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Welcome to Gettysburg (Day One)
Day Two Here Day Three Here submitted by mcjunker to TheMotte [link] [comments]
Gettysburg is by far my favorite battle of all time.
First, it is an all-American battle in an all-American war, and myself being an old school nationalist it carries significance that other battles simply don’t; I may find Austerlitz or Stalingrad nifty, but nobody there was my people.
More, it was an extraordinarily clean fight. At any point, a soldier on either side could hurl down their rifle and grab some sky and be reasonably assured of having their surrender accepted without reservation, and for that matter their captor could rely on their new POWs to trudge back to the rear under light guard in good faith. Even though much of the fighting took place in an urban environment with embedded civilians, only one civilian died in the fighting. Let me tell you, the more military history you read up on, the clearer it is that massacring civilians before, during, and after a rough fight is par for the course. One might even say that butchering unarmed men, women and children of the enemy tribe is the de facto
military objective more than half the time; it might be some weird, half instinctual, proto-game theory going on: “We told them to surrender or else. They didn’t surrender, we won anyway, and now there’s gotta be an ‘or else’ to persuade the next batch of holdouts that we mean business.” In the long run, butchering the first village usually made it morelikely the next three villages would get the message and surrender without a fight, saving the invaders men, materiel, and time. Or perhaps it’s that killing civilians has always been pure bloody-mindedness. But not at Gettysburg. Gettysburg is where the American platonic ideal of soldiers fighting soldiers and leaving the civilians be actually happened.
Another aspect to the battle that fascinates me is how utterly unplanned it was. Neither army had intended to fight there, and between the scale of the brawl, the rapidity of developments, the intransigence of their subordinates, and the communications lag, neither the Confederate general Lee nor the Union general Meade had a grip on the situation at all until the second day of the battle, and neither could enact their ideal plans until the third day. It was something of a clusterfuck for both sides, and the course of the battle depended on the initiative and guts of small unit commanders with little idea of what the big picture was.
Gettysburg tends to be remembered as the turning point in the war, when it stopped being a gallant passage at arms between roughly equal powers and started being a slow, painful inevitable grind towards Union victory. This is not exactly accurate; only with years of hindsight could anybody construct a narrative that framed this fight as the turning point, for at the time Gettysburg was seen as just another grisly slaughter yard in a long series of them. Still, between this fight and the conquest of Vicksburg out west, this does appear in hindsight to be the high watermark in terms of Confederate progress towards successful seccession. Certainly it was the last time any Confederate army went on the strategic offensive. For diehard secessionists (both during the war and in the years after), this was the last hurrah before the war started being truly hopeless.
It is also, I should mention, a place of spiritual significance for me. Myself being secular humanist with a vaccination against Protestantism from my younger days, I don’t have much in the way of codified religion. But when I was a youngin’ visiting relatives out east, I got to visit the battlefield. I found myself standing in front of a monument on the field on the north end of Herbst Wood (where the right flank of Iron Brigade stood and charged on the first day of the battle). It described how a Michigan regiment of about a thousand men stood on that spot and suffered two thirds casualties over the course of the day. I read the details on the monument, and stared up at the mustachioed rifleman staring defiantly to the west.
Looking left and right, I saw more monuments every fifty yards or so in a straightish line, spreading out to mark where a human line had once stood and bled. And I turned my back on the monuments to face away, and behold, I saw an opposing line of Confederate monuments stretched out horizon to horizon about a hundred yards away. Two lines, violently opposed but unmoving; courage and horror frozen into place forever. And the world there seemed very big, and very grand, and I felt very small and unworthy. The air was at once colder and hotter than any air I’d ever felt. The wind cut through my clothing and reminded me that flesh was mortal but spirit was eternal. This was holy ground, soil consecrated by blood. Shi’ite Muslims have Karbala. Catholics have the Road to Calvary. Australian aboriginals have Uluru. I have Gettysburg.
A brief note- I will be including maps periodically to show the progression of the fighting. These maps must be taken with a grain or three of salt. They are intended to show relations between the armies and the terrain, not to mark the exact positions or dispositions of the units, nor to show an exact proportion of numbers involved. This is because I am not an expert mapmaker, and I thank you in advance for your understanding. First, a map of the northern part of the battlefield.
Note how many roads lead there, and note the high ground of Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill to the south of the town.
