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Countdown To Infamy

INTRODUCTION
Posts of historical interest will appear on this site from time to time. The current subject, an account of informal conversations between the United States and Japan during the period from October 17, 1941 to December 7, 1941, leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, will be presented in a series of several installments.

STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT
In its Official Report, forty eight pages long, the U.S. State Department describes in minute detail the deteriorating relations between the United States and Japan from October 17, 1941, to and including December 7, 1941. Prepared by state department officials and dated May 19, 1942, this memorandum purports to be an accurate account of informal conversations between the United States Government, including Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Under Secretary Sumner Welles. It includes verbatim copies of correspondence between from various U. S. and Japanese officials, as well as memoranda authored by certain of them. The Report summarizes events leading up to the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval forces at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the ensuing American declaration of war against Japan the following day.

There are many interesting observations to be made from a historical standpoint. The Report opens with the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Prince Konoye on October 16, 1941. Apparently unable to reconcile the conflicting forces that raged within his own government between those who favored continued negotiations with the United States and those who favored war, Konoye resigned in the hope that someone would be found who favored keeping the door open to continued negotiations.

Each article in this series will present a summary of the almost daily communications between the two countries. Although there are countless histories of the relations between the United States and Japan in the period leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, I am not aware of any which describe in such minute detail as contained in the State Department memorandum the communications between officials of the two countries.

This historic vantage point provides a first-hand insight into the efforts undertaken by the two countries to negotiate a continuation of the uncertain but ongoing efforts to preserve peace. As will be made clear in the articles to follow, the position of the United States was clear: There must be specific responses by Japan to the points made by the U.S. as to Japanese intentions in the Far East, not the vague generalities which had marked their previous replies to U.S. communications.

THE WORLD STAGE AT THE BEGINNING OF 1941
The opening days of 1941 portrayed a grim picture of the world. The Tripartite Pact, concluded in September, 1940, had unified Germany, Italy and Japan into a formidable force of Axis powers. Prospects for world peace ranged from nonexistent to shaky at best, depending on what part of the world drew your focus.

The all too real specter of war had become a terrifying reality as conflict once more engulfed Great Britain, France, Germany, and most of the rest of Europe. The acuteness of the situation in Europe was but one of many significant factors facing the United States in January, 1941.

Nazi Germany’s huge military machine, including massive land and air forces built up surreptitiously over a period of years, had subjugated most of Europe. Austria had been annexed in March, 1938 without firing a shot. The Sudetenland was occupied in September, 1938 without opposition, by agreement. The entirety of Czechoslovakia was sacrificed to the Nazi beast by the Munich arrangement, with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returning to England proclaiming to the crowds, “peace in our time.” The unprovoked Nazi attack on Poland in September, 1939, and its subsequent occupation was followed by declarations of war on Germany by Britain and France.

In 1940, after the German breakthrough of French defenses, France was overrun in six weeks. What remained of the British Expeditionary Force, however, was successfully evacuated from France at Dunkirk. The Dutch were overwhelmed by the Nazi onslaught, brought on without any pretext or warning. Belgium had surrendered, and Bulgaria and Rumania were being crushed under the Nazi heel.

In mid-1940, Mussolini had thrown the weight of his Italian forces behind Hitler by declaring war on Great Britain and France. But Mussolini’s efforts to assert himself as a force to be reckoned with would eventually lead to the failure of Italian Fascism and his own capture and summary execution in 1943.

Events unfolding in the Far East, however, were also of great concern to the United States. The threat from Japan had continued to grow over the years. Its 1931 invasion and occupation of Manchuria had signaled its expansionist aims. Despite diplomatic conversations with Russia, large Japanese forces were still maintained there. The Japanese had invaded China in 1937 and moved into Northern Indochina in the summer of 1940. The growing potential threat from Japan extended to all powers interested in the Pacific. These included the Netherlands, British Malaya, Burma, India, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

By early 1941, restrictions on exports to Japan from the United States of iron, steel, most important metals, machinery, high quality gasoline and blending agents, together with plants and plans for the production of high quality gasoline, had further increased tensions between the two countries.

While Japan’s expansion into China and Southeast Asia was a continuing source of concern for the United States, the country had passed through a Presidential election whereby both major political parties had written into their respective platforms unequivocal opposition to involvement in foreign wars.

Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Union Disaster at Chickamauga – Prelude To Its Death Grip on the Confederacy

With the approach of Memorial Day, it seems fitting to devote this week’s blog to one of the Civil War’s most notable, if lesser known battles, Chickamauga Creek.

