Great Game Previews In History: 21 October 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

Near Leesburg, Virginia on October 21, 1861, Union and Confederate forces clash in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, one of the early engagements of the Civil War.

Maj. Gen. George “Wha?” McClellan sent Brig. Gen. George McCall to see what had been going on down near Leesburg. Several reconnoitering expeditions resulted in very little, as did McClellan’s order that the 1st Minnesota make a “slight demonstration” to draw out the Confederates.

McClellan ordered McCall to return to Langley and, in the meantime, a scouting party from the 15th Massachusetts discovered a stand of trees which they mistook for a Confederate camp, thus they were ordered to take 300 men and attack this stand of trees.


 Coyotes at Predators, 7 PM

Records: Coyotes (2-2-0, 4 points, 6th in Pacific); Predators (3-0-2, 8 points, 1st in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Pekka Rinne earned the shutout and became Nashville’s all-time leader in wins with a 2-0 home victory April 10.

Last 10: Arizona 2-2-0; Nashville 3-0-2

Historical Context: The outcome of attacking a stand of trees is predictable: the trees did not fight back and you’ve got 300 someodd men deployed out of position. This led to a series of increasingly goofy events for the Union (more on that later). What’s not been, predictable, perhaps is Nashville’s stellar start. Sure, a .964 save percentage is probably not sustainable, but James Neal and Craig Smith have yet to get going and the Preds aren’t going to shoot 7 percent all year either. For now, they are driving the play for the most part and are one of two teams in the West without a regulation loss (not so fast, Dallas).

Hurricanes at Jets, 7 PM

Records: Hurricanes (0-2-0, 0 points, 8th in SUDM); Jets (1-4-0, 2 points, 7th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: On March 22 in Winnipeg, the Hurricanes scored three goals in less than three minutes in the second period for a 3-2 win.

Last 10: Carolina 0-2-0; Winnipeg 1-4-0

Historical Context: Talk about hapless, but enough about McClellan. Oh ahahaha. These are the kind of things that happen when a team (or an army) has bad luck: the Massachusetts fellows sent a message back that there was, in fact, no camp and were ordered set up for reconnaissance, as they’d be reinforced by forces led by Senator Edward Dickinson Baker. Baker was ordered to go a certain crossing point, evaluate the situation and either withdraw or push more forces into Virginia. On his way to the river, Baker met the Massachusetts messenger, who told him his unit had engaged the enemy. Baker then rushed to the crossing point without evaluating the availability of boats and ordered a full-scale thrust. Meanwhile, the Jets and Hurricanes are trying to figure out how to cross the river to respectability, but they just may not have enough boats.

Flyers at Blackhawks, 7:30 PM

Records: Flyers (1-2-2, 4 points, 7th in SUDM); Blackhawks (3-0-1, 7 points, 2nd in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Claude Giroux’s OT winner gave the Flyers a 3-2 home win March 18.

Last 10: Philadelphia 1-2-2; Chicago 3-0-1

Historical Context: It took all day for Baker to get everybody across. Meanwhile, the forward-deployed Massachusetts unit engaged in a few skirmishes while the crossing troops remained farther back. Eventually they pulled back to the bluff, their reach exceeding their grasp or whatever.

The fighting began at 3. Baker was killed at 4:30, the first (and, to date, only) sitting U.S. Senator to be killed in battle. And, like clockwork, another Confederate unit arrived just in time to set up the ultimate denouement. Philadelphia is waiting for its reinforcements — its savior blueliner, its first-ever competent goalie — but will it ever come? Meanwhile, Chicago throws one thing after another at you, relentlessly.

Canucks at Stars, 7:30 PM

Records: Canucks (3-1-0, 6 points, 5th in Pacific); Stars (2-1-2, 6 points, 3rd in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: The Stars popped up a 6 on Vancouver in a 6-1 home win March 6.

Last 10: Vancouver 3-1-0; Dallas 2-1-2

Historical Context: After the arrival of the 17th Mississippi, the Confederates were able to break through the weak, ineffectual Union defense and rout them with impunity. Speaking of weak and ineffectual defenses, Dallas is playing tonight.

Panthers at Avalanche, 7 PM Mountain/8 PM Central

Records: Panthers (1-2-2, 4 points, 7th in Flortheast); Avalanche (1-4-1, 3 points, 6th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: In the season’s penultimate game, Colorado got a 4-2 win in British Columbia.

Last 10: Florida 1-2-2; Colorado 1-4-1

Historical Context:  There are numerous misconceptions about Ball’s Bluff — that McClellan was trying to take Leesburg (as if McClellan could come up with such a coherent plan) is the most notable. Numerous records also indicate only 49 Union soldiers were killed, when it was actually 223. Colorado hopes their math improves as the season wears on. The biggest effect of the battle, which wasn’t as devastating a loss as some later ones would be, is that it caused panic in the north and led to the establishment to the controversial Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. A loss to the hapless Panthers might send the Avs into similar panic.