AUGUST   2020


Friday, April 08, 2016


I want to share with you the lesson of the snowflake. Individually it is the lightest, most delicate, fragile thing in the world. It takes over 22,000 snowflakes to add up to a pound snow. A cubic foot of snow can weigh over 62 pounds. And 10 inches of fluffy snow floating down to cover an acre of ground weighs over a ton. 
And if you keep piling up snowflakes for something over 800,000 years, which has happened in Greenland, you get rivers of ice - 53 glaciers on the world's largest island. Winter after winter, century after century, for perhaps 15,000 years, the gentle, ethereal fresh snow compresses the older snow beneath it, until 50 feet below the surface it becomes solid ice, and 2 miles down it crushes the water molecules so their oxygen-hydrogen bonds lock together in long bands, making glacial ice sharp blue and hard enough to crush human lives.
The fastest of Greenland's “tortoise rivers” , the Jacobshaven glacier begins 300 miles from the western coast, at a 50 mile arc of 11,000 foot high snow ridges, 42,471 square miles of compressed snow flakes, fed by 118 inches of new snowflakes a year. The base of this 2 mile thick ice machine is lubricated by a thin sheen of melt water against the bedrock, allowing the glacier to be squeezed like toothpaste from a tube, rushing 40 miles to the coast at 70 – 110 feet a day toward the 3 mile wide Jacobshaven Fjord.
As late as 1983 the ice did not stop when it reached the water. Marine biologist Richard Brown could write, “The tongue of ice grows into a long, floating slab, anchored only by the hinge of ice at its landward end. But the hinge becomes more and more precarious as the ice pushes farther out and the tides begin to work on it, up and down, twice a day. The cracks...soon become last... the deepest crevasse breaks through with a roar which echoes off the sides of the fjord like a mountain in labor. 
"The slab crashes off the face of the glacier, scattering seabirds as it goes. A surge of water, three feet high, runs ahead of it and batters its way along the walls of the fjord. The ice berg is launched.”
It is called “calving”, and the 36 mile long fjord is jammed with thousands of newly born bergs, big and small, that scrape against the edges and bottom of the inlet. With the arrival of autumn, the air atop the ice sheet “...comes rushing down the fjord in a hurricane wind....(and) the bergs begin to move...until they are drifting almost as fast as a man can walk....grinding, jostling past the little port of Jackobshaven (above)  and out into the sea at last.”
Each year western Greenland produces 25- 40,000 icebergs, averaging 5-11 million tons each. Sunlight melts the surface, while the colder sea water protects the body of the berg. The berg becomes unbalanced, and repeatedly rolls over, offering a fresh face for the sun to attack. The bottom of Baffin Bay is coated with gravel and rocks scrapped off the hidden mountains of Greenland and dropped from rolling bergs like pennies slipping through a hole in your pocket. A few of hundred of these islands of fresh water ice in a salted sea make it through the Davis Strait and into the North Atlantic, to be shepherded south by the Labrador current.
This particular berg has battled storms and seas that would have destroyed anything made by humans. But now, on a moonless night, the berg is approaching a border. The ocean has gone calm and placid. The air, at the very center of a high pressure area, has gone still as well, the pressure so high there is no fog. Close to the water surface a faint obscuring mist has gathered, held down by the gulf air.
Approximately 380 miles south-south east of Cape Race, Newfoundland, in a meandering, swirling collision, the cold southbound Labrador water overrides the northbound warmer - up to 68 degrees Fahrenheit warmer – Caribbean water, heated by the approaching Gulf Stream current. And then, out of the still dark, flickering lights appear over the horizon, and quickly grow brighter and steadier. An object is approaching. It is dwarfed by the 2 million tons of the remaining berg, 200 feet long and 140 feet above the water line, meaning perhaps 1,000 feet below. 
A human witness, on board the approaching object said it resembled “the Rock of Gibraltar”. The human object was less than a thousand feet long, and sat just over 100 feet above the water. But is moving so quickly, pushing 52,000 tons of sea water aside as it plows through the water at 20 knots – 23 miles an hour, in a most unnatural straight line, on a collision course with the berg..
Abruptly, the object begins to emit noises, first clanging and then shrieks. The tenor of its thrashing changes. At last it begins to swing away from the ice, slowly, as if distracted by a voice faintly heard. But it is not enough. The berg feels the shudder of contact. But the human forged metal is no match for the glacier ice, compacted over a thousand years by hundreds of millions of tons of compressing snowflakes. The metal bends ever so slightly. A chunk of ice snaps off the surface of the berg, and shatters on to the deck of the Royal Mail Ship Titanic.
