American Colonies Declare Independence

On this day in 1776, in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of a new United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked France’s intervention on behalf of the Americans.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to approve a Virginia motion calling for separation Great Britain. The dramatic words of this resolution were added to the closing of the Declaration of Independence. Two days later, on July 4, the declaration was formally adopted by twelve colonies after minor revision. New York, the 13th colony, approved it on July 19. On August 2, the declaration was signed by Congress delegates. The American War for Independence was on, and it would last for five long years.

So enjoy the fireworks show tonight. But don’t forget where it all began – 240 years ago today.

U.S. Constitution Turns 230

By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority over foreign and domestic commerce. Congress endorsed a plan to draft a new constitution, and on May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. Constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states. On this day in 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth and last necessary vote to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.

The Constitution was put into operation on March 4, 1789. Since then, Congress has considered 11,539 potential amendments, only 33 of which ever came into law. The document has endured the test of time and continues to guide policy and practice in the United Sates.

In light of current debate on such issues as life, foreign policy, the economy, guns, and terrorism, what matters most is not where legislators end up, but where they begin. When you hear that the Constitution is a “living, breathing” document, cringe. That is code for “We can change it according to the whim of the day.” Apart from Scripture, it is hard to find a more inspired document. It serves to protect us and we need to protect it. The next time you hear your favorite politician make a new proposal, ask yourself, “How does this square with the Constitution?” That’s always a good place to start.

American Revolution Begins

At about 5:00 a.m., April 19, 1775, seven hundred British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, marched in Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the area. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and ten others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

Eight years and 25,000 deaths later, the United States of America had won her independence and was a free nation. That is how revolutions happen. They start small and end big. One shot was fired, and the world took notice, 241 years ago today.

When’s the last time you “fired a shot”? Take aim at God’s preferred future for you life. He is speaking, if you’re listening. Too often we shoot before aiming. Let God direct you, and take aim at the revolution He has in front of you. Then take your best shot.

The Rushmore Report: Pearl Harbor – Five Things You Didn’t Know

The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred 75 years ago – on December 7, 1941. The day that “will live in infamy” is remembered by only 2.3 percent of today’s population. Of the 16 million American soldiers who served in WWII, only 855,000 are still with us. That is just four percent, with 492 dying each day. So this is a good day to reflect. I offer you five facts about the bombing of Pearl Harbor you probably didn’t know.

My dad served in the South Pacific during the War. I still have his Army trunk, uniform, and medals. WWII brings special meaning to me and my family. The proud service of my dad and his dad (WWI) are why I didn’t have to fight in a WWIII. I’ve been to Pearl Harbor. It is a sobering experience. I hope you enjoy the facts below, as we reflect on the ruthless attack that left 2,403 dead and 1,178 injured.

1. Some of the battleships sunk that day were resurrected.

Of the eight battleships that were targeted during the attacks, all but two were eventually repaired and returned to the U.S. Navy’s fleet. The USS West Virginia and the USS California had both sunk completely, but the Navy raised them, repaired them, and reused them.

Furthermore, bullet holes and damages from the attacks can be seen to this day at many of the active military installations on Oahu, including Schofield Barracks. Rather than repair or cover up the damage, the bullet holes serve as a reminder of the lives lost that day and as motivation for our military to never relax.

2. Veterans of the attack can be laid to rest at Pearl Harbor.

Survivors of the attack have the option to join their lost comrades and make Pearl Harbor their final resting place. Crewmembers who served on board the USS Arizona – which experienced the most devastating damage – may choose to have their ashes deposited by divers beneath one of the sunken Arizona’s gun turrets. Roughly 30 Arizona survivors have chosen this option and less than a dozen of the 355 survivors are known to still be alive.

3. The USS Arizona still leaks fuel.

The day before the attack, the USS Arizona took on a full load of fuel – nearly 1.5 million gallons. Much of that fuel helped ignite the explosion and subsequent fires that destroyed the ship, but – amazingly – some of that fuel continues to seep out of the wreckage. According to the History Channel, the Arizona “continues to spill up to nine quarts of oil into the harbor each day and visitors often say it is as if the ship were still bleeding.”

