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Rick Moran

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June 29, 2013 - 2:38 pm

There is a famous quote from William Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust that says a lot about why the Battle of Gettysburg has such a hold on the American imagination:

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 circumstances 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 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….

Faulkner was writing of a South in the 1930s still nearly prostrate from defeat in the Civil War — a region psychologically devastated, beat down by racism and inequality, where the hope for the future actually rested in the past. Allowing oneself to imagine victory in the space between the woods and Cemetery Ridge where 12,000 Confederate soldiers marched up a gently rolling hill into immortality answered the hopelessness of the times with the pathetic “what might have been” if Confederate soldiers had been able to breach the Union lines at the famous “angle,” split the Yankee force in two, and march on to Washington.

It was a mirage. Not enough guns, not enough men. All the courage in the world could not have brought the South victory that day. And the defeat proved far more costly than anyone in the South realized at the time. The Battle of Gettysburg destroyed once and for all the ability of Robert E. Lee to carry the war to the North. The loss of 28,000 soldiers (exact figures are hard to come by given poor recordkeeping) — the flower of the Confederate army — meant that Lee could no longer maintain the offensive. There were occasional offensive thrusts later on, but Lee’s victories for the last two years of the war were all tactical and won from fixed defensive positions, as Grant almost broke his army in two with frontal assaults against Lee’s lines.

So, in the end, Faulkner’s 14-year-old boy was chasing an illusion. But that illusion — of cavaliers and knights in shining armor winning the right by force of arms to live in a fairytale land that was built and run on the backs of human slaves — still affects us 150 years later.

Get over it already? Yes, there’s that. Dwelling on the sins of our past can be unhealthy for a country that rarely looks over its shoulder for anything or anybody. And there are those whose business it is never to allow us to forget slavery — not when political gain can be had and the guilt trip laid on fools and half-wits can force them to open their wallets and enrich those who were formerly oppressed.

But mention the word “Gettysburg” to the average American and they will certainly know of Lincoln’s famous address. But there is also what one might call a racial memory of the battle that inhabits a place in our minds we can only dimly reach. Over the next 10 days, several hundred thousand Americans who don’t know Longstreet from Reynolds will visit the Gettysburg National Park to take part in the observance of the 150th anniversary of that battle. They will be drawn by the need to be a part of an event that commemorates the turning point in our most devastating war. They will come, many with their children in tow, to absorb whatever lessons the men who fought and died on this parcel of Pennsylvania farm land can impart.

The highlight of the observance will come on Sunday, when 10,000 Civil War re-enacters will take part in a recreation of the battle. They will have paid their own way, provided their own props and uniforms, and fought the battle using the same tactics used by the combatants at the time. They will pray for cool weather given that their wool uniforms are incredibly uncomfortable. And many of them will probably weep, overcome with emotion during the re-enactment, as many of the 13,000 re-enactors wept during the filming of Pickett’s Charge in Gettysburg.

Visitors — even those who know a little something of what transpired on those few square miles of ground — will tour the grounds as if it were a religious shrine. Speaking in hushed tones, sober, somber Americans will read the plaques, listen to the hugely knowledgeable park service employees as they relate interesting tidbits about the battle, and marvel at the courage demonstrated during the most famous battle in American history where the two sides came to death grips at a stone wall at the crest of a gently rolling hill known as Cemetery Ridge.

You ask yourself, “Could I have done what they did?” Could you have marched across the bloodiest 8/10 of a mile in America as Pickett’s men did? Could you have stood your ground while 12,000 screaming rebels were coming right for you? Trying to answer those questions tells us a lot about ourselves as individuals and Americans.

