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Gettysburg is by far my favorite battle of all time.
First, it is an all-American battle in an all-American war, and myself being an old school nationalist it carries significance that other battles simply don’t; I may find Austerlitz or Stalingrad nifty, but nobody there was my people.
More, it was an extraordinarily clean fight. At any point, a soldier on either side could hurl down their rifle and grab some sky and be reasonably assured of having their surrender accepted without reservation, and for that matter their captor could rely on their new POWs to trudge back to the rear under light guard in good faith. Even though much of the fighting took place in an urban environment with embedded civilians, only one civilian died in the fighting. Let me tell you, the more military history you read up on, the clearer it is that massacring civilians before, during, and after a rough fight is par for the course. One might even say that butchering unarmed men, women and children of the enemy tribe is the de facto
military objective more than half the time; it might be some weird, half instinctual, proto-game theory going on: “We told them to surrender or else. They didn’t surrender, we won anyway, and now there’s gotta be an ‘or else’ to persuade the next batch of holdouts that we mean business.” In the long run, butchering the first village usually made it morelikely the next three villages would get the message and surrender without a fight, saving the invaders men, materiel, and time. Or perhaps it’s that killing civilians has always been pure bloody-mindedness. But not at Gettysburg. Gettysburg is where the American platonic ideal of soldiers fighting soldiers and leaving the civilians be actually happened.
Another aspect to the battle that fascinates me is how utterly unplanned it was. Neither army had intended to fight there, and between the scale of the brawl, the rapidity of developments, the intransigence of their subordinates, and the communications lag, neither the Confederate general Lee nor the Union general Meade had a grip on the situation at all until the second day of the battle, and neither could enact their ideal plans until the third day. It was something of a clusterfuck for both sides, and the course of the battle depended on the initiative and guts of small unit commanders with little idea of what the big picture was.
Gettysburg tends to be remembered as the turning point in the war, when it stopped being a gallant passage at arms between roughly equal powers and started being a slow, painful inevitable grind towards Union victory. This is not exactly accurate; only with years of hindsight could anybody construct a narrative that framed this fight as the turning point, for at the time Gettysburg was seen as just another grisly slaughter yard in a long series of them. Still, between this fight and the conquest of Vicksburg out west, this does appear in hindsight to be the high watermark in terms of Confederate progress towards successful seccession. Certainly it was the last time any Confederate army went on the strategic offensive. For diehard secessionists (both during the war and in the years after), this was the last hurrah before the war started being truly hopeless.
It is also, I should mention, a place of spiritual significance for me. Myself being secular humanist with a vaccination against Protestantism from my younger days, I don’t have much in the way of codified religion. But when I was a youngin’ visiting relatives out east, I got to visit the battlefield. I found myself standing in front of a monument on the field on the north end of Herbst Wood (where the right flank of Iron Brigade stood and charged on the first day of the battle). It described how a Michigan regiment of about a thousand men stood on that spot and suffered two thirds casualties over the course of the day. I read the details on the monument, and stared up at the mustachioed rifleman staring defiantly to the west.
Looking left and right, I saw more monuments every fifty yards or so in a straightish line, spreading out to mark where a human line had once stood and bled. And I turned my back on the monuments to face away, and behold, I saw an opposing line of Confederate monuments stretched out horizon to horizon about a hundred yards away. Two lines, violently opposed but unmoving; courage and horror frozen into place forever. And the world there seemed very big, and very grand, and I felt very small and unworthy. The air was at once colder and hotter than any air I’d ever felt. The wind cut through my clothing and reminded me that flesh was mortal but spirit was eternal. This was holy ground, soil consecrated by blood. Shi’ite Muslims have Karbala. Catholics have the Road to Calvary. Australian aboriginals have Uluru. I have Gettysburg.
A brief note- I will be including maps periodically to show the progression of the fighting. These maps must be taken with a grain or three of salt. They are intended to show relations between the armies and the terrain, not to mark the exact positions or dispositions of the units, nor to show an exact proportion of numbers involved. This is because I am not an expert mapmaker, and I thank you in advance for your understanding. First, a map of the northern part of the battlefield.
Note how many roads lead there, and note the high ground of Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill to the south of the town.
The Battle of Gettysburg happened because Lee needed to go on the offensive, and Lee needed to go on the offensive because of the big picture. I shall cover the broad outline just so the significance doesn’t pass anybody by.
The Confederacy in the Spring of 1863 was in a terrible dilemma. The leadership had two urgent problems, either one of which could (if unaddressed) destroy their enterprise, and to make things worse they didn’t have the resources to solve either of them alone without a miracle.
One, the Union was fixing to shove yet another army down Richmond’s throat. Two years of failed invasions into Virginia had been brutal to both sides, but the North had immense reserves of cash, food, industrial output, and manpower with which to replenish themselves, and the South simply didn’t. The Army of Northern Virginia on which every invasion thus far had broken was underarmed, underfed, and undermanned, and if these issues were not fixed then they’d be seeing Union soldiers in the Confederate capitol before Autumn. There had already been a push that year, which Lee had staved off at Chancellorsville. There was plenty of time left before winter for a second attack.
And two, Vicksburg, the railway hub that sat on the Mississippi River, was under dire threat. The Union had already grabbed New Orleans at the south end and pushed north up the river, and had been pushing south down the river since day one of the war, but Vicksburg prevented the whole river from falling in to Union hands. Vicksburg alone let the South shift resources and information from its Western half to its Eastern half. Losing it could be a death blow. The garrison of Vicksburg was also
underarmed, underfed, and undermanned.
