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The ACTUAL hero of Gettysburg never got his credit
Episode 4823rd January 2023 • Talk With History • Scott and Jenn of Walk with History - The History Inspired World Travelers
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Brigadier General Strong Vincent played a KEY ROLE in winning the Battle of Gettysburg. We'll give you one guess who told the now-famous Joshua Chamberlain where to hold the line at Little Round Top.

Yup...(then) Colonel Strong Vincent. Join us as we explore the life and history of a lawyer from Erie, Pennsylvania - turned hero at Gettysburg.

The Life and History of Strong Vincent

Strong Vincent at Little Round Top the Battle of Gettysburg (on location)

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Transcripts

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And they start to fall back and it's Vincent.

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exposes himself, stands up on that Boulder, grabs the writing crop,

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and says, don't give him an inch.

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Boys don't give him an inch

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welcome to Talk With History.

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I'm your host Scott, here with my wife and historian Jen.

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On this podcast, we give you

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insights to our history inspired world travels YouTube channel

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journey, and examine history through deeper conversations with

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the curious, the explorers and the history lovers out there.

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Now, Jen, , I do wanna ask our listeners, if you're watching the live

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stream, please give us a, like . And if you're listening to this on the

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Apple Podcast or Spotify, please give us a review because it really does help

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us grow and it really does help the.

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Jen, why don't you tell us what we are talking about

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tonight on Talk With History?

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We are going to talk about who I consider the unsung hero of

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Gettysburg and that is Strong

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Vincent, so, so strong, Vincent.

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Now this was actually, and you were just reminding me before we started mm-hmm.

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that this was like, like our act real first.

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. It's technically our second video, but it's our first real video

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that we did just for the channel.

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It's

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our first real video for the channel.

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So if you wa watch our YouTube channel Walk With History, our first

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video is Nathan Bedford Forest.

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Right?

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Because we were in Memphis and the statue was there at the time, and I wanted to.

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Inform people who he was and educate people.

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So we repurposed that video.

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This is our first video that we actually went to locations and filmed

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and told you the story, and it's because we lived in Erie, Pennsylvania

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and you had been working, you know, or doing kind of like an internship for your

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graduate program at the Erie Maritime Museum and been learning about Yes.

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A lot more history about the whole Erie

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area.

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Well, what really did it was, I think you had a.

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Enlistment at the Erie Maritime Museum and we left and there was a statue

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in front of the Erie Maritime Museum.

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Yeah.

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And you had left.

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And I was like, who's the statue?

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I'm gonna look up Who's the

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guy?

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It's the statue of a guy.

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He's got like this hero, hero pose.

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He's kind of like one foot up.

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Yes.

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Like almost on like you would see like some on the bow of a ship.

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Yeah.

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But he's got this writing crop.

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What you kinda like, you know what jockeys have when they're, when

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they're racing their horses and then big like lamb.

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Yeah.

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And definitely a soldier.

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He's wearing a, like a uniform and it said Brigadier General Strong, Vincent.

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And I was like, who is this guy?

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And it said, hero of Gettysburg.

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And I'm like, Erie, Pennsylvania has the statue to Strong Vincent here.

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You So I learned all about him and I was blown away.

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So a lot of people will, will hear Gettysburg.

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Mm-hmm.

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and they'll, they'll, they'll hear Hero of Gettysburg.

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So they'll think about Gettysburg, the movie.

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So Chamberlain, 1993

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movie with Jeff Daniels.

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Jeff Daniels, which actually we just watched a little bit about

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him and his family history.

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But you, so we learn about this, but the more you started learning about Strong

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Vincent who was from the Eerie area, the more you were just like, oh my gosh.

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He actually was involved at Gettysburg and so lead us up to Sure.

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How he got the statue.

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Who is, who is strong Vincent.

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Right.

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And what a great.

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Right.

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What a great name.

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Born in Waterford, Pennsylvania, 1837.

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And his father's last name is Vincent, but his mother's maiden name is Strong, so

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that's where he gets his first name from.

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So strong.

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Vincent is his mother's maiden name and then his father's last name, and

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he becomes a lawyer and he's a lawyer.

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In Erie, Pennsylvania, and we go to not only his birthplace,

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but we go to where he practiced law in Erie, and he graduates

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from Harvard College in 1859, and then starts to practice a law.

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And then the war breaks out.

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Yeah.

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And he feels very called to do his duty.

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So he joins the 83rd Pennsylvania, and he's in a couple battles.

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He's in the Battle of Chancellorville.

