Author Topic: 160 Years Ago...  (Read 603 times)

Offline St. George

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160 Years Ago...
« on: July 04, 2023, 10:22:59 AM »
Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was on the move near a small Pennsylvania town called 'Gettysburg'...

What they 'wanted' at that precise moment in time - was shoes.

Then - they met Buford's Cavalry and he held the best ground and in essence - it all went downhill from there.

Gettysburg is a very easy battle to 'what if' - since it was so pivotal.

What if the South had had better Logistics and hadn't been suffering from the Blockade?

What if Lee wasn't smarting from the Defense of Richmond and felt the need to 'prove' himself?

What if Lee didn't somewhat believe his own press about the invincibility of the Army of Northern Virginia?

What if Lee hadn't been ill?

What if Stuart had done his job as opposed to grandstanding by riding once again - around Federal forces - as opposed to providing the battlefield intelligence so badly needed by Lee?

What if Lee had listened to Longstreet - probably the most pragmatic and 'modern' warrior he had - about the distance to cover in the stifling July heat, the emplaced Artillery - the massed troops able to reinforce at will, the stone wall and the lessons they'd learned at Fredericksburg?

What if Buford's scouts had turned their horses and followed a different path that morning?

What if Buford hadn't been an experienced Indian-fighting Regular with an instinctive grasp of terrain?

What if Chamberlain - the quintesssential citizen-soldier - hadn't read his 'Tactics' and didn't 'see' the battle unfold - and didn't have a blooded, hard Maine Infantry outfit under his command?

All these 'what ifs' are rehashed over and over at the Service Schools a few times a year by enthusiastic young Officers - and though 'some' scenarios can be built - most don't hold up due to the variables.

On that day - at that moment - due to Fate or to Serendipity - the cards fell on the Federal side.

Unfortunately for the Confederacy - with an over-confident leadership and full of itself - they met the exactly 'wrong' men in opposition - men who knew their jobs and could fight, were well-supplied and even better positioned.

Too many good men died that didn't have to - many on this day - during the abortive uphill charge across open terrain.

One day - should you ever get the chance - either find and attach yourself to a group doing a 'Staff Ride' - or find (and pay) a really 'good' Battlefield Guide to lead you across the battlefield step-by-step.
He can stop and point out otherwise-unseen terrain features and explain who made decisions 'where' and how they unfolded during the fight.
You'll really come away with a feel for the engagement and a new-found respect for the soldiers of both sides.

As for the battle 'continuing' - 'Shenandoah' had this to say in their song - 'Sunday in the South'.

A ragged rebel flag flies high above it all
popping in the wind like an angry cannon ball
The holes of history are cold and still,
but they smell the powder burnin' and they probably always will...

Sure would be nice if folks all accepted what happened as being a rich and formative part of our collective history and they didn't try to re-write, disparage, over-explain or downplay the valor of our forebears on either side.

Have a good Fourth Of July - it took a helluva lot of sacrifice to get us this far...

Scouts Out!

"It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies - It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies - It Was Cowtowns and Sin..."


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