Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tim Potts: Monkeys & Motives

Democracy Rising Pennsylvania

Monkeys

Even as an increasing number of lawmakers and former lawmakers privately reveal what they know about our scandal-plagued General Assembly and other aspects of state government, their public silence continues. Reminiscent of the three monkeys - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil - this public silence itself speaks volumes about what Attorney General Tom Corbett has called the "culture of corruption" in the Capitol.

DR does not, and will not, advocate the defeat of all incumbents. We continue to believe that each incumbent should be judged on his or her record of service. But part of that record includes whether those in a position to be straight with citizens instead continue to stonewall the people they are supposed to serve. It is incumbent upon incumbents to be honest and open with the citizens about problems in our government and how to solve them.

One More Time

Last December, DR and 10 other organizations that advocate higher standards of public integrity asked Gov. Ed Rendell to convene a Special Session on Public Integrity. Following our government's failure to raise standards of public integrity in 2007, the coalition agreed that a special session would permit a needed focus for both those inside government and for citizens. Click here for the January 14 edition of DR News to see the coalition's letter to Rendell.

Rendell refused. Through a spokesman, he said that a special session would not be "a constructive use of [the General Assembly's] time" and that "public officials already take an oath and swear to act with integrity." Click here for the January 21st edition of DR News.

Following this month's presentments alleging theft, conspiracy and conflicts of interest by a former lawmaker, a current lawmaker and 10 legislative staff, the idea for a special session has re-surfaced. Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, has begun a petition drive to force Rendell to call a special session. If a majority of representatives (102) and a majority of senators (26) sign the petition, the governor has no choice under the Constitution.

Click here to see the petition and the list of lawmakers who have signed so far.


What Do Citizens Think?

Funny you should ask. A Susquehanna Polling/ABC27 poll released last week provides an answer from voters in central PA.
  • 69% said that the special session should "happen now," and another 25% said it could wait until fall. (Total: 94%)
  • 82% said that lawmakers should make reforming state government a "high priority." In fact, 18% said that "reforming state government to cut down on corruption and abuse" should be the governor's and legislature's "top priority." Only "creating jobs and strengthening the economy" (24%) and "reducing property taxes" (20%) ranked higher.
  • 80% said they had heard about the presentments against 12 people in the Bonus Scandal.
Click here to see the complete questions and responses to the poll.


Questions:
  • When a substantial majority of citizens want to make reforming state government a "high priority," why aren't the governor and a substantial majority of lawmakers scrambling to give Pennsylvania the highest standards of public integrity in America?
  • Why have only seven senators and 16 representatives signed the petition for a Special Session on Public Integrity? (as of July 30)
  • Do those who oppose a special session believe there are no problems to solve? Or, if they acknowledge the obvious problems, what makes them think the legislature will address those problems in regular session after doing so little for the past four years?
Motives

Purely by accident, we recently came upon a TV clip of DR President Tim Potts on youtube.com, of all places. It's part of a program called "The War Stories," produced by Harrisburg public TV station WITF. The program recorded World War II veterans and their families talking about their experiences and how the war affected them.

Click here for the six-and-a-half-minute story of what keeps Potts on the job for Democracy Rising PA. And please pass it on.

Need a speaker for your conference or local group?
DR is eager to spread the word in your community.
Contact tim@democracyrisingpa.com.

Click here to support DR. Thanks!

Tim Potts
Democracy Rising

GettysBLOG

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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PA Cleansweep Call to Action!

Pick Up the Phone for a Convention!
Now that PACleanSweep's recommended language to enable a constitutional convention has been introduced in both the Senate and House, it's time to get on the phone and start pressuring members of the two State Government Committees to move this bill along.

Below, you'll find a phone list of all the members of these committees, the leadership of both chambers and the Governor. Without input from citizens, these people will not act. The most effective citizen input is via live phone calls.

It is highly recommended that you call ALL elected officials listed in bold, because in their committee or leadership roles they are acting on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. If your own Senator or Representative is a member of the committee, place a call to them as well.

When you call these folks, simply urge them to support SB1290 (for Senators) or HB2714 (for Representatives) and ask what they will do to move it along, get it out of committee and on the floor for a vote. Be courteous!

Then call again in a week or so to follow up on what they've done. Keep calling until we get some results!

Each legislator's Harrisburg office number is listed first and the subsequent phone numbers will put you in touch with their district offices.

In the Senate (SB1290)

Senate State Government Committee

Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola, Chair (co-sponsor)
(717) 787-6801
(717) 896- 7714

Sen. Mike Folmer, Vice Chair (prime sponsor)
(717) 787-5708
(717) 274-7705
(610) 693-3200
(717) 361-8623

Sen. Anthony H. Williams, Minority Chair
(717) 787-5970
(215) 492-2980

Sen. Michael W. Brubaker
(717) 787-4420
(717) 627-0036

Sen. Jake Corman
(717) 787-1377
(814) 355- 0477

Sen. Wayne D. Fontana
(717) 787-5300
(412) 344-2551

Sen. Vincent J. Hughes
(717) 787-7112
(215) 471-0490

Sen. Charles T. McIlhinney, Jr.
(717) 787- 7305
(215) 489-5000

Sen. Terry L. Punt
(717) 787-4651
(717) 264- 6100

Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione
(717) 787-1141
(215) 533-0440

Senate Leadership

Sen. Joseph B. Scarnati, III, Senate Pro Tempore
(717) 787-7084
(814) 726- 7201

Sen. Dominic Pileggi, Senate Majority (Republican) Leader
(717) 787-4712
(610) 565-9100

Sen. Robert J. Mellow, Senate Minority (Democrat) Leader
(717) 787-6481
(570) 489-0336
Click here to track SB1290

In the House (HB2714)

House State Government Committee

Rep. Babette Josephs, Majority Chairman
(717) 787-8529
(215) 893-1515

Rep. Thomas W. Blackwell, Majority Vice Chairman
(717) 783-1491
(215) 748- 7808
(215) 978-2595

