In many ways, the loss of Stonewall Jackson was pivotal fo the South. For had Lee had Jackson at Gettysburg, I believe the end would have been very different. General Ewell stalled at the Round Tops. Had Jackson been there, his"Foot Cavalry," would have gone around the Round tops and Caught Winfield Scott with his pants around his ankles! Lee did make a serious tactical error. He believed the Army of Northern Virginia was Invinceable. However he had always had Stonewall there to back his play. Ewell vacillated, and that cost them the Battle of Gettysburgh! I greatly admired General Lee. A very fine Gentleman, as well as a skilled Tactician.
The day of my Fathers Funeral, I returned to the house, and full of misery sat in my Dad's old leather armchair. Beside it was his bookcase, and my eye was caught by a book, that was the official War History of the 56th. London Division. This was the division that my Dad's Regiment, the Queens Westminster Rifles was a part of. I turned to July 1st. 1916. The first day of the Battle of the Somme. The day my Dad was wounded so badly he lost his left leg, and the day his older Brother, who would have become my Uncle Harry, was killed. As I read of the preparations for the Battle, I was sickened. The Allied High Command used exactly the same tactics at that battle, that General Lee used at Gettysburgh, 53 years previously! I read that, "At 08.00 hrs, the Queens Westminster Rifles formed up as if on parade, and marched acrosss No-Man's Land!" How much more Utterly Stupid, can a Commanding General get?
At Gettysburg, the confederates were facng Cannon fire, and .58 Caliber Rifles. Now a skilled rifleman could get off three shots a minute, which may not sound like much, but think, if you've got 2,000 riflemen?
? That's 10,000 .58 Minie balls coming at you. But in 1916, the Germans had Maxim and other machineguns, and the very efficient 8mm Mauser bolt action rifles! Also, during the night, the sappers (British.) had carefully opened up gaps in the British Barbed wire, so that our boys could gain access to No-Man's-Land with ease. To guide the men, they had laid on the ground bright yellow tape for the British soldiers to follow. So when the Germans woke that day, the Feldwebel looked out, and probably called out to his men, "Hans, Otto, Tell the Machine gunners to train their guns on where those yellow tapes come out of the British wire. Ve vill slaughter them!" And slaughter them they did! Military Inteligence is indeed an Oxymoron!!! They had shelled the German wire for seven days and nights! It was hardly touched. Turned out that 60% of the shells were ineffective! The internal charges failed to explode! To quote Clint Estwood, it was a Clusterfuck! All those lives wasted! Allied and German. I saw some pictures of the man who should have been my Uncle Harry! A fine looking young man. Very like my Dad in his army Pics!
I'm sure he'd have been a Great Uncle to me. For some reason, that afternoon of my Dad's Funeral has stayed with me, and the memories of the utter stupidity of the tactics used. Didn't anyone in the British Military Acadamies, read any history Books? I can remember taking the Picture of Harry Roper, and asking God in prayer, to look after his soul. I have sometimes wondered if he is my Guardian Angel? Who knows! Well, as I am nearly 80 I should be finding out not too long from now? I know that I have often wished that Lord Kitchener, and his red capped and Gold braided aassociates, burned for at least a Season in Hell!