Friday, July 27, 2007

GettysBLOG: Odds 'n Ends

Just a few comments on a few subjects to finish off the week.

Don't ya just love the way these clowns think?
Cumberland Township's Manager reported on their new impound lot and that they had worked a deal with the DA's office to erect a fence around the new impound lot in exchange for storing some cars there for the DA's office. But the real kicker came afterward when the Township manager essentially called the lot, now in a new location where they had to clear several acres of trees and haul in dirt to level the area, an eyesore, and that the township would probably need to plant trees to mask the view.

Hello? Anyone home there? We're astonished that the thought of using trees occurred to anyone in the hierarchy of Cumberland Township, since they have obviously all contracted Asphalt Fever from their counterparts in the Borough and out in Straban Township. So, to recap, Cumberland Township scrapes trees out of existence to create an eyesore and now wants to plant trees around the eyesore to cover it up. Go figure. Oh, and just when are they going to release full details of their "Plan", including an environmental impact study.

Now you know why you got that 100% tax hike last year.

More McSherrystown Madness!
Poor McSherrystown. They cannot determine just what kind of town they are. Their Mayor wants [somewhat desperately] to have neighboring Conewago Township construct an extension of Eisenhower Boulevard that McSherrystown [apparently] would then add onto in order to create a by-pass around McSherrystown. Hmmm, and what of Brushtown, will they then extend this "By-Pass" around themselves so we have an expressway to nowhere heading toward Gettysburg? Will it by-pass Bonneauville, too?

Remember the adage from Field of Dreams? "If you build it they wil come". In this case, it won't be classic early 20th century ball players who walk out of the corn to play ball, it will be large yellow bulldozers scraping those cornfields off in all directions so Bob Monahan can build a twelve mile long super mall along the McSherrystown Bypass.

Even worse, all those main drag merchants in McSherrystown will close their shops for the last time pretty quickly once the traffic stops flowing on Route 116.

Hmmm, that didn't take long, did it?
This was posted on Harrisburg Online this morning:
"A Dauphin County Grand Jury is reported to be investigating rumored ties between of Mount Airy Lodge owner - Louis DeNaples - and William D'Elia - the alleged leader of the Bufalino organized crime organization operating out of northeastern Pennsylvania...D'Elia appeared before the Grand Jury on Wednesday in Harrisburg...D'Elia is currently in prison awaiting federal charges of solicitation of murder and laundering drug money...DeNaples - who just received a State slots license for the Mount Airy Lodge - was interviewed by the State Gaming Commission as part of the licensing procedure...he has denied any contact with organized crime...State Gaming Commission officials were also subpoenaed by the Grand Jury..."

Weren't they supposed to sniff this out in the licensing process? Would it be reasonable to expect indictments for some of the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board? Wow, could that lead directly back to new indictments for "Prince Vince" Fumo? After all, he is the father of gambling here in Pennsylvania, or rather the co-father, along with "Fast Eddie" Rendell. Could Fast Eddie be in line for an indictment?

Pardon the analogy, but those two hucksters are slicker than snot on a doorknob. Speaking of hucksters, we remind everyone that our own David "You need this project" LeVan just fell short in his SECOND attempt to get in on the gambling action. He is buddies with Fast Eddie.

Guilt by association.

Well, that's all for now. Tune in again soon for more madness, mayhem, and monkeyshines from our local government and community leaders. Ah, the surprises they have in store for you.

Honest folks, we're not making any of this up.


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

GettysBLOG: Response to a Comment on the Local Economy

A very reasonable sounding person calling themselves pbadgerb has left a comment to a post from the other day. Here is that comment.

So, I will be a pro-casino voice on here, and a borough venter. pbadgerb is my name. Besides saving the "hallowed ground" what has the NCG movement accomplished. This area is suffering. Tourism is down! I never thought that a casino was the answer, but it was a viable solution to the drop in tourism numbers. I always like to see the other side, so now that it is 7 months later, what does everyone propose to keep this area economically viable?

First off, thank you for offering your comments. We published them immediately and without any edits. We appreciate your interest in the subject and your willingness to engage us here in some dialogue.

As for NoCasino Gettysburg, their job ended when the Crossroads Casino was rejected. So yes, they saved "hallowed ground" for the moment. Now it is up to the rest of us to save it in the future, as it is threatened.

We aren’t sure where you get your information but this area is definitely NOT suffering. We have ultra low unemployment, above average household income, and most of all, a very stable local economy based on both the tourism and the fruit industry, with a bunch thrown in from general agriculture.

It has been that way for several decades. It is a stable and bountiful economy. At least it is until you start listening to folks like LeVan, Sites, and Monahan, and the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Adams County Economic Development Corporation. Those people and organizations have worked hard to lay the groundwork in Adams County to support rapid growth through massive housing tracts, and huge commercial centers and malls by making sure the right people get elected as County Commissioners, township supervisors, and township and county planners. Add the borough government as well, but we’ll get to them a bit later since their case is different. For example, what we constantly hear from developers is the catchphrase, “our project will bring many new and much needed jobs to the area.” You can go over the Crossroads statements, and their testimony before the Board and likely find a high number of times that phrase was put forward by them. The folks who want to put a Water Park down near the Boyds Bear Country are saying the same thing. But if you go to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry website that gives the stats for unemployment, the May rate for Adams County is 2.9%, far below the state rate of 4.1% and even farther below the national rate of 4.5 percent as of June of this year according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why would those developers put forth such blatantly dishonest statements? Because they have much to lose if their projects fail, or do not go forward. So they resort to dishonesties [to put it kindly] to get people behind their projects.

[Note: This is a late edit: the Adams County unemployment figure of 2.9% is the lowest in the state. Other counties nearby, Cumberland, Franklin, York, Lancaster, Chester are all between 3.0 and 3.5%. So it isn't just Adams County that is in good shape, it is the whole farm belt from Chester County west to Franklin that is in good shape.]

Thus, as you can readily see, the area is not “suffering”.

We made this point on here two years ago when the Casino was first announced, and drumbeat it regularly until the casino project was rejected. We also warned people that LeVan would not stop pushing for projects once the casino was shot down. Sometimes, as in the case of the casino project, a bad idea takes on a life of its own. Some get resurrected, as LeVan and his out of county cohorts are attempting to do with the racino project near Littlestown. It’s the same idea in different clothing. Unfortunately, it was not only public opposition that sank the Crossroads Casino, it was also a bad location, in that competition was already in place in Charlestown, West Virginia, and about to add table games to their slots operations, but also Maryland is about to jump into the gambling waters. The Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board simply did not think much of Crossroad’s being able to compete for the gambling dollars from the south. So you need to ask yourself, how does moving that casino ten miles and adding a Sulky Track make a difference? The answer is, that it is an even worse location since the roads are not nearly suitable to handle the traffic the casino must have in order to be profitable, plus, it is even harder to get to than the proposed Gettysburg slots parlor. And they still have the Charlestown Racetrack and casino, and the forthcoming Maryland gambling operations to deal with. If Crossroads was a bad idea, this one is even worse. I almost wish it would go through just to see those fat-cat, out of county investors, and LeVan, lose their shirts. And that is exactly what will happen there.

Whatever you do, turn the sound off when you hear them say, “our project will bring much needed jobs to the area”. Then you can watch their lips move and know they are lying.

If tourism is down at all, the likely culprit is the price of gas. If you want to increase tourism then advertise the fact we have low gas rates. Obviously, since there is no passenger service to and from Gettysburg via rail, air, or bus, the folks who come here do so by car or on chartered tour buses.

