The Shot Heard ‘Round the Bedroom

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

For history buffs, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to one of two significant dates.

For American History buffs and American English majors, the distinction refers to a phrase from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn.” When Emerson was writing the Concord Hymn in 1837, he lived in an old family house thirty yards away from North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where American patriots are reputed to have first fired their rifles at British soldiers in organized resistance on April 19, 1775.

 

The Battle of Lexington, 1775 Emmet Collection of Manuscripts Public domain, wikimedia commons

The Battle of Lexington, 1775
Emmet Collection of Manuscripts
Public domain, wikimedia commons

 

On the other hand, those in Lexington, Massachusetts will point out that before the American Minutemen defeated that British force at Concord, shots had already been fired at Lexington. Concord proponents claim that the Lexington skirmish was not an organized battle conducted by militia, but rather an impromptu act of resistance that led to the slaughter of the Americans. Emerson might not have been thorough enough in his research for the tastes of the folks in Lexington but his point was valid. It’s fair to say that all the shots fired in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 were indeed noticed around the world.

For most Europeans, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to the June 28, 1914 assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

That assassination is generally accepted as the spark that ignited the hellish tragedy known as “The First World War.” If that particular Archduke had never been born, the war would have occurred any way. The Austro-Hungarian establishment was hungry for an excuse to embark on what they were certain was to be a quick and easy land grab from Serbia. It generally takes at least a few chapters to summarize the causes of that war, but quotes of sixty thousand or more words are never popular, so Europeans prefer to remember the assassination of an otherwise unloved Duke as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

For fans of the New York Giants baseball team, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to a Home Run hit by New York Giants third baseman/outfielder Bobby Thomson on October 3, 1951.

In early August of that year, the Brooklyn Dodgers had a commanding 13 ½ game lead over the Giants, and the pennant race appeared to be no race at all. Then the Giants surged, and the Dodgers faltered. They ended the season tied for the National League Pennant.

 

New York Giants Bobby Thomson Image by Bowman Gum, 1948

New York Giants Bobby Thomson
Image by Bowman Gum, 1948

 

The Dodgers and the Giants then played a three game series to decide break the tie. They each won one of the first two games. In the bottom of the ninth inning of the third game, the Dodgers held a 4-1 lead. The Giants scored a run, and Thomson came to bat with two men on base. He hit a line drive home run into the left field seats. Overjoyed Giants fans christened Thomson’s home run “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

Which of the three aforementioned events deserves to be remembered as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” is a matter of personal perspective. Perhaps it’s fair to say that two shots were heard ‘round the world, and one was heard ‘round the baseball world.

On February 28, 1844 another important shot was fired. While it was not “Heard ‘Round the World,” it was heard by several hundred notable American politicians and dignitaries, and it led to a marriage bed.

The USS Princeton had been launched on September 5, 1843. Like every expensive Naval vessel both then and now, it was presented as a “state-of-the-art” warship. The USS Princeton created quite a stir in the USA because it was the first ship to use a screw propeller propulsion system, and it was considered to be the best-armed ship in the US Navy. Along with a variety of smaller guns, the Princeton carried two long-barreled cannons named the “Oregon” and the “Peacemaker.” The Peacemaker’s twelve-inch bore made it the largest naval gun yet created.

The USS Princeton sailed to Alexandria, Virginia in 1844 for a publicity visit. Its visit was the social event of the year for politicians and the American social set.

On February 28, US President John Tyler was the guest of honor at a party onboard, along with US Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer and US Secretary of State Abel Upshur. One of President Tyler’s guests was his close friend David Gardiner and Gardiner’s two daughters. The fifty-four year old President was a widower and had set his eye on twenty-four year old daughter Julia. Julia had thus far declined President Tyler’s advances. Based on Tyler’s portraits, even on his best days, he was as ugly as a mud fence. Against that, he had power, wealth, and prestige going for him. Julia Gardiner remained unimpressed.

In the excitement of the moment, US Navy Secretary Thomas asked the Princeton’s Captain Robert Stockton to fire salutes from the massive Peacemaker.

Stockton agreed and had two shots fired. The roar of the Peacemaker appropriately awed the crowd, and most of them returned below decks for more free food and booze.