The iceberg rocks a little from the force of the impact, spins a little, and keeps on drifting southward, changed only by a smear of red and black paint along one of its sides.”  The Titanic stops not far from the collision, and begins to make new sounds, and to shed small pieces of itself. Then, within four hours, the Titanic is swallowed by the sea. It was the early morning hours of 12 April, 1912.
At dawn the next morning, another, even smaller object, approaches the berg. She is the R.M.S. Carpathia, soon to be joined by other similar objects. And for a few days the berg is surrounded by small human made objects. On one of these, the Russian-East Asiatic Steam Ship Birma, First Officer Alfred Nielsen takes a photograph of the iceberg (above), one of only three confirmed and mutually supportive photographs of the iceberg blamed for the loss of the R.M.S. Titanic. Then, one by one the ships move away. And for a time the berg and the detritus of the collision float together,  southward in a warming Labrador current..
Eventually, this berg crosses the border, “...a boundary between the cold, gray world of ice and seabirds and the warm blue one of flying fish and Sargasso weed. The sea on the other side is (41 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer, in a matter yards.”. As Richard Brown would later write, “The ice berg goes no further south than...300 miles north of Bermuda, and then it is nothing.”
The particular iceberg held responsible for sinking RMS Titanic, and drowning 1,500 human souls, was unusual. Of the 25,000 to 40,000 icebergs calved by the west Greenland glaciers each year, few make it into the North Atlantic. At least 1,000 icebergs crossed through the Davis Strait in 1909 and again in 1912. 
The number of bergs big enough to cross into the open sea varies year to year. But a pattern is there to be seen, if you are willing to look. In 1929  there were 1,300 North Atlantic icebergs calved from Greenland's western coast .  In  1984  there were 2,200 . 
 The glaciers of Greenland have been calving bergs at increasing rates. The iceberg that “sank the Titanic” was an early warning of what humans were doing to the planet we depend upon for our breathable air and drinkable water because there is a profit to be made in doing so. And to ourselves. In effect we are drowning in greed.
The Jacobshaven glacier has been in full retreat since 1850. And still we have refused to listen to its warnings. Since 2003, the Greenland ice sheet has lost 10 billion tons of ice - each and every year. The Jacobshaven glacier has lost 15 feet of thickness every year. And since 2010,  has retreated another 3 miles up the fjord. Once back on dry land, there will be no more icebergs from the Jacobshaven glacier, only a flood of fresh water. No longer will the ocean have to wait while the icebergs melt before their salty water is diluted. It is a tipping point, as if the berg was getting ready to roll over for the last time. After that, things speed up.
It will be a moment even a United States Senator, holding a February snowball in his hand, will not be able to deny.  The lesson of the snowflake is that small things eventually add up to very big things, things which can crush and destroy anything humans build.   But, if you wait until the big thing is visible and obvious, it is usually too late to change course. And we don't have any life boats.
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Note: All quotes from "Voyage of the Iceberg", the story of the iceberg that sank the Titanic"
By Richard Brown.  1983. James Lorimer and Company, Toronto,  Canada. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

BLOODY JACK Chapter Eleven

I was not surprised that Coroner Baxter was eager to resume his inquest into the death of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, which he did promptly on Monday morning, 3 September, 1888. But I was surprised by the first witness presented – Detective Inspector John Spratling, from the Bethnal Green “J” Division. Spratling had not even arrived at the murder scene until after Polly Nichols' body had been removed, leaving just a blood stain on the sidewalk. Spratling quickly followed Polly's body to the Montague Street Morgue, where he found the corpse already stripped by the two workhouse morgue attendants. It was at this point that Coroner Baxter demanded to know who had given the attendants “authority” to do that. “I don't object to their stripping the body,” said the prickly Baxter, “but we ought to have evidence about the clothes.”
The clothes had been left lying in the yard – a black straw bonnet  trimmed with black velvet,  a reddish brown coat and an ulster jacket with seven large brass buttons, a brown linsey dress which looked new, both a gray woolen and a flannel petticoat, with “Property of Lambeth Workhouse” stenciled on their waistbands, and a pair of stays “in fairly good condition”. Baxter immediately became focused on the stays. The police, concerned that the case was veering off course, sent for the clothing.
