Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Men, Metals, and Minerals

An interesting post in Daily Writing Tips, one of my favorite blogs, presented a list of "10 Metals and Minerals for Metaphors." The list "sometimes inspire[s] associations with human characteristics or with circumstances." This suggested that I might develop a list of Civil War leaders who might demonstrate these characteristics.

"Brassy" Stuart
"Golden" Jackson

  1. Adamant - Perhaps no officer comes to mind as "insistent" or "unyielding" except U. S. Grant.  Longstreet described him as a bull dog. 
  2. Brassy - The candidates exhibiting "bold, clamorous,or unruly behavior" are Nathan B. Forrest,  JEB Stuart, and George A. Custer.
  3. Bronze - This can refer to a person's complexion or in reference to a "physically imposing" man. I would classify these men as officers who "look and act the part." Certainly, this term would be appropriate for Robert E. Lee.  
  4. Flinty - The term meaning "stern, unyielding" could refer to any number of the West Point Regular officers.  I nominate C. F. Smith and Gordon Mead for this metaphor.
  5. Golden - This word is used to describe someone who is "excellent, popular, or otherwise remarkable."  How about Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson?  JEB Stuart might be a runner up.
  6. Iron - This element has been used to describe strength, robustness, relentlessness, and firmness.  U. S. Grant and William Sherman might demonstrate this characteristic.
  7. Leaden - This term is associated with "heaviness," lack of mobility, and inflexibility.  The top choice, not surprisingly, is George B. McClellan. On the Confederate side you might name Joseph Johnston.
  8. Ossified - The trait of being set in their ways could be applied to a cadre of officers in both armies.
  9. Silver - As in eloquent persuasion, "silver tongued," or distinguished, "silver haired."  In the distinguished category we have Robert E. Lee and his West Point classmate, Joseph Johnston. As for silver-tongued, perhaps "Prince John" Magruder would be my choice.  Alternatively, we could add the multitude of officers from both the North and South who charmed the ladies and convinced citizens that it was better to give than receive. 
  11. Steely - The adjective refers to strength and hardness as so ably demonstrated by "Stonewall" Jackson at First Bull Run, George Thomas at Chickamauga,  John B. Gordon at Antietam, and Patrick Cleburne in many battles. 
Please feel free to nominate your own favorites to the list.

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