Aloha Friday, July 17, 2015

Aloha, friends.

Kick back and get into the Aloha spirit with “Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai” from Hapa:

Here it is with lyrics:

Mahalo [thank you] for following the blog. This being Aloha Friday, you pick the topic. What should we talk about today?

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4 comments

  1. Aloha, Al.

    I’m asking because I truly don’t know and not to suggest a position. But how much do you think gunpowder smoke and less ability to see the whole battlefield in general contributed to “fog of war” (if that’s the right term) in civil war battles? I started to wonder about that long ago after seeing some mini-reenactments, and recalling some movies that I thought somewhat accurately replicated the battlefield experience. Seems like it would be difficult to coordinate large attacks when you can’t see much beyond one regiment.

    I know they used messengers to try to give Generals a picture of what was going on, and I suppose this question does point to the value of high ground where you can see the battlefield better. But when we look at a nice map with all the units filled in, it’s easy to see what General so and so should have done. But how did it look to him on the ground? I know, pretty broad question, but your thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. I know that the battlefield smoke played a role several times, Bert. Let’s use Gettysburg as an example. On July 2, Union commanders along Cemetery Ridge sometimes had to squat down and look under the smoke for charging rebels. On July 3, Porter Alexander’s bombardment was affected by the smoke on the battlefield masking his targets. Basically, it served as an obstacle to get visual information, and like any other obstacle it had to be overcome if possible. That’s one of the reasons for flags. During the battle, with smoke covering the field, you tried to look up above the smoke to try to see the flag. If the flag was moving forward, you moved forward. If the flag was moving backward, you moved backward.

      Your second paragraph highlights the importance of going to the battlefield and walking the ground. A map will never give you the information you need to really understand what was going on, and driving around in your car will never give you the full picture. You have to get out of the car and actually walk the ground. Only then can you understand what the soldiers saw and what their commanders saw.

  2. Ryan Quint · · Reply

    On the subject of John Reynolds:

    People are quick to say Chamberlain deserves all his fame and accolades due to Shaara and the film, but should we add Reynolds? He’s seen as a great corps commander and a hero because of his actions on July 1, which really consisted of showing up, deploying the 2nd Wisconsin, and getting killed. If we look at Reynolds combat experience it’s checkered, at best, starting as a brigade commander in the PA Reserve: Served okay at Beaver Dam Creek, got captured at Gaines’ Mill when he fell asleep and wasn’t awoken, served ably atop Henry House Hill at 2nd Manasas, lost sight of the big picture at Fredericksburg because he was more interested in commanding *one* cannon, and wasn’t really deployed at Chancellorsville, and that brings us to Gettysburg.

    Thoughts?

    1. You make some good points, Ryan, but then let’s also remember that his I Corps boys erected the monument to him in the National Cemetery at their own expense. That tells me they at least felt he deserved fame and accolades, so perhaps there was something to that reputation he has.

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