New England: home of lame Civil War generals. And proud of it.

The South loves its romantic generals. As well it should. Though they fought in an evil cause, they were interesting men, and excellent fighters. Fortunately, they lost, and can be regarded almost as fictional characters.

The North won, and one of the reasons it won was that it cared less about military prowess and more about political coalition building. It's frustrating to read about Nathaniel "Commissary" Banks, for example, getting chased around the Shenandoah by the brilliant and deranged Stonewall Jackson and abandoning his stores, thus the nickname. Other campaigns, like the Red River campaign, were notorious for military ineptitude.

There is a noble statue to Banks in the town square in Waltham, where I used to work. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governor of Massachusetts, and apparently much respected.

In front of the Massachusetts State House stands an equestrian statue of the unfortunate Joseph Hooker, who lost the Battle of Chancellorsville. In Providence, Rhode Island, statues of local hero Ambrose Burnside abound.

There are just ones I have noticed myself. It may seem odd, but the war was won, and everyone felt that things had worked out, so there was no need to get mad about this lost battle, or that suicidal charge. After all, war is hard, and very few can be expected to truly excel at it.

This was stimulated by yesterday's thoughts about Benjamin Butler, who, as far as I know, has no statue. But, after all, statues require physical attractiveness as well, which Ben lacked. Ambroze Burnside, everyone conceded, looked great on a horse. I'm not sure how good a horseman the lawyer from Lowell ever could have been....