The fresh crops taken off the farm and the fresh host of new recruits also taken off the farm were middling at best. Even throwing all the resources they had at either problem and letting the other develop as it would might mean losing on both fronts. Splitting the resources in half to prop up both didn’t seem promising either. Lee, being something of a strategist, developed a third option. There was no point (he reasoned) in trying to prop up Vicksburg at this point- it would take weeks to shift reinforcements that far west, and by then it would be midsummer. If the siege lasted that long, either the garrison would fold or disease would rip through the Yankee army and drive it back home, as it had the last two years running. In either scenario, further support would affect nothing. Therefore, he proposed a bold plan- don’t sit around waiting to get hit in the face. Invade north. Take the fight onto their
The more the Confederate leadership considered it, the better it sounded. Northern land hadn’t been ravaged like Virginia had- it would be easy to live off of the enemy’s food for once, thus lessening the headache of their constant supply problems. It was also an election year, and the anti-war Democrats were raging at the ocean of blood and gold being wasted on bringing States back into the fold who very clearly wanted to go their own way. One good, solid victory on Northern soil could tip the balance, drive home the point that that war was unwinnable. Get the Black Republican warmonger Lincoln kicked out of the White House, get a reasonable Democrat in, and next year they just might get a negotiated peace that would lead in time to true and recognized independence.
To which end-
Lee snaked his newly reinforced army of about 75,000 men up through the Shenandoah Valley, using the mountain range to mask his movements instead of using to well-worn direct route that the Union was camped on. He would end up north
of the bulk of the Army of the Potomac, simultaneously threatening Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, which for a guy trying to score a symbolic victory to discourage the enemy voters put him in a pretty nice spot.
Lincoln freaked out, told Hooker and his Army of the Potomac to go out and beat Lee, to utterly destroy his army, and also not leave any weak point undefended, which are just the kind of orders one enjoys receiving. Hooker, having a bit of an ego and a poor history of getting his ass kicked by Lee, got into a feud with Lincoln’s advisors and impulsively offered his resignation as Commander of the Army of the Potomac following some stupid spat with the bean counters back in Washington. Lincoln called his bluff and fired him three days before the battle, putting General Meade in charge of the whole damn army with almost no prep time.
I should cut the narrative here to cast moral aspersions right quick. The Union were the good guys, and the Confederates were the villains. That said, the North made for really terrible heroes, and the South had more than its fair share of virtues. This was not a grand crusade of freedom-loving Yankees tearing down the moral abomination of human bondage. This was a brutal, no holds barred death struggle between the efficient new urban Industrial Revolution and the rural Cavalier latifundias
. Only a smallish segment of New England Puritans and bleeding heart Quakers hated slavery on moral grounds- the rest of the North either hated it on financial grounds, didn’t give a fuck one way or another, or were actively supporting racial slavery. And on the flip side, most Southerners who fought in the war perceived quite accurately that outsiders were coming into their world to demand submission, and had decided to give these invaders the William Wallace treatment. This is a normal and admirable response that every healthy society should have in its toolbox, and in my not-even-slightly humble opinion it is a damn shame that so many people endured so much agony in support of so un-American a cause.
For you see, when Lee’s army reached Pennsylvania, they kidnapped every black person they could find, free or not, and sent them all south in chains. There was no attempt to ascertain their status by some legal due process, no splitting of hairs. The bare skeleton of Confederate ideology, the great Truth that would have snuffed out by continued political loyalty to the Union, had been that all men were not created equal. To be more precise, men had white skin, and anyone with black skin was not a man and did not have the rights of man. As such, anyone with black skin was to be sold into slavery and threatened with torture and death if they refused to labor in the cotton fields. The army that invaded the North was, in practice, the biggest slave-hunting gang that had ever set foot on American soil.
The side wearing grey were staunch defenders of a country based on the Ideal of Ethnic Supremacy, and the side wearing blue were fighting for a country based on the Ideal of Equality. There were a million nagging features of material reality in the South and the North that challenged both of these Ideals, but there were no Ideals to challenge these Ideals, save only for each other. We know that this is true, because as the war shifted away from a Federal attempt to rein in wayward states to an all out assault on the institution of slavery, more and more Northerners balked at the idea of dying to set niggers free; men who had fought for years to bring the rebels into the fold again threw down their rifles and went home in disgust after they heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. And as it became clearer that poor whites who never owned slaves were expected to die for plantation owners’ right to stay rich, fewer and fewer Southerners were willing to jump into the meat grinder feet first; many of them
deserted to go home and form Unionist bushwhacker gangs instead. Speaking of the draft, a higher percentage of southerners dodged the Confederate draft than in Vietnam, yet Vietnam is remembered as a deeply unpopular war while the Lost Cause has painted the South as a unified bloc striving as one against the Yankee oppressor.
Also, the Confederacy had a draft imposed upon the states by its federal government. So, yeah, State's Rights. Tell me how that worked out.
To reiterate. Both sides are not the same. We are rooting for the Union. Slavery. Etc.
The two armies surged northward, on parallel tracks with Lee on the west side of the Appalachians and Meade on the east side. Being critically low on recon drones and spy satellites, the only ways to find the enemy army was to send guys out on horseback to physically look at them before riding back, and to talk to locals whether they’d seen anyone wearing the other team’s uniform recently. Clouds of skirmishers, cavalrymen, and small detachments of infantrymen from either side scattered themselves in all directions, straining to catch a glimpse of the other army. The first side to locate the enemy, amass sufficient force, and maneuver against them would probably win, without regard for right or wrong.
———————————————————————— JULY 1st, 1863 Early Morning
General John Buford had a 2,500 strong brigade of cavalrymen patrolling southern Pennsylvania, being one of dozens of detachments sent out to find the enemy army. Using human intelligence from locals in Gettysburg, he learned that there was a column of rebel infantry marching down the Chambersburg Pike.
And indeed there was. Advance scouts from Buford’s brigade made visual contact with a column marching south towards Gettysburg. The ball was now rolling.
The story goes that the Confederates were looking for new shoes and heard that there was a stockpile in Gettysburg. As far as I can tell, this is a baseless legend- inspired by the true fact that the rebel army didn’t have enough shoes, but baseless nonetheless. The three Confederate commanders marching towards Gettysburg (Archer and Davis with a brigade apiece and Heth as division commander coordinating them), were simply doing what their counterpart was doing- reconnaissance in force, hoping to develop a lead for the rest of the army to follow. 7,000 infantry under Archer and Davis were about to pick a fight with 2,500 cavalrymen under Buford. The currents of this morning fight would provide the grooves for the next three days to follow.
