Jul 30, 2011

Ed Bearss close to proving the Civil War is not an inexhaustible subject

(Cannonba!!) Historian Ed Bearss ... is an American treasure. Wounded as a Marine in the South Pacific in WWII, he later became the chief historian of the National Park Service and the leading authority on the Vicksburg Campaign. He has led Civil War and WWII tours for several decades, and these are punctuated with his booming voice and machine-gun-like delivery. He and several long-time friends are members of the "Joe Hooker Society," a self-named group which enjoys touring Civil War sites. ... The group spent a delightful Sunday touring Wrightsville sites and eating at the historic Accomac Inn. Continued

Jul 28, 2011

The "Bonus Army"

'On July 28, 1932, protesters known as the "Bonus Army," or "Bonus Expeditionary Forces (B.E.F.)," who had gathered in the nation's capital to demand an immediate lump-sum payment of pension funds (benefits) for their military service during World War I, were confronted by Federal troops (cavalry, machine-gunners, and infantry) following President Herbert Hoover's orders to evacuate. (While Congress had approved the payment in 1924, the bonus was not payable until 1945.)The presence of the Bonus Army was a continuing embarrassment and source of difficulty for Hoover. He sent in troops under the command of Brigadier Perry L. Miles and General Douglas MacArthur. The veterans faced tear-gas bombs, bayonets, and tanks.' - Library of Congress

Jul 27, 2011

Gertrude Stein

(LoC) On July 27, 1946, American avant-garde writer and art connoisseur Gertrude Stein died in France. Her longtime companion, Alice B. Toklas, was at her side. In their last conversation, Stein reportedly questioned Toklas about the meaning of life: "Alice, what is the answer?" When Toklas was unable to reply, Stein queried, "In that case, what was the question?"
Stein was born on February 3, 1874, in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Her family moved when she was three years old—first to Vienna, then to Paris. They returned to the U.S. and settled in Oakland, California, in 1879. After her parents died, she joined her eldest brother, Michael, in San Francisco in 1891. Next, she moved to Baltimore with her brother, Leo, and sister, Bertha, to live with an aunt. Stein attended the Harvard Annex—the precursor to Radcliffe College, from 1893-97 and then enrolled at Johns Hopkins University Medical School (1897-1901)—but decided not to pursue a medical career. She joined Leo in Paris in 1903.
In Paris, Stein enjoyed a reputation both as a cultural figure and for her circle of friends. She cultivated friendships with Picasso, Henri Matisse, and other experimental painters who frequently gathered for food and conversation at her home.
During the 1920s, Stein's talent for the apt turn-of-phrase and her willingness to mentor others made her Paris salon a gathering place for American expatriates Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Carl Van Vechten, Virgil Thomson, and Archibald MacLeish. Watching these young men struggle to come to terms with World War I's devastation, Stein observed to Hemingway, "You are all a lost generation." Continued

Digital Maps Are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land

(NYTimes) Few battles in history have been more scrutinized than Gettysburg’s three blood-soaked days in July 1863, the turning point in the Civil War. Still, there were questions that all the diaries, official reports and correspondence couldn’t answer precisely. What, for example, could Gen. Robert E. Lee actually see when he issued a series of fateful orders that turned the tide against the Confederate Army nearly 150 years ago?
Now historians have a new tool that can help. Advanced technology similar to Google Earth, MapQuest and the GPS systems used in millions of cars has made it possible to recreate a vanished landscape. Continued

Photo: Sketch map of the battle of Gettysburg, made while on the march toward Frederick, Md. / E. Forbes, July 8, 1863 (Library of Congress).

Jul 26, 2011

Museum coming to Aberdeen B&O Railroad station?

(The Record) The old B&O Railroad Station will likely be turned into some type of museum, Aberdeen City Council members were told Monday night. ... The most logical use seems to be for some kind of museum, he said.
"We haven't finalized our uses; we've identified multiple uses," he said. Continued

Roger Ramjet

This was my favorite cartoon when I was four years old.