But I do not believe tourism is down that much. If there is a drop in hotel room occupancy it is because there are many more hotel rooms this year, so occupancy measured as a percentage will show a drastic drop. Instead, it should be measured by the number of guests registered in a hotel. I'll bet the numbers are up. For one thing 25,000 bikers in one weekend is an enormous boost to the tourism numbers.

But, if you plunk 20,000 new homes and assorted other big developments into this county, especially in Straban, Mt. Joy, Cumberland Townships, you will destroy the stability this county has enjoyed for the past few decades. Such rampant development will destroy the fabric of the heritage tourism that comes to the Battlefield here.

Gettysburg’s Battlefield is not confined to the National Park, there are historic areas that are outside park boundaries, and not designated as areas of conflict, yet they remain part of the history of the great battle that was fought here. I refer to the surrounding countryside which fed and sometimes housed men from both armies, as well as providing hospitals to care for the wounded. When you are dealing with over 50,000 casualties, there will be many barns, farmhouses, and town buildings that will become temporary hospitals. This is what I refer to as the context of the Battlefield. It is every bit as important as the Battlefield itself. It is where the men lived when they were not fighting, it was where the decisions were made that directed the fighting, it was where the men were taken to be treated for their wounds, and where most of them died, and it was where the civilians were directly affected by the presence of the two great armies that clashed here.

That heritage is a precious thing, made even more so by the magnificent speech given by President Lincoln. This is priceless stuff, yet we hear those who favor development minimize it, say it is insignificant. It is anything but. This town, the Battlefield and the Cemetery and the surrounding area are as important to this nation’s people as Independence Hall, Boston’s Commons, and Valley Forge. If 51,000 American casualties is insignificant then I fear those who feel so are without any understanding of this nation and how and why it became what it is. One cannot simply write off such heritage. It is too important to the national interest.

Read the July 18 blog entry for further glimpses of this issue:

Are there many businesses in Gettysburg that fail? Of course, just as there are elsewhere. Try this on for size:

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “over 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years.” (“Are You Ready?” United States Small Business Association:

Businesses often fail as the statistics show. And Gettysburg has tons of small businesses, most of which are connected to the heritage of the Battle.

The fruit industry is the other major partner in establishing and maintaining a stable and good economy in Adams County. 20,000 acres of orchards most of which are up on South Mountain provide an enormous economic boost to the area. But the economic statistics of the fruit industry here are mixed in with the general agriculture statistics. Adams County is a major player in state agriculture, and fruit growing and processing is a large part of that. Unfortunately, so is dairy farming and crop growing. There are symptoms of the fruit industry going through a period of change which might reduce its role in our economy. Some of the canners are getting fruit from elsewhere, and processing our local fruit in other plants outside our area. We are not sure of the rationale for this movement, but clearly it is an economic threat.

One can understand, then, why the thought of 20,000 houses sitting on what is now non-fruit producing farmland in Straban, Cumberland, and Mt. Joy Township will clearly put a major dent into the area’s economy. That land produces but it will not when it is paved over and built up, it will be filled with thousands of consumers, probably enough to nearly double the population of the County. Where are their children going to go to school? Where are the police and fire personnel going to come from to handle that nearly 100% increase in local population? Where is the water going to come from that they will consume by drinking, flushing washing, and watering their lawns? Where are the doctors and nurses and teachers and schools going to come from to handle a near doubling of the population in such a short time. Where will the groceries go? And can you just imagine trying to drive our roads with twice the traffic?

So, to sum up, the answer to your question is that to make the area viable, or rather to keep the economy viable as it is, you need to protect the three industries that are the bulk of the County's economy: tourism [which means the Park and all that goes with it], the Fruit industry which is starting to show signs of wear, and the agriculture farms that are about to be sold off for high density, high priced housing and shopping malls. If you turn the Gettysburg area into Frederick or York, or Carlisle, the economy will never survive least folks like you and I will never survive it. We won’t be able to afford to live here. It will be a bedroom community for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The Park will be strangled, and the town will flounder deep into debt, for they will have the burden of dealing with such numbers without having access to the taxes those folks will pay.

And LeVan will be enjoying cold beer in Idaho, [or Montana or wherever], Monahan will be sipping brandy in Washington, and heaven only knows where Dave Sites will migrate once he has sold his last 5000 new houses that he developed. Nope, the developers won’t stick around. Once those housing tracts are in and the shopping malls, and commerce centers are up and standing empty, they’ll be long gone, counting all the money they sucked out of Adams County, and laughing all the way to the bank, thinking, “Boy, we sure showed them!”

So how do we protect the three industries that provide such economic largesse and stability? Stop endangering them. Use economic development money to help the Fruit industry right itself. Use the lack of water in the county’s water tables to stop the development planned for the Route 15 area. Stop approving bad ideas like the Water Park, the four story hotel next to the Pike Restaurant [really, who thinks the Park won’t condemn that property by eminent domain? How close are they to the site of the intrusive National Tower that was taken by eminent domain and taken down? By far, they are too close to both the National and the Evergreen Cemetery! Who okayed this project? Stupidity! Absolute stupidity.]

Further, the borough needs an infusion of regular income. Here is where the Adams County Economic Development Corporation should step in and augment both the county and borough coffers to help defray the costs of protecting the businesses, and citizens of the area. The Federal government, via the National Park Service should also contribute to the borough and county to help defray the costs of taking care of a million tourists per year.

Yes, build new houses, but let’s decide as soon as possible to not become that bedroom community for people from Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. Save the farms. Use ACEDC money to help the farmers cope with rising costs of farming.

The investments coming into this county are going to the wrong destinations. Save what’s here…that is what heritage is all about.

Again, pbadgerb, thank you for taking the time and effort to post a comment here. Dialog is important. We hope we have addressed your comments sufficently, but if you have further questions, feel free to contact us using the Email Me link on the sidebar. If you have further comments, we encourage you, and anyone to post them using the comments link at the bottom of each post.


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

GettysBLOG: "What Fools Does Greed Make Of Men!"

A recent report in the Philadelphia Inquirer indicated a group involved with the Valley Forge Convention Center is applying for one of the two “Resort” licenses to be assigned by the state Gambling Control Board.

Forgive the exasperation, but are these morons so greed-blinded by the smell of gambling money that they failed to grasp the significance of the defeat last December of David LeVan’s attempt to impose a casino on Gettysburg? While LeVan’s project was defeated for two reasons: the Historic Heritage inspired local resistance movement, and the purely business reason that with Charlestown, West Virginia allowing table games at their “racino”, and Maryland soon to allow gambling, the business estimates provided by LeVan’s group were considered too optimistic.

The Valley Forge area, in addition to the historical heritage of the region, where America’s first army found its character, is not really the tourist mecca to the degree foreseen by the Gambling Control Board. To call it a resort is spin of the most severe degree, and flat out dishonest.

Yes, people from all over the world visit Valley Forge, but for the most part they stay elsewhere. They do not come to the region for other tourist venues, no world class amusement park, the nearest botanical gardens closer to Brandywine Battlefield State Park than to Valley Forge. The region does not draw especially well from Delaware or Maryland, and certainly not from New Jersey. So, who are they targeting, who are they counting on to meekly submit to the lightening of their purses in a casino located at Valley Forge? Locals! Never mind that some twenty miles away in Philadelphia’s greater Center City area there are going to be two new casino resorts built in the near future, thanks in large part to our graft-ridden State Supreme Court, or that just a little way farther south there is a brand-spanking new race track and casino at Chester. About 60 miles to the west there is the Penn National Race Track and its Casino.

What fools does greed make of men! When was the last time any of you readers transited the Valley Forge area? Except on the turnpike it is an exercise in frustration with all the roads clogged to the max, and even the Turnpike gets jammed frequently.

