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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 27, 2012 12:00am-1:15am EDT

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stages of world war ii. i highly rick -- highly recommend them. . . after attending commandment at general staff college he worked for the office of the deputy chief of staff for intelligence. he retired from active duty in
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the 1998 as the rank of lieutenant colonel. after publishing an early spy novel, the title of which was bravo romeo in 1981, colonel peters turned his attention to contemporary terrorism. his typical hero is a nonconformist with knowledge and courage to tackle the unsolvable problems. his most recent book, "cain at gettysburg," despite what the program says, it's "cain at gettysburg" was recently published and is available at the bookstore as well as a writer of fiction. colonel peters has established himself as a row respected writer of nonfiction. his best-known work in this genre, looking for trouble, dentures and a broken world establishes his reputation as a
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keen observer of worldly affairs. colonel peters is also a a well-known essayist contributing to "usa today," "the washington post," "newsweek," "the wall street journal" and armchair general of which he is a member of the advisory board as well as his given name, colonel peters has written under the name abel jones, the able jones stories of novels under the pseudonym of perry. his long experience many celebrated monographs and frank assessment of difficult situations have established ralph peters as the leading voice on america's war on terror. we welcome colonel peters to norwich. [applause] >> thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. i only have to make one correction. i did not graduate from penn state. i was far too unregulated and
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dissolute but i did finally in the army get something of an education. i'm going to be talking to you a today on the subject of the myths of gettysburg, and it is the myth of rice are dressed and in a quick novel "cain at gettysburg" but this will be a nonfiction presentation, again the book is the background for all this. i like to think "cain at gettysburg" is the most accurate civil war novel ever written. whether or not it is the best or one of the best is up to you to decide that i really wanted to do something that captured the feel of the times and so before launching into the nonfiction history, the myths of gettysburg that have mushroomed up over the decades and centuries, i would like to speak briefly about historical fiction, its role, writing it. i have often heard people say, oh i don't read historical fiction or i don't read fiction.
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if you don't read fiction in general you are missing the world's great literature of course but historical fiction and straightforward history or a stroke of writing are not enemies. they complement each other. history, well-written history, tells us that on the first day of two live men were and 88-degree heat and wore uniforms and they could hear the sounds of battle i had. well researched and well-written historical fiction tells you what it felt like to walk in the william march in the 88-degree heat, the humidity of july in pennsylvania. your canteen is empty and maybe you are barefoot and you can hear the sounds in a sea smoke. your couriers are writing back and forth. your officer seem confused themselves. they tell you to doubletime and suddenly you are ordered into a field. you really don't know where you
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are. suddenly you are marching forward into the smoke. you cannot see. can't see. ahead of you, qc rings of fire and arching forward the ground is broken and there were where are brambles. you guys -- try to get third and suddenly art terry l. opens up in your friends fall beside you. your officers are crying forward and pushing through a stream. you still don't know exactly where you are. suddenly i had a hill you see dark forms and they're clearly not the uniforms of your side. what did it feel like? what was the noise level like? good well-written historical fiction captures the feelings and also the emotions. historical fiction can go where great historians dare not tread in trying to understand what was inside. in other words in history deals and externals, what we can document. well done historical fiction
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goes into the souls of the men, into the terror, the dollar, the fear, the petty jealousies, the inspirations, the impulses. so, they both have their role and i think in a book like "cain at gettysburg" you can get a feel for what it was like and also it's factually action or it -- factually accurate. for me this was the ultimate book to write. it was one i literally wanted to write since childhood in addition to having worked with the craft of writing over the years i had a clear background as an enlisted man and officer plus a lifelong pursuit of studies as an amateur historian so it all kind of came together for me. i'm not going to do a long commercial for a book but of all the books i have risen over the this is the one where the magic happen for me. sometimes that happens. sometimes the writing gods
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descended things just happen. so i hope you will read it and if you are short on cash, although i note no alumnus is ever short on cash, you can always get it from the library. but to move onto gettysburg, one of the many triggers for writing this book at this time was i had just been appalled over the last several years to hear pundits and citizens on the right and left, political right and left saying our country has never been so divided. oh it's terrible, we are falling apart or kill any american civil war, at least 624,000 americans died. scientifically analyzed figures that have recently come out suggest that at least 750,000, perhaps 850,000 americans died and the problem is a lot of confederates weren't as good as recordkeeping in the medical
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care was not as good and a lot of the records were burned when richmond fell and they try to bring the tobacco warehouses in the military supplies and wound up burning much of the city. so we will never know exactly how many died but even if you take the low traditional figures of 724,000, 624,000 in terms of today's population, that is five or 6 million americans dead. imagine that. the cataclysm indeed for so many families and communities, the catastrophe of that. ladies and gentlemen, i humbly submit to you that we were somewhat more divided in the 18 60's then than we are today. buts democracy always has division. the divisions of the jacksonian era and even before that the federal struggle although that is morbid struggle of the elites. you have after the civil war all this struggles of reconstruction. we -- william jennings bryan and his class of gold speech and
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movement. in the 1920s we have polarization with millions of ku klux klan and marching in the north. you come to the era of father coughlin the demagogue of his time on the radio. in the 30s you have a polarization between conservatives and outright communists, all idealists believing in their fish and. certainly you have polarization in the cold war. in my generation of the 1960's and early seventies, the vietnam era, we were certainly polarized and much more so than today. but democracy always has these tensions. fortunately, they rarely erupted in civil war and the american civil war was the war that forged the country in which we live today. so to bring me to the myths that have grown up, for many reasons, some because of hearsay and some
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because of people espousing a particular cause in some because of generals trying to defend there've reputations after the war but let's start with a relatively recent myths by historians. revisionist historians always need something to write about and gettysburg was not really a decisive battle. the civil war went on for two years after gettysburg. the south survived. how could it be decisive? sometimes things are decisive because of what doesn't happen. let us suppose that robert e. lee and his valiant army of northern virginia had decisively defeated george, major general george meade in the potomac at gettysburg. within one week, glee's valient vagabonds would have been marching down broad street in philadelphia and the moral war they have well ended in the summer of 1863.
