“Before Biden can save Ukraine, he must use the NATO summit to save himself”

CNN  — The NATO summit was long planned to celebrate the alliance’s 75th anniversary, to lock in longterm military support for Ukraine and even to future-proof the West against a possible second term for Donald Trump. But no one expected the meeting in Washington this week to turn into a public test of 81-year-old President Joe Biden’s health and cognitive capacity with his reelection campaign facing an existential moment after his disastrous debate performance.

Biden’s leadership of NATO and lifeline to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion make him the most significant presidential trustee of the alliance since President George H.W. Bush. But his achievements, including Sweden and Finland’s entry into the group, will be eclipsed at the summit by his battle to save his political future. Every step Biden takes, every gesture he makes, and every word he utters will be under intense scrutiny, especially in unscripted moments after the image of an aged and at times incoherent commander in chief was burned into the minds of 50 million viewers at the CNN debate in Atlanta late last month.

A president who is older than the alliance itself will be under enormous pressure to show vigor and mental clarity at a solo news conference on Thursday. Any hint of confusion or weakness could spark a fresh round of panic among Democrats and derail Biden’s aggressive effort to quell talk of him abandoning his campaign. The president can expect a volley of questions about his health, his medical records and whether he has been hiding the true details of his condition from journalists infuriated by the White House’s handling of the debate fallout.

The press conference will also be a must-see event for Democrats who are demanding he do far more to prove he is fit to serve a second term that would end when he is 86. Sen. Patty Murray, for instance, warned Monday evening, “We need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate on the campaign trail in the very near future in order for him to convince voters he is up to the job.” It was a strikingly strong statement by the Washington state Democrat that underscored the vulnerability of Biden’s position. She added: “At this critical time for our country, President Biden must seriously consider the best way to preserve his incredible legacy and secure it for the future.”

Biden will also have an important audience overseas. The effects of the president’s advancing age are not just an issue for his political future; they are now the West’s problem given that he is the last defense against a stunning comeback by Trump, who spent his first term berating NATO allies and cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump has suggested he would let Moscow “do whatever the hell they want” and would not honor NATO’s sacred Article 5 mutual defense principle if he considered that a member state had not met the alliance’s defense spending guidelines.


Comment: Awful lot riding on this summit for an awful lot of people. This CNN article is totally focused on Biden, but NATO faces many more challenges than Biden being too old to win reelection. I don’t see any change in the UK stance. France is still up in the air. Italy’s Meloni has proven that a right wing government in Europe does not have to be a lapdog to Putin. The US future in NATO is unknown. European NATO is taking steps to “Trump-proof” the alliance, but I don’t know how effective that will be in the short or long run. Nor do I know how pragmatic a President Trump would be in a second term if that comes to pass. I believe the party with the biggest stakes is Ukraine. The Ukrainians won’t be offered NATO membership at this summit, but will there be an unambiguous and solid pledge to stand by the Ukrainians until victory? And will victory be defined?


Posted in Europe, Policy, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 86 Comments

Eric Newhill on rigged elections

Johnson, Giuliani, the Kraken, etc. are all mostly nonsense. Highly unprofessional hacks, going off half-cocked. I say “mostly” nonsense because they were intuitively correct that there is something systematic occurring. From what I can see, it must be originating from a centralized cheating team (as in federal – see below). The study I am referring to is based on source data (state voter registration databases) and the findings have now been thoroughly vetted.

My involvement for the past three years has been to work at hypothesis testing, playing the skeptic and, mostly, attempting to debunk the findings; to identifying alternatives that don’t involved a cleverly engineered election cheating scheme. I have surrendered. There are no viable alternatives to the presented proof. There is something centrally organized, illegal and well concealed happening in the voter registration rolls for the states that have been studied.

BTW, Just because you don’t like my position on Hamas, Israel, Muslims and Ukraine doesn’t mean I’m not a well respected professional in the area of big data analysis, scientific study design and statistics. You make the assumption that anyone who doesn’t see things your way must be stupid, evil and/or crazy. That is the height of arrogance and unchecked ego.

Think about this – if you’re going to create fake ballots and votes for your preferred candidate you cannot do so in excess of certain externally imposed limits; like the number of people in the geography, like the number of people registered to vote.

So the key to rigging an election is based more on voter registration than it is on creating the fake ballots. Fake ballots is the easiest part, especially when there is massive mail-in voting (as there was in 2020). You need to have the right number of fake voter registrations; a number that corresponds to the number of fake votes.

The good news, for cheaters, is that not all Americans register to vote and of those registered to vote, not all actually vote in a given election. So fake registrations and fake votes can be created in numbers large enough to sway elections.

However, for various reasons I’m not going to delve into here, you need to keep track of fake registrations. Which of the registration records are fake? Which have been used to create fake votes? Which fake votes? and more…..

You can’t create a new field (column) in the voter registration tables that contains that info because those are public records. So how could you do it? You could covertly imbed the information in otherwise straightforward and required data elements. Your cheater crew can run query code containing the algorithm (imbedded info) any time they want on your database to tease out the fake registration records and create a fake registration dataset that can the be used for nefarious purposes.

