War Games and Lessons Learned
Good Morning from the Heartland.
Last night I won the Battle of Chickamauga for the North.
That isn’t what happened in real life, however.
A few weeks ago, I got a computer game, Ultimate General Civil War. It is the first computer game I’ve played in years, and the best I’ve ever seen. I like it because it’s a historical game with a great deal of historical accuracy… but of course, it’s a game. I’ve said many times here that I am a history nerd. I started reading everything I could find about history when I was in second grade. Yep, that’s right, second grade. I’ve been studying the American Civil War since I was 10. In spite of the number of times I was chased out of the adult section of the Public Library by the librarians, I had read every single volume they had on the Civil War by the time I was turning 11, and I have continued ever since.
I could easily do a blogsite on the subject, and honestly, I have considered that.
I decided to try this game because I wanted to see if I could correct the mistakes that were made in that war that caused it to last so long and kill so many. Of course, that has given me a huge advantage in the game; I almost feel like I’m cheating, particularly when I remember that as a Union general, I’ve run the table on the South. If the game would allow such things, I would have won the war in less than a year, but it is historic to a fault and you have to fight every battle, and then a hypothetical at the end to capture the enemy’s capital city, Washington or Richmond.
Chickamauga is a good example. In real life, Union General Rosecrans did a good job in the battle, but there was terrible confusion. The field was very large, the woods extremely dense and the visibility was extremely poor. At one point, he received an erroneous dispatch telling him of a big hole in the Union line, so he sent a number of brigades to fill it. Yet the only hole in the line was the one caused by Rosecrans’ shifting of brigades, and that was precisely where Confederate General Longstreet attacked him. The result was a disaster for the Union, and they were only saved by a legendary stand made by General Thomas’ troops. The Union lost over 16,000 men, and for what?
Knowing this, I lost 11,000 men, and killed over 38,000 out of 42,000 on the Southern side, which would have effectively ended the war in the West. Instead, the real war dragged on for more than a year.
Now this is just a silly game, but I really enjoy the strategy of building and equipping an army, managing the money and logistics, not to mention the politics and the tactics that I’ve read about for 50 years. Yet the whole thing really makes you think about the utter futility of this world.
Why did we allow our Nation to be ripped apart? How could anyone, particularly Christians ever countenance slavery? How was it possible that someone didn’t come forth as a voice of reason? How could sectional rivalry, money, power and political gain get so out of control, that we ended up with the bloodiest war in our history? Were the people of that time stupid or something?
No, they weren’t. They were just like we are today.
That’s where it hit me…HARD.
They are us, we are them. We are engaged in the same kinds of behaviors they were, the ones that led to war.
Spend a few days watching cable news. Watch it from the time you get up to the time you go to bed… several days. Immerse yourself in it.
Then pick up a good book on the causes of the Civil War. Read what the politicians and the newspapers were saying; hear the volume of the rhetoric and see the stubborn way each side held on to its position. Notice the vitriol, notice the petty rivalries, and the complete lack of statesmanship.
Then it will hit you too. What are we- stupid?
You might even want to undertake an honest study of the Book of Revelation, and if you do, you will discover that we aren’t stupid, we are just acting like people do, when they leave God’s path, and that this cycle will never end until Jesus returns.
Come quickly Lord Jesus!