The American Colonization Society

(LoC) Joseph Jenkins Roberts declared Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society, an independent republic on July 26, 1847. He was elected the first president of the republic in 1848.A native of Petersburg, Virginia, Roberts immigrated to Liberia in 1829 at the age of twenty under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. The Society was organized in late December 1816 by a group which included Henry Clay, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, Bushrod Washington, and Daniel Webster. The colonization scheme, controversial from the outset among blacks and whites alike, was conceived as an alternative to emancipation. Continued

Image: Joseph Jenkins Roberts (Library of Congress).

Jul 25, 2011

The Acadian Expulsion (Le Grand Dérangement)

(Wikipedia) The Expulsion of the Acadians (also known as the Great Upheaval, the Great Expulsion, The Deportation, the Acadian Expulsion, Le Grand Dérangement) was the forced population transfer of the Acadian people from present day Canadian Maritime provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island (an area known as Acadie to the French). The Expulsion occurred during the French and Indian War. They were deported to other British colonies, Britain, and France, between 1755 and 1763.

... The deportees in Maryland received the best treatment of those deported in part due to the Acadians' shared religion with the colonists of Maryland. In Maryland fellow Catholics from Ireland greeted over 900 Acadian deportees. The local newspaper requested the Acadians be shown “Christian charity.” The charity was intended as private aid and no government sanctioned relief was offered. The Acadians in Maryland tended to fare well in relation to their kin in the other colonies with a substantial portion of them residing in a Baltimore suburb known as Frenchtown. Yet, even in Catholic Maryland private charity was inadequate and some groups went without shelter. Less than a year after le Grand Dérangement, legislation was passed in Maryland, which authorized the imprisonment of homeless Acadians and the “binding out” of their children to other families. Continued

Image: "View from the Packet Wharf at Frenchtown looking down Elk Creek" by Benjamin Henry Latrobe

Jul 24, 2011

Bill could provide funding for Camp Security

(YDR) A bill introduced in Congress earlier this month could help save more land where historians believe a Revolutionary War prison camp once stood in Springettsbury Township.
The bill proposes $10 million annually for 10 years to acquire and protect nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Camp Security, which is off Locust Grove Road, has been nationally recognized twice as one of the most historically significant and endangered sites. Continued

Jul 23, 2011

Cardinal James Gibbons

(LoC) Roman Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons, champion of labor and advocate of the separation of church and state, was born to Irish immigrants in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 23, 1834.
Not long after his birth, Gibbons' ailing father moved the family back to Ireland at his doctor's suggestion. After his father's death in 1847, Gibbons' mother decided to move her family back to the United States. Continued

Jul 21, 2011

Gerald McBoing-Boing

The First Battle of Bull Run

(LoC) On July 21, 1861, a dry summer Sunday, Union and Confederate troops clashed outside Manassas, Virginia, in the first major engagement of the Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run.
Union General Irvin McDowell hoped to march his men across a small stream called Bull Run in the vicinity of Manassas, Virginia, which was well-guarded by a force of Confederates under General P. G. T. Beauregard. McDowell needed to find a way across the stream and through the Southern line that stretched for over six miles along the banks of Bull Run.
McDowell launched a small diversionary attack at the Stone Bridge while marching the bulk of his force north around the Confederates' left flank. The march was slow, but McDowell's army crossed the stream near Sudley Church and began to march south behind the Confederate line. Some of Beauregard's troops, recognizing that the attack at Stone Bridge was just a diversion, fell back just in time to meet McDowell's oncoming force. Continued

Jul 20, 2011

Authority seeks possible trail along Stewartstown railroad line

(YDR) The York County Rail Trail Authority has sent a request to the a federal board to be able preserve the Stewartstown Railroad corridor and use it for a trail.
The authority voted unanimously Monday to file the request to the Surface Transportation Board. It would be negligent not to do so, said Don Gogniat, vice president of the authority.
The estate of George M. Hart has asked the federal board to declare the railroad abandoned. Continued

Jul 18, 2011

African American Civil War Museum celebrates fallen heroes

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dr. Frank Smith, Director and Founder of the African American Civil War Museum in Washington D.C, and reenactor Dr. Joseph Askew bring to light the involvement of African American soldiers in the Civil War as the museum celebrates the opening of its second branch.

