The Civil War, then and now

It was June 30, 1863, in the small town of Gettysburg, Pa., where there was a pleasant smell of hay drying in the fields. The maturing wheat fields were transitioning to a golden color and residents anxiously waited for peaches in the orchards to become juicy and sweet.

But in a matter of hours their sanctuary from the ongoing Civil War’s brutality would be forever changed as bullets and the acrid smell of burnt gunpowder filled the air around town.

Or maybe it was the ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba bam! — the sounds of guns of war in the quiet town of Uvalde, Parkland or Sandy Hook, where numerous children were killed in minutes.

Now nervous Americans across the nation wait for the next battle in their schools, churches, shopping places or public events, devastating communities while politicians ponder the implications of war.


Confederate soldiers who willingly gave up their lives in the Battle of Gettysburg were spurred on by their beliefs in an ideology inconsistent with many of Gettysburg’s residents, all of whom suffered from the ravages of war.

Farmers’ crops would be taken or destroyed, their livestock taken or killed, and many buildings were damaged or destroyed over three days of intensive fighting.

Or was it the ideological pawns who in the summer of 2020 dispensed their own version of vigilante justice in many cities across America by looting, burning and destroying innocent people’s property?

The rioters felt their destruction — their war on America — was justified to promote their cause as they wage war on America.

On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Johnny Rebs from the South mounted a strategic assault on a hill named Little Round Top. The Rebs’ commanders had instilled frenzy among the troops to fight like hell as they carried Confederate flags up the hill and terrified Union troops with their trademark rebel yell.

Or was this the assault up a Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021, when rebel forces like Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and other pawns of the Right were inspired to “fight like hell” — as spoken by their Commander-in-Chief.

Some of the Rebs waved Confederate flags while storming up the steps as terrified television viewers around the world witnessed their now infamous Rebel yell, “Hang Mike Pence!”

Hmmm …

What is this invisible but powerful force that drives citizens of a nation to rise up against each other in a violent fashion, bringing death and destruction to their fellow countrymen and destabilizing the government?

I call it a false logic by individuals who subvert the truth to justify their actions.

Hmmm …

The Civil War was largely based on the subverted truth that slaves in the South were a commodity and not humans. This belief, sadly, was even proclaimed by supporting Southern churches, newspapers, schools and politicians who used it to spread their propaganda to rule Southern culture.

Slaves were assigned a monetary value when sold to a Master to be sometimes abused or even killed by those who owned and controlled their lives. In the South, slaves were considered exempt from the Bill of Rights despite its proclamation that “all men are created equal” and have a right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Is that twisted Southern logic of a long-time ago now being applied to the unborn?


I recently read an interesting opinion piece in The Express written by Sahorta Sarkar, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas, titled, “When human life begins is a question of politics, not biology.” Ms. Sarkar pointed out a study by a graduate student from the University of Chicago named Steven Jacobs, who obtained a list of 62,469 biologists who were institutional faculty and researchers.

Jacobs sent a questionnaire to all these scientists asking when life actually begins for an unborn child, but he received only 5,502 responses.

To me, that means: A) A vast majority of scientists aren’t really as smart as we thought; or B) A vast majority of scientists are afraid to answer a hot-button question out of fear of reprisal.

That leaves the scientific truth conveniently buried in the ideology of the Left and Right.

The drum had an important role in the Civil War as it was used to set the tempo for soldiers to march. I can’t help thinking about how hard it was for soldiers to remain cohesive in the face of death as they focused on the beat of the drum rather than those dying next to them.

The drums of war are in use again in the form of vile propaganda aimed at destroying our American spirit. With the mid-term elections only months away and key seats up for grabs, the beating of the drums will intensify in a battle we now call Election Day.

Ralph Dotterer Jr. is a lifelong Nittany Valley farmer, hayseed philosopher and barnyard artist whose roots in the same soil go back almost 200 years.


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