This blog marks my third venture into writing about significant Civil War battles. The first one dealt with the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, two pivotal battles that saved the Union. The second one focused on the battle of Shiloh and the rise of U.S. Grant. Both are available as articles on amazon.com/Kindle Books. Here, I continue the thread addressed in the second article, which follows the career of U.S. Grant. In this blog, Grant, as a Major General, is named commander of all Union armies, save for a small area in the southwest, and immediately exercises his authority to relieve beleaguered General William Rosecrans following the disaster at Chickamauga Creek, south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The counterattack led by General George H. Thomas, who replaced Rosecrans, drove the Rebels back into northern Georgia and opened the gateway to the South for Union follow up and ultimate Confederate collapse.

The year 1863 saw a continuation of the fearful struggle of the Civil War. In early 1863, after the battle at Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Confederate General Braxton Bragg withdrew his forces southward leaving Union General William Rosecrans (“Old Rosy”) in possession of that town. The spring of 1863 saw U.S. Grant driving down the Mississippi River as part of the renewal of his campaign against Vicksburg, Mississippi, some 200 miles upriver from New Orleans, Louisiana. In northern Virginia, Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s attacks caused withdrawal of Union General Joseph Hooker’s forces north from Chancellorsville, Virginia and across the Rappahannock River. In July, a major Union victory at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the second attempt by Confederate General Robert E. Lee to invade the north was repulsed by Union forces led by General George Meade. However, there were events shaping up in western Tennessee as well which were also significant.
With the approach of Memorial Day, it seems fitting to devote this week’s blog to one of the Civil War’s most notable, if lesser known, battles, Chickamauga Creek.

President Abraham Lincoln wanted Rosecrans to get moving in Tennessee as well to keep pressure on the Confederates in as many places at one time as possible. In August, 1863, the skillful maneuvering of the Union Army of the Cumberland led by Rosecrans had feinted Confederate General Braxton Bragg into abandoning Chattanooga, a vital railroad junction, and to pull back his army into northern Georgia. This very successful result obtained with relatively few Union casualties caused Rosecrans to be hailed as a hero in his native Ohio. But it was soon followed by Rosecrans overextending his lines as he chased Bragg through mountain gaps below Chattanooga and presaged a Union disaster that was soon to follow at Chickamauga Creek (a Cherokee word meaning “River of Blood,” according to some historians), just south of Chattanooga.

But a heavily reinforced Bragg halted his retreat from Chattanooga and turned on the pursuing Federal army. Engaging Rosecrans along Chickamauga Creek, the collision of the two opposing armies resulted in a bloody two-day battle. When a poorly worded order caused one of Rosecrans’s divisions to pull out to support another unit, a huge, two mile gap was created in the Union line which was exploited by Confederate General James Longstreet as attacking Rebel troops poured through the gap and overran the Federals. Rosecrans ordered General Thomas to take over as Rosecrans was forced to fall back to Chattanooga. For his valiant efforts in shielding Rosecrans’s withdrawal, Thomas became known as the “Rock of Chickamauga.”

The devastating Union loss at Chickamauga Creek on September 19-20, 1863, could have spelled doom for Rosecrans’ Union Army of the Cumberland. But Confederate General Braxton Bragg, appalled at his own losses, hesitated in following up the Rebel triumph by allowing Rosecrans to retreat to Chattanooga and thereby preserve his army while Bragg occupied Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, mountains south of Chattanooga. Bragg had followed the retreating Rosecrans from Chickamauga and taken possession of Missionary Ridge overlooking Chattanooga and also occupied Lookout Mountain, west of Chattanooga, which Rosecrans had abandoned. Rosecrans also lost control of the Tennessee River and River Road to Bridgeport. Chickamauga became the worst Union loss in the Western Theater. These circumstances in Grant’s view justified Rosecrans’s replacement, effectively ending his military career.

Bragg’s mistakes ultimately led to a Union triumph after Grant, in October, 1863, ordered Rosecrans to be replaced by General Thomas. This order had come about after Grant had received a personally delivered notification from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton naming him as commander of the newly formed Military District of Mississippi. This district combined the departments of Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee under Grant’s command and included all of the territory from the Appalachians to the Mississippi River north of the area occupied by Banks forces in the southwest.

