How many whacks does it take to make you see the light?
To make you admit defeat.
How many times can you meet with disaster?
In making the profound decision to seek incessant battling with his enemy, Lee, Grant’s accepted the consequent corollaries of death and destruction.
And starting May5, 1864, Union and Confederate armies suffered casualty totals that dwarfed anything seen before.
And both sides had seen rivers of blood, cf. Shiloh and Gettysburg.
Battle of the Wilderness, May 5 to May 7
Two days after starting out on his grand campaign, Grant’s and Lee’s armies met in a three-day battle.
On the third day of battle, Lee’s army well-entrenched, Lee waited for Grant to attack.
He couldn’t beat Grant’s superior numbers in the open, here he had the positional advantage.
On his part, Grant wanted to face Lee on an open battlefield.
In a surprise move, Grant ordered his men to disengage and withdraw.
But not to retreat North as the Northern armies had done in the past.
But to follow his own strategy of attacking the South’s two most important cities: Richmond and Atlanta, to force Lee to meet him in the open where Grant could take advantage of superior numbers to destroy Lee’s army.
Grant directed his troops around Lee’s army, on the road to Petersburg and Richmond.
The move not only a brilliant military decision but a declaration that the North’s movements would be consonant with Grant’s strategy constant engagement.
And this figurative declaration, the ultimate morale booster, thrilled his men,.
The horrendous losses were justified.
For the first time, Lee must respond to what his opponent is doing rather than the other way around – as it has been since the start of the war.
No longer on the side of the losers, the Army of the Potomac was headed for Richmond.
Grant’s appearance among the troops earned him his first loud cheers from his soldiers.
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, May 8 to 21
Lee knew Grant’s next target and raced and beat Grant to the spot.
Fighting occurred on and off from May 8 through May 21, 1864, as Grant tried various schemes to break the Confederate line.
In the end, the battle was tactically inconclusive, but with almost 32,000 casualties on both sides.
While the North suffered more casualties, the South’s losses in men and materials would, in the long run, be impossible to replenish.
Battle of North Anna, May 23-26.
After two days of skirmishing in which the armies stared at each other from their trenches and barricades, another inconclusive battle ended when Grant ordered another wide movement to the southeast, in the direction of the crossroads at Cold Harbor.
Again, closer to Richmond.
Battle of Cold Harbor, May 31 to June 12
A lopsided victory for the South, their last of the war.
One of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles.
Thousands of Union soldiers were killed or wounded in a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified positions of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army.
By late May 1864, the two main Northern armies continued to advance: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and the Overland Campaign (in which Grant accompanied and directly supervised the Army of the Potomac,) and its commander, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade.
Despite that the North had not won a single battle in the first eight weeks of the Grant’s offensive, and
despite that Northern commanders made hundreds of tactical errors that either lost the battles outright or failed to capitalize on opportunities to win others that resulted in draws, and
despite that the politicking and backbiting that plagued the Army of the Potomac from the beginning of the war still plagued Grant’s army,
by early August both Grant and Lee knew Union victory was inevitable.
Richmond–Petersburg Campaign, June 9, 1864 to March 25, 1865 aka
Siege of Petersburg
Really a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia.
Not a classic military siege wherein the attacking forces encircle and choke the inhabitants.
But nine months of trench warfare.
Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865
On March 29, 1865, the Union Army began an offensive that stretched and ultimately broke the Confederate defenses southwest of Petersburg and cut their supply lines to Petersburg and the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.
Third Battle of Petersburg, April 2, 1865
aka Breakthrough at Petersburg,
Lee ordered the evacuation of Confederate forces from both Petersburg and Richmond on the night of April 2–3 before Grant's army could cut off any escape.
Confederate government leaders also fled west from Richmond that night.
Appomattox Campaign, March 29 – April 9, 1865 in Virginia
As the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign ended, Lee's army was outnumbered and exhausted from a winter of trench warfare over an approximately forty-mile front, constant skirmishing, and widespread disease, hunger and desertion.
Meanwhile, Grant's well-equipped and well-fed army was growing in strength and pursued Lee's fleeing Confederates relentlessly.