Nearby Montgomery County successfully, and wisely, discouraged a potential casino project by simply citing the fact that the area was too overburdened by traffic to consider such a plan. In addition, the fools behind the project were going to put it right next to a nuclear power plant. Does the term “security risk” come to mind?

We are NOT anti-business, nor are we anti-development, or even anti-gambling, but sometimes you just have to say “NO.”

Slow growth is good…it gives folks time to adjust. It gives the new development time to grow into the area and become established. Development like what the Gettysburg and Hanover areas are suffering from the likes of “Illegal” Bob Monahan, David LeVan and David Sites, is simply tantamount to having 20,000 new homes, and their occupants, plus a dozen new hotels, water parks, race tracks, casinos, and restaurants shoved down your throats at one time. It is rampant runaway development that serves only one purpose: to make Monahan, LeVan, and Sites infinitely richer than they already are. Oh, and I forgot, to stroke their petty egos as well, especially LeVan, who likes to get his name on everything he can, regardless of how much it costs him. [Ask yourself why Monahan doesn’t live here any more.]

And all at YOUR expense. They can afford the taxes, you cannot. They can afford the headaches and growing pains that goes along with aging infrastructure upgrades, new schools, hospitals, more fire and police, greater government controls over your rights, and the loss of green space. For those of you who believe in global warming, a large part of the guilty parties causing it are people like LeVan, Monahan, and Sites.

It is simple really: green, especially trees, exchanges carbon monoxide for fresh oxygen, removing some pollutants from the air and providing fresh clean air. According to, “A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year.”

Sadly, heritage and green space are losing horribly to the Monahans, Sites, LeVans, and the wannabes at Valley Forge. Money talks. But you’ll never see any of it as you struggle to keep pace with rising taxes, and rising costs of living in an area that has been stable for at least a half-century. That is, stable, not stationary.

Sometimes you just have to say “NO.”


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GettysBLOG: The Casino Fight - Round Two!

This really is most astonishing folks. The Crossroads Casino was killed because of a popular movement against it that was passionate to epic proportions, but more solidly, it was denied because the financial forecast did not ring true. With the likely addition of table games in Charlestown, and the advent of gambling in Maryland, and yes, Frederick is targeted to get a casino, and perhaps Westminster, also, then a facility in Adams County was not a viable option, there being insufficient guaranteed market for it. Seriously, with US 70 and US 270, and US 40 and US 340, being pretty much direct routes to Frederick, and Charlestown, why in the world would someone risk a further 45-60 minutes up US 15 to get to a turnoff to drive another 5 miles on back roads to get to a new sulky track and casino in …Littlestown?!?!?!? Come on!

But recently, two local forums have heated up.
BoroughVent, apparently started by Gettysburg’s own Sign-Man, Gene Golden, who obviously has it in for the Borough, the Borough Council, the now-retired Walter Powell, and of course, the National Park Service, along with every single person who went against the Casino project, is loaded with diatribes and ad hominem attacks against all thing and all people that are lumped together as NCGs, No Casino Gettysburg types. Susan Star Paddock, who dissolved her organization late last winter shortly after the Casino was rejected, is singled out for quite a bit of abuse. We are proud of the fact that the “Pros,” or Pro Casino folks, flail away at GettysBLOG, never attacking any facts we present, but castigating us for remaining anonymous…the whole time they are posting under pseudonyms themselves.

It is truly hilarious to see the Pros milling about mired in their own hypocrisy. They ignore the fact that the casino was rejected because it was a bad location for the business [as would be Littlestown – really boys, connect some dots!], and that the few jobs Monahan has brought to his Commerce Park, where he still illegally displays the Great Seal of the United States for commercial purposes [and as a former member of the United States Department of State MONAHAN KNOWS BETTER!], have gone unfilled in large part because the Gettysburg area HAS ULTRA LOW UNEMPLOYMENT! Indeed, two restaurants were to open in his commerce park and at least one was delayed because they could not fill their positions! They finally opened for dinner only!

Folks, we’ve been hammering away at this point for over two years now. We started this blog after Straban Township did their rezoning that will eliminate 11,000 acres of open green space in their township, destroying the great agricultural base in Straban Township. Shortly after that, the first project that was announced was the Casino project, and we jumped on that because it was the first step in the paving of Straban Township. Very quickly we added the insult to the historical heritage of the area for crass commercialism as one of its negatives. LeVan’s lies about how badly the area needs an economic boost were not believed by the State Gambling Control Commission. How long before we hear them again, this time about Littlestown?

The same situation exists today that existed last December when the Gambling Board said no to a casino in Adams County.

Not content to follow Gene Golden’s crusade against the Borough of Gettysburg, the National Park Service, the now defunct No Casino Gettysburg organization, and everyone else who disagrees with him, Golden’s Gang has spread their hypocrisy to the forum of the
Hanover Evening Sun. We are not sure Susan Star Paddock even posts on either of those forums, and I know we do not, yet they take every opportunity to trash her, and us, and anyone else who does not agree with them. One of Golden’s Gang is Herb Riede, the unubiquitous Mayor of McSherrystown. Hizzonor, for example, is upset with the township that surrounds the town, and parts of Hanover as well, because they won’t fund a bypass around McSherrystown. Indeed, why should they? Their township is in large part a diminishing rural one, with spreading housing tracts like Straban will become. In fact, such a highway would serve to feed the paving machine of Bob Monahan who is already building a mall beside a mall in Hanover. Put a bypass around McSherrystown and you will get a mall along each side of it. Herb knows this, which is why he wants the bypass. Even Riede is getting into the track/casino fight...again.

Here is a comment of his from the Evening Sun forum:

Losing the Crossroads project was an example of the simple-mindedness and weak will of the gaming board members, having succumbed to rhetoric over reason as opposed to the facts on the table.

Well Mr. Mayor, it really wasn’t the rhetoric that sank your project…it was the facts. As we have posted on numerous occasions, those facts that Golden’s Gang, and Hizzonor keep ignoring are facts that not only do not support their positions, but support those who are against their positions, and show the blatant deceptive intent of the developers like Monahan and LeVan.

We are positive that this post will inflame the Pros, causing them to start new threads about us on both forums. It won’t be pretty.

We’ll give them three tips: We have very good reason to remain anonymous; we do not teach at Gettysburg College; and we will never post to those forums. The reason we won’t post to the forums is simple. One should never wrestle with pigs; you get very dirty and the pigs enjoy it too much.


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 13, 2007

GettysBLOG: “Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more”

[This post was written to the rumble of hundreds of bikes, here in Gettysburg for Bike Week, roaring past the premises.]
Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more!
--King Henry V, to his compatriots
at siege of the town of Harfleur,
France, shortly before the
Battle of Agincourt,
--William Shakespeare, in his play Henry V
Some people never learn.

Back on February 1, in our post GettysBLOG: How Gettysburg Escaped the Casino, we posted direct quotes from the report of the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board validating their rejection of the proposed casino for Gettysburg. Among the direct quotes from the report:
...With respect to the Crossroads project, Crossroads presented substantial testimony that it will rely in large part on the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. areas for its patronage and that 60% to 65% of its revenues would originate from outside the Commonwealth. The Gettysburg area itself is primarily a rural area without large population centers nearby to sustain the casino, thus the emphasis on the market to the South. In theory, this strategy is appealing. However, during the licensing hearings, Gettysburg presented testimony that it was “virtually the same drive time away” from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. market as Charlestown slots in West Virginia and that Charlestown had a casino win of $437 million in the fiscal year ending January 30, 2006. While that number is significant, the Board was not presented with any credible evidence to demonstrate how much of that Charlestown business could be expected to leave thatfacility and travel north to Gettysburg.