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877

(Wikipedia) ... The great railroad strike of 1877 started on July 14 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in response to the cutting of wages for the second time in a year by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O). Striking workers would not allow any of the stock to roll until this second wage cut was revoked. The governor sent in state militia units to restore train service, but the soldiers refused to use force against the strikers and the governor called for federal troops. Meanwhile, the strike spread to Cumberland, Maryland, stopping freight and passenger traffic.
When Governor Carroll of Maryland directed the 5th and 6th Regiments of the National Guard to put down the strike, citizens from Baltimore attacked the troops as they marched from their armories towards B&O's Camden Station for the train to Cumberland, causing violent street battles between the striking workers and the Maryland militia. When the outnumbered troops of the 6th Regiment fired on an attacking crowd, they killed 10 and wounded 25. The rioters injured several members of the militia, damaged engines and train cars, and burned portions of the train station. On July 21-22, the President sent federal troops and marines to Baltimore to restore order. Continued

Illustrations: 1. "Sixth Regiment Fighting its way through Baltimore," an engraving on front cover of "Harper's Weekly, Journal of Civilization," Vol XXL, No. 1076 2. "Blockade of Engines at Martinsburg, West Virginia," ibid

Jul 17, 2011

Farming a Rich Part of Essex-Middle River's Heritage

(Patch) As we drive around the Essex-Middle River community today we can see vast and large apartment, town home, and cookie cutter developments such as the Greens at Essex, Town & Country, Hawthorne, Waterview and many more.
This is an extremely far cry from the ways things were as European settlers arrived.
In colonial times and continuing up until the early 1900’s our area was filled with farms, both large and small. The first major crop for those farmers was tobacco. In the early 1600’s settlers discovered that tobacco would grow well in the Chesapeake region and would sell profitably in England. The potential cash value caused them to plant the product in every available space and clearing. Continued

Photos: Library of Congress

A cut above Duffy's

... A tulip poplar tree estimated at 130 feet, sitting above the remains of an Irish rail worker, was felled to allow researchers to get to the skeleton. The tree-felling was the latest event in the continuing work to discover the secrets of Duffy's Cut, the grave of as many as 57 trackworkers who died of cholera and possibly human hands in August 1832. Continued

The Spanish Civil War

(LoC) The Spanish Civil War began on July 17, 1936 as a series of right-wing insurrections within the military, staged against the constitutional government of the five-year-old Second Spanish Republic. Because it was the first major military contest between left-wing forces and fascists, and attracted international involvement on both sides, the Spanish Civil War has sometimes been called the first chapter of World War II.
The rebels, or Nationalists as they came to be known, were backed by a spectrum of political and social conservatives including the Catholic Church, the fascist Falange Party, and those who wished to restore the Spanish monarchy. They received aid in the form of troops, tanks, and planes from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, and Germany field-tested some of its most important artillery in Spain. With the rise of General Francisco Franco as leader of the Nationalist coalition, the threat of fascism's spread across Europe visibly deepened.
The Republicans were backed by Spanish labor unions and a range of anti-fascist political groups, from communists and anarchists to Catalonian separatists to centrist supporters of liberal democracy. The Republicans received aid from the Soviet Union and from Mexico, but their most likely European allies signed a joint agreement of nonintervention. The most visible international aid came in the form of volunteers. Estimates vary, but as many as 60,000 individuals from over fifty countries joined the International Brigades to fight for the cause of the Spanish Republic. Between two and three thousand of these volunteers were men and women from the United States—most served with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
The Spanish Civil War posed a major threat to international political equilibrium, and Americans watched closely the events of the conflict. The brutality of the situation also forced many Americans to question the United States' post-World War I noninterventionist policies. Between 500,000 and 1 million Spaniards, both soldiers and civilians, died from war or war-engendered disease and starvation, and thousands more became displaced refugees. Continued

Photo: Robert Capa

Jul 16, 2011

Ottawa to tread carefully in War of 1812 commemorations

(The Globe and Mail) It’s a sticky question. Exactly how should Canada commemorate the 200th anniversary of a war in which our predecessors repelled an invasion by the United States – now this country’s closest ally and most valued trading partner?
The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is fast approaching. It’s a major formative event in Canada’s history – but like all wars, was wrenching and destructive. Both the White House and early Parliament buildings in Upper Canada were torched during the conflict. Continued