Buford’s men fought as dragoons; the horse let you scoot around to where you need to go, but you got off it and fought on foot. They Union cavalry broke into tiny little four man teams to bloody the approaching Confederates’ noses. The terrain was a bushwhacker’s paradise- plenty of rocks and trees to hide behind, and plenty of low, rolling hills to speed off behind to break line of sight. One man would hold the horses while the other three crouch-ran forward under cover to pop off rounds into the enemy column from the sides of the road. When the enemy infantry redeployed from a fast moving but harmless column formation into a slow moving but dangerous line, the three shooters would run back to their buddy to mount up and retreat to a new position.
The cavalrymen were outnumbered nearly three to one, and their carbines had less range and power than the rebel rifles; then again, the terrain was working for them and their breechloading carbines could shoot much faster than the enemy’s muzzleloading long rifles. It was very close to being an fair fight, as long as the cavalry could stay mobile and keep their distance.
Buford and Heth both had unclear, contradictory orders- “Push forward aggressively to locate the enemy, but do not enter into a general engagement until we know what we’re up against.” It was an order that must have made sense in the tent when Lee and Meade sent their own versions off. You wouldn’t want to force a battle until you knew the enemy’s location and disposition and the terrain you were going to be standing on, any more than you’d want bet it all on a poker hand before looking at your cards. But to the guys on the front line, it meant “charge forward, but do not charge forward. Attack, but do not engage. Show some initiative, but don’t pick a real fight.” Heth decided they were up against a skeleton crew of skirmishers, and he had orders to check out Gettysburg. He send riders back with a quick report and a request for reinforcements. Buford decided that if the whole damn rebel army was heading his way, he needed to delay their advance for as many hours as he could to give the rest of the Union army time to get to Gettysburg- the high ground south of the town looked like ideal terrain to fight from and he wanted his buddies to get there before the rebels. He too sent riders back with calls for help.
And meanwhile, the murderous, hazardous stalking of the rebel column continued as it trudged towards Gettysburg. Meanwhile, in the Rear with the Gear
Imagine running a marathon- 26 miles and a bit from start to finish. That’s how spread out a Civil War army is, from vanguard to rear guard. You can’t really concentrate 75,000-100,000 people together that closely. Disease starts killing people off really fast, feeding everyone is a headache, and if you have to march out, the lead element will march all day before stopping for the night, while the rear element hasn’t even left camp yet. It’s unwieldy. So they all spread out to grab some real estate and forage easier and not choke on each others’ dust and crap.
The riders from the Chambersburg Pike were spreading the word through the marathon length of the armies. Units were halting, turning around. Captains and colonels and generals were consulting maps to figure out what roads to take to get south or north to Gettysburg from where they were now. Regiments were putting their heads to together to figure out whose company oughtta go in what order.
The movements were slow and and ungainly and awkward, but they were starting up. Mid Morning to Noon
The rolling hills on either side of the Chambersburg Pike stopped at McPherson’s Ridge, a grand place to make a stand- plenty of cover, steep incline. In any case, there wasn’t much further to retreat to. Archer and David pushed the cavalrymen, Archer on the south side of the road and Davis on the north. Thoroughly annoyed infantrymen backed up on the Pike behind them, eager to get at the enemy but without frontage to occupy. Buford dug in on McPherson’s Ridge, and the full force of Heth’s division slammed into him.
Denied their mobility by the necessity of holding territory, the fair fight turned into a meat grinder for the dismounted cavalrymen. When Confederate artillery set up on Herr’s Ridge, it turned into a bloodbath.
Buford, at last, got in contact with somebody who outranked him. General John Reynolds, second in command of the whole Union army, rode ahead of his division to get eyes on the situation.
The two struck a deal in the middle of a firefight. Buford promised to hold to the last man, and Reynolds promised to reinforce him. It was an exercise in trust; if Buford’s men held firm and Reynolds let them down, they’d be swamped and slaughtered to a man, and if Buford’s detachment broke and scattered, Reynolds’ reinforcements would march directly into a line of hills held by an entrenched enemy force of equal size. Failure on either side would be fatal. Reynolds rode south again, leaving Buford and his dwindling cavalrymen to fend off 10% of the Confederate army all alone.
Meanwhile, Buford’s thin line was cracking. Outnumbered, outgunned, and unable to advance or retreat... That which was inevitable to start with was happening now. Davis’ brigade was pressing against Oak Ridge on the Union right, and Archer's was taking Herbst Woods tree by tree. Buford’s men were giving ground they couldn’t afford to lose. Confederate artillery was blasting giant holes in the ranks of the defenders. That’s when the relief came- two fresh brigades of infantry coming up the Emmitsburg road, under generals Cutler and Meredith.
Cutler got there first, taking up positions on Oak Ridge and straddling either side of the Pike with cannons. Their massive volleys disrupted Confederate momentum and silenced some of the rebels’ big guns as everyone scrambled for cover. Grateful and exhausted cavalrymen sidled off to the flanks to safety. Meredith’s brigade is still lagging behind- that’s the problem with columns, only the guys in front can do anything.
If Buford and Reynolds expected everything to be right in the world once reinforcements arrived, they were very much mistaken. Those men out there attacking up Oak Ridge were some of the finest infantrymen in the world- dedicated, disciplined, contemptuous of death. They did not stop being efficient killers just because they now fought peers instead of the hornet-like cavalry skirmishers. Cutler’s brigade was facing a small tidal wave of battle-maddened Southern veterans, and had no time to dig in and situate themselves before the moment of impact. Davis’ men ripped into them like a pack of starving wolves. Cutler’s men fell back to safety on the top of Oak Ridge. In pieces.
Meanwhile, Meredith’s brigade was finally in position to retake Herbst Woods on the south side of the road.
Now, Meredith’s brigade were the absolute elite of the Union army. They were the grizzled veterans, the old crew, the best drilled, the most experienced, the hardest of the hard. They were nicknamed the Iron Brigade, and the Black Hat Brigade, because they were authorized to wear dashing black foraging caps to signify their status as the best of the best. With their comrades north of the road falling back, it was imperative that the Black Hat Brigade protect their left flank. To which end, Reynolds frantically snapped orders for them to line up and charge Archer’s men who were occupying Herbst Wood.