4. Servicemen stationed in Hawaii took care of the memorial during the 2013 government shutdown.

Servicemen stationed in Hawaii treat Pearl Harbor as a living memorial and have been known to rally around it when times are tough. In October, 2013, for instance, when the U.S. government shut down for more than two weeks, no one was around to take care of the memorial site. A spontaneous group of servicemen and their families gathered to tend to the seemingly abandoned site, raking, weeding, and mowing the overgrown grass. Their message, they said, was to all veterans: “We haven’t forgotten about you. We will not forget about you.”

5. Many tourists from Japan come to visit the memorial.

While most school children can tell you that the Japanese were responsible for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, not everyone realizes that the Japanese now visit the memorial in droves. Japan, now one of America’s strongest allies, is the largest source of international tourists to the state of Hawaii. They pay their respects at Pearl Harbor just as Americans do, and ironically, the economic vitality of Hawaii today depends largely on tourism from Japan.

When we think of defining moments in American history, we think of Pearl Harbor. What was once stamped into Americans’ memories is now mostly American history. Amazingly, the time that has lapsed from Pearl Harbor until today is the same as the span of Reconstruction to Pearl Harbor.

I suggest you find a WWII veteran today – though it may not be easy. Tell him thanks for saving a nation and freedom for us all. Then offer a prayer of gratitude for those who suffered and died – 75 years ago.

In all of American history, two words capture the heart of American greatness, birthed from the horror and tragedy of war.

Pearl Harbor.

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

On this day in 1941 – 75 years ago – Japanese warplanes bombed the U.S. naval base at Oahu Island’s Pearl Harbor. Having received intelligence reports of intercepted coded messages from Tokyo to the Japanese ambassador in the United States, the president anticipated Japanese reprisals for his government’s refusal to reverse economic sanctions and embargoes against Japan.

Franklin Roosevelt had remained firm in his demand that the Japanese withdraw from China and French Indochina and renounce its alliance with fascist Germany and Italy. At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, 360 Japanese warplanes attacked Pearl Harbor, followed by 200 aircraft, which decimated the American ships, destroying 180 planes, and killed more than 2,400 men.

In the short term, the Japanese goal of crippling U.S. naval strength in the Pacific, and thereby giving Tokyo free reign to gobble up more of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific in its dream of imperial expansion, was successful. But the war had only just begun.

Only four percent of the veterans of World War II are still with us. We owe them a debt we could never pay. What happened 75 years ago today was devastating. But America did what she always does. She rebounded. As a part of her response, American troops would set up a communications outpost on the South Pacific island of Bougainville. My dad was a part of that action. Sadly, he would be one of only 17 of 300 men in his unit to survive the battle.

This is a day to remember, reflect, and even rejoice. America was down – but not out. May the spirit that carried us from that day, 75 years ago, to victory, be ours again today.

The Rushmore Report: Four Things You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving

We all know the story of Thanksgiving. Or do we? This homegrown American holiday has a rich and little-known history beyond the famous feast of 1621. Here are four surprising stories:

1. We don’t know where the first Thanksgiving was held.

If you could ask a Pilgrim about the three-day celebration with the Wampanoag Indians in Plymouth, Mass., in 1621, which most Americans think of as the first Thanksgiving, he would not have used the word “Thanksgiving.” For the Pilgrims, rather, a day of Thanksgiving was imbued with religious meaning and set aside for prayer and worship.

From the Pilgrims’ point of view, their first “Thanksgiving” took place in July 1623. Governor William Bradford declared a day of Thanksgiving to give thanks for the rain that had ended a drought and saved their harvest. Bradford wrote in his journal that the rain fell “with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God.”

But in 1962, a Virginia state senator objected when President John F. Kennedy mentioned Plymouth as the site of the First Thanksgiving. “America’s First Thanksgiving was actually celebrated in Virginia in 1619,” the Virginian wrote the president, referring to a religious ceremony the English settlers held when they arrived in Berkeley Plantation near Richmond. “Please issue an appropriate correction.”