Such an encrypted code has, indeed, been applied to subsets of the state voter IDs. By “subsets” I mean volumes sufficient to throw any election, except a complete landslide, in favor of the cheaters’ candidate. The encryption is straightforward once it has been identified – and indeed has been verified by independent parties with expertise in that area. However, the encryption was very well hidden. It is not applied to all registration records. Rather, records have been partitioned into groups (via a separate partitioning algorithm) and the encryption only applied to some groups. It is 100% present for records in the applied group. Again, this has now been independently verified. This is NSA level work.

Worse, from the perspective of election integrity and security, virtually all registrations to which the algorithm that have been physically canvased have proven to be fake. There are approximately 2 million impacted voter registrations in NY state. Obviously, there is no way to go knock on 2 million doors. A representative sample was selected and, again, all canvased impacted records turned out to be fake registrations. Worse yet, for election integrity, all of those phony registrations voted in the 2020 election.

That said, we do not know for whom they voted. The point here is that someone went to the trouble of creating, encrypting and imbedding a fairly advanced algorithm into state voter registration databases. That is a crime in itself. Someone then used the algorithm to create and, presumably track, fake voter registrations; fake registrations that then somehow voted.

I do not believe that state boards of election are involved, at least not directly. That represents too many people who would need to keep quiet and there would be a lack of conspiracy continuity when there are personnel changes. I believe that the work is being done by consulting companies who are actually fronts for a certain federal agency (or agencies) in conjunction, possibly, with the DNC – but that is speculation on my part.

There’s more, and you will soon enough be hearing about it publicly as there is going to be a legal and media campaign around the topic in the near future.

Eh….what the heck. I’ll give you a taste.

Start here – https://auditny.com/

and view the Albany Election Committees Presentation

What the woman has to say is disturbing, but the what the gentleman presents is more so. He is a friend of mine and “the algorithm” is what I have personally reviewed closely. It’s real. It is not an artifact of some innocent process as far as I and various other experts can tell. It is sophisticated programming that is highly suggestive of NSA level. With the algorithm and mail in ballots, rigging an election is absolutely possible. The state refuses to address anything presented. The same issues – including the algorithm – are present in other states’ registration records.

There is more and it will be landing hard, soon.

Comment: This is from a few comments by Eric Newhill from a conversation between Eric and LeaNder. Eric pointed out the work of a group called the New York citizens Audit (NYCA) in identifying the presence of unauthorized algorithms in the New York State Voter Rolls. Eric said he worked on this project and should have good knowledge of what was found. I have not yet watched the NYCA videos on their findings, but I have no reason to doubt they found something anomalous in the New York systems. What I am skeptical of is both Eric’s and the NYCA’s supposition that this has already led to rigged elections. But I think Eric is more sure of a potential for a rigged election rather than actual evidence of a rigged election. I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong.

Eric surmises that these are NSA level algorithms and further surmises that the NSA might be working with the DNC to rig elections using this algorithm. But unless there’s something more in the NYCA work, I think a more likely scenario is that the New York State Voter Rolls have been hacked by the Russians or Chinese. As far back as 2017 we were informed that the Russians managed to hack the voting systems in 39 states before the 2016 election. Obama even used the red phone to warn Putin off when this was discovered. In 2019 “the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time.” I do wonder if Eric or the NYCA address this possibility. Beyond that, I find New York State’s failure to address the NYCA finding, if it is a refusal, to be the height of negligence. And what is DHS going to do with these findings?




Posted in Cyber, government, Politics, TTG | 121 Comments

Navy Super Hornets carrying air-launched SM-6 Missiles participating in RIMPAC exercise

A pair of inert air-launched SM -6s missiles on a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFA-192 at Inouye International for RIMPAC 2024. Its designation is XAIM-174B, so clearly the focus is on air-to-air rather than air-to-surface  

The two missiles sport the designation XAIM-174B (or NAIM-174B) and were carried by Super Hornets belonging to the VFA-2 and VFA-192 taking part in RIMPAC 2024 exercise.

On Jul. 2, 2024, an F/A-18E Super Hornet belonging to the VFA-192 “Golden Dragons” deployed with CVW-2 aboard USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier was photographed taxiing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, carrying two AIM-174B missiles, the air-launched variant of the SM-6 missile. The shots taken by photographer @aeros808 who told us that at least one Super Hornet from two flights of two aircraft from VFA-2 and VFA-192 flew with the new (inert) AIM-174Bs.

The Super Hornets are among the assets currently taking part in Rim of The Pacific 2024 (RIMPAC 2024), the world’s largest international maritime exercise hosted by the U.S. Navy and started on June 27, 2024. The drills involve 29 nations and more than 25,000 personnel, set to run June 27 to Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

This is the first time we got a confirmation that the air-launched variant of the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) surface-to-air missile designed to be used on Navy ships in conjunction with the Aegis Combat System and also known as the RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM), has been developed for the air-to-air role. In fact the designation XAIM stands for eXperimental Air Intercept Missile (once the weapon completes testing and is fielded, it will be known as AIM-174B).

Actually, it could also be NAIM as the N prefix is used for special tests and modifications: “used for vehicles, which are modified so extensively for special tests, that a reconversion to the original configuration is neither planned nor feasible at reasonable costs.” Here’s a photo we received from Instagram user the_808_airspace who shot a VFA-2 F/A-18F taking off with the AIM-174B clearly visible under the left wing.

A F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFA-113 onboard USS Carl Vinson loaded with a CATM-174B, a captive training round, during a ship tour for RIMPAC 2024. All three F/A-18E/F VFAs of CVW-2 attached to USS Carl Vinson have apparently received AIM-174B.

