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7/30/2013
RINO Hour of Power: Christie vs. Paul: For all the Marbles

Join us for another exciting episode of the RINO Hour of Power with your host Rick Moran and special co-host Rich Baehr of the American Thinker.

A fight has broken out on the right between establishment conservatie Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and Libertarian Senator Rand Paul. The two have been trading charges for several days and contained within those charges is the essence of the war for the soul of the Republican party.

We’ll discuss the debate with author, historian, and columnist Ron Radosh.

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By: Rick Moran at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

7/23/2013
RINO Hour of Power: Political Potpourri

Join us for another adjective-challenged episode of the RINO Hour of Power with your host Rick Moran and special co-host Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s blog.

Washington is snoozing as the news slows to a trickle. But there’s still lots to talk about. And joining Rick and Fausta will be the incomparable JR Dunn of American Thinker. The panel will look at several stories making news today.

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By: Rick Moran at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

7/16/2013
RINO Hour of Power: Race and Baloney in the Zimmerman Verdict

Join us for another race-neutral episode of the RINO Hour of Power with your host Rick Moran and special co-host Jeff Kropf.

The trial is over, Zimmerman has been found not guilty, and all the usual suspects on both sides of the racial divide are seeking to advance whatever agenda - personal or political - they wish to. What was all this really about? And will we learn any lessons that will help us the next time an incident occurs?

To discuss these issues, Bridget Johnson, Washington editor of PJ Media will join the panel.

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By: Rick Moran at 4:09 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

7/9/2013
RINO Hour of Power: The Dog Days of Summer

Join us for another gone to the dogs episode of the RINO Hour of Power with your host Rick Moran and, back for an encore as guest host, Jazz Shaw.

It’s the dog days of summer in Washington and Congressional tempers are rising with the heat. PJ Media editor Bryan Preston will join the hosts for a discussion of what’s happening with immigration reform as well as other issues facing Congress.

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By: Rick Moran at 4:58 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

7/3/2013
JULY 3, 1863
CATEGORY: History

This is the seventh and final installment of week-long blog posts called Countdown to Gettysburg“. They are written from the perspective of someone who lived at that time and as if the internet existed in 1863.

The introduction to the series is here.

Previous Posts:

June 27, 1863

June 28, 1863

June 29, 1863

June 30, 1863

July 1, 1863

July 2, 1863
****************************************************

(Check for updates all day)

Washington is once again quiet this early morning but I don’t think it’s the result of people being sound asleep in their beds. First, there’s this God awful heat. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our climate here in Washington, imagine the worst mosquito infested swamp and then add oppressive, life draining heat. The mercury never fell below 85 degrees last night which made sleep impossible.

Of course, I don’t think too many of us would be sleeping anyway with what’s going on in Pennsylvania. The titanic struggle taking place in the farmers fields and gentle, rolling hills outside of Gettysburg has become one, long, unbroken nightmare as casualty figures come into the telegraph office of the War Department. My source there tells me that some officers are in shock at the numbers of dead and wounded that after two days of desperate fighting add up to some 20,000 Federals. (No word on reb casualties but since they’ve been the attackers, their losses should be equal to or even exceed ours). Lincoln himself has been a frequent visitor to that office, as our President does his customary pacing back and forth, not saying much but looking drawn and haggard from lack of sleep.

No one evidently got much sleep on the battlefield either. The Federals were busy all night shifting troops right and left as Meade and his generals tried to anticipate Bobby Lee’s next move. And even if the weary soldiers got a chance to lie down, it was impossible to ignore the screams and moans of tens of thousands of wounded men lying on a battlefield where both sides are in such close proximity to each other.

As for the battle itself, there’s already been action on the extreme right this morning at Culps Hill. You may recall that General Wadsworth’s boys were temporarily dislodged from those heights yesterday in the early evening only to undertake a vicious counterattack that caused the rebs to abandon some of their positions. So while we held possession of the hill, Johnny Reb was grimly holding on to positions that could easily result in a reversal.

During the night (this according to my friend who writes and sketches for Harpers), Meade ordered several batteries over to the right to support an infantry assault that took place this morning at first light. The goal of this attack was to kick Ewell’s boys off that hill and secure it once and for all.

Once again, it was a very bloody affair with hand to hand fighting taking place all along the line. Looks like General Slocum’s XII Corps bore the brunt of that battle and, as of 8:00 AM have completely routed the rebs and sent Ewell’s boys flying.

Here are the lines of battle as of this moment:

Gettysburg 8:00 AM July 3

General Meade has VI Corps held in reserve. They’ve been placed in what appears to be the safest part of the battlefield, right smack dab in the center of the Federal line.