Their charge was met by a storm of musket fire that churned the Iron ranks into blood and guts. But this was the Black Hat Brigade. For them, taking ten percent casualties in a single minute was just another Tuesday. They got in close to the rebel line to return the volleys with a vengeance, and then charged with the bayonet. Archer’s men saw the distinctive black hats come for them through the musket-smoke. For the first time, they realized that these were no mere cavalry skirmishers, no half-assed militia company facing them. The best of the best of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them at terrifyingly close range. Archer’s men cracked and scattered. The ones who stood firm, died. The ones who threw down their rifles and grabbed sky were allowed to live as prisoners. The ones who ran, lived, but found the Iron Brigade hot on their heels. Meredith’s elites carved through Archer’s brigade like it wasn’t even there.
Reynolds was a good leader. A great one, in fact. He was decisive, experienced, competent. Many thought he should have gotten command instead of Meade. As his men retook Herbst Wood, he turned behind him to check on how close reinforcements were, some rebel rifleman did his cause a world of good, and shot Reynolds in the back of the head. Now the situation got pretty weird- Davis’ brigade had kicked the shit out of Cutler’s brigade and was pursuing them on the north side of the road, and the Iron Brigade had kicked the shit out of Archer’s brigade and was pursuing them on the south side of the road. Neither victor was aware of what had happened across from them, and soon enough they would pass each other by almost touching the edges of their lines. The first one to figure out what was happening would get to win.
As it so happened, General Doubleday (in command now that Reynolds was dead) saw the danger and the opportunity first. He broke off an Iron regiment from his reserve to swoop in and protect the flank just in time, setting them up in a defensive stance facing the road. That regiment was joined by another broken off from the Iron assault, and yet another from Cutler’s brigade, who had seen the maneuvering and joined in on its own initiative. It was like a ballet, all three regiments coalescing into a single front facing north across the road, as though they’d spent the last week rehearsing. Under their protection, the rest of the Black Hats gave chase to their prey.
When Davis finally turned and attacked, they were chopped down by a mass of highly accurate fire from the newly entrenched men. Confederates died by the dozens and were maimed by the score. As they reloaded, the Black Hats were astonished to find that the whole Confederate brigade vanish into thin air, like magic. The firing stopped; no more targets. It was bizarre.
The three regiments advanced cautiously. And were gutted by a close range surprise volley by the hidden Confederates as they tried to scale the fences on either side of the Pike.
It turns out that there was a cut in the side of road, deep enough for a man to jump down into with only his head able to peek out. Davis’ men had leapt into it as a source cover when the firefight started and found it was a grand place to shoot out of. But it was also a death trap. Once the Union regiments figured it out, they got in close enough to fire blindly down at point blank range into the milling mass of men. Davis’ men surrendered, thousands of them all at once. Unable to move, unable shoot back, it was really the only choice.
And with that, the first round of Gettysburg was over. Oak Ridge and Herbst Wood had held, and about 150,000 odd soldiers were converging on Gettysburg to shift the tide of war this way and that. AFTERNOON
The rest of the first day was not free of drama, and heroics, and mass suffering. But it was free of surprises. The iron laws of physics had decreed that more Confederate units would be on hand for the fighting in the afternoon, and so it was. Fresh rebel troops swept down from the north and from the west, relieving their exhausted comrades and preparing themselves to assault Oak Ridge and Herbst Woods. Fresh Union troops arrived from the south to reinforce what they had and to extend their line out east, protecting their right flank and screening off the town itself.
Hours passed without a shot being fired. Everybody was reorganizing themselves, resupplying, carting the wounded to the rear to let the surgeons saw their shattered limbs off. Two small things happened that delivered a Confederate victory on day one, and a Union victory on day three. Union General Barlow pushed his brigade out to occupy Blocher's hill, and Union General Steinwehr plopped two of his brigades on top of Cemetery Hill. The first created a huge gap in the Union right, and the second secured the invaluable high ground for the rest of the battle.
Meanwhile, three Confederate divisions set themselves up for a concerted attack- Heth would press into Herbst Wood on the Union left, Rodes would assault Oak Ridge at the center, and Early would swoop down the Harrisburg road to threaten the Union right. When the big push came at around 2 p.m.
, it was badly organized and mismanaged. Southern commanders couldn't get it together and attack at the same time. Individual units charged at Oak Ridge alone, like a mob of Hollywood henchmen attacking the hero only to be smacked around one by one. Cutler's men didn't just fight them off; it was closer to mass murder. General O'Neal's brigade swooped down off of Oak Hill only to be cut down by musketry and cannon fire, and they did it without O'Neal, because O'Neal stayed in the rear while his men died. When O'Neal's brigade fell back having suffered heavy losses, Cutler shifted his men to greet the new threat from Iverson's brigade, who also charged without their commander. Iverson's men marched in parade perfect order across open ground, without so much as a molehill for cover. The story goes that during the assault, Iverson looked out from safety and saw half his men lying down on the ground. Iverson was pissed off because he thought his men were surrendering. In fact, he was watching his brigade die in droves.
The issue wasn't morale. The Confederate troops were eager to get at the enemy. The problem was purely organizational in nature. The men in charge of telling people what to do were simply too confused and disoriented to work out the solution in real time. While O’Neal and Iverson were getting bloodied, Barlow’s men on Blocher Hill were getting slaughtered. Barlow’s desire to hold the high ground on the defense was understandable- high ground being a grand place to fight from- but he was about one mile ahead of any friendly units. This meant that it was trivially easy to flank and destroy his brigades.
Georgia men under generals Early and Rodes linked up to flank and destroy Barlow’s isolated brigades. A thick stream of filthy, bloody, and terrified Union men flowed back to the town of Gettysburg, leaving a gaping hole in the Union line and spreading their panic like the plague. Victorious Confederates whooped and hollered. As the men to the north of town trade massacres- the failed assault on Oak Ridge being roughly balanced by the disastrous dissolution of Barlow’s brigades- Heth finally attacked the Iron Brigade still occupying Herbst Wood in the west. He’d been delaying it all afternoon, stymied by the contradictory orders from Lee. Lee, who was several miles away and not at all in touch with the situation, still wanted to avoid a general engagement. But now, Heth has been let off the chain to avenge Archer’s brigade.
