Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oliver Howard's Wry Retort

Oliver Otis Howard was a Civil war General for the Union. Before the war, he had become such a fervent Christian that he had considered resigning from the Army to become a preacher. In the Seven Days Battle in the summer of 1862, he was wounded so severely that his right arm was amputated. Years later, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day. After recovering, he served as a Corps Commander at Chancellorsville and at Gettysburg. In both battles, his corps suffered very rough treatment. Surprisingly, his corps was transferred to the west, and in late 1864 General Sherman placed Howard in command of one of the two wings of his army as it marched through Georgia. After the war, General Howard did a great deal of good work in promoting education for freed slaves, and more than a century later, his name lives on for the college he founded in Washington D.C. General Howard was a man of great courage, piety, and compassion. He also had a gift for keeping his sense of humor, even in the very worst of times. Shortly after he had his arm amputated, he got a visit from another union General Kearney who had had his left arm amputated in the Mexican War. Kearney said, “Don’t worry Oliver, the ladies won’t like you any the less for it.” (I would very much like to know if that is true. Do chicks really dig amputees with scars?) General Howard managed to smile and say, “General Kearney, now you and I can go shopping for gloves together.”

Now that is one gutsy guy.

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