Further, the Board received testimony concerning the possibility of slot machines being introduced in Maryland and the impact that would have on the Gettysburg property. Gettysburg proponents testified that that they do not believe gaming legislation will be passed in Maryland in the “near future” but that even if it did, “we estimate that the revenue impact on Crossroads will be between 15 and 20 percent leaving Crossroads a substantial cushion above its break-even revenue level.” See Hearing transcript at p. 62. While the Board certainly is comforted by the testimony that Crossroads would have a cushion above its break-even revenue level, since the Board has a strong interest in “protecting its product” by assuring that the chosen casinos stay in business, a twenty percent decline in revenues would place the revenue generation estimates in the $216 million to $231 million range depending on whether the Task Force or Crossroads revenue estimates are utilized. This scenario would place Crossroads at the bottom of the revenue generation models, a position any applicant should desire to avoid in a competitive licensing situation as is present here...

...However, in the comparative setting to which these licenses are subject, the Board finds that the economic benefit of Crossroads and Tropicana, given the smaller economic commitments, likely will not be as significant as the benefits which will occur by virtue of the larger commitments and the spin-offbusiness associated therewith of the Mount Airy, Sands Bethworks and Pocono Manor projects. This again is a factor which the Board weighs in favor of those applicants...
Now we find that the man who came up with the incredibly stupid idea to build a casino within a mile of the section of the Gettysburg Battlefield known as East Cavalry Field [where Custer and Wade Hampton slugged it out in a bloody fight on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg], is at it again with an even more stupid proposal.

Ignoring the wisdom in the quoted sections above, David LeVan [reportedly] is determined to sink his hooks into Adams County and inflict gambling on the residents here whether they want it or not. In a somewhat confusing report in this evening’s Hanover Evening Sun, LeVan [reportedly] is behind an effort to construct a sulky racing track and an accompanying casino in the Littlestown area [or somewhere between Littlestown and the Hanover Shoe Farms along Route 97 in Germany Township. According to the Sun, which passed along a report from Pittsburgh TV station KDKA, “…at least three other parties from outside the Pittsburgh Region are interested in applying for the harness licenses, ‘including the group that wanted to put a slots casino in Gettysburg.’”
The Commonwealth still has two “resort” casino licenses to give, and one license for a slots parlor at a harness racing track [if the state courts don’t restrict that license to one of two contenders from western Pennsylvania [Beaver and Lawrence Counties] that have been previously rejected.]

What LeVan and his band of merry gamblers from outside the county have a hard time understanding is the very reasoned stance taken by the Gambling Control Commission in dealing with their first application: gambling in West Virginia, which already exists, and the likelihood that gambling will soon be enabled in Maryland simply does not provide enough of a market to support a casino here in Adams County.

Nevertheless, if LeVan and the Crossroads folks stay true to form, they’ll parrot their previous claims of an economic bonanza for the county if they can only build their casino at the harness racing track. “Much needed jobs”, “financial incentives for local government”, “a huge and much needed boost to the local economy,” are what they claimed for the proposed casino at US 15 and US 30 that was finally rejected in December of 2006.

And when they parrot those same claims they will be repeating their lies from last year. We have demonstrated repeatedly here that the Adams County economy is NOT in need of such a boost, is NOT in need of more jobs, and while local governments continually cry poormouth, and beg for all the revenue they can get, they simply do not need it…that money is available from existing sources they could tap.

We can hardly wait for Mrs. Malaprop, Crossroads investor Barbara Ernico, wife of Crossroads attorney Jeff Ernico [isn’t that nepotism?], to appear in the Gettysburg Times and the Hanover Evening or Sunday Sun again. She was quite entertaining in a Marie Antoinette sort of fashion with her “let them eat cake” attitude while pushing a project that had a better chance in her own Cumberland County, as does this one.

We warned you after the Crossroads project was rejected that David LeVan was not done. He will inflict himself on the residents of this county in any way he can, ingratiating himself to law enforcement by donating motorcycles and money for a canine unit to the Adams County Sheriff’s office, and to local businesses who will generate huge boosts to their profits this weekend when 25,000 bikers invade the Gettysburg area for “Bike Week”, an event that exists primarily to fill the coffers of one David LeVan through his Battlefield Harley Davidson dealership. And those merchants will reap those profits this weekend at the cost of a high level of distress among the local populace who must contend with 20 hours each day of groups of bikers roaring up and down the streets of the town, and the usually quiet lanes of the surrounding countryside. They started Thursday night.

But make no mistake about it, there is one person who will benefit the greatest from Bike Week, and that is David LeVan, by a wide margin over everyone else. [see, I told you we don’t need economic help in this region!].

It is time for David LeVan to stop his attempt to buy Adams County. He has neither the money to do it, nor the talent. He is now spreading his wealth eastwards, toward York County. If only he and his out of county investors would just pick up and move there.

Like the Adams County Economic Development Corporation, the Adams County Commissioners, the supervisors in several townships , such as Cumberland and Straban, and real estate developers like “Illegal” Bob Monahan, and David Sites, our own David LeVan is part of an evil conspiracy to rob Adams County of its identity and its heritage. Unless and until they are stopped, such projects as this one, and the earlier casino project, a possible casino at the Eisenhower Inn [oh yes, someone wants to buy the Eisenhower Inn and turn it into a casino using one of the resort licenses still up for grabs!], and the absolutely stupid, and incredibly environmentally disastrous water park in the same area, not to mention the TWO rodeo centers north of town along US 15, and even worse, the 20,000 plus houses supposedly to be built in the next five years will blossom all over the county, changing us from Adams County to Adams City, making us part of the megalopolis stretching from Washington to Boston, and now spreading inland. Throw away the bulk of early American history, folks, it will no longer have a home.

The folks and organizations named above are the principles in this loose conspiracy of greedy dunces. They are participating in the land-rape of Adams County. Stop them!

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
--Henry V, at the Battle of Agincourt,
October 25, 1415 [St. Crispin’s Day]
--William Shakespeare, in his play Henry V

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Giles Hickory: Screwge Rendell and the Band of Thieves

There is nothing so stupid as Pennsylvania’s version of Dickens "A Christmas Carol," set in July.

One of the most egregious practices in Pennsylvania State Government is the Screwge Rendell practice of furloughing Commonwealth Employees during budget impasses in the General Assembly. This practice effectively puts the burden of a Constitutional requirement onto the backs [and out of the wallets of state employees]. State employees will lose a full week’s pay, never to regain it, and will only receive partial pay for additional weeks on furlough, never to regain the difference, while the parties, the houses, and the Governor dicker over the annual budget.

Known as a union-buster from his days as mayor of Philadelphia, Screwge has abused the Commonwealth employees with miserly, even punitive contracts over the past five years. Commonwealth employees went without raises for two years at one point, not even a cost of living increase. The following year much of the raise they did get was offset by a new deduction to cover part of their own health care plan!

Now Screwge Rendell is going to stick it to them again, this time with the full aid and comfort of the leadership in the General Assembly. Oh yes, he is definitely sticking it to a number of groups, like the casino operators, and the State Store workers, and those who run the State Parks across the Commonwealth, and of course to the tax-payers who will not be able to utilize many state services during this politically imposed budget vacation…which is little more than a ploy by Screwge Rendell to save budget money up front.