Combined Federal forces led by Thomas, Hooker, and General William Tecumseh Sherman, under Grant’s overall command, led their troops in attacks on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain causing the Rebels to retreat in chaos and ultimately led to the resignation of Bragg. The pell-mell pullback of Rebel troops from Missionary Ridge was particularly galling as the Rebel position had been supposedly impregnable.

The Union victory ultimately opened the way for Sherman’s campaign to Atlanta and subsequent epic march to the sea. Confederate armies would never mount another counterattack and would be reduced to parrying Union blows like an aging, worn out, and overmatched fighter. It marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

In Retrospect

As a long time resident of the Los Angeles vicinity there were many times that I drove south on the I-405 freeway past LAX airport. The first off ramp west past the airport is Rosecrans Blvd. With my continuing interest in the Civil War over the years and in particular my research for this blog, I came to realize and understand General Rosecrans’s contribution to the war effort for the Union cause.

In this era of electronic communications not everyone has the chance to read books on the Civil War. Hopefully this blog will help to fill the gap in knowledge that may be present in those who are interested in this area but do not have the time to read deeply about it.

Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Echoes From The Past Revisited, The Panic of 1857 and the Continuing Saga of The Discovery of Gold In California

An interesting sidelight to gold’s saga revolves around the tragic loss in September, 1857, of the SS Central America, a sailing vessel bound for New York carrying passengers and three tons of gold ingots and newly minted gold coins from California. Lashed by a massive hurricane, the ship went down in 7,200 feet of water about 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C, at a time when U.S. bankers desperately needed the ship to reach its destination safely. The story was front-page news across the country and was accentuated by the Panic of 1857, which lasted for three years. Many people lost their jobs.

The sinking of the Central America was one of the worst at sea disasters in American history, claiming over 400
lives, and was front-page news all over the country. The loss of the approximately $1.5 million in gold the ship had carried, valued at roughly $18 per ounce, stunned the financial community and compounded the woes of the New York bankers, adding to the Panic.

The Panic was marked by a decline in wheat prices when the Crimean War ended in February, 1856. This drop was keenly felt by American farmers who had profited from the war. On a wider scale however, there had been a decade of land speculation and investment in railroad securities, aided by heavy borrowing. Banks had invested in businesses that were failing, causing people to panic. Investors were losing heavily in the stock market, railroads were unable to pay their debts, and businesses and factories failed idling hundreds of thousands of workers. People feared financial ruin and ran to the banks to withdraw their money. But the banks did not deal in paper money; they used gold and silver. But because of their failed invedstments, the banks could not gather all the gold their customers demanded. From August to September, 1857, a run on New York banks had required them to pay out more than twenty percent of their gold reserves and many banks failed.

However, the tragic loss of the Central America had a remarkable ending so far as the gold is concerned. In 1988, the ship and its treasure were located on the ocean floor by Tommy Thompson, an oceanographer from landlocked Ohio. Images aboard his vessel revealed a veritable king’s ransom in gold ingots and coins on the sea bottom where they had lain for over a century. Boosted by modern technological advances, the gold was recovered in 1989. The salvaged gold was estimated to be worth in the neighborhood of $1 billion, a record gold treasure haul.

The largest ingot recovered was an astonishing 933.94 ounces, nearly 80 pounds, with an 1857 value of $17,433.57. Nearly 7,500 coins were also recovered, many of them 1857-S Coronet double eagles. After being subject to a special conservation process, many coins were found to exhibit the brilliant proof like luster imparted to them the day they were struck at the San Francisco mint. The brilliance of the coins and gold bars was made possible by the oceanic conditions in which they were discovered, submerged under thousands of feet of ocean water at a temperature of 34 degrees Farenheit.

In my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com through Kindle Books and in print), to demonstrate the use of parenthesis and brackets, I point out that coin collecting can be interesting as well as a good investment. Here is what I wrote:
Coin collecting can be very interesting, historically speaking,
as well as a good investment. Coin grading is subjective (a matter of
opinion, which can change over time), so never buy any coin without
first inspecting it.

Carson City silver dollars, aka Morgan silver dollars [named for the designer, George T. Morgan], minted in Carson City, Nevada between 1878 and 1893, are still popular today because of their attractive design and because they are a throwback
to the days of the Old West.