Battle of Sailor's Creek, Virginia, April 6, 1865
The Confederate Army suffered a significant defeat, losing 7,700 men killed and captured and an unknown number wounded.
Soon cornered, short of food and supplies and outnumbered, Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox, VA.
“If you can keep your head…”
Today is Monday, June 4, 2018
Good morning, my friends.
This is my fifty-eighth consecutive daily posting.
It’s 3.00am and rather than toss I thought I get the blog out.
Today is going to be cold, close to record June cold, and rainy, buckets.
On TV: “Best Years of Our Lives,” with Fredric March
I’m at my desk.
Dinner last night was some amazing sub-continent Indian food. Thank you, Miland.
Dinner today is the classic Gravy, the meat-based sauce with meatballs, chuck roast, spare ribs, and hot Italian sausage. Recipe to follow.
From Kat, she nineteen:
“sending the link is neater. I like it.”
Web-Meister Responds: thanks, my dear.
Worked on sending link instead of text. Reading is easier on website than email.
In these two chapters of the manuscript, the girls have a meeting with their Guidance Counselor, they go shopping for sneakers, and Dee meets her dream boy. The group walks home together but along the way Dee stops. The hairs on her neck are sticking straight up.
9.00am, Thursday, 6 July, 2017
After cordial introductions, Dee sat in the guest chair across from her BB&N guidance counselor, each of her girlfriends simultaneously meeting with their own counselors. “The most important idea I can convey to you is the high regard in which we at BB&N hold you.”
“Thank you, Ms. Ester. We are looking forward to being active members of the school community.”
Looking at a sheet in front of her, “And yet, Dee, I’d be remiss if I didn’t express my misgivings about your proposed academic schedule. You’ve chosen all AP courses, a difficult workload in itself, and you’re also proposing to take two extra courses as well, Chinese and Astrophysics. The workload you propose is at least unusual; unprecedented, really.”
“I’ve spoken with my course advisor and he made the demands very clear to me. But the workload won’t overwhelm me, and I do need challenge to maintain interest.”
The counselor shook her head and smiled. “I’ll bet you do, my dear. I’ve read over the text you submitted to Tyngsborough High in lieu of attending classes – pretty amazing. But if you have any trouble, please come to me at any time during the year and we’ll drop a class or two without leaving a mark on your record.”
“Thank you, I will.”
“And you’d like to defer out of our three-sports requirement?”
“Yes. I’ll substitute a daily body-building program, plus intensive basketball practice. I’ll be playing on the school team.”
“Have you met our girls’ basketball coach? Do you know of her? Marion Stevens? Quite well-respected.”
“Sorry, I don’t. But I’m sure I’ll meet her. My girlfriends will play for her and I’ll go to the games whenever I can.”
“But you’ll be playing. Mr. Whitney, our Athletic Director, is effusive about the impact you’ll have on the team: playoffs and championships, and all that spirit.”
“Yes, of course, I’ll play. I love basketball. I’ve already been in contact with Coach Bevilacqua.”
“Coach Bevilacqua? He coaches the boys’ basketball team.”
“Yes.” A pause.
“Goodness!” The counselor shook her head. “Boys play much bigger and faster than the girls; and a lot rougher.”
“They’ll need every advantage,” Dee.
Ms. Ester chuckling, leaning back, “Well, I can see you are going to be an adventure. I hope we’re ready for you. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Her hands flat on the desk, Ms. Ester rose saying, “Now what about that tour?”
After rushing back to their apartment and changing into fashionable Newbury St. attire, including skirts, blouses, and low-heel shoes, the girls rushed out of the apartment and nabbed a table for a beat-the-crowd sushi lunch in Sakura-Bana, in Boston’s Financial District, five minutes from their apartment. The conversation dwelt on school issues.
For getting to and from school, the car a no-brainer – leaving the apartment at seven thirty will get them to school plenty early. Going home a bit more raggedy – depending on sports or other school activities. Those waiting for the last to finish her after-school activity will do homework – each day decided on an ad hoc basis.
And food? Breakfast by committee. Ten minutes to prepare eggs, coffee, and rolls for everyone. Lunch? Salads and fruit at school. Dinner a big deal – family time. During the school week they’d eat delivery, ordering on the trip home. Thirty minutes to set up and get themselves comfortable. Dinner at seven, likely, homework afterwards. Friday and Saturday nights offer dinner out options. Part of Saturday and Sunday they’ll prepare for an all-family Sunday dinner – a holiday every week.
