Monday, July 30, 2007

The color of your uniform

Jim's still working on this Datastorm install - waiting on yet another part - so we're here in Springfield for at least another day and we took the afternoon yesterday to play tourist and get some exercise. There's a national park nearby called Wilson's Creek National Battlefield and they have a 5 mile paved road that made for a great bicycle ride. When we learn about history in school, things seem black and white. Or, blue and gray as in the case of the Civil War! But when you visit historical sites and learn details of those times, you see that everything is a blurry gray. In Missouri's case, it was not at all clear whether it was Union or Confederate. Most of the people wanted to be neutral, but that was not possible. Missouri was critical with it's location on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The governor favored the south, the military had to fight the governor first, then fight the confederacy! But the worst story is about the fact that there was not enough money for adequate uniforms for the troops. Many troops wore the uniforms of their state organization rather than the Union or the Confederacy. And, many just wore their own clothes. When the union forces at Wilson Creek saw troops approaching with gray uniforms, they did not consider them to be Confederates because they were expecting reinforcements from the 1st Iowa Infantry who had gray uniforms as well. They were wrong, and they paid the price in blood, losing the battle of Wilson's Creek. Today, the area is beautiful, lush, rolling hills, forest and cornfields. It's hard to imagine the horrors of hand-to-hand battle and the thousands of lives that were lost. We had a great day bicycling, learning and getting some exercise. Can you tell it was hot? We also had a few hills to pedal. My face gets red.
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