As the toasts continued below, Navy Secretary Gilmer grew prouder and more emotional about the marvelous Princeton and her massive Peacemaker gun. Gilmer asked Captain Stockton to please fire another salute. Captain Stockton thought that it was unwise to risk more shots with a crowd of civilians on board since the Peacemaker had not yet undergone proper testing. Why Stockton was reluctant to fire a third shot is a bit of a mystery.

However, with President Tyler’s coaxing and Secretary Gilmer’s insistence Captain Stockton finally ordered that another salute should be fired.

 

Explosion aboard US Steam Frigate Princeton Image by N. Currier, public domain

Explosion aboard US Steam Frigate Princeton
Image by N. Currier, public domain

 

Toasting guests delayed President Tyler below decks. When he began climbing the ladder* to the main deck, the Peacemaker fired a third time. The cannon exploded.

Six people on the main deck, including the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of State, and the President’s friend David Gardiner, were killed. When Julia arrived on the main deck with the President’s entourage, she saw her dead father and fainted. President Tyler whisked her away in his carriage. The incident apparently affected Julia to such a degree that she then saw President Tyler in a new light. She agreed to marry him. Hence, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the Bedroom.” Fortunately for all concerned, any details about their honeymoon remain mercifully mysterious.

Tyler lived happily with Julia until his death, eighteen years later. Julia survived him and died in 1889 at the age of 69. They remain forever together at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

*Your house has “stairs;” our ships have “ladders.”

Intelligence Fail–Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet View

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

In our last post, we discussed the intelligence lesson to be learned by Hitler’s choice to invade the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. On the other side, the Soviet Union’s reaction to that invasion provides us with one of history’s most glaring examples of bad intelligence assessments.

Intelligence professionals that read this series should be aware that I use the term “assessment” in the generic English sense rather than in the technical professional sense. All intelligence agencies have their own requirements and rules for what an “intelligence assessment” should look like. We are not following any of those requirements other than the ones that coincide with the researching and writing of history.

To understand the Soviet Union’s failure to adequately prepare for the German invasion of June 22, 1941, it’s important to consider the decision making process of the Soviet Union.

 

Josef Stalin in Berlin, 1945 Image from US Library of Congress,  public domain.

Josef Stalin in Berlin, 1945
Image from US Library of Congress,
public domain.

 

Josef Stalin was a dictator that only nominally reported to the Communist Party of the USSR. In reality, the Communist Party lacked the will or practical authority to oppose any decisions taken by Stalin.

By 1941, everyone in the USSR understood that disagreeing with Stalin about anything was likely to lead to arrest, torture, and possible execution. Not surprisingly, Stalin had grown accustomed to people agreeing with him. While he may have enjoyed his success in bending the entire USSR to his will, it had an isolating effect that would prove disastrous.

Even though Hitler vastly underestimated the war fighting capability of the USSR, he understood that the USSR had a much larger military than did Poland or France. Accordingly, he instructed the German military to move approximately 3.8 million troops into position to invade the USSR. Some of those troops were not for employment in the spearheads of the invasion, and, therefore, did not need to be kept close to the Soviet borders. Still, even in the pre-satellite age, it was difficult to disguise German troop buildups.

 

The six lines of attack comprising Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941. From The Battle of Russia, the fifth film in the Why We Fight series by US Govt. public domain

The six lines of attack comprising Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941.
From The Battle of Russia, the fifth film in the Why We Fight series by US Govt.
public domain

 

So how did Stalin manage to ignore the massive German buildup leading to Operation Barbarossa?

There are various opinions about the details of how and why Stalin failed to anticipate a German invasion, but some aspects are nearly universally accepted. One might assume that the Soviet NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) and military intelligence forces were inadequate or perhaps nearly blind to all evidence. This was clearly not the case.

The Soviet Union leadership considered itself to be in a perpetual state of war with the rest of the world. From their point of view, the character and intensity of that war varied, but there was no such thing as real “peace” with Western nations. The Soviet State also operated on the assumption that it was and would always be in a state of war with a significant portion of its own citizens.

These two fundamental assumptions caused the USSR to invest heavily in intelligence efforts. Both the NKVD and Soviet military intelligence accurately assessed that Hitler was planning an invasion of the USSR. They had done an excellent job of penetrating Hitler’s Foreign Office, intelligence services, military staffs, and industry. They were receiving more than enough information from a variety of independent sources to be certain that Operation Barbarossa was imminent.