In John Keegan’s Fields of Battle: The Wars for North America, the author takes us on a journey into the distant past to fortresses and battlefields where once desperate men fought desperate actions in forgotten conflicts and where the battlefields have largely been reclaimed by nature. This will never happen with Gettysburg. It isn’t that 51,000 Americans on both sides were killed or wounded, or that it was a turning point in the war. Gettysburg will always be maintained as a living monument to our desire for freedom. It is a symbol of our commitment to liberty — forged in the blood of the Revolution and made flesh by the sacrifice of so many in Pennsylvania.

Perhaps that’s the most important echo from the battle that reaches us 150 years after the guns went silent and the dead were buried.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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Top Rated Comments   
Gettysburg didn't end The War; it may have been the beginning of the end of The War. Probably the only chance the Confederacy had to "win" The War evaporated on September 17, 1862, when McCellan ended Lee's foray into Pennsylvania at Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Confederate failure on that campaign ended any hope of English and French intervention. But, there was still a war on.

The Civil War, not that it was really a civil war, went on another year and a half after Gettysburg. Yankee casualties in that year and a half were horrendous. Grant planted a thousand men a mile to make that 125 miles from the Rapidan to the James. If you want to understand the intensity of The War, go walk the Chancellorsville/Wilderness battlefield where the Wilderness battle was fought over the rotting bodies from Chancellorsville. Or go to Cold Harbor where 7000 Yankees died in the first 20 minutes as they attacked entrenched Confederates and where Union officers and men mutinied rather than charge those lines again.

From Cold Harbor we go to Petersburg and the perfect vision of Hell and a foreshadowing of WW I as for nine months Grant battered his conscript and bountymen army against the Confederate works surrounding Richmond.

You really don't understand The War if you think Gettysburg was somehow dispositive; it damn well rearranged the order of battle in both armies and especially in Lee's army, but it didn't settle anything. Visualize the front as a line from Richmond to Atlanta. The Appalachians defended most of the line and Richmond and Atlanta were redoubts at either end. When Sherman took Atlanta, he turned Lee's flank as decisively as Hannibal at Cannae or Jackson at Chancellorsville. With Sherman in his rear, as the '65 campaign season began and Grant pushed against the desertion depleted Confederate lines around Petersburg, Lee had no choice but the break for Johnson's Army in the Carolinas. Grant ran him to ground at Appamattox and there it ended.

The most decisive battle of The War was probably The Wilderness. Tactically the Confederates probably won and any previous Yankee commander would have led his troops back over the Rapidan and reorganized for another "On to Richmond" campaign. Grant didn't back away, he just "sidled" left and on to Spotsylvania. The Confederates probably won another tactical victory at Spotsylvania, but Grant just "sidled" left. Grant was exploiting the "bloody arithmetic" and trading men for miles. Grant had more men than the Confederates had miles.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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Sorry I am coming to the discussion late , but my excuse is that I have been doing my own Civil War puttering, set off by the fact that we just published a diary written by Charles Eaton, a 17-year-old member of the 4th Mass, Co A at Port Hudson. On JUly 3, the Confederacy still nominally held the Mississippi from Vicksburg to Port Hudson...but not really, since the Yanks had gotten their warships into the river between them and Grant had come inland from Port Gibson, which was SOUTH of Vicksburg. Nonetheless, as long as the Rebs held Vicksburg and Port Hudson, Midwestern grain could NOT come down the river, even if the Rebs Red River supply had pretty much already been cut off. When V and PH actually surrendered, it made official, what had already happened by the end of June.
At any rate, my new puttering is into the guys from the 4th Mass.. 9 month guys, who after June 23, said "Hell, no, we won't fight; our time is up. A lot more stuff happened, which is not included in their regimental history, and today I was in a library reading microfilm newspaper articles from their home town regarding their return and their response to the "rumors" about them etc. Gen. Banks described them as having been in mutiny.
None of this is meant to diminish the Gettysburg stuff, which moves me terrifically. It's just that I have been there and done that.
Port Hudson never did surrender until their Commander Gardner found out that Vicksburg had fallen, so what could he do but surrender. Our guy Eaton was released, because he had been a prisoner inside Port Hudson, since he did not skedaddle like many of his comrades and was isolated and captured under the PH wall, inner or outer, I'm not sure yet.
At any rate, by JUly 8, when PH surrendered, the father of waters really did flow somewhat unvexed to the sea and Bobby Lee was headed toward Hagerstown.
As for myself, I would like to think that I would have been in the Union line at Gettysburg, but can't say that I would have chosen to be with the 4000 Yank casualties outside Port Hudson, who accomplished little except having their blood spilled. They say that you can't choose your wars and your duties, but then, what is liberty?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The most moving sight for me at Gettysburg was the North Carolina monument, standing on Seminary Ridge and facing the Union lines on Cemetary Ridge, across the field of Picket's charge. Fifteen North Carolina regiments under Pettigrew were the unheralded "other half" of Picket's charge, on the left flank, where they advanced the farthest, withdrew the last, and left the highest casualties. In fact one of every four of the Confederate casualties in the three days of battle at Gettysburg were North Carolinians. The monument to their memory is the only one I saw that had a truly human face. Four infantrymen advance with their heads down against the hail of bullets, one carrying the flag and one already wounded and down, but urging the others on. It could properly serve as a memorial to all battlefield infantrymen. The monument was created by Gutzon Borglum, who also carved Mount Rushmore. I am a native of South Carolina, but a thirty-year resident of the Old North State, and proud as hell to be here. Esse quam videre!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If it was "the only one I saw that had a truly human face", you need to return to see the monuments at Gettysburg or purchase either Fred Hawthorne 1988 book on the monuments (hard to find and minus Longstreet) or Tom Huntington's newly released one (Kindle, too!)