They came close to resolving every issue any one of them could dream up. They finished lunch and headed out
During their forty-five-minute walk to Nike town, Laini barraged them with details from a guidebook: “If we’re going to live in Boston, we have a lot of catching up to do.” Perhaps because the day so spectacular, the three endured her running commentary: the Norman B. Leventhal Park at Post Office Square, Boston’s Downtown Crossing, the Boston Common with the Brewer Fountain’s bronzes of Neptune, Roman god of water and sea, Amphitrite, the Greek sea goddess, Acis, the river spirit, and Galatea, the Roman sea nymph, the Tadpole playground, and the Frog Pond.
They crossed Charles Street to the sedate and manicured Public Garden boasting majestic trees and shrubs as well as exquisite flower beds, and pedestrian footpaths that include a suspension bridge traversing the Garden’s enclosed lagoon, itself incessantly crisscrossed by the elegant and popular Swan Boats.
When they got to the heroic equestrian bronze of George Washington, Dee led them on a detour – to the northwest corner of the park and another heroic bronze installation with the inscription: CAST THY BREAD UPON THE WATERS. “I’ve loved this piece since I first saw it in February and I’ve wanted to share it with you ever since.”
They spent five minutes walking around the angel, touching her, and otherwise admiring the installation, officially named “Angel of the Waters,” and continued their way, pledging to return with the mindset to admire the piece. They crossed the A street – Arlington, those Back Bay streets running east to west named alphabetically – turning right, west onto Newbury Street, on their way from A, Arlington, to E, Exeter, where, on the northwest corner of its intersection with Newbury Street, stood Niketown, the building’s sole tenant.
Inside, the building’s bones, including its steel support structure and aluminum ventilation ducts, provided a black, white, and gray background to the vibrant colors of sneakers, sports jackets, more sneakers, sports bras, jerseys, t-shirts, baseball caps, even more sneakers, sweats, and still more sneakers – thousands of square feet of them, displayed on walls and racks throughout an endless series of small rooms crammed onto several floors.
The girls browsed, stopping and commenting on this pair or that, that jacket or this, trying things on, returning them to their hangers or racks. They saw some basketball shoes but none that said “I’m the one.” They strolled the basement level, first floor, and second floor, testing their stamina, until the third floor when they broke for a bathroom session, Laini sitting on a seat in the lobby outside, declaring she’d had enough.
On the way down and out, they each bought a pair of above-the-ankle sneakers, Laini saying, “The heels are killing me. Do you mind if I change into the sneaks?” Four pairs of new sneakers walked out of the sports store, unanimously ready for a pick-me-up, finding the Thinking Cup café after walking just two blocks east, across the D street, Dartmouth, and the C street, Clarendon.
Rejecting the only outside tables available, “No umbrella,” Laini saying, she feeling sun-susceptible, saying, “I don’t know what’s going on with me.”
Dee, “Well, I know that as soon as we get back, Tufts Medical will get a call for an immediate appointment for a complete checkup. You’ve been a little sluggish lately.”
“No. Right. No objection from me. Meanwhile, let’s go in and sit – coffee and chocolate will suit me better than a doctor right now. And air conditioning.”
Inside, they snagged a table by the window, cadged the adjacent table from a compliant patron just leaving anyway, and slid them together. On one side, the tables shared a bench along the wall, chairs completing the setup. Laini took a place on the bench facing into the café, leaving the others to fetch cortados and double-chocolate chip cookies all around. Returning with the cookies and napkins, Lori-Baby sat on the chair opposite Laini, facing the street. Dee, carrying two coffees, took the other chair facing the street, on Lori-Baby’s left, leaving Stella, with the remaining two coffees and the inside bench seat beside Laini, opposite Dee.
