5 December 2016
A Civil War
The American Civil War, despite its savagery and enormous loss of life, still was the cause for many changes to our nation, which has been largely forgotten in the historical telling.
The celebration of Christmas during wartime is always interesting, and particularly so during horrific encounters between the Union and Confederate forces during this nineteenth century four-year societal carnage.
The thought that first comes to mind is: Christmas is a time of celebration, a reminder of God’s intervention in the world of man to bring peace with God through Jesus, to give and receive gifts and cards with family and friends alike, and a time to gather with family around a table loaded with sumptuous quantities of food and conversation. Yet, we’re engaged in a war of attrition, killing off our countrymen, and even family members, at a frightening pace. How could Christmas be enjoyed in the midst of this hellish war?
As it turns out, we humans have an amazing adaptability, especially during the most traumatic and stressful of times.
Christmas was a well-established special time of the year in the United States leading up to the start of the Civil War. However, the war itself would cause many to reflect on its continued recognition and enjoyment. Both Northerners and Southerners made the most of this special day throughout the war, even though battles and military maneuvers continued unabated. In 1870, five years after the war ended, then President Ulysses S. Grant made it official that Christmas would henceforth be a national holiday, in part in an attempt to