Tuesday, July 2, 2013

150 years ago

The greatest battle ever fought on the North American continent commenced 150 years go today, on July 1, 1863, when Confederate troops under Henry Heth ran into Union troops commanded by John Buford, a Yankee cavalry general. Buford knew good high ground when he saw it and occupied McPherson's Ridge and Oak Ridge, north of Gettysburg, with his dismounted cavalry and spent most of July 1 holding off Heth's infantry, who eventually drove Buford back. After Union infantry arrived, Buford managed to hold onto Cemetery Hill, the dominant terrain feature of the area north and west of Gettysburg, setting the stage for a Union victory over the course of the three-day battle, the entire object of which was to drive the Yankees off Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge, the site of Pickett's Charge. The Confederates failed, and the rest is history. Thousands of good men died for what they believed in over those three days. Argue amongst yourselves over what that means, then and today.

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