From June 25th to mid-September, one hundred and sixty years ago, the United States witnessed one of the most dramatic comebacks in our history – eventually culminating in the bloodiest single day in U.S. history on the 17th of September. We are currently commemorating the 160th anniversary of these events during the months of June through September.
The year was 1862, and the U.S. was fighting an insurgency against a confederation of states that had broken away from the union. These were interesting times to be sure, and especially exciting for those within a hundred miles of Washington, D.C. The fight in Virginia was raging, and everyone was anxious for the latest news. President Lincoln and his cabinet ran the show from the White House against Jeff Davis and his Confederate cabinet – just 90 miles down the road in Richmond. Many in the north felt their team would prevail as the United States was sporting a two-to-one numerical advantage on the battlefield and threatening the Confederate capital. The Confederate government was equally concerned and had a train on standby in case things went sideways.
With little time left on the clock for the Confederacy, Stonewall Jackson started a chain of events in the Shenandoah Valley with a string of victories forcing the Lincoln Administration to pull troops from the siege of Richmond to protect Washington. Robert E. Lee assumed the reigns of the defending Confederate Army in Richmond and immediately began attacking the Union Army on the peninsula between the James and York Rivers. The Confederates attacked, forcing seven battles in seven days. The number of casualties during these 7 days surpassed the total number of casualties in the war to date. General McClellan’s Union Army fell back to the safety of gunboat protection and began a time consuming maritime evacuation northward along the Potomac to regroup in the capital region. Bells chimed in the Southern capital. A feeling of euphoria swept through the Confederacy, but General Lee knew it would be just a matter of time before the U.S. forces were back at the gates of Richmond.
The Confederates moved swiftly to put pressure on the remaining Federal army defending Washington while the preponderance of the Union Army was transitioning back to Washington by boat. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Confederates left a small detachment on the peninsula to deceive the U.S. forces and capitalized on their success with one of the most impressive turnabouts in the history of warfare.
General Lee divided his forces and sent Stonewall Jackson’s Corp on an end-around maneuver to get behind the Federal army and smash their logistics hub at Manassas Junction. The tactics of stealth and surprise resulted in the sacking of Union supplies behind their lines. Afterward, Jackson vanished from radar and hid his force along an abandoned railroad cut north of Manassas. The Federal army could not locate him. Meanwhile, Lee followed with General Longstreet’s Corps through Thoroughfare Gap a few days later. Lincoln’s telegraphs alerted the Union Commander, General Pope, that Jackson was lurking in the vicinity, so the Federal army consolidated and moved eastward to defend the capital. Upon learning that Southern reinforcements were within striking distance, Jackson allowed himself to be found, and General Pope stopped to give battle. The Second Battle of Manassas ensued. Jackson and Pope went at it all day and just as General Pope was about to deliver the coup de gras, Confederate General Longstreet’s Corp arrived and exploded into the Federal left flank -sending the U.S. army fleeing into Washington D.C.
Unbelievable! Within the span of a month, the Confederates turned the tables from defending their capital to threatening the Federal capital in Washington, DC. Now, Lee held the initiative. As the architect of these recent victories, Lee sought to exploit the opportunity that the latest string of Confederate victories along the Peninsula and Second Manassas offered. This set the conditions for the bloodiest single-day battle in American history – the battle of Antietam.
Lee understood from the beginning that the South could not win the war but knew the Confederacy’s best hope for independence rested upon the morale of the Northern people. Northern newspapers depicted strong resentment towards the war from the Democratic Party. The Northern people might vote to let the South go if the war proved too costly. With the recent turn around, Southern independence became a real possibility. Confederate military successes were the means to erode morale and create this political climate. The Northern troops were demoralized from recent losses. The fall elections in the North were approaching. England and France stood on the sidelines watching closely, carefully weighing whether they should recognize the Confederacy.
Never before had the stakes been so high.
The Union army was reeling from recent setbacks, but the Confederate Army was thoroughly exhausted from non-stop fighting and prolonged forced marches. Strategically speaking, the South’s next move may have been doomed from the start. Lee wrote the Confederate President, “The army is not properly equipped for an invasion of enemy territory,” He nevertheless understood that this was his only move. He could not fall back to Richmond and regroup as both armies had ravaged all food subsidies in the Virginia countryside. He also knew that the North would not fall for the same tricks twice. Subsequently, he redirected his supply lines from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley through Front Royal and Winchester to conceal them from enemy eyes. Simultaneously, the Confederate army moved from the shadow of Washington into western Maryland (pictured here).
The response was immediate. The telegraph lines hummed from West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania screaming for President Lincoln to do something. The Confederate invasion of Northern soil allowed the Confederates to simultaneously threaten Baltimore, Washington, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln had no choice but to dispatch all available forces to go after the Confederates, whether the Union forces were ready or not. Only a month earlier, the Northern press was reveling in the throes of imminent victory – now terror and anxiety ruled the day.