The Battle of Gettysburg happened because Lee needed to go on the offensive, and Lee needed to go on the offensive because of the big picture. I shall cover the broad outline just so the significance doesn’t pass anybody by.
The Confederacy in the Spring of 1863 was in a terrible dilemma. The leadership had two urgent problems, either one of which could (if unaddressed) destroy their enterprise, and to make things worse they didn’t have the resources to solve either of them alone without a miracle.
One, the Union was fixing to shove yet another army down Richmond’s throat. Two years of failed invasions into Virginia had been brutal to both sides, but the North had immense reserves of cash, food, industrial output, and manpower with which to replenish themselves, and the South simply didn’t. The Army of Northern Virginia on which every invasion thus far had broken was underarmed, underfed, and undermanned, and if these issues were not fixed then they’d be seeing Union soldiers in the Confederate capitol before Autumn. There had already been a push that year, which Lee had staved off at Chancellorsville. There was plenty of time left before winter for a second attack.
And two, Vicksburg, the railway hub that sat on the Mississippi River, was under dire threat. The Union had already grabbed New Orleans at the south end and pushed north up the river, and had been pushing south down the river since day one of the war, but Vicksburg prevented the whole river from falling in to Union hands. Vicksburg alone let the South shift resources and information from its Western half to its Eastern half. Losing it could be a death blow. The garrison of Vicksburg was also
underarmed, underfed, and undermanned.
The fresh crops taken off the farm and the fresh host of new recruits also taken off the farm were middling at best. Even throwing all the resources they had at either problem and letting the other develop as it would might mean losing on both fronts. Splitting the resources in half to prop up both didn’t seem promising either. Lee, being something of a strategist, developed a third option. There was no point (he reasoned) in trying to prop up Vicksburg at this point- it would take weeks to shift reinforcements that far west, and by then it would be midsummer. If the siege lasted that long, either the garrison would fold or disease would rip through the Yankee army and drive it back home, as it had the last two years running. In either scenario, further support would affect nothing. Therefore, he proposed a bold plan- don’t sit around waiting to get hit in the face. Invade north. Take the fight onto their
The more the Confederate leadership considered it, the better it sounded. Northern land hadn’t been ravaged like Virginia had- it would be easy to live off of the enemy’s food for once, thus lessening the headache of their constant supply problems. It was also an election year, and the anti-war Democrats were raging at the ocean of blood and gold being wasted on bringing States back into the fold who very clearly wanted to go their own way. One good, solid victory on Northern soil could tip the balance, drive home the point that that war was unwinnable. Get the Black Republican warmonger Lincoln kicked out of the White House, get a reasonable Democrat in, and next year they just might get a negotiated peace that would lead in time to true and recognized independence.
To which end-
Lee snaked his newly reinforced army of about 75,000 men up through the Shenandoah Valley, using the mountain range to mask his movements instead of using to well-worn direct route that the Union was camped on. He would end up north
of the bulk of the Army of the Potomac, simultaneously threatening Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, which for a guy trying to score a symbolic victory to discourage the enemy voters put him in a pretty nice spot.
Lincoln freaked out, told Hooker and his Army of the Potomac to go out and beat Lee, to utterly destroy his army, and also not leave any weak point undefended, which are just the kind of orders one enjoys receiving. Hooker, having a bit of an ego and a poor history of getting his ass kicked by Lee, got into a feud with Lincoln’s advisors and impulsively offered his resignation as Commander of the Army of the Potomac following some stupid spat with the bean counters back in Washington. Lincoln called his bluff and fired him three days before the battle, putting General Meade in charge of the whole damn army with almost no prep time.
I should cut the narrative here to cast moral aspersions right quick. The Union were the good guys, and the Confederates were the villains. That said, the North made for really terrible heroes, and the South had more than its fair share of virtues. This was not a grand crusade of freedom-loving Yankees tearing down the moral abomination of human bondage. This was a brutal, no holds barred death struggle between the efficient new urban Industrial Revolution and the rural Cavalier latifundias
. Only a smallish segment of New England Puritans and bleeding heart Quakers hated slavery on moral grounds- the rest of the North either hated it on financial grounds, didn’t give a fuck one way or another, or were actively supporting racial slavery. And on the flip side, most Southerners who fought in the war perceived quite accurately that outsiders were coming into their world to demand submission, and had decided to give these invaders the William Wallace treatment. This is a normal and admirable response that every healthy society should have in its toolbox, and in my not-even-slightly humble opinion it is a damn shame that so many people endured so much agony in support of so un-American a cause.