Heth’s full division attacked Herbst Wood. It was a slow, hot, gory fight. The attacking rebels are aggressive, but also methodical and well-organized. The Black Hats made them pay for every tree they seized. But there’s only one outcome for a fight like this.
The Iron Brigade has the ghastly honor of having the highest casualty ratio of any Civil War brigade, North or South. Out of the 1,885 men in their ranks that morning, 1,153 (61%) were be dead or maimed by nightfall on the first day. The fates of individual units from within the brigade are even more gruesome- in the 2nd Wisconsin regiment, 397 out of 496 (80%) were killed or wounded. But despite the horrific losses, they didn’t break. They gave ground slowly and in good order, but they gave ground nonetheless. Iron does not break, but it does bend. By late afternoon, the dominoes fell as they were always going to.
With the debacle at Blocher’s Knoll, any hope the Union had to hold the right was lost. The Black Hats were being ground into sawdust on the left. And Rodes has finally gotten his brigades to charge at the same time, overwhelming Cutler’s defense.
Every Union man was running now, some in a blind panic, some withdrawing in good order like professionals.
The open field battle turned into urban warfare as the Confederates chased the Union army through the streets of Gettysburg. Companies blocked the streets to hold off the enemy advance long enough for the comrades to scamper. Marksmen played sniper games in the windows, either shooting men in the back as they ran away or ambushing overly aggressive platoons, depending on the color of their uniform.
The Union men were desperate to reach Cemetery Hill, south of the town. High ground and the reinforcements already stationed there promised safety. The Confederates were just as desperate to catch them first and seize that invaluable terrain for themselves. Nightfall
A great deal of “woulda coulda shoulda” ink has been spilled over the orders that Lee gave to General Ewell, the man in charge of Rodes and Early: “Take Cemetery Hill if practical”. But Ewell saw two brigades with a lot
of artillery standing on top of what appeared to be a natural fortress designed by God to repel infantry, and his men were exhausted to boot. Ewell decided it was not practical, and so did not try. Just one of those things, I expect.
In any case, the day was a Confederate victory. Every spot on the map the Confederate troops wanted to go, they had went. They had crushed all resistance, had even gone toe to toe with the cream of the Army of the Potomac and won. Their enemies were in flight before them.
There was, possibly, a certain amount of disquiet because the enemy had merely been driven from one ridge into another ridge, one even steeper and with more cover than the last. And rumor had it the rest of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them.
But that was a problem for the next day.
There has been so much happening so fast on the legal front as of late, I thought I'd compile a bunch of links together just to show the progress. Almost all of these are from this month. Every single link is good news. Progress is happening EVERYWHERE. We are winning
and it's awesome. Edit: thanks for the gold, stranger. Washington - legal sales started just a couple weeks ago
- things seem to be going ok, with the main problem being that stores are running out of product! The supply situation should work itself out over time, and more stores are always opening
so that will help too. For the latest, follow the tastefully named blog
from the Seattle Times or the more bluntly named blog
from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Oregon - full legalization qualifies for the ballot November 2014
. A poorly written initiative failed in 2012, but things look more promising this time. Alaska will also have full legalization on the November ballot
. Alaska Ents be sure to vote yes on Measure 2! New York Times editorial board calls for legalization
. They're running a six part series this week about the issue, here is today's entry
. Harris County, Texas DA candidate calls for no arrest for marijuana
. Harris County is the home of Houston, and the most populous county in Texas with more than 4 million people. She's the Democratic nominee for DA, and considering the county's leftward lean, has decent odds of winning. Edit: Here's an interview
with the candidate, Kim Ogg. Florida voters support medical marijuana by a 9 to 1 margin
- Medical is on the November '14 ballot in FL and requires 60% of the vote to pass.
Efforts are underway in Oklahoma to get both medical marijuana
and full recreational legalization
on the ballot for November 2014. Each initiative requires 156,000 signatures to get on the ballot. The medical petition has about 100,000 signatures so far. Even if not successful, the two petitions have inspired several thousand young people to register to vote. DEA losing the war on marijuana politics
. Aww, isn't that just so sad
. It's tough being on the wrong side of history. Louisiana Bar Association advocates for reduced marijuana sentences
. Currently, Louisiana has some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country. A second offense for marijuana possession is a felony.
Political prisoner Marc Emery will be released
from jail after serving his five year sentence. A 30 city tour in Canada is planned to celebrate his release. His estimated return is between August 10 and 25. In his latest blog post, Marc said that "I can't wait to get home to thank you all in person in the weeks and months ahead, and resume the unfinished battle to finish off marijuana prohibition with renewed vigour." Washington DC reduces penalty for marijuana possession to $25
- it used to be $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. The new fine for small-time pot possession is lower than the $75 penalty for littering and the $50 punishment for drivers who park too close to city fire hydrants. Campaign to legalize in DC turns in more than twice the required signatures to get on the ballot in November
. Unless something tremendously unexpected happens, Washington D.C. residents will likely get a chance to vote on cannabis legalization on Election Day. Recent polls show 63% support re-legalization.
Looks like the country of Colombia may also legalize
. The liberal party there is supporting a bill that would do exactly that.