Saylor goes to bat for Stewartstown Railroad

(York Dispatch) The Stewartstown Railroad is getting help from the Majority Whip of the state House of Representatives in its campaign to keep the historic short line from being dissolved in a sheriff's sale.
The Stewartstown Rail Co. was created in 1885 but hasn't been operational since 2004. It provided both freight and passenger service between Stewartstown and New Freedom along its 7.4-mile stretch of track. Continued

Photo: MDRails

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

(LoC) On July 16, 1936, photographer Walker Evans (1903-75) took a leave of absence from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) to accept a summer assignment with Fortune magazine. Evans, who had begun working as a photographer in 1928, had developed a modest reputation by the time that he was hired in October 1935 by Roy Stryker, then leader of the FSA photographic section. Stryker agreed to grant him leave for the magazine assignment on the condition that his photographs remained government property.
Evans and the writer James Agee spent several weeks among sharecropper families in Hale County, Alabama. The article they produced documented in words and images the lives of poor Southern farmers afflicted by the Great Depression; their work, however, did not meet Fortune's expectations and was rejected for publication.
Evans' desire to produce photographs that were "pure record not propaganda" did not harmonize with Stryker's emphasis on the use of the image to promote social activism. Soon after the Alabama series was completed, Evans returned to New York. There Evans and Agee reworked their material and searched for another publisher. In 1941, the expanded version of their story was published in book form as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, now recognized as a masterpiece of the art of photojournalism. Continued

Jul 15, 2011

Chessie the manatee pays return visit to Chesapeake Bay

(Baltimore Sun) Chessie, the wandering Florida manatee that's visited the Chesapeake Bay at least twice over the past 17 years, is back again.
The male "sea cow" was sighted Tuesday in a marina harbor in Calvert County, according to Jennifer Dittmar, stranding coordinator for the National Aquarium.
Photos taken of him on the water's surface were sent to biologists at the U.S. Geological Survey for analysis, and they confirmed the gentle, slow-swimming mammal's identity from distinctive markings on his body. Continued

Jul 14, 2011

The Library of Congress: A C-SPAN Original Documentary

Join us this Monday evening on C-SPAN for the premiere of our latest original documentary, The Library of Congress. Founded in 1800 and sitting adjacent to the U.S. Capitol in the heart of America's capital city, the Library of Congress has collected nearly 150 million items, making it the world's largest library. This documentary explores the Library's 211-year history and the scope of its collection. Go behind the scenes and:

  • Learn the history of the institution as you tour the Library's iconic Jefferson Building.
  • See the treasures found in its collections of rare books, photos, and maps, as well as the thousands of pages of presidential and personal papers.
  • Learn how the library uses technolgy to preserve its holdings and expand public access to them.

Premieres this Monday, July 18, 8 & 11 pm ET on C-SPAN.

For preview clips and more information about The Library of Congress, visit www.c-span.org/loc.

"Let us drink to the man who made the ice: Dr. Gorrie."

(Wired) July 14, 1850: Florida physician John Gorrie uses his mechanical ice-maker to astonish the guests at a party. It's America's first public demonstration of ice made by refrigeration.
... The doctor first complained about drinking warm wine in hot weather, then suddenly announced, "On Bastille Day, France gave her citizens what they wanted. [Consul] Rosan gives his guests what they want, cool wines! Even if it demands a miracle!" Continued

Photo: Wikimedia

Jul 13, 2011

Emory Grove in Glyndon has been a serene religious retreat since 1868

(Baltimore Sun) ... This 62-acre, interdenominational religious retreat is composed of 47 small, privately owned cottages, a large open-air pavilion called the Tabernacle and a stately, three-story, 1887 hotel that is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was founded in 1868 as an Methodist camp meeting site during the post-Civil War religious reawakening. Continued

Conrad Weiser

(Wikipedia) Conrad Weiser (November 2, 1696 – July 13, 1760), born Johann Conrad Weiser, Jr., was a Pennsylvania German (a.k.a., Pennsylvania Dutch) pioneer, interpreter and effective diplomat between the Pennsylvania Colony and Native Americans. He was a farmer, soldier, monk, tanner, and judge as well. He contributed as an emissary in councils between Native Americans and the colonies, especially Pennsylvania, during the 18th century's tensions of the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War). Continued

Jul 12, 2011

Presidential Historian Charged With Trying To Steal Rare Documents from Maryland Museum

