Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, after watching his beloved Nationals foozle their attempted sweep of the Braves (how the hell do you walk the opposing pitcher on four balls in a row?), Robbo found himself a bit too steamed up to go directly to bed.  So he flipped over to the History Channel for a little bit just to see what was going on.


The first show, of which I caught about the last twenty minutes or so, was about Custer and Little Big Horn.   The program was all about the forensic work that has gone in to trying to figure out the actual positions of the men involved in the fighting by means of locating and identifying spent shells and slugs and other bits of flotsam and jetsam.  Apparently, a pretty clear picture of the details of battle is being built up, right down to the tracking of individual paths and firing positions.  The thing that at first puzzled and then downright irritated me, though, was an insistent theme that this research was “exploding the myth” of “Custer’s Last Stand”.  Now as I say, I didn’t see the beginning of the show, but I have to ask:  What myth?  The evidence I saw pretty much supported what I had understood to have happened already from various books on the topic – that after Custer blundered across a far larger and more well-organized enemy than he had anticipated and tried to beat a retreat, his small force was gradually eaten up as it struggled spun out across Greasy Grass attempting to reach some high ground cover to the north.   Does anybody really still believe the old idea of a solid ring of heroically determined dismantled cavalry all dying together under the Sioux assault?  Did anyone to begin with?  The whole tone of the program seemed to be that this was the Big Lie that has been foisted on us all these years and is only now being torn down by fearless Truth Tellers.  Hmmph.  I knew Custer had blonde hair, but I didn’t know the rest of him was made out of straw.

The second show was about Gettysburg, and specifically about Pickett’s Charge.   It started off with the premise that the Union center was on the verge of collapse and that the Charge came within a hair’s-breadth of success.  This so inflamed me that I turned the teevee off in utter disgust.  I invite my fellow port swillers to read Earl Hess’s Pickett’s Charge: The Last Attack At Gettysburg, which painstakingly, almost painfully, tracks the movements of both Confederate and Union units on the third day.  The truth of the matter is that, bar complete and irrational panic on the part of the Federals, the thing wasn’t and never would have been even close.   The three Confederate divisions that went in had virtually zero artillery support after the initial bombardment, and there seemed to be no plan for any coordinated troop movements on the wings either.  On the other hand, the Federals were able to flood the zone both in front and on the flanks.  Granted, Armistead got to the wall, but it’s not enough to just reach a position, however romantic a picture it makes.  You’ve got to be able to take it and hold it with sufficient force, and the Confederates simply couldn’t handle the massive Federal reinforcements coming up.  Game over.   But again, I suppose that doesn’t make very compelling teevee.

Feh.  Granted that Robbo was in a pretty jaundiced mood after the game to begin with, but he was pretty appalled at the quality of the stuff being served up as “history” here.

UPDATE:  Speaking of Little Big Horn, even with changes in the historickal narrative swirling all about, I am at least glad that one piece of trivia lodged into Robbo’s brain at a tender age (thank yew, Disney!) is true:  That the only known survivor of the battle on the U.S. Cavalry’s side was Captain Keogh’s horse Comanche:

Headquarters Seventh United States Cavalry, Fort A. Lincoln, D. T., April 10th, 1878. General Orders No. 7.

(1.) The horse known as ‘Comanche,’ being the only living representative of the bloody tragedy of the Little Big Horn, June 25th, 1876, his kind treatment and comfort shall be a matter of special pride and solicitude on the part of every member of the Seventh Cavalry to the end that his life be preserved to the utmost limit. Wounded and scarred as he is, his very existence speaks in terms more eloquent than words, of the desperate struggle against overwhelming numbers of the hopeless conflict and the heroic manner in which all went down on that fatal day.

(2.) The commanding officer of Company I will see that a special and comfortable stable is fitted up for him, and he will not be ridden by any person whatsoever, under any circumstances, nor will he be put to any kind of work.

(3.) Hereafter, upon all occasions of ceremony of mounted regimental formation, ‘Comanche,’ saddled, bridled, and draped in mourning, and led by a mounted trooper of Company I, will be paraded with the regiment.

– – By command of Col. Sturgis, E. A. Garlington, First Lieutenant and Adjutant, Seventh Cavalry.