You are spot on, of course, about the incredibly emotive power of the North Carolina monument, the sacrifices of the Tar Heels and the lack of praise they tend to receive.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"With every back-handed and derogatory word about Southerners...rednecks, hillbillies, flyovervillians, "Jesusland"...the thorn buries itself deeper." While I have no desire to see the Confederacy rise again, I am getting to the point where I feel about the D.C. exurb RINOs about the same as 'ordinary' Germans who did nothing to stop Hitler in the late 1930s. They have sown the wind and they'll inherit the whirlwind. This regime is not stockpiling armored vehicles, bullets and brainwashing its supporters into thinking the Tea Party are terrorists to play nice. Nor are they building such an obsessive data base on all of us. I just wonder if the likes of Radosh et al understand they will be the first to be tossed aside when they no longer serve a useful function of placating some on the Right as to the true totalitarian nature of this Regime.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"So, in the end, Faulkner’s 14-year-old boy was chasing an illusion. But that illusion — of cavaliers and knights in shining armor winning the right by force of arms to live in a fairytale land that was built and run on the backs of human slaves — still affects us 150 years later"

What you fail to comprehend is given away by your language.

To you, it's the "Civil War", but to us it was the "War for Southern Independence". The desire for Liberty may at times be an illusion, but it is a powerful one, especially when it is a freedom that was glimpsed, but then lost.

With every back-handed and derogatory word about Southerners...rednecks, hillbillies, flyovervillians, "Jesusland"...the thorn buries itself deeper.
The desire to alter history by somehow informing Lee that his flanking attacks had not weakened the Union center, and so to not launch the assault, to instead release JEB Stuart and the rest of the Confederate cavalry to wreak havoc on Pennsylvania and Ohio and upstate New York...a Rebel "March to Lake Erie" that might have ended the Lincoln Administration.

Yes, we lost the war, but we won the peace. After Mr. Lincoln put down "the insurrectionists", our Senators and Congressmen were denied seats in the Congress until 1876. The Secession was legal and it was Constitutional.

Just as the NEXT one will be.

I just hope that in the coming Secession, we don't get stupid about the military and naval bases that the United States government refuses to evacuate.