In addition to its direct sources in Germany, Stalin’s intelligence community was aware of US and UK assessments of Hitler’s intentions.

When diplomats from the US and the UK informed Stalin of German plans to invade the USSR, Stalin had already heard this from his spies in the UK and the US. He assumed that all the warnings coming from the Western nations were part of a Western conspiracy to force him to go to war with Hitler prematurely. Stalin preferred to let the West demolish itself, and he planned to step into a convenient power vacuum of a destroyed Western Europe.

Opinions vary about precisely how, in the face of so much corroborative information, Stalin failed to anticipate the German invasion. In one sense, he didn’t.

Just as Hitler understood that carving up Poland with the USSR would in no way appease Stalin’s long term goal of annihilating Western nations and governments, Stalin clearly understood that Germany would try to attack the USSR. Stalin’s basic reaction to that reality was to attempt to outsmart the Western nations.

Remember, from Stalin’s point of view, the UK, France, and other Western enemies were as much a threat to the Soviet system and Soviet ambitions as was Germany. All Westerners were Stalin’s enemies, and all of them needed to be accounted for in the Soviet geopolitical calculus of the day.

In addition to considering the threat from his Western neighbors, Stalin had to consider the very real threat of invasion by the Japanese military to the east. Japan had already conquered vast swaths of China, and it could not be completely ignored.

Stalin responded to the threats that surrounded him by using his vast NKVD resources to try to maneuver Western countries into war with themselves and by counting on the Japanese to continue being strategically diverted with their slaughter of the Chinese. From Stalin’s point of view, Hitler’s invasion of his Western neighbors perfectly fit into his plans.

 

Wehrmacht troops cross the USSR borders in Operation Barbarossa, June 22, 1941. public domain

Wehrmacht troops cross the USSR borders in Operation Barbarossa,
June 22, 1941.
public domain

 

Stalin never doubted that Hitler would invade the USSR, but since Germany was still busy dealing with the undefeated UK, he was certain that Hitler would not make the mistake of throwing Germany into the same sort of two-front war that brought that country to ruin in 1918.

When Stalin’s magnificent intelligence services explained to him that Hitler was not going to wait for the fall of the UK to invade the USSR, his megalomaniacal personality enabled him to ignore them. When anyone in his intelligence, diplomatic, or military organizations foolishly attempted to argue the point with him, he accused them of being enemy agents and had them murdered or banished to labor camps.

Since June 22, 1941, Stalin’s miserable intelligence assessment of German intentions has been a popular topic of study. As more files have been obtained from the now defunct USSR, more explanations are offered as to precisely how Stalin managed to deceive himself.

 

German soldiers in Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, June 1941. Image from German Federal Archives, wikimedia commons.

German soldiers in Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa,
June 1941.
Image from German Federal Archives, wikimedia commons.

 

Thus far, the various theories and occasional new evidence have not changed the essential facts of the case.

Stalin failed to prepare for Operation Barbarossa because he refused to acknowledge that anyone might understand the strategic situation as well as or better than he could. The results of his grand miscalculation were devastating for the USSR. We cannot assume that the best possible preparations by the USSR would have completely and bloodlessly defeated the German invasion, but it is reasonable to assume that the USSR would have suffered far fewer casualties in halting the German advances.

There is one other “what if” that we usually ignore when examining Stalin’s grotesque mismanagement of the Soviet military machine. If indeed Stalin had been able to defeat Hitler’s invasion more efficiently, then Soviet forces likely would have advanced further west before the Allied Forces reached the same positions. Then the post-war division of European nations might have left even more European nations enslaved by Soviet occupation.

Stalin’s horrendous failure to anticipate Operation Barbarossa reinforces the lesson that even the best intelligence is only useful when leaders use it effectively. Stalin’s failure in 1941 also demonstrates another important lesson from Intelligence history . . .

Nations and their leaders should be aware that their own plans and ambitions can blind them to their enemies’ intentions.

In our next segment we will consider an oft-ignored intelligence wild card in Operation Barbarossa.