“You are quite right,” came the reply from JFK’s special assistant, the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. “I can only plead unconquerable New England bias on the part of the White House staff.”

Schlesinger made sure that JFK did not slight Virginia again. In 1963, Kennedy’s Thanksgiving proclamation began: “Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts . . . set aside a time of thanksgiving.” Virginians were pleased to note that their state was named first, followed by the president’s home state of Massachusetts.

2. The Pilgrims likely ate corn instead of cranberries.

If you want to eat what the Pilgrims and Wampanoag ate in the 1600s, put venison, corn, and oysters on your Thanksgiving menu. The venison was provided courtesy of the Wampanoag, who, like every good Thanksgiving guest ever since, brought a contribution to the feast – in this case, five deer.

Turkey may have also been on the table, but unlike today, it was not the centerpiece of the meal. Bradford writes in his Journal that there was a “great store of wild turkey” as well as other fowl at the time of the First Thanksgiving. The early English settlers also ate duck, geese, swan, crane, gulls, and even eagle.

Cranberries grew wild in New England, but if a curious Pilgrim had picked and eaten one, he would not have wanted to eat a second. Cranberries are extremely tart and need sweetening to be palatable. Since sugar was expensive in England, it’s unlikely the Pilgrims had brought any with them on the Mayflower.

3. Not everyone liked the idea of a national Thanksgiving holiday.

It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving as a source of political controversy. But such was the case in 1789, when George Washington called our first Thanksgiving as a nation. In his proclamation, Washington asked Americans to gather on the last Thursday of November to give thanks for the establishment of “a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Some members of Congress objected. The authority to designate a Thanksgiving Day belonged to individual state governors, not the president, they said. Others said Thanksgiving was a “religious matter” and therefore proscribed. Congress had just debated the text of the First Amendment, so the meaning of separation of church and state was fresh in Members’ minds.

Washington – wise in this as in almost every other matter – issued the proclamation, but then “requested” the governors to proclaim his suggested day of Thanksgiving in their states; he did not order them to do so. Thanksgiving was widely celebrated throughout the land.

4. Football quickly became a central part of the holiday.

The modern-day Thanksgiving holiday began in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of national Thanksgiving in the midst of the Civil War. Every subsequent president has followed Lincoln’s example.

Thanksgiving Day football games are almost as old as the holiday itself. The first Thanksgiving Day football game took place in the mid-1870s, when Princeton played Yale in Hoboken, N.J. The Princeton-Yale game was a catalyst for the creation of a popular audience for Thanksgiving Day football, and by the 1890s there were thousands of games being played across the country.

As Thanksgiving football fever swept the nation, many worried that “King Football” had replaced family and gratitude as the true meaning of the day. The Chicago Tribune spoke for many when, in 1896, it asked whether there was too much football and too little thanksgiving on the holiday.

One aspect of the holiday that has stayed the same over the centuries is gratitude. On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans of all religious faiths, and of none, pause to give thanks.

About the Author

Melanie Kirkpatrick is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute. She is a writer-journalist based in Connecticut and New York City. Kirkpatrick is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal.

Election Day

Today is an election day for the ages. But there was another huge election day. It happened 152 years ago today – November 8, 1864. That was the day Abraham Lincoln was elected to a second term. Little did they know how short that term would be.

On November 8, 1864, Northern states overwhelmingly endorsed the leadership and policies of President Lincoln when they elected him once again. With his reelection, any hope for a negotiated settlement with the Confederacy vanished. At this time, Lincoln faced many challenges to his presidency.

The war was now in its fourth year, and many were questioning if the South could ever be fully conquered militarily. Union General Ulysses S. Grant mounted a massive campaign in the spring of that year to finally defeat the Confederate army of General Robert E. Lee, but after sustaining significant losses at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, the Yankees bogged down around Petersburg, Virginia.

Some of the Radical Republicans were unhappy with Lincoln’s conciliatory plan for the reconstruction of the South. Many Notherners had never been happy with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which converted the war from one of reunion to a crusade to destroy slavery. Weariness with the war fueled calls for a compromise with the seceded states. Five months after Lincoln’s reelection, the collapse of the Confederacy was complete.

