said

he turned it down and he said uh i

cannot lift my sword against my native

country because you got to remember that

they saw

the states as separate countries like

in europe that came together in

a union for the purpose of mutual


against the empires of

england spain and france and russia

and also for mutual trade but

they saw themselves as basically

separate countries and so when

when lee said i cannot raise my sword

against my native state or my native


that was his mindset and uh

there's a an author um shelby foote

who was featured prominently in the ken

burns civil war series

that you probably remember well and um

said that before the civil war

it was said the united states are and

nobody was self-conscious about it at


after the war it was always said and it

is said today

the united states is and he said that's

what the civil war did

it made us an is

wow oh my goodness so

man that is so interesting because for

us now it's like

it's like where it's just totally


you know that together

we're unified you know and like there's

a subsect

you know that these that the states are

smaller part of the unified hole

and that's what the civil war answered

that was an unanswered question

from the the constitutional convention

and uh the civil war basically answered

that uh

that question of can states leave

once they've come into the union and uh

the wharf basically said nope

once you're in you're in forever

because basically they signed the

document of the constitution of the

united states

coming together as a union and they said

that we are in pursuit of a

more perfect union were ever in pursuit

of a more perfect union

and so lincoln argued that once they

signed that document that was it

whereas the confederacy said no states

rights we have every right

you know we we entered voluntarily into

this confederation this union

and we have every right to leave which

the ironic thing is

later in the war there were some

confederate states

that were thinking about seceding from

the confederacy because they didn't like

how it was being run by

jefferson davis so that is a snake that

will come back to bite you

right wow

we've got about eight minutes left oh

that is so

compelling we have about eight minutes


and uh you had one more question

yeah i did i wanted to talk about um you

know i see you've got the books behind


uh yeah and that artwork is stellar i

don't want to take up too much

more time but i i have to comment on it

it really is incredible

well it gives you know i had seen this

for years

it gives it gives the uh the

image of forward motion so it goes well

with the title

of forward yeah oh yeah absolutely well


you know one of the questions i wanted

to ask was you know

i you talk about we being the um

you know what the top soldier and you

know grant was also brilliant you know

we've talked about

you and me apparently about his you know

prowess as a general as a strategist and

you know

i like i've i've had like a wondering of

like man if the roles that were reversed

and you gave

lee the resources of the union

and grant the determination and the

dogginess of the southern

you know confederacy you know how would

it have turned out then that would have

been very interesting i

you know that's a maybe we'll just i'll

chew on that

the question well you know a lot of

people have had that very question

what would have happened if lee would

have been in command

uh and you know interestingly enough and

i'm just going to take an aside on that

because it's a thought-provoking


in fact why don't we because we're

running out of time we'll come back to

the question from this book next week

but um after

grant left the white house as president

he toured the

world for two years and he met

at one point you know he met all he had

dinner with

queen victoria and they met the pope in


and they went to jerusalem and you know

all these you know the sultan of turkey

gave them

or of the ottoman empire but in turkey

gave him two purebred arabian horses

that grant shipped back to the united


and those horses started being studded

out and so

some of our thoroughbed horses today

are direct descendants from that gift

from the sultan

oh my god but one of them well

grant loved his horses he absolutely did

and he built a beautiful a beautiful


stable for his horses out in st louis

which if you ever go out to whitehaven

which is now a national park the grant

home in st louis uh they

they converted that horse stable into

the museum

and it is a beautiful beautiful i mean

it's amazing because the building

is the same building on the outside it's

just been you know

renovated and painted and and it shows

how much grant loved his horses because

in some ways

that barn was nicer than the house

but um but going back to what you

but what you had said earlier about

um lee being in charge

when grant met with the chancellor of

germany a man named otto von

bismarck bismarck said

uh it was so sad that your country had


uh fight this civil war and grant

immediately responded and said but it

had to happen

and bismarck said yeah you had to

restore the union just like germany had

to fight to preserve its

uh integrity and grant said not only

fight the union and this is so important

he said but also destroy slavery

and bismarck was a little bit taken back

by that

and he said what do you mean and grant

said slavery was a cancer on

our country and as soon as

slavery fired upon the nation

he said i knew that it had to be


not just put down not just contained

which is what abraham lincoln uh ran

on people think that lincoln was a a


abolitionist he was not lincoln was a


politician he did not run in 1860

saying that he wanted to abolish slavery

he said he wanted to contain it

but just containing slavery to the slave


of the south that was enough for them to

go to war

to break free from the union because

they felt like

we don't want anything to curtail our

desire for slavery

and if you study what their plans were

they wanted an

empire of slavery that would stretch

through mexico

into central america and south america


homes oh my gosh it would have been a

cartel imagine what would have happened

in the 20th century

if they would have won it's hard to even


you know you're talking about what if we

did this what if the

confederacy won and they achieved their

goal of

race-based slavery

these same roots and the same seeds of

these ideas

were adopted by adolf hitler

it's the same thing that's what people

people need to be honest

with themselves and recognize that as

grant said this was a cancer

and it had to be done away with there

are people who said oh

it slavery was dying and it was about to

to be

uh you know done away with according to

the historians who've done in-depth

research including

our friend uh who wrote the book about

gettysburg what's the last name

gelts um oh uh galzo

galzo girls alan galzo alan gelzo

did in-depth research on this and he is


professor at the university of

gettysburg he's one of the world's

leading authorities on the civil war and

he said

all of the research that he did showed

that uh in 1860

slavery was going strong with no signs

of weakening

at all in fact the throughout the


they were starting to talk about how can


uh start adopting industrialization like

the north has

and start putting slaves into factories

out west they talked about how can we

put slaves into mines

in the mountains they had no people who

say that slavery was about to die

i i just don't see the evidence for that

and so when you go back to what grant

was saying to otto von bismarck

grant said that we had to destroy

slavery we could not

build a piece and bismarck said well

it's so sad that the

war went on for so long and there were

so many people killed

and grant said yes but perhaps it was


yeah he said that if the war would have

ended earlier slavery

might have been left intact and he said

it would have

risen up again and we would have had

another war

to fight but because the war

stretched out as long as it did uh

the views of the whole nation turned

uh and they turned when abraham lincoln

realized that he couldn't

fight just uh with the cause

of preserving the union it was not


both from a moral standpoint from

a um you know a vision casting


but also from the standpoint of in order

to defeat

the slave or slavery in order to defeat

the confederacy the north

had to uh take slavery out as something


contributed to the confederate war


see that's the thing that people forget

is that in the north

you had to have all kinds of people


and taking care of the horses and

bringing in supplies and all these


and up until the time when the

emancipation proclamation was

was given on december 31st when it went

into effect

january 1st 1863 all of that was done by

white people

whereas in the south they had thousands

of black slaves

in the army doing all these things so

that the white

soldiers could fight so if you come

against and free the slaves

for one uh lincoln knew that the slaves


you know try to get away to to obtain

their freedom

for another it starts to uh

erode the strength of the south

in that uh it starts to erode that

slave free labor base and that

then you know did that but it also gave

a second cause now there were still

plenty of racist people in the north