Following the action on Culps Hill, the entire battlefront has quieted down. Major Rathbone is speculating that Lee won’t do any fighting today but rather re-group and try and figure out what to do next. Rathbone says its too hot for a major attack and I tend to agree although no one has ever been able to guess what Bobby Lee is going to do.

I got a huge surprise this morning when I got a wire from an old pre-war friend who writes for the Richmond Times. He’s with the reb army and has promised me a report from the reb lines later today.

His help will be appreciated. That makes the next engagement unique in that I”l have eyewitness accounts from both sides.

I wonder if I’ll even have anything to write about later?

UPDATE

Something big is going on. This from Mr. Waud, my friend who’s covering the war for Harpers:

Approximately two hours ago, the loudest sound ever made on the North American continent was heard as more than 150 Rebel guns opened up at exactly the same moment. The crash and rumble of this cannonade is unlike any I’ve experienced. The Rebels are concentrating their fire at the exact center of the Union line. Fortunately for our boys, they are firing at the top of the hill while our boys are hugging the ground a few dozen yards below the crest. That fact is not helping our artillery as this bombardment is wreaking havoc with the three dozen or so batteries that Colonel Hunt has lined up on the Cemetery Hill. Direct hits are being scored on our caissons and wagons and huge explosions are heard as the ammunition in those wagons goes off.

The noise, the smoke, the screams of men and horses, the hoarse shouts of officers all combine to make this a scene reminiscent of Dante’s Hell. And then, a miracle.

In the middle of this mayhem a lone figure on his horse can be seen. It’s General Hancock. He’s riding along the line as if nothing is amiss calmly telling the boys to keep their heads down and to wait for the infantry which is sure to follow. One of his aides runs up to him and shouts over the tremendous din “General, please get down from your horse. We cannot afford to lose you.” Hancock bravely replied “There are times when a Major General’s life doesn’t count.”

Magnificent!

Our boys have stopped firing now on orders from Colonel Hunt. My guess is he wants to save ammunition for the infantry attack that’s sure to come. And the rebel guns seem to be slackening off as well.

It won’t be long now.

My friend Mr. Byrd from the Richmond Times should be reporting shortly. When he does, I’ll post again.

UPDATE II

Dear God. This from Mr. Byrd:

I was until recently on the hill next to the Lutheran Seminary with General Lee watching as our infantry formed up for the coming attack. By the looks of things, it appears that our men will be assaulting the center of the Yankee lines right where the Cemetery is. The distance to their objective appears to be almost a mile. Almost immediately our boys will come under fire from Yankee guns firing long range shells. We’ve already had a taste of it and I can tell you its not very pleasant.

The sight spread out before me is one that if I live to be 100 years old I shall never forget. Our magnificent infantry is spread out in a line approximately 2 miles long several companies deep. The colorful mass of humanity is augmented by the glint of steel shining in the afternoon sun and hundreds of red and blue battle flags snapping in the breeze. It is very hot. I can see General Armistead in front of his brigade as well as Generals Kemper and Garnett. They are all part of General Pickett’s Division which didn’t arrive on the field of battle until last night. I also see elements of Johnson Pettigrew’s boys as well as General Trimble’s Division.

All told, there must be close to 15,000 men lined up in what has to be the most magnificent demonstration of martial prowess by any army in history. I even heard General Lee say to to an aide “It is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it.”

The men are ready to step off now. I plan on watching from the cupola of the Cemetery so that I can get a birds eye view of what transpires. I will wire you with the details after the battle.

UPDATE III

It is over.

Bobby Lee’s last gamble to win the battle and destroy our army has failed.

The attack of General Pickett has been repulsed with huge losses inflicted on the rebs. Thanks to Mr. Waud and Mr. Byrd, I’ve been able to draw this map of how the battle unfolded:

Picketts Charge July 3, 1863

Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Byrd’s account:

After the step off from Seminary Ridge, our boys came under immediate and intense fire from Yankee gunners. It was deadly accurate. Great holes were torn in the lines as both solid shot and shell burst among the closely packed formations of men. I saw one shell burst that must have taken down 20 of our boys.

While casualties were heavy our boys were making good progress until they came to the Emmittsburg Road. There, a wooden fence barred their way. Trying to climb over it, our boys got bunched up and the Yankee gunners had a field day. Since we were less than 300 yards from their lines, the gunners were pouring round after round of double cannister into our lines and, along with the thousands of muskets being fired by the Yank infantry, it appeared that our men were being mowed down like wheat before the scythe.

Eventually, our boys made it over the fence and tried to reform for the attack but the fire was just too murderous. That’s when I saw General Armistead place his hat on top of his sword and beckon the men to follow him. The effect on the boys was like electricity. Immediately most of the remaining men began to move up the hill toward what appeared to be a stone wall where the Yanks had refused their line - bent it backward at a right angle. I finally lost sight of our boys because the smoke just became too dense to see through.

