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Progressives' High-Water Mark


In the fall of 2003 my wife and I decide to visit the battlefield at Gettysburg.  Being a civil war junkie, it was a must on my to-do list of historic civil war sites to see before I left this world.  I must say it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.  We did all the things that tourists do; snapped a few family pictures, visited all the historic museums, and toured the key points of interest on the battlefield.  As the day drifted towards sunset we made our last two stops.  The first was at a placed called Seminary Ridge.
It was from Seminary Ridge that General Lee and Longstreet on July 3, 1863 staged 13,000 confederate soldiers just inside the tree line.  After two days of intense fighting, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had pressed the Union forces to the brink of breaking.  It was clear that Lee’s incursion into Pennsylvania was a success.  He had bloodied the nose of the Union army on their own turf and the moral of his men was high.  His second in command, General Longstreet had surveyed the battlefield and felt that the Army of Northern Virginia had accomplished its goals and it was now time to redeploy.  Lee on the other hand did not share the same sentiments.

Lee felt that the Union army under the command of General Meade was on the verge of breaking and that the gains that the Confederate forces had made in the previous two days of fighting would be for not if they withdrew from the battlefield and redeployed.  He wanted a decisive victory by smashing the Union army and driving them completely from the battlefield.  Longstreet pleaded with his commander to reconsider.  He had surveyed the position of the Federals and knew that they were entrenched and reinforced; he could see the Union artillery that would cut his men to pieces.  Lee’s mind was made up.  He tried to convince Longstreet that the confederate artillery would take out the Union artillery long before his men would begin the one mile march across an open wheat field towards the Union lines.  His tunnel vision clouded his judgment and he gave the order to Longstreet to assemble the men the following day for a final push at the Union center.  Longstreet reluctantly agreed.

As I scanned the wheat field, the first thought that came to mind was; Lee what were you thinking?  Even an amateur civil war enthusiast like myself could see this was not an advance towards victory, but a march towards certain destruction.  The field was wide open with very few land features to protect any force.  As I gazed across it I could see where the Union center was located and noticed it was slightly higher.  The Union held the high ground.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the apprehension I was feeling at that moment was the same apprehension that Longstreet experienced on that hot July day in 1863.  Arrogance I thought; pure arrogance.

Pickett’s charge would go down in American history as one of the greatest military blunders of all time.  Longstreet’s fears of a brutal defeat became the harsh reality for the Army of Northern Virginia on that day.  The Confederate artillery fired its cannons on the Union’s artillery position for hours yielding only minimal results.  When the guns finally fell silent, 13,000 Confederate soldiers gallantly marched across the open wheat field only to be slaughtered by a reinforced Union center.  The confederates did manage breach the Union lines at section known as the high-water mark on Cemetery Ridge, but by then the battle was already lost for Lee.  As the confederates were mowed down by Union guns, soldiers from the Union army chanted Fredericksburg over and over as their rallying cry.  Seven months earlier at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Union soldiers were mowed down during a frontal assault against Confederate positions by an entrenched Confederate force.  The Union suffered heavy losses at Fredericksburg and never forgot the sting of that defeat.

This was also the last place we visited.  The high-water mark was the precise place and moment in time when the Confederacy was at its height of power.  It was at this place where a battle of wills and clash ideologies took place.  Within the blink of an eye it was gone and so was the Confederacy.  The sun was already set and dusk was beginning to blanket the area.  I got out of my car and walked to the stone marker that signified the area where the confederates broke through.  As I quietly stood gazing across the wheat field I realized that I was standing in the place that changed the course of America forever.  The magnitude of the moment overwhelmed me.  It was indeed a humbling experience.

Read more about the Battle of Gettysburg.

As I look back on that day and try to understand why Lee decided to ignore Longstreet, I can’t help but relate this experience to the current Democrat/Progressive charge that is going to take place from now until November.