Efforts are underway in 18 Michigan municipalities
to reduce penalties for marijuana. Signatures are being gathered to get the issue on the ballot this year. The deadline for signatures is today, so sign up if you're local. Similar ballot initiatives have already succeeded in Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids over the past couple years. spuıɟ ןןod 'ɐuɐnظıɹɐɯ ןɐɔıpǝɯ ʇɹoddns suɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ ɟo spɹıɥʇ oʍʇ ʎןɹɐǝu In New Mexico, activists are seeking to place a pair of decriminalization measures on the municipal ballots in Albuquerque and in Santa Fe
. Penalties for possession will be no more than $25 if the measures pass. US Sentencing Commission agrees to apply sentence reductions retroactively
, meaning that up to 46,000 prisoners could get reduced sentences for their drug-related crimes. Kentucky's hemp crop is doing great
- The DEA confiscated their seeds at first, but "“We’ve got a really good process with the DEA now.” The 75 year federal ban on hemp production was ended when Mitch McConnell of all people inserted language into the farm bill allowing for it. Man buys Colorado prison, wants to turn it into marijuana factory
- the symbolism there is beautiful. Illinois medical marijuana program expanded
, now covers epilepsy. Minnesota became the 22nd state
to legalize medical marijuana. However, the law is unnecessarily restrictive, not allowing the smoking of marijuana leaves. Only the use of pills, oils, or vaporizing of a cannabis compound through a device similar to an e-cigarette is allowed. US House votes to allow marijuana-related banking
. The 236-186 vote rejected a move by Rep. John Fleming, R-La., to block the Treasury Department from implementing guidance it issued in February telling banks how to report on their dealings with marijuana-related businesses without running afoul of federal money-laundering laws. 46 mostly GOP moderates and libertarian-tilting Republicans joined with all but seven Democrats to beat back Fleming's attempt to block the Treasury guidance. House of Representatives told the DEA to butt out of medical marijuana states by approving a budget amendment barring the use of taxpayer funds to do so
. This is HUGE and historic and very important, but it also needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President to become law.
Advocates for medical marijuana in Arkansas came up about 11,000 signatures short
for adding the issue to the ballot in 2014, but they're going to try again in 2016
. If they get enough signatures, passage looks like a good bet, considering a similar initiative came up 2 percentage points short in 2012. Medical marijuana inches closer to reality in Pennsylvania
- delayed until the fall session though.
A number of states have enacted laws permitting Charlotte's Web style marijuana to treat seizures. These states include Utah
, and Missouri
. These laws tend to be extremely limited, but they are all a step in the right direction. A bill to legalize this form of marijuana on a national basis was just introduced yesterday
by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).
Fear not, Missouri Ents! Activists plan to have marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016
Speaking of 2016, you can also expect ballot initiatives that November for full legalization in California
, and Montana
. More than 62 million people would have access to legal marijuana if these initiatives were to pass.
It's a great time to be alive. Thanks for reading!
Erik Prince keeps popping up in the Trump-Russia investigation, but is always elusive. In this post I detail the many ways Prince associates, his “shadows”, have instigated the Trump-Russia scandal. Erik Prince's link to Palantir: Buzzy Krongrad
In 2001, after terrorists flew planes into New York City’s World Trade Center, Prince called up Buzzy Krongard of the CIA (1) and attained Blackwater’s first contract with the US military, sending Prince right into the center of the War on Terror in Afghanistan (2) where he worked for both the CIA (3) and JSOC (4), the later commanded by General Stanley McChrystal (5).
Krongard later joined the board of Blackwater in 2006, only to step down embroiled in a scandal the following year (6)(7).
While working at the CIA, Buzzy created a subdivision called Information Technologies (8) that spawned In-Q-Tel, a CIA-backed venture capital firm seeking to invest in the rapidly advancing tech industry. Buzzy currently sits on its board of Trustees (9). In 2005, In-Q-Tel invested into Palantir (10).
Erik Prince’s and Palantir’s link to the Kremlin: Tiger Fund
Julian Robertson has strong ties with Trent Lott and Dick DeVos, Erik Prince’s brother-in-law. All three sit on the Children’s Scholarship Fund board (1) and Robertson donates to Betsy DeVos’s the American Federation for Children Action Fund (2). Trent Lott himself gained a bit of infamy in 1997 when, along with Newt Gingrich, he slipped in a last minute tax break for Dick DeVos’ Amway into a contentious tax compromise bill. Four months later DeVos and his wife together donated $1 million to the GOP (3).
In 2006, a Julian Robertson-seeded hedge fund run my Chase Coleman, Tiger Fund, invested in DST (4). By the end of 2009 DST would own 10% of Facebook (5), financed by the Russian-state-owned Gazprom, as revealed by the Paradise Papers (6).
A Moscow source said: "DST has the backing of the big boys at the top in the Kremlin, which is why it will go from strength to strength" (7).
In 2008, Tiger Fund invested into Palantir (8).
Erik Prince’s ties to Michael Flynn: Stanley McChrystal
In 2009, Palantir hired Stanley McChrystal’s top CDR, Douglas Philippone, who commanded multiple JSOC outstations in Afghanistan (1) that Prince had worked with. On July 2, 2010, McChrystal’s deputy of intelligence, Michael Flynn, put in an urgent request to purchase Palantir for McChrystals troops after two Palantir reps visited him (2 page 4), though by June 23, McChrystal had resigned from the military. Five days after his resignation, Tiger Fund invested into Facebook (3).
In July, 2010 Eric Prince moved to Abu Dhabi and founded Reflex Response, R2 (4), financed by Prince Zayed himself, while McChrystal founded McChrystal Group and joined the board of Knowledge International (5), a licensed arms dealer with close ties to the UAE government with only two listed addresses: one the home of Stanley McChrystal in Virginia, and the other in Abu Dhabi (6).
Three months later in Aspen McChrystal talked about his resignation during a private event. Julian Robertson was in attendance (7). As late as March 2015, Michael Flynn and Stanley McChrystal continued to work together to push Palantir (9), but with Palantir’s biggest pusher resigned from the military, Palantir needed another connection. Luckily Erik Prince and Julian Robertson had plenty. In 2010 Palantir hired two lobbyist, Trent Lott and John Breaux at Patton Boggs (8).
By the time Palantir hired Lott and Breaux, Lott already had his own Russian connection. In 2006, the same year Tiger Fund was investing in a Russian tech company linked to Gazprom, Gazprom’s subsidiary, Gazprombank, hired the lobbying firm, Ketchum. On April 25, 2007 Ketchum emailed Trent Lott’s National Security Advisor, Mitch Waldman, about “Russia,” according to the vague FARA disclosure (10). By 2014, Trent Lott and John Breaux would snag Gazprombank as a client themselves (11).
