A lesson in choosing our battles

In late June of 1863 famed Confederate General J.E.B Stuart’s cavalry was foraging in the countryside when they bumped into a small unit of Delaware cavalry led by Captain Charles Corbit.

Despite being outrageously outnumbered, Corbit’s cavalry charged down Main Street in Westminster MD, and got clobbered.

Jeb had fared poorly in a recent skirmish at Brandy Station VA, and pride demanded he administer a thrashing. Instead of slapping them like the strategic gnat they were, and moving on with his mission, Stuart chose to take time to beat them senseless. Apparently, that tuckered the Confederates, because they spent the night in Westminster.

The problem was that there were big doings 25 miles away. Jeb’s boss, Robert E. Lee, was counting on him for intelligence on Union troop positions, and the support his cavalry could provide, THAT was his real mission.

By the time Stuart arrived, lack of information influenced Lee to commit to battle on terrain that favored the Yankees . . .near Gettysburg PA.

Stuart’s tardiness was likely a key factor in the Confederate defeat. Choosing which battle to fight can be more important than winning. The site of the skirmish that may have decided the Civil War is now a convenience store, but there IS a plaque.

If he’d done his job, we all might be speaking Southern.

In the current maelstrom we need to choose carefully which battles we fight. We bus folks are miffed that our value and contributions haven’t moved us to the head of the line for federal aid. We make major contributions to society on a daily basis, and heroic ones when needed, but haven’t been accorded the respect we’ve earned.

Now is not the time to fight that battle. We should have dealt with it in the past, and damn sure need to begin slugging it out in the future, but fighting it right now is not going to win friends or influence current events.

At this moment in time virtually every small business in the country that provides a product or service feels they are SPECIAL… and they’re right. My hero today is the 18 year old cashier at the grocery store who makes it possible for me to eat (and maintain my magnificent cuddly physique). The UPS driver who just delivered toilet paper is not far behind.

We need to stifle our frustration and get in line with all the other special folks.

Right now, in this instance, we aren’t needed. If we were, we wouldn’t be asking for help.

Soon we will again be called on to serve, and during catastrophes, serve heroically; but the battle before us is not for respect, it’s for survival. Jeb blew it by picking the wrong fight.

Read the Bus & Motorcoach News article about what Gladys Gillis* has done with her business. She got an undesired head start in this mess and is “Wicked Smaht”.

Get in line and apply for help. See what other operators are doing. Hang in, because sometime soon your survival will be critical for the country.

When the smoke clears, we really do, as an industry, need to deal with our position as the Rodney Dangerfield of transportation, and we should begin thinking about it now.

You guys probably think all this Civil War stuff is because I was there… that is unkind. I went to school at the other end of Main Street in Westminster, saw the Corbit’s Charge plaque a zillion times, but didn’t actually read it until recently.

Captain Corbit lost that tiny battle, but his company’s courage may well have won the war.




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