Mr. Waud picks up the narrative as I excerpt part of his dispatch:

The noise and shock of battle were tremendous. Our gunners were really giving the Rebels a hard time. But still they came. There must have been 5,000 of our boys on that part of the field all pouring a deadly musket fire into the fast dwindling number of Rebels. But still they came. I saw one Rebel officer with his hat stuck on his sword urging his men forward. The hat had fallen toward the hilt but still they came. Then one final lunge and the Rebels were amongst our boys. There was shooting and hacking and clubbing and stabbing along a front of just a few dozen yards. The Rebel officer with the hat on his sword was leaning against one of our guns obviously wounded but still urging his boys forward. Finally, a counterattack by two regiments of New Yorkers sealed the fate of the remaining Rebels and they began to surrender in droves.

As for the Rebels who could walk, they were making their way slowly back to the Seminary Ridge. That’s when our boys started to chant “Fredricksburg…Fredericksburg” taunting the retreating soldiers with that horrible Federal defeat last December where our boys broke themselves into pieces against the stone wall on Marye’s Heights. I suppose it was tremendously satisfying but strangely out of place. Those Rebels made a most spirited charge. I daresay it will be remembered for a long while.

My source at the War Department tells me that Lee is through and will probably try and retreat. I hope Meade proves himself the bulldog and goes after him, catches him, and destroys his army. But perhaps, that’s too much to hope for.

Casualty reports won’t be final for a while but I think it’s safe to say that this has been the bloodiest battle in American history. The War Department is estimating our losses at 25% which would be more than 20,000. Reb losses must be higher, probably 1/3 which would make their butchers bill almost 30,000.

Oh, dear God! Let this war be over soon. I don’t think I can take too many more “victories” like this one.

One final note: There’s word that General Pemberton has asked for terms of surrender from General Grant at Vicksburg. If true, that would make tomorrow the most memorable 4th of July since our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Lee’s army beaten and Grant taking Vicksburg’s surrender. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end.

I pray this is so. So much blood shed. So much waste. So many tears.

I remember long ago some idiot Congressman saying that you’d be able to wipe up all the blood spilled in this war with a handkerchief. I wonder what happened to him? Someone should take him to Gettysburg so that he can make good on his boast.

By: Rick Moran at 6:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

AMERICA’S “LOVE BATTLE”
CATEGORY: History


“The Battle of Gettysburg”, painted in 1884 by French artist Paul Dominic Philippoteaux. This spectacular scene from the Gettysburg Cyclorama, is the artist’s impression of Armistead’s attack into the Angle, the Confederacy’s “High water mark.”

The great English writer Robert Graves wrote in his masterpiece Goodbye To All That about the battles of World War I at the Somme and Passchendaele being “Love Battles.” Graves reasoned that only men with an unquestioning and sublime love of country could have participated in those attacks where so many were uselessly slaughtered.

In 1863, mankind had yet to perfect the instruments of war that resulted in the kind of mass butchery which occurred on the Western Front during World War I. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Civil War saw so many “innovations” in the art of war - first widespread use of rifled muskets, first widespread use of trench warfare, first use of balloons for artillery spotting, to name a few - that it can fairly be said that what happened on the battlefields in America during that conflict was a preamble to the hell endured by soldiers during the Great War just a few generations later.

The 50,000 men who were killed and wounded at Gettysburg had the kind of “love” written about by Graves. Perhaps no generation in American history ever believed in things like “country” and “patriotism” so deeply. The Federals proved it at the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia in December of 1862 when 20,000 fell in one day as regiment after regiment marched toward a stone wall on Marye’s Heights only to be butchered by Southern riflemen. All day long the slaughter went on. Each new formation sent against those heights knew full well what was in store for them. And yet, they made those futile charges one after another until even many of their enemies began to feel sorry for them.

Of course, Pickett’s Charge contained many of the same elements. Every one of those 12,000 Southerners knew what it meant to walk across 8/10 of a mile of open ground under the Federal’s guns for the entire advance and the massed rifles of infantrymen during the final few hundred yards. These were hardened veterans who were used to sizing up advances like this and coldly calculating the odds of success. The fact that many of them sowed pieces of paper on their uniforms with their names and hometowns on it in case no one could identify their mangled bodies after the battle says volumes about what the soldiers thought about their participation in that famed attack.

“High Water Mark” by Mort Kunstler.

Then why did they do it?

A large part of the reason was their love and respect for the soldier next to them in line. They didn’t want to appear cowardly nor did they want to let their comrades down in the heat of battle. But certainly there was also a dead serious belief that what they were doing was right. And, in this particular battle, there was the very real prospect of ending the war in victory. General Armistead was heard shouting as he got to The Angle at Cemetery Hill “Home boys…Home is over this hill.” That too, must have been a powerful incentive.

