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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Totally Committed Twitter Account Melds Blues Hockey with Ken Burns' The Civil War

Posted By on Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 1:59 PM

For thousands of St. Louis Blues fans, this year's thrilling playoff run wouldn't be the same without the tweets of a fictional Civil War general based on real-life St. Louis Blues player Jaden Schwartz.

Followed by more than 10,000 users, the Twitter account @CivilWarSchwartz dates back to the Blues playoff run of 2017, which first established the compelling phenomena of St. Louis Blues fans role-playing about cavalry retreats through the resolute voice of a wistful and world-weary field commander who, for some reason, is embodied by the team's Canadian-born left-winger.

For instance, on April 16, when the Blues loss set the series tied 2-2 against the Winnipeg Jets, the indefatigable General Schwartz's address to the militia only lacked the sad violin soundtrack from the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War. (Here, that's better.)

"Beloved," the tweet began. "The Winnipegans have pushed through the city, 2LT Binnington did all he could to hold them but he was left alone on the field. The enemy has fled north, we give chase, we need the cavalry to return to form if we are to achieve victory."

The account followed that tweet with a photoshopped Civil War portrait showing of a ragged company of soldiers making a stand in a clearing. In this version, though, the portrait has been upgraded with a Blues flag waving patriotically behind the saber-wielding hand of General Schwartz.

The photoshop isn't just reserved for adding the General to historic battle scenes. The entire team is there, sometimes resting in field tents, or perhaps eating together while grousing about the lack of respect for regional delicacies.

During games, the account's running commentary becomes the General's barked orders. The messages pack the inspirational heft of a bayonet charge with the implied certainty that more of your platoon will die of simple infections than bullet-wounds that the St. Louis Blues are the good guys on their way to winning the war.

The account often cleverly integrates the Blues schedule and opponents into its meta-fictional world. During away games, the St. Louis militia is described as advancing into enemy territory, taking towns and looting the defeated strongholds.

But what warms the heart of even the crabbiest Union corporal are the replies to General Schwartz's directions, written in the parlance of brave soldiers marching or awaiting the next battle.

Not everyone tries to go for full Civil War-style narration. Some instead add to the General's militia with solid burns.

There are details that appear unresolved about the world around General Schwartz. The implication is that its universe is the Civil War, yet it somehow features dozens of competing militias — actually, in Missouri, that may not be an entirely inaccurate picture, with the state deeply divided over the question of slavery.

What is without question, of course, is the General's sincere love for a hockey team that, as he writes in his letters, was earlier this year "the worst of militias."

the account is feeling the love in return. Last year, Fox Sports Midwest briefly interviewed Schwartz (the player) about Schwartz (the general).

And during Saturday's game, which clinched the series for the victorious Blues against the "Winnepegians," the announcers joked that perhaps General Schwartz was there in the crowd, willing on his troops while wearing (of course) a Schwartz jersey.

To victory, General, wherever you are.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]

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