Copyright 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Lessons From the Past – Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, And The Declaration of Independence

My book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com at Kindle Books and in print) contains several historical vignettes to illustrate the flexibility of different kinds of paragraphing and the correct use of punctuation.   I’ve focused on Thomas Jefferson in this blog to illustrate two writing lessons:  one to show the use of  different kinds of punctuation, and the other to show how powerful concise writing can be.  Here’s the first:

“Engineering The Louisiana Purchase – A Look Back

It was the hallmark of President Thomas Jefferson’s political philosophy that the Chief Executive should not have excessive power.  Yet, in 1803, when faced with the opportunity to purchase from France the vast, unexplored, Louisiana Territory that bordered on the western side of America, he cast that belief aside and signed the agreement to buy the territory for $15 million.

Jefferson’s visionary act removed a potential threat to America’s national security.    One option was to take no action at all, thus leaving Napoleon, builder of empires, in possession of the territory.

But Jefferson, taking the advice of American Commissioners abroad, decided on the purchase.  Paving the way for this historical event was the work of Jefferson’s predecessor, John Adams, in securing peace with France during the so-called “Quasi War,” which ended in 1800.

There was considerable doubt as to the constitutional power to make such a purchase. But when the identical issue came before the Supreme Court in 1828 in a  different case, Chief Justice John Marshall, speaking for the Court, ruled that “the Constitution confers absolutely on the government…, the powers of making war, and of making treaties; consequently, that government possesses the power of acquiring territory, either by conquest or by treaty.” (See:  John Marshall, Definer of a Nation,335, Jean Edward Smith, Henry Holt & Company, 1996, quoting from American Insurance Co. v. Canter, 1 Peters 511, (1828), a case involving the purchase of  Florida, but where the issue was the same as that involving the Louisiana Purchase.)”

As to the second lesson, writing with conciseness, my book devotes an entire chapter to avoiding faulty diction.  The choice of correct, clear and effective words is defined as diction.  One of the pitfalls of faulty diction is the use of excess language, or failure to be concise.

Holding your reader’s attention after getting the reader’s attention can be a challenge.  The best way to do this is to avoid the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to expressan idea. Tautology, the needless repetition of an idea in different words, is a fancy word for it, but it’s nothing more than sloppy writing.  Dense, wordy paragraphs and long, rambling, disorganized writing is certain to cause reader discontent and exasperation.  Such writing amounts to pomposity, which will turn your reader off.  Use familiar words.  Write in a conversational and welcoming tone, not stilted or artificial.

Be attentive to every word you write.  Much of the force of your presentation will spring from its conciseness.  Use words judiciously, economically and at a level the reader can understand.  Don’t make the reader grope for a meaning – it may be an unintended meaning.  Less is usually more.  Try to accomplish this result by “squeezing”  your writing until all needless words have been eliminated.  Question the need for everything that appears in your writing.  Due diligence on the issue of wordiness will put you squarely on the road to writing concisely.

Patriotism aside, there is no finer example of the power of  concise, effective writing than the following timeless words from the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

These memorable words, expressing the maximum in political sentiment in the minimum amount of space, the embodiment of powerful but utter simplicity yet profound in their implication, earned Jefferson a well deserved lasting place in American history.

Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Confidence Is At The Root Of The Power To Persuade

Last week this blog discussed the use of narrative and descriptive paragraphing to promote nutritional supplements.  The point to be made is that the power to persuade is of singular importance in most writing.  It is the one standout quality of all successful copy writing. Successful copy writing must:

           Start with a compelling idea.

Clearly state the idea.

      Be specific in the writing.

These admonitions undoubtedly apply to all writing.

I’m reminded of Thomas Paine’s little booklet, “Common sense,” which he published in early 1776.  It argued for separation of the American colonies from the British Crown because it made good sense to do so.  It became a runaway best seller, selling 100,000 copies in a short period of time, and was a strong part of the emotional run-up to the American Revolution.

Persuasive writing is a product of confidence in writing.  Confidence only comes from continued practice of writing coupled with extensive reading.  The two go hand-in-glove.

You must develop a belief in the strength of your writing to be good at it.  Belief is the core factor.

Where do you start?  Begin with a positive attitude toward what you’re doing, whether writing or speaking.  John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers and a prominent lawyer by trade, successfully argued to the jury during the Boston Massacre trial of 1770 that “facts are stubborn things” and cannot be changed no matter how strong are your passions.  Adams strongly believed in the rule of law and that the British soldiers he defended (successfully, it should be added), who were accused of murder when they fired their muskets into an angry mob, were innocent.

Thoughts are also things according to Napoleon Hill, author of the influential and best selling personal achievement book, Think and Grow Rich.  Hill postulated that thoughts can be very powerful things when mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for success.