While waiting for the missing stays, Inspector Spratling explained he had returned to Buck's Row that evening and examined the pavement up to Brady Street, and down to Baker's Lane, but found no traces of blood, dispelling the possibility Polly Nichols had been killed any where but where her body had been found. And after interviewing the residents in the houses on the south side of Buck's Row, including a woman who was awake and pacing in her kitchen between 3 and 4 that Friday morning, he could find no one who had heard a struggle or a woman crying out. Polly Nichols had been murdered quickly, probably by chocking, and all of the knife wounds had been inflicted after her death. And, in answer to a jury question, Spratling said all the wounds had been inflicted through her clothes.
Slaughter-house worker Henry Tompkins offered nothing new, and he was followed by 40 year old Police Constable Jonas Mizen - badge number 56 “H”, Whitechapel division. With 15 years on the force, he was the “extra” Bobby at the scene, who had been sent to fetch the ambulance cart, and he now explained how and why he arrived there. While rousting drunks and vagrants sleeping on the street around Hanbury Street and Baker's Row – part of his beat - he had been approached by Charles Cross (above), who told him there was a policeman on Buck's Row who had found a woman who was either dead or dead drunk, and who had asked for assistance. Mizen eventually responded, but not very quickly.
Charles Cross, a.k,a Charles Allen Lechmere, then testified he never told PC Mizen another policeman needed him.  Then William Nichols, Polly's estranged husband, testified the failed marriage was entirely Polly’s fault.  Then Emily Holland testified about her conversation with Polly at Whitechapel Road and Osborn Street  And after half a dozen other witnesses testified they had heard and seen nothing on Buck's Row that night, Corner Baxter (above)  got to the witness he wanted to grill – the mentally impaired 53 year old ex-dock worker and Workhouse poverty case, Robert Mann.
By this time the clothing had been brought to the inquest, and Detective Inspector Joseph Helson of Bethel Green division said the stays (above) had been so loosely tied the stab woulds could have been inflicted by just throwing Polly's dress up over her knees, which she or the killer could have done. But Baxter, the firm advocate of procedure, was not to be dissuaded from uncovering the failings of his "lessers". Robert Mann testified his breakfast had been interrupted by the arrival of the body before 5:00 am that Friday morning. He had admitted the the police to the mortuary, and after breakfast had returned with 68 year old James Hatfield, and together they disrobed the body.
Baxter (above) demanded to know, “Had you been told not to touch it?” -  meaning the body. Mann replied simply, “No.” Then he made the mistake of adding, “Inspector Helson was not there.”  Baxter asked, “Did you see Inspector Helson?”  Mann suddenly realized he had said too much, and gave the standard servants' reply “I can't say”.  In other words not yes and not no. Still on the scent, Baxter asked  “I suppose you do not recollect whether the clothes were torn?” Mann responded, “They were not torn or cut.” Baxter gave his wounded prey a little more rope. “You cannot describe where the blood was?” And Mann took it, answering “No sir, I cannot.” Then Mann jumped, asking, “How did you get the clothes off?” Robert Mann realized that somehow he was now caught, but he didn't seem to know what his mistake had been. So he responded simply, “Hatfield cut them off?”
A member of the jury came to Mann's rescue, asking “Was the body undressed in the mortuary or in the yard?” And Mann could now understand what he must have done. The “gentlemen” were worried that a woman, even a dead one, had been naked in public. So he proudly answered, “In the mortuary.” The break gave Coroner Baxter the chance to play the “better man”, when he pointed out to the jury what they must have known from the instant Mann had opened his mouth.  Baxter said, “It appears the mortuary-keeper is subject to fits, and neither his memory nor statements are reliable.” Of course, if that were true, why call him as a witness, except to humiliate him in public?
But Baxter was so determined to re-establish the social order that he then called James Hatfield to the stand next, and asked him, "Who was there?”  Hatfield replied, “Only me and my mate.” Then the old man went on to explain, he first took off Polly's ulster,   “... which I put aside on the ground. We then took the jacket off, and put it in the same place. The outside dress was loose, and we did not cut it. The bands of the petticoats were cut, and I then tore them down with my hand. I tore the chemise down the front. There were no stays.”