In this matter Screwge Rendell has the able assistance of the Band of Thieves we formally address as the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Thieves they are because they are abetting Screwge Rendell in the theft of income directly from the pockets of the state’s nearly 23,000 employees. They argue the merits of a bill banning smoking while 23,000 employees and their families and dependents are about to go without. This “Let them eat cake” attitude is typical of Harrisburg without true reform. So Screwge Rendell fiddles, while the Band of Thieves fiddle back. Sounds more like something a group of pubescent boys would sneak off into the woods to do in secret.

Nearly every month of his administration the department of revenue has collected tens of millions of dollars more than the state’s expenditures for that month. In some cases, it has been hundreds of millions of dollars as Federal bonuses for certain state programs have been earned [recently several million dollars were awarded to Pennsylvania for the reduction of fraud cases in the state-administered Federal Food Stamp Program.] No one seems to know where this money is going. Yet despite being up by a surplus that is likely at least 2 billion dollars in the Treasury, Screwge continues to cry poor mouth while demanding ever increasing budget items from the General Assembly.

Now there is a solution to all of this – a number of steps that can be added to the state’s Constitution that will alleviate this kind of event in the future:

First, pass a law barring the governor or any member of the administration, or of the courts, or of the General Assembly, or any member of State Government, from furloughing Commonwealth Employees during a budget-negotiation impasse, and barring them from suspending any benefits of Commonwealth Employees.

Second, have the Sergeant-at-arms of each house secure the members and staffs of the General Assembly in their respective chambers by locking all doors from the outside. Provide six porta-potties to the House of Representatives, and four to the Senate.

Third, construct a small, enclosed, air-conditioned room, with standard wooden, or metal folding chairs, and a card table, for the Governor and his selected staff to occupy during budget negotiations. Lock the Governor and his designated staff into the room at midnight of any June 30 where there exists no signed budget. Add a single porta-potty to this room, which is to be no bigger than 15’ by 15’. Cut off all communication with the outside world with the exception of a single State Police radio with one channel operation synchronized with a state police guard outside the door who is there to assure no one disturbs the Governor and his staff during the budget impasse. There will be a mail slot in the door sufficient for passing to the occupants: meals, unchilled bottled water, required prescription medication paid for in cash by the occupant requiring it, and a passed budget document submitted for signing.

Fourth, have the Commonwealth’s Attorney General lock the State Supreme Court in the chamber of the Chief Justice, including their clerks and staffs, with no access to rest rooms, but two porta-potties. Cut off all communication with the outside world with the exception of a single State Police radio with one channel operation synchronized with a state police guard outside the door who is there to assure no one disturbs their honors during the budget impasse. There will be a mail slot in the door sufficient for passing to the occupants: meals, unchilled bottled water, and required prescription medication paid for in cash by the occupant requiring it.

Leadership negotiations between the houses shall take place in a room identical to the Governor’s room as noted above, with the same provisions.

Fifth, dock the pay of every member of the Governor’s Administration, every member of the General Assembly, their staffs, and their caucus staffs, and the State Courts, pro-rated for every minute without a budget after midnight of June 30. Further, for every hour after midnight of June 30th without a signed budget, block any and all contributions to said employees’ retirement plans for one month.

Further, between midnight June 30th, and the signing of the State’s budget, no medical coverage shall exist for any of the above employees, nor for their dependents. Any medical emergencies that occur during the budget impasse will be covered by the employee’s by cash deductions from their retirement accounts.

Meals will be provided to all the above locations for cash only, consisting of powdered eggs and a slice of toast, and one cup of coffee, milk, or juice, a single sandwich of either ham, turkey or bologna on white bread with margarine, a pint of milk, coffee, or water, and supper of the same as lunch and a late night snack of graham crackers or a Pennsylvania grown apple. The charge will be $3 for each meal and $1 for each snack.

All proceedings of the General Assembly will be covered by PCN on split screen [one half for each chamber], at all times, with no periods where the sound is off from the microphones in one house or the other, and no music. Other TV networks may broadcast feeds of the proceedings from PCN at cost, to be broadcast without commercial interruption or interruption of any other kind. If another network broadcasts the proceedings, it will broadcast one house, while PCN broadcasts the others, with live microphones, 24/7.

One time through this mill should be enough to guarantee for at least a century that Pennsylvania will have on-time budgets as demanded by the State Constitution.

Cartoon courtesy of Eric Epstein at RockThe

Giles Hickory

“To what can we ascribe the absurd measures of Congress, in times past, and the speedy recision of those measures, but to the want of some check?” -- An Examination Into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, by “A Citizen of America”, Philadelphia, October 17, 1787

Copyright © 2005-2007,
Pennsylvania Order of Liberty Blog; All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2005-2007, GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

"In Natura Tranquillitatis Est"

[Reposted from April 8, 2006]

There is something about the tranquillity of the Battlefield in the darkening of an evening. There are few places around any more that show as many stars, and viewed from the Wheatfield, a full moon rising over Little Round Top is superior to any thunderous dawn of Kipling’s. In the summer, after the visitors go, the park’s non-human inhabitants come out – deer anywhere around the park, fox kits playing at the intersection of Hancock and Pleasanton Avenues, bobcats screaming up and down both Round Tops. In natura tranquillitatis est.

No one can prepare you for the first time you drive up Hancock Avenue on a mid-July evening, and as you pass the copse of trees, if you look to your left, you see them: thousands of gun flashes in the fields over which Pickett’s, Pettigrew’s and Trimble’s men strode in their crouching walk into the face of death. You know, finally that they are only fireflies, but for a moment…

On those very quiet nights, when only the insects sing, you can sometimes park in the Visitor’s Center lot and roll down your windows, and catch something extra in the air. You listen to the cycle of the cicadas, and once in a while they synchronize and you hear him, “…come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this… poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated…”

In a gushing storm you can hear the crash of the artillery with every thunderclap, and the roar of the muskets in the teeming rain, and as the wind swirls faster, you hear the rising moan of the wounded.

And in the shimmering light of a full moon you see the men standing silent guard in their line of battle – monuments not men, but monuments erected by the men who fought here and survived. There was something very, very special about these fields, and hills. It was so special, the men were drawn back to these grounds, and they came, every five years for almost a century until none were left. They were no longer enemies, but brothers who had experienced Hell and came away from the maelstrom with their lives.

When they returned they chased out the gamblers, the prostitutes, the trolley line, and the commercial ventures, and they did so out of their own pockets, buying up small parcels of ground, some not much bigger than a 12 foot square, as that was all they could afford. In such measures they bought the land on which the trolley ran, and then evicted it…not without a court fight, but the government took that up with the trolley operators. It was the second time they paid for this land. In their minds, and in their hearts, they already owned it, not for themselves, but for this nation, under God.

These men, who’s lives were measured by fate on those three days in July, these men came back, and as long as they could they made sure proper respect was paid to the ground that had soaked up so much blood, theirs, their messmates, their friends, brothers, cousins, and tens of thousands of men they never knew, never saw, nor would they ever meet.

It was these men who crafted the permanent memorial that is this park, this Battlefield. First with their sweat and blood, and later with whatever dollars they could spare, and sometimes with dollars they could not spare. And every five years they’d come back, and erect another monument and pair of flank markers, and some of them would speak, and men who were never here would speak bold and inspiring words, and there would be that sad feeling that every time they came back there were fewer still. But it was an inner drive, a duty to perform as long as one of them survived, to keep coming back here to honor and pay tribute to all who fought here, that this nation might live.

Those of us who were never there, and that is all of us, every single person on the face of this planet, and all to come, have no recourse but to stand and try to imagine -- a fruitless exercise, but to try to imagine the enormity of it all. It cannot be honestly done for we have nothing in our experience, any of us, to compare with what they experienced here. Movies and reenactments can give us a sense of it, but no one can possibly know what it was like. D-Day in 1944 where the Allies had 150,000 men engaged, lost about 10,000. At Gettysburg, the Confederates had approximately 65-75,000 men and had over 28,000 casualties, while the Army of the Potomac with somewhere around 90,000 men lost over 23,000.

