Christmas During War
With the current confluence of Christmas and our nation at war, I think it appropriate to mention a few noteworthy writings that deal with the topic. First is a recent column written by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo that details the Continental Army’s Christmas in 1778. Despite the sense of desparation surrounding the cause of upstart colonies during that Christmas, the small, underfed and under-equipped army weathered that winter at Valley Forge under the leadership of George Washington and went on to help build a nation.
I also offer these poignant words written during the Civil War by Corporal J. C. Williams, Co. B, 14th Vermont Infantry, December 25, 1862:
This is Christmas, and my mind wanders back to that home made lonesome by my absence, while far away from the peace and quietude of civil life to undergo the hardships of the camp, and may be the battle field. I think of the many lives that are endangered, and hope that the time will soon come when peace, with its innumerable blessings, shall once more restore our country to happiness and prosperity. (source)
Equally as poignant are the words of Corporal John Ferguson of the Seaforth Highlanders, who noted the irony of a Christmas scene during World War I
What a sight; little groups of Germans and British extending along the length of our front. Out of the darkness we could hear the laughter and see lighted matches. Where they couldn’t talk the language, they made themselves understood by signs, and everyone seemed to be getting on nicely. Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill. (source)
Finally, I’d like to point you to a piece by W. Thomas Smith Jr. at NRO about the Christmas time Battle of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. (This is of particular significance to me as my great uncle Victor Comtois, a Captain in the infantry, died on Christmas Eve 1944 in Luxembourg during the pushback.)
With these stories in mind, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and hope that we all take the time to remember both the true reason for the season and to remember our brave men and women who find themselves in harm’s way at this time. May God Bless America and may He protect our troops.