Monday, July 01, 2013

Battle of Gettysburg began 150 years ago today

Pickett's charge at Gettysburg by Edwin Forbes 

Pickett's Charge took place on the second day of the battle:

The charge is named after Maj. Gen. George Pickett, one of three Confederate generals who led the assault under Longstreet. After Confederate attacks on both Union flanks had failed the day and night before, [Robert E.]Lee was determined to strike the Union center on the third day. On the night of July 2, General Meade correctly predicted at a council of war that Lee would try an attack on his lines in the center the following morning. The infantry assault was preceded by a massive artillery bombardment that was meant to soften up the Union defense and silence its artillery, but was largely ineffective. Approximately 12,500 men in nine infantry brigades advanced over open fields for three-quarters of a mile under heavy Union artillery and rifle fire. Although some Confederates were able to breach the low stone wall that shielded many of the Union defenders, they could not maintain their hold and were repulsed with over 50% casualties, a decisive defeat that ended the three-day battle and Lee's campaign into Pennsylvania.

Lee was determined to attack the well-entrenched Union army, and General James Longstreet tried to convince him that it was a bad idea:

"General," he told Lee in a last face-to-face endeavor to dissuade him from extending what he believed was an invitation to disaster, "I have been soldier all my life. I have been with soldiers engaged in fights by couples, by squads, companies, regiments, divisions, and armies, and should know as well as anyone what soldiers can do. It is my opinion that no 15,000 men ever arrayed for battle can take that position." [Later: This actually sounds like bullshit, like something people think that they should have said but didn't. I bet it comes from Longstreet's autobiography. He was opposed to Lee on the wisdom of Pickett's charge, and he was right. But the quotation sounds fishy. Foote doesn't provide a citation for it, but I'll do some more digging. Even later: No, I can't find the quotation in Longstreet's memoirs: From Manassas to Appomattox.] 

(pages 529, 530 from Shelby Foote's excellent, three-volume "The Civil War: A Narrative," Volume 2. Foote was one of the primary talking heads in the Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War.) 

Fortunately for the Northern cause, Lee rejected Longstreet's advice and ordered the attack.

After the battle, Pickett encountered Lee:
One among the fugitives most in need of encouragement was Pickett, who came riding back with an expression of dejection and bewilderment on his face. Leading his division into battle for the first time, he had seen two thirds of it destroyed. Not only had his great hour come to nothing; tactically speaking, it added up to considerably less than nothing. Lee met him with instructions designed to bring him back to the problem now at hand. "General Pickett, place your division in rear of this hill," he told him, "and be ready to repel the advance of the enemy should they follow up their advantage." At least one bystander observed that in his extremity Lee employed the words "the enemy" rather than his usual "those people." But Pickett was in no state to observe anything outside his personal loss and mortification.

"General Lee, I have no division now," he said tearfully; "Armistead is down, Garnett is down, and Kemper is mortally wounded..."

"Come, General Pickett," Lee broke in. "This has been my fight, and upon my shoulders rests the blame. The men and officers of your command have written the name of Virginia as high today as it has ever been written before...Your men have done all that men can do," he added after a pause for emphasis. "The fault is entirely my own." (pages 567, 568)

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The pampered prisoners of Guantanamo


June 30, 2013

Americans are supposed to have sympathy for the accused terrorist detainees now on hunger strike to protest supposedly cruel conditions at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I don’t want these individuals to die,” President Obama recently lamented, adding he intends to close Gitmo and transfer the detainees to US prisons.

But just a few years ago, detainees got so plump from overeating hummus and other dishes from the camp’s Islamically correct menu that commanders specially ordered treadmills to help them
lose weight.

Then they ordered them again---because they weren’t made by Muslims.

“Even the hunger strikers were gaining weight because of all the food, so we go out and buy all this
exercise equipment and throw it in the rec yard,” a Gitmo official said of a 2007 requisition. “Within the first week, there were guys saying, ‘Hey, this stuff is made in the US---made by infidels---and we’re not going to use it.’

“So what did we do?” added the official, who requested anonymity. “We took all of that shit out, gave it to the soldiers to use, and bought them equipment that was made in a Muslim part of the world.”

The Pentagon declined to comment.

The official called Gitmo detainees “some of the most pampered prisoners on the planet.”

He said they get as many as four choices of halal meals and have access to a new $750,000 soccer field. Islamic prayer beads and rugs are now “standard issue.” They get their choice of more than 10,000 Islamic books and videos stocked by a Muslim librarian, who also records soccer and Arabic TV for them. They even have their own clerics to preach to them in Arabic.

Everyone gets a Koran, paperback or hardback, along with little hammocks to keep their holy book from touching the ground when not in use.

Guards are prohibited from handling the books. The Muslim librarian is “the only one that’s allowed to touch the Korans anymore, per detainee request,” the official said. “If I went into the Koran room and started rifling through a Koran, I could be fired.”

But no one gets a Bible, because the Bible could “incite” the terrorists.

Detainees even persuaded prison officials to stop raising the American flag anywhere they could see it.

Gitmo is no longer a prison camp; it’s a state-sponsored madrassa. But that’s not good enough for these inmates. They’re now demanding newer facilities and easier access to lawyers. More are threatening hunger strikes and unrest if they don’t get their way.

So the Pentagon is considering plans for a $150 million overhaul to what is already the world’s most costly prison per capita. Each
inmate at Gitmo costs roughly $800,000 a year to detain, for a total annual operating budget of more than $170 million.

The military already has approved
construction projects, including a new $11 million hospital and medical units for detainees, along with a $10 million “legal meeting complex,” where lawyers and human-rights groups can huddle with detainees.

Mostly, this is politics.

“I know some in the military leadership who are trying to make things more comfortable [for the detainees], but it’s not really about making the detainees more comfortable,” said the official. “It’s about placating the Beltway and making the p.r. war shift in our direction a little bit.”

“A lot of these programs stem from that,” he added.

Thanks to Jihad Watch for the link.