From 8 AM on July 1st, to approximately 8 PM on July 3rd, a period of 60 hours, the combined average loss rate was 850 men every hour, 14 men every minute -- every single hour. That is a man down every four seconds.

Numbers like that are incomprehensible, not only in total, but in trying to get a grasp in one’s mind, to understand the enormity of it by trying to break it into little pieces, as the men themselves broke this Battle into smaller pieces. The Seminary, Barlow’s Knoll, The Wheatfield (where the fighting was probably as bad as, and perhaps more dreadfully efficient than the fighting during Pickett’s Charge), The Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, Seminary Ridge, Culp’s Hill, East Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, Benner’s Hill, Powers Hill, and the farms, Rose, Weikert, Sherfy, McPherson, Culp, Benner, Codori and Trostle. All those names, each in their own nook on the Battlefield. Names that will live in American history as places where a nation was re-forged, where its course was corrected, and a wrong was righted.

Where once the sound was so immense and terrifying, and sights presented before the eyes that the mind could not swallow, now it is a somber, and reverent field, a field that drains a million tears in a small brook called Plum Run – a field on which those men gave the last full measure of devotion.

In natura tranquillitatis est – in nature there is tranquillity.


Copyright © 2005-2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Battle Anniversary: The Cleansing

After the fighting ended on that 3rd day of July, 1863, and after the smoke had cleared, some 150,000 men stared blankly across the slope separating Seminary Ridge from Cemetery Ridge, and wondered what version of Hell would next present itself. A small group of soldiers ventured out from Union lines on Cemetery Ridge, in front of the artillery pieces that were now cooling and silent. They went forward and worked to put out the blaze in front of those guns, where grass, and clothing and bodies themselves had caught fire from the intense heat of the furious blasts.

If you had not been present for the battle, but had happened on it just at this time, you would have heard the moaning, and screams of thousands of wounded and dying who were laying on that slope, and around those guns. Those that had partaken of the battle, who had fired their guns in as rapid a fashion as they could, and had defended those cannons from the enemy, heard only the ringing in their ears. In some cases it would be days before they could hear normally, in other cases, they never would.

Ambulance attendants, hospital orderlies, and work crews from all the regiments that were able to muster them, on both ridges, began to move forward to collect, first the wounded, then later, the dead. As they had the night before, the bands of all the regiments, brigades, divisions and corps, began to play along Taneytown Road, to mask the sounds coming from the hospitals in the rear. Down the western slope of Seminary Ridge, the Confederate bands played. Because of that gun-deafness, few who were in the front lines could hear the bands. It was a good thing, perhaps, for it meant they were the lucky few who could not hear the screaming and the low, steady moaning sound that came from the hospitals, not quite hidden by the music.

Officers busied themselves scurrying along the regimental and company fronts, straightening their lines, checking their men, making sure they had all gotten fresh ammunition, and water. The sergeants would be along later with some food, hardtack most likely, and perhaps some salt beef from a commissary barrel someone was actually able to locate.

Out on the slope, frequent shots rang out as a wounded horse or mule was found and its misery ended.

As the twilight deepened into full night, one could look across the slope between the ridges and see lanterns moving about on the field, as the removal process continued. For once, neither side had the stomach to take the other under fire. For once exhaustion and a surfeit of bloodletting forced humanity upon them.

Sometime in the early morning hours of July 4th, 1863, Independence Day, it began to rain. After a hazy dawn, the recovery continued, in the rain. A prisoner exchange was requested by General Robert E. Lee, and declined by Major General George G. Meade. It was Union policy that prisoner exchanges cease, because the Confederacy refused to treat captured United States Colored Troops, and their white officers the same as white troops, and their white officers; and because the United States was winning a war of attrition against the Confederacy, and the return of Confederate prisoners who would fight again after parole, would only help prolong the war.

All day in the fog and the rain, the recovery continued. Some wounded would lay there for days before being discovered and taken to hospitals. Many who searched for Confederate dead and wounded were their slaves, looking for their masters. As many as 10,000 had accompanied the Army of Northern Virginia on the campaign. Now, as it became obvious that the Rebels has suffered a setback, many of the slaves were running from the army, and into the freedom of the Pennsylvania countryside – behind Union lines.

Lee ordered a few units to build rather large fires along Seminary Ridge after nightfall on the 4th to cover for the departing units. Indeed, he had sent his main supply train, some twenty miles in length, back toward the Potomac River earlier in the day, complete with the wounded, and the prisoners Meade refused to exchange. They went west, initially toward Chambersburg, but only to turn south once over the crest of South Mountain. Now it was time for the Army to go. They headed southwest toward Hagerstown by way of Fairfield, and Waynesboro.

By July 5th, the rain had increased its intensity. Cavalry troopers pursuing the retreating Confederates over South Mountain near the village of Monterey on the evening of the 5th, slogged up the steep mountain road, fighting not only the mud and the Confederates, but the driving rain, and the rushing torrents that drained down from the crest of the mountain. The terrain on either side of the road was so treacherous that the Confederates needed to place only one artillery piece in the road, aiming it down at the men of Brigadier General George A. Custer’s Michigan Cavalry Brigade. Custer’s men knew they were close and eventually carved out a five mile long section of Major General Richard S. Ewell’s Corps supply train, which was approximately 17 miles long.

Back at the battlefield, the teeming rains continued to wash the blood from the ground, and rocks. The rains kept up for days, and why not? Had there not been so much blood spilled that the rains would need time to do the cleansing? During this time, a few militia troops, and many civilian volunteers once again scoured the battlefield for wounded, and buried the dead upon which they stumbled.

To see the weather, one need only look at the photographer’s images, those in particular of Alexander Gardner, the Scotsman hired by Matthew Brady to come to America in 1857, or Timothy O’Sullivan, both of whom were part of a group of about 20 that Brady sent out across the country to photograph the Civil War. Anything in the distance in any of the views is shrouded in fog and mist.

They arrived soon after the battle. They started taking pictures immediately, trying to capture the dead, and get an image of the numbers of the dead. It had been the dead of the September, 1862, Battle of Antietam, that had both repulsed and enthralled the visitors to Brady’s New York gallery. It brought the human price of the war home to all who viewed those images.

By the time Gardner and O’Sullivan arrived, most of the Union dead had been removed from the fields. What we are left with is the view of row upon row of Confederate dead, and soldier after soldier, now a cold photographic subject that was once a warm and breathing human being. Pictures of the dead made money, so pictures of the dead is what Brady got from his photographers.

Two of the most famous photos, The Harvest of Death (above), and its opposite view (below), which purport to be the only photographs showing Union dead on the Battlefield, are, to this day, still a mystery as to the location on the Gettysburg Battlefield where they were taken.

Nevertheless, one can easily see the weather when the photographs were taken.

It rained, it poured, for days. Some have ventured to guess that a hurricane slowly moved through the area, dumping tropical rains on the Pennsylvania countryside.

The three days of killing on the fields surrounding the town of Gettysburg had made for very hot work. By day, the sun burned through the hazy humidity warming the air into the mid to upper 80s, and by night, it likely never went below the upper 60s. And coming a mere ten days after the summer solstice, those hot days allowed for maximum daylight hours – hours that could be used for the butchery of battle. It was rarely wasted, with most fights going from the afternoon, into the evening, and sometimes continuing all night long. It was hot, all three days…hot and dry.

