…It’s Cold Outside

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This past weekend saw horrific weather across the country.  Did you see any of the national news reports that showed cars and tractor-trailer rigs sliding on the roads, smashing into other vehicles?  It was a nightmare.

We used to live in Maine and I remember how it was driving on the icy roads.  If you were coming down an incline toward a stop light, about all you could do was pray that the light wouldn’t turn red because it was almost impossible to stop without skidding and sliding.  It was frightening!

Of course, we don’t have much of that kind of weather here in Georgia (oh, I hope I just didn’t jinx us!).  We had it for a few days last year in the infamous Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse storms.  But so far this year (knock on wood!) we’ve had none of that, though we have had some times where it was well below freezing.

It is important when it is cold to dress appropriately for the weather.  It is an added bonus when you can do so as stylishly as my youngest grand-daughter.  This picture was taken in California in December on a day that was probably in the mid-50’s or low 60’s.  Those Californians are wimps, you know.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1863, Union General Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac began an offensive against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia that quickly bogged down as several days of heavy rain turn the Virginia roads into a muddy quagmire. The campaign was abandoned three days later.

The Union army was still reeling from the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 13, 1862. Burnside’s force suffered more than 13,000 casualties as it assaulted Lee’s troops along hills above Fredericksburg. Lee suffered around 5,000 casualties, making Fredericksburg one of the most one-sided engagements in the Eastern theater of operations. Morale was low among the Yankees that winter.

Now, Burnside sought to raise morale and seize the initiative from Lee. His plan was to swing around Lee’s left flank and draw the Confederates away from their defenses and into the open. Speed was essential to the operation. January had been a dry month to that point, but as soon as the Federals began to move, a drizzle turned into a downpour that lasted for four days. Logistical problems delayed the laying of a pontoon bridge across the Rappahannock River, and a huge traffic jam snarled the army’s progress. In one day, the 5th New York moved only a mile and a half. The roads became unpassable, and conflicting orders caused two corps to march across each other’s paths. Horses, wagons, and cannons were stuck in mud, and the element of surprise was lost. Jeering Confederates taunted the Yankees with shouts and signs that read “Burnside’s Army Stuck in the Mud.”

Burnside tried to lift spirits by issuing liquor to the soldiers on January 22, but this only compounded the problems. Drunken troops began brawling, and entire regiments fought one another. The operation was a complete fiasco, and on January 23 Burnside gave up his attempt to, in his words, “strike a great and mortal blow to the rebellion.” The campaign was considered so disastrous that Burnside was removed as commander of the army on January 25.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The human brain consists of approximately 100 billion neurons (which is as many cells as there are stars in the Milky Way). Each neuron has somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 synapses, equaling about 1 quadrillion synapses. If all the neurons in the human brain were lined up, they would stretch 600 miles, yet they all fit inside the human head! As a comparison, an octopus has 300,000 neurons, a honeybee has 950,000, and a jellyfish has no brain at all.  (Humm…I think I have known some people who may have really been jellyfish!)

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