Baxter asked who had told them to this, and Hatfield responded, “No one...We did it to have the body ready for the doctor.”  Baxter seemed offended by Hatield's impudence. He demanded, “Who told you the doctor was coming”. The idea that an assistant morgue attendant would have expected a doctor to appear
after the arrival of a murdered woman, did not seem to occur to Coroner Baxter. But even the partially senile Hatield was too smart to fall for that trap.  He said only, “I heard someone speak of it.”  Baxter pressed ahead. “Was any one present whilst you were undressing the body?” Hatfield stepped lightly aside the trap. He answered, “Not as I was aware of.”
You can almost hear the arrogance and sarcasm dripping from the transcript as Baxter then asked the old man, “Having finished, did you make the postmortem examination?” Hatfield explained, “No, the police came.” Baxter missed the joke entirely. Clearly enjoying his own humor, he sneered, “Oh, it was not necessary for you to go on with it! The police came?” “Yes,” said the assistant morgue attendant,
They examined the petticoats, and found the words "Lambeth Workhouse" on the bands.” “It was cut out?”, asked the bureaucrat. “I cut it out,” said the old man. Supremely confident, Baxter asked, “Who told you to do that?” And now Hatfield sprang his own little trap. He answered, “Inspector Helson.”
Now it was Inspector Joseph Helson's chance to rescue the coroner, by pointing out he had arrived at about 6:30 that morning, thus giving a time to Hatfield's story. But Coroner Baxter still tried to salvage his reputation.  He challenged the witness, “Did not you try the stays on in the afternoon to show me how short they were?”  To which Mr. Hatfield gracefully replied, “I forgot it.”  Baxter was now able to tell the jury, “He admits his memory is bad.” Hatfield admitted that, and Baxter took his little victory and closed by saying, “We cannot do more.”
After Mary Ann Monk testified that at about 7:00 pm on Friday 31 August, 1888 she had seen Polly entering a pub on New Kent Road, indicating that like Martha Tabem, Polly Nichols had been pub hopping, Then the inquest was adjourned until 17 September, to give the police two more weeks to gather evidence, and for Coroner Baxter's bruised ego time to recover. But it also gave Bloody Jack time to recover as well.
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Sunday, April 03, 2016

THE FIRST DAY Chapter Eleven

I think the cow was as much a victim of panic as the humans. On Wednesday morning, 24 June, 1863, about 3 miles west of the farming hamlet of New Oxford, near the bridge over Bush Run, the unnamed bovine bolted in front of a speeding locomotive going about 15 miles an hour.
Although tragically, Bossie was killed, no humans were seriously injured. But the collision did throw the small utility engine (above) off the tracks, forcing the impatient Colonel William W. Jennings to walk to his destination. His mission was urgent. Time was running out, according to Major Granville Owen Haller, 7thUnited States infantry regular army, who, with less than 100 volunteer cavalry troopers, was praying for Jennings arrival in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
William Wesley Jennings had gone to work as a mold maker in his father's Harrisburg iron foundry when he was 15 years old. By the age of 22 he was running the place, active in Republican politics and the Feemasons. He'd been elected a lieutenant in the 3 month volunteers who had rushed to defend Washington during the first summer of the civil war.  Two summers later, when the rebel Army of Northern Virginia threatened again, Jennings had volunteered again, helping raise and drill the 26th Emergency Volunteer Regiment of 700 - mostly students, middle aged mechanics, lawyers and farm hands. On Tuesday, 23 June, 1863, the Governor ordered Jennings to take his barely trained men by rail to Gettysburg, and consult there with Major Haller. It was the next day that bossy threw herself across his tracks, 35 west of Harrisburg, and derailed his schedule.
Setting out on foot from the wreck site, Jennings took Company A with him mostly because its' 83 members were all from Gettysburg. It took the Colonel most of Thursday to cover the 12 miles, arriving in Gettysburg (above) just before dusk .
Meanwhile, help for the rest of the stranded regiment had arrived from Hanover Junction. The steam engine was remounted on the tracks, and at 9 on the morning of Friday, 26 June, the rest of the regiment arrived at the 3 year old Gettysburg station (above). Ominously, as soon as the regiment had disembarked, the train backed out of the station and retreated all the way back to Harrisburg, proving it was more valuable than the men.
Meeting in the Eagle Hotel (above), on the central square - "the diamond" -  of Gettysburg,  the 43 year old Major Haller, still weak from the fever he had contracted a year ago in Virginia, “suggested” the 25 year old Colonel Jennings entrench his men along Marsh Creek,  just to the west of Herr Ridge, about 3 miles outside of Gettysburg, astride the Chambersburg Pike. Jennings protested, but the Major insisted. Harrisbug had to know if the rebel army had turned at Gettysburg, and in what strength.