Turkey’s Tug of War–The Changing Face of US-Middle East Relations, Part Two

By Jay Holmes

The basic relationship between Turkey and the US was founded on post-WWII Cold War realities. Since then, there has been a tug of war between Western-leaning Turkish political factions and pro-Islamist contingents. To understand current US-Turkey relations, we need to also understand the fundamental internal shifts that Turkish politics and society have undergone over time.

 

Canstock 2015 March Tug of War

 

Traditionally, Turkey and Russia have been imperial rivals since the 1700s. Conflicts between Turkish kingdoms and Russian kingdoms date back to ancient times and were originally a product of the location and size of these two empires.

In 1952, Turkey faced a hostile, nuclear-armed USSR, and it quickly made the decision to join NATO.

From the point of view of Europe, Turkey was the crossroads between Eastern and Western civilization. From NATO’s perspective, Turkey was vulnerable to attack by the numerically and technically superior forces of the USSR. Nonetheless, Turkey was a valuable ally for two critical reasons. First, because it allowed NATO to station air forces and nuclear missiles on the USSR’s southern border. Second, because Turkey sits astride the narrow Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits that separate the Black and Mediterranean Seas, respectively. This gave NATO forces a strong double “bottle cork” for containing Soviet naval forces in the Black Sea if war were to break out between the USSR and NATO.

 

Aerial view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Image by NASA, public domain.

Aerial view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black and Mediterranean Seas.
Image by NASA, public domain.

 

NATO membership also played a practical role in preventing Turkey and Greece from descending into armed conflict over their various territorial disagreements.

In 1974, Turkey invaded Cypress on the premise that it was protecting Turkish Cypriots from Greek oppression. That conflict stretched US-Turkey relations thin, but in the end, the larger issue of the Soviet military threat forced the Greeks and Turks to localize and limit their conflict.

In November of 1979, the Iranian Shia Islamic coup, followed by the invasion of the US Embassy in Tehran, had the side effect of forcing Sunni Muslim Turkey and the US to improve their relations. Then, when the Kurdish separatist PKK launched attacks in southeastern Turkey in 1984, it was an easy decision for the US to condemn the PKK as a terrorist group.

In 1987, Turkey took a major step toward the West by applying for European Economic Community membership. This was a clear and significant financial alignment with the West, and the minority Islamists in Turkey were solidly against the move.

Also in the late 1980s, concerns grew over Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran and against its own citizens. The US and other Western nations became interested in the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq. The fact that NATO member Turkey was simultaneously fighting an internal war with the Kurdish PKK complicated US decisions to establish a relationship with Iraqi Kurds. The Iraqi Kurds had been some of the primary victims of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons. However, from the Turkish point of view, chemical weapons in Iraq were worrisome, but not quite as worrisome as the PKK.

 

Family graves of Iraqi Kurds killed in chemical attack by Saddam Hussein in 1988. Image by Adam Jones, Ph.D., wikimedia commons.

Family graves of Iraqi Kurds killed in Saddam Hussein’s chemical attack on Halabja in 1988.
Image by Adam Jones, Ph.D., wikimedia commons.

 

When Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia in August of 1990, Turkey again took on greater importance to the US and NATO.

Turkey allowed the US-led coalition to use Turkish airbases to launch air strikes against Saddam Hussein’s military. The US and other coalition members had hoped for Turkey to take a more significant role in the war against Iraq, but internal politics in Turkey were unstable, and the Turkish government declined to become more involved.

By January of 1991, the US and its allies accepted that the UN would not take meaningful action against Iraq. In January and February of that year, the coalition attacked Iraq and liberated Kuwait. Coalition forces dealt a decisive and one-sided blow to the Iraqi military, but did not invade central or northern Iraq.

Against the wishes of the US and NATO, Turkey sent 20,000 heavily armed troops into the Kurdish region of Iraq in 1992, supposedly to strike PKK terror bases.

Many observers speculated that large, untapped oil reserves in Kurdish Iraq were a stronger motivator for the Turkish invasion. Under Western pressure, Turkey withdrew most of its forces within a week. With permission from Saddam Hussein, smaller Turkish incursions into the Kurdish Iraq continued until 2003, when a US-led coalition invaded Iraq and toppled the Hussein regime.

 

US President Clinton and Turkish PM Tansu Çiller at the White House in 1995. Image by US govt. employee, public domain, wikimedia commons.

US President Clinton and Turkish PM Tansu Çiller at the White House in 1995.
Image by US govt. employee, public domain.

