Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Retreat Day #2 - Communing With Nature

As a part of the i2x retreat I took a nice long run. This served as the perfect opportunity to collect my thoughts, become closer to nature, check out the small town I'm hanging out in, and most importantly, give the hotel cleaning staff a chance to clean our room.

By all accounts, the run was a complete retreat-activity success. I saw more history of the area, including the location where James Rumsey launched his steam boat, and a few more Civil War sites as well. The town couldn't be cuter. I think I've been through the center of it, and as far as I can tell, there's no McDonalds, Starbucks, or a stop light for that matter. Though there is a serious looking 4 way stop. I'll probably have to retract that last statement when I see more of the town, as what city in America doesn't have a Starbucks?

And the lesson from today's retreat? Well, I found a historical plaque with the following written on it (published here, too):

The 118th Pennsylvania enters the Potomac from Maryland.
Harpers Weekly, October 11, 1862.
Now the Union artillery covered a retreat, and most Yankees began to wade back across. But Colonel Charles M. Prevost, commanding the newly formed 118th Pennsylvania Infantry (known as the Corn Exchange Regiment), refused to withdraw until he received orders through the chain of command from his direct superior. Hill's Confederates smashed into the Pennsylvanians just as they were deploying atop the bluffs overlooking the ford. Their first battle was the first chance many of the Pennsylvanians had to discover their Enfield rifles were defective and would not fire. Prevost was wounded trying to steady his men, then other officers led a bayonet charge which promptly failed. With the commander down, defective weapons, and no prospect of success, the regiment broke apart.

The lesson? Always, unit test, and before a big launch, do some exhaustive functional testing. You don't want to find out your rifle isn't going to work while on the battlefield.

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