By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- In the war of southern rebellion or northern aggression depending on your point of view people were constantly changing sides.
People who picked one side or the other at the start of the Civil War did it perhaps for political reasons, or emotional reasons or loyalty to a home state not their nation and then as the realities of war dragged on they changed sides. Some changed sides because the state they lived in was now (and forever) occupied by the enemy and for that reason it seemed a prudent move to make.
Some individuals changed sides, because their political beliefs truly did change as the war destroyed more of their old way of life. Some changed sides for the same reason they joined the other side in the beginning—money.
Confederate prisoners of war (POWS) were the largest number of southerners to change sides in the Civil War. These men were offered the opportunity to remove their old gray uniforms and put on the blue of the north, the Union Army.
The term “galvanized Yankee” became known to the regular Union soldiers. Galvanizing is a process of applying a zinc based coating to metal to prevent rust. The metal looks different on the surface to including changing color but under that new coating, the metal is still the same. The confederate POW who volunteered to join the Union Army may put on the Yankee issued outer coat of blue wool, but it was believed by many that the new US solider was still deep down, just a good old rebel boy. His galvanizing–coating was not of zinc but of blue. The effect on both being the same, to stop the slow wearing down and eventual destruction of the inner part that is not coated.
For the sheet metal it was the outside elements, for the confederate POW it was the destructive and uncontrollable elements of a Yankee prison camp.
So an offer was made to these southern POWs that got them out of the squalor and early death of a Union prison camp for the simple price of joining the other side and taking up arms with their former and perhaps still enemy.
My Lieutenant called to tell me the President of these United States was coming to town and our police department needed some extra help working that day.
I advised my Lieutenant that I was a Republican and I was not sure I could support his request to come in and work that detail.
When I heard no laughing on the other end of the phone line my response was “yes sir, where do you need me and what time do I need to report.”
I was going to be a democrat supporter for a few hours, but deep down I was still a republican. My democratic coating, my democratic galvanization if you will, was only one temporary layer thick. Yes I was switching sides for a short interlude but it was for the “cause.” In this case it was the cause of my police department that needed the additional effort of support that day.
The US is a republic which means we elect our leaders and then expect them to take charge and do their level best to support, lead and defend the nation. Sometimes you get elected officials you don’t really care for or even want to back-up or follow. It is however the good of the nation that needs to be supported not the individual person.
The good of the nation seems to have gotten lost in translation in 1861. Dare I suggest that the good of the nation is a bit lost yet again in modern times?
I don’t necessarily like or really even want to support some of our current elected officials. I am however a retired military officer who raised his hand as a young man and pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign or domestic. I believe that hard times are coming again to this great nation.
There are too many thinly galvanized people professing heartfelt alleged political beliefs that wear off quickly with the first bad e-mail. Why there are even people in my party who have covered themselves with a thin veneer of political zinc trying to fool some of the people all the time when in fact they are galvanized republicans.
At the height of the Civil War it was said in the Union that “Richmond was a hard road to travel.” With our current political parties at polar opposites, with the drive for “more” of everything at any cost and the never ending fact that many outside and inside our borders hate this nation I believe the next decade for the US will be another “hard road to travel.”
Major Van Harl USAF Ret / [email protected]
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]