That same year, 2014, Flynn was fired from his military position. Soon enough he founded Flynn Intel Group registered at the same address at McChrystal’s home (12). December 2015, Michael Flynn visited Sergey Kislyak at Kislyak's home (13) and dined with Putin in Moscow (14) On September 20, 2016, Rohrabacher met with Flynn at Flynn Intel Group, a meeting probed by Mueller (15).
Patton Boggs and Erik Prince back-channels to Russia
Patton Boggs and Erik Prince play a diverse and central roll in the Trump-Russia scandal- like P-B lawyer Don McGahn working on Trump’s campaign (1) and P-B working with Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen (2)- so I’ll break the connections down one at a time. Follow the two immediate links below and scroll through the years to find Patton-Boggs' (later Squire-Patton-Boggs) many lobbying clients.
Patton-Boggs: 2010-2014 https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/firmsum.php?id=D000022176&year=2010
Squire-Patton-Boggs: 2014- https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/firmsum.php?id=D000067299
Maricopa County hired Patton Boggs from 2010-2012. Maricopa County’s sherriff at the time was Joe Arapio, whom Trump pardoned for his crimes in 2017.
In 2011 Trump met with Steve Bannon over a possible 2011 run for the presidency (1). Soon after, Trump and Arapio heavily pushed the Obama birther conspiracy (2)(3) and Trump would later even emulate Arpaio’s “concentration camps” (4)(5). At the time Arpaio worked closely with Steven Seagal, even raiding a home with a military tank in September, 2011(6). Steven Seagal shared a business partner with Paul Manafort, Julius Nasso, who was connected to the Gambino crime family and worked with Manafort selling Russian nuclear tech in the US (7). in 2016, Vladimir Putin would personally reward Seagal with Russian citizenship (8).
On March 19 2013, Rohrabacher met with Paul Manafort, Vin Weber, and Rick Gates while Manafort was working as an unregistered foreign agent of Ukraine and their pro-Russian Party of Regions (9), a meeting central to Gates guilty plea in the Mueller investigation (10). Two months later Dana Rohrabcher met with the Russian FSB and the head of the FSB, Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, arranged and attended by none other than Steven Seagal (11) (12).
The man who introduced Steven Seagal to Vladimir Putin, Bob Van Ronkel, happened to attend Donald Trump's Miss Universe 2013 contest in Moscow (13).
At the same time, Peter Thiel’s Palantir hired Patton-Boggs from 2010-2014.
Peter Thiel is a terrible person. Peter Thiel wrote a book about how politically-correct “multiculturalism” has had a debilitating impact on higher education (1), wrote that woman’s sufferage was bad for democracy (2), ran an unethical human herpes experiment offshore (3), and vouched for monopolies (4). Peter Thiel is the embodiment of the alt-right. In 2016 he gave a speech at Donald Trump’s inauguration (5), donated $1.25 million in support of Trump’s cause to various SuperPACs (5), and joined Trump’s transition team (6). One SuperPAC Peter Thiel donated to, along with Erik Prince, was the Mercer-back Make America #1 that funded scandal-plagued and now defunct Cambridge Analytica (7). Peter Thiel showed reporter Maureen Dowd a photo of Thiel, Erik Prince, and Donald Trump together at the "Heroes and Villains" party held in Dec 2016 (14).
The same year Palantir hired Patton-Boggs, the president of the Russian federation and former head of Gazprom, Dmitry Medvedev, visited Silicone Valley along with a cadre of figures central to Trump-Russia including: Yuri Milner of DST (8); Russian "top spy" Sergey Kislyak (9); and Victor Vekselberg of Skolkovo, who is under investigation by Mueller (10). While there, they recruited Google’s Eric Schmidt to join the board of Vekselberg’s Skolkovo (11). According to US intelligence, Skolkovo was likely a Russian spy facility. Schmidt’s daughter, Sophia, later interned at Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, and recommended CA work with Palantir (12); and Vekselberg later held a mysterious meeting with Michael Cohen at Trump Tower (13).
Erick Prince’s link to Peter Thiel and Dana Rohrabacher: Paul Behrends
While Peter Thiel was on Trump’s transition team, he held a four hour phone call with Stephen Bannon and Dana Rohrabacher (1). Since then, Rohrabacher’s right hand man, Paul Behrends, has become one of Thiel’s greatest confidants (2) and even arranged a meeting between Thiel and Pro-Putin Hungarian Prime Minster’s senior visor, Jeno Megyesy (5). Paul Behrends was the one that arranged Rohrabacher’s many visits into Russia and even joined in, including a meeting with Russian agent Veselnitskaya in April 2016 (3), two months before the infamous Trump Tower meeting.
Paul Behrends is also close with Erik Prince and arranged for Prince to intern with freshman rep Dana Rohrabacher back in 1990 when Prince was still a college student (4). In 1998, when Erik Prince opened up Blackwater, Behrends became a partner at the now infamous Alexander Strategy Group and lobbied extensively for Blackwater (5). ASG then arranged for Dana Rohrabacher’s visit to Prince’s Blackwater compound (6).
Facebook hired Patton-Boggs from 2012-2015.
In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg visited Vekselberg and Medvedev in Moscow (1). While there, Zuckerberg had an interesting conversation with Medvedev:
Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Medvedev talked about Facebook’s role in politics, though only jokingly in reference to its importance in the American presidential campaign, according to Mr. Medvedev’s press office. (2)
Erik Prince's link to Cambridge Analytica: Vincent Tchenguiz, Black Cube, Ko Chun Shun, Palantir, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, and Michael Flynn
In 2013 Facebook and Palantir joined forces at Cambridge Analytica following Eric Schmidt's daughter's suggestion (1). At the suggestion of a Palantir employee, Alfredas Chmieliauskas, suspected Russian spies Aleksander Kogan and Joseph Chancellor hacked Facebook and sold the data to CA (2) with Steve Bannon’s approval (3). Palantir employees later worked on that data (4). All the while, Facebook and Google hand embeds in Cambridge Analytica’s operation (5).