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this was indeed a crisis of the union and more about general george lee later. so, it was truly decisive. people at the time recognized it and although the south never smiled after shiloh, after those four days in early july of 1863, july 1, second and third at gettysburg and july 4 pittsburgh falls, the south really can only fight on and try to believe the union. there is really no hope of winning the war. it's a question of whether the union will maintain the fire in the belly to press the war to a decisive conclusion. now, in the book "cain at gettysburg," there are several things i was turned to do. i was trying to get back -- i base it on original records, memoirs, letters home, eyewitness accounts and of course the great work done by
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historians over the decades and a century and a half since then. i use all of them and it helped me to have a military background because oftentimes even the finest, best researched histories are not written by people with military experience so historians will scratch their heads and say why did he do this are why did he do that? a corporal trying to get us caught up in the middle of the night in peacetime and get them on the road during a maneuver, you know that it's just not as easy as moving symbols around on a map. the human factor is, and gettysburg it was their survey in states. one myth that has infuriated me for a long time, the immigrants couldn't really fight and the germans ran away. on the first day of gettysburg, the first day we as a near
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disaster for the union. it starts off very well for the union but ultimately falls and the failure really starts on the right flank north of the town of gettysburg. the corps commander of the 11th core, abolitionist but not a great military commander, but he gets to divisions forward, does the smart thing and keeps one back beyond the cemetery to hold the high ground. one division is almost all german speakers. command by germans. the other division on the right is a split between germans and english speakers. that did mission is commanded by frances channing marlo, native-born americans, very brave soldier with a great tactical record. he is risen quickly from regimental to brigade to division command and he is not ready for it. has praised -- as brave as the is he sees things the way a
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regimental commander does, what is right in front of him. he is looking out and he sees higher ground ahead. you would want the enemy to have it, so he moves one brigade and the rest of his division forward and in doing so, he does understand how defense hangs together. big break speaking in line on the right but also breaks the 11th core internally leaving a gap of a half-mile leaving the germans division and his division and just then, the confederates arrived in the northfield on the right flank, and they just pour into the gaps on both sides. warlow is balanced and he is wounded picturesquely the. something he will die. what really happened is his division, he is virtually
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surrounded by both sides. things get bad and people panic and they start running. the officers lost control. some units and some individual companies continue to fight but they were pressed back. the german division, one brigade -- i will enter up my own speech. has anybody here ever heard of colonel schist mosque he? a hero of gettysburg. more of him in a moment but his brigade is or worked -- ordered forward to help barlow out. as he is moving it forward, suddenly the confederates are pulling in on both sides. they are in front of him and he has to split his brigade richmond. they're trying to plug the gaps. the german speakers on the field, not the cement and merely refugees from the political struggles of 1848 in europe. they have come to the united
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states and they have volunteered to fight. these are still volunteers. they have volunteered to fight for their new country. they are largely abolitionist. they would be called socialist today, definitely see themselves as freedom fighters and some of them have real military experience. depression army overruns the last fortress of the rebels in germany and other served in various german armies before german reunification. they have got really experience. they are getting hit now on all sides and the line has collapsed. one year the 26th, which i feature in "cain at gettysburg" they want to try to understand what it was like for them. they make an absolutely valiant stand and confederates writing home talking about, we have never seen yankees fight like this. they were just sticking to it. well, it doesn't make it --
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sometimes they hold on for a half-hour and other get his hold on for a half hour in some units collapse and some are captured. other site their way at the way back. well he was a polish freedom fighter. he has to run when the russians crushed the last revolt and depression site and the depressions have crushed and divided poland and he is a brave man. it comes to the united states and builds a new life for himself and gets married and has a family dreams of going back to fight for poland's independence. on the civil war comes he raises what he calls his polish regimen in brooklyn new york. they have german speakers too. it's a very difficult time. by gettysburg, schivnoski is commanding a brigade of largely german speakers -- fighters.
