By David Rogers. July 25, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC — By modern military standards, the technology and weaponry of the Civil War were archaic. To have thousands of troops marching shoulder-to-shoulder in mass formations passed down from Napoleon’s time against an entrenched and well-armed enemy would probably earn today’s Army officer a court martial. For certain back in the period between 1861 and 1865, it was a recipe for slaughter on both sides of the conflict.
Nothing accelerates the advance of military weaponry more than the necessities and opportunities presented by war, John Warner told The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock on Monday at its regular weekly meeting hosted by Chetola Mountain Resort and Spa. Some of the innovations and technological advances of the Civil War, he reported, included the rifling of gun barrels, the use of the Minié ball, the advent of repeating firearms and metallic cartridges, ironclad warships, including the first submarine, as well as advances in medicine, communication (telegraph) and transportation (railroads).
It also marked the gradual decline of tactics from previous centuries, such as the Napoleonic advances en masse, which didn’t stand a chance without incurring huge losses of human life.
Warner warned the Rotarians ahead of time that he was likely to get choked up in telling some of the stories depicting chaos, death and destruction. Much of his focus was on the North Carolina 26th Regiment of the Confederate Army, which he recalled started with 800 men in 10 companies from Ashe, Union, Wilkes, Wake, Chatham, Caldwell and Anson counties. At Gettysburg, the 26th lost 588 of its 800 men, 86 killed and 502 wounded. Another 120 soldiers were lost in what was described as Pickett’s Charge, just two days later. Although their advance by some measures was successful, the 26th lost more men than any other regiment, Union or Confederate.
Not only did Warner, true to his word, “lose it” emotionally at times, but his recounting the stories of human losses brought many in the Rotary audience to at least the verge of tears.
“We must never forget the Civil War,” Warner said, “and the sacrifices that were made to keep our nation together.”
In other Rotary business, Jim Clabough reported on progress made in securing auction items for the Charity Auction coming up on August 20th at the American Legion Hall. Wayne Holliday solicited volunteers to work the admission gates to the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show that begins on Wednesday and continues through next week.