September has always held great meaning for me. That’s an odd thing to say considering September also means Back to School – and I hate school.
September means the end of the boiling heat of summer. September means a usually free long Labor Day weekend. September is my parent’s wedding anniversary. September is the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. September is the race for the baseball post-season.
It’s by turns exciting and melancholy. Like the warm sun and the cool breeze of September. The green grass under your feet while the leaves turn red and gold over your head.
And to think I never made the connection on the first days of this most favored of months.
On September 1, 1864 Hood abandoned Atlanta. Sherman marched in the next day.
The fall of Atlanta was a triumph nearly unmatched in the story of the Civil War. While Grant was running up a breathtaking butcher’s bill in the East trying to pin Lee down in the static mire of Petersburg, Sherman was cut loose to smash Joe Johnston’s army. Abandoning that task, Sherman did take the most essential of Southern cities with a mere two months to the Northern elections. After Atlanta’s fall, Lincoln’s reelection was assured and the Confederacy doomed.
On September 1, 1939 – exactly 75 years later – Germany invaded Poland and touched off the Second World War.
It would be a long five years later by the time things were looking nearly as assured for the good guys as they did September 1, 1864.
In five years, we’ll be as removed from the start of World War II as the men of 1939 were from the Battle of Atlanta. I am sure that the Civil War seemed like ancient history to the men who lived through the Depression and found themselves embroiled in yet another World War. But the last World War seems like only yesterday to those of us in the modern world left to deal still with its aftermath.
And it all happened in September.