Blockade them like West Berlin, and eventually the Yankees will GO HOME.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not to burst your bubble, but had JEB Stuart been released northward, we would likely be able to the "Stuart's Last Stand" battlefield site somewhere in Pennsylvania. They would have gotten bottled up in one of the many valleys, fought gloriously, and have surrendered en masse, denying Lee his cavalry arm. Had Lee himself marched to Lake Erie, they would have been swallowed up and starved. The geography would have been a terrible hindrance. 100 men at any of the 50 or 60 mountain passes he'd have had to try marching through would have held them up for a day. Check the maps or visit PA north of Gettysburg. It is no place for an invading army.

Yes, the Confederacy could have won, but it would have had to have been a political victory, perhaps one involving a descent on Baltimore or failure by Grant to press his advantages. The best chances were gone long before Gettysburg.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They would have gotten bottled up in one of the many valleys, fought gloriously, and have surrendered en masse, denying Lee his cavalry arm."

Anything is possible, but 5,000 Confederate cavalrymen and dragoons, riding and burning and destroying infrastructure as they went...refusing to be pinned down into a set-piece battle, would have wreaked Holy Hell on the Yankee war effort...to say nothing of the shock to the population.

This worked well for Phillip Sheridan in his campaign through the Shenandoah Valley in 1864, and the Federal cavalry were NEVER the equals of the Rebel horsemen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You guys need to get over it; as Gary Galleger said, the Confederates lost because the got beat, or words to that effect. There is not one effing thing that would have won the war for the Confederacy after Sharpsburg, probably not after they decided to blockade cotton.

The one real chance the Confederate States had to win independence was to secede, declare themselves free trade, and throw every bale of cotton they had on the market. Hard to think the British and French would have respected the Yankee blockade in that situation.

There was still a little hope as British politicians were making "they have made a nation" speeches in '62; there weren't any of those after Sharpsburg and the Emancipation Proclamation. After that, the Confederacy's only hope was some failure of Yankee will, a forlorn hope. The Yankee Nation lost interest in fighting after the battles of '62; the Yankee interests just put up the money and bought soldiers for the rest of The War. Get over the Lost Cause; not many of us ever lived at Tara.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You wouldn't need cavalry. Once you're in those Pennsylvania valleys, there are often only two ways out - the one you came in and the one you're heading for. Trains and the telegraph move faster than horses, so they would have gotten bottled up. Check the geography, consider supplies, consider that Stuart's cavalry was already worn out, remember that there were no re-mounts once those horses broke down and stop dreaming. I would have been shocking, but it would have been the end of Confederate cavalry in the Eastern theater.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Trains and the telegraph move faster than horses, so they would have gotten bottled up. "

You're fixated on Pennsylvania, while there are more than one avenue to Lake Erie and what I would have targeted...the Erie Canal and Buffalo,(at the time almost as vital an economic waterway as the Mississippi to the South), but I'll play along...

Trains travel along tracks and telegraphy takes place over wires...both of which would have been...and were...prime targets for Confederate cavalry raiders.
Without the wires, you have NO telegraph, and all the trains in the world do you no good at all if someone has torn up the track and burned down the bridge across the valley(s).

Just FYI, I am intimately familiar with the topography of centarl Pennsylvania.

And...a coal mine isn't very productive when and if someone comes along destroys the lift-rigging, pumps and trackage of the coal cars.
I suppose that you can go back to hauling the ore out by hand and mules, but that's not going to keep up with Steam-Age demand...even IF you can get it into a gondola car and get it to the factories...which you couldn't.(see "trains" above).

I maintain my contention that 5 or 10 thousand Rebel cavalrymen acting as "organized monkeywrenchers" in the Union heartland would have spelled the end of the Lincoln Administration in the 1864 elections.

