Bruce Catton

Nathan Bedford Forrest … used his horsemen as a modern general would use motorized infantry. He liked horses because he liked fast movement, and his mounted men could get from here to there much faster than any infantry could; but when they reached the field they usually tied their horses to trees and fought on foot, and they were as good as the very best infantry. Not for nothing did Forrest say the essence of strategy was to git thar fust with the most men.

Beneath everything else, North and West, there ran a profound, unvoiced, almost subconscious conviction that the [American] nation was going to go on growing-in size, in power, in everything a man could think of-and in that belief there was a might and a fury that would take form instantly at the moment of shock.

A singular fact about modern war is that it takes charge. Once begun it has to be carried to its conclusion, and carrying it there sets in motion events that may be beyond men’s control. Doing what has to be done to win, men perform acts that alter the very soil in which society’s roots are nourished.

The enduring realization that when a great challenge comes, the most ordinary people can show that they value something more than they value their own lives. When the last of the veterans had gone, and the sorrows and bitterness which the war created had at last worn away, this memory remained.