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he speaks fluent english and a very brave man. he jumps his horse over a fence and the horse falls on him, crushes his limbs and he is carried off unconscious. when he wakes up, he is coughing blood. he still goes out to find his unit which is now fighting in the town of gettysburg and yet to rally them. he has to hold together what is left of them all the way back to the terrible fighting through the town. the back story of that is that at chancellorsville, the flying dutchman, the germans ran away. the corps commander of the 11th core wouldn't listen to his german supporters. they warned him that the frank was hanging out, that they needed to do something to watch that flank. they were professional soldiers and they said you have got to
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watch the plank. howard refused to listen. on their own initiative and a subordinate had schivnoski take two regiments from his brigade and ticket the flank. if those two regiments hadn't been waiting fair when stonewall jackson came to chancellorsville the 11th core would have been far worse. the polish legion and this 26 wisconsin stood there and they saved, they made a stand for release in our. it might've mida been two full hours but substance -- schivnoski is trying to get them back saying you've got to pull back or pick completely annihilated. he is a brave guy and he sees the confederates all around him. the german speakers will not leave and they don't want to leave their dead and wounded and they don't want to flee. finally they come back and do a fighting withdrawal taking nearly 50% casualties. what did the newspaper headlines say? all the germans ran.
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you can't trust those emigrants. does this sound familiar to anybody? so they get no credit. so schivnoski and the germans are determined to show that they can fight as well or better than any native warn americans. frances channing makes a mistake in the flank collapses but you cannot blame frances channing barlow. he is wounded. most of all he is incredibly well-connected. he has actually, he has emerson, when frank barlow who was number one in his harvard class of 1856, when he decided to be a lawyer in manhattan, emerson writes him a letter pleading with him to stay in new england. new england needs him. he spent at least two years on brooks farm with the famous 19th century commune. he grows around people like
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nathaniel hathorne. he knows henry david thoreau. he is in manhattan. heat tutors robert shaw who leads the 54th massachusetts. he is bob shaw to them. so you cannot blame barlow. so who do you plan? you blame the germans. not all german units are perfect, by no means but the 26 wisconsin for phenomenally heroic. staple was left of the 11th core by hanging on, one officer shot after another. history does not credit but they say the germans ran away. but they didn't. i will jump to july 2. the night after the hard-fought day of july 2 for the union left almost collapses, they finally called the line.
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there was an attack against the cemetery hill and the louisiana tiger storm on the union guns. the nearest troops are schivnoski's battered regiment. he takes two of them on his own and get them lined up the six bayonets ready to charge. the generals are nowhere to be found. finally he gets an order from howard that somebody has to do something and move forward. these guys charge forward and you are fighting by fire light, by the light of muskets, by a few cannons going off, by fire springing up. schivnoski can barely walk and again he is coughing blood and refusing order after order to lead the field. his ribs are collapsed. he gained barely lift his sword and he leaves his regiments forward into this melee and they are swinging their pockets at the rebels. he manages to hit them at the
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right time, pushes louisiana tigers down the hill, continues to lead the bayonet charge down the base of the hill so the guns fire over skies after retreating to the confederate. most historians credit the decision on cemetery hill to an indiana regiment of largely native americans who arrive after schivnoski. there was a reluctance to credit the foreign born with anything. once the germans got their reputations, the flying dutchman, schivnoski, he is featured in the book and gettysburg but schivnoski was up for brigadier general the winter before gettysburg and a congressman killed him. he said i will not promote anyone whose name i cannot pronounce. schivnoski stays in despite his debilitating injuries, fights on
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and fights in chattanooga. he winds up in alabama helping with the occupation of alabama toward the end of the war and finally becomes brigadier general. a patriot to the very end to his adopted country and we don't even know his name today. his name is on one monument on the drive up to a more famous site, barlow's noel. i spent a lot of time on immigrants because it's so important, so important to recognize it. without the volunteers and draftees, the union could not have one. win tickets, soldiers shredded by hostile artillery and when they finally get to the wall or a clump of trees, other units pull back out of them but one the unit hangs on. it's the 69 pennsylvania. to two other companies pulled
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back. one is barely over run but they stay at the ball and they fight with this. you are biting ears off and clubbing people with muskets, shoving nicynta people, bayonets, broken rifles. every man in that regimen was a native of ireland. none was born in the united states. they were dockworkers from the docs of the delaware river in philadelphia and you know, we see movies or miniseries. there's almost always the token irishman, sort of the leprechaun in the blue suit that is fair to impart the wisdom of the old sod or for chronic relief. the irs of botvinnik union army and some of the confederates as well, the guys in 69 pennsylvania, they were not leprechauns. they were hard, hard, hard and. they survived the famine. they had survived the famine ships. they fought their way up in a