Several tables removed, an obnoxiously loud woman bragged to her two friends about the extravagances of her latest trip abroad, her booming voice and mannered gesticulations holding hostage all the café patrons within twenty feet. Lori-Baby deflected the girls’ attention to the sidewalk where a slender, well-dressed woman picked up her toy poodle and tucked the resisting pooch into her large handbag until only the bitch’s ears showed. The woman hoisted the bag over her right shoulder and passed through the building’s exterior door, down the several steps to the café door, opened it and entered the café.
Lori-Baby looking at the scofflaw, “Hey, no dogs allowed. I caught her in the act.”
“Call Lt. Sam,” Stella.
“Citizen’s arrest,” Laini.
Suddenly Dee’s heart stopped, started, stopped, fluttered back to life, and pounded out of control. She gasped for air but forgot how to breathe, gripping the table to stop the vertigo. Out on the sidewalk, peering in the café windows deciding whether he should come into the café, a young, handsome collegiate in jeans, about six-four, slim but solid, carried a large gym bag and sported a worn red t-shirt that read, Kirkland: Where intelligence is just another big word.
Alternating their attention between Dee’s hyperventilation and the cause of it, the girls watched as the hunk held the exterior door for a couple exiting the building, he smiling friendly as they passed. Not privy to Dee’s melting heart, he still waffled, not releasing the open door.
“Yes!” Dee, almost silently, without effect; and then again louder, this second, “Yes” the charm, he stepping inside.
“Dee, unfair! You forced him in, you mind-bender,” Stella.
Dee glanced at Stella, “Quiet, you. Fair in war or love: everything.”
“This poor guy doesn’t stand a chance,” Lori-Baby.
“I don’t give chances,” Dee’s eyes following his entry.
Laini grasped her hand saying, “Dee, you look more beautiful than I’ve ever seen you: perfect weight and shape, tanned, toned, gorgeous, vibrant, poised, and unreservedly charming – Aphrodite at sixteen.”
“Laini, you embarrass me.”
“Listen to her, Dee. Nothing can stop you,” Stella.
“Go get him, girl,” Lori-Baby, gently bumping her shoulder.
Dee’s eyes gobbled him as opened the café door, walked down the six interior steps, and took the place in line immediately behind the dog-lady, she bent over, perusing the display of desserts, salads, and sandwiches, her bony ass and bag with her dog perched on her hips effectively blocking the narrow aisle rigidly defined by the cases on one side and a line of chairs, backs to the aisle, all occupied, on the other.
“He plays basketball,” Laini.
“And he’s good; a regular Larry Bird,” Stella.
“And has no girlfriend,” Lori-Baby.
“If he does, I hope she takes disappointment well,” Dee.
After examining the display case, he looked up and caught Dee staring at him. He smiled and nodded, Hello. Mortified, she immediately turned her head and engaged Laini in conversation, Laini pretending along, marveling at the flush in Dee’s cheeks.
“He caught me staring. My face that red?”
“Not your eyeballs,” Stella, smiling.
“Who cares?” Laini.
“So hot, Dee. Don’t let him get away,” Lori-Baby.
“I don’t intend to,” Dee softly, head down, examining her cookie until she felt the blush subside, only then stealing a look up from below her eyebrows.
A space opened in the line. Everyone in front of the still-pondering dog-lady moved forward towards the register, Larry Bird patiently waiting his turn. Loud woman publicly announced that she wanted a cup of white tea, rose to get it, and spotting the gap in the line, shouldered her way past the compliant Bird, pausing at the adamant dog-lady blockade.
By now, doggie had maneuvered herself to a hind-leg stand, her forelegs resting heavily on the top edge of the bag, her beady eyes darting maliciously about. The loud-lady turned and, back to the dog-lady, squeezed sideways past, a little off-balance, a lot rude, her stomach pushing against the heads of two of the sitting customers. The lurking wolf -in-her-dreams drew her pathetically thin lips back from her nasty little needles-for-teeth, and, neck craned and eyes on the prize, flash-bit loud-lady’s rear end, penetrating her light dress and underwear, puncturing the canine-prized ass-skin.
Loud-lady jumped erect, knocked a sitting customer’s head, clutched her rear, and screamed. “Oooww! He bit me!”
Dog-lady spun around, her bag missing Larry Bird, banging biting-dog into the display case instead, retorting, “She most certainly did not.”
