Nolte: Gettysburg Is a Monument to Breaking the Confederacy’s Back

Archive Photos/Getty Images
Archive Photos/Getty Images

A few words about this stupid and totally fabricated Gettysburg non-troversy…

If President Trump chose the setting of Normandy for a speech, would that moron Rob Reiner claim this choice was “to celebrate your devotion to White Supremacy?”

After all, there were all kinds of Nazis at Normandy.

If President Trump chose Midway for a speech, would the basement-rated loons at CNNLOL claim Trump was pro-Imperial Japan?

When it comes to America’s celebrity and media elites, you never know if they’re stupid or lying. My guess is both. But the idea that Trump mulling over Gettysburg as the setting for his convention speech somehow proves he’s a secret supporter of slavery and the Confederacy is one of the most anti-science and anti-history narratives these dishonest lunatics could come up with.

Gettysburg symbolizes and memorializes only one thing, and that is a crushing and humiliating defeat that, like Normandy and Midway, stands as the beginning of the end of a terrible war — a war the South went on to lose.

After the Allies successfully landed and held their positions on the beaches of Normandy, the end of Nazi Germany was only a matter of time.

After the American Navy surprised and routed the Japanese Navy at Midway, the end of Imperial Japan was only a matter of time.

Certainly there was a whole lot of war left after Normandy and Midway, years of countless, bloody battles, but Midway and Normandy were the turning points. The same is true of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place over the three terrible days, starting on July 1, 1863.

The Southern Confederacy never really had a chance of winning, at least not militarily. The South was always outnumbered and out-gunned. Their only hope was a political one — to make the war so costly and humiliating, the North gave up and went home. Let them have their stupid Confederacy.

That’s one of the primary reasons Robert E. Lee took much of his army to Pennsylvania in the early summer of 1863. The Rebels were now invading the North, and doing so less than a hundred miles from the Union capital of Washington, DC.

There were other reasons. Strategic ones. By invading the North, Lee hoped to take the pressure off the Confederate capitol of Richmond, Virginia, which was under constant threat of invasion and siege. But the symbolism of Lee invading the North was crucial to wearing down Yankee resolve.

What’s more, Lee was emboldened. With far fewer men and much less equipment, the Confederacy was coming off a winning streak — at least in the East. After their surprise victories at Chancellorsville and Winchester, the Army of Northern Virginia had humiliated and demoralized not just President Lincoln’s Army of the Potomac but the whole of the North.

So Lee decided it was time to fight the war in the North, to give Yankee citizens a taste of it, to move the fighting to Yankee cities and farms. And then, after doing exactly that, on July 1 he unexpectedly ran into Union General George Meade in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where pretty much everything that could go wrong for Lee did go wrong.

To begin with, much had changed since Lee’s rousing victory at Chancellorsville. Although outnumbered, out-equipped, and out-gunned, Lee still had his “right arm” then in the form Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, a military genius who, along with Lee, managed to out-hustle and outsmart the Yankees in ways they never saw coming. Jackson, however, after being accidentally shot by his own troops at Chancellorsville, had died of pneumonia 7 weeks earlier.

Secondly, throughout all three of those bloody days at Gettysburg, Meade never lost the high ground. Again and again, most notably at the Battle of Little Round Top, Lee’s incredibly brave troops failed to outflank the Union’s incredibly brave troops. Ironically, had he lived, Jackson probably would have secured some high ground — and this remains one of history’s great What Ifs.

Finally, Lee, in my opinion, was overconfident, which led him — on the last day of the battle — to order what would be remembered as Pickett’s Charge — one of the most disastrous decisions in military history. Lee’s army was literally slaughtered as they marched, unprotected, and for nearly a mile, across an open field straight into the maw of the North’s cannons and superior rifles.

And that was it… That was the beginning of the end for the South. Yes, the war would continue for two bloody years, but Lee would never invade the North again. Gettysburg changed everything, it broke the back and spirit of the Rebels, and that fact, coupled with the horrible body county, is why Gettysburg remains a place we remember.

If you want to talk about an odd coincidence, less than two weeks ago my wife and I were in the middle of a five-day camping trip at Gettysburg, so I can tell you as an eyewitness that the very idea this sacred place represents anything resembling white supremacism, or a celebration of the Confederacy, is an audacious lie.

Are there monuments to the Confederacy? Of course there are. Solemn monuments marking where brave Americans died. Is there a monument to Robert E. Lee? Of course there is. A huge one that sits at the starting point of Pickett’s Charge. And let me add that these men are worthy of these monuments, that these monuments should stand where they stand, and they should stand forever. To remove them would be a desecration, not only to history, but to brave American warriors.

Overall, though, Gettysburg — the battlefield, as well as the surrounding town, stands as a monument to the Union’s victory, to this turning point, and of course to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, that extraordinary 271-word tribute he delivered some four months later to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery — where, by the way, no Confederates are buried.

Finally, I would just like to add how stupid all of this is, how ignorant and narrow-minded those are who look at Confederate monuments, or even the idea of the Confederacy, as a monument to white supremacism. Both Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson opposed slavery. Almost none of the men who fought for the South owned slaves. They were fighting for their homes and against what they saw as an illegal invasion of federal troops.

What’s more, had Lincoln not ordered Virginia to hand over thousands of troops to fight their neighbors in the South, the Commonwealth probably would not have seceded, which means both Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson would have stayed home. There’s another one of history’s great What Ifs.

Listen, I believe Abraham Lincoln was America’s greatest president, and I would have fought for the North — to free the slaves and to preserve the union, no question. But my personal beliefs do not cloud my judgment when it comes to interpreting history.

In my home sits three smalls busts — busts of Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Robert E. Lee. I consider all three to be great men, great Americans. And anyone who knows anything about the Civil War does not find that sentiment confusing.

You see, before the Woketards came, intelligent, nuanced, and truthful histories of the Civil War, along with intelligent, nuanced, and truthful biographies of its participants, were written and published.

They haven’t all been burned … yet, so if anything I’ve written here offends you, that’s my advice — put down your self-righteousness and pick up a book.    

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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