Now, though, the great cleansing had begun. The armies had moved off, and Nature was doing its best to cleanse itself from this great killing that occurred over these beautiful rocky fields, and through these woods and orchards. It was as if it was eager to remove the scars of an insult, but even for Nature it was too late. The ground had been hallowed by blood, and by blood its hallowing would remain. And nothing, ever, would sully that hallowing.

Novus Livy

Copyright © 2005-2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Battle Anniversary: "The Men Lay in Heaps."

Gettysburg Pennsylvania. July 3, 1863

The Bliss Farm
On the morning of July 3, 1863, the small farm belonging to William Bliss was the focus of entirely too much attention. Situated some 100 yards west of the Emmitsburg Road, the farmhouse, and barn, and the orchard behind the buildings, were providing cover for men of both sides. The Confederates of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, holding Seminary Ridge about a third of a mile farther west sent skirmishers and sharpshooters to the Bliss Farm buildings to use them as cover while they sent sniper fire up the slope onto Cemetery Ridge, and, to the left, up the western and southern slopes of Cemetery Hill. The large barn, situated on some of the highest ground in the area, was of stone and brick construction, with the lower level German style overhang facing the road. From the five cattle doors on the lower eastern side, and from the slits in the side of the upper story Confederate sharpshooters were wreaking havoc with the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge, and Cemetery Hill, and the Union skirmishers along the Emmitsburg Road.

The 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment was sent forward to drive the ‘Johnnies’ off the Bliss Farm. They eventually did so, at some cost. While in possession of the farm buildings, couriers arrived from Cemetery Ridge bearing orders to burn the buildings to deny the Confederates use of the cover. Gathering up his men, Major Theodore G. Ellis ordered them to stack hay in the barn, furniture and bedding in the house and to set the piles ablaze after evacuating all the wounded from both buildings. Once the fires were going in earnest, Ellis and his men withdrew to the main Union line on Cemetery Ridge under cover of the thick smoke issuing from the blaze. As the building began to collapse, the pickets along Emmitsburg Road set up a cheer.

The Cannonade
Sometime around 1 PM, two ‘Napoleons’ from the Washington Artillery of Louisiana fired a single round apiece, as a signal to the rest of the artillery: “Commence Firing”. Lined up in an arc from the Peach Orchard in the south, curving through the fields west of the Emmitsburg Road, to Seminary Ridge and all the way up to the Lutheran Seminary itself in the north, over 100 guns opened up, directing most of their fire at the top of Cemetery Ridge, and the west and north side of Cemetery Hill. To a soldier in the 14th Connecticut, “It seemed as if all the Demons in Hell were let loose and were howling through the air.” For the next hour, Confederate artillery pounded away at Cemetery Ridge and Cemetery Hill. Here, an artillery caisson full of ammunition was hit, exploding in a ball of flame, and eliciting cheers from the Confederate gunners, and from the Infantry waiting in the woods behind them. There a section of stone wall was breached, and more cheers went up. The Yankee artillery fired back for a while, and then, one by one, the Union guns fell silent, on orders from their Chief of Artillery, General Henry Hunt. Hunt wanted the Confederates to think their cannonade was effectively taking out the artillery batteries arrayed along Cemetery Ridge, so he ordered them to cease fire one at a time and to pull back off the west slope of the ridge and out of danger. The Confederates took the bait.

Colonel E. Porter Alexander was in command of the cannonade for the Confederates. At about 1:40 PM, he sent a message to Major General George E. Pickett, the man designated to Command the advance of some 12,000 infantrymen across the mile of open ground between Seminary Ridge and Cemetery Ridge. The note said, “The 18 guns have been driven off. For God’s sake come on quick or we cannot support you ammunition nearly out.”

Brigadier General Henry Hunt was a progressive thinking genius. He was innovative: he had developed a method of bringing ammunition to the gunline in a fast manner by using the ambulances of the Army of the Potomac to haul ammunition forward, and to bring wounded back.

During the Confederate cannonade, he had ordered his guns to return fire for a while, but then ordered them to start slackening their fire gradually, and one gun at a time, in order to both conserve ammunition and to fool the Confederates into thinking their fire was more effective than it was.

[His management of the artillery throughout the three day battle was simply magnificent, and a large factor in the eventual outcome. As good as the Union Artillery was at Gettysburg, for the most part, the Confederate Artillery was that bad. It was not that they lacked the skill, but they lacked the manufacturing capacity in the South to make fuses for the shells.]

Pickett’s men moved out of the woods on Seminary Ridge and formed a line a mile long. About 2 PM, as the artillery fire slackened, they moved forward, the regiments in their brigades, formed in line abreast, two or more ranks deep. One officer from the 12th New Jersey later wrote that it was, “the grandest sight I ever witnessed.” A Sergeant from the 14th Connecticut said, “It was a glorious sight to see, Rebels though they were.” A Union artillery officer offered the more sobering outlook, “Our chances for Kingdom Come, or Libby Prison were good.”

The previously withdrawn artillery units were quickly returned to their locations on the west crest of Cemetery Ridge, and immediately began a deliberate, and steady fire into the ranks of the advancing Confederates. From time to time, segments of the long Confederate line would disappear from sight, having marched into a swale. Some were forced to climb the sturdy split rail fences that partitioned off the land into separate lots on both sides of the Emmitsburg Road. At such times they were particularly vulnerable to Union fire. Finally, they reached the Emmitsburg Road, and climbed the fence on the west side, and using that sunken road as cover for a brief respite from the angry shelling, buzzing rifle miniƩ balls, and whirring shards of artillery shells, they dressed their lines once more for the final assault, and climbed the fence on the east side of the road, taking up the advance.

As Pickett’s three brigades maneuvered across the fields, angling north from the Codori Farm, three regiments from George Stannard’s Vermont Brigade stepped out and down the western slope of Cemetery Ridge where two of them took Pickett’s men under fire on the flank. The Vermonters stayed out in front of the Union lines and when Pickett’s men swung in toward the Copse of Trees, the Vermonters struck their right flank a second time.

8th Ohio
On the Union right, the doughty and seasoned veterans of the 8th Ohio Regiment advanced along a sunken lane parallel to the Confederate assault’s northern-most Brigade, that of Colonel John Brockenborough’s Virginians. The Ohio men advanced from the lane and struck the left flank of the Virginians, forcing them to withdraw in some disarray.

Wilcox and Lang
Back on the Confederate right, a late starting force of two Brigades under Brigadier General Cadmus Wilcox, and Colonel David Lang surged forward over the same ground they had the day before, only to have been ambushed by Union artillery and the valiant 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment. Today’s results would be worse. The 13th Vermont faced south and struck the left of David Lang’s Brigade emerging from the ravine below the Codori Farm in the same place Wilcox’s Alabamans had been ambushed the day before. Wilcox bore the brunt of Colonel Freeman McGilvery’s artillery brigade firing from hidden ground on Cemetery Ridge. Wilcox and Lang turned their men and withdrew.

The High Water Mark of the Confederacy
At last, approximately twenty minutes after they stepped off, the Confederate line reached the main Union defenses on Cemetery Ridge: a low stone wall behind which several brigades of infantry waited. From a range of about 30 yards, both sides stood in line and blazed away at each other with rifle fire. In places, artillery blasted gaping holes in the Confederate lines. To keep the line of fire clear for the cannons, Union troops stayed out of the way, and thus, gaps in the line of infantry appeared. A breakthrough was made in front of the guns of Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing’s Battery A, 4th United States Artillery. Brigadier General Lewis Armistead, one of Pickett’s brigade commanders, climbed over the wall, holding his hat impaled on his upright sword, and yelled, “Who will follow me?!” A few dozen actually did, before being swept away by Cushing’s guns, as he fired the last round before succumbing to his many wounds. Infantry reserves stepped forward to plug gaps, and to keep other units in front of them from breaking and running. Conspicuous for his courage and leadership was Brigadier General Alexander Webb, commanding a brigade of Pennsylvanians assigned to the area known as ‘The Angle’. Before long, the fight was over, and the long walk back to Seminary Ridge began for the survivors.

