Tuesday, October 19, 2010

James "shoulda won in Pennsylvania" Longstreet - oy.

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

So last night I was checking out Youtube videos featuring the various reenactments of the Battle of Gettysburg (don't judge). My favorite part of these vids is the comments section. I love reading the comments from people - mostly Civil War buffs - from all over the world.

A lot of these comments are authored by knot heads, pure and simple. You know - the unreconstructed types screaming and yelling about how we have all been duped by the liberal intelligentsia to believe that the Confederacy was not right. I am kinda glad that these guys don't know where I live - but I have to admit - I get a kick out of reading them...and maybe even stirring the pot a little with my own two cents.

I noticed something else last night that has reinforced my belief in the power of popular culture. It seems that Confederate general James Longstreet is still doing mighty fine. As you probably know, Longstreet toppled from the Confederate pantheon after the war because he dared criticize Robert E. Lee in print. Bad move, hombre. Other former Rebels like Jubal Early made sure to remind the world that you blew it wholesale at Gettysburg and cost the CSA the war (he didn't really - but we can talk about that later).

But it looks like the Shaara novel Killer Angels and the film Gettysburg have revived the spirit and popularity of Old Pete. In short, here's what he wanted to do in Pennsylvania. After a CS victory on July 1, he wanted to move around to the right of the Union army and get between it and Washington City - forcing an engagement on ground of his choosing, insuring a tactical advantage.

Now because of this book and film, a whole lot of folks think that this move would have sealed the deal for Confederate victory and independence. YIKES - not so fast!

We have no way of knowing what would of happened had the Confederate Army disengaged after an early victory at Gettysburg (except that they would probably have lost momentum and been demoralized). So let's just stop with the "if Lee had listened to Longstreet the CSA would have won" nonsense. Why not focus on what really happened, not what might have. The truth is, Longstreet sulked, pouted, and dragged his ass around Gettysburg on July 2, which caused a big problem in terms of Lee's battle plan. Yep, Longstreet showed up late (by several hours) to the party and things didn't go so well for the Army of Northern Virginia.

Now this doesn't mean Confederate defeat was Longstreet's fault like his enemies would have you believe. I'm just sayin'...he wasn't the wise modern soldier who had the war all figured out like these elements of popular culture depict him. Hey - at least he got a statue out of the deal...which looks suspiciously like Tom Berenger. Hmmmmmmmm......


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