Category Archive 'Gettysburg'
27 Jan 2012
The Battle of Gettysburg, generally looked upon as the turning point of the Civil War, occurred over three days, July 1 – July 3, 1863.
The first day of Gettysburg consisted of a meeting engagement, in which fate favored the Union. Elements of A.P. Hill’s Corps ran into veteran Union cavalry armed with repeating carbines occupying a good defensible position on a ridge. Reinforcements arrived for both sides, but the Union forces which arrived first consisted of the best troops in the Union Army, Reynolds’ First Corps, including the renowned Iron Brigade. Nonetheless, the Confederate infantry eventually drove the Union forces back, compelling them to retreat to the next ridge line east of the town. The first day of the Battle of Gettysburg ended with a significant Confederate victory.
On the second day, Confederate forces attacked both the left and right ends of the Union line, attempting to turn the Army of the Potomac’s flank. But the Union positions on high ground were strong, the Confederate attacks were delayed and not ideally coordinated, and the Union defense held. The second day’s fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg ended in an indecisive stalemate.
On the third day, Robert E. Lee choose to emulate the offensive strategy adopted by Napoleon successfully at both Wagram and Borodino, a full-scale frontal attack on the enemy center intended to break his line decisively and to drive him from the field in full retreat. Lee sent Pickett’s Division and six brigades from A.P. Hill’s Corps, nearly 13,000 men, to advance and break the Union center. Pickett’s Charge failed, and the third day of Gettysburg resulted in a decisive Confederate defeat.
Robert E. Lee’s decision to order a frontal attack has provoked endless re-examination and criticism.
In the latest issue of The Gettysburg Magazine, Dr. Carl Coppolino proposes a medical explanation for General Lee’s misjudgment.
I don’t put any stock in these kinds of explanations myself, but there may be something valid in the mention of Lee’s heart trouble. The possibility that Lee’s cardiac illness played a role at Gettysburg has been offered before. Mainwaring, Tribble 1992.
06 Nov 2011
Ready to charge.
William Kristol rather eloquently expresses American conservatives’ yearning for a decisive, game-changing victory next year, a decisive victory capable of renewing both the country’s morale and economic prospects and delivering the country for another generation from socialism and the misrule of sophisters, calculators, and economists, but warns that the fates are not going to be as kind as we would wish.
For every Southern boy 14 years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a 14-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago . . .
—William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust
For every American conservative, not once but whenever he wants it, it’s always the evening of November 4, 1980, the instant when we knew Ronald Reagan, the man who gave the speech in the lost cause of 1964, leader of the movement since 1966, derided by liberal elites and despised by the Republican establishment, the moment when we knew—he’d won, we’d won, the impossible dream was possible, the desperate gamble of modern conservatism might pay off, conservatism had a chance, America had a chance. And then, a decade later—the Cold War won, the economy revived, America led out of the abyss, we’d come so far with so much at stake—conservatism vindicated, America restored, a desperate and unbelievable victory for the cast made so many years ago against such odds.
But that was then, and this is now. Now is 2012, and it seems clear that 2012 isn’t going to be another 1980.
He’s right. We haven’t got a Reagan. I think we are going to have to hope that any Republican can decisively defeat Barack Obama and that any Republican (even one from Massachusetts) will be obliged to run and govern as an arch conservative. While we will not have a Reagan, we can have an administration, like Reagan’s, drawn heavily from the Conservative Movement and dedicated to bringing about a fundamental change in direction.
Fortunately, the democrats have not the ground, the advantage in strength, or the artillery that General Meade had, and if 2012 is not going to be 1980, I think we can feel safe that neither will it be July 3, 1863.
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