I’m also reminded of Tim Gallwey’s best seller, The Inner Game of Tennis, which is largely about developing the ability to focus your attention on the task at hand.  It is more about solving life’s problems by learning the art of relaxed focus and attention to achieve peak mental performance, i.e., getting into a “zone”, than playing tennis.

         

Clear writing thus depends to a large extent on the power of belief, belief that comes from having confidence in your writing.  When you have that confidence, it will show – the reader can see it.  To obtain confidence you must master what can best be described as the “inner game” of writing, overcoming mental blocks to clear writing.  As with other challenges in life, you must develop the right mental attitude.  In other words, you can’t write clearly if you are nagged by anxiety and self doubt about your writing.  Persistence and determination to write well are omnipotent.

Years ago, a personal development writer named Dr. Maxwell Maltz created a program called psycho-cybernetics.  It was very popular and was followed by Tony Robbins, Sig Siglar, and others.  Maltz taught that to develop self-confidence, the following steps are important:

1.   Focus on a daily plan

2.   Use a graph or chart to monitor your progress

3.   Get feedback from others as to how well you’re going.

4.   Reward yourself as you make progress

5.   Avoid burnout – take a break to relax and reenergize yourself.

These steps can also be adapted to a writing improvement plan.  As urged in my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com in print and on Kindle Books, an important part of the approach to clear writing is to develop confidence in your writing by writing- and reading- extensively.  This will help you to build a powerful vocabulary, probably the single most important step to writing with confidence. You can’t write clearly and with confidence unless you have an ample supply of words at your disposal.

Make a list of all new words you encounter.  Learn what they mean and how to spell them.  Write something on a daily basis, even if it’s only a letter to yourself,  using as many of the new words in your writing as practicable.  Monitor your progress by keeping track of the words you use – you don’t need a graph or chart for this.  Then, have someone review what you have written.   If the reviewer is satisfied with your writing, the self- satisfaction from having successfully used one or more new words should be reward enough.   After your writing task is complete, relax and think about it.  Focus on what you have written.  The mind works best when relaxed.  Often, new thoughts will come to you.

Copyright © 2013.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rightrs reserved.

     

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Echoes From The Past – Repercussions From California’s Gold Rush Are Still Felt Today

With the island of Cyprus and the European Union being very much in the news these days, I am reminded of a few lines I wrote in my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” dealing with the lingering echoes of California’s Gold Rush which can still be heard today.  Some analysts are talking about a return to the gold standard. They believe this approach may settle the monetary uncertainty which continues to plague the EU.   The concept behind the gold standard is simple enough: a pledge by the government to redeem dollars for gold, thus insuring the value of the currency.  However, experiments with the gold standard seem not to have worked out for whatever country has tried it.

 In the light of these events, the lines I wrote to illustrate narrative paragraphing continue to be relevant:

 “The lingering echoes of California’s 1849 gold rush can still be heard today.

It was a watershed event in America’s economic history, starting innocuously enough with the discovery of gold at John Sutter’s sawmill near Sacramento, California.  Pandemonium reigned with the spread of news as the influx of gold seekers into California swelled to a crescendo.  Outsiders from all over the world poured into California; they sailed around South America, crossed Panama, and swarmed in from other parts of the world as well. San Francisco mushroomed from a sleepy little village to a boom town virtually overnight.

The huge supply of gold that was ultimately generated provided riches for the United States.  The enormous amount of gold now available enabled the U.S. Mint to add two new gold coins, the gold $1 coin and a large, heavy $20 coin (Double Eagle).  California became the “golden” state.

So began a new worship of money.  The discovery of gold paved the way for the transition of pastoral America to manufacturing America and the institution of the gold standard – paper money backed by gold and free convertibility of currency into gold.  The price of gold was pegged at $20 per ounce.

But the gold standard worked to the disadvantage of indebted farmers, who favored bimetallism (as did Alexander Hamilton), and the minting of silver coins to create cheap money.  Their struggle with depressed crop prices in the late nineteenth century was aggravated by a shortage of money and an escalation of the farmer-banker conflict.

Banker J. Pierpont Morgan was a strong advocate for the gold standard.  But to William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee for president in 1896, Morgan was a Pontius Pilate who nailed starving farmers to a cross of gold.  The agrarian fanatical hatred for the gold standard was reflected in Bryan’s famous speech at the 1896 Democratic Convention, when he concluded that “mankind shall not be crucified on a cross of gold.”

