1. So this week I have to pick the books, finally, for my fall seminar entitled TECHNOLOGY. I really need some new ideas on recent developments, beginning with BIG DATA.

2. So I’ve gotten several emails this morning on THE BATTLE OF GETTSBURG. I recommend to you Ralph Peters’ article found on one of the REAL CLEARS. That was the one battle in which Lee’s forces weren’t all that inferior to the Union’s. It was also the one battle, until the final days of the war, that he lost. Why? He was weaker when it comes to command and control than Meade, gave orders in the form of suggestions, had terrible intelligence (in part because he let Jeb Stuart roam around rogue), and made that horrible decision—against all reasonable advice—on that third day. Still, play the battle 10 times and still Lee wins about 3 of them. One reason Meade doesn’t get the credit he deserves is that he wasn’t a shameless self-promoter. Or, in the words of Mr. Ceaser, he was “plagued by shame.” In general, the South’s problem was combining medieval and Napoleonic views of war into an incoherent mass. It is easy to be too Gettysburg-centric in thinking about the war. The South missed a better opportunity to destroy an army at Chickamauga, where they actually had, for once, more men, because, for one reason, generals such as Forrest were more about going rogue than fighting well together. Massing all those forces near Chattanooga (after the falls of Gettysburg and Vicksburg) was a great decision by Jeff Davis, but the generals spit away the opportunity and then engaged in the seige of Chattanooga that was bound to fail them in the end. If you’re a southern “what if” guy, the big “what if,” I guess, is what if Stonewall Jackson had been there to guide the 1863 invasion of the North (he had a much clearer or city-centric conception of what needed to be done).

3. No one writes enough about the place of technology—and Lincoln’s openness to it—in the Union’s victory in the war. Forrest’s calvary was riding around with pistols while the Union’s, in Tennessee and Atlanta for instance, with rifles that could shoot multiple times before reloading. Those rifles, I’ve read, had a lot to do with the easy conquest of Tennessee.

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Articles by Peter Lawler


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