But at bottom, Gettysburg revealed all the South’s hopes for victory to be illusory. Most military historians have criticized Lee for even attempting the attack on the Union center that fateful July 3rd. They point out that even if he had succeeded in piercing the Union lines, there would have been precious few Southerners left standing to exploit the breach and split Meade’s army in two which was Lee’s goal in ordering the attack. All the attack succeeded in doing was adding to the massive butcher’s bill for the three days where the two great armies met to decide the fate of the country.

William Faulkner touches on this theme of southern illusions in his book Intruder in the Dust when he wrote that every southern boy who grew up after Gettysburg was allowed the dream of southern triumph by imagining themselves on Cemetery Hill with Armistead at the confederacy’s high water mark. In their dreams, they would break through the line of Federals and carry the South to victory. Faulkner used this allegory to describe much of the hopelessness he saw in southern whites of the 20’s and 30’s who were beaten down by poverty and tradition while tainted with the legacy of slavery and racism.

Meade’s failure to follow up on his victory by either immediately attacking or pursuing and trapping the Southern army against a swollen Potomac river before it could escape is to my mind the greatest “What If” of the battle. Although it’s unlikely that Jefferson Davis would have surrendered even if he lost the Army of Northern Virginia, the heart would have gone out of the rebellion and, coupled with Grant’s victory at Vicksburg, would have placed the South in a similar strategic position it eventually found itself in April of 1865. Only the trans-Mississippi states of Texas and Arkansas would have been able to resist Federal troops.

That said, the one big southern counter factual must be Ewell’s failure to take Cemetery Ridge on the first day of the battle. He was ordered by Lee to take those hills “if practicable.” The fact that he didn’t has been the subject of endless argument and speculation since the battle ended. One wonders if Stonewall Jackson had still be in command of that Corps, would he have hesitated. If the South had taken the heights outside of town, it would have been northern boys making that long march under the hot sun toward Cemetery Hill and destiny.

“HIGH WATER MARK” MONUMENT AT GETTYSBURG

So ends this experiment in blogging. I realize I took massive liberties with the concept as much of what I wrote wasn’t discovered until many days and weeks after the battle was over. But I’ve rarely had so much fun. The idea of transporting oneself back in time to be an eyewitness to a great event was fascinating.

And thanks all for your wonderful comments and emails. I hope you learned as much as I did. I’ll leave you with a verse from one of the great anti-war poems of all time; Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem for a Doomed Youth.”

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,–
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

By: Rick Moran at 5:51 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

7/2/2013
RINO Hour of Power: American is Doomed but Celebrate the 4th Anyway

Join us for another star-spangled episode of the RINO Hour of Power with your host Rick Moran and the original (not extra crispy) co-host Jazz Shaw.

If you listen to many on the right, America is doomed! Doomed, I say! Leave that for the historians to sort out. But this moment in history, we should consider ourselves the luckiest human beings in the history of civilization. Despite all, no country is now, nor has ever been richer, freer, more beautiful, nor filled with the most fantastic people anywhere.

We’ll have a round table discussion of the American mood this 4th of July holiday with Matt Lewis, columnist for the Daily Caller.

We stream live from 8:00 - 9:00 PM Eastern time. A podcast will be available shortly after the end of the show.

You can join us live by clicking the icon below or by clicking here.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 4:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

Revisiting My ‘Liveblogging Gettysburg’ Series on the 150th Anniversary of the battle
CATEGORY: Blogging, History

I thought it would be appropriate to republish my “Liveblogging Gettysburg” series that not only was the most fun I ever had writing, but is also some of the most viewed posts on this site via search engines.

The genesis of the idea occurred to me while reading about Walter Cronkite’s  fabulous series “You Are There,” broadcast by CBS in the 1950’s and rebroadcast on Saturday mornings in the early 1970’s. Every week, CBS reporters would visit an historical event and cover it as if it were a modern news story. It was very entertaining to see CBS news reporters dressed in modern clothing interviewing George Washington or General Lee.

The series also featured various key events in American and World history, portrayed in dramatic recreations. Additionally, CBS News reporters, in modern-day suits, would report on the action and interview the protagonists of each of the historical episodes. Each episode would begin with the characters setting the scene. Cronkite, from his anchor desk in New York, would give a few words on what was about to happen. An announcer would then give the date and the event, followed by a loud and boldly spoken “You Are There!”

Cronkite would then return to describe the event and its characters more in detail, before shifting the attention to the event itself, saying, “All things are as they were then, except… You Are There.”

At the end of the program, after Cronkite summarizes what happened in the preceding event, he reminded viewers, “What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times… and you were there.”

