web analytics
July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



The Battle of Gettysburg, 150 Years Later

Suddenly, as the still-alive Confederates reached the Union line, we charged forward to go into action.
civil war reenactment 1

Photo Credit: Willard Longnecker

Originally published at Rubin Reports.
On they came, closer and closer, pouring over and through the sturdy fence, the flood of thousands of grey and homespun uniforms, mostly from the division of General George Pickett, (12,500 in the original; about 5,000 this time). Stopping to fire, their volleys popped in a string like fire-crackers, returned by the Union forces, about 6,000 strong, standing behind a knee-high stone wall. The smoke turned the air hazy.

The cannon crews went about their work calmly, at a steady pace, knowing any mistake might blow up barrels already too hot to touch. The gunner pulled out the lanyard held it as if he had all the time in the world and then shouted, “This gun is ready!” To which the officer responded, “Fire!”An astonishingly loud boom rang out, followed by a white cloud. The smoke from the cannons and muskets grew thicker and thicker.

The Provost Guard, the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment, stood patiently about twenty yards behind the front line. We were well-rested, having sat in the shade for about forty minutes away from the stifling heat that the deployed line units faced. We went at a run to the right, spacing ourselves out at five yards distance. It’s the point marked as “The Angle” on this map.

The Provost was the infantry unit belonging to First Division Headquarters, part field intelligence, part military government when needed, and protecting the general staff’s camp. Sometimes we went into the line; sometimes we took prisoners, and we were always visible lest someone thought of deserting ready to shoot the man if he didn’t stop running. Fortunately, no one did.

The headquarters’ staff include the Major General Allen Baldwin, the Gettysburg and now Winchester, MDfire chief, Tony Allen; the chaplain, surgeon, quartermaster Captain Willard Longnecker, and the canteen which using nineteenth century methods made the best bread and butter I’ve ever tasted, Provost, and Signals Corp.

Suddenly, as the still-alive Confederates reached the Union line, we charged forward to go into action. I ran up, sighting the tall form of Sergeant Ross “bayoneting”a Confederate who refused to surrender, I went toward the line. As I got there, an officer I didn’t know told me to escort a Confederate prisoner to the rear. He was a general, part of General Lewis Armistead’s staff. I had stumbled into the central scene of the battle.

Lothario Armistead was born in February 1817, less than two years after his uncle, George, had commanded Fort McHenry in Baltimore against the British bombardment that gave proof through the night that the Star Spangled Banner still waved, in the terms in which Francis Scott Key wrote the National Anthem. He commanded one of three brigades of General Pickett at the July 3, 1863, charge which was Robert E. Lee’s desperate and ill-advised attempt to win the Civil War in one day.

As men fell around him, Armistead put his hat on his sword, held it high and shouted for those left to follow him. And then he fell, mortally wounded next to the Union cannon, the furthest advance the Confederate army made. Today, this called the High Water Markof the Confederacy. Ironically, the commander of the Union forces who hadmortally wounded him was General Winfield Scott Hancock, Armistead’s best friend before the war separated them forever.

About half the Confederates who marched with Pickett that day were killed, wounded, or captured, though a lower proportion were killed than you would expect given the state of medicine at the time.

Meanwhile,the stretcher-bearers carried Armistead back off the line, followed by his two staff officers and several guards. We came to a stop and they put him down. There were about ten Union soldiers standing around him, including Provost Guard commander Major Robert Shurts. An officer handed him a canteen and I leaned closer to hear his words, not in character, “Armistead”said something like, “This is one of the greatest moments of my life.”

I was genuinely touched, whether he was speaking as Armistead or as a re-enactor. He had worked years for this moment, working his way up through the ranks. The sensory element alternated between feeling that one had been transported back to July 1863 to a notion—reinforced by a look up to the packed stands—that we were very much in the present moment.

Then, after a brief pause, which in historic-time might have been attributed to “Armistead” trying to catch his breath from two wounds, he continued, “How did we do?” Nobody wanted to hear a private’s opinion of course, A Union officer who was kneeling at his right side, I’m glad to say I didn’t know him, said, “Well, you’re timing was off and…” going onto a critique of his army’s performance.