Previously, on Apr. 17, 2024, a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet most probably from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9 was spotted with with the same missile about 60 miles north of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake during testing that preceded the delivery of the AIM-174B to the squadron likely to carry out Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E), a testing phase conducted on production, or production representative weapons, to determine whether systems are operationally effective and suitable to support a Full-Rate Production (FRP) decision.

The very first sighting of a Super Hornet carrying an SM-6 variant dates back to 2021, when an F/A-18F from VX-31 was photographed with the same missile under its wing: this means that the U.S. Navy is working on an air-launched version of the SM-6/RIM-174 from at least three years.


Comment: I didn’t know this was in the works. I know there are other long range air to air missiles in development. We sorely need them since Russian and Chinese air-to-air missiles are purported to outrange anything we have. The SM-6 in the air-to-air mode seems like a no-brainer. It’s a proven missile and a proven airframe. The RIMPAC tests will probably test the integration of the SM-6/Super Hornet with other airborne and shipborne sensor platforms, perhaps even satellite platforms. Should be interesting, although I doubt we’ll hear any specifics.

I have to admit, my first thought was that this would be perfect to take out those Russian aircraft launching glide bombs into Ukraine, but we will not be giving  our F/A-18s and especially our SM-6s to Ukraine. We’ll see Meteor equipped Gripens before we see SM-6s in Ukraine. Until then, Ukraine may have to try their Patriot ambushes although we’ll probably raise a stink about that. We did the first time they did that. Or maybe those F-16s with AIM-120s could do this, but they would be vulnerable to Russia’s R-37s operating that close to the front.


Posted in The Military Art, TTG, weapons | 12 Comments

This is the Price They Paid (reposted from 2021)

What happened to the signers?

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the revolutionary war. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” 

By Michael W Smith

Comment (2021): They knew there would be no forgiveness for them. They knew full well what the Hanoverians had done to the Jacobites 31 years before after the Highlander defeat at Culloden. pl

Comment (2023): Ah those words. Those magnificently chilling and inspiring words where those men mutually pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in the pursuit of the cause of liberty. And those words weren’t just meant to inspire the “little people” back home to do the fighting. Those fifty-six men took those words into their hearts to fight, to suffer and to die shoulder to shoulder with their fellow citizens.

Such a concept seems quaint today. To share in the strife and sacrifices, the sorrows and joys of the pursuit of those ideals with our neighbors and countrymen seems foolish to our nation of self-absorbed and self-described victims. We must rekindle that spirit. We must rekindle that sacred honor.

Comment (2024): Last year I wrote this comment to reinforce my belief that a sense of honor and duty along with the willingness to act on that sense of honor and duty is essential to becoming a good citizen. It’s not just about freedom. It’s about freedom with responsibility and very often sacrifice. I hope my posts of the last few days conveys that message.

One of the old books that came with our 1840s former glebe house was a memorial edition of the loss of the Titanic. It was part of my reading when I was very young. A point that was emphasized and made very clear that all those rich robber baron white men had a sacred duty to go down with the ship rather than take a lifeboat seat from a woman or child. I still remember Isidor and Ida Straus who refused a seats in the lifeboats. John Jacob Astor did the same. There were other rich old white men who chose death over dishonor. They were of a privileged class, who expected their privilege, but retained a sense of duty and honor to allow society to function. On the other hand, there was Joseph Bruce Ismay, who got a seat in a lifeboat and survived. Given the circumstances, the opprobrium he received may not have been fair, but he was branded a spineless coward for the rest of his life. 

I was young and impressionable when I read that book. The absolute necessity of a sense of honor and duty stayed with me. Those without honor or a spine have always been with us and will always be with us. We need a critical mass of honorable, duty bound men and women to function as a society. It is a struggle, maybe even a lost cause, but as we have often said here recently, we shall continue with style.

A happy and thoughtful 4th of July to all.


Posted in History, TTG | 14 Comments

The Great Charge – 3 July 1863 (from “The Butcher’s Cleaver”)

“… A mile away, across the grassy valley from the cemetery ridge, Pickett’s Division lay waiting in the woods.  They had come up to this position in the early morning hours.  The officers occupied themselves with the usual business of placing the long lines of men in the order in which they would attack.  

After that, the men lay down, pretended to sleep, or devoted themselves to the routine of preparation for a major action.  They cleaned weapons, wrote letters, talked to their messmates and made final judgments on the comrades with whom they would go forward against the guns.

Jepson Thacker lay on his back looking up through the leaves and branches of a patriarchal and seasoned oak.  He had the thick trunk of the tree between him and the Yankee guns.  The smell of leaf mold and wood smoke hung in the air.  He tried to keep his mind on the beauty of the forest scene through the long wait under fire.  The 7th Virginia Infantry Regiment was all around him, stretching out to either side of his company.  The company had stood the artillery fire well.  Cannon balls had caromed through the trees for the last hour.  From time to time one killed or maimed, but for the most part the soldiers simply stepped out of their path.  The shrapnel from air bursts in the tree tops was a more serious matter.  They had lost several men to shell fragments.

