Gettysburg- July 3, the Charge!!

It’s July 3 and on this day in 1863, in the middle of the Gettysburg battlefield, 16,000 Confederates attacked the Union lines at a copse of trees that have been know as the high water mark of the Confederacy. After the charge, the bodies of members of the 26th North Carolina marked the precise location of that high water mark. This allows North Carolinians to claim they went “Furthest” in the Civil War.

I have been visiting Gettysburg since I was a teenager. Then, with a friend with Southern roots like me, I made Pickett’s and Pettigrew’s charge.  The ground is rolling, so for part of the walk, you are shielded from Federal fire. It is only after crossing the Emmitsburg Road that you are fully exposed to artillery and musketry.  

There are thousands of Gettysburg books around.  In “Intruder in the Dust,” William Faulkner wrote about it this way:

“For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances…” 

My Uncle Vernon Niven felt this way, and my great Uncle Malcom Niven was trying to get up Culps Hill at the same time. Remember the day. 

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America: Dinesh D’Souza’s Great Documentary-With a Clarification

I saw “America” last night, its opening night, and found this to be a remarkable movie and a “must see” for most of us. Those who shouldn’t see it are those who simply want to believe the negative view of America that is being promoted today. Our country doesn’t deserve such a disservice.
Without delving too deeply into the movie, thus avoiding the need for spoiler alerts, there is in the opening of the film a Revolutionary War vingette that needs explaining as D’Souza fails to lay proper foundation for it.
This vingette shows a mounted senior officer in Continental Uniform moving on horseback with his troops. There is a shot of a British officer with a rifled musket taking aim on this officer and then deciding not to fire. In the movie, it actually allows the Brit to shoot the officer, George Washington, who falls dead and goes on to project his death and its impact on the war and our country. But he didn’t shoot.
This vingette is based on history. The battle was a British victory at Brandywine Creek near present Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania, September 11, 1777,  and the officer was Patrick Ferguson who had developed a breech loading rifled musket that was able to be loaded and fired seven times in a minute, more than twice the rate of fire a well trained soldier could achieve with the muzzle loading Brown Bess that armed British infantrymen.
Ferguson actually had Washington in his sights, and, as he was said to be the best shot in the British army, would probably have killed Washington had he fired. He said later that “I didn’t think it proper to murder this fine officer in ambush.”  That he didn’t fire had a huge impact on our history, and we are still thankful.
Ferguson rose to command positions in the British army and was killed in the Continental victory at Kings Mountain (South Carolina), October 7, 1780.
The rest of the movie is self-explanatory, but this portion needed explanation.