I’ve been collecting oral histories of the Battle of Resaca, part of Sherman’s campaign to capture the city of Atlanta and win the South for the Union in the Civil War. This snippet is from Daniel Ransdell, who fought with the Seventieth Indiana Regiment, commanded by Colonel Benjamin Harrison, who would become the 23rd president of the United States.

Ransdell became sergeant at arms for the Senate, from 1900 to 1912. From senate.gov: “On May 15, 1864, while advancing with Union troops on Atlanta, Georgia, he suffered the loss of his right arm in an engagement that produced more than ten thousand Union and Confederate casualties.”

I have gone down several rabbit holes while writing this current book, including this one about the carnage of battle in the Civil War, from the viewpoint of the soldiers who lived through it. I’ve been juxtaposing this history against the carnage in Charlottesville in 2017, in Charleston in 2015, in battle after battle through the years in which citizens of the United States fight themselves. I want to understand why we do it. Maybe that’s not even the point. I lose track of the point.

Then comes a day like Thursday this week when a former president of the United States is convicted of 34 felony counts and I hear Harry Litman, a former law clerk to Thurgood Marshall and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General say, “Today the Republic held” and I think: that’s the point. That’s what I’m writing about — the Republic for which we stand. One nation. With liberty and justice for all.

I seem to write about war a lot, in my effort to write about the importance of peace. Countdown is about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War; Revolution is about Freedom Summer; Anthem has as its strong undercurrent the Vietnam War, which is also the flash-point for Kent State. My books Freedom Summer and The Aurora County All-Stars both pivot on the Civil Rights Movement, another war we fought against ourselves and the better angels of our nature, to use Lincoln’s phrase from his first inaugural address in 1861, words spoken as seven Southern states had already seceeded from the Union.

I don’t know. I vacillate, with this current book, between knowing I am in way over my head, to the sure knowledge that I know exactly what I am doing. I have been to the Confederate cemetery at Resaca, Georgia. I dreamed about the Battle of Resaca last night. I woke up thinking about the impossibility of imparting to young adult readers the foundations of democracy, the blood shed for its continuance, the responsibilities of citizenship, and the importance of voting. So unsexy. But so vital. Which, I guess, is why I continue to write about these things. I don’t want to lose hope.

Musing on a Saturday morning. #thelostcauseproject #charlottesville2017 #amwriting #wip