The lesson of the 1864 election is that elections have consequences. Lincoln’s opponent would have likely signed a peace treaty with the South that would have sealed the permanence of the Confederate States. By this time tomorrow, we will probably know who our next President will be. And this election will have consequences.

There is another lesson from the 1864 election. Memories fade. Can you name the Democratic nominee who lost to Lincoln in 1864? I didn’t think so. His name was George B. McClellan. He was a Union General who would go on to be elected Governor of New Jersey. But he lost his race for the presidency. And today, no one remembers his name.

It’s hard to imagine ever forgetting the names of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. But fast forward to the year 2168. It will have been 152 years since this dreadful election. Perhaps the nation will no longer remember the election of 2016 – or its candidates. One can only hope.


The Rushmore Report: America’s 12 Smartest Presidents

The University of California at Davis has produced a fascinating list. Psychology professor Dean Simonton completed a comprehensive study examining the “intellectual brilliance of our presidents.” When available, IQs were considered. Other traits such as “wise,” “inventive,” and “insightful” went into the mix. Here’s your list – America’s smartest presidents.

12. Franklin D. Roosevelt

With an estimated IQ of 146, Roosevelt attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School. Though diagnosed with polio in 1921, he went on to win the White House in 1932, and then three more times. He is best remembered for the New Deal, a comprehensive economic overhaul.

11. Abraham Lincoln

The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln worked on a farm and split rails for fences while teaching himself to read and write. He had an IQ of 148 and was the only president to have a patent after inventing a device to free steamboats that ran aground.

10. Chester Arthur

The 21st president succeeded James Garfield after he was assassinated in 1881. He had a reported IQ of 148. A graduate of Union College, he practiced law in New York City before being elected Vice President. He distinguished himself as a reformer, overhauling the civil service.

9. James Garfield

Though serving less than one year, Garfield had a major impact. He re-energized the Navy, did away with corruption in the Post Office Department, and appointed several African-Americans to prominent federal positions. He was killed 200 days into office.

8. Theodore Roosevelt

Elected the youngest President to date, the 43-year-old maverick was a graduate of Harvard. Famous for his statement, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” Roosevelt was recognized as a great leader. His IQ was 149.

7. Woodrow Wilson

The leader of the Progressive Movement had an IQ of 152. Wilson served as President of Princeton University before being elected Governor of New Jersey. His famous speech, “14 Points,” is credited for laying the groundwork for the United Nations.

6. Jimmy Carter

Winner of the Noble Peace Prize for his work in advancing human rights around the world, Carter was a graduate of the Naval Academy. His successes as the 39th president include a national energy policy and civil service reform.

5. James Madison

With an estimated IQ of 155, Madison was a graduate of Princeton and a co-author of the Bill of Rights. He served as Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State for eight years before being elected President.

4. Bill Clinton

The 42nd president has an IQ of 156. After graduating from Georgetown, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and earned a law degree from Yale. He was elected Governor of Arkansas five times. As President, he brokered peace in Ireland and the Balkans.

3. John F. Kennedy

With an IQ of 158, Kennedy was a Harvard graduate and member of the U.S. Navy in World War II. He offered one of the most memorable inaugural addresses, saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Under his leadership, the U.S. economy expanded and civil rights legislation was written.

2. Thomas Jefferson

The third President’s estimated IQ was 160. A graduate of William and Mary, Jefferson studied law. Though a poor speaker, he was brilliant. His opposition to a strong centralized government set the template that would separate America from other emerging countries.

1. John Adams

Serving as our second President from 1797 to 1801, after serving as George Washington’s Vice President, Adams had an estimated IQ of 173. He studied law at Harvard and was an early supporter of the movement for U.S. independence from the British. Ambitious and intellectual – if not a little vain – he frequently complained to his wife that the office of Vice President was insignificant. He may be best remembered for his skills in diplomacy, helping to negotiate a peace treaty during the Revolutionary War and avoiding a war with France during his Presidency.