In the midst of it all, “Pete” Longstreet rode into view, going down the line, slowly passing them by on a tall black horse, looking at them with an odd, pale expression on his usually ruddy features.  The black horse shied from the sounds of falling leaves and branches ripped off trees by passing solid shot.  A sergeant in Thacker’s regiment stood up to yell at Longstreet. “You damn fool!  Do you think we need you to do this to make us fight?  Get the hell out of here before you get killed!”  Longstreet bowed his head to the man, and rode on.

When the barrage stopped, Thacker sat up and looked for his company commander.  The captain stood fifty feet away talking to an officer from another company.  Thacker just caught the end of their talk.  “Oh!  Here we go!” the other officer said.  “Please do remember me to your cousin Sally!  I haven’t seen her since before the war..”

The captain walked back.  “Get ’em up Jepson,” he said.  “I expect we’ll be leavin’ now..”

The regiment formed and dressed its ranks.  Thacker saw General Kemper and his staff take their place in front of the center of the brigade line.  This happened to be exactly in front of Thacker’s company.

“Watch Morrison and Davidson,” the captain said in a soft voice beside him.  “I’m takin’ everybody in today, everybody.  If they drop out, kill ’em.”

Thacker nodded.  He checked his revolver to make sure none of the explosive metal priming caps had somehow been lost.

Claude came up the hill to stand beside his brother on the ridge just as the Rebel infantry began to emerge from the distant woods.  He intended to remonstrate with Patrick against their presence, but the scene before them silenced him.  “My God..  My God,” was all he could manage.  There was at least a mile of troops forming in front of the wood line across the valley.  In the center of the line lay a triangular projection of forest.  To left and right of this feature regiment upon regiment of the familiar motley brown figures moved into position, coming out of the trees and halting behind their leaders and flags.  Somewhere, a band began to play.

From his post behind the company’s two ranks, Sergeant Thacker looked up and saw the mile of open, gently rolling ground for the first time.  He had been busy correcting the alignment when they first emerged into the sunshine.  Now he saw it..  It looked like the surface of a dinner plate.  The far lip of the plate was a low ridge with a small patch of trees in the middle.  Union artillery and infantry covered the ridge line.  A road with some farm buildings beside it ran across the plate about three quarters of the way to the trees.

Enemy artillery started again.  The iron balls sailed through the air.  One struck the ground in front of a neighboring company.  It bounced into the ranks, tearing a hole in the formation.  Men screamed in pain, screamed with the sound that came with the knowledge of irreversible mutilation.

   In the ranks, the men began to talk to each other as they looked out across the landscape of their fate.  “Gawd damn it!” one said loudly.  “Who’s got it in for us?  I guess old Bobby Lee, he don’t have no fu’ther use for us!  Whut did we do to deserve this?  Somebody’s got it in fer us, fer sure.”

A rabbit ran from cover in front of the regiment, streaking through the ranks into the woods behind the troops.  A soldier in the front rank of Thacker’s company sang out.  “Run rabbit!  I’d run too, if I’s a rabbit!”

“Steady, boys!  Steady!” the regimental commander called out.

With a crash of cymbals, the sweet song of fifes, and the barbaric rattle of its copper bottomed drums, a regimental band struck up a tune at the left of the division line.

Thacker could not at first see them.  The forest of men was too dense.  Heads turned toward the music, then swiveled back to watch for more incoming shells.  The invisible band strode forward, turned to the right and marched down the division front toward Thacker’s regiment.

He concentrated on the music.

They passed before him.  Their dress contained some elements of the finery of prewar militia elegance.  Travel stained long white gauntlets, and a number of black frogged blue jackets were the most obvious relics, but in the main they wore the rough butternut of their army’s true uniform.  He tried to remember who had a band with them.  He could not.

The drum major raised his mace.  The band lengthened its stride, marching to its assigned place at the right of the line..

   Thacker focused on a drummer in the rear rank.  The mulatto bandsman played his instrument with great spirit, bringing the sticks up to a perfectly horizontal position at the level of his nose after each flourish.  On his back was a red and black checked shirt.  Across his back was slung a banjo.

The band moved away, out of sight.  They played on.

Major General George E. Pickett rode out in front of his division.  He brought the horse around to face them.  

The band reached its proper place.  The music stopped.

Pickett looked at his watch.  He raised his head, filling his chest, and ordered the attack.  “For your homes!  For your honor!  For Virginia!  The division will advance.  Forwaard!  March!”

Four thousand, seven hundred officers and men stepped off on their left foot as the band struck up a new tune.

Thacker thought of his wife, thought of the fence he had not finished.

The men were singing.  Pickett waited for the refrain. 

The general turned in his saddle.  “Left Oblique!  March!” 

The division pivoted on its right foot as one man. 

  They moved beyond some woods on the left.  Thacker saw that there were more troops advancing there.  The 45-degree turn would bring them together in one formation.

The Confederate spies stood among the Yankee army and watched the advance come on.  The stand of trees was slightly to their right.  Just to the front waited a battery of artillery.  Fifty feet farther down the modest slope stood a stone pasture wall, three feet high.  Union infantry stood elbow to elbow behind it, their regimental and national colors planted among them.  More U.S. troops stood in solid lines along the crown of the ridge to either side of the Devereuxs.  Claude knew his people should leave, that there was no good reason for personal participation in this tragedy.  Nothing could have made him go.

“Why!  Why!”  Patrick sighed beside him.  “There could not be a stronger position than this!  Why!

“What would you have them do?” Frederick Kennedy asked from beside him.  The question reflected his confusion at the spectacle before him.