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new country for which they volunteer to fight. in the 69 pennsylvania marched off to war in philadelphia in 1861, database in philadelphia threw rocks at them. and a five and held on and of course they suffer 50-cent -- 50% casualties. the colonel is badly hit that they stood there and it made an enormous difference. so i tried very hard in the book to give the immigrants there do. but also the native-born as well on the southern fighting gettysburg. i track the 26th north carolina. i was trying to make a symbolic point, they were just the regimen is that i wanted to track the told the stories. the 26th north carolina, attacking on the first day of gettysburg, they were the guys that broke through the iron
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brigade. in doing so they suffered horrendous casualties. they're not engaged on july 2 but they are part of what really should be called the pettigrew charge on july 3. and it appears that at least two of their men made it farther than anybody else in the pettigrew charge. two young guys, one carrying the flag of the regiment and the union soldiers, some of these young guys charging along and they would not shoot them. they just surrounded them and pull them over the wall and capture them. the valor and courage, they just wouldn't shoot them down. this was in the midst of a bloody malay. at gettysburg, the 26th north carolina suffered 85% casualties imagine that, for every 10 soldiers engage, eight and a half art killed, wounded or captured. today, if an america we suffered
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10% casualties we would them off line immediately if we could. we have lost the sense of the horrible -- i mean think about it. as a former soldier and conservative american i value every american life. i value every loss of limb and our current wars by three days at gettysburg, three days there are 160 some thousand men engage. i could be out by 10,000. we will really never know because the records were kept differently in the north and south and some were lost but over 50,000 are casualties. one out of three men engaged in three days, 50,000 casualties, killed wounded or captured. 6665 of the just under 30,000 wounded. many will die after the battle because medical care is certainly not what it is today. many died from infections. but the capture, many would die
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in prison camps north and south. the valor, the bloody valor that forge this country is phenomenal. there are other sides too. when you are writing historical fiction, you know, i am allergic to books that glorify war. i respect the valor and heroism that but i like to say that it gettysburg imperfect men fought and imperfect battle to preserve a more perfect union. and you know what is often missing from those movies or miniseries or even the novels, bringing up 160,000 men and a few square miles, you have some real woodstock issues, folks. there are sanitation issues. what do you drink? these guys used to drink from the streams. the streams are polluted with the dead or human waste. there are units on both sides that haven't eaten in days.
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69 pennsylvania had not been issued any rations for three days. so there is the human cost. i respect the valor, but you also read about the soldiers who robbed the bodies of dead the dead including their own dead because not everyone who put on a blue or gray uniform was a saint. human beings are human beings. they were no better or no worse than us today. human beings have the same impulses. some things are different. social values and certainly religion. oftentimes they could quote religion in person often debated each other in chapter and verse. we rarely can do that today. certainly their faith and life after death helps them stand up to the terrible ordeal they go through but nonetheless they have basic human emotions that don't change. i am going to mortify some of
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you, fans of the killer angels which is a beautifully written book. michael shaw was a touristic writer. the beautifully written book propagated some myths with the best intentions in the world. i hate to deflate the big bubble. joshua chamberlain did not win the battle of gettysburg for the union. colonel joshua chamberlain was incredibly brave and skillful and inspire. has been worth phenomenally brave. but you know, the 15th alabama commanded by lieutenant colonel william seals had marched between 22 and 26 miles in the heat of the day to get to that title field and went right into battle. their canteens had been empty for hours. and are collapsing from heat stroke and heat exhaustion and they managed to get over and try to figure or they are and launch as many as six assaults on the
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20th main. the 20th maine are formed heroically. there's no question about that. the leadership was inspired. but if the 15th alabama and the commanders brother john would be mortally wounded. if they manage to managed to turn the 20th maine flank they would have run it right into the arriving u.s. sixth court. they would have created bad moments for the folks on the helen might have turned some lichens. this is not to take away from their valor but you have to be careful when you try to glorify anybody and say what this regiment or this milieu run -- won the battle. george gordon meade -- that armies are teams. the 20th maine made an incredible contribution and so did said that the 26 wisconsin and so did the 69th pennsylvania. there are so many players and i'm wary of singling anyone out and saying, this regiment was
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decisive but even without the valor of the brigade coming out and flanking, pickett's charge would have been defeated. they all contributed and a pack one of the reasons, one of the many reasons they went at gettysburg is because the union generals union generals except for dan sickles, the union generals are team players. they support and follow his orders even though he had been given command. ordered by lincoln to take command of the army army of the atomic three days before the battle. none of the generals, even hancock does not want that army. it becomes a career killer and i don't like sports analogies mixed with military affair because it's a very different war. i will use one. imagine a coach suddenly giving, he is told to take over an nfl team.