I thought to myself, why not update the concept to include the internet? From there, it was fairly easy to invent sources, and utilize the telegraph to report on the battle.

Today, I am republishing posts that cover the battle on July 1 and 2. Tomorrow, I’ll republish July 3 and the Epilogue I wrote in 2005.

I hope you enjoy it.

By: Rick Moran at 9:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

JULY 1, 1863
CATEGORY: History

This is the fifth in my series of week-long blog posts called Countdown to Gettysburg“. They are written from the perspective of someone who lived at that time and as if the internet existed in 1863.

The introduction to the series is here.

Previous Posts:

June 27, 1863

June 28, 1863

June 29, 1863

June 30, 1863

****************************************************
(Check back often for updates)

And so, it’s begun.

Here’s a dispatch from General Buford at Gettysburg:

The enemy’s force (A.P. Hill’s) are advancing on me at this point, and driving my pickets and skirmishers very rapidly. There is also a large force at Heidlersburg that is driving my pickets at that point from that direction. General Reynolds is advancing, and is within 3 miles of this point with his leading division. I am positive that the whole of A.P. Hill’s force is advancing.

That’s uh…12,000 men people! And Johnny Buford has 2700 effectives (with every 4th man detailed to “hold horses”).

It began around 8:00 AM this morning when, as Buford reports, the rebs came “booming…skirmishers three deep” just as Major Rathbone predicted. Two brigades from Henry Heth’s division moved down the Chambersburg Pike encountering Bufords videttes and alerting the rest of his command. The rebs must have thought they were facing only local militia because they didn’t even bother to deploy into a line of battle. Meanwhile, Buford sent an urgent message to General Reynolds telling him to hurry because even though his troopers were armed with the brand new Sharps 7 shot repeaters, he couldn’t hold against those odds for long.

Thank God Johnny Reyonolds pushed his boys so hard the day before because they were bivuaced a scant three miles from Bufords position. Meantime, General Buford had devised a brilliant plan. Called “defense in depth,” in essence, he was trading space for time. As the rebs began to pile up in front of him, he slowly withdrew to prepared positions in the rear. This caused more delay as the rebs would then have to sort themselves out all over again to make ready to attack. All the while, Bufords troopers are giving the Johnny Rebs what for with their repeaters.

Finally, around 10:00 AM, John Reynolds Black Hats arrived and started to form up. I’ve made a rough map of what I think the battlefield looks like at this point:

GETTYSBURG AT 10:00 AM, JULY 1

Buford positioned his three batteries of artillery nicely. He had one battery each covering the approach down Chambersburg Pike and Mummasburg Road with one battery in reserve “firing for effect.” The effect was to tear great big holes in the reb line causing Heth to committ another brigade, and then another, until his entire division of 7,000 men were engaged.

Bully for John Buford and the Union Cavalry!

Meanwhile, I sure would have liked to have seen the look on the faces of those johnny rebs when they saw the Black Hats of the Iron Brigade marching in perfect formation headed straight for them. I bet they were wetting their britches! My source at I Corp headquarters tells me that the Black Hatters went in on the left of Gamble’s brigade pushing through a wooded area down near Willoughby Run. Perfect! They may be able to turn the flank of Heth’s division and send them running for their lives.

If we’re lucky, we’ll bag the lot of them!

I’ll be updating this post all day as reports come in.

UPDATE

Here’s the situation as of 11:30 AM.

Our boys really have a twist on the rebs. Archer’s reb brigade apparently just walked into it when, thinking that Buford’s troopers had withdrawn from McPherson’s ridge, they were surprised to find the Black Hats of General Meredith ready and loaded for action. Before the rebs knew it, our boys had pretty much surrounded Archers entire Brigade and, as I predicted earlier, we bagged about 800 prisoners including one very mad and embarassed General Archer!

Things aren’t going so well elsewhere, however.

General Cutler’s boys were deployed along a railroad cut (a long, shallow depression running southwest to northeast just below Seminary Ridge) when General Davis’ rebs came screaming down on top of them, jumping them from 3 sides. It must have got pretty bloody and I hear that most of our boys had to surrender. But just when Davis’ rebs were ready to break through to the town itself, a couple of regiments of Wisconsin badgers showed up and pushed them back. Now it was the rebs turn to be caught like a fish in a barrel in the railroad cut. That too, got pretty bloody.

So at this moment, the rebs are widening an arc from Willoughby Run around to a point just below Seminary ridge with most of A.P. Hills Corp yet to arrive on the scene. We’ve got General Howard’s Dutchmen of the XI Corp on the way. They better get here soon. We’re outnumbered as it is.

UPDATE II

John Reynolds is dead.

