May 4, 1863: James L. Denton Joins a New Regiment

Chancellorsville marked an end to the service of many two-year regiments in the Army of the Potomac. None of them were better known than the 5th New York Infantry, also called “DuryĆ©e’s Zouaves.” In some sense the regiment had never recovered from the events of the previous August at Second Manassas, when it had been overrun by the first wave of James Longstreet’s flank attack on August 30. The terrible losses that day could never quite be made up, although James L. Denton was among the replacements that joined the unit during the ensuing Maryland campaign. The 5th crossed Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam (but did not fight), saw action at Shepherdstown and was on the verge of assaulting Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg (and later covered the Army of the Potomac’s retreat, barely getting back across the Rappahannock).

The regiment had seen a series of changes since late 1862. Continue reading

On Narrative, Turning Points, and Hindsight

I knew that when I put up a post that contained the phrase “turning point” that it would provoke discussion, including conversation about what constitutes a “turning point” and the usefulness of that concept. To illustrate some of my thinking about this subject I take you to last night’s NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal game between the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins and the upstart New York Islanders.

The Penguins entered the series as heavy favorites, and rightly so. Their lineup is sprinkled with superstars, including two of the best forwards in the game today. Aside from John Tavares, the Islanders have some quality forwards and solid puck-moving defensemen, but as a team they are far less experienced that the Penguins, who have retained a number of players from their 2009 Stanley Cup championship roster. Most predictions had the Penguins winning the series in 5 or 6 games, although here and there a few brave scribes offered up scenarios where the Islanders might do some damage.

That, of course, is why they play the games.

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