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 Posted: Fri Aug 8th, 2008 11:26 pm
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Wrap10
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David White wrote: Bad analogy, Lee didn't break the law he made a calculated risk and won, as he usually did. A better analogy would be he and McClellan were walking down a crowded NY street toward each other. Little Mac's eyes were darting side to side and he was manuvering to get out of people's way. Lee decided to barrell on ahead because he knew Little Mac would give way.
What? A bad analogy? And here I thought it was spot-on. I'm crushed. ;)

That's an interesting image about Little Mac and Lee. Sort of like a stare-down at the NY Corral. But here's my problem with it. (You realize of course that I can't let such a wonderful image pass without a contribution. :) ) Little Mac is coming down the street armed with a fully-loaded AK-47, and Lee is carrying a toy gun painted to look like an AK-47. All Mac has to do is pull the trigger - once - and the stare-down is over. And darting eyes or no, he never did step aside. He simply failed to pull the trigger. That's what Lee was gambling on. But here's the real kicker - Lee wasn't there out of necessity. All he had to do was duck down an alley and safety was his. Instead, he elected to march down the middle of the street, unarmed and unprotected, on the chance that the other guy won't actually pull that trigger. If he does, it isn't Lee who will get killed. It's the thousands of men trusting him with their lives who will be killed. And to what purpose?

Some folks might say it was a brilliant move, to walk down that street armed with a toy gun toward an opponent with a fully-loaded automatic rifle. I say he got away with making an incredibly foolish choice.

He ran a red light and no one got hurt. So we call him brilliant. I don't see it.

But my main point is simply this - The fact that Lee escaped unmolested doesn't automatically mean he made the right decision. And I'm not convinced that he did, in fact, elect to remain on the field during the 18th with the intention of bluffing McClellan into inaction once he actually did retreat. I think he stayed there intending to give battle, and expecting that Mac would likely oblige him.

I'll have to go back and do a little re-reading about some of this, but I don't recall coming across anything suggesting that Lee was deliberately trying to bluff McClellan so that he could retreat. As well, does it really make sense to think that Lee felt safer in the presence of the enemy, with an exhausted and battered army, and a rather tenuous escape route, than he did by putting that river between he and his opponent as soon as possible? I just don't see that he did what he did with "safety" in mind. He wasn't still there on the 18th to bluff. He was there to fight. If someone can show conclusive proof to the contrary, I'm all eyes. But it won't change the overall point. It was a rash decision that easily could have cost him his army.

Perry

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