I don’t know what else to say. Oh, cruel blow! Our best field commander killed before the battle is 3 hours old. I hear General Doubleday took command. I hope he’s up to the task.

Rest in peace General Johnny.

More later…

UPDATE III

One word can describe the situation as it stands now.

Disaster!

After the death of General Reynolds, the battle turned decisively against us. It really was nobody’s fault. Although people will say it was those damn Dutchmen of XI Corp that broke once again like they did at Chancellorsville, the fact is the rebs apparently had a lot more men reach the field of the battle sooner than our boys got there. Like that crazy reb cavalryman in Bragg’s outfit Bedford Forrest might say, they got their “fustest with the mostest.”

It happened like this. General Howard placed his XI Corps in an arc from the railroad cut around to a little stream called Rock Creek. He was spread pretty thin but it was good ground with plenty of cover and the rebs had to attack uphill, pretty steep in some places. By the time Howard was deployed reb General Rodes Corps of 8,000 had added his weight to A.P. Hill’s 12,000 men and 20,000 rebs attacked our boys along the entire front, screaming like wild indians. It must’ve been a sight to see. Any way, we were badly outnumbered but more than holding our own. In fact, two brigades of General Baxter’s division hammered most of Rode’s boys to pieces. But then the rebs got some artillery on Oak Hill and started to pound away and Baxter had to withdraw. Meanwhile, more and more rebs were showing up to the north. Here’s a map of the battlefield from around 3:00 pm this afternoon:

GETTYSBURG AT 3:30 JULY 1

As you can see, our boys were in a real pickle. Ewell’s entire Corps was bearing down on General Howard’s boys and reb General Early was showing up on the battlefield after a forced march from York down the Heidlersburg Road damn near behind General Barlow!

So it wasn’t really the Dutchmen of XI Corps fault that they broke. The problem was, once XI Corp abandoned their positions, the entire line started to retreat. Some of the boys left the field in good order but most of them just ran. This left I Corps exposed to the entire fury of the reb advance. I don’t have any casualty figures at the moment but it looks pretty grim. I daresay the Iron Brigade is finished as a fighting force what with most of them dead or captured.

The information I have now is that General Howard has set up a defensive position on some hills south and west of town. With our boys still streaming through Gettysburg proper and totally unorganized, it remains to be seen whether or not the Army of the Potomac has ceased to be an effective fighting force. If the rebs decide to keep pushing, they may shove our boys all the way out of Pennsylvania. That would leave a wide open road to Washington.

Too, too terrible to contemplate.

I should have one more update later today. I’m almost afraid to talk to my source at the War Department telegraph office for fear that the news will be too wrenching. I will, however, keep posting.

God help us all.

UPDATE IV

Bloody, bloody, day.

How we survived it, I don’t know. I can tell you that it was no thanks to our “generalship.” I put that in quotation marks because I don’t think there’s ever been a more wretched group of incompetent officers in the history of warfare. Oh there are exceptions like General Reynolds (God Rest his soul), General Hancock and a few others. But by and large, the only reason our army still lives is because of the individual bravery of the union soldier.

My beloved Iron Brigade is a perfect example. Cut off from the rest of I Corps on the extreme left of the fight, most of our boys running for their lives, those boys in the slouched black hats stood firm! They had rebs on three sides of them but they stopped the advance of Lee’s men long enough to give ther rest of their comrades from I Corps the chance to get away and fight tomorrow.

It cost my Black Hatters dear; they lost 1100 out of 1800 engaged.

I’m getting similar figures from other commands. Some regiments in XI Corps have simply ceased to exist with 90% or more in killed, wounded, missing. It looks like we lost about 30% from both Corps but the stragglers are still coming in.

The retreat through town was a mess and with no real leadership our boys had to pretty much figure out for themselves where the army was making a stand. As I mentioned in an earlier update, General Howard had established a defensive line south of town on a low ridgeline fronting a cemetary. There are two bigger hills further east and south and a smaller hill to the north. Here are the positions at about sundown:

Gettysburg 6:00 PM July 1

Hancock has arrived thank God!. He’s brought Slocum and Sickles Corps with him. That should shore up the line until the rest of our boys get there tomorrow morning.

One mystery that I can’t fathom. Ewell had his entire Corps ready to attack the hill where the Cemetary sits and never made a move. I guarantee you if he had tried it, our boys would’ve been in big trouble. But he didn’t and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. I get a feeling that if Stonewall was still in charge of that Corps we wouldn’t have been so lucky.

Just heard from Meade. “Good ground” he says. I sure hope so. We’re going to need all the luck we can get to win after the shellacking we took today.

Also heard that they call that little hill where Howard placed the remainder of his Corps “Cemetary Ridge.” Gives me the creeps. My friend Mr. Wilkeson who’s a correspondent for the New York Times just wired me:

“There’s a sign at the entrance to the cemetary that reads ‘The Discharge of Firearms within this cemetary is prohibited. Violators are subject to a $5 fine.”

Heh.

By: Rick Moran at 5:10 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

JULY 2, 1863
CATEGORY: General

This is the sixth in my series of week-long blog posts called Countdown to Gettysburg“. They are written from the perspective of someone who lived at that time and as if the internet existed in 1863.

The introduction to the series is here.

Previous Posts:

June 27, 1863

June 28, 1863

June 29, 1863

June 30, 1863

July 1, 1863

****************************************************

As I write this, there is a hint of red in the sky foreshadowing the dawn of another day in this war. That red means it will be another scorching day with temperatures in the 90’s. And for our boys camped out on the hills and ridges overlooking the town of Gettysburg, it means another day of desperate fighting.

Or maybe not.

I half hoped that Bobby Lee would try his old trick of giving us the slip and swing around our flank to make a dash for Baltimore or even Washington. That way, he could face us on ground of his own choosing by assuming a defensive posture, daring Meade to attack well fortified positions. I feel certain that he got that advice, probably from Longstreet. One look at the map below will tell you why:

GETTYSBURG AT DAWN JULY 2

As you can see, our boys are in excellent position, better than we could possibly have dreamed. We occupy the high ground from Culps Hill in the north to the base of the hill called Little Round Top in the south. It kind of reminds me of a fish hook.

In short, a very strong defensive position on, as General Meade says, “good ground.”

During the night, General Sickle’s III Corps, along with General Hancock’s II Corps and General Slocum’s XII Corps arrived and were deployed expertly by Hancock. Reb strength is unknown but we should assume that most of their boys have arrived too. Right now, all we’re missing is VI Corps and they’re not expected to arrive until afternoon.

One note from yesterday’s battle; casualty figures are much worse than originally thought. In addition to losing General Reynolds, I Corps suffered an unbelievable 70% in casualties. They took upward of 10,000 men into battle and now have less than 2,500 effectives. That finishes I Corps as a fighting force, at least until it can be reorganized.

As for XI Corps, most of their losses are in the “missing, presumed captured” category. The fact that they broke and ran yesterday contributed in no small way to I Corps astronomical losses. They better fight well today. We’re going to need them.

It’s getting lighter in the east. Washington city is quiet, expectant, waiting anxiously for news. We hear that Grant sent a note to Pemberton asking him to surrender at Vicksburg. No reply yet but if true, the fall of that rebel stronghold on the Mississippi would be a devastating blow to the South.

But it won’t mean a thing unless our boys can whip Bobby Lee in Pennsylvania. And that’s something we’ve never done.

Check back for updates through the afternoon.

UPDATE

There’s an expectant quiet on the field. It’s almost noon, brutally hot and so far, the rebs have been satisfied with some exchanges of long range artillery fire and a few instances of pickets firing. Mr. Wilkerson of the New York Times has wired me with the information that General Sykes and his V Corps has arrived with General Sedgewick and the VI Corps expected shortly.

Lots of reb movement has been observed but so far, no attacks, not even cavalry skirmishes. I wonder what Bobby Lee is waiting for? Major Rathbone says to keep on eye on the left. He says army intelligence has put Pete Longstreet’s Corps opposite General Sickles who’s holding the extreme left next to a little stand of trees called Zieglers Grove. Rathbone thinks Lee will have his best Corps commander - Longstreet - lead the attack. It makes sense except for one thing; Bobby Lee never does the expected.

When I get any more reports, I’ll post again.

UPDATE II

It’s mid afternoon now and the news from Gettysburg is grim.

Mr. Wilkerson of the New York Times:

General Meade is beside himself because of the action taken by General Sickles. Posted on the extreme left of the Federal line, Sickles was dissatisfied with his deployment believing he could be flanked rather easily. About a half mile further left was a hill with a peach orchard on top. Sickles formed his line there thus leaving a gap in the Federal lines of about 1/2 mile and isolating him from the rest of the army. Here as a map of our positions at that time:

GETTYSBURG AT 3:00 PM JULY 2

Meade was fit to be tied when he saw this saying in response to Sickles promise to support Howard’s XI Corps that it would do no good, that the rest of the Army of the Potomac would have to instead support him.”

No sooner were the words out of Meade’s mouth than a tremendous cannonade was begun by the Rebels. Artillery Commander General Hunt, of whom I am a great admirer, ordered counter battery fire. His tactics are simple. Train 20 or 30 guns on one Rebel gun, dismount it, and move onto another. As you know, I believe that he and Colonel Haupt are the two most valuable officers in our army.