It’s a well-known fact in re-enactor circles that the Confederates are always slow but I was shocked by the Union officer’s insensitivity. I murmured that they had done great but as I noted above nobody listens to a private. And then, as if awaiting a signal, the heavy, driving rains poured down on myself, my son Daniel the drummer, and my friend, Joshua Withrow.

Photo credit: Willard Longnecker

Photo credit: Willard Longnecker

The irony is that Armistead in real life did not die of his wounds but of exhaustion. Given the heat of the reenactment one can understand why. Just crossing that huge field in 90 degree heat was an ordeal. But the 150thanniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg was like a Woodstock for re-enactors, assuming almost mythical proportions. In some sense, being there was somewhat closer to being at the 125th or even 100th anniversaries.

Why are people re-enactors? A lot are interested in history, of course, and a surprising number have ancestors who fought in the Civil War. Duane Carrell’s great-grandfather was in the 49th Virginia and fought at Gettysburg in 1863, as he did in 2013. His wife, Gloria, who re-enacts as a civilian and is very knowledgeable about the costumes of the kind, is descended from a Union colonel.

There are people who love the outdoors and those want to immerse themselves in a different era. Believe me, you will never have understood American history as well before you have re-enacted it and had to deal with its customs, ideas, costumes, and tools. You meet a lot of great people that you’d never have encountered otherwise, at a time in history when society has just narrowed to the point when different groups usually don’t interact at all. And at a time when CSPN is now going to broadcast video game tournaments perhaps hobbies and sports are becoming a bit too physically slothful.

But the simple overarching truth is that they are people who deeply love their country and want to be intimately close to its history; people who respect their ancestors who fought for freedom and who are those who they stand indebted to. And the people who come to such events feel the same way. The overall theme was a taken-for-granted patriotism and respect for those who have gone before, from the moment of silence for the firefighters killed in Arizona to the “Star Spangled Banner”and the reverential playing of “Taps.”

Maybe more of that wouldn’t be so bad.

 

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

One Response to “The Battle of Gettysburg, 150 Years Later”

  1. Cody Flecker says:

    Both my wife and I have had relatives fight for the Confederacy most valiantly on that day at Gettysburg. While we didn't win the battle or the war, we still hold the Confederacy dear to our hearts.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Wounded Golani commander returns to his troops on July 22, 2014.
Golani Commander Proves Why the Unit is Known for Bravery
Latest Indepth Stories
Haredi soldiers of the Neztah Yehuda Battalion fight for Israel while maintaining Torah study in the army,

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

The Israel Test

Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.


It is up to our government to ensure that their sacrifices were not made for short-term gains.

.

Supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has become dangerous in Malmo.

Proportionality Doctrine:The greater the military gain the greater the justifiable collateral damage

Regional pro-US Arab countries rely on Israel as a deterrence to rogue Islamic regimes.

He has always supported the underdog, once even quite literally, legislating a law that prohibits the abandonment of pets.

Temech is about providing a community – a place where religious women can learn, collaborate and refresh themselves with like-minded people.

Netanyahu has decided that the lives of Israeli are more important than looking good for Obama, U.N. and the NY Times.

Many Jews join the Israel-haters with their progressive ideology and politically correct obsessions.

“The will to triumph is a prerequisite for victory.” Abba Kovner

How can you run away from Israel and all the things that have shaped your life?

It’s as if Hamas has pulled a page out of Pharaoh’s handbook.

“Am HaNetzach Eino Mefached Mi Derech Aruka” (An eternal people doesn’t fear the long journey).

Isn’t it comforting to know that our God loves life, grants life, and promises eternal life?

More Articles from Barry Rubin
Youssef Ziedan

The interviewer responds, “There was also Balfour.”

peace_clowns

If the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?

Let me make it plain. There will be mass murder, even genocide in Syria.

A large number of pro-Obama and radical or even anti-Israel cadre are Jews.

Does anyone think the Palestinian Authority will resist daily attacks from Hamas and Fatah radicals?

Secret Service security arrangements were overruled.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

The less you know about Islam, the better. Ignorance is strength.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/the-battle-of-gettysburg-150-years-later/2013/07/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: