CHAPTER TWELVE: Just Another Day or Two
Ambros tapped away at the keyboard on the ‘house desktop’ at Rose House. He had the place to himself, and he’d been sitting there when inspiration struck, so he just opened a new document and set to work.
‘Been thinking about this for a while...’
Marie and Kim came in the door; he typed a couple more lines and then leaned back in the ladder-backed chair, stretching until his vertebrae popped.
“Hey, sweetie, whatcha doin’?” said Kim, coming over to embrace him.
Marie blew a kiss and headed to the kitchen with a bag of groceries.
Ambros said, raising his voice to include Marie: “Writing an essay.”
Marie stuck her head out of the kitchen: “About what?”
“How to win the Timeline Wars.”
“Oh,” said Kim, ironically: “So, easy-peasy, huh?”
He shrugged: “The idea is simple. The execution is likely to be complex and difficult. Not to mention very dangerous. I’m working on the Introduction, explaining some historical examples I am going to refer to…”
“Bounce it off of us...” Kim sat down and looked over his shoulder.
“Okay, the idea is old as civilized versions of warfare. Not ‘civilized’ as in polite, but as in capturing cities and castles.”
“Okay. It’s called ‘Strategic Flanking’ or ‘deep flanking’ by some. Related to ‘choosing your ground’ but more to do with mobility...
“Maybe the best way to get it across is with an example, one that has been well-studied ever since Lee blundered into Gettysburg.”
“You think Lee shouldn’t have fought there?” Marie asked.
“Not after the first day. Most critiques of Lee and his subordinates concentrate on tactical matters: they mention that the terrain is not in Lee’s favor, but then go forward as though with different decisions he could have changed the outcome. His underlings failed to capture Cemetery Hill on the first day, and Union troops occupied it; after that, Gettysburg is a losing fight for the Confederates.
“Once he’d seized the town, and looted all of the supplies he could find, Lee should have split. I cannot overemphasize how stupid it was to attack the high ground to the south of Gettysburg. But Lee was intent on destroying the Army of the Potomac, so much so that he seems to have lost all sense of proportion, not to mention forgetting all the lessons he’d learned in previous battles.”
“What kind of loot were they looking for?” asked Marie, ever practical.
Ambros laughed: “Well, food and fodder, of course. But the main thing Pettigrew was looking for was shoes.”
“What?” Kim looked incredulous.
“General Heth sent him to look for shoes. The Confederate armies were chronically short of footgear. A lot of rebel footsoldiers marched and fought their way through the entire war barefoot.