Rep. Jaret Gibbons, Majority Secretary
(717) 705- 2060
(724) 752-1133
(724) 794-1215
(724) 773-7499

Rep. Matthew E. Baker, Minority Chairman
(717) 772-5371
(717) 772-5371

Rep. Carl W. Mantz, Minority Secretary
(717) 787- 3017
(610) 366-2330

Rep. Kerry A. Benninghoff
(717) 783-1918
(814) 355-1300

Rep. Mike Carroll
(717) 787-3589
(610) 681- 2940
(570) 655-4883

Rep. Paul I. Clymer
(717) 783-3154
(215) 257-0279

Rep. Tom C. Creighton
(717) 772-5290
(717) 336-2199
(717) 664-4979

Rep. Mark B. Cohen
(717) 787-4117
(215) 924-0895

Rep. Lawrence H. Curry
(717) 783-1079
(215) 572-5210

Rep. Florindo J. Fabrizio
(717) 787-4358
(814) 455-6319

Rep. Robert Freeman
(717) 783-3815
(610) 253-5543

Rep. Mauree Gingrich
(717) 783-1815
(717) 270-1905

Rep. Glen R. Grell
(717) 783-2063
(717) 795- 6091

Rep. William C. Kortz, II (co-sponsor)
(717) 787-8175
(412) 466-1940
(412) 886- 2870

Rep. Deberah Kula
(717) 772-1858
(724) 547-4057
(724) 626-2761

Rep. Jim Marshall
(717) 260-6432
(724) 847- 1352

Rep. Fred McIlhattan
(717) 772-9908
(814) 226-9000

Rep. Michael H. O'Brien
(717) 783-8098
(215) 503-3245

Rep. Frank Louis Oliver
(717) 787-3480
(215) 684-3738

Rep. Cherelle L. Parker
(717) 783-2178
(215) 242-7300

Rep. Thomas J. Quigley
(717) 772-9963
(610) 326-9563

Rep. Sean M. Ramaley
(717) 787-4444
(724) 266-7774
(412) 761-1701

Rep. Kathy L. Rapp
(717) 787-1367
(814) 723-5203

Rep. Mike Vereb
(717) 705-7164
(610) 409- 2615

Rep. Greg Vitali
(717) 787-7647
(610) 789- 3900

Rep. Katharine M. Watson
(717) 787-5452
(215) 674-0500

Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood
(717) 787-7727
(215) 849-6426

House Leadership

Rep. Dennis M. O'Brien, Speaker of the House
(717) 787-5689
(215) 632- 5150

Rep. H. William DeWeese, House Majority (Democrat) Leader
(717) 783-3797
(724) 627-8683

Rep. Samuel H. Smith, House Minority (Republican) Leader
(717) 787-3845
(814) 938-4225
Click here to track HB2714

Call the Governor, too!

Edward Rendell, Governor
(717) 787-2500
Click here to read more about a constitutional convention

Who are my legislators?

About PACleanSweep
PACleanSweep is a non-partisan effort dedicated to returning honor, dignity and integrity to government in Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit www.PACleanSweep.com.




GettysBLOG

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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Response from Representative Dan Moul

We have reposted our questions for Representative Dan Moul, State Assemblyman from the 91st District immediately below this post. We are posting his response here:

Thank you for inviting me to respond to the issues you presented.

When I ran for office, property tax reform was at the top of my agenda and it remains at the top of my agenda. It is an issue that must be addressed, but it is probably the most difficult issue to address in Harrisburg because there are quite a few areas in Pennsylvania that don’t want any property tax reform. They like things just the way they are, but citizens in my district are clamoring for tax relief. In short, the current system is not fair.

While some in the Legislature have touted this year’s education budget is a step in the right direction, I voted against it because it simply is not fair. It does not address the differences that exist in per student funding. For example, Southside Area School District in Beaver County is being awarded $7,660 per student in state education funding while Gettysburg will get only $2,136 per student. Some other examples are: Littlestown $2,539; Fairfield $2,704; Bermudian Springs $2,455 and Conewago Valley $1,805 -- just to name a few. These numbers tell the real story about our state education budget – not the percentage points you read about in the paper. The per student cost enables us to measure how much education funding our students are getting compared to other schools.

In comparison, there are 180 school districts that will receive more than $4,000 per student in funding. I would guess that none of my colleagues who represent those districts will want to change the education funding formula because their schools are making out like bandits. Also worth noting is the fact that suburban areas around Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Wilkes Barre/Scranton are largely supported by industry, commerce and retailers that pay most of the school taxes for the homeowners. By contrast, our tax burden in rural Pennsylvania is very high because we don’t have industry to support us.

I assure you that I will be working tirelessly to even the property tax playing field for the citizens of my district. I will make every attempt to change the education funding formula to bring about fairness. In doing so, I will aim for a more even distribution of funds on a per student basis with adjustments based on specific needs.

For the homeowners of Adams County, property tax is the number one issue and there is a great sense of urgency on my part to do something about it. In other areas of the state, property taxes are not even on the radar screen. I’m going to try to put it there.

You asked about referendums. I believe referendums are necessary on big ticket items such as major infrastructure improvements, new schools and stadiums. Taxpayers will be asked to fund these projects and they should have input. Transparency should exist throughout the process. Public meetings should be held to present ideas, reveal costs and funding sources as well as the likely tax burden. In this manner, citizens will be prepared to make informed decisions on whether to support these projects. I am not here to tell any school board how to do their job, but I believe taxpaying citizens should have a voice in how they spend their money.

To address your concern about the timely passage of the state budget, let me first state that there is no good reason for the process to go beyond the June 30 deadline. In fact, I believe it could and should be done a month ahead of the deadline as it was in the years prior to the Rendell administration. Unfortunately, this year, the budget did not come before the rank and file members of the state Legislature until it was time to vote on final passage. Instead, the budget was hashed out by a small committee of legislative leaders and the governor behind closed doors. This is unprecedented and does not bode well for our attempts at government transparency. In the final budget package, I was particularly disappointed with the Governor’s $2.8 billion spending plan. It is not fair for us to vote to increase spending and burden our children and grandchildren with additional debt.

I don’t believe docking legislator’s pay would solve the problem of late passage of the state budget. After all, most of us were left out of the process this year. I also do not believe that state employees should be furloughed when a budget is not passed on time. For the governor to throw hard working people out of their jobs and out of our state parks to push his own personal agenda with the budget is reprehensible. Running a budget overdue is this administration’s way of trying to force everyone’s hand to give them what they want. Regardless of the long hours and number of consecutive days we must work to get a budget passed, it is more important to me that we get a budget that is fair. That did not happen this year. I was one of 32 members who voted against all components of this budget due to the borrowing and spending that will eventually result in increased taxes.

What is sorely needed in Harrisburg is campaign finance reform. Lobbying reform has helped, but more reform is needed to restore integrity and rebuild public trust in government. We need to stop the flow of big money into campaign accounts. Such power and influence leaves citizens with the perception that our legislators can be bought and sold.

Meaningful reform takes time and substantial effort. What I lack in patience, I make up in effort. You can be assured that I will not sit idly by and watch your tax dollars be needlessly spent. Just as reform takes time, it also takes time for reformers to work their way up the ladder of political prominence. Reformers represent change and are therefore typically unpopular. In fact, most reformers never rise to leadership positions, but we can bring about change through our actions, our words and by always remembering for whom we work.

The public can also take an active role in their government by staying informed and speaking out when something is not right. You may recall what happened in the aftermath of the legislative pay raise two years ago. Voters, like a sleeping giant, awoke to demonstrate, with unmistakable clarity, who holds the real power and influence over government. That is the type of involvement the reform movement needs to bring about true and lasting change in Pennsylvania.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Please feel free to throw questions my way on occasion and also, don’t forget to visit my website (www.RepMoul.com) from time to time.

Rep. Dan Moul
91st Legislative District
Thank you Mr. Moul. All in all, I believe your responses to be quite excellent, and on target. And you are correct about reform. It is sorely needed. To keep budget negotiations secret even from the legislature is an insult to the Constitution and the citizenry of the Commonwealth. How can any person make an informed decision on the budget when they are handed the package and told to vote to pass it by leadership within a couple of hours. That smacks of the same secretive and heavy handed hubris by legislative leadership as the Pay Raise. And this time the Governor was openly complicit.

Reform may come if we the voters if Pennsylvania can get you more help for the 32 members who don't follow leadership so blindly.

Thanks you again for your responses, and we will certainly keep in touch. And thank you also for the fine work you have done and continue to do in Harrisburg on our behalf.

GettysBLOG

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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Repost: Some Questions and Ideas for Representative Moul

We think Dan Moul has been a great state Representative in the General Assembly. We have made the point in the past that he has already introduced more legislation in about 18 months than his predecessor did in 14 years.

But we are disturbed by the language in two areas of legislation that affect the entire state, and we would like Representative Moul to take up these issues in Harrisburg.

First, we think the state property tax law should be changed to remove any escape by a school district from a referendum on any tax increases. It should be obvious in this current climate that school districts across the state are avoiding referenda at all costs. Gettysburg Area School District is a case in point. If the district wants to raise taxes without a referendum all they need to do is run their budget up over a certain index [we presume that the "index" is a percentage increase], and then ask the state for a waiver of the referendum requirement!

The effect of this law has foist runaway spending on many taxpayers without leaving them any redress! Indeed, many districts are getting a jump start on future tax increases by enlarging their tax base so the "index" has more money in it every succeeding year. This builds in tax increases that pyramid every year!

As a result, many state tax payers will not see one penny of their tax rebate.

And that raises another issue: how can a tax rebate from 2007 taxes be used to pay taxes in 2008? This is simply wrong. And the legislature needs to correct this, and soon! There simply is no property tax relief in the legislation as it is written now.

The other issue is the potential legislation that would ban layoffs of state employees if the budget is not passed by 30 June. One alternative to this farce is to dock the pay of the legislators every day past June 30th each year without a passed and signed state budget.

We like the second part of that, as it is the responsibility, in part, of the legislature to pass the budget in a timely fashion each year. However, there is a missing party to all of this, and that is the Governor and his staff.

We believe that the fair and honest solution to this, is to dock the pay of both the legislators and the Governor and his staff, while making it illegal to furlough state employees if the budget is not passed. [The state employees have nothing to do with the budget process, and furloughing them punishes them, and their families, and the citizens of the Commonwealth who seek their services.]

So, Representaive Moul, what is your take on these issues and ideas? We'd love to get a response from you, and will post it here if and when we do.


GettysBLOG

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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Tim Potts: Help Us Educate Citizens about a Constitutional Convention

Dear Friend of Democracy,

The latest news from the Capitol tells us one more time what we already know: Our legislature can't police itself, and it can't reform itself.

It's time for us to reclaim our government. But how?

By holding Pennsylvania's first comprehensive Constitutional convention in 135 years.

We need to re-invent our government - without touching the parts of the Constitution that guarantee our basic rights as citizens.

To do it right - to inform and engage the voices of ordinary citizens - won't be easy, and it won't be cheap. To be prepared, Democracy Rising PA spent two years collecting your ideas for changing our Constitution. You can find them all at our web site: Democracy Rising, then click on "Constitution Rx ."

To meet the challenge of giving your ideas real power at a convention, Democracy Rising PA needs your help now. Please donate now to strengthen the voice of citizens at the convention.

Most of us already get it.

Even the opinion polls that our political leaders have bought - using our money - say so. Even before the most recent scandals, a clear majority of us understood that Pennsylvania needs a Constitutional convention to:
  • Stop the perks.
  • Stop the wasteful spending.
  • Stop the self-dealing.
  • Stop the insider trading.
But a Constitutional convention isn't just about stopping the corruption. It's also about debating and deciding ideas that citizens have for making our government better. It's about creating a government we can believe in again.

DR has been pushing for a constitutional convention since our founding, and we will keep pushing. But we need your support to:
  • Educate citizens about our Constitution and about how our fellow citizens think
    we can improve our government.
  • Help citizens understand how a convention works and how they can become a delegate.
      Now is the time to push even harder and louder, and we need your support to do it.
      Forward this appeal to your friends and neighbors so that they can become part of this movement for a government that truly represents the citizens of Pennsylvania.

      Do your part for our future.

      In the past three years you have made history by voting key public officials out of office. Now it's time to make the future by reclaiming our government.

      Help us prepare citizens for a Constitutional convention. Please take a few minutes and make the most generous donation you can - today!

      Thank you!

      Tim Potts
      Co-Chairman, Democracy Rising PA

      GettysBLOG

      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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

      Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.


      Wednesday, July 16, 2008

      Tim Potts: Leadership After the Bonus Scandal

      Leadership After the Bonus Scandal
      In what we'd like to think is the stunned silence that attends monumental events, the great majority of PA lawmakers have barely breathed a word about the bonus scandal.

      Then there are the few who still feel a sense of outrage and urgency over allegations of public corruption and have offered leadership to restore citizen confidence.

      On Monday, Reps. Chris King and John Galloway, both D-Bucks, called for a referendum this November on whether to have a constitutional convention in 2009. Delegates to the convention also would be elected in November. Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, in January introduced legislation, Senate Bill 1236 , authorizing a referendum for a constitutional convention. Others who have called for a convention include Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Allegheny, Senate Bill 291 ; Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, Senate Bill 1290 ; and Rep. Craig Dally, R-Northampton, House Bill 467 and House Bill 649 .

      Today, Piccola takes another step. At a capitol news conference, Piccola and a group of integrity advocates, including Democracy Rising PA, will renew a call first made in this session last December for a Special Session on Public Integrity. See the January 14 edition of DR News for details.

      Gov. Ed Rendell refused to convene the special session, so Piccola is taking another tack. Under the Constitution, if half of the members in both the House and Senate sign a petition, they can force the governor to call a special session.

      Immediately after today's news conference was announced, some lawmakers began panning the idea. Even though the lawmakers themselves determine whether a special session is a success or failure, many lawmakers predicted that nothing would happen.

      "I think it's more grandstanding than substantive, at the end of the day."
      -- Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill.

      "You're going to pay us to do a special session ... because it looks good to the public?"
      -- Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny

      "I'd have to be convinced it's more than just a press release."
      -- Rep. Steve Nickol, R-York

      Some lawmakers referred to a special session on property tax relief as proof that nothing can happen. No bills were passed in that special session, but taxpayers have seen no comprehensive property tax relief from the past 30 years of regular sessions either.

      Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo repeated the governor's opposition to the idea, at least not until he gets his way on some policy matters, a position that some say has its own ethical challenges.

      Other lawmakers see the opportunity to improve some of the worst and weakest laws on public integrity in America.

      "I think it's in the public interest, and what better time to do it as we're into Pennsylvania's version of Watergate?"
      -- Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon

      Questions:
      Does the prediction that nothing can happen at a Special Session on Public Integrity amount to yet another indictment of our legislature? Or is it merely an admission of incompetence on the part of those who make the prediction?
      Is it beyond Sen. Fontana's imagination that a special session could actually be good for the public, not just look good?
      Where do other lawmakers stand on whether to have a special session? Since regular sessions of the legislature have failed to produce meaningful improvements in our laws, what do lawmakers have to lose by trying a new approach?

      DR in the News
      The need for a constitutional convention was the subject of an op-ed by DR President Tim Potts in Tuesday's Centre Daily Times in State College. Click here to read the reasons.

      DR on the Road
      Today: DR's president travels to Lancaster to speak to the Lancaster Rotary Club. The event marks a repeat performance from July 18 of last year, when Potts presented the case for raising the standards of public integrity in PA.

      July 21: Potts travels to the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. for a five-hour roundtable discussion about governmental practices in PA. Potts is one of two presenters to set the stage for the discussion about whether PA's low standards of public integrity affect public policy decisions. The other presenter is Rick Stafford, former head of the Allegheny Conference, now teaching at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy.

      Need a speaker for your conference or local group?
      Contact tim@democracyrisingpa.com.

      Click here to support DR. Thanks!

      GettysBLOG

      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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

      Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved

      Sunday, July 13, 2008

      Artist Jeff Fioravanti Paints the Soul of America

      We would like to welcome our dear friend Jeff Firovanti to the world of blogging. Jeff, a marvelous artist from New England has been "Painting the Soul of America for many years. We have some of his works and intend to have some more.

      We profiled Jeff and his work a couple of years ago in our blog essay,
      An Invitation to an Art Show. At that time, we had this to say about Jeff and his work:

      Jeff Fioravanti is a New England (thus characterized so I do not have to constantly type Massachusetts!) artist who is making waves as an artist of great talent. He has done much of his work in a unique group of studies detailing Civil War battlefields…as they would look before the battle was fought. Battles change terrain. During the Civil War there were many instances where roads had to be cut through woodlots, trails marked through wetlands and swamps, earth moved to make ramparts and defensive works. At the Battle of Gettysburg, just about every fence rail for miles around disappeared to make defensive positions, or to fuel the thousands of cook-fires needed to feed nearly two hundred thousand men. Trees are felled to make defensive positions, and for more firewood. In some battles, artillery did enough damage to woodlots as to render them destroyed. Houses, cabins, sheds, and barns were burned.

      Battles change terrain.

      Jeff Firovanti has the knack of seeing the battlefields as they were, before the battles. In most cases, as the farmers had kept the land, and in other cases, how nature had done so. He captures these scenes from rare perspectives, and with muted, respectful tones. He uses a focus on his subjects that makes the land the object, not the buildings. And that is right as it is the land that has been so consecrated by the blood of those who fought there.

      Jeff does not paint civil war scenes exclusively. He would not be a New England artist if he did not paint subjects dealing with the sea. In Jeff’s case, a series of small boats, dories as they are called, along the docks in the inlets and coves of New England are frequent subjects. But like the land in the battlefield studies, here the focus is intently on the boats, and it is left to the viewer to supply the contextual details about which he peripherally hints.

      Visit the
      Firovanti Fine Art website and view his work in the various galleries there. I think you will agree with me, that Jeff Firovanti is an amazing talent who has built a wonderful repertoire of American Landscapes and New England scenes. You can often view his works in the magazine American Artist, where they have been featured on several occasions.
      Anyone who is familiar with Jeff's work will welcome his new outlet, a blog called "Painting the Soul of America". What else would you call it, it's what he does!

      Do yourselves a favor and visit Jeff's
      website to view his work, and then his blog to see the mind behind it.

      GettysBLOG

      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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

      Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

      Thursday, July 10, 2008

      Here Come the Del Fuegos!

      Mothers! Hide your children, especially the girl children! There are as many as 20,000 bikers expected for this weekend's festivities. That will more than triple the population of Gettysburg!

      As we were enjoying a rare sleep-in this morning we were jolted awake by the arrival of a gaggle of motorcycles going by on their way to town for Bike Week. [How many bikes weeks do we have around here? We just had one a few weeks ago!]

      Anyone who watched the hilarious satire on biking, Wild Hogs, knows what to expect. Imagine 20,000 members of the Del Fuego gang arriving at Gettysburg much as the cinematic gang did at Madrid, New Mexico.

      Last year there were fights. More than were reported. And there were arrests, fewer than there should have been.

      So, clogged streets, clogged stores, and no chance to get into Gettysburg's biker bar, the Pike.

      So here is something else the great philanthropist David Levan has done for Gettysburg: an invasion of bikes and bikers at the height of tourist season. We wonder how many regular tourists could not come here to Gettysburg because the rooms are filled with bikers. Who'd want to say in a hotel full of bikers except more bikers? Great for the bikers, great for the hotels and restaurants, bad for everybody else!

      On a recent journey back from Antietam Battlefield we came north on Maryland 491 to get to Blue Ridge Summit on PA 16. It is a beautiful ride on good road up the west slope of South Mountain. Just below the PA line is a biker bar. As we went past it, we were forced to dodge an elderly biker who appeared to be fleeing. Past the bar, we looked back and there was a large crowd watching two men, one with his hands on the other one's throat, while the other was reaching for a large rock on the ground. We can only imagine what the mentality of the crowd was like as they watched, with no one making a move to intervene. We can only guess at the outcome of the fight, and hope that no one was seriously hurt. It was an ugly scene, more ugly than anything in Wild Hogs, which had its moments.

      We do not dislike motorcycles, nor do we dislike motorcyclists. We dislike bike week as intrusive, and out of character for Gettysburg, noisy, dangerous, and with a potential for big trouble. We dislike bikers who drive the noisy, illegal bikes that break noise ordinances wherever they go. It is nothing for one or two hundred bikers to rumble by Susan Star Paddock's home several times a day on many weekends out of the year. Susan led the successful effort to derail Levan, owner of the local Harley Davidson dealership, in his efforts to impose a casino on the Gettysburg area. So the bikers simply will not let it go. We suppose bringing this up will generate the usual thuggery on BoroughVENT, too.

      Nevertheless, the local civic and business leaders here in Gettysburg and surrounds are lost at sea, spinning their wheels to squeeze more and more money from the tourists at the expense of the locals and those same tourists.

      ********************************************************
      On another note: we see the ignoramuses on the Gettysburg Area School District Board are still proceeding with their phony "mandate" to build their $8 million stadium. If for no other reason than the economy, such plans should be shelved and any tax increases should be rolled back. It is incomprehensible that any public entity would do what GASD is doing when gas prices have doubled, and the economy has taken a significant downturn. For these clowns to raise taxes and take away property tax rebates in a time of financial crisis for property owners is simply insulting and demeaning - not to say wholly unnecessary.

      We need recall options for all our elected officials.

      ********************************************************
      Finally, word late today that indictments have been handed down by Attorney General Tom Corbett for former House Minority leader Mike Veon [D-Beaver] and other Democratic leaders in the General Assembly for using tax payer money to pay their campaign staff hefty [six figure!] bonuses. Perhaps they'll finally nail Bill Deweese, before they move on to the Republicans. Watch for John Perzel of Philadelphia, and Sam Smith [R-Jefferson], as well as Mario Civera {R-Delaware], to be among the Republicans probably getting indictments for the same things in the coming weeks. Both parties did it, though the Democrats apparently did so to wretched excess.

      Imagine those men, all part of the force that brought casino gambling to Pennsylvania by secret vote, and then an illegal pay raise [Veon cast the only no vote when the pay raise was repealed!!!!], sharing a prison cell, and becoming some con's wife. It will never happen. Our wonderful, State Judges will find a way out for all of them. Watch, even if convicted, when sentencing time arrives, no jail time. The judges owe these men big-time. They got to keep their part of the pay raise. Their own court said so!

      GettysBLOG

      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 May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

      Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

      Friday, July 04, 2008

      Battle Anniversary: In natura tranquillitatis est

      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.

      Novus Livy

      Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

      Thursday, July 03, 2008

      Battle Anniversary: The Cleansing, July 4-5

      After the fighting ended on that 3rd day of July, 1863, and after the smoke had cleared, some 125,000 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.

      Lee had his troops dig in along Seminary and Oak Rdiges during the night and early morning, expecting a counter attack from Meade. But none came. A late afternoon probe by Meade turned up little.

      After a hazy dawn, 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.

      Sometime in the early afternoon hours of July 4th, 1863, it began to rain. 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 evening 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 4th, 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. The Battle of Monterey Pass could be heard, and the gunflashes seen miles to the west in Waynesboro.

      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 sometime on July 5th. 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. We favor the theory that these men are the dead of the 5th New Jersey, killed by Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade on July 2nd while on picket duty stretched between the Spangler Farm and the Sherfy Farm.

      One can 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 © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

      Battle Anniversary: "The Men Lay in Heaps." July 3 - Morning & Afternoon

      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.”

      Hunt
      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
      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.”

      Hunt
      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.

      Pickett
      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.

      Thompson
      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
      Custer sensed them coming, again. So did his temporary boss, Major General David M. Gregg, to whom 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 horsemen 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].

      Pickett
      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.

      Source
      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

      Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

      Wednesday, July 02, 2008

      Battle Anniversary: "My Poor Boys. My Poor Boys.", July 2 - Night

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

      Johnson
      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.]

      Greene
      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.

      Geary
      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.

      Johnson
      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
      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 tough 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.

      Steuart
      Brigadier General George H. Steuart, West Point class of 1848, where he graduated 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.”

      Novus Livy

      Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

      Battle Anniversary: "My God! Are These All The Troops We Have here?" July 2 - Evening

      Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 2, 1863. Evening.

      Meade/Sickles
      Major General George Meade had ridden south to check on the disposition of Sickles troops. Major General Daniel Sickles had moved his troops almost a mile out in front of the Union lines, and Meade was there to get him moved back. He was patiently explaining to Sickles the folly of his move when Sickles offered to move his two Divisions back to Cemetery Ridge. Suddenly, artillery opened up from Warfield Ridge, and Meade was forced to accept the situation. He said to Sickles, “I wish to God you could, but the enemy won’t let you.”

      Graham
      In the late afternoon of July 2nd, 1863, the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of Brigadier General Charles K. Graham’s 1st Brigade, 1st Division (under Brigadier General David B. Birney) was in a line of battle in front of the Wentz House, at the intersection of Wheatfield Lane and the Emmitsburg Road. Collis’ Zouaves, as the 114th was known, was enduring a savage shelling by Confederate artillery located only a few hundred yards to the west on Warfield Ridge. For two hours they lay there under the barrage.

      To their left, across the Wheatfield Lane, the 68th Pennsylvania stood in line of battle among the trees of the Peach Orchard, their right joined to the Zouaves left, in the road. To the right of the Zouaves, stood the 57th and 105th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments, all forming a line north along the east side of the Emmitsburg Road. Behind them, down the slope toward the Trostle Farm, was Clark’s Battery B, First New Jersey Light Artillery, supported by the 141st Pennsylvania Infantry. Bucklyn’s Battery E, First Rhode Island Light Artillery (Randolph’s Battery) was placed at the edge of the Emmitsburg Road in front of the infantry, where the battery immediately engaged Confederate artillery on Warfield Ridge.

      McLaws
      Major General Lafayette McLaws sent his four brigades forward in a staggered formation from right to left. Semmes, Kershaw, Wofford, Barksdale. Kershaw went straight across, reaching the Emmitsburg Road south of the Peach Orchard, and at the end of the lane entering the Rose Farm. Two of Kershaw’s regiments went south of the farm, one, with Kershaw, went through the farm yard, and two went north of the farm, coming under fire from the 68th Pennsylvania and the artillery from the Peach Orchard. Those two regiments then turned to the north and assaulted the artillery located along the Wheatfield Road east of the Peach Orchard. In one of the incidents of the “fog of war”, Kershaw sent a messenger to his two regiments south of the farm to hurry into the woods belonging to the Rose farm. Instead, the messenger went to the two regiments north of the farm and repeated the order from Kershaw. They immediately stopped their assault, just at the point where they had driven the gunners off their guns, and wheeled to the right to continue their advance into the woods west of the Wheatfield. The Union gunners re-manned their guns and took a heavy toll on the South Carolina regiments south of the Rose farm – the ones Kershaw intended to hurry forward into the woods for protection.

      Graham
      At about 5 PM, the enemy began his advance. Coming at them was the storied Mississippi brigade of Brigadier General William Barksdale, a white-haired man who, once engaged in combat, became a figure of fury, wading into the enemy with everything he had. Such abandon would cost him his life later in the day.

      In response, the Zouaves moved forward across the Emmitsburg Road. They entered the farm yard of John and Mary Sherfy. Firing from between the house and the barn, the Zouaves repeatedly fired into the advancing Mississippians, who were also firing, advancing, firing, and advancing. Eventually, the weight of numbers began to tell. The Union line fell back east of the Emmitsburg Road and reformed. Barksdale maneuvered his large regiments to overlap and flank the men of Graham’s Brigade, concentrating on the location where the Zouaves and the 68th met.

      There was nothing to do but fall back. In a magnificently executed fighting withdrawal, the 114th, in small groups, fired, and withdrew, first north along the Emmitsburg Road, and then east toward Cemetery Ridge, where General Hancock had ordered forward Willard’s New York brigade to cover the withdrawal. By this method, the surviving Zouaves finally reformed their line, and were able to come off the field with their colors. They were badly mauled. During their withdrawal, many of their wounded were left lying in the fields and the road. Confederates carried many of them to the Sherfy House and barn. Later, however, during the continued artillery shelling, both buildings were burned to the ground. The remains of those who perished in the fires, were surrounded by those who perished in the intense fighting around those buildings. About 100 of the Zouaves had been killed. Many more were taken prisoner by the rapidly advancing Confederates. However, they gave, perhaps, better even than they took. One Mississippi private from the 17th Mississippi, the unit that assaulted the junction of the 67th and 114th Pennsylvania on Wheatfield Lane, reported 223 men of his regiment killed or wounded, 29 in his own company.