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He's in Fredericksburg.

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He really takes command at Gettysburg and he's, he gets to Gettysburg on

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July 2nd, like as the battle is already going on, and he's commissioned

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first as a lieutenant colonel.

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He makes Colonel in June of 1862, and then in May of 1863, he takes command.

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I wanted to get this right of the third BRI grade, first division,

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fifth core Army of the Potomac, and that includes the 20th

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Maine, which is, which is Chamberlain, which is very, very, very famous.

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Now, Rome, remind me, right?

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As, as the non-story buff of, of the duo here.

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Mm-hmm.

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was it still kind of back then where because he was educated,

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he already came in as an officer?

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Yes.

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Yes, he came in.

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Okay, so because he was a lawyer, he was an establi, established

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as a lieutenant colonel.

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Mm-hmm.

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. He came in as a lieutenant colonel.

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Yes.

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And then made colonel.

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Okay.

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So, so quick right.

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Commission.

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Sure.

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Educated.

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Right, and and honestly that goes a long way cuz when we talk about what

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he did that was so instrumental in which I believe gets a lot of credit

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that he doesn't get recognized for.

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I think it's because he sees a bigger picture.

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That was incredibly common back then.

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Well that's how Nathan

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Bedford Forres did it too.

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We talk about him and you buy a commission cuz you have to pay for your commission

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That's how it was done.

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. , you have to be educated and then you have to buy your commission.

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Right.

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You know, so you have to kind of pay for your commission.

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You have to be a, a person of means.

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It's usually someone

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educated.

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So, so he came in, educated, right?

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Was mm-hmm.

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someone who was able to see the bigger picture.

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Mm-hmm.

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. Got all the way out to, to

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wanna kind of set the stage a little bit more before we start talking.

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You know, totally about Gettysburg.

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We are in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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If you picture Pennsylvania in your mind, , yeah.

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Think about the top left corner.

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Not too far from Buffalo, New York.

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Think about all the snow up there.

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That's where Erie, Pennsylvania

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is.

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Yeah, it's, so basically Pennsylvania could have access to the lake.

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Yeah.

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And Gettysburg's a lot closer to like the middle southern part of the state.

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It's, yeah.

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In,

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in that direction.

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It's close to State College.

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I, I went to Penn State so it's a little bit to the, to

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the right and south of that.

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So a little bit farther To the corner.

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Yeah.

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To the right southern corner, right in that

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area.

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They get to Gettysburg now, kind of run through.

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Kind of what happened there and what we did, what you did in

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the, the videos, cuz you did a

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couple videos.

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So if you wanna watch both videos on our channel, I do a video from Erie,

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which we follow his life from his birth to where he worked to the, and we'll

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get to the story to end of his life.

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And then I, I do Gettysburg, so I do where he stood and what happened.

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So let's get into what happened.

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Yeah.

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This is what I find so fascinating about Strong Vincent second day.

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He gets to the area where battle is taking place.

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And what has happened is Major General Sickles, who we've talked about

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before, , I, I want to learn so much more about, was it, is it Dan?

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Yeah.

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Daniel Sickles it.

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Daniel Sickles.

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. I wanna do something about Daniel Sickles because we did another podcast.

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We interviewed he's very colorful Civil, civil war, week by week.

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And he talked about Dan Sickles.

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Super interesting character.

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Yeah.

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We'll do it.

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They need to make a movie about this

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guy.

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Yes.

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So he's kind of, we'll move past this.

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He's a man of his own you know, demise, I will say.

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Yeah.

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Because he deviated from his orders.

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Yep.

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And leaves a very instrumental location, unprotected.

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, it's called Little Round Top.

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And if you know anything about Gettysburg, it is a pinnacle point

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in the battle of that second day.

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And it's where a lot of people go to visit because of the terrain.

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And you can see it ha, it's close to Devil's Den right now.

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It's closed for renovations at Gettysburg, but Sickles leaves little

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round top exposed and the chief engineer of the army of the Potomac.

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Brigadier General Warren, who's the statue that's standing there on Little

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Round Top is the one who recognized the tactical importance of this area.

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And so he's trying to find somebody to defend it and he's trying to give orders.

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And what happens is he has an aid.

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So Warren, you know, is giving orders and he has an aide

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Vincent, without consulting his.

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Superior officers decides to take his brigade and go and defend

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little round top and he says, I will take the responsibility and

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I will take my brigade there.

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So he heard,

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he came across, or, or the, an aid.