 

In 1993, Tansu Çiller became the first female Prime Minister of Turkey.

She formed a fragile coalition government with centrist and right wing parties against the opposition of Sunni Islamic fundamentalists. Two years later, Turkey again invaded Kurdish Iraq with 35,000 troops. Again, under heavy pressure from the West, the troops were withdrawn. Tansu Çiller’s coalition government collapsed.

In the political vacuum, a united front of pro-Islamist groups under the Welfare Party banner won elections, but they lacked a majority to form a government. Instead, moderate and right-wing political groups formed an anti-Islamist coalition government. Amidst the political turmoil, Turkey took a strong pro-Western step by entering the European Customs Union.

In 1996, Turkey reversed directions.

The center-right coalition collapsed, and the pro-Islamist Welfare Party formed the first Islamic government in Turkey since 1923. The Welfare Party’s rise to power signaled a shift away from the West and the US. Under pressure from the Turkish military, this Islamist coalition government resigned in 1997, and a center-right coalition took power once more.

The following year, the Turkish government banned the Welfare Party on the grounds that it was plotting an anti-constitutional/anti-secular takeover. The pro-Islamic members of the Welfare Party stepped back and reorganized as the Virtue Party.

 

Virtue Party (pink) held 111 of the 550 seats in Turkish Parliament after 1999 elections. Image by T.C. Ataturkiye, wikimedia commons.

Virtue Party (pink) held 111 of the 550 seats in Turkish Parliament after 1999 elections.
Image by T.C. Ataturkiye, wikimedia commons.

 

In 1999, a devastating earthquake killed 17,000 people in northwest Turkey. In response, the UK pledged £50,000 pounds sterling, and the US pledged US$1 Billion dollars for disaster relief.

In June 2001, the Turkish Constitutional Court banned the opposition pro-Islamic Virtue Party due to its anti-secular/anti-constitutional activities. Apparently the Virtue Party’s principal “virtue” was the destruction of freedom and progress in Turkey.

The following month, the members of the banned Virtue Party formed the pro-Islamist Saadet party.

Saadet morphed into the Justice and Development Party when it realized it could bring in a larger following by pretending to emphasize justice and development. This pro-Islamist party won elections in 2002.

 

President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Image by US govt. employee, public domain.

President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan
Image by US govt. employee, public domain.

 

Current Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a principal founder of the Justice and Development Party. The continued rise to power of Erdoğan and his pro-Islamist party quickly caused serious complications to US-Turkey relations. Next week, we will look at those complications and the current state of US-Turkey relations.

Frozen Bitch Face — What You Need To Know

By Piper Bayard

Everyone’s face freezes at forty-five.

Seriously. At forty-five, give or take a year or two, Frosty the Face Freezer breathes on us at an unpredictable instant, and the expression we are wearing on our face at that moment is frozen there. Forever.

This is great for people who laugh and smile on a regular basis no matter how Life has tried to eat them alive. Frosty catches them mid-mirth and leaves them with Frozen Happy Face. They are blessed with a reputation for kindness and wisdom throughout their old age. They get to be the Cool Old Farts that everyone goes to for advice and humor and fights to sit next to at the Thanksgiving table.

I can hear your question now. What happens if Frosty comes in to freeze my face when I’m frowning?

I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but that will result in the dreaded . . .

Frozen Bitch Face.

Frozen Bitch Face is that grumpy look that some people have etched on their faces in the form of permanent frowns and/or butt-shaped wrinkles between their eyebrows.

 

Note the ass between his brows. You see it, don't you? Image from CanstockPhoto.

Note the ass between his brows.
You see it, don’t you?
Image from CanstockPhoto.

 

You’ve seen Frosty’s victims. The Grumpy Old Farts who glare from their porches at children playing ball. The aging women in the grocery stores who pick up each perfect apple and frown before complaining to the produce stockers. And—ugh!—the people on Facebook who can’t stop beating us around the head and shoulders with bad news and warnings about everything from political conspiracies to the zombie apocalypse.

I hear your next question, too. We all have bad days. So what if I’m having a random bad day when Frosty comes?

Fear not! There are mitigating factors to minimize bad days and their long term effects on our faces.