And without Lincoln and the Radical Republicans, I think the war would have ended in a negotiated Peace and the recognition of the Confederacy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Constitution was simply silent on the subject of secession, just as it never contemplated abortion or gay marriage. That said...given how much disgust many people around the world feel for the U.S. government, and how brutal the move against 'insurrectionists' and 'bitter clingers' will be when it finally comes (we're already in the 'prepping the battlefield' stage) I have little doubt that the Free States of America won't have to look hard to obtain foreign support. Hell, D.C. fascists and NSA reading this, you might wind up worried about Patriot Arc Light on your data hubs and drone bases when a quarter of the Air National Guard units defect to the Patriots. One thing is for sure -- even if you have an overwhelming advantage in materiel you won't find too many volunteers to kill fellow Americans when it finally comes to shooting. Because of most of the people who know how to shoot will be on our side, while the obese, the dependent, and the cowardly will be on yours. That goes for you neocons who think you'll be on the winning team of Civil War 2.0 too. It is YOU who will be viewed as the people who bullied and spied on the whole world and are now turning your guns on fellow citizens, not the South or the West that will be the slave owners this time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The courage of the men who fought 150 years ago is beyond dispute. And I marvel at the stamina and determination of the men (and women) today who work so hard to keep the history alive.

I go to a nearby re-enactment each year and love photographing the event. I struck up a conversation with the flag bearer of a Zoave regiment. Not only a veteran of two tours as I recall in Vietnam, but a man in his 70's, wearing a heavy woolen uniform in the heat of May in Texas, holding a flag most would struggle to lift. . . unwavering for the whole day.

I hope the link to the photos works.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/43210263@N04/8173672639/in/pool-337277@N25/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We are the Last Men and see no purpose in commemorating horror and morbidity and death. Those things are dead to us, like the bones of ancestors that endured such misery. Instead we celebrate LIFE...'>......:

http://news.yahoo.com/court-wins-expected-bolster-gay-pride-events-082807160.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chamberlain's Salute at Appomattox, while not a battle, may have prevented a long draw out irregular war.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Credit where credit is due: Chamberlain returned CS General John Brown Gordon's salute. Gordon was one of few Confederates still well mounted and he lead the mortal remains of the Army of Northern Virginia to its formal stacking of arms and striking of colors. As he approached Chamberlain he had his horse drop to its knee in the cavalry salute, bowed his head to Chamberlain and touched his sword to his toe before surrendering it to Chamberlain who refused it and returned the salute.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Gettysburg didn't end The War; it may have been the beginning of the end of The War. Probably the only chance the Confederacy had to "win" The War evaporated on September 17, 1862, when McCellan ended Lee's foray into Pennsylvania at Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Confederate failure on that campaign ended any hope of English and French intervention. But, there was still a war on.

The Civil War, not that it was really a civil war, went on another year and a half after Gettysburg. Yankee casualties in that year and a half were horrendous. Grant planted a thousand men a mile to make that 125 miles from the Rapidan to the James. If you want to understand the intensity of The War, go walk the Chancellorsville/Wilderness battlefield where the Wilderness battle was fought over the rotting bodies from Chancellorsville. Or go to Cold Harbor where 7000 Yankees died in the first 20 minutes as they attacked entrenched Confederates and where Union officers and men mutinied rather than charge those lines again.

From Cold Harbor we go to Petersburg and the perfect vision of Hell and a foreshadowing of WW I as for nine months Grant battered his conscript and bountymen army against the Confederate works surrounding Richmond.

You really don't understand The War if you think Gettysburg was somehow dispositive; it damn well rearranged the order of battle in both armies and especially in Lee's army, but it didn't settle anything. Visualize the front as a line from Richmond to Atlanta. The Appalachians defended most of the line and Richmond and Atlanta were redoubts at either end. When Sherman took Atlanta, he turned Lee's flank as decisively as Hannibal at Cannae or Jackson at Chancellorsville. With Sherman in his rear, as the '65 campaign season began and Grant pushed against the desertion depleted Confederate lines around Petersburg, Lee had no choice but the break for Johnson's Army in the Carolinas. Grant ran him to ground at Appamattox and there it ended.