(NewsCore) A presidential historian was held without bail Tuesday after being accused of stealing documents worth millions of dollars from the Maryland Historical Society, including some signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
Barry H. Landau, 63, is considered one of the foremost collectors of presidential memorabilia and artifacts.
Police say he and 24-year-old Jason Savedoff, both of New York City, attended a reviewing of historical papers at the museum Saturday where they attempted to steal a number of documents, The Baltimore Sun reported. Continued

Andrew Wyeth

(Wikipedia) Andrew Newell Wyeth (July 12, 1917 – January 16, 2009) was a visual artist, primarily a realist painter, working predominantly in a regionalist style. He was one of the best-known U.S. artists of the middle 20th century.
In his art, Wyeth's favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine. One of the most well-known images in 20th-century American art is his painting, Christina's World, currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Continued

Jul 11, 2011

Group restores neglected North Codorus cemetery

(YDR) Tucked away off a back road in North Codorus Township lies rolling hills and endless wheat fields surrounding the Snyder family farm. A small grove of trees in the middle of a field holds more history than many would have imagined.
The Fockenroth cemetery, also known as Folkenroth or Volkenroth, lies among the brush -- home to the graves of at least 14 people who lived and died in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
But the cemetery wasn't always easy to reach. Continued

Harry Gilmor's Raid

Gilmor's Raid, also known as The Magnolia Station Train Raid, was a foraging and disruptive cavalry raid that was part of an overall campaign against Union railroads, led by Maj. Harry W. Gilmor with 135 men from the First and Second Maryland Cavalry regiments. It was authorized by Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early during his Valley Campaigns of 1864, which threatened Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War.
As Early advanced north and east toward Baltimore, Maryland, a Union force led by Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace met Early's forces and was defeated in the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864. The cavalry brigade of the Second Corps, led by Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson advanced further eastward into Maryland, led by cavalry forces under the command of Maj. Harry W. Gilmor. Upon reaching Westminster, Maryland, on July 10, Gilmor attacked Union cavalry forces, driving them out. Johnson's main cavalry force continued pressing Wallace's retreating Union troops, pursuing them into Cockeysville-Hunt Valley, Maryland, north of Baltimore, and then turned south destroying tracks and trestle bridges along the North[ern] Central Railroad. Upon reaching Timonium, Maryland, Johnson divided the Second Corps cavalry brigade. Continued

Images: 1. "The invasion of Maryland--capture of a train on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad at Magnolia, near Gunpowderb sic [B]Ridge, July 11" 2. Harry Gilmor. 3. Bradley Johnson. 4. Wade Hampton and Bradley Johnson, long after the war.

1864 - Confederate forces attempt to invade Washington, D.C.

One old Confederate veteran likened it to a dog chasing a train: "What would he have done with it if he'd caught it?"

Jul 8, 2011

The lowest point

(LoC) On July 8, 1932, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to its lowest point during the Great Depression.
This event was symptomatic of a decade of economic uncertainty that was precipitated by the crash in the fall of 1929, when U.S. stock prices declined dramatically. The resulting panic devastated the fortunes of many investors and caused major declines in consumption, industrial production, and employment, which in turn affected the U.S. and world economy for the next ten years. Continued

Jul 7, 2011

The Dogs (and Bears, and Camels) of War

(NYTimes) As Union and Confederate soldiers left the comforts of home for the grim realities of war, many brought along family pets or adopted stray or wild animals, which quickly took on semi-official roles. Regiments from the North and the South kept dogs, cats, horses, squirrels and raccoons as mascots. Some chose more unusual animals, including bears, badgers, eagles, wildcats, even a camel. Continued

One last chance to save Stewartstown Railroad

(YDR) Time seems to be running out for the Stewartstown Railroad.
Options to save and revive this wonderful piece of York County history are narrowing.
The railroad owes a $350,000 debt to the estate of George M. Hart, a train enthusiast who, unfortunately, left instructions in his will to collect the money he loaned the outfit.
Apparently, the estate's patience with efforts to repay the debt are nearing the end of the line. Officials with the estate said they planned to file for abandonment of the rail line, the first step to foreclosure on the railroad. Continued

Photo: Stewartstown locomotive shed (MDRails).