While this counterbattery fire was effective, the Rebels took a fearful toll of our boys, especially on Culps Hill on the right and the Peach Orchard where Sickles had ill advisedly placed his men. The rest of Sickles Corps was spread out in a line along the Emmittsburg Road. And that’s right where he was hit by Several divisions belonging to Reb General Mclaws.

Sickles men were being mowed down further to the left as well because General Hood’s Texans had attacked south of the little hill with the peach orchard and flanked that part of the line. There’s a spot directly below the hill known as Little Round Top that’s very rocky known as Devil’s Den. That place earned its name today as many a good man was lost on both sides during some desperate fighting. In the end, Sickle’s entire position was flanked and he was forced to retreat despite being supported by General Sykes V Corps.

As I’m writing this, Hood is making his way slowly up the Little Round Top. I sure hope we have some of our boys up there because if the Rebs take that hill, they can put a few guns up there and rake our entire line from left to right with shot and shell. We’d have to abandon the position entirely.

I’ll wire you later with details.

Wilkerson confirms much of what I’ve heard from the War Department today. I’ve also heard that the rebs are ready to move against Culps Hill on the right. Here’s what my source in the War Department thinks things look like at the moment on the extreme left of our position:


GETTYSBURG AROUND 6:00 PM JULY 2

I will have more as soon as I get it.

UPDATE III

As long as I live, I shall never forget what has just been relayed to me by an eyewitness in Colonel Vincent’s Brigade of General Barnes Division V Corps. It is, simply put, the most outstanding example of courage and intestinal fortitude I’ve ever heard.

It happened at Little Round Top. Following the rout of Sickles Corps by Hood’s men, several regiments of Alabama and Texas boys started to make their way up the undefended Little Round Top. Just in time, General Warren, who was operating a signals station on top of the hill, recognized the danger and sent out a call for the nearest available troops to come “at the double quick.”

Those troops belonged to General Barnes Division, a Pennsylvanian by the name of Colonel Strong Vincent. Vincent sized up the situation immediately. It was as dire as the Army of the Potomac ever faced.

If the rebs had been able to sweep Little Round Top, it would have been a relatively simple thing to drag a few batteries up there where, protected by a few regiments of infantry, they could have shelled the entire Union line all the way past Cemetery Ridge to Culp’s Hill. The army would have to leave. And with Lee putting pressure along the entire front, it’s likely such a movement would have turned into a rout.

High stakes indeed. Vincent placed his men along a spur of Little Round Top just below the summit. Here are the dispositions of our boys:

Little Round Top 6:00 PM July 2

At the extreme left of the line was Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s 20th Maine. They were the anchor of the line. If they gave way, the entire army was flanked. Clearly, Chamberlain’s men would have to stand firm.

And stand firm they did, I’m proud to say. The rebs made charge after charge, each time lengthening Chamberlain’s lines out to the left a little more. Those Alabama and Texas boys were relentless. My eyewitness lost count of the number of times the rebs charged up that hill. Finally, it was apparent that Chamberlain would have to do something because his boys were almost out of ammunition. More than half his men were killed or wounded. He couldn’t retreat and if he stayed where he was, he’d be overrun.

So he ordered his boys to fix bayonets and charge!

That’s right. One lone regiment charging two divisions of rebs.

Well don’t ask me how or why, but his boys made a spirited charge down that hill, broke the backs of the reb effort to take the hill, and saved the Union army.

Like I said, I’ll never forget it as long as I live.

It’s getting near dark, but fighting is still raging all along the line. I’m told there’s a fierce fight around Culp’s Hill where General Wadsworth’s boys were temporarily dislodged by 3 divisions of Ewell’s Corps. I say temporarily because Wadsworth ordered a counterattack and after some of the worst hand to hand fighting of the war, our boys regained the hill. But Ewell’s boys aren’t going away. They may try a night attack to throw our boys off that hill.

And the rebs also made an effort to take Cemetery Hill right in the middle of our line. They actually broke through for a few minutes. Then the 1st Minnesota pulled something similar to Chamberlain’s feat and charged the attacking rebs. I hear their losses were 90%.

Other casualty figures are unavailable right now but the general consensus at headquarters is pretty grim. Sickles Corps was badly mauled and some other units on our left were also decimated. I should have a better idea by morning of where we stand.

About today, I guess you can say we’re holding our own. That’s the best you can say. It was a very near thing in some cases, with the rebs extremely close to breaking through and splitting the army or flanking our boys and levering them off the ridge. And we paid dearly for it.

One sad note. Do you remember Mr. Wilkerson, the New York Times reporter whose son was a Colonel in the 127th New York? Well, the last my source saw of him was near the Devils Den where he was sitting, weeping uncontrollably next to the body of his dead son.

When this cruel war is over…

By: Rick Moran at 4:04 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)