Gettysburg


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A century and a half ago, in the picturesque green hills around the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, there took place the largest and most decisive battle of the great cataclysm that was the American Civil War.    Between July 1st and 3rd, 1863, nearly 160,000 men fought fiercely for three bloody days in the humid Pennsylvania heat.   Casualties were staggering for both sides, accounting for nearly one in three of the entirety of  forces engaged.  Among them were two General Officers killed, and twenty-five wounded, five of them mortally.

Federal dead (3,155) and wounded (14,529) were exceeded by Confederate losses (3,903 killed and 18, 735 wounded) from Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  This was disastrous for the South, whose manpower situation was already becoming acute.   The surrender of Vicksburg, to Grants Army of the Cumberland the day after Gettysburg ended, tipped the scales irretrievably against the Confederacy.

Seldom has a battle in a major war been as clearly decisive a turning point as was Gettysburg.  That the defeat of the Confederates in Pennsylvania represented the last great effort of the South to force peace upon the North was palpable to both sides in the immediate aftermath of the great battle.   Meade’s failure to pursue Lee prolonged the war, and was a mistake that Ulysses Grant would not repeat in his incessant hammering of the ANV throughout the Wilderness Campaign in the spring and summer of 1864.

Gettysburg also represented a turning point that established once and for all that Federal infantry, well-led, were every bit a match for their Rebel opponents.   Crucial, also, was the contribution of Federal Cavalry, whose Brigadier General John Buford had nearly routed JEB Stuart’s cavalry at Brandy Station some weeks earlier.  Buford at Gettysburg famously fought a half-day delaying action against the lead corps of Rebel infantry which gave the Army of the Potomac time to arrive at Gettysburg in force and occupy the high ground south and east of the town.

The battlefield at Gettysburg remains the hallowed ground of Lincoln’s iconic address.  The names of the places for which men struggled and sacrificed are a part of a warrior lexicon that anyone who has ever worn a uniform should know by heart.   The Wheat Field.  The Peach Orchard.  The Devil’s Den.  Little Round Top.  Cemetery Ridge.  The Slaughter Pen.  Culp’s Hill.   The courage and endurance of the soldiers on both sides in the maelstrom of the battle has long held the imagination of the American public.

As a matter of perspective, the Battle of Gettysburg involved nearly 160,00o men, more than US troop strength in Iraq.  The 7,058 dead over three days exceeds US combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan over thirteen years combined, by almost 2,000.  The percentage of total population of North and South that fought at Gettysburg is greater than the percentage of current US population in the entire of our Armed Forces today.

If you have never seen the battlefield at Gettysburg, you should.  If you are a Veteran, you should make it somewhat of a pilgrimage.  And please, as nice and knowledgeable as the Park Staff people are, don’t take the “tour”.  Go by yourself.  Map in hand.  Pfantz’s books in your backpack.  And walk the ground.  Feel it.  Wonder to yourself how they did it.  How they faced mortal fear and danger and fought so bravely and fiercely.  And whether, in their shoes (or bare feet), you could have done the same.

And stay for a while.  Around dusk, sit quietly and respectfully.  You will find that you are hardly alone.

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4 Comments

Filed under Artillery, guns, history, Personal, Uncategorized, veterans, war

4 responses to “Gettysburg

  1. Those were men who fought for what they believed in. I am, however, compelled to say the wrong side won. That side has given us the culmination of evils started by Wilson, FDR, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, and Clinton in Obama. Without Northern Victory we would never have seen the likes of Obama because we would not have the unitary Federal State that is choking the life out of our country.

    I imagine that the Yankee Troops would have thrown their weapons away and gone home if they had know what the final result would be.

    • ultimaratioregis

      QM,

      A southern victory would have been disastrous. North America would have remained fragmented and open to colonization once again from stronger European powers.

      The Federal victory did not beget Obama. Or Wilson. Even more poignant that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is his Second Inaugural. Had he not died (at the hand of a Southern sympathizer) the entire course of the immediate and long-term post-war history may well have been different.

      “Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
      With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”

      Godless socialist-communist secular progressives hate such sentiment. They believe THEMSELVES to be the ones to judge, and that theirs is true and righteous. And therein lies all our troubles.

  2. Sorry, URR, but the wrong side won. Lincolnian philosophy did spawn Wilson, FDR, and the rest of the abuses because Lincoln destroyed the republic the founders gave us. What we are seeing now is simply the harvest of what Lincoln sowed.

    Lincoln was the first Progressive President. Mencken ripped the Gettysburg address to pieces, and it’s not hard to do so. The South was fighting for self determination and the Yankees were fighting to suppress it. The South was never a threat to the North, but their commercial philosophies were a threat to northeastern moneymen who needed their economic colony in the south, We are now in the position of the entire country being the economic colony of financiers.

    You’re, of course, welcome to believe what you wish, and we can agree to disagree. But, you also need to realize the Lincoln’s invocation of God was simple political expedience. As his law partner said about Lincoln, “he lived and died an infidel.” John Hay stated succinctly that Lincoln did not change his religious opinions at any time while president.

    • ultimaratioregis

      Believe as you wish. Though I think you might want to think of how you are defining progessivism.

      I am familiar with Mencken’s critique of the Gettysburg Address. That doesn’t mean I have to find very much of it valid. Nor much of Mencken’s views, including his disdain for a representative Republic that is the very basis of our form of government.