Loud-lady, also turned around, facing the dog-lady contradicting, “He most certainly did. How dare you! I’m going to call the police and have that rat put to sleep! Look at the sign: dogs not allowed in here.”
Larry Bird, a gentle giant towering over the combatants, looked around with a bemused smile, seeing Dee enjoying his quandary – of course. He turned palms up and hunched his shoulders mouthing, “What can I do?” Dee, twisting from the waist to watch, slowly shook her head, raised her brows, and mimicked Bird’s gestures, palms up and hunched shoulders, shaking her head and mouthing, “Nothing.” He returned her smile, melting her like butter on a hot baked potato.
“Dee, you dog! I’m so jealous,” Stella.
“Look at the hussy,” Lori-Baby, shoulder-bumping Dee again.
“Is this our sweet, innocent, doesn’t-date Dee?” Laini.
“Shut up or I’ll bite you myself,” dog-lady to loud-lady, hoisting her bag more securely on her shoulder, striding past Larry, up the café’s stairs, and out through the doors to the street where she lifted the wolf-wannabe out of the bag, set her on the sidewalk, and secured the human end of the leash. She looked left but turned right, west, in the direction of Niketown with nary a glance back.
Dog-lady escaping, loud-lady picked up her rant, “Somebody stop her,” appealing to the baristas, rubbing her butt by way of explanation. But the giggling young servers behind the counter, otherwise occupied, paid her no heed, she then looking to Larry who blanked, his mouth forming words that never came. Loud lady again, “Well, someone better call the police.”
Emily, the store manager, to the bit-lady, “You may use my cell, if you’d like.”
Loud lady saying, “Silly girl. Why would I need your cell? I have my Apple 7 right here,” saying, “Oh, silly girl, just get me a cup of white tea.”
“We have three choices…”
“I don’t care. Just a plain cup of white tea.” With a final look of disgust at line-cut Larry, she dug out her credit card, receiving in exchange a bathtub-sized cup of tea, carrying it back to her table, this adventure ostensibly ending less fortuitously than her recent trip abroad.
As Dee watched Larry prep his medium-sized coffee and muffin at the condiment table at the rear of the café, the couple at the table next to theirs got up to go; and when Larry, refreshments in hand, turned to find a table, he saw Dee standing, waving him over, although he not hearing her say, “Stella, I want the bench. Take my chair. And hide that chair somewhere.”
“Dee, you got the balls. You owe me,” Stella doing as instructed, getting back to Dee’s former seat before their guest.
When he reached the table, no free-standing chair, Dee pointed to the space on the bench beside her. Shaking his head and smiling, he set down his double-espresso and chocolate mousse cake and slid in on the bench beside Dee, the chair opposite in hiding.
“Quite an adventure,” she smiled.
“Ha! I had no idea what to do.”
“What could you do? You got out of it as well as you could.”
“Yeah, well still, you know, you feel a little stupid. I’m at home crashing big bodies on the basketball court, you know? But caught between two angry ladies…” his shaking head and chagrined expression finishing the thought.
“You play?” Dee.
“Yeah, college. I’m not good enough for a Big Ten school, but I do alright among the lesser lights.”
“Power forward. What did you get from Niketown?” pointing to the bag.
“We just bought some everyday sneakers. We were looking for basketball shoes; we all play high school. Juniors, all of us.”
“What position do you play?”
“Lori-Baby and I both play point,” Dee indicating her friend.
“Yeah, but Dee plays for the boys’ team,” Laini squeezing Dee’s arm. “Laini,” pointing to herself, “And Stella. And you?”
“Phillip,” and to Dee, “You play on the boys’ team?”
“I never heard of that. You’re that good?”
“I am; but in dire need of practice. Up to a little one-on-one? You can see for yourself. I have permission to use the gym at school if you’d like to work out.”
“Actually, I would.”
“Alright!” She pulled out her phone, called up a “New Contact,” and handed him the phone. “Put in our number.” He did. “I’ll call or text you tonight and we can work out a time.”
“Oh, I work tonight. But give it back. I’ll put in that number, too.”
“Well, I don’t want to…” handing him the phone.
He took it, saying, “Oh, no sweat. My dad owns the restaurant; and we cooks get special privileges anyway,” returning the updated phone.