As the Confederate columns made their way across western Maryland, the Army of the Potomac advanced slowly out of Washington with some 85,000 men of all arms, although nearly 20,000 were raw recruits. No one could have envisioned the horror that awaited in Antietam.
After sparring about at South Mountain and Harpers Ferry, the two great armies converged on the banks of Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg, Maryland. Straggling had reduced Lee’s strength to about 35,000, and McClellan had about 70,000 on hand.
The Battle of Antietam commenced at first light on September 17, 1862. The battle developed into three distinct phases. All shared one common characteristic – it was the bloodiest and most shocking battle the combatants had ever seen. Iconic names like ‘The Cornfield’, ‘Bloody Lane’, and ‘Burnsides Bridge’ have passed into Civil War folklore from this fight. The epic battle ended in high drama when Lee’s right flank began to crumble under an attack by the Union Ninth Corps. Disaster looked eminent for Lee when suddenly Southern forces miraculously arrived from Harpers Ferry at the critical moment and drove the Federals back. Thus ended the epic battle. By sunset, 2,108 Union soldiers were dead, 9,549 wounded, and 753 were missing. Confederate figures gave their losses at 10,291 but provided no reliable statistics regarding the number of wounded and missing. All told, some 23,000 men were casualties; most of them killed or wounded in a single day. The battlefield, wrote one Union officer, was “indescribably horrible.” No other day of the war would surpass Antietam in carnage.
As previously alluded, we are currently commemorating the 160th anniversary of ‘the comeback’ campaign starting on June 25 along the peninsula, through Second Manassas in late August to the horrific conclusion at the battle of Antietam on 17 September.
(Editor’s Note: LanceLot Lynk is a pen-name used by regular contributor John Morgan. Of above graphics, he informed us the final one is a print of a painting attributed to Mark Maritato entitled, “The Heart of Texas – Antietam” depicting the battle in the cornfield.)
Eight tips for a safe holiday season
1. De-ice outdoor steps and walkways
To prevent holiday guests from slipping, falling, and injuring themselves while walking to your front door, clear snow and ice from your walkway, stairs, and porch. Using anti-slip products like sand, road salt, and stair covers is also a good idea.
2. Protect your pets
There are many hazards your pets may be exposed to during the holidays. Beware of candles, decorations, poisonous plants, and human foods that could make them sick. Additionally, keep pets away from the front door during the festivities.
3. Take care of your teeth
Around Christmas, candy canes, cookies, chocolates, and other sweet treats are routinely available. To prevent cavities, maintain a flawless dental hygiene routine. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes and floss daily.
4. Focus on eating a balanced diet
Overeating several days in a row can cause bloating, stomach aches, and fatigue. Opt for healthy and nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains in between decadent holiday meals.
5. Protect your home while you’re away
Break-ins frequently occur during the holiday season. If you plan to leave town for a few days, make sure your home looks lived in while you’re away. Put your lights on timers, keep a vehicle in the driveway and arrange to have your walkway cleared of snow. Additionally, consider installing a security system.
6. Put together a car emergency kit
Before driving to and from holiday celebrations, make sure you put together a car emergency kit with essentials like jumper cables, traction aids, a shovel, and a full jug of windshield washer fluid. Additionally, schedule an inspection with a mechanic to ensure your vehicle can safely handle winter road conditions.
7. Take steps to reduce the risk of a fire
To avoid accidentally starting a house fire during the holiday season, keep all flammable objects away from heat sources. Moreover, ensure your portable fire extinguisher is in good condition and your smoke alarms are working. Never leave lit candles unattended.
8. Be prepared to treat minor ailments
The holiday season can be hectic. To mitigate discomforts caused by overindulging or not getting enough sleep, stock up on over-the-counter products like pain relievers and antacids in advance. This will allow you to enjoy every celebration to the fullest.
What you should know about young caregivers
Not all caregivers are adults. In fact, as many as 1.4 million children in the United States between the ages of eight and 18 are caregivers. Providing support for a sick or disabled family member is a difficult and demanding job. Moreover, if a parent becomes incapacitated, many minors will also shoulder the responsibility of raising their siblings.
They face difficulties
Dealing with the obligations of being a caregiver while attending school can be challenging. Young people often aren’t seen as caregivers, forcing them to face numerous obstacles alone and in silence. Many become physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, making it difficult for them to concentrate in class. Additionally, engaging with their peers can feel overwhelming.
They need support
It’s important to support young caregivers as much as possible. If you know a young person caring for a family member, here are a few things you can do:
• Discuss the situation with their teachers
• Lend a hand with school assignments
• Arrange for them to have help at home
When supported by those around them, young caregivers can feel empowered and avoid burnout.
10 gift ideas for your Christmas exchange
Organizing a gift exchange is a great way to kick off the holidays. However, it can be difficult to buy the perfect gift when you don’t know who will receive it. This is especially true if your group has folks of various ages. Here are a few things that will please most people.
