25 Jun 2014

Minneapolis, Minnesota National Cemetery


Photo: Minneapolis Star/Tribune

Via Gwynnie.

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T. Shaw

About 151 years agoo . . .

Minnesota at Gettysburg:

“The pivot of American history turns on the second day at Gettysburg, and, while thousands of men fought gallantly on both sides that day, there were two points where the fate of the world, really, hung in the balance. The first was at Little Round Top, where Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s 20th Maine […] The second came late in the afternoon, when the Confederates attacked the center of the Union line, which had been stripped almost bare as Union generals sent more and more troops to defend the southern part of the line. It was in the center that the First Minnesota made its famous suicide charge, attacking onrushing Confederates who outnumbered the Minnesotans fifteen to one in a desperate effort to gain time to reinforce the Union line. The regiment suffered a casualty rate exceeding 80 percent, but succeeded beyond General Hancock’s expectations, as they not only purchased with their lives the critical minutes needed to reinforce the Union line, but stopped the Confederate advance in its tracks. No unit of the United States Army has ever exceeded the First Minnesota for gallantry and courage.”



For every Southern boy fourteen 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 circumstance which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead 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 fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than 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, 1948.


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