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The aid came across, mm-hmm.

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, you know, strong Vincent.

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And he asked the aid, Hey, what are you trying to do?

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And he kind of told him, Hey, I'm trying to find somebody to go hold this position.

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Yep.

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And strong Vincent's, like, I got it covered.

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Yep.

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I'll take, I'll take my folks.

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Yep.

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Which includes Chamberlain and all the whole, all the famous stuff.

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So strong.

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Vincent was in charge.

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Of these units.

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Yeah, so he was in charge.

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I wrote them all down.

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20th Main, 44th, New York, a hundred and 40th, New York Infantry, 83rd

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Pennsylvania, and the 16th Michigan.

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So 20th Main, you're gonna know Chamberlain.

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16th, Michigan will also be significant.

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So, The 20th main led by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

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He receives his fame because this is like the left side of the flank.

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This is the far left side of the battle, and the rebels are advancing

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and they see them at Devil's Den.

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And if you know anything about little round top to Devil's

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Den, that's not much space.

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So if he can see them advancing, he's trying to get his people in

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place right as they start to come up.

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Vincent does.

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That's I think another strategic thing is he lines up his men kind of.

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At the spur of the ground.

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So rate where the ground starts to rise higher.

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He doesn't, he doesn't put them at the top.

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He puts 'em at the spur, which is strategically, we know good.

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Because if you fall back, you fall back to high ground.

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Right, right.

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And so, such a smart thing to do because at one point when I talked about the 16th

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of Michigan, they start to get hit a lot.

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Yeah.

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And they start to fall back and it's Vincent.

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exposes himself, stands up on that Boulder, grabs the writing crop, which is

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a gift from his wife who is pregnant at the time and says, don't give him an inch.

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Boys don't give him an inch.

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Yeah.

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And inspires everyone to not fall back.

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But unfortunately Vincent sent is mortally wounded in that moment.

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Yeah.

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And, and in the, the second video, so we talked about kind of our,

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our second video on the channel.

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Was really kind of our first real one, but 35 videos later.

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Yes, we, you get to, we make it to Gettysburg.

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It's so great.

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So we make it to Gettysburg and she actually walks through Devil's Den

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and I'll link to that particular video in the description of this video.

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She walks through Devil's Den, she finds strong Vincent's statue.

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So there's three things.

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If you go to Getty, To honor strong Vincent, I will tell you right now, you

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can go into every gift shop and say, do you have anything for Joshua Chamberlain?

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And they're like, oh, we have this shirt, we have this mug, we have this

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key chain, we have this postcard.

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Do you have anything for strong Vincent?

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No, but we should.

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Yeah.

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That's the response I got from everybody.

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So a lot of the folks there, they know of him and they know what he did.

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Yeah.

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If you're

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a, a historian of Gettysburg, you know, strong Vincent.

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Yeah.

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But he's not revered like Chamberlain is.

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If you go to Gettysburg, there will be statues everywhere to Mark different.

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. Armies and infantries.

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And brigades.

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Yep.

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Where they stood, where they were and each one, some of them are

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really unique and beautiful.

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And the one for the 83rd, Pennsylvania is on that spur where he, where

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Vincent was and put the 83rd.

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Now that statue is to.

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Commemorate all of the 83rd, but it looks like strong Vincent.

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It's made in his likeness.

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Right?

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It doesn't say his name on it, but it has the lamb chops.

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It has the, the writing crop.

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The writing crop.

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It has the hat.

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It's, it's almost like the, the statue at Erie.

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Yep.

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But it's there at Gettysburg.

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Now there's another white marker, a little bit farther back, higher up

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on the slope of little round top that says, this is where Vincent fell.

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It's like a cross and it's like a white marker you can't miss.

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It looks almost like a tombstone.

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. Then if you're close to the top of little round top, there's a boulder that you

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can't see unless you know it's there.

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That's like engraved.

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That's they, it cut into the stone and they did this in 1864.

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And it says, Colonel John Vincent fell here.

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Yeah.

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So there's three things that

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you can find.

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And then he was, was it, is he posthumously promoted, or he was

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promoted just before he died?

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So to Brigadier

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General, commander of the Army of the Potomac major General Mead recommends

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Vincent for promotion to Briga General on the evening of July 2nd.

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So that same day after the battle, after he's injured, after he's taken

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back to it's the, the Bush farm.

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He recommends him for Brido General.

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And so then he's promoted on July 3rd, so Lincoln approves it That's right.

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That next day.