Gettysburg (above) - just 10 miles north of the Maryland border - had only 2,400 residents, and just 450 buildings – including six hotels and taverns, and 7 churches  But the town was important because of the roads that radiated like the hands of a clock from the town's "diamond" central square. 
At nine o'clock,  running 8 miles to the west  alongside an unfinished railroad cut was  the Chambersburg turnpike (above)  which crossed Willoughby Run and Marsh Creek before climbing uphill to...
Cashtown (above) - not a town but a roadside inn and store,  whose owner was famous for demanding cash. It sat at the eastern foot of...
“Black's Gap” ((above)  through the 1,900 foot high South Mountain – front ridge of the Appalachians. 
From the gap the road led to Chambersburg, which sat astride the Cumberland valley, the north-south route through the interior, and joined with the Shenandoah Valley, south of the Potomac River..
Running out from the square at ten o'clock and climbing over Oak Ridge, was the Mummasburg road, named for the village 10 miles to the north, north-west of Gettysburg., where South Mountain began to curve to the east.
At noon was the north bound road that ran just past the northern end of South Mountain before reaching Carlise. From Carlise a road led 25 miles due east to the railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River and the state capital of Harrisburg.
At one o'clock out from the Gettysburg "diamond" was the 25 mile east bound road and the Gettysburg railroad line. Both crossed Rock Creek to New Oxford, then continued to Hanover Junction and then York. And 10 miles east of York was another railroad bridge at Wrightsville over the Susquehanna. At three o'clock was the 12 mile east bound road to the industrial town of Hanover and the Harrisburg to Baltimore road. 
At four o'clock the Baltimore Pike left the "diamond" at the center of Gettysburg (above), heading south east first to Tanytown, Maryland, 20 miles to the south southeast, with Baltimore 45 miles farther and Washington, D.C.just beyond that.
Splitting off from the Baltimore Pike south of town (above),  at seven o'clock,  was the Emmitsburg Road – heading 18 miles to the southwest, with Montery Pass through South Mountain just beyond. Occupy Gettysburg and you were a day's march from Baltimore or Harrisburg. And you were just a day's march from the safety of the Potomac. Capture either Baltimore or Harrisburg and the north might sign a peace. And that was why Major Haller had advised the Governor that the Emergency Militia must be sent to Gettysburg as quickly as possible - and why Haller had ordered Jennings to send his tiny detachment, minus a company held back in Gettysburg, to meet the rebel army.
At about 10:30 that foggy Friday morning, in a cold “drizzling rain” and “meeting refugees at every step”, the reluctant Colonel Jennings marched his 700 men 3 miles west on the Chambersburg Pike, to a farm owned by lawyer Edward McPherson, atop Herr Ridge. Descending the west face of the ridge and approaching the bridge over the meandering Marsh Creek, Jennings sent 80 men across under Captain Warner H. Carnahan as a picket line. He then led the rest of his regiment into the woods north of the pike where they stacked arms, built fires and even pitched tents.
The nervous Jenning's (above) was feeling like a sacrificial lamb. His only support was provided by 33 year old local farmer Robert Bell, who had brought 45 volunteer mounted scouts, each supplied with a new Spencer carbine and a navy Colt pistol by the state. Bell picketed his men in a clover field south of the bridge. Then Colonel Jennings and Captain Bell rode up the next rise, Knoxlyn knoll, to look for rebels. They found them ¾ of a mile away, coming down the slope right toward them.
It was Jenning's nightmare - 150 butternut brown, grey and captured blue clad rebel cavalry - the 35th Virginia “White's Commanches”, named after their commander, 31 year old Elijah Viers “Liege” White (above), "an excitable, impetuous sort of personage, of large build and auburn complexion.” 
Behind them, visible through the dank rain, was a full brigade of 1,500 veteran infantrymen under a "tall, lanky, and straight as a ramrod " Georgia lawyer, the audacious, deeply racist and often wounded General John Brown Gordon. 
One member of the 26th would give voice to Jennings' emotions at the moment - Haller's orders, the man wrote, had sent “raw and comparatively undisciplined troops into the very jaws of the advancing Confederates.” Jennings started to order his aide to warn Major Haller back in Gettysburg, but Captain Bell interrupted, telling the Colonel his “supreme necessity” was to save his regiment from capture.