The Tank Turns 101

On this day in 1915, a prototype tank nicknamed Little Willie rolled off the assembly line in England. Little Willie was far from an overnight success. It weighed 14 tons, got stuck in trenches, and crawled over rough terrain at only two miles per hour. However, improvements were made to the original prototype and tanks eventually transformed military battlefields.

The British developed the tank in response to the trench warfare of World War I. In 1914, a British army colonel named Ernest Swinton and William Hankey, secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defense, championed the idea of an armored vehicle with conveyor-belt-like tracks over its wheels that could break through enemy lines and traverse difficult territory.

In the 101 years since, man has upgraded from tanks to arsenals that can take out entire continents. We have invented ways to spend trillions of dollars to kill billions of lives.

It’s called “progress.”

The Rushmore Report: The Man Who Saved the Union

He was a 34-year-old school teacher, but on the hot, humid day of July 2, 1863, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was in the fight of his life. Now a Colonel in the Union Army. Chamberlain stood at the far left edge of a group of 80,000 men strung out in a line across fields and hills, stretching all the way to a little town called Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Earlier that day, a Colonel Vincent had placed Chamberlain and his men of the 20th Maine at the end of that line, saying, “Whatever you do, you can’t let them come through here.”

Chamberlain couldn’t withdraw and he knew it. If the Confederate Army overran them, the rebels would gain the high ground, and the Union army would be quickly defeated. In essence, 80,000 men would be caught from behind on a downhill charge with no protection. To win, the grey clad Confederates would have to come through Chamberlain.

At 2:30 p.m., the first charge came from the 15th and 47th Alabama regiments. They attacked uphill, running as fast as they could and firing at Chamberlain’s men who were stationed behind a rock wall they had thrown up that very morning. The 20th Maine stopped the rebel charge and pushed them back down the slope . . .

Only to face a second and then a third charge.

On the fourth assault, Chamberlain was knocked down by a bullet that hit him dead center – in the belt buckle. Realizing that he wasn’t seriously hurt, the Colonel scrambled to his feet, continuing to fight. Again, they halted the enemy’s charge and again, the rebels retreated down the hill.

At that time in history, battles were fought with artillery and small arms ammunition. The struggles were close, face-to-face affairs. With their fourth charge, the Confederates almost made it to the wall – a thigh high stack of flat rocks that ran almost 110 yards in length.

As they waited for the next charge, Chamberlain felt sorry for his men. He later recalled, “Their leader had no real knowledge of warfare or tactics. I was only a stubborn man and that was my greatest advantage in this fight. I had, deep within me, the inability to do nothing.”

Chamberlain continued, “I knew I may die, but I also knew that I would not die with a bullet in my back. I would not die in retreat. I am, at least, like the apostle Paul who wrote, ‘This one thing I do, I press toward the mark.'”

The attack came again. On this, the fifth charge, the 15th and 47th Alabama broke open the wall and fighting raged on both sides. Without time to reload, the men were swinging their rifles at each other and brawling with fists and knives.

Somehow, the 20th Maine pushed the rebels downhill another time. And at that fifth broken charge, Chamberlain’s younger brother, Tom, appeared with Sergeant Tozier, an old, hard-nosed soldier. Tozier had a thick wad of torn shirt stuck into a hole in his shoulder where he had been wounded.

“No help from the 83rd,” the Sergeant said. “They’re shot to ribbons and all they can do is extend the line a bit. We’re getting murdered on our flank.”

“Can we extend?” Chamberlain asked. “There’s nothing to extend,” Tom answered. “More than half our men are down.”

It was true. Chamberlain’s command had started in Bangor, Maine, six months earlier, with a thousand men. They’d started that morning with 300. Now they were down to 80.

“How are we for ammunition?” the Colonel asked. “We’ve been shooting a lot,” was his brother’s answer. “I know we’ve been shooting a lot,” Chamberlain snapped. “I want to know how we’re holding out. How much ammunition do we have left?” As Tom ran to check, a 12-year-old lookout had climbed a tree. He yelled, “They’re forming up again, Colonel!”

Chamberlain looked up to see the boy pointing down the hill. “They’re forming up right now. And they’ve been reinforced. Sir, there’s a lot more of them this time.”