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And he's promoted on July 3rd, and he's commissioned to Brigadier General.

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On his deathbed.

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There is conflicting testimony whether he knew, oh, okay.

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He received the commission.

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I think he knew because he dies five days later.

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I mean, he.

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Just, he

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got shot in the leg or like in the gro

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through the groin.

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Yeah.

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So hit that artery there and that artery there.

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And so he's nursed and he's, he is lucid, he is coherent and he

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is talking until the very end.

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But he just, He lingers for those five days, it must have been just miserable.

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And then at the end when he's passing away, , he's muttering

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the Lord's Prayer as he dies.

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Yeah.

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It's so, so

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it, it was powerful.

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It was really neat to kind of almost go full circle.

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Mm-hmm.

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with strong Vincent.

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Right.

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And.

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One of the things, if you guys follow Jen on Instagram or anywhere and Gettysburg

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comes up, she will bring up Strong

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Vincent's.

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I will.

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Because I don't think a lot of people know him or give him credit.

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And there are people who will acknowledge, oh yeah, he, he's important.

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I'm like, no, no, no, no.

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Without strong Vincent and I don't I really push this.

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An officer taking his agency upon himself to hold a line knowing that this

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is a strategic part that's important.

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We were both officers in the military.

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Yeah.

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And.

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To, to make those determinations on your own.

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I mean, you're taught that and you're taught that there will be moments when

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you're gonna have to decide, but you're also gonna have to defend that decision.

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And he does it.

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He sees it, he knows it.

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He, he sees the, the opening, he sees the vulnerability, he sees the

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confederates coming, and he has a brigade.

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And so he's like, I'm gonna put them all up.

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It's like he gets everyone in position just as they come up.

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And I don't think people realize they do this in the 1993 movie Gettysburg.

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And it's important that he does stress to Chamberlain.

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They show that scene, they show that scene.

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That's a real moment.

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He does stress to Chamberlain.

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You have got to hold the line.

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You are the far left flank of the army, of the Potomac.

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One of the other things that I think we should talk about is there's another

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reason that you like that particular scene of Gettysburg is because the

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actor who plays strong Vincent Yes.

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In Gettysburg is an actor that you like

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Maxwell Caulfield.

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He is in

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Grease two.

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Yeah, he's,

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he's, he's, he's one of the love interests.

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He's the guy.

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He's the guy.

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Yeah.

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He, he's the,

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he's the

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main guy.

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He's the main guy from Grease two.

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So we, we make a joke about that I think in our first, yeah,

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we actually show him in every we song,

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we show the greasy and stuff like that.

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I kind, I kind of cringe when I watched some of our earlier videos.

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I know, yeah.

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Because we were learning quite a, quite

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a bit.

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Yeah.

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Michael Carrington, so you might know Grease two.

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Michelle.

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That's run for early, early movies.

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Yeah.

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But you don't see Maxwell Caulfield a lot.

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He does things here and there.

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Yeah.

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He's not like a, a big a list actor.

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Yeah.

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But when I watched that scene, I'm like, oh my gosh, that's

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Maxwell Caulfield from Grease two.

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Yeah.

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So he plays strong Vincent in the movie, and they do have that moment.

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He's talking to Jeff Daniels and he, who's Joshua Chamberlain, and tells him,

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you know, you, you are the fall of flank.

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You've gotta defend.

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With your death.

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Basically, this is everything.

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And he says

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, Because Chamberlain is a professor.

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Okay.

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It's not because not because Vincent is Vincent's a lawyer.

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But Chamberlain's a

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professor.

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Well, and you have to think about it too, right?

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It's not like this is the first time he's ever two have met.

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No.

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Right.

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Because, and

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or fought.

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He's, he's been

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in, he's been in charge of this unit for quite a long time.

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So strong Vincent.

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Very familiar and proven with, with Chamberlain and Fredericksburg.

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Right.

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And so Chancellorville that these, these guys had already

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been fighting together mm-hmm.

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for, you know, weeks if not months.

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And, and longer than that.

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So these, the men like from Chamberlain and everyone else there trusted Yes.

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And knew.

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Trusted their leader, right.

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Trusted, strong, Vincent to be like, we trust him enough.

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He's been successful enough that we're gonna stay here.

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We're gonna hold this

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line.

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And I think it goes to show too, he, they're holding the line to the extent.

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where they're running out of ammunition and they're fixing bayonets.

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Yeah, I mean, that's, that's not something that you do just because you're like,

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yeah, I think this is a strategic spot.