It actually was worse than Captain Bell knew. Gordon's brigade was part of Jubal Early's 5,000 man division. In capturing Cashtown the day earlier - Thursday, 25 June - Brigadier-General Early (above) had also captured two of Bell's scouts, who said Gettysburg was expecting infantry reinforcements. Not sure how strong the federals would be, Early decided to approach the crossroads from two directions. He sent Gordon and White's command directly down the Chambersburg Pike, while he took the bulk of his command - Hay's, Smith's and Hoke's brigades - north to Mummasburg. He then sent General Henry T. Hays and his 1,500 Louisiana Tigers, along with 250 troopers of the 17th Virginia cavalry, under ex-realitor Colonel William Henderson French, to approach Gettysburg down the Mummasburg road. This put French and Hays in the perfect position to cut Jenning's tiny command off from Gettysburg, and capture them all.
Unaware of this, Jennings galloped back across the Marsh Creek bridge, and sharply ordered his men to fall into marching formation. Then, instead of falling directly back on Gettysburg, Jennings enlisted one of the men from Company A, Private Baugher, to slide his regiment out of the rebels' way, heading a mile north, first to the Belmont Road which they followed to the Mummasburg Road. Colonel Jennings left Captain Carnahan's 80 pickets, supported by Bell's 40 cavalrymen, along the Chambersburg Pike to cover his own retreat. But he had just failed to do the same for Major Haller and the unsuspecting troops and citizens back in Gettysburg.
At first sight of the militia baring his way, Methodist minister Lt. Harrison Strickler, commander Company E in White's Comanche's, typically ordered his men to charge. According to rebel Captain Frank Myers, White's Comanches “came with barbarian yells and smoking pistols, in such a desperate dash, that the blue-coated troopers wheeled their horses and departed ... without firing a shot.”  All 80 infantry men were captured. Added Myers, “nobody was hurt, if we except one fat militia Captain, who, in his exertion to be first to surrender, managed to get himself run over by one of Company E’s horses, and was bruised somewhat.” It was a triumphal moment for the rebel troopers, and most of them then splashed across the creek and descended upon the abandoned tents left behind by the 26th. The looting delayed them more than the union soldiers had.
In a reverse of Paul Revere's ride, Robert Bell and his irregulars galloped directly back to Gettysburg (above), spreading panic like a virus as they did. The refugees from Chambersburg and Cashtown found the energy to run, to drive their horses to a gallop. It took less than ten minutes for the infection to reach the town..
In Gettysburg itself, at 43-45 Chambersburg road - two blocks and around the corner from the train station -  Hugh Scott, the telegraph operator, saw Ball's men gallop past, heard their cries and saw their terror. He responded as he had prepared to. He ripped the telegraph equipment from its table, threw it in the buggy he had borrowed and whipped the horse down the road toward New Oxford and York.
Captain Ball paused long enough at the Eagle Hotel to inform Major Granville Haller (above) of the collapse of the 26th.. and to infect him with the panic. Haller, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, tried to telegraph Harrisburg, but found the telegraph office empty, the equipment gone. So he threw himself on a horse. He did not stop until he had reached Hanover. He telegraphed the Governor at 8:00 that night. “… Rebels in Gettysburg. Ran our cavalry through town; fired on them; no casualties. Horses worn out. Ordered all troops to York. … Cavalry officers and men did well.” But he had no word of praise for Colonel Jennings or the 26th regiment.
Meanwhile, back along the Mummasburg road, the 26th was wheeling column right, marching eastward toward Gettysburg, when Colonel French's mounted Virginians appeared from the Northwest. With the enemy so close, Jennings had no choice but to throw his Pennsylvanians into a battle line, behind the split rail fences. As French's cavalry approached, the militia fired a volley. A few rebels fell from their saddles, and the cavalry returned fire, but they then fell back. It was obvious the militia were retreating, and Colonel French realized they were going to capture Gettysburg, so why lose any more men?
Colonel Jennings fulfilled his role, slowly leapfrogging his men down the slope toward Gettysburg. As they approached the town he saw the rebel cavalry had beaten him there, and he redirected his men toward Hunterstown, 5 miles north on the Carlise road. The first day of fighting in Gettysburg was almost over. And so far, despite all the shooting, not a single human had been killed.
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