Near sundown, Captain Benjamin Thompson of the 111th New York Infantry gazed to the west from the crest of Cemetery Ridge. He later recorded, “No words can depict the ghastly picture. The track of the great charge was marked by the bodies of men in all possible positions, wounded bleeding dying, and dead. Near the line where the final struggle occurred, the men lay in heaps, the wounded wiggling and groaning under the weight of the dead among whom they were entangled."

Custer sensed them coming, again. So did his temporary boss, Major General David M. Gregg, to whome Custer had been loaned from Kilpatrick's Division of Cavalry on the south end of the Battlefield. Custer and Gregg both figured that Stuart would be trying to get behind the Union center, so they waited for him to show up at some farms about three miles east of town. Sometime in the mid afternoon, Stuart appeared, just as expected. Custer rode out in front of his 7th Michigan Cavalry Regiment and called to them, "Come on, you wolverines!" There followed a large noise, some describe it as sounding like two trains crashing head on, as the two bodies of horsement closed on each other south of the Rummel farm, colliding with their cavalry sabers drawn.
The fight at what is now called East Cavalry Field lasted several hours, and Custer was far from being the only hero Union hero...there were many. And in the end, Stuart retreated back to Gettysburg, defeated three times in four days by the 23 year old Custer. [Custer would be Stuart's nemesis for nearly another year, when Michigan troops would kill Stuart at the Battle of Yellow Tavern].

The toll was excruciatingly high. In Pickett’s Division, there were 2,653 casualties – killed, wounded, captured, or missing. It is estimated that the Confederates, who began the day with a fight on Culp’s Hill, and ended it with Pickett’s Charge (and a few later small engagements), lost approximately 10,000 men on July 3.

The Toll
During all three days of the Battle of Gettysburg, Union casualties are estimated at 23,049 (3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing). The Confederate losses were worse: 28,063 (3,903 killed, 18,735 wounded, 5,425 missing). That is a total of 51,112.

Jeffry D. Wert writes in his stunning and riveting book, Gettysburg: Day Three*, “By nightfall on July 3, forty thousand officers and men from both armies, the dead and wounded, lay either on the battlefield or in makeshift field hospitals. The enormity of the numbers awed the survivors and moved them to write of it.” One artilleryman wrote, “I have seen many a big battle, most of the big ones of the war, and I never saw the like.” One of Colonel David Lang’s Floridians wrote, “I never saw the like of dead.”

As President Abraham Lincoln put it when dedicating the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg four months later, “…we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

[*Gettysburg: Day Three, by Jeffry D. Wert, Simon & Schuster, New York 2001. ISBN 0-684-85914-9. (Statistics, facts, and quotations used in this essay have come from Wert's book. In the estimation of this blogger, it is the best comprehensive battle book written about the Battle of Gettysburg, if not the entire Civil War. It is highly recommended to all as an essential part of any serious student of history's library, as the author deeply examines the "why" behind the events.)]

Novus Livy

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Battle Anniversary: "My Poor Boys. My Poor Boys."

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. July 2, 1863. Evening and night.

Johnson’s Division of Ewell’s Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia was ready. They were on the east side of Rock Creek waiting to hear Longstreet’s assault commence. Johnson was uncomfortable, however, in that he was lacking his largest brigade, the fabled Stonewall Brigade, under Brigadier General James A. Walker. Walker’s Brigade had been occupied since that morning by the pesky dismounted cavalry troopers of the 10th New York and 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiments. Because their presence on the left flank of the Army of Virginia likely signaled the presence of an even larger force behind it, Johnson took no chances and left the Stonewall Brigade behind when he advanced, with orders to the effect that when he felt the situation had eased, and he could safely move up to the rest of the Division without endangering the army, Walker was to do so.

Suddenly there was a roar from a distance slightly left of directly ahead. That was Longstreet’s men going into action on the other end of the line, and the signal for Johnson to order his men forward.

But Johnson waited while details of his men cleared the fences along Rock Creek out of the way for his Division to cross and begin their assault. He was also waiting for Walker to come up with the Stonewall Brigade.

[Culp’s Hill is actually two hills, a high crest on the north and a much lower one, more of a short ridge, to the south, with a saddle in between of even lower ground.]

Brigadier General George Sears Greene, 2nd of 35 in his West Point class of 1823 – forty years earlier, commanded a Brigade of New York troops on the upper crest of Culp’s Hill. At 62 years of age, he was arguably the oldest officer in the Army of the Potomac. Perhaps Brigadier General Isaac Trimble, West Point class of 1822 was the oldest on the Confederate side.

Greene commanded five New York regiments. Earlier in the day, Greene had prevailed upon his Division Commander, Brigadier General John Geary to allow defensive works, something Geary was unwilling to do initially.

Greene’s men built trenches three feet deep, with header logs over the rims, providing maximum protection for his men. They were ready.

Brigadier General John W. Geary commanded the Second Division of the 12th Corps, Army of the Potomac. He had been ordered to remove two brigades earlier in the day to help stem the tide on Cemetery Ridge.

It was growing dark when Johnson began to move. To his surprise, Johnson’s men began the climb up the lower slope of Culp’s Hill virtually unopposed. Finding the Union works empty, they slipped in and waited. After midnight, Geary’s brigades began to filter back into their lines, only to be fired upon. It took a while to get their tired minds straight on who was shooting at them as they initially thought they were being fired upon by friendly forces in the darkness. Once the realization set in that the Confederate were in their works, a concerted effort was made to move them out.

Meanwhile, Jones’ Brigade of Virginians, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Dungan, and Williams’ Brigade of Louisiana Troops, and Steuart’s Brigade (Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland) began the climb up the face of Culp’s Hill, in an effort to take it by frontal assault.

It began in the wee hours of the morning of July 3.

Greene’s regiments took turns in the trenches with the header logs, firing for almost an hour, then being replaced by a rested regiment. As the rested men went forward to enter the works, they would cheer. The regiments being replaced would hurry down to a hollow in the ground and rest, get water, clean their weapons, and draw fresh ammunition. After s short rest, they would cycle back into the works, cheering.

This tactic enabled Greene to keep a steady fire up around the clock, and to keep his men fresh, and their weapons working. The result was several regimens of Louisiana troops, and some Virginia regiments from Johnson’s Division pinned down on the hill unable to move forward, or back, doing their best to make themselves small, or to find a rock or tree to hide behind.

Toward sunrise Geary sent four fresh regiments to Greene, who simply added them to the rotation. It was a tactic that was perfect for the defenders, and it worked exceptionally well under Greene’s direction. The old campaigner was a touch commander, but his men respected him. They respected him even more for giving them cover from which to fight.
There were losses, however. As the regiments swapped in and out, they were briefly targets for the Confederates laying below the works. And more than one Confederate miniƩ ball found its way into the gap between the header logs inflicting a head or shoulder wound.

Brigadier General George H. Steuart, West Point class of 1848, where he graduates 37th out of 38, commanded the last of the attacks on Culp’s Hill in mid-morning of July 3. It was an absolute blood bath, and Steuart was in tears when the survivors returned from the effort. As he watched them, Steuart tearfully repeated “My poor boys. My poor boys.”

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