The Effit Fairy

The first mitigating factor is called the Effit Fairy. The Effit Fairy can be Peter Pan or a seven-year-old girl with wings, whichever you choose, or both. I won’t judge.

 

My Effit Fairy Image from CanstockPhoto.

My Effit Fairy
Image from CanstockPhoto.

 

She visits on our fortieth birthday—well ahead of Frosty’s ambush—to remind us that life is short, and no one else is living it for us. She reawakens the child inside each of us who is too young to give a damn what other people think. She enlightens us to the fact that yoga pants in public are actually a classy fashion statement. And best of all, she encourages us to stop giving a crap if other people are “disappointed” in us. Instead, she teaches us to say EFFIT! Because no one else is paying our mortgage, or dealing with our boss, or feeling the pain of that ski injury on our behalf.

So listening to your Effit Fairy is the first and most important thing you can do to avoid Frozen Bitch Face.

Other things that mitigate your chance of having Frozen Bitch Face:

  1. Seek out laughter. Every time you laugh, you increase your chances that Frosty will freeze you with Happy Face.
  2. Find something to like about the people you don’t like, even if it’s only liking the fact that they live in another state.
  3. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all—also known as the Thumper Rule, since the rabbit in Bambi said it first. If Frosty catches you when you’re bitching about people, you will definitely get stuck with Frozen Bitch Face.
  4. Take time for romance. Let’s face it. People who enjoy the hunka-hunka as often as they can are far more likely to be smiling and relaxed when they get frozen.
  5. Find something to be grateful for every day. A grateful heart is a happy heart, and a happy heart makes for eventual Frozen Happy Face.

But what if I’m not approaching forty?

Easy. It’s never too early to practice. Trust me. You’ll need the practice. This positive outlook crap gets harder once arthritis sets in.

 

She got stuck. Image from CanstockPhoto.

She got stuck.
Image from CanstockPhoto.

 

But what if I’m over forty, and I’m already stuck with Frozen Bitch Face?

Take heart. All is not lost. Another Fairy comes to visit at fifty. She’s the Effoff Fairy. She makes it easy for you to tell anyone who doesn’t like your Frozen Bitch Face to Effoff, and that will make you smile. 🙂

So what are you doing to prevent or mitigate Frozen Bitch Face? Have you learned to say Effit yet, or are you already to the Effoff stage? I’d love to hear about your journey.

 

Antietam – Where Habitual Bad Intelligence Defeated an Intelligence Windfall

By Jay Holmes

Last week we looked at the habitual bad intelligence that paved the road to the Battle of Antietam in the American Civil War in Paved with Bad Intelligence–The Road to Antietam. This week, we see how it was enough to negate an intelligence windfall.

 

Pry Farm at Antietam McClellan's Headquarters image by US Army, public domain

Pry Farm at Antietam
McClellan’s Headquarters
image by US Army, public domain

 

Lee knew that McClellan was highly intelligent and skilled, but that he was also cautious by nature. Lee was also still hoping to inspire an uprising against the Union in Maryland, and he operated with the assumption that he could defeat McClellan by maneuvering more quickly than the Union Army. Then, for uncertain reasons, Lee violated a major rule of warfare. He divided his forces in the face of a superior enemy and sent Stonewall Jackson’s troops to capture weapons and supplies at Harper’s Ferry.

 

On the morning of September 13, Union troops of the 27th Indiana Infantry rested in a meadow outside of Frederick, Maryland. They serendipitously took their break at a site that had previously been the location of the General Lee’s headquarters.

 

At that site, Sergeant John Bloss and Corporal Barton Mitchell found a piece of paper wrapped around three cigars. Known as Lee’s “Lost Orders,” the paper was a message containing Lee’s detailed plan of battle, addressed to Confederate General D.H. Hill. The men quickly handed it over to their commander. The Indiana Division’s adjutant general, Samuel Pittman, recognized the handwriting in the message as belonging to his prewar friend Robert Chilton, now the adjutant general to Robert E. Lee.

 

Lee's "Lost Orders," Order 191 image by Wilson44691, wikimedia commons

Lee’s “Lost Orders,” Order 191
image by Wilson44691, wikimedia commons

 

Pittman delivered the message straightaway to General McClellan. McClellan boasted that, with the information he now had, he would gladly be willing to go home if he could not defeat Lee. This “boast” was in fact a hedged bet. If, with the intelligence windfall he had in hand, he could not produce a resounding victory, he should have gone somewhere less pleasant than “home.”