      5th New Jersey
      The 221 men (206 enlisted, 15 officers) of the 5th New Jersey Infantry were stretched out on an angle in front of the rest of Humphreys’ Division stretched north along the Emmitsburg Road from Graham’s Brigade. The New Jersey troops were on perhaps the most hazardous duty of the civil war, skirmishers. Their left was nearly to the Sherfy farm houses, while their right was farther north at the Spangler farm. The regiment was spread pretty thin. Sometime before 5 PM they came under heavy fire from Confederate Artillery. Stationed as they were in the open fields, they had no choice but to hug the ground. There was nothing to hide behind. And after nearly an hour, the artillery eased. As the men stood up they saw a horrific sight: Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade had begun to move forward. While the right of Barksdale’s Brigade struck Collis’ Zouaves at the Sherfy Farm, Barksdale’s left struck the thin New Jersey line. All of Humphreys’ line began to fall back and as they did so, so did Graham’s Brigade. The withdrawal was not an orderly one. For the most part, the men made for the promise of safety on Cemetery Ridge. At muster that evening, the 5th New Jersey counted 99 of their 221 as killed, wounded or captured.

      Hood
      Major General John Bell Hood had a dilemma. All day he had been nagging at Longstreet to allow him to swing to the right and go around the south side of Big Round Top to surprise the Union reserves and supply wagon trains parked behind the hill. All day long Longstreet had replied that he had already had that discussion with General Lee and there was nothing to do but to get moving as ordered.

      But if he did that, he would march right into the right flank of McLaws’ Division, which had abandoned any attempt to align and proceed as Lee had ordered, moving instead straight ahead and across the Emmitsburg Road.

      Hood had no choice. He had to move, so he angled to the right, placing his right regiment on a track that would take it up and over Big Round Top. The rest of Law’s Brigade of Alabamans would swing across the western slope of the hill. Robertson’s Texans and the Arkansas troops would proceed up the low ground where Plum Run flowed. His left would move through the Slyder and Bushman Farms, and angle in toward the lower part of Houck’s Ridge. He really had nowhere else to go, and he had to support McLaws.

      Hancock
      From mid-afternoon on Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, 15th of 25 in his West Point class of 1844, was working hard, riding up and down his lines, shifting men from his 2nd Corps to the Wheatfield to help plug the gaping hole Sickles left in his line, and now Hancock had to deal with the hasty retreat of Humphreys and Graham’s men. He was forced to shift men from 5th Corps there as well. Now came news that General Sickles was down, losing his leg. Major General David Birney would succeed him as 3rd Corps Commander. Hancock was concerned that there simply would not be enough manpower to stop the two large divisions Longstreet had sent his way. He ordered a brigade of New Yorkers under Colonel George Willard forward to set up a line that would allow the fleeing men of Third Corps to pass through and then slow the advance of the Mississippi and Georgia brigades of Barksdale and Wofford. It worked.

      Wilcox
      Realizing that Longstreet’s men would not be coming past their position, Brigadier General Cadmus M. Wilcox, 54th out of 59 in the West Point class of 1846, ordered his Alabama Brigade forward from their position on the south end of Seminary Ridge. Along side of him was Perry’s Florida Brigade, under the command of Colonel David Lang. The two brigades marched forward up the rise to Emmitsburg Road in time to watch the collapse of Humphrey’s line as Barksdale sliced through one end and the other saw Wilcox coming. As the two brigades crested the higher ground, they began a slow, gradual descent into the defile where Plum Run begins. It was deep enough to hide both brigades from view.

      Colvill
      Colonel William Colvill, Jr. commanded what was left of the 1st Minnesota Regiment. There were approximately 330 men left of the regiment, although about 15% were absent on different assignments. But at this hour, they were literally all that was standing between Cadmus Wilcox and the Taneytown Road just east of Cemetery Ridge. Seeing their advance, Major General Hancock rode quickly to the Minnesotans, and seeing their small number, exclaimed, “My God! Are these all the troops we have here?!”

      Colonel Colvill replied, “Yes sir!”

      Hancock then asked if the Colonel, “Do you see those colors?”, pointing to the advancing brigades of Wilcox and Lang.

      Again the Colonel responded, “Yes sir!”

      “Well, take them!” Hancock yelled over his shoulder as he spurred his horse away.

      Colvill formed his men up and advanced them, 262 in number. They marched forward to the defile in which Wilcox and Perry paused their troops. As they advanced up the eastern slope, they came almost face to face with the 1st Minnesota. Colvill gave the order to fire. Artillery fired from behind the Minnesotans and to their left as Colonel Freeman McGilvery’s artillery Battalion fired into the Alabama and Florida Troops. Soon the fighting was hand-to-hand, and the Minnesotans were surrounded. McGilvery could no longer fire into the Confederates for fear of hitting the Minnesotans. Wilcox soon had enough of this fight and ordered his men, and those of Colonel Lang to withdraw. The surviving Minnesotans slowly walked back to Cemetery Ridge, carrying as many of their wounded as they could. They would fetch the rest, and the dead later. So many officers killed and wounded, including the gallant Colonel Colvill, shot through the shoulder and the foot [he would spend almost six months recuperating at the home of the Pierce family on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg]. Command devolved all the way down to Captain Henry. C. Coates, who wrote in his after action report, “Our loss of so many brave men is heartrending, and will carry mourning into all parts of the state. But they have fallen in a holy cause, and their memory will not soon perish. Our loss is 4 commissioned officers and 47 men killed; 13 officers and 162 men wounded, and 6 men missing, - total 232…”. Thirty men answered the roll call that evening.

      Webb
      The next brigade north of Lang and Wilcox was the Georgians of Ambrose Wright. They made their way unsupported across the fields from Seminary Ridge to the Emmitsburg Road and across, just above the Codori farm. They kept right on going, routing the skirmish line posted along the road, and rolling right over and capturing an artillery battery. As they approached the crest of Cemetery Ridge, merely three hundred yards from Taneytown Road, they were met by the Pennsylvania Brigade of Brigadier General Alexander Webb, 13th of 34 in his West Point class of 1855. The Pennsylvanians pushed the spent Georgians back over the crest of Cemetery Ridge and down the hill to Emmitsburg Road, retaking the artillery pieces the Georgians had captured on their advance. Webb halted his brigade on the west side of the road so they could take pot shots at the retreating Georgians.