For you see, when Lee’s army reached Pennsylvania, they kidnapped every black person they could find, free or not, and sent them all south in chains. There was no attempt to ascertain their status by some legal due process, no splitting of hairs. The bare skeleton of Confederate ideology, the great Truth that would have snuffed out by continued political loyalty to the Union, had been that all men were not created equal. To be more precise, men had white skin, and anyone with black skin was not a man and did not have the rights of man. As such, anyone with black skin was to be sold into slavery and threatened with torture and death if they refused to labor in the cotton fields. The army that invaded the North was, in practice, the biggest slave-hunting gang that had ever set foot on American soil.
The side wearing grey were staunch defenders of a country based on the Ideal of Ethnic Supremacy, and the side wearing blue were fighting for a country based on the Ideal of Equality. There were a million nagging features of material reality in the South and the North that challenged both of these Ideals, but there were no Ideals to challenge these Ideals, save only for each other. We know that this is true, because as the war shifted away from a Federal attempt to rein in wayward states to an all out assault on the institution of slavery, more and more Northerners balked at the idea of dying to set niggers free; men who had fought for years to bring the rebels into the fold again threw down their rifles and went home in disgust after they heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. And as it became clearer that poor whites who never owned slaves were expected to die for plantation owners’ right to stay rich, fewer and fewer Southerners were willing to jump into the meat grinder feet first; many of them
deserted to go home and form Unionist bushwhacker gangs instead. Speaking of the draft, a higher percentage of southerners dodged the Confederate draft than in Vietnam, yet Vietnam is remembered as a deeply unpopular war while the Lost Cause has painted the South as a unified bloc striving as one against the Yankee oppressor.
Also, the Confederacy had a draft imposed upon the states by its federal government. So, yeah, State's Rights. Tell me how that worked out.
To reiterate. Both sides are not the same. We are rooting for the Union. Slavery. Etc.
The two armies surged northward, on parallel tracks with Lee on the west side of the Appalachians and Meade on the east side. Being critically low on recon drones and spy satellites, the only ways to find the enemy army was to send guys out on horseback to physically look at them before riding back, and to talk to locals whether they’d seen anyone wearing the other team’s uniform recently. Clouds of skirmishers, cavalrymen, and small detachments of infantrymen from either side scattered themselves in all directions, straining to catch a glimpse of the other army. The first side to locate the enemy, amass sufficient force, and maneuver against them would probably win, without regard for right or wrong.
———————————————————————— JULY 1st, 1863 Early Morning
General John Buford had a 2,500 strong brigade of cavalrymen patrolling southern Pennsylvania, being one of dozens of detachments sent out to find the enemy army. Using human intelligence from locals in Gettysburg, he learned that there was a column of rebel infantry marching down the Chambersburg Pike.
And indeed there was. Advance scouts from Buford’s brigade made visual contact with a column marching south towards Gettysburg. The ball was now rolling.
The story goes that the Confederates were looking for new shoes and heard that there was a stockpile in Gettysburg. As far as I can tell, this is a baseless legend- inspired by the true fact that the rebel army didn’t have enough shoes, but baseless nonetheless. The three Confederate commanders marching towards Gettysburg (Archer and Davis with a brigade apiece and Heth as division commander coordinating them), were simply doing what their counterpart was doing- reconnaissance in force, hoping to develop a lead for the rest of the army to follow. 7,000 infantry under Archer and Davis were about to pick a fight with 2,500 cavalrymen under Buford. The currents of this morning fight would provide the grooves for the next three days to follow.
Buford’s men fought as dragoons; the horse let you scoot around to where you need to go, but you got off it and fought on foot. They Union cavalry broke into tiny little four man teams to bloody the approaching Confederates’ noses. The terrain was a bushwhacker’s paradise- plenty of rocks and trees to hide behind, and plenty of low, rolling hills to speed off behind to break line of sight. One man would hold the horses while the other three crouch-ran forward under cover to pop off rounds into the enemy column from the sides of the road. When the enemy infantry redeployed from a fast moving but harmless column formation into a slow moving but dangerous line, the three shooters would run back to their buddy to mount up and retreat to a new position.