“I know about special privileges. I get a few of my own. Like the gym. Okay, then. About nine?”
Dee, “How old are you?”
“Nineteen; a freshman.”
“What’s Kirkland? It’s a great shirt. Funny,” Dee.
“Oh.” He laughed, a little embarrassed, a little proud. “Kirkland is the residence closest to the athletic fields, so it traditionally attracted the athletes. They always being ragged on as dumb jocks, Kirkland adopted the tradition of each year creating a new t-shirt playing up the dumbd theme. Shows we can laugh at ourselves. Not like that anymore – the dorm assignments by lottery now. I got this shirt from an alum.”
“Cool. By the way, we’re sixteen. All of us,” Dee’s finger drawing a circle.
“BB&N. You?” Laini.
“Hey, great school. Not far from us at all – Harvard.”
“Not too shabby yourself,” Lori-Baby.
After another fifteen minutes of banter, Dee, “Time to bail. Which way are you heading?”
“Into the North End. To the restaurant.”
“Do you want some company? We live at Harbor Towers.”
“Wow! Great! Just next door. We’re neighbors.”
The short-lived moment of uncertainty following their café exit ended with Dee taking Phillip’s hand, dragging him for several steps until he got what she wanted.
Phillip, “Your hands are as big as mine.”
“Just my left. Comes in handy.”
“I fight a lot,” both laughing.
Walking abreast behind the couple, her friends talked among themselves pretending to try not to listen to Dee’s conversation: “What kind of a restaurant?...The North End. Dumb. Italian, what else? How old when you started cooking?...Wow! Young. Did you ever get burned or cut?...Goodness. Frightened?” Throughout the conversation, Dee and Phillip looked mostly straight ahead or down at the sidewalk, although from time to time one or the other stole a peek, the look invariably only the briefest glance followed by an embarrassed look-away.
They crossed into the Public Garden, Dee asking Phillip if he had time for the Swan Boats, he complaining, “Not fair,” Dee asking “What not,” he saying, “I don’t think I can ever say ‘No’ to you.”
Dee’s face exploded into an ear-to-ear and she pulled him into a riotous run across the pedestrian suspension bridge to the line for the boats, the girlfriends following, tripping and laughing.
Dee took a seat at the end of the bench, pulling Phillip thigh-to-thigh beside her, the pair holding hands, still avoiding eye-to-eye, the girlfriends sitting two rows back, flagrantly watching. The dock-hands pushed the boat away from the landing, the paddle-man worked the pedals, and the Swan Boat floated noiselessly into the drink, beginning a slow circumscription of the picturesque lagoon. Dee sucked in the enchanting intimacy – the quintessence of the brilliantly manicured park. As they glided under the strollers’ suspension bridge spanning the pond, a pair of swans joined the dozen ducks paddling alongside, the retinue looping lazily around Mallard Island, the Swan Boat serenity a metaphoric contradiction of Dee’s jumbled tumbling feelings of adventure, affection, family, fidelity, fulfillment, future, intimacy, joy, laughter, lifetime, love, openness, pain, partnership, respect, sacrifice, sex, and tears.
Disembarking, Dee stumbled into Phillip, looking directly at him now, smiling, apologizing, taking his hand, resuming the walk home, talking about food, holding each other’s eyes, laughing. The girlfriends happily walked behind. The pack crossed Charles Street, entering the Boston Common on their trek home, taking one of the several pedestrian boulevards, a footpath that took them in a parallel line with the barely visible Parkman Bandstand, perhaps a thousand feet away, of no interest to them today.
The distant base of the bandstand, a fifty-foot diameter granite pedestal, rose twelve feet off the ground and boasted twelve marble columns, the columns connected at their bases by eight-foot lengths of four-foot high ornate wrought-iron railings. Supported by those columns, the cap of the circular, stone-clad gazebo, the dome, housed eighteen spotlights that lit up the terrazzo platform of the open-air pavilion, The classic architectural construct seemed deserted.
And so far out of their way.
And yet, as they passed it, a bone-deep chill stirred the hair on Dee’s head and electrified the hairs on the back of her neck, she stopping, withdrawing her hand, withdrawing herself, and very slowly, very, very slowly, turning to stare.
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