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three days before the team is playing in the super bowl against team that his eat it every time. in three days he turns the team around and wins one of the biggest wins in super bowl history. galligan, wary of the analogies, usually don't have mayhem on the foot i'll feel that what he did was astonishing. the morale wasn't terrible but they were leaderless. meade takes command on the 28th of june 3 days before the battle. he is woken up at 2:00 a.m. and he gets to headquarters and assumes command from poker. and doesn't even, he such a poor leader he hasn't even gathered one single detailed map of southern pennsylvania. he takes command and lee is in pennsylvania and meade does not have a map. you couldn't just stop at the exxon station to pick up a
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roadmap in those days. imagine that. i want to get right to meet because there is never been a greater disservice to any american general than that done to george gordon meade philadelphia. he has been eclipsed even though his contemporaries knew what he had achieved. meade dies in a 1071 in his health is ruined by what he gave in the war. his funerals attended by president grant, by sherman and sheridan who did not get along with him by the way. it is attended by senators and luminaries, the governor. it was a big event but meade, one of his misfortunes is he dies early. dan sickles who nearly loses the battle for the union on the second day, the mistake made at the division level, sickles makes at the core level. without permission he moves his entire core almost a mile
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forward, breaks the integrity of the union line and leaves a gap of a full mile on his right flank back to hancock's second core on some of terry rich. he just goes out and gets whacked by the belated attack in the afternoon. sickles made the same mistake. he saw what he thought was great granddaddy didn't think about the whole army and how it all tight and so he abandoned the little round top to go out to the peach orchard which is really a no-man's land. neither side can maintain it. at any rate sickles lives in the 20th century, spends decade after decade giving speeches about how he won the battle of hattiesburg. george meade was a coward who wanted to retreat. and he is the senior general, the last surviving big gun and of course it wears him down. then you have two other factors, the lost cause crowd of the
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south cannot ever forgive george forget george meade for beating robert e. lee in an open field with roughly equal numbers. nobody had ever done it. meet was the only general bed beats lee and until the closing weeks of the war when the armies -- now if meade was so bad, think of this. made is the only commander who never gets fired. he has never really. when grant assumes overall command of the armies he keeps meade on and he keeps meade on until the end of the war until the disbandment of the army and the potomac. and grants did not suffer, but the other problem he has is, the jealousy of who he replaces with waterfield and the whole crowd, sickles. he is the last cause people in
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the south and somehow say lee lost the magic -- battle by magic. he certainly had a much better sense of how warfare was changing and robert e. lee did at that point. by his finest hours, we gets it. lee gets the killing power, the importance of fortifications. gettysburg is the last napoleonic battle, the last great battle for a commander can stand on the commanders hill and see just about everything going on until the smoke world send and covers the field. but by 1864, less than a year later when meade and the army in the potomac and grant and the burnside's core, by the time they are fighting in the wilderness, the front stretch is from four 2526 calvary seven or
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eight miles. 's pennsylvania at the front is between 15 and 20 miles at various times. by the time you get to petersburg south of the james the front goes for doesn't up miles through petersburg and richmond. its modern war and you have this gap because commanders can no longer see the field. they can't control it and the union runs telegraph lines to corps headquarters but once things start moving forward, you have a problem. you have modern weapons, modern sized armies moving over vast businesses but commanders can't control them. until over half a century later, you've really have no way to get information back about what is happening up front to the corps commander, to the army commander and so what historians attack is, why didn't they coordinate this better? why didn't they reinforce the breakthrough? well, one basic reason is they
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didn't have a command and control. they didn't have the communications to do so. back to meade, some down in the weeds criticisms that sickles and others raised. they said well when meade first takes over he does not want to fight a gettysburg. he wants to fight in the pipe creek line in maryland. lee did not want to fighting gettysburg either. nobody did. that is what happens when armies are moving toward each other. when meade takes over command that sunday morning and by the way through the whole week he will get no -- less than two hours sicily. by pickett's charge is the walking dead and he still manages to make the right decision. it's just an amazing performance. but made, he immediately come me me as an engineer by background and he has been building white house but the lighthouse at barnaby bay and elsewhere, the lighthouse is in delaware. he thinks he will be remembered
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for the way he learned to calculate latitude than for his lighthouses. and he rises to be this commander who literally saved the union but what he does come the senses trusted staff members outcome his engineers and artillerymen to find the best local defensive ground. he doesn't have a map and the pipe creek line is the best defensive ground. he is not passive. doesn't give in because he knows lead is moving so he pushes his calvary out. that is how you gather intelligence. he pulls in and he wants to make sure they are not defeated piecemeal. he's got the marching really hard. there are two course of support and that saves the day for the union at gettysburg. gettysburg is really a race and they get there just in time, again and again. but it doesn't happen by magic. he cracks the whip on the staff and makes them start producing.