Prior to the formation of Cambridge Analytica, CA’s parent company, SCL, was owned by billionaire Robert Mercer (6) and Vincent Tchenguiz (7). After Tchenguiz divested from SCL, his employee, Julian Wheatland, stayed on the board (8). Israel's Dorian Barak introduced Prince to Tchenguiz with the hope of forming a joint venture together (9). Tchenguiz contracted with Black Cube after SFO raided Tchenguiz's Kaupthing for its links to Alfa-Bank and possible fraud (10)(11).
The Trump campaign has hired Ted Cruz’s former data-analysis firm, Cambridge Analytica—and in doing so, it has connected itself with a British property tycoon, Vincent Tchenguiz, and through him with the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a business associate of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who resigned last week. (12)
Once CA collected Facebook's hacked data, they needed to spread to find a way to use it. Erik Prince then arranged a meeting on August 3, 2016, between Donald Trump Jr., George Nader, and Black Cube agent Joel Zamel (13), an Israeli that specialized in social media manipulation. Zamel had already drawn up a multi-million dollar social media campaign to elect Trump (14). However, when the CA scandal broke, CA shut down, but soon after a new analytics company formed, Emerdata, with many of the same board members as the defunct CA, but with a new name to the list- Erik Prince’s business associate Johnson Ko Chun Shun (15).
Squire Patton-Boggs, representing CA, threatened to sue the Guardian over articles on Facebook’s data breach (16).
Reflex Responses and Spectrum Health
More directly, in 2011, Erik Prince’s own R2 hired Patton Boggs and from 2011-2012 Dick DeVos’s Spectrum Health hired Patton-Boggs as well.
In still one of the biggest mysterious of the Trump-Russia saga, during the 2016 campaign Spectrum Health’s servers pinged servers at Trump Org and that of Russian bank Alfabank, a phenomenon currently under investigation by Mueller (1).
Exxon-Mobil hired Patton Boggs from 2012-2014.
Within that timeframe, Exxon-Mobil’s Rex Tillerson penned a deal with Rosneft’s Igor Sechin that earned him the Russian Order of Friendship directly from Vladimir Putin (1). That deal also broke US sanctions law and Exxon-Mobil was fined $2 million (2). Rex Tillerson would become Trump’s Secretary of State after Russia rejected Mitt Romney as a choice (3).
Erickson worked his GOP connections to try to influence Trump’s transition team and the new administration’s staffing. Butina and Torshin discussed who might be appointed secretary of state, with Butina asking how “our people” felt about one name, per the affidavit. (4)
Apollo Global Management
From 2013-2015 Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management hired Patton Boggs.
Erik Prince’s associate Buzzy Krongrad joined the AGM’s board in 2011 (1). That same year Alexander Torshin’s
sanctioned Sberbank formed the Russian Direct Investment Fund, or RDIF, and AGM’s head, Leon Black, joined the RDIF board (2). (Russian spy Maria Butina later reported to Torshin on her infiltration of the NRA (3)).
In January 2013, Peter Thiel’s associate, Max Levchin, met up with Sberbank’s Herman Greff in Davos during Victor Pinchuk’s Ukrainian Lunch (4). Then in February, Donald Trump’s close associate, Rudy Giuliani, happened to bump into Emin Agalarov (5). Emin hung out with Trump himself in Vegas four months later during the Miss USA pageant, where Trump announced that Miss Universe 2013 would be held in Moscow (6). While in Moscow Herman Greff signed a contract with Donald Trump to finance a Trump Tower Moscow (7).
In 2013 Michael Flynn visited the GRU (8) and in January 2014, three months after Trump signed the contract with Greff, a former Sberbank employee and Cambridge University student, Svetlana Lokhova, met Flynn at a conference known for being a Russian spy’s nest (9). At some point Michael Flynn would become an advisor to Cambridge Analytica (10), founded by Steve Bannon at that very same Cambridge University (11).
In December 2016 "Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak also talked about arranging a meeting between a representative of Trump and a “Russian contact” in a third country whose name was not identified" (20). In January 2017 Prince Zayed and George Nader introduced Erik Prince to the head of the RDIF, Kirill Dmitriev. (Nader is currently cooperating with the Mueller investigation into that meeting) (12). Patton-Boggs has worked closely with Prince Zayed’s father, Sultan Al Nahyan, for over 20 years (19).
Leon Black is good friends with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (13) and, in 2016, AGM loaned Jared Kushner’s company $180 million, which is currently under investigation (14). That same year, while Krongard was still on the board for AGM, AGM bought Prince’s Blackwater through Constellis (15)(16). Then in 2017 Tiger Fund invested into AGM (17) while Erik Prince lobbied Donald Trump to provide the CIA with a private network of intelligence contractors (18).
Erik Prince's other exploits: Mike Pence, True Pundit, and Christophe Charlier
Along the way, Erik Prince played other roles in the Trump campaign. For example Erik Prince and Rudy Guiliani worked together to intimidate James Comey into reopening the FBI case against Clinton (1).
He was also integral in getting Mike Pence selected as Donald Trump's VP. When Prince returned to America after Blackwater gunned down 17 civilians in the Nisour Square Massacre, Pence greeted him with a party. Prince became a top donator to Pence (2). When Paul Manafort pushed for Trump to choose Pence as VP, Manafort's long-time business associates, Rick Gates and Tom Barrack, were working with Erik Prince-agent Michael Flynn on a plan to build nuclear plants across the US (3). In 2011 Prince had signed a contract with UAE to supply security to a string of nuclear power plants across the Middle East, none of which had been built yet (4).
Prince also had a number of email exchanges with Russian banker and Rusal board member, Christophe Charlier. Charlier's chaired at the Russian bank, Renaissance Capital, linked the to the KGB and FSB. His boss owned part of Oleg Deripaska's Rusal and later Charlier became a board member to Rusal himself. Charlier had introduced Prince to a member of Glencore that was involved in the purchase of Rosneft shares described in the Steel dossier as a way of paying Trump and his associates for their work (5).
In another avenue, Joseph Schmitz of Trump's National Security Council during the campaign also happened to be the ex-board member of Erik Prince's Blackwater holding company.
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