The most decisive battle of The War was probably The Wilderness. Tactically the Confederates probably won and any previous Yankee commander would have led his troops back over the Rapidan and reorganized for another "On to Richmond" campaign. Grant didn't back away, he just "sidled" left and on to Spotsylvania. The Confederates probably won another tactical victory at Spotsylvania, but Grant just "sidled" left. Grant was exploiting the "bloody arithmetic" and trading men for miles. Grant had more men than the Confederates had miles.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've been to all of those battlefields, and have "walked" Cold Harbor...as well as 1st Manassas, Antietam, Cedar Creek, Kernstown and 2nd Winchester.

I have to disagree with you on your choice of Wilderness...you haven't read your Mahan.

The War was lost when the Union Navy succesfully blockaded the Confederacy's ports and took New Orleans.

The CSA's economic lifeline was strangled, while the Federals could give battle when and where they chose to. This is what set the stage and arranged the set, it then took but the arrival of commanders like Grant, who understood that attrition was how the tactical fight was to be won, and Sherman/Sheridan, who understood that economic warfare campaigns would keep the Yankee boot-heel on the Rebel neck.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've read Mahan. Opening the Mississippi and closing off horses, food, and fodder from the West and imported goods coming in through Mexico was more determinative than the coastal blockade. The Confederacy didn't fall from the lack of ability to fight; it still had weapons and money, or at least credit. What it didn't have was men willing to continue the fight. Less than a third of the men on the rolls were actually in the ranks in April of '65, and that is really the whole story. By April of '65, the majority of the men still alive men didn't think the Confederacy was worth fighting for anymore. Looking back over these 150 years, the very worst thing you could have done for your family and your fortune was support and fight for the Confederate States of America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Someday it may be written that the D.C. regime badly miscalculated, that it thought drone power and propaganda could allow it to finally bury the Constitution for good and rule through naked force. Instead Texas and the other former United States in the West and South broke away...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Less than a third of the men on the rolls were actually in the ranks in April of '65, and that is really the whole story. By April of '65, the majority of the men still alive men didn't think the Confederacy was worth fighting for anymore."

True enough that, breaking the will to fight of the enemy IS the point.
But to explain the desertion rate there is a quote I read somewhere from the WSI that went:

"The American soldier fights as he was accustomed to work his farm or his store. He would like to see a fair prospect of success at the endeavor."
(or words to that effect).

That insight into the mindset of the common soldier,(and it has the hallmark of US Grant, does it not?), explains why most of Lee's army had skedaddled by the end.

But that was circumstance that needn't have been.

With control of the Confederate sea-coast, the Union could,(and did), open amphibious fronts against the CSA, forcing the Davis Administration to always fight on the defensive..and as Von Clausewitz later formulated, fighting a war from Strategic defensive AND a tactical defensive is merely a question of how long you can stave off defeat.

Lee, while a masterful defensive general, showed himself incapable of fighting on the offensive, and Davis remained woefully unaware of, or unwilling to exploit the USA's greatest weakness...the political process.

To put it bluntly, no-one would care about fighting in Virginia or Tennessee to "preserve the Union" when JEB Stuart and Nathan Forrest were torching factories and barns in Wisconsin and upstate New York.

Vote that clown Lincoln and his scoundrels out of office and get these damned Rebels out of here.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A very good summary. Lee became a legend (or at least had his legend expanded) by unorthodox tactics, dividing his smaller force on more than one occasion to win against bigger US forces. But Grant, I think, often gets short changed. Both men played the hand they were dealt, a war of attrition favored Grant and that's how he played it.

Had their places been reversed, who knows how each would have led.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Art Chance,

I am once again impressed with your erudition regarding the U.S. Civil War. Nevertheless, I disagree with one of your conclusions.