You see the Progressives have made significant gains in pushing forward their liberty stealing agenda, but it has cost them a great deal in party and political creditability with the American people.  Their leader, President Obama pressed forward with his and their agenda even after there were strong signs that the opposition was beginning to regroup and reinforce their own position.  These signs could be found in the stunning Scott Brown win, the poll numbers, and the Virginia and New Jersey governor elections.  Some seasoned Democratic strategists who have seen this political folly play out before called for the party to regroup and fall back.  They have surveyed the political landscape and like Longstreet see a great danger for their party on the horizon.  But they too are being ignored by a leader with a progressive tunnel vision that has clouded his judgment.  This healthcare bill that was rammed through congress and signed into law signaled to the opposition that this is a leader that is going to press forward no matter what the cost.  It has become a rallying cry for the opposition, much like Fredericksburg was the rallying cry for Union forces at Gettysburg.  The healthcare law is a sting that conservatives will not forget any time soon.  The President has decided to lead his fellow progressives on a modern day political version of Pickett’s charge and in the end might result in the destruction of the Democratic Party.

Many of us in the upcoming months will see this come to pass as this President will push ahead with his radical agenda and force his troops to press forward.  His party will try our wills, but we must and will hold the line.  He will march into this political battle with a weary party across a changed political landscape and face a force that is reinforced and reinvigorated.  Come November the Democrats will reach their high-water mark and for a moment will be at the height of their power.  But it will only last for a moment.  On the Wednesday morning following the election the Democratic Party will no longer be a force to reckon with in terms of political influence.  They will have been soundly defeated by their own arrogance.  It will once again be a time when this nation will change forever.  And in the years to come, people will look back at this coming November and say, “What were the Democrats thinking?”

Liberty forever, freedom for all.

Original Post: The Current

  • Dems got nothing but trying to make Tea Parties look bad, wait for some crisis to happen, and use whomever is nominated to the Supreme Court as a weapon against Conservatives. They only have negative power and the hopes the economy will turn around enough to staunch the bleeding. That’s a lot different than having a good offense.

    • I 100 percent agree with you. The reality is they do not have much of an offense. Thanks for the comments

      • It was a nicely written piece.

  • AG

    Great post. This type of thinking makes me hopeful for the future, but the immensity of the task before us keeps me awake at nights. While I too believe in the near-inevitability of victory in Nov, we’ve seen supposed conservatives show their true colors once in power. The GOP is not a completely pure conservative party, which ultimately means that the battle for the soul of the GOP must accompany the battle for freedom from the collectivist Democrats. I am confident we can win though… freedom must prevail…

    • As long as we hold the line AG we will persevere and win. Now is the time during the Republican primaries that we need to weed through the process those who do not embrace conservative principles. I’m not a fan of John McCain or Lindsey Graham, both are progressives and need to be defeated within the party. I am a huge fan of Paul Ryan and wish he would consider a run in 2012.

  • A very interesting analogy. We need to hold strong and make the progressives pay for their votes in November.

    • Thanks for the comments Steve. I agree we need to hold the line! No matter what.

  • Mostly due to my own laziness, I’ll re-post my comment from your place…

    I think Lee felt he had few options. As you pointed out, he didn’t want the losses that he suffered to be for naught. However, a wild card in the battle was the faulty paper fuses used by the Confederate artillery, which caused their shells to explode harmlessly far to the Union’s rear. Lee gambled, and in the end, he lost.

    As for Obama and the Dems, they know their time is short, and they don’t want their majorities to be for naught. They wasted far too much time on the Health Care abomination, and they have much more of an agenda to push through in the time they have left. Lee made a calculated error, Obama is making an narcissistic mad dash to fail.

    • Once again, thank you Matt.

      • No problem. Thanks for the permission to post here. I would like to make one sharp contrast…Robert E. Lee was a honorable man.

        • He was indeed. He was a leader that took responsibility for his actions.

  • Beautifully written, John. But my fear is that the “progressives” are doing this because they know they’ve already won. We can elect all the Repbulicans we want, but unless *WE* change, it’ll be more of the same.

    • Karen, have faith. We have changed and we will prevail. Hold the line.

  • Great Post!! That was a great description of history and Gettysburg. The last time I was at Gettysburg was in 6th grade and back then I didn’t pay much attention to history.

    The Dems will get their just desserts this November.

    • I was there back in 2003 and absolutely loved it. I got caught up in it all. I do believe the Dems are marching across that open field to an entrenched opposition. What awaits them is a colossal defeat.

  • Obama is making an narcissistic mad dash to fail…as Matt says..lets hope America wakes up before its too late !!:)

    • He is an extremely narcissistic individual that is leading his party off a cliff.

      • Sometimes, you just have to get out of the way and let them.