Patrick waved an arm.  “This cries out for a night attack..  No one could lose his way here.  Mon Dieu!

Down among the infantry, behind the stone wall, the veteran riflemen stared at the oncoming line.

The distant band continued to play.

A gunner in the battery before them shook his fist at the oncoming enemy, screaming “Remember Fredericksburg” at the Pennsylvania afternoon.  You’re right, Claude thought.  We shot you to pieces there, just like this.  Now it’s our turn, damn you!

There were two major parts to the approaching column of attack.  These corresponded to their original dispositions to either side of the triangular patch of trees.  All the troops to the left carried the blue flag of the Old Dominion as well as the familiar red battle flag.  Those to the right had only the red flags.  As the Federal troops watched, the force with the blue flags made another 45-degree marching turn to bring it into perfect alignment with the rest of the column of attack.  Artillery fire from the high ground at the southern end of the Federal position continued to tear holes in the alignment of the oncoming troops.  These imperfections closed without interruption in the forward movement.  The march across the plain before them had the perfection of a garrison review at West Point.

Among the blue riflemen behind the wall, admiration for what they were watching warred with murderous intent.  A swarthy, mustachioed First Sergeant of the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry leapt to the top of the wall, waving his kepi at the sky.  “Three cheers for the Johnnies!” he yelled at the sky.  “Hip! Hip! Hurrah!, Hip! Hip! Hurrah!, Hip!….  Come on Johnnies, we want you!”

Thacker heard the cheering, wondered for a second if it meant anything.  The brigade went down into another fold in the ground.  In the bottom, they were out of sight of the fearsome position on the ridge before them.  The guns to the right continued their terrible work, playing on the straight lines as though their missiles were the balls in a grotesque game of billiards.  They marched up out of the bottom, emerging from the depths as though they were new-made men sprung directly from the bowels of the earth itself.  As they came up the slope, a collective sigh escaped them.  The awful ridge seemed so close now.

The artillery forward gun line lay just ahead of the dip.  Dead horses and men were scattered on the field.  The cannoneers ceased fire as the infantry passed through the line, masking the fires of the batteries.  Officers stood at the hand salute, their faces strained from the trial by fire they had just concluded.  The gunners and drivers covered their hearts with their hats.  “Good luck, boys!” they said.  “We’ll be with you as soon as we limber up!  Don’t stop for nuthin’!”

Thacker scrutinized his company commander.  His stocky, farmer’s body trudged steadily along.  The man had not looked back since Pickett ordered the advance.  It was blindingly clear that he would advance to the regiment’s objective alone if they did not follow.

Thacker looked at the two “play-outs” he had been cautioned against.

One of them peered back at him.

Don’t you do it!  I don’t much want to kill nobody today, ‘specially you.

Small arms fire began to feel at them.  The conical Minie balls whirred by in growing numbers.  The infantry on the ridge fired at them by volleys.  Men hit with the big lead slugs jerked backwards or spun crazily from the impact.  Thacker stepped over a soldier named Herbert Jamison, a friend from home.  He had gone down in the front rank and lay moaning, clutching his abdomen.  Too bad, too bad, a belly wound.  Yer a goner fer sure..  “Close up!  God damn it, Morrison!  Close up!” Thacker bellowed at his company.  My Gawd, Herbert.  Who will tend to your ma?

Grasshoppers flew up in clouds from the standing grain as they pushed through it.  

The band played on behind them.  

They reached a split rail fence beside the road.  There was another on the other side.  The captain climbed through between the upper and lower rails.  Standing in the dust of the road, he turned for the first time to look.  A smile creased his homely face at the sight of them.  A bullet hit him in the back, throwing his body forward into a fence post.  It slid down the rough wood.  The post pulled and tore the skin of his face.  He lay motionless in the road, his feet pointed at the enemy.

Thacker dropped his rifle, kneeling to pick up the officer’s sword.

The line climbed through the fence on the other side of the road.  A group of farm buildings stood in the way.  Thacker’s company passed to the right of a red barn.  The ridge was two or three hundred yards off now.  The enemy infantry fired continuously.  White smoke wrapped the hillside, drifting toward the attacking force.  He looked left and right.  As far as he could see, the troops still pressed forward.  There were several thousand men left in the ranks.  They now were all across the second fence.  It looked like he still had thirty or so men on their feet in the company.  The colonel commanding the regiment lay in the shadow of the barn, shot through the head.  They halted just past the barn to straighten their alignment.  A great, rumbling, growling began to swell from the ranks.  Someone in the next company fired his weapon at the ridge.  An officer yelled “No!” but his attempt to maintain the tight control needed in the assault was hopeless. The Southern infantry began to shoot at the ridge.  Through the smoke, Thacker glimpsed the first rifle shot Union casualties.  He watched some of the blue forms pitch back away from the wall.

The brigade started forward down a grassy slope.  An officer raised his voice to be heard above the din.  “Home, boys!  Home!  Home is just beyond that hill!”  The men began to yell.  The wavering shrillness of their battle cry was answered by the deeper sound of Union cheers.  

The attack picked up speed through the smoke.  

Thacker raised the sword, bellowing, “Come on, Come on!”

They trotted down into the bottom land at the foot of the ridge.

A battery behind the wall fired a volley of canister which ripped a hole in the regiment.  Dead and wounded covered the ground to Thacker’s left.  Men dropped around him on all sides, kicking and clawing at the grass, victims of the point blank fire of the blue figures behind the wall.

He could now see the enemy despite the smoke.  Their shoulders worked methodically in the familiar routine of loading and firing.  A stand of colors dominated the section of wall in front of him.  The national and regimental flags, stood there together.  The regimental color shone a deep green.  Upon it was embroidered a golden harp.

The line started uphill.  They were taking fire from infantry farther south along the stone wall.  Union regiments had crossed the barrier to turn and fire into their right flank.

Something hit him hard in the muscle of the left arm.  

Some of the men around him were strangers.  Things were getting mixed up.  To his left, Thacker saw the Confederate assault roll up the slope.  He reached the wall..

They all reached it.

The blue enemy started to draw back with the two flags in their midst.

One of Thacker’s men lunged across the stony barrier to grasp the staff of the national color.

The red and white striped cloth writhed in the smoke and turmoil.  A dark featured Yankee with the chevrons of a first- sergeant cried, “No, you don’t, damn you!”, and clubbed the Southerner in the face with his musket butt.

A soldier at Thacker’s side bayoneted the sergeant.

The Rebel line of battle now stood behind the downhill side of the stone wall.  Their riflemen loaded and fired with the skill and practice of long habit.

   The Union infantry at the crest seemed shaken by the sight of so many of their enemy so close at hand, and protected by the solid stones of the wall.  The blue troops began to look over their shoulders at the valley behind.

Thacker thought he had fifteen men left.

Enemy soldiers began to appear on the hilltop in apparent flight from something happening to the left.

He looked in that direction.  Blue and red flags surged across the wall in the area beyond the trees.

The battery firing steadily into the ground to Thacker’s left was guarded by the remnants of the infantry pushed back from the wall.  Small arms fire cut down gunners and infantrymen alike in the space around the guns.  Where’s the Goddam’ artillery? Thacker wondered, looking behind him.  There was no one at all behind the Rebel infantry at the wall.

A blonde young major from another regiment appeared at Thacker’s side.  He pointed at the battery.

Thacker suddenly saw the truth of it.  The battery was the linchpin of the Union line.  If it went, the whole center might fall apart.

The battery commander saw the major pointing at him.  The man stood hatless in the sun, just behind his cannons.  Blood ran down one hanging, useless arm.  “1st Section!  Action left!  Double Canister!” he shouted.  In response to his command, two of the guns began to spin on their wheels, manhandled around by brute force.

The blonde major hurdled the wall, sword in hand. “Take the guns!  Take the guns!” he screamed at the men behind him.

Thacker stepped back far enough to get a start, and followed him over.  What was left of the company went with him.

The two guns spun.

The day stood still as Thacker ran up the slope behind the blonde young man.  The smoke seemed less dense.  He watched the gun captain of the right-hand piece raise his arm as the men finished loading.  Behind him, on the crest of the ridge, the Union infantry brought their weapons up in unison.  Thacker’s searching eyes found a little group of men in civilian dress.  One of them leaned on crutches.


Claude Devereux felt his heart stop.  Through the smoke he saw the butcher’s ground in front of the two Napoleons.  The blonde officer’s corpse lay broken on the grass.  One of his hands very nearly touched an ironshod wheel.  Behind him, the others were scattered, all the way down to the wall.

Farther up the ridge, beyond the trees, the Rebel attack surged almost to the crest.  Human beings stood in ranks and fired at each other at ranges that did not exceed thirty yards.  Men howled and rifle bullets whirred across the ground.  It was clear that the moment of opportunity for Confederate success had nearly passed.

Devereux had his pocket pistol in hand.  He looked about him for a worthwhile target.  Major General George Gordon Meade sat his horse 100 yards away.  He had just ridden onto the scene.  The distance was too long, far too long.  Devereux looked at Meade for a time.  Glancing around, he spied a Springfield rifle on the ground a few yards away.  He gathered himself up spiritually for the act that would surely be his last.  He held his brother Patrick by the right arm.  Kennedy had him by the left.  Devereux thought of the aftermath of what he was about to do.  He thought about the vengeance that might be sought.  He thought of his youngest brother, and wondered if Jake lay on the field before them.  He hesitated.

The shock of the strike of a bullet ran through the three of them.  For an instant Claude thought himself hit.  The sagging weight on his left drove a dagger of despair into his spirit.  They laid Patrick out flat on the ground, a rolled up coat beneath his head.

The fight went on around the trees.  It had become strangely unimportant.  Bill ripped open the shirt.  The wound was in the right breast.  A bloody foam surrounded the hole.  Pink bubbles formed and broke with each breath.  The noise around them built to a crescendo.  Abruptly, it was over.  The men of Pickett’s and Pettigrew’s divisions drew back in a sudden, collective knowledge of failure.  The broken fragments of the column of assault moved back across the field of death.  For those farthest forward, there was no possibility of escape.  They dropped weapons and raised their hands.

The victorious Federal infantry sat down in place to rejoice in their survival.  Their captives sat with them, drained of life by their ordeal.  There was much ostentatious sharing of canteens and tobacco with the defeated enemy.  The prisoners had little to say.  They mostly sat with their backs to their captors and watched the remnant of their comrades in their going.  A Confederate colonel, taken prisoner inside the stone wall was brought at his request to the top of the ridge.  He looked down into the nearly empty valley on the other side, and wept.” 

