Worldviews Get In Everything — Even The Naming Of Battlefields

One effect of worldviews is that they shape everything from A – Z. Some of matters they shape are quite obvious. Other matters they shape are not quite so obvious.

One example of the “not quite so obvious,” is seen in how the naming of Battle sites was affected by Worldview clash between North and South in the “War Against the Constitution.” In that war, it is a more obvious worldview matter to see the vast differences between the two Battle Hymns. The Southern Battle Hymn (Dixie) spoke volumes about the Southern love of place and family, whereas the Northern Battle hymn was clearly ideological. However, even the name of the Battle sites reveal worldview realities.

As most people know the Battlefield sites were named differently by each opposing side in the contest. Most of the names that have stuck 150 years later are the names of the Battle as given by the Victors of the war. Even in minutia such as Battle site naming, it is the Victor who gets to write the history. It is important to realize though, that the different names for the Battle sites give insight into the respective worldviews of the contestants. The worldview that fired the Northern cause was some variant of Transcendentalism – Romanticism. In that worldview nature plays a central role in the understanding of reality. As such we should not be surprised to find the Northern naming of the Battlefields corresponding to some aspect of nature that identified the spot where the Battle took place. Northerners gave their Battle sites names like “Bull Run” (the name of a small stream in the area), “Ball’s Bluff, “Pittsburg Landing,” “Stone River,” “Chickahominy” (another little liver), “Pea Ridge,” and “Antietam” (a tributary of the Potomac). The Southerners on the other hand, following their agrarian worldview that prioritized a sense of place named those same Battles after places associated with the area. For the South, Bull Run was Manassas which was a railroad train Station nearby. “Ball’s Bluff” to the Yankees was “Leesburg” for the Confederates. Grant’s “Pittsburg Landing,” was Albert Sidney Johnston’s “Shiloh,” (named after a Church in the area). Rosecrans had his “Stone River,” while for Bragg and his men it was “Murfreesboro.” McCellan locked horns with Lee and named the battle “Chickahominy” (a little river), but for Lee that same battle was named after an area tavern, “Cold Harbor,” or alternately “Gaines Mill.” The Federals speak of the battle of Pea Ridge, of the Ozark range of mountains, but the Confederates call it after Elk Horn, a country inn. Antietam for the North was named after the area village “Sharpsburg” for the South. The North gave us “The Battle of Malvern’s Hill,” while the South named it “the Battle of Poindexter’s Farm.”

Confederate General D. H. Hill, after the war, suggested that the difference in the names reflected that the North named the Battles after the “handiwork of God”; while the South named the Battles after the “handiwork of man.” But I think this is a case where Hill’s worldview (Christian) is causing him to read the Yankee mindset through his grid. Given that the Yankee Armies were fired by the nature exalting worldview of Transcendentalism – Romanticism, it is only natural that their people, following their journalists, would name the places of Battle after nature. In the same way, the bards and poets of the South who wrote on the Battles, because of their Agrarian and Christian Worldview, named those Battles consistent with the Christian and Agrarian idea and sense of place. For the Northern elite nature defined reality. For the Southern Wise-men, reality was identified by its relation to a sense of place.

All of this is then seen to be consistent with the Battle Hymns of each of the contestants. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” is ideological and is consistent with other aspects of Romanticism – Transcendentalism (see – Likewise the naming of the Battlefields after nature reveals the nature worshiping character of Romanticism – Transcendentalism. In the same way the Southern Battle Hymn “Dixie” zeroes in on the idea of place which is then followed by the South naming their Battlefields in conjunction with “place.” And of course the idea of “place” is central in Christian thinking.

Worldviews get into everything. Even something as seemingly benign as the name of Battlefields.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

4 thoughts on “Worldviews Get In Everything — Even The Naming Of Battlefields”

  1. Alas, the national song “Dixie” was written by a northerner. That doesn’t really detract from the point of the article, however, because it was consciously chosen by Southerners. But it should be kept in mind. It certainly is a much more beautiful anthem than that other one.

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