I wish there was an easy answer to this question. How does one become a Civil War Addict? Or better yet, how does one know if they are a Civil War Addict? Is it the ability to quote Gettysburg and Gods and Generals at length. (I hope not!) Is it that feeling that makes me grow misty eyed when I visit battlefields. Is it the tremendous weight of the past that presses down on me like a heavy burden and fills me with the desire to share my devotion to this time period in our history with everyone?
Bruce Catton wrote the following:
We are people to whom the past is forever speaking. We listen to it because we cannot help ourselves, for the past speaks to us with many voices. Far out of that dark nowhere which is the time before we were born, men who were flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone went through fire and storm to break a path to the future. We are part of the future they died for; they are part of the past that brought the future. What they did—the lives they lived, the sacrifices they made, the stories they told and the songs they sang and, finally, the deaths they died—make up a part of our own experience. We cannot cut ourselves off from it. It is as real to us as something that happened last week. It is a basic part of our heritage as Americans (.Bruce Catton. America Goes to War: The Civil War and Its Meaning in American Culture.Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011. Project MUSE. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.)
I agree with Mr. Catton. To be a Civil War Addict is to be both blessed and cursed with the weight of the past. I cannot describe my dedication to the memory of our Civil War to most people because they don't understand. I'm lucky that my wife does. But most people do not. I am the happiest when I am visiting a battlefield or working on one of my writing projects. Maybe my obsession (if you want to call it that) is a little strange. Since I'm not teaching, this blog and my website are the only means in which I have to share my love of history with the public. One day I hope that I'll be able to work full time in some field related to the Civil War, but I'm realistic to know that it is probably just a pipe dream. But still I hope.
At least I'm in good company. It sounds like Mr. Catton was a Civil War Addict too!
My name is Lee Hutch and I'm a Civil War Addict.