“The most decisive battle of The War was probably The Wilderness”.

Perhaps … but how about Vicksburg, Atlanta or Sherman’s Savannah campaign? I think Liddel Hart and VDH would (and have) argued for their preeminent significance.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In terms of setting the stage for ending the Provisional Government of the Confederate States, I think the Overland Campaign and The Wilderness pre-eminently are dispositive, Lee saw it that way and remarked that if he could not defeat Grant there, it would become a siege at the Richmond works and the outcome was inevitable. He used almost those words. The War changed its nature when Grant after sustaining casualties that would have driven any previous Yankee commander back to the safety of Aquia Creek and not securing anymore ground that had been secured the previous year at Chancellorsville "sidled" left and continued the battle at Spotsylvania, at Cold Harbor, and the gates of Petersburg, and finally after forcing the siege at Petersburg continually acted to extend his line to the South and West strangling the ANV and Richmond/Petersburg. Moving to cut off Richmond ended The War.

Strategically, I'm torn between Sharpsburg and Vicksburg. I won't call it a victory, but McClellan's causing himself not to be defeated at Sharpsburg ended any hope of British and French recognition. That was cemented by its allowing Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation on the heels of what the North was touting as a victory. That put paid to any hope of there ever being a truly independent Confederate States.

Virtually closing the areas of both the CS and US to the Confederates in the East culminating with the fall of Vicksburg was a telling but not war ending blow. The mythology is of the low, sleek blockade runner sliding through the blockade, fetching up on the Southern coast, unloading his goods and attending a ball with all the Dixie Darlings in the area. The reality is that much of it was a highly organized trade with Mexico through Texas and on across the Mississippi to the rest of the CSA. The Yankee blockaders had to much more circumspect in dealing with a merchantman flying British or French colors making for a Mexican port and the CS made full use of the opportunity. The Yankees did a quite thorough job of securing the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers preventing most smuggling into the CSA from the rest of North America. Closing the rivers severely damaged the CS economy and boosted the Yankee economy by giving Yankee mills access to considerable cotton - and Yankee officers access to fortunes. But closing the rivers didn't end the war, which went on as long after Vicksburg as after Gettysburg.

The most interesting question in The West was what would have happened if Davis hadn't succumbed to Gov. Joe Brown's entreaties and releived Johnston, replacing him with the laudenum-addled John Bell Hood. Johnston would have made Sherman pay dearly for every inch of Georgia and it would have taken Sherman until well after the '64 election to take Atlanta. Hood bashed his Army to peices against Sherman and handed him ATL in time to boost Lincoln's electoral prospects thus assuring that The War would continue to be relentlessly prosecuted.

That said, while many think a McClellan victory would have led to The North sueing for peace, I don't much think so. The War would have changed but not ended as a direct result of a McClellan victory because I just don't see Northern interests allowing him to just leave the field and there are far too many irreconcilable issues regarding territories held by union armies, the status of contrabands, etc. to admit to any meaningful negotiated settlement. The War ended the only way it could end; when The South simply ran out of men willing to fight.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--- You ask yourself, “Could I have done what they did?”

If I was on the Cemetery Ridge, in that battle, yes, I think I would have stood alongside my brothers and fired away. How about you, Rick?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As a retired 20 year armored cavalryman, I'm not so sure. I was fortunate to have never seen the elephant during my time under arms, probably the only 20 year span in the last century where someone who enlisted in combat arms (tanks) could say so. I would like to believe that I would have stood and delivered, but I'll never *know*.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let me extend my condolences to you on this anniversary of the defeat of your side in the greatest battle of the Civil War. I have to hand it to you. Even after all the loses, you keep coming back. One of these days you may yet succeed in destroying the United States.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of these days the D.C. fascists may succeed in destroying this country. And while they will fail to win the Second Civil War, at least they and their globalist Satanic masters will have the satisfaction of watching it burn.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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