My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


This Day In History 

One hundred forty-five years ago today:

[from The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara]


"Yes," Chamberlain was busy.

Vincent said "You are the extreme left of the Union line. Do you understand that?"

"Yes," Chamberlain said.

"The line runs from here all the way back to Gettysburg. But it stops here. You know what that means."

"Of course."

"You cannot withdraw. Under any conditions. If you go, the line is flanked. If you go, they'll go right up the hilltop and take us in the rear. You must defend this place to the last."

And, to the last he would. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, 20th Maine Regiment, would not only defend Little Round Top at the left flank of the Union line which formed on Cemetary Hill, he would in the end, short on ammo and in desperate condition, order a bold and unorthodox bayonet charge into the Confederate line. That charge would repel the attack on the Union flank, and allow the Union to re-fortify their position overnight, ultimately holding on to the ground at Gettysburg--the furthest Northern advance the Confederate Army and General Robert E. Lee would ever achieve.

It was a bold move, and absolutely the right call in the moment of need. I don't think I would be overstating it to say that it stands as one of the pivotal decisions in all of history--if Gettysburg falls to Lee, the back road to Washington , D.C. is wide open, and the odds of Confederate victory grow exponentially. It is easy to conceive of a scenario whereby that one moment, had it gone differently, leads to a vastly different history--not just for the United States, and the Confederate States, but for the entire world.

Joshua Chamberlain went on to earn the rank of Major General, be elected the Governor of Maine, and to ultimately succumb to the SIX different woundings he recieved in the Civil War . . . at the age of 83 in 1914. His is a most remarkable story, and a wonderful example of the unusual circumstances that place the right men at the right moments to make the most important decisions.

All this, from just one ordinary American citizen-soldier.

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