1. An insulated water bottle or coffee mug
2. A locally made spirit, beer, or wine
3. A unisex beanie or scarf in a neutral color
4. Nut-free chocolates
5. A recently released board game
6. A warm, cozy blanket
7. A nice set of wine glasses
8. A set of reusable straws that includes a cleaning brush
9. A sturdy apron with several pockets
10. A wrist or cell phone strap
If necessary, ask the gift exchange participants what they like so you can buy an item related to their common interests.
Five excellent reasons to visit a Christmas market
Every December, Christmas markets start popping up in towns across the country. Here are five great reasons to visit one in your area.
1. To find holiday gifts
Christmas markets are a great place to go if you’re looking for unique items for your friends and family members. You can find an assortment of handmade toys, crafts, baked goods, jewelry, and more.
2. To discover new products
Christmas markets typically gather hundreds of vendors in one place. If you decide to attend, you’re sure to discover new products to try.
3. To support local makers
If you want to support the artisans and producers in your region, visit your nearest Christmas market. By buying locally made goods, you’ll help stimulate your region’s economy.
4. To stock up on needed items
Christmas markets typically feature a wide range of exhibitors, so you won’t have to visit multiple stores to find everything you need for the holidays. You can load up on gourmet foods, handcrafted soaps, unique clothes, Christmas decorations, and much more.
5. To enjoy complimentary entertainment
Christmas markets frequently provide free entertainment. You may be able to enjoy a play, concert, or food tasting. In many cases, children’s activities are also offered. You can even bring the whole family and make a day of it.
This year, find out about the Christmas markets in your area and schedule a time to visit them.
December Celebrity Birthdays!
Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Bette Midler, 77, singer, actress, Paterson, NJ, 1945.
2 – Nelly Furtado, 44, singer, Victoria, BC, Canada, 1978.
3 – Daryl Hannah, 61, actress, Chicago, IL, 1961.
4 – Jay-Z, 53, rapper, and music executive, born Shawn Corey Carter,t Brooklyn, NY, 1969.
5 – Margaret Cho, 54, actress (All-American Girl), comedienne, San Francisco, CA, 1968.
6 – Janine Turner, 60, actress (Northern Exposure), Lincoln, NE, 1962.
7 – C. Thomas Howell, 56, actor, Los Angeles, CA, 1966.
8 – Dominic Monaghan, 46, actor (Lord of the Rings), Berlin, Germany, 1976.
9 – Judi Dench, 88, actress, York, England, 1934.
10 – Melissa Roxburgh, 30, actress (Manifest), Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1992.
11 – Gary Dourdan, 56, actor, Philadelphia, PA, 1966.
12 – Sheila E, 63, singer, born Sheila Escovedo, San Francisco, CA, 1959.
13 – Emma Corrin, 27, actress, Royal Tunbridge Wells, England, 1995.
14 – Vanessa Hudgens, 34, actress (Spring Breakers), Salinas, CA, 1988.
15 – Adam Brody, 43, actor (The O.C.), San Diego, CA, 1979.
16 – Theo James, 38, actor (Divergent), born Theo Taptiklis, Oxford, England, Dec 16, 1984.
17 – Sean Patrick Thomas, 52, actor, Wilmington, DE, 1970.
18 – Billie Eilish, 21, singer, born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird Oâ€™Connell, Los Angeles, CA, 2001.
19 – Kristy Swanson, 53, actress, Mission Viejo, CA, 1969.
20 – Uri Geller, 76, psychic, clairvoyant, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1946.
21 – Kiefer Sutherland, 56, actor, London, England, 1966.
22 – Ralph Fiennes, 60, actor, Suffolk, England, 1962.
23 – Susan Lucci, 73, actress (All My Children), Westchester, NY, 1949.
24 – Louis Tomlinson, 31, singer (One Direction), Louis Austin at Doncaster, England, 1991.
25 – Rachel Keller, 30, actress (Fargo), St. Paul, MN, 1992.
26 – Beth Behrs, 37, actress (Two Broke Girls), Lancaster, PA,1985.
27 – Olivia Cooke, 29, actress, Manchester, England, 1993.
28 – John Legend, 44, singer, born John Stephens, Springfield, OH, 1978.
29 – Iain De Caestecker, 35, actor (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Glasgow, Scotland, 1987.
30 – V, 27, singer (BTS), born Kim Tae-hyung, Daegu, South Korea, 1995.
31 – Tim Matheson, 74, actor (Bonanza), Los Angeles, CA, 1948.
How to become an early childhood educator
If you love working with children and want to contribute to your community, consider becoming an early childhood educator. High school graduates, retirees returning to the workforce, and anyone seeking a new profession may want to pursue this career path. After all, these experts are in demand.
A skilled professional
Early childhood educators are often misunderstood. They’re not babysitters; they’re hard-working, qualified individuals who are responsible for the following:
• Creating educational programs to promote children’s development
• Assessing the abilities, interests, and needs of toddlers
• Preparing various documents, including evaluation reports
• Helping children develop good habits
There are a number of university and college programs you can take to acquire the skills you need to pursue this profession. In some cases, scholar¬ships and work-study programs may be available.