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so, and gettysburg, he is a really good leader. he knows he is now an army commander. when he gets word that the fighting is started and gets word back from buford's calvary that there is a fight coming up and reynolds is approaching, soldiers run to the sounds of the guns. wrong decision had he made it. he is now the army commander. his role is not to control the tactical fighting. his role is to make sure the army gets where it is supposed to be to make sure the roads are clear of supply wagons for this. to make sure the artillery is up. he has to keep the overview and he stays until the end of july july 1. warren and hancock right back. it's about 12 miles and he gives a briefing and at that point he decides, sounds like we can't fight here and he writes forward at that point to see for himself after giving orders for people.
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the orders go out slow in the pipeline order goes out late because has not built a good staff and meade will build a good step. he is the first true modern staff, very impressive work. but at any rate, he writes forward and says yes we can fight. he surveys the ground, tries for an hours of sleep. he takes control. the only major mistake george meade makes a gettysburg is he doesn't provide adult supervision of dan sickles and that is when you get the crisis on the left and the 20th maine and every bit is important and valiant. but at that point, sickles, his core has just unfolded and collapse. me does not like to fight piecemeal but he has no choice
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of he gets down on the ground riding around directing regiment and, directing brigades. here's the patent traffic cop and he gets hancock's best corps commander to go forward and take command of the shattered her core and all the reinforcements and it's a great team. hancock runs the direct firefight as we say today. meet is right there within rifle range of getting killed but he is steering people. go here, get the artillery out, and henry hunt, saves the day. you get all these people. a brilliant performance at the wheat field. but is such a close run thing on july 2. they're fighting in the late afternoon into the evening and at the ask meat has been moving forces all around but it's a brilliant performance, one of the best performances in u.s. military history.
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he plugs gap after cap and pulse units out of here, since it to the left anthrax and wrecked cement. it's at led a bloody afternoon but he holds the line and finally he is out of units and ordered up the last guys. he does not know where they are. used in the middle of the field. george meade on horseback with four other riders, staff men, five men and there's no infantry inside. they have all been sent to fight here. several hundred yards ahead of them comes the confederate brigade headed right for them. now, if you went for their guys were on horses and being attacked by a confederate brigade, what might you do? well what meade does, and this is a guy, remember meat is the only guy that broke the confederate line at fredericksburg. he thinks like an engineer. he is cautious when it makes sense to be cautious but brave
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in that sense and he is not going to give up. he digs in his hooves as opposed to his heels. he just stands there and as they approach they are looking over their shoulder and he is called has called for the church. he is on the front side of cemetery ridge on the low ground and the confederates are getting closer and closer. the flags are waving and as they're approaching within a few hundred yards, he draws his sword and tells his staff men to get ready to charge. five men against a brigade. that is the kind of leader george meade is. he has got a terrible temper. he is called the old snapping turtle, terrible temper. he is actually good to us subordinates but he has this temper. oneone understaffing cries comig of become general. the clean version is, i can dam well see they are coming. is looking at the confederates
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and the staff men says no, no look behind you and just as he is ready to ride into the thousand confederates, john newton who was appointed to be the first core that morning gallops over the ridge followed by his men fronting doubletime in formation. the first core flag is flying in the tear past meet and meade and shattered the confederate attack. it doesn't get closer than that. and then he has to deal with the other day but before that, one of the criticisms is when george meade held a council of war, only a coward would do that. napoleon had plenty but that is not the point. meade did not like councils of war. he was a very decisive guy. very rarely did he have trouble making up his mind. but he holds the council of war and calls all his generals together. he wants their views. there are three reasons why he does that. this is a major general. relatively junior, promoted over the other major generals.
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he has three stars that. that. is a major general major general and his promoted over guys senior to him. some very jealous men three days before this battle. so the last thing you want to do is -- so he knows he has got to bring the guys in. also that army of potomac generals have a reputation for back fighting. after the battle it's always if or polk or mcclelland, they listen to me and my recommendation we would have one. meade is smart. he gives everybody on the record. he gets buy-in from all the guys who are now subordinates. the third thing he does, he makes sure everybody understands the plan for the next day. there's not going to be another guy like sickles and fortunately all the commanders are much better than sickles was. sickles is by the way brave but rogue and self-centered and a politician to the court.
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he will lose his leg from his his wound is gettysburg which is what really saves him, such career as he has left that meade, he is also trying to -- and the counsel for, it's amazing that timidity that some guys bring to bear. hancock is a little wary. hancock did not want to command the army. is a brave fighter but he does not want to be on the line for failure so meade gets them on record. we are going to vote on three issues and they get consensus. and he gives them all on the team. the next day they know what the chain of command is sent they know who has what responsibility where. it's just a phenomenal performance and you get the other men, it wasn't really need that it was hancock that won the battle. hancock did not want to command the army. meade is the one they gave hancock orders.