 

The new information wiped out Pinkerton’s terrible intelligence assessment. McClellan now knew that Lee’s army was dangerously divided into five sections and stretched out over a 35-mile area that was split by the Potomac River. McClellan was twelve miles from the nearest Confederate unit at South Mountain. He was in a position that all commanders dream of in their wildest drunken moments. In their sober moments, they never dare to hope for such generosity from the capricious gods of war.

 

Alan Pinkertan, Abraham Lincoln, and General McClellan image Library of Congress, public domain

Alan Pinkertan, Abraham Lincoln, and General McClellan
image Library of Congress, public domain

 

McClellan, poised to become the great Napoleon-like general that he always knew he could be, did what Napoleon never would have done. He waited. Then he waited some more. His division commanders grew restless. Then they grew anguished. Elation fermented into quiet disgust. Finally, after eighteen hours, McClellan gave the order to move.

 

By now, much of Lee’s army was concentrated in favorable high ground near Antietam Creek. Lee had used the time granted him to send forces to plug the pass at South Mountain. His troops had set up defensive positions there and slowed McClellan’s advance.

 

Antietam Battle Map image by Hlj, public domain, wikimedia commons

Antietam Battle Map
image by Hlj, public domain, wikimedia commons

 

The Union Army finally approached Lee’s Confederate Army on September 16. Stonewall Jackson’s troops had still not returned from Harper’s Ferry to Lee’s position, and Lee had less than 40,000 men, their backs to the Potomac.

 

McClellan’s 75,000 well-rested troops could have conducted a successful flanking maneuver against the Confederates. If McClellan had fallen off his horse or gotten drunk, they likely would have. Instead, McClellan allowed his uncertainty about the intelligence to confuse a clear and reasonable battle plan. McClellan delayed the attack until the following morning.

 

On the morning of September 17, Union Army General Joseph Hooker led the assault against the now well-entrenched Confederate forces. Rather than concentrating a reasonable portion of his forces against a single point of the Confederate line, McClellan allowed the battle plan to devolve into consecutive piecemeal attacks.

 

Confederate General Jackson and his troops finally arrived in time for Jackson to earn the nickname “Stonewall” for his defense of the Confederate flank. By the end of the day, both armies had suffered terrible casualties. The dead, wounded, or missing numbered 12,000 on the Union side and 10,000 on the Confederate side.

 

The balance of losses left McClellan with an even greater numerical advantage, in that a larger percentage of his army was still capable of battle. Over 25,000 of his army were fresh troops that had not yet been engaged.

 

McClellan's undeployed Union troops near Pry Farm House image by Alexander Gardner, public domain

McClellan’s undeployed Union troops near Pry Farm House
image by Alexander Gardner, public domain

 

Lee, on the other hand, had no fresh troops remaining. The Confederate lines had held, but they were overall in worse condition than the Union troops. McClellan could still have captured or killed Lee and his army.

 

With victory staring him in the face, rather than pressing his advantage, McClellan agreed to a truce for both sides to recover their wounded and bury their dead. When night fell, Lee thanked God and withdrew from the field as quickly and quietly as he and his army could. He salvaged enough of his forces to return to defend Virginia, preventing McClellan from having a straight shot through to Richmond. George McClellan had squandered a golden opportunity to deal a crippling blow to the Confederacy.

 

Union Army burial crew at Antietam image US Army, public domain

Union Army burial crew at Antietam
image US Army, public domain

 

Lincoln was disappointed in McClellan’s performance, but, unlike McClellan, he knew how to seize an opportunity. The victory at Antietam Creek gave him public relations momentum. On September 22, Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation.

 

The Proclamation would not take effect until January 1, 1863, and then, it was conditional. Only slaves in Confederate territory were freed. Slaves in the four Union slave states still remained in bondage. Since the Confederate States were not inclined to obey any Union proclamations, only around 40,000 slaves in captured territory were actually freed at the time of the Proclamation. However, the real impact of the bloodiest day in US history was that Lincoln was able to score a monumental diplomatic victory. After the victory at Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation, no European nation was willing to support the Confederacy in a war to defend the institution of slavery.

