A top Republican member of the House gathered a group of sympathetic reporters last Thursday to tell his party's side of the shutdown story, which involved an anecdote comparing the GOP to Confederate troops at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Conservative columnist Byron York of the Washington Examiner was among the journalists present, and he recounted the anonymous Congressman's anecdote under the headline "GOP congressman: We stumbled into war over Obamacare":
The congressman began with an anecdote from the Civil War. "I would liken this a little bit to Gettysburg, where a Confederate unit went looking for shoes and stumbled into Union cavalry, and all of a sudden found itself embroiled in battle on a battlefield it didn't intend to be on, and everybody just kept feeding troops into it," the congressman said. "That's basically what's happening now in a political sense. This isn't exactly the fight I think Republicans wanted to have, certainly that the leadership wanted to have, but it's the fight that's here."
Putting aside for a moment the fact that a Republican just compared his party to the Confederacy, this lawmaker's "anecdote" would be even more apt if it were both honest and historically accurate.
While it's true, at least according to Confederate general Henry Heth's memoirs, that Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew was sent to Gettysburg to search for shoes and other supplies, Pettigrew returned to base without engaging the Union troops.
Only after Pettigrew told Heth and Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill about the troop movement did the two generals, under the mistaken impression that only a small force of Pennsylvania militia horsemen stood between them and Gettysburg, order a reconnaissance in force mission for the following morning.