From “The Butcher’s Cleaver”, a novel

Comment: To continue a theme from yesterday’s post about the charge of the 1st Minnesota, I thought some of you would enjoy this piece of prose from Colonel Lang. My God, that man could write. When Pat first shared this excerpt in 2020, he added this comment about the above illustration, “This is a family commissioned portrait by Keith Rocco working off an old photo. Major Williamson, 6th Virginia Infantry, lost the left arm later in the war and was head of buildings and grounds at VMI for a long time.”


Posted in History, My books, WBS | 5 Comments

The charge of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment on 2 July 1863 – reposted

Bronze bas-relief from one of three 1st Minnesota monuments on Gettysburg Battlefield

This action has been largely overlooked in most accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg. It is certainly drowned out by the ubiquitous accounts of the 20th Maine and Picketts Charge. As I recall, the charge of the already depleted 1st Minnesota against General Wilcox’s Alabama Brigade of five full regiments is not addressed in any of the Hollywood movies about Gettysburg. 

The following account is from an opinion piece published today in the MinnPost. The opinion is not what’s important. The account of the engagement is.   

“In the late afternoon of July 2, 1863, little more than five years after Minnesota had become a state, the Union had a major hole in its line on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. The second day of fighting had been brutal, with the Confederacy looking to end the war once and for all by overrunning the Union line. As the Union troops were trying desperately to hold the hill, a major hole opened up and nearly 1,200 Confederate troops marched forward. The only unit that could stop them was the grossly outnumbered 1st Minnesota. They had 262 men.”

“They never hesitated. The 1st Minnesota charged into the fray. The chaos and insanity that unfolded in the next few minutes is hard to comprehend. Within five minutes, 215 of the 262 men of the 1st Minnesota fell. When the soldier carrying the Minnesota colors was killed, another dropped their weapon and grabbed the flag. Five times that happened IN FIVE MINUTES. Minnesota’s brave, courageous and desperate sacrifice held until reinforcements arrived. The 82% casualty rate still stands as the U.S. Army’s largest loss of life of any unit which still stood at the end of the battle. Minnesota’s colors never were captured, and are on display at the Capitol in the rotunda. Most important, the Union line held for the day.”

A more detailed account of the action is in this animated battlefield video.

But this wasn’t the end of the 1st Minnesota’s action at Gettysburg. The remnants of the regiment were placed at the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, a relatively safe place it was reasoned. It ended up being the thick of the action the next day when Pickett’s Charge breached the line at this exact point. The 1st Minnesota again fought fiercely. Private Marshall Sherman captured the regimental colors of the 28th Virginia Infantry, earning the Congressional Medal of Honor for his action. That flag sits in St. Paul to this day, property of the Minnesota Historical Society. Virginia has demanded its return repeatedly since them. In 2000 Governor Jesse Ventura replied, “Absolutely not. Why? We won.” In 2013 Governor Mark Dayton denied that request, saying that returning the battle flag would be “sacrilege” to Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. “It was something that was earned through the incredible courage and valor of men who gave their lives and risked their lives to obtain it,” Dayton said. “And as far as I’m concerned, it’s a closed subject.” Even Governor Tim Pawlenty said, “It’s rightfully ours and we’re not giving it back.” Virginia is still trying to get that flag back. What’s that old saying about wishing in one hand?


Posted in History, TTG, WBS | 6 Comments

Back in the Day

A while back my youngest brother sent me a thumb drive of digitized slides that my father took over the years. There are some great memories in there. With the 4th of July celebration coming up this week, I thought I’d share a few slides of a patriotic celebration in my hometown of Prospect, Connecticut. I believe this was in the last years of the Eisenhower administration. It was in first or second grade. I vividly remember making those shakos out of construction paper and those big jars of white paste. We practiced our songs in class and practiced marching in the playground. We marched to the Town Green and sang our songs as we paraded around the soldier’s memorial.

I’m sure this was not a 4th of July celebration. The occasion could have been either Flag Day or Memorial Day. I do remember that a lot of parents were in attendance including my mother and father. We lived in the former glebe house on the Green opposite the Congregational Church. My father would take time off from work for these things. We were all unabashedly patriotic in those days.

It wasn’t a long march. The Prospect Community School, on the left, abutted the green. That’s me at center front marching as my father taught us. I was holding my flag as I would hold a rifle with my thumb and forefinger forming an O. My brother and sister also knew that was the right way as my father taught us the manual of arms with our toy rifles. I’m pretty sure I had a Mattel Winchester from “The Rifleman” at the time, along with my cap pistols and leather holster.

I believe that is Mrs. Bennet in the foreground leading her class into place. in the background stands the Grange Hall, an imposing and important grey stucco building and the Prospect Historical Society building in a former one room schoolhouse. The historical society has since moved to the Hotchkiss family homestead.

Here’s the Congregational Church. Although this is the third church, the first two burnt down, It stands on the same spot that one of our town founding fathers, Gideon Hotchkiss, built the first Columbia Parish Church in what was to become Prospect. Gideon was a Puritan who fought at Ticonderoga and Fort William Henry with two of his sons during the French and Indian War. He later was a leader in a local Committee of Safety, organizing troops for militias and the Continental Army. He himself fought at the Battle of New Haven during our War of Independence.