      Wright
      Brigadier General Ambrose Wright was fit to be tied. His men had just fought their way across a mile of open ground and across Cemetery Ridge only to be driven all the way back by a brigade of Pennsylvanians. If he had had any support on either side, on his right from Wilcox and Lang, and on his left from Posey and Mahone, they’d be rolling up the flank of the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge right now, and maybe even digging in on Cemetery Hill! But Wilcox and Lang had been repulsed by a single regiment, and Posey got turned around in the peach orchard of the Bliss Farm! Even worse, “Fighting Billy” Mahone apparently didn’t have any “Fighting” in him this day – he never moved at all!

      Hood
      Early in the fight Major General John Bell Hood would be wounded severely, losing most of the use of his left arm. [It was the first of the catastrophic wounds the courageous fighter would receive in his career: he would lose his right leg while fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga just two months after Gettysburg. Late in the war he had to be strapped into his saddle, and the pain-killing drug of laudanum affected his judgement. He ordered a suicidal assault on the scale of Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Franklin, and wound up without an army to command. It was not the John Bell Hood who fought so courageously at Gettysburg.].

      Law
      Brigadier General Evander M. Law was an 1856 graduate of the South Carolina Military Academy, and was a teacher in Alabama before the war, helping to establish a Military High School in Tuskegee. He was commanding a brigade of Alabama troops when General Hood went down. Law was unaware that he was now in Command of Hood’s Division. It was just as well, as he had his hands full with his own brigade.

      Five regiments of Alabama troops were spread from Plum Run east to the summit of Big Round Top. The regiment on the crest of the high hill was the 15th Alabama commanded by Colonel William C. Oates. Stretching downward to the west, the Alabama line was broken by the presence of the 4th and 5th Texas Infantry Regiments from Brigadier General Jerome Robertson’s Brigade. They were separated from the remainder of that brigade by two of Law’s Alabama Regiments coming up the Plum Run gorge. The rest of Robertson’s men were assaulting Graham’s Brigade on the west side of Houck’s Ridge.

      While the two Texas Brigades were successful in getting up into the position recently vacated by the 16th Michigan on Little Round Top, now other units were as successful.

      The Alabama men from the 15th Infantry under Oates ran into the stubborn Down Easters in the 20th Maine, led by Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Shocked by a bayonet charge as they were preparing to withdraw back over Big Round Top, many of the 15th fell into the hands of the 20th Maine.

      “The Orange Blossoms”
      Colonel A. Van Horne Ellis commanded the 124th New York Infantry Regiment, raised in Orange County, New York, and fondly referred to by Colonel Ellis as “my Orange Blossoms”. They were facing west on the south end of Houck’s Ridge, with the lower west slope of Big Round Top in ther rear across the jumble of rocks called Devil’s Den, and the small brook called Plum Run. Over their right shoulders loomed the rocky west face of Little Round Top, where the 5th United States Light Artillery, Battery D, commanded by Lieutenant Charles Hazlett was booming away at the approaching enemy, and at the Confederate troops in the Wheatfield two hundred yards through the woods on the right. It was a comforting sound. On the left of the 124th were four guns of the Captain James E. Smith’s 4th New York Light Artillery, with the other section of two guns on the floor of the Plum Run Valley firing downstream. Ellis had his men manning the rock wall which was the base of a triangular shaped field, with the base at the top of the field and the point at the bottom where a small rise was located. Suddenly, the 1st Texas Infantry appeared on the rise at the bottom of the field and proceeded to march up the hill toward the “Orange Blossoms”. About half way up the fire of the New Yorkers stopped the Texans who did an about face, and proceeded to march back down toward the bottom.

      Major Cromwell, one of the regiment’s officers, rode to Colonel Ellis, exclaiming, “We have them on the run, Colonel, let’s go get ‘em!”. Cromwell then jumped his horse over the wall, and called for his men to join him. Ellis jumped his horse over the wall as well. The regiment quickly formed a line inside the wall and started to advance down the hill after the Texans.

      The Texans were just finishing reloading on the march. They did another about face, and because they were cramped on both sides, bunched up in the middle. They presented arms and fired into the New Yorkers. The concentrated fire hit the regiment like a wide steel bar, cutting men in half on a broad front, decimating the regiment. Ellis and Cromwell were among the dead. The regiment was shattered, the life driven from it. They gathered their dead and wounded, and withdrew from the battle.

      The Wheatfield
      The first unit across the Wheatfield was the Reserve Brigade of Colonel P. Regis de Trobriand, of Birney’s Division. They went forward to stop Kershaw’s men from entering the field from the western side by way of the Rose Woods. What they were not aware of was the presence of Brigadier General G. T. Anderson’s Brigade, behind a low stone wall hidden in the edge of the woods at the southwest corner of the Wheatfield. De Trobriand’s regiments were marching through the waist-high wheat when Anderson’s men opened on them with a fearful fire.

      Over the next two hours, all the brigades sent by Hancock from his 2nd Corps, the entire 1st Division of Brigadier General John C. Caldwell went through that Wheatfield. The brigades of Colonels Edward Cross, Patrick Kelly, John Brooke, and Brigadier General Samuel Zook were spent on those fields.

      Some estimates of the fighting in the Wheatfield describe it as being “in the whirlwind”, and the casualties were as high, if not higher than those of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble assault of the next day – somewhere over seven thousand men went down there.

      Finally, Brigadier General Samuel Wiley Crawford, commanding the two brigades of the Pennsylvania Reserves Division swept down the northwest face of Little Round Top, and pushed across Plum Run, forcing the exhausted Confederates of Kershaw’s and Wofford’s brigades back over the north end of Houck’s Ridge, through the tree line on the east side of the Wheatfield, and across into the trees on the west side of the field. From then on, an uneasy truce existed.

      Novus Livy

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