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hancock fulfill the orders, carry them out really late but ultimately it was a team effort whereas on the other side robert e. lee is the low point of the whole war really. he has drunk his own kool-aid. he believes his army cannot be defeated this point. he has come up with a string of incredible victories and george meade, he respects him but he doesn't really think meade is going to be his equal. he is wary of him. he is a professional soldier but a new army commander and lee makes one wrong call after another. he has through much of the battle and of course that takes some of it away. one of his corps commanders is suffering from the effects of. he contracted it at west point. you could not heal it in those days. these things don't make most of the movies. it got great reviews but when
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beavers said we didn't know, the army would have known back then that he'll had because it came out in 1980s. trust me, everybody knows who has got what. they knew. he didn't talk about his letters home to mom. the soldier sent letters home but you only see the ones once written to their sweethearts. look at the once they wrote to their brothers. that is when they're talking about the best bordello in memphis or the four-letter words. often misspelled. it's amazing how you can misspell a four-letter word that they were humans with human emotions. there is a great religious revival. some of them are just christian to the core. others are human beings with human urges. at any rate, the south, that point the army in virginia doesn't have any staff to speak up. just a loose motley collection
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of dilettantes and glee's subordinates, you know meet is fighting the nascent modern army. lee has knights in armor and meet is fighting an organized military formation. lee's people see themselves as chevaliers and evil barons. lee compounds the problem when he gives orders. they are often polite southern gentleman as if it were a suggestion. a suggestion does not get the job done. he gives a pretty explicit order to richard you will, the corps commander of the federal left that has already broke an 11 score and push them back to the town of gettysburg. he is encouraging them, suggesting and ordering him to take cemetery hill into the key
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positions. he could have done it. they could have done it. meade does it rakove is too late, it's dark and that is probably where they fail to take cemetery hill. made was to organize that the rest of the battle would have taken place anywhere. the last point about me, and me, this was a criticism from president lincoln. his military service was limited but dan sickles who almost loses the battle for the union, his leg is amputated. he is conscious and he has himself carried by soldiers to the nearest railhead and taken by train to washington and put to bed in lafayette square by the white house because he knows lincoln. he is chummy with mary lincoln and he is a flatter. he shot his wife's lover before the war and got off on the first
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temporary standard -- insanity defense. his lawyer, one of his lawyers who is now the secretary of war, sickles gets carried in lincoln knows sickles is it that if they or. sickles makes the case. he was the hero of gettysburg. link and buys into it partly and then lincoln is furious that after this three day battle, that meade does not immediately pursue and destroy the army in northern virginia. first of all, robert e. lee hoped that on july 4 -- the armies face each other in the hopes even on late july 3 he hopes they will attack him. the army of northern virginia's badly defeated that they are not vanquished. they are still fighting but more importantly, three days of a tool and all the marching
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beforehand has disorganized the union army, the army of potomac almost as badly as the disorganized confederates. meet on the battlefield. he owns tens of thousands of wounded. the units involved in the fighting are out of ammunition. some have not been fed for three days. there is no water. the debtor everywhere. casualties are interesting. the union army uses casualties by and large where in army of that nation loses to casualties. that is that the company regimental amber cade level. the union generals pay a price but by and large it's the junior guys are supposed to be out on the fighting line or killed or wounded. as a result meet, he had to start moving guys around. lieutenants are commanding companies and captains are temporarily commanding regiments. you have got to sort all that
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out and men are exhausted. on the confederate side, the army after the chivalry and leading by generals, in gettysburg the army of northern virginia loses 15 general officers killed and wounded and they can't afford it. they cannot afford it. it is just absolutely charging for them and a great loss but anyway me gets underway in pursuit, gingerly as soon as he can. but he has got to follow robert e. lee on the virginia stopped. he has got to follow him. was the army capable of actually fighting? meat is given command of the army of potomac by lincoln. when everybody in washington is terrified, his mission is to defeat lee and push himself. he conferences that mission and then everybody in washington, people who don't carry any weapons, get all kinds of angry because he didn't destroy the army of north virginia on the spot. he did the best he could.
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he did a fantastic job and george made at gettysburg saved that more perfect union for the rest of us. ladies and gentlemen if you want to know all the details, read "cain at gettysburg." if you don't want to buy it, get it at the library. even if you don't read it and you you were not catchers to did not try to take two things with you. one, that the truth we inherit isn't always the whole truth and nothing but the truth. historians spin things and politicians spin things for their own reasons but the other thing and why these myths have been able to grow up in the myth i spoke about of at the beginning that we have never been certified as a nation, we have got a terrible thing for our children. we have taken serious history teaching out of k-12 education. we have a little bit of
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politically correct history but it is not objective. you cannot spend history if you want to create good citizens. you cannot spin to the right and you cannot spin it to the left. it has to be just the facts. history as best you can ascertain it because history, sort of like hoh. it's not nice to have. it's vital to building good citizens. when you don't understand where you came from, when you don't know about the dred scott case, when he don't know about any sport, when you don't know about william jennings bryan, when don't know about father coughlin, when he don't know about the canopy levels in our wars, we don't know about sacrifices. when he don't know about the peacetime struggles, how do you make an informed decision? you pray to the demagogues who just make it up, who tell you the country is never been certified. you are a 24/7 volunteer victim. but it's not just the voters who make uninformed decisions
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because they don't know history. journalist to not know what they are seeing. wewe have had a succession of presidents who don't know history. and they lack strategic context for their actions. history is -- factual history, knowing where we come from, the good, the bad and the ugly, that is frankly mostly good in this blessed country of ours. when we do not teach history, k-12, we the tray the sacrifices of our forefathers and we weaken this greatest of all republics. ladies and gentlemen, i thank you very much for your time. if you have any questions, i would be glad to hear them. [applause] ..