 

Bloody Lane at Antietam filled with Confederate dead image by Alexander Gardner, US Army, public domain

Bloody Lane at Antietam filled with Confederate dead
image by Alexander Gardner, US Army, public domain

 

Due to poor intelligence and the mishandling of intelligence, Lee miscalculated the sentiments of Maryland, and McClellan dawdled away a windfall opportunity. Lee allowed himself to anticipate a States’ Rights event in Maryland, and the false analysis that men would throw themselves in for the Confederates. His failed intelligence caused him to launch a campaign that he had little chance of winning. McClellan’s refusal to accept and act on the best intelligence kept him from completely crushing Lee’s army and marching on Richmond. Nearly three more years of bloody war remained to be fought, but the fate of the Confederacy was sealed. It was a case when a perfect intelligence windfall was defeated by habitual misuse of intelligence.

 

Antietam National Cemetary image by Acroterion, wikimedia commons

Antietam National Cemetary
image by Acroterion, wikimedia commons

FIRELANDS 5-Star Dystopian Thriller — On Sale at Kindle for $0.99

 

Firelands Cover

 

Eighty years in the future, America has devolved into a totalitarian theocracy. The ruling Josephites clone the only seeds that grow in the post-apocalyptic climate, allowing their Prophet to control who eats, who starves, and who dies in the ritual fires that atone society.

Subsisting on the fringes, Archer risks violation and death each day as she scours the forest for game to feed her people. When a Josephite refugee seeks sanctuary in her home, Archer is driven to chance a desperate gamble. A gamble that will bring down the Prophet and deliver seeds and freedom, or end in a fiery death for herself and for everyone she loves.

Seeds are life . . . Seeds are power . . . Seeds are the only hope of a despairing people. What will Archer do for the seeds of freedom, and what will she justify in their name?

Field on Fire Canstock

Praise for FIRELANDS

“Piper Bayard’s FIRELANDS is a harrowing and cautionary tale of a world in strife, of men and women struggling to survive amidst the fiery apocalyptic ruins of modern society.  Thrilling, moving, and ultimately hopeful, here is a novel to be savored long after you turn the last page.”

James Rollins, New York Times bestseller of Bloodline

“With great characters and an amazing world that both mystifies and terrifies, FIRELANDS deserves to be mentioned with the other great dystopian novels of the past three years.”

Jeff Ayers, Author Magazine

“With echoes of Under the Banner of Heaven and The Hunger Games,  FIRELANDS is a sprawling adventure ranging across a world racked by post-apocalyptic want, denial, and prophetic dictum. Equal parts heroic quest and morality play, it races forward on a current of deftly woven characters and breakneck action, never failing to deliver what every reader wants–a helluva good story.”

Ryne Douglas Pearson, screenwriter of Knowing and best selling author of Simple Simon and Confessions

 

“Piper Bayard explodes on the scene in FIRELANDS. Creative. Imaginative. Chilling and reassuring.  A captivating tale well told.”

Vicki Hinze, USA Today Best Selling Author of Mindreader

 

“FIRELANDS envisions a terrifying and prescient future of a United States lost to the worst extremes.  Piper Bayard’s wonderfully relevant and beautifully realized fantasy tale would make George R.R. Martin proud as it combines the best of Children of Men with Stephen King’s seminal The Stand . . . the result is a major debut that is not to be missed.”

Jon Land, bestselling author of Strong at the Break and Betrayal

 

Social Savoir Faire Consulting Service

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

The Holiday Season is upon us. Soon, life will be a whirlwind of dinner parties and fêtes. We realize that we will be the main topic of discussion for many of our readers at these parties, and we’d like to do our best to help our reputations and yours. We’re proud to bring you the Bayard & Holmes Savoir Faire Consulting Service.

image by Petar Stojkovikj and Ugllbe, wikimedia commons

As a recovering boy from the hood and a bellydancing closet redneck, we are more than qualified to assist anyone, even the most long suffering Je N’ais Pas Faire victim, in developing the necessary social savvy and handy fake veneer of sophistication you need to be a smashing success this holiday season.

Click on the link below to find out your Social Savoir Faire Quotient over at our new Bayard & Holmes site. Remember to subscribe while you’re there. We don’t want to leave you behind!

Bayard & Holmes

Social Savoir Faire Consulting Service