At that moment, a messenger stumbled into their midst. Out of breath, he said, “Sir! Colonel Chamberlain, sir! Colonel Vincent is dead.”

“Are you sure, soldier?”

“Yes, sir,” he gasped. “He was shot right at the first of the fight. They were firmed up by Weeds Brigade, but now Weeds is dead. They mowed Hazlett’s Battery up top. Hazlett’s dead, too.”

Chamberlain’s brother came running back. “Joshua,” he said, “We’re out! One . . . two rounds per man at the most. Some of the men don’t have anything at all!” Chamberlain turned to a thin man standing on his right. It was First Sergeant Ellis Spear. “Spear,” he ordered, “tell the boys to take the ammunition from the wounded and the dead.”

“We did that last time, sir,” Spear replied. “Maybe we should think about pulling out.”

Chamberlain responded grimly, “We will not be pulling out, Sergeant. Carry out my orders please.”

“Colonel!” Sergeant Tozier spoke up. “We won’t hold them again, sir. you know we won’t!”

“Joshua!” It was his brother. “Here they come! Here they come!”

Chamberlain stepped to the top of the wall in full view, crossing his arms and staring down at the advancing enemy. The 15th and 47th Alabama with their pale, yellow-gray uniforms, now reinforced by a Texas regiment, moved up the hill as their high pitched shriek – the rebel yell – coursed up toward Chamberlain and his men. Sergeant Spear was standing at the Colonel’s feet. Sergeant Tozier, Chamberlain’s brother Tom, and Lieutenant Melcher, the flag beaerer, were huddled below. “Joshua!” his brother said, “Do something!”

“Give an order!”

Chamberlain stood ther for a moment, deep in thought, quickly sorting the situation. “We can’t retreat,” he thought. “We can’t stay here. When I am faced with the choice of doing nothing or doing something, I will always choose to act.” He turned his back on the advancing rebels, looked down at his men, and said, “Fix bayonets!”

At first no one moved. They just stared at him with their mouths open.

“Fix your bayonets now!” he commanded again. “Execute a great right wheel of the entire regiment. Swing the left first. Do it now!”

Lieutenant Melcher spoke first, confused. “Sir,” he asked, “What is a great right wheel?” But the Colonel had already jumped from the wall and was moving to the next group of men. Serteant Tozier answered the question. “He means to charge, son. A great right wheel is an all-out charge.”

Then, turning, the Colonel pointed his sword directly downhill. Facing overwhelming odds, Chamberlain slashed his blade through the air and with a power born of courage and fear, the school teacher from Maine roared, “Charge! Charge! CHARGE!” to his men.

The remaining 80 fighting men lifted their voices to match that of their leader. “Charge! Charge!” they cried while tumbling over the wall into a history about which most people in our country have never heard.

But when the Confederate troops saw Chamberlain, the leader of the opposition, mount the wall, they immediately stopped, unsure as to what was happening. And when the Colonel pointed his sword toward them and commanded his men to charge, they turned and ran. Many threw down their loaded weapons.

The rebels were certain that these were not the same soldiers they had been facing. Surely these men have been reinforced, they thought. A beaten regiment would not charge. In less than five minutes, Chamberlain had his sword on the collarbone of a Confederate captain.

“You, sir, are my prisoner,” he stated. The man turned over a fully loaded Navy Colt revolver and offered it to Chamberlain. “Yes, sir,” he answered, “I am.”

Within five more minutes, that ragged group of 80 men under Chamberlain’s command – without any ammunition – captured over 400 soldiers of the enemy.

It is an amazing story, isn’t it? And absolutely true. But here’s what most people never consider . . .

Historians have determined that had Chamberlain not charged that day, the rebels would have won at Gettysburg. Further, historians tell us, had the rebels won at Gettysburg, the South would have won the war . . . and the war itself would have been over by the end of the summer.

One man saved the Union. His name was Joshua Chamberlain.

About the Author

This is an excerpt from The Butterfly Effect, written by award-winning author Andy Andrews. His other books include The Traveler’s Gift, The Seven Decisions, and How to Kill 11 Million People.