Thursday, November 04, 2004

If they go left, we'll give them rations

From Julia Levy's piece in today's New York Sun:

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who ran against Mr. Kerry in the Democratic primaries, mentioned his thoughts of moving north on Comedy Central Tuesday night. Last night, in an appearance on CNN, he didn't say anything about going to Canada. Rather, he said the Democratic Party must rethink how it pitches itself to the American people.

"We've been moving to the center, and it hasn't worked," he said. Mr. Sharpton, predicting a period of "soul-searching," said members of his party may become more active and liberal as a result of this election.

Some historical perspective, perhaps analogous:

During the first week of September 1864, after bloody fighting on the outskirts of Atlanta, Confederate major general John Bell Hood abandoned the city to Union armies under major general William Tecumseh Sherman.

Despite Atlanta's strategic and symbolic significance, Hood was compelled to evacuate for reasons of military necessity: he was outnumbered; he was outflanked; and his army's morale was poor.

But then, rather than dogging Sherman and interfering with the Union armies' movements, Hood disengaged and marched his army to the northwest, destroying the Union supply and communication lines as he went. And while that maneuver made some military sense on logistical grounds, the rest of Hood's plan was sheer madness.

Hood's so-called "plan," such as it was, demanded this sequence of events: (1) his strike into Tennessee and northward would capture sufficient supplies and enlist enough volunteers; (2) to allow him to advance into Kentucky; (3) where he might turn and destroy Sherman's army, which no doubt would trail in breathless pursuit; (4) after which he could turn north again and cross the Ohio River to take the war onto northern soil.

In essence, Hood intended to invade the North, and its population of more than 20 million, with an army of slightly fewer than forty-five thousand badly-equipped and badly-fed men.

Sherman followed Hood for several weeks, but in mid-October he deduced just what Hood actually had in mind. Sherman was elated ...

"Damn him! If he will go to the Ohio River, I'll give him rations." If Hood wanted to go north, let him. "My business is down south."

Hood's folly stripped the Confederacy of the only sizeable force available to oppose Sherman's celebrated "March to the Sea," which more than any other single campaign broke the South's will to continue the war. Meanwhile, before the year ended Hood had ruined his army fighting in Tennessee. He never reached Kentucky. There never was any reasonable possibility that he would do so.

So ... is Rev. Sharpton accepting campaign contributions?