Satchel Paige

(LoC) Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige, perhaps baseball's greatest pitcher ever, was born on July 7, ca. 1906, in Mobile, Alabama. Paige earned his nickname, Satchel, as a young boy carrying bags at railroad stations for passengers. After being convicted of petty theft, he was placed in a black reform school where he began refining his baseball skills. Five years later, the lean, long-armed Paige began pitching professionally for several teams in the Negro Southern Association, the Negro American League, and the Negro National League.
Paige's pitching prowess drew huge crowds. A natural showman, Paige enjoyed driving from game to game in his Cadillac convertible. He also owned a bus and several airplanes with Satchel Paige's All-Stars written on the side. Continued

Jul 6, 2011

Battle of Williamsport

(Wikipedia) The Battle of Williamsport, also known as the Battle of Hagerstown or Falling Waters, took place from July 6 to July 16, 1863, in Washington County, Maryland, as part of the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War.
During the night of July 4– July 5, Gen. Robert E. Lee's battered Confederate army began its retreat from Gettysburg, moving southwest on the Fairfield Road toward Hagerstown and Williamsport, screened by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry. The Union infantry followed cautiously the next day, converging on Middletown, Maryland. Continued

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW

Jul 5, 2011

Bill Watterson

(Wikipedia) William B. "Bill" Watterson II (born July 5, 1958), is an American cartoonist and the author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes cartoon series.
... Watterson was born in Washington, D.C., where his father, James G. Watterson, worked as a patent examiner while going to George Washington University Law School before becoming a patent attorney in 1960. Continued

Photo: Zooomabooma

Jul 4, 2011

The Declaration of Independence

H. L. Mencken Speaks

H.L. Mencken tells it like it was. This is the only known recording of his voice and it is incredibly rare.

Twisting the lion's tail

There would be floats in the morning and the one that got the eye was the Goddess of Liberty. She was supposed to be the most wholesome and prettiest girl in the countryside — if she wasn't she had friends who thought she was. But the rest of us weren't always in agreement on that…Following the float would be the Oregon Agricultural College cadets, and some kind of a band. Sometimes there would be political effigies.
Just before lunch - and we'd always hold lunch up for an hour - some Senator or lawyer would speak. These speeches always had one pattern. First the speaker would challenge England to a fight and berate the King and say that he was a skunk. This was known as twisting the lion's tail. Then the next theme was that any one could find freedom and liberty on our shores. The speaker would invite those who were heavy laden in other lands to come to us and find peace. The speeches were pretty fiery and by that time the men who drank got into fights and called each other Englishmen.
In the afternoon we had what we called the 'plug uglies' — funny floats and clowns who took off on the political subjects of the day…The Fourth was the day of the year that really counted then. Christmas wasn't much; a Church tree or something, but no one twisted the lion's tail. - Nettie Spencer

Jul 3, 2011

Gettysburg - 3rd Day

“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 stll time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead 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.”

– William Faulkner

Jul 2, 2011

Battle of Gettysburg - 2nd Day

The men who fought there

Were the tired fighters, the hammered, the weather-beaten,

The very hard-dying men.

They came and died

And came again and died and stood there and died,

Till at last the angle was crumpled and broken in…

Wheatfield and orchard bloody and trampled and taken,

And Hood's tall Texans sweeping on toward the Round Tops…

- Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown's Body

Jul 1, 2011

Gettysburg - 1st day

So it ends, this lesser battle of the first day,
Starkly disputed and piecemeal won and lost
By corps-commanders who carried no magic plans
Stowed in their sleeves, but fought and held as they could.
It is past. The board is staked for the greater game
Which is to follow - The beaten Union brigades
Recoil from the cross-roads town that they tried to hold.
And so recoiling, rest on a destined ground.
Who chose that ground?
There are claimants enough in the books.
Howard thanked by Congress for choosing it
And doubtless, they would have thanked him as well had he
Chosen another, once the battle was won,
And there are a dozen ifs on the Southern side,
How, in that first day's evening, if one had known,
If Lee had been there in time, if Jackson had lived,
The heights that cost so much blood in the vain attempt
to take days later, could have been taken then.
And the ifs and the thanks and rst are all true enough
But we can only say, when we look at the board,
"There it happened. There is the way of the land.
There was the fate, and there the blind swords were crossed." - Stephen Vincent Benet