America eventually departed from the gold standard in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt, responding to the depression, impounded all the country’s gold.  In 1971, because of a serious cash flow crisis, President Richard Nixon permanently closed the gold window by decreeing that the U.S. would not exchange gold for dollars for anyone.

With the departure of the gold standard came the untrammeled printing of money by the U.S. and other nations.  This creation of easy money (fiat money, i.e., money created by government decree) leading to excessive spending and the resulting budget deficits arguably have directly contributed to the sovereign debt crisis plaguing Europe today.  Some analysts are now calling for a hardening of currencies and a return to the gold standard.”

Thus, the landscape of today’s financial world can truly be said to be a reflection of its rocky beginning.

The foregoing quote and other clear writing guidelines and techniques may be found in my book, which is available on amazon.com in print and on Kindle Books.  The book and my two Civil War articles are featured on my website located at agregardie.com.

Copyright © 2013.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Gettysburg Revisited – The Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg Is Approaching – Time To reflect

With the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg coming up on July 1-3, it’s a good time to recall the importance of that battle.

I devoted three pages in my book “The Art of Clear Writing,” to a description of the battle, which was used as an example of the versatility of a descriptive paragraph.  Here is what I wrote:

“Descriptive writing, shown below, is normally used to describe an event, how it was seen, felt, remembered, etc.

The battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, was one of the most pivotal battles in the Civil War.  It was intended to be the culminationof General Robert E. Lee’s audacious plan to lead the Army of Northern Virginia in an invasion of Pennsylvania and inflict a mortal blow on Union forces in their own backyard.

Both Union and Confederate troops had converged on Gettysburg, a prosperous little crossroads village in south central Pennsylvania, some 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.  Confederate forces arrived there on July 1, 1863, looking for shoes for their troops, but unexpectedly encountered a large Union force which had arrived the previous day.

After a day of battle, Union forces led by General George Meade still held Cemetery Hill, the high ground south of town which they had   previously occupied.  Lee had ordered Confederate forces under General Richard Ewell to seize the hills and ridges before Union reinforcements arrived.  But Ewell hesitated, believing Union forces were too strong, and no attack was launched.  As the night passed, more Union troops arrived.

During the evening and the next morning, from his position atop    Seminary Ridge, Major General James Longstreet surveyed the bluecoat positions through his field glasses and concluded no attack on Cemetery Hill should be made.  Rebel forces would have to attack across 1,400 yards of open fields with but 15,000 men, which he believed to be an inadequate force for such an undertaking.

Longstreet believed Lee’s plan to be dangerous and favored his own plan,  which was to circle around the high ground and attack from the south.   This was contrary to Lee’s orders to attack the enemy where they were. Lee, spurred on by recent victories, would not change his mind and ordered the assault.

Foreshadowed by Brigadier General Richard Garnett’s comment, “This is a desperate thing to attempt,” the ensuing Confederate attack led by General George Pickett’s division, know n to posterity as Pickett’s Charge, resulted in devastating rebel losses, including the deaths of two  brigade commanders, General Garnett and Brigadier General Lewis Armistead.

Lee’s subsequent withdrawal marked the end of his ambitious plan.  His decision, viewed by many historians as a tactical miscalculation, had cost him the opportunity to deliver a decisive blow against the Union.” (pp 75-77).

Robert E. Lee is justifiably remembered as one of the most courageous and effective generals the country has ever produced.  Yet, in making the decision to proceed with Pickett’s Charge, he ordered what amounted to an insufficient number of Rebel troops to attack across an open field some 1,400 yards wide,  into the teeth of Union forces massed on Cemetery Ridge, at their strongest point, in what is regarded by many military experts as a cardinal sin.  It was clear he missed the brilliant leadership of Stonewall Jackson, killed in May, 1863 by friendly fire at Chancellorsville, Virginia.  Whether Jackson would have ordered Pickett’s Charge at the same time and place is open to serious question by many historians.

The vignette, quoted above, is but one of several contained in my easy to read writing book, available on amazon.com as a Kindle Book and in print.  The book contains time-tested guidelines and techniques designed to improve the clarity of your writing.  The ability to write clearly will help all those seeking employment as well as advance the careers of those already employed.   Two Civil War articles, “Antietam and Gettysburg – Two Pivotal Civil War Battles That Saved the Union,” and “Bloody Shiloh and the Rise of U.S. Grant,” are also available on amazon.com as Kindle Books.  The book and the two articles are featured on my website at agregardie.com.

Copyright 2013.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

 

 

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