Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous quote said it best about war, but I’m not about to repeat it in this article. Perhaps the quote of Confederate General Robert E. Lee will do, though: “It is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it.” Throughout history, man has fought wars. Benjamin Franklin said that the only two certain things in life were death and taxes, but I would probably add that conflict seems to be another certainty.
I recently came across an article quoting the experiences of G. H. Dorman, a pioneering citizen of Suwannee County who served during the Civil War. Among other locations, he fought in the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, which occurred in June 1864. It is also one of the very few major Civil War battle sites that I have been fortunate enough to visit in that part of the country. Union forces attacked a prepared Confederate defense; in seven minutes, seven thousand soldiers fell. Whatever your feelings about the Civil War and the soldiers that fought it, I believe that it is appropriate to remember a little bit of what they went through:
“Just as the younger generation will not get the impression that the World War (World War I, EM) represents all the horrors of war, let it be recorded here in the name of G. H. Dorman, father of G. L. Dorman of White Lake and Riley Dorman, former legislator from this county (now deceased), that there was much of the horror element in the struggle that threatened to dissolve the union.
“The senior Dorman, who was in many of the bloody encounters, left Suwannee county as a raw recruit in the company of Captain William F. Frink, company A. He was first stationed at Fernandina, but later was transferred into various sections of the country and many times was under the withering fire of the Yankee guns.
“In writing of the battle of Cold Harbor which occurred June 1, 2, 3 in 1864, Mr. Dorman had the following to say:
“‘It does seem that a fellow couldn’t get sleepy with the mistles (sic) of death flying so thick and so fast, but (unknown) so sleepy, that if I had been permitted to have done so I would have lain down and made a pillow of one of the dead bodies which were all around us. These bodies were swollen almost to bursting.
“I think it was on the second day that my hatband was cut by a bullet. Of course I dodged and dropped to the ground. I heard some of my friends say: ‘George Dorman is killed.’ I told them if I had been a little to one side I would have been.”
More on Mr. Dorman next week!
Eric Musgrove can be reached at email@example.com or 386-362-0564.