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>> he adds a tremendous record as a cal brainman.
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another story that the secret plan was to raid the union and the attack from behind. the union calvary have combine's and i'm sorry, i forget. sorry. any way they can turn around but the union 5/8. they dismount and take the courses back but by 1864 the union calgary later writing
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through alabama where storage is killed. still fighting with the sabres or pistils but at their best dismounting and fighting as infantry. custer gets all of it. he always looks for a fight. he just looked for one to many in the wrong place. he is also a jerk. he is fighting and custer always wants to hang people. also robert e. lee was not shy about executing deserters. the union was much less apt to.
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harlow who recovers from his wounds he cannot shoot but again they were hard men. they were not compromising men. he would march with bayonets and did they would use them on their own men if they fell out. it is different and then miniseries. >> talk about the napoleonic. [inaudible] >> if you are european. that is the attack of the old guard at waterloo. there is a piece one foreigner observed reporting
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back to the british army. austrian, german, british, f rench. both sides. their idea the americans don't know what they're doing. they cannot fight. the army of amateurs. they failed to learn the lessons of pic discharge or petersburg, 1914 the europeans and jumping up out of trenches charging across open fields and now there is machine guns and barbwire. they are slaughtered. 60,000 on the first day.
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human beings to not like to learn lessons. nine of us to. but the europeans refused one uses the railroads and incredibly strategic movement of the union forces. back and forth. companies see from pennsylvania managed to fight carolina, virginia, box bill, vicksburg back in time for the overland campaign. a lot is a real movement. some of that was reporting by journalist when of the
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reasons mead is not better remembered he had no time for journalist. 1864, a journalist bios a pat me false report. mead has the journalist put to back words. they rally around their own. hot they make a compact not to mention in mead unless it is unfavorable. he is written now and alienated their journalist.
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the southern general's are jealous. i have been interested in mead. kids are smart. i knew robert e. lee and mead and yankees. it made sense that mead one. i was only later that was told all the reasons why he did not win and why. he had a lot of help. some came from mistakes but again, he saved the union and we have all but forgotten him. >> in the book you talk about there are 160,000
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people on the field and you also spent time talking about stuart and rear is the confederate calgary? how did robert t. find out where his opponent was? >> he was 26 years old and was brilliant. but he loves the press. he loves to be in the papers. he will be killed 1864 but got great press for his right around mcclellan's army. robert e. lee turns him loose and expects intelligence reports and one point* catches over 100
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union wagons but lee is blind. mead has it out doing reconnaissance. colonel sharp is pretty good. always has a better handle on t2 can lee does. he is on a joyride. pennsylvania. the confederate core are all over the place. they are crossing and lee has lost control. he does not have them under control late july 2nd. it cost him dearly going into the battle blind.
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said mead is always better informed. alternately the rule is a commander is responsible for everything his men do or fail to do. stuart who was incredibly brave needed a jolt supervision. napoleon said he wanted princeton educated general's. luck does matter. some people have better luck than others. lee had a run of bad luck that compounded his mistakes as a commander. 1864 overland campaign he was outnumbered two /1.
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the most brilliant fighting is over mead and he performs miracles. but it is brutal a of savage fighting. not the picturesque nature of pickens charge. lee does not get credit for his finest performance. just as mead finest hour after gettysburg is in bottom 1863. he gets orders from abraham lincoln, suggestions, commit tee increase handpicked by
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washington he comes up against lee. he has been ordered to destroy the year me. governor warren said look at these entrenchments. i do not want to make the attack. the mood in washington is if mead had ordered an attack and it failed costing 6,000 casualties he would be forgiven. he ordered a withdrawal and it is the position could not be taken. for saving those lives he was a coward.
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but still nobody fires me because they know nobody is better. but then grant comes east thinking of a replacement. we wanted chattanooga we will show them how to fight. mead comes down to brandi station miserable winter weather grant interviews mead. the first thing he does is say general grant grant, paraphrasparaphras ing, i know you want to replace your own commander
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but winning floor is more important than vanity. i will not argue and i will support you and granted decides that is the man he wants. he was dealing with mclaren and the huge ego. mead is a patriot. self-deprecating, they don't have a perfect relationship but they are a good team. grant wants to attack had on that has massive casualties. mead is more calculating and a little more wary. it works out about to write.


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