We formed in front of the town’s Soldier’s Monument dedicated in 1907. The Petrauskas farmhouse can be seen in the background. That’s where I learned to pitch hay and milk cows. A number of parents and other town folk watched us from the shade of the maple trees.

Those were good days in Prospect. It was an unbelievably good time and place to grow up. Our history, from local to national, was taught regularly. The requirements of citizenship were regularly explained to us by our teachers and, especially, by the example of those teachers and other town leaders. Our biggest worry, which we somehow endured in stride, was the regular air raid drills. As the sirens blew, our teachers led us into the interior hallway of the Community School where we crouched against the granite bedrock for protection against a potential atomic blast from the Rooskies. Other than that, life was grand.


Prospect Historical Society Bicentennial Pamphlet



Posted in History | 9 Comments

Open Thread – 28 June 2024

I’m pretty sure a lot of you have something to say about last night’s debate. What did I notice? Biden is an old man, a real old man. Fairly certain there are some in the DNC sweating that absolute fact. Trump remains a pathological liar and he can convey those lies vigorously. If he lightened up on the lies, I would have declared him the absolute winner. But he couldn’t so I can’t.

Posted in Open Thread | 175 Comments

Biden administration moves toward allowing American military contractors to deploy to Ukraine

CNN — The Biden administration is moving toward lifting a de facto ban on American military contractors deploying to Ukraine, four US officials familiar with the matter told CNN, to help the country’s military maintain and repair US-provided weapons systems. The change would mark another significant shift in the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy, as the US looks for ways to give Ukraine’s military an upper hand against Russia.

The policy is still being worked on by administration officials and has not received final sign-off yet from President Joe Biden, officials said. “We have not made any decisions and any discussion of this is premature,” said one administration official. “The president is absolutely firm that he will not be sending US troops to Ukraine.” Once approved, the change would likely be enacted this year, officials said, and would allow the Pentagon to provide contracts to American companies for work inside Ukraine for the first time since Russia invaded in 2022. Officials said they hope it will speed up the maintenance and repairs of weapons systems being used by the Ukrainian military.

Over the last two years, Biden has insisted that all Americans, and particularly US troops, stay far away from the Ukrainian frontlines. The White House has been determined to limit both the danger to Americans and the perception, particularly by Russia, that the US military is engaged in combat there. The State Department has explicitly warned Americans against traveling to Ukraine since 2022. As a result, US-provided military equipment that has sustained significant damage in combat has had to be transported out of the country to Poland, Romania, or other NATO countries for repairs, a process which takes time.  US troops are also available to help the Ukrainians with more routine maintenance and logistics, but only from afar via video chat or secure phone—an arrangement that has come with inherent limitations, since US troops and contractors are not able to work directly on the systems.

Administration officials began to seriously reconsider those restrictions over the last several months, officials said, as Russia continued to make gains on the battlefield and US funding for Ukraine stalled in Congress. Allowing experienced, US government-funded American contractors to maintain a presence in Ukraine means they will be able to help fix damaged, high-value equipment much faster, officials said. One advanced system that officials say will likely require regular maintenance is the F-16 fighter jet, which Ukraine is set to receive later this year. Companies bidding for the contracts would be required to develop robust risk mitigation plans to mitigate threats to their employees, an official said.


Comment: This is far more than I thought the Biden administration would do. I could see them turning a blind eye to Ukraine hiring US experts and maintenance people on Ukrainian contracts, but this move provides for US contractors on DoD contracts operating in Ukraine. Of course, those contractors will be targets, but the money will be good. Good God! What happened to the timid concept of escalation management?

How far is this from Colonel Lang’s idea of an AVG flying A-10s instead of P-40s? I bet there are plenty of F-16 pilots just chomping at the bit to have a real go at the Ivans.


Posted in TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 23 Comments

Israeli Supreme Court rules that the military must begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man wears handcuffs as he sits on a street during a protest against army recruitment in Jerusalem on June 2. Leo Correa/AP

In a landmark ruling that threatens to unravel Israel’s government, the country’s Supreme Court has ordered the military to begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men, who’ve long been exempt from service. Tuesday’s decision was unanimous, and comes amid intensified public opposition to the policy following the Hamas-led attack on Israel last year, and the months-long war in Gaza that has strained the military’s resources.

For years, Israel’s Supreme Court has held that the religious exemption violated laws on equal protection. In its new ruling, the court said the state was carrying out “invalid selective enforcement, which represents a serious violation of the rule of law.”

The court also kept in place a freeze on subsidizes for religious seminaries, or yeshivas, whose young students declined to enlist, a measure it first imposed in March.

Before Tuesday’s ruling, the Israeli government had repeatedly extended the waiver, but it has been unable to pass a law that would make it permanent, or allow for a more limited draft of ultra-Orthodox men. During recent court arguments, the AP reported, government lawyers said forcing them to enlist would “tear Israeli society apart.”

With conscription of the ultra-Orthodox now set to start, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now faces the prospect of eroding support within what was already a fragile coalition keeping him in power. Two politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties are key to Netanyahu’s governing coalition and staunchly oppose drafting their constituents. If they left the coalition, it could cause Netanyahu’s government to collapse and trigger new elections.


Comment: Israelis subject to the draft are fed up with the coddling of the ultra-Orthodox. Will the ultra-Orthodox parties desert Netanyahu and cause his government to fall or will they suck it up and send their sons and daughters to serve in the IDF?


Posted in Israel, TTG | 27 Comments