The cavalrymen were outnumbered nearly three to one, and their carbines had less range and power than the rebel rifles; then again, the terrain was working for them and their breechloading carbines could shoot much faster than the enemy’s muzzleloading long rifles. It was very close to being an fair fight, as long as the cavalry could stay mobile and keep their distance.
Buford and Heth both had unclear, contradictory orders- “Push forward aggressively to locate the enemy, but do not enter into a general engagement until we know what we’re up against.” It was an order that must have made sense in the tent when Lee and Meade sent their own versions off. You wouldn’t want to force a battle until you knew the enemy’s location and disposition and the terrain you were going to be standing on, any more than you’d want bet it all on a poker hand before looking at your cards. But to the guys on the front line, it meant “charge forward, but do not charge forward. Attack, but do not engage. Show some initiative, but don’t pick a real fight.” Heth decided they were up against a skeleton crew of skirmishers, and he had orders to check out Gettysburg. He send riders back with a quick report and a request for reinforcements. Buford decided that if the whole damn rebel army was heading his way, he needed to delay their advance for as many hours as he could to give the rest of the Union army time to get to Gettysburg- the high ground south of the town looked like ideal terrain to fight from and he wanted his buddies to get there before the rebels. He too sent riders back with calls for help.
And meanwhile, the murderous, hazardous stalking of the rebel column continued as it trudged towards Gettysburg. Meanwhile, in the Rear with the Gear
Imagine running a marathon- 26 miles and a bit from start to finish. That’s how spread out a Civil War army is, from vanguard to rear guard. You can’t really concentrate 75,000-100,000 people together that closely. Disease starts killing people off really fast, feeding everyone is a headache, and if you have to march out, the lead element will march all day before stopping for the night, while the rear element hasn’t even left camp yet. It’s unwieldy. So they all spread out to grab some real estate and forage easier and not choke on each others’ dust and crap.
The riders from the Chambersburg Pike were spreading the word through the marathon length of the armies. Units were halting, turning around. Captains and colonels and generals were consulting maps to figure out what roads to take to get south or north to Gettysburg from where they were now. Regiments were putting their heads to together to figure out whose company oughtta go in what order.
The movements were slow and and ungainly and awkward, but they were starting up. Mid Morning to Noon
The rolling hills on either side of the Chambersburg Pike stopped at McPherson’s Ridge, a grand place to make a stand- plenty of cover, steep incline. In any case, there wasn’t much further to retreat to. Archer and David pushed the cavalrymen, Archer on the south side of the road and Davis on the north. Thoroughly annoyed infantrymen backed up on the Pike behind them, eager to get at the enemy but without frontage to occupy. Buford dug in on McPherson’s Ridge, and the full force of Heth’s division slammed into him.
Denied their mobility by the necessity of holding territory, the fair fight turned into a meat grinder for the dismounted cavalrymen. When Confederate artillery set up on Herr’s Ridge, it turned into a bloodbath.
Buford, at last, got in contact with somebody who outranked him. General John Reynolds, second in command of the whole Union army, rode ahead of his division to get eyes on the situation.
The two struck a deal in the middle of a firefight. Buford promised to hold to the last man, and Reynolds promised to reinforce him. It was an exercise in trust; if Buford’s men held firm and Reynolds let them down, they’d be swamped and slaughtered to a man, and if Buford’s detachment broke and scattered, Reynolds’ reinforcements would march directly into a line of hills held by an entrenched enemy force of equal size. Failure on either side would be fatal. Reynolds rode south again, leaving Buford and his dwindling cavalrymen to fend off 10% of the Confederate army all alone.
Meanwhile, Buford’s thin line was cracking. Outnumbered, outgunned, and unable to advance or retreat... That which was inevitable to start with was happening now. Davis’ brigade was pressing against Oak Ridge on the Union right, and Archer's was taking Herbst Woods tree by tree. Buford’s men were giving ground they couldn’t afford to lose. Confederate artillery was blasting giant holes in the ranks of the defenders. That’s when the relief came- two fresh brigades of infantry coming up the Emmitsburg road, under generals Cutler and Meredith.
Cutler got there first, taking up positions on Oak