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This is like, you hold this or we lose it all.

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Yeah,

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exactly.

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And that's, that's exactly what happened.

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They never, the rebels were never able to advance.

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They held the line, and even though strong Vincent is, is injured early

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and brought to the back of the line and the rest of his brigade don't give up.

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They all stand their positions.

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I don't know.

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You know, you can say you were inspired by your leader.

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We talk about George Washington leading from the front a lot.

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Yeah.

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And the inspiration that Vincent gave to his men with, getting up

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there with the writing crop and saying, don't give her an inch boys.

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Don't give her an inch.

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And then getting injured.

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A lot of people might have felt like my.

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Boss, my leader, it just got injured.

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I'm gonna fight for him.

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I'm going to defend him.

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I'm gonna protect him

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. We do visit him in this, his final resting place.

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He's, yeah, he's an Erie.

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Erie.

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He's brought back to

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Erie.

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He's, he's buried in Erie with a bunch.

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He's like a family plot.

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Yeah, it's a

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family plot.

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His wife was pregnant at the time, but she has the little girl, but

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the little girl doesn't live past the age of one cuz of sickness.

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Her name is Blanche.

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She's, he's buried right beside her.

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And then his wife never remar.

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She dies in 1914, so he's buried between the two of them.

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But his grave, if you watch our video, it is.

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Honored.

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Yep.

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It is an honored grave.

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He has a gar, he has the, the, the Grand Army of the Republic Star.

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He has medals on it.

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He had a ton of pennies.

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He,

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he, he was actually, you can tell in the Erie area.

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Right.

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He was one of those famous historical figures Yes.

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That people just knew about.

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Mm-hmm.

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, they learned about kind of what he did

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at, well, there was a high school name, strong Vincent High School.

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That's right.

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That's where every, if you live in eer, epa, you went to

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Strong Vincent High School.

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It is now strong.

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Vincent Middle School.

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, but it was the high school for about 70 years.

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Yeah.

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And now it's the

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middle school.

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I remember we actually when.

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. It's either the first video or second video initially came out.

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People started commenting who had gone to Strong Vincent High School.

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Yes.

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Eventually we got comments from people who had lived in e epa,

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you know, and grown up there and actually attended that high school.

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And, and there were a couple folks who said, Hey, I never knew this much about

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Strong Vincent, thank you so much Yes.

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For making this video.

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I just think he's, I mean, I don't wanna like be crass, but I think he's all.

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Badass.

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And he looks cool.

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If you can look at our videos and look at the pictures.

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He looks like a confident cool guy.

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Yeah, and even there's testimony of how he was, they said he

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was a big gentleman, but quiet.

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I just think more people need to know who he is because really he could have changed

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his decision making, if or lack thereof, could have changed the entire outcome

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of Gettysburg, which could have changed the entire outcome of the Civil War.

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So a lawyer.

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from Erie, Pennsylvania.

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When you think Josh Chamberlain, I want you to think of strong Vincent,

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because Chamberlain survives.

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We always talk about this.

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Yeah.

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Chamberlain survives.

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He gets to tell his story and Vincent doesn't.

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Who knows how much higher he would've went, but.

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I just, I'm so honored to, for him to be our real first video

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and to still tell his story.

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Yeah.

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he's, one of those gems that you unearth and the more you learn about

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this person, the, the, the more inspired this more inspired that you get.

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So as we talk about strong Vincent, you, you think back and there are so

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many heroes throughout history that receive recognition for their heroic.

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in the United States, we look back on our relatively short history compared to other

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countries and nations around the world.

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We talk about larger than life characters like

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George Washington,

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Abraham Lincoln,

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Ulysses S, grant

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General Douglas MacArthur,

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buzz Aldrin.

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I bet you can name a hero across any age of American history but little.

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Do many folks know of the pivotal role..

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That a lawyer from Waterford, Pennsylvania played in the American Civil War.

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This lawyer served in the Army and took initiative to hold the line at Gettysburg.

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No, he didn't charge with anyone with bayonets himself.

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But how could a soldier not be inspired by a colonel rallying

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his troops from the front yelling?

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Don't give him an inch, boys.

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Don't give him an inch..

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Thank you for listening to the Talk with History podcast, and please reach out to

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us at our website, talk with history.com.

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But more importantly, if you know someone that would enjoy this

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particular podcast, shoot 'em a text and tell 'em about Talk with History.

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Because we rely on you, our community to grow, and we appreciate you all every day.

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We'll talk to you next time.

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