"If at age 20 you are a conservative then you have no heart. If at age 30 you are a liberal then you have no brains."
Sir Winston Churchill

Obama obviously knows very little about economics, specifically that "Society stagnates when independent productive achievers begin to be socially demonized and even punished for their accomplishments." This dilemma fogs Obama's reality. To him, accepting this truth is a "false choice", his answer to things he doesn't understand. And by the way... where is John Galt?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gettysburg July 1863

In the third year of the war, the north grew frustrated and weary after disastrous losses at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. McClellan had been replaced by Burnside and Burnside was replaced by Hooker and in late June Hooker was replaced by Maj. General George Gordon Meade. Robert E. Lee was also frustrated. His army of Northern Virginia was invincible in his mind but it also was an army in tatters with many of his soldiers in rags and far too often without shoes. Lee was nothing if not daring and he felt he had the measure of any Union General so he decided to move the war out of Virginia and take it for the second time into the Yankee homeland. Accordingly he crossed the Potomac, pushed through the Shenandoah and using the blue Ridge Mountains as a shield swung north into Pennsylvania. His objective was to relieve the pressure on the Confederate armies in Tennessee, the blockades of the southern coasts and the fighting along the Mississippi River which Grant was trying to open by finally conquering Vicksburg.

This second invasion would also open up the Shenandoah Valley with all it’s fertile richness alleviating Lee’s constant need for supplies. Finally if he could take either Harrisburg the capitol of Pennsylvania or possibly even Philadelphia, that might cause the North to lose hope and either finally sue for peace or at least politically destroy Abraham Lincoln’s hopes for re-election in 1864.

By June 20, rebel cavalry entered Pennsylvania via Greencastle. On June 26 Jubal Early scattered Pennsylvania Militia in Gettysburg itself and by June 30 Lee had established an arch going west to east from Fayetteville Pa. to Carlisle Pa. to the York Road between York Pa. and Wrightsville Pa. all the while taking the supplies he needed and paying the terrified populace with worthless Confederate script. More importantly however, the rains stopped on the 26th d a sultry and oppressive summer heat descended on both armies.

The Army of the Potomac with 7 Army Corps some 93,000 strong was three days behind Lee moving north from Maryland. Hooker had wanted to attack Richmond to end the war but Lincoln told him firmly that Lee’s army was the target. Destroy it and that would end the war. Hooker not knowing that he had almost 20,000 more troops than Lee demanded reinforcements or he would resign. His resignation was accepted and Meade the cautious and colorless army engineer took over

On June 30th North Carolinians under Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew, ventured toward Gettysburg. In his memoirs, Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, Pettigrew's division commander, claimed that he sent Pettigrew to search for supplies in town—especially shoes. Gettysburg a sleepy town of 2400 and the county seat of Adams County was the hub of no less than 10 roads and pikes that resembled the spokes of a wheel and led to all directions of the compass. In addition the Gettysburg and Hanover Railroad had a terminus there with a north west spur under construction. It did not have however any shoes. They were manufactured in the next county.

As Pettigrew advanced on July 1st he was observed by Brigadier General John Buford and his cavalry who came into the town from the south. At approximately 7:00 AM, Lt. Marcellus Jones of the 8th Illinois Cavalry fired at the still shadowy figures with his carbine thus beginning the battle that ultimately decided the war.

Buford saw from the cupola atop Schmucker Hall, the old dorm of the Lutheran Seminary that the high ground south of the town was the terrain the Union needed in order to fight Bobby Lee advantageously. He dismounted his cavalry and using their new breech loading Sharps carbines as a force multiplier formed a skirmish line straddling the Chambersburg Pike at McPherson’s Ridge to hold the advancing rebels at bay or at least slow them down. He needed to delay them until Maj. General John F. Reynolds could relieve them with the 1st Corps.
Reynolds troops began arriving in force around 10:15 AM under the command of Maj General Abner Doubleday of baseball fame, who reinforced Buford’s troopers west of the Pike around a wooded area known as Herbst’s Woods. Thirty minutes later Reynolds, considered by many to be the ablest Union General, arrived in person but within another 30 minutes was shot in the head and killed by rebel musket fire. Subsequently two large confederate corps advanced and pushed the Union Army back south of the town where they took up defensive positions on the high ground.

By the second day both armies were fully in the field with the Army of the Potomac lined up in a north south fishhook formation that included positions on Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge with it’s barb culminating at Culp’s Hill and Spangler’s Spring where Cpl. Charles W. Littlefield and the 107 NY Vol. Inf. built their rifle pits. South and west of this line were places that would see the bloodiest fighting of the war as the battle descended into a series of separate desperate, savage, bloody fights within this larger field of battle. There was the Wheat Field where 19 year old Sgt Simon Pincus and his wounded brother Adolph of the 66th NY Vol. Inf. fought, the Devil’s Den, the Peach Orchard, the Rose Woods and the hill known as the Little Round Top where the 20th Maine made a bayonet charge down the hill to win the day. As twilight began to descend attacks began on Culp’s Hill which was partially taken on its southern end by Longstreet’s 1st Corps and after dark the rebels attacked East Cemetery Hill.

 With the darkness came a different sound and smell. The piteous moans and cries of the dying and wounded permeated the battlefield and in the stifling, sultry summer heat the stench of unwashed bodies, blood, human waste, rotting body parts and corpses bloating in the hot night permeated the very air itself.
On the third day Union Artillery began to bombard Culp’s Hill again in an attempt regain that portion that had been lost the prior day. Confederate infantry attacked but the Union prevailed and the second battle of Culp’s Hill ended at 11:00 AM. The fury of the prior day was missing until 1:00 PM when Lee ordered an artillery barrage directed toward the center of the Union line at Cemetery Ridge. Federal cannons responded and for two hours all was cordite laced smoke, dust, death and a thunderous din that would leave the men’s ears ringing for a long time thereafter.

At 3:00 PM the barrage went quiet and Lee ordered Maj. General George Pickett 12,500 Virginians to charge the men of the Union 2nd Corps huddled behind a stone wall at the foot of Cemetery Ridge some three quarter of a mile away. Lt General James Longstreet, who had replaced the late Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson as Lee’s most trusted aide, was opposed to this but Lee Believed his “boys” could and would do anything he ordered them to do so Longstreet reluctantly went along only to be blamed in the years to come for Robert E. Lee‘s greatest mistake.

The Union artillery atop Cemetery Ridge commanded by 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing… batteries thought silenced by Lee… opened up on Pickett and his men and killed almost half of them in the open space between where they had begun their charge and the stone wall that was their destination. Cushing was shot three times but continued the cannonade until the third shot struck him in the head. He is to this day still under consideration for the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Part of Pickett’s force under Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead’s brigade was temporarily successful in breeching a part of the Union line only to be ultimately driven back and Pickett’s charge became a de facto abattoir instead of a glorious, heroic victory. Pickett would for the rest of his days say bitterly of Lee “That old man killed my boys”.

After this there were two cavalry fights that involved George Armstrong Custer and Judson Kilpatrick against J.E.B. Stuart and Wade Hampton and then the battle ended almost as quickly as it had begun.

The next day was the 4th of July and Lincoln and a fearful nation was told that Lee had lost and was in retreat while Grant had in addition finally taken Vicksburg thus cutting the Confederacy in two. The Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, confident of a victory by Lee in Pennsylvania, had been in Virginia awaiting a safe conduct pass to meet with Lincoln to discuss a cessation of hostilities allowing the 11 southern states to become their own country. After hearing the news… Lincoln refused to issue it. In London U.S. Ambassador Henry Adams, a son and grandson of Presidents dispatched the news to Lincoln that any hopes that Jefferson Davis had of the Confederate States being recognized by Great Britain were now and forever dead.

In Pennsylvania the once pastoral and idyllic fields, hill and woods of Gettysburg were finally still and then the skies opened and the rains came as if sent by providence to wash away the oceans of blood of the 51,000 killed or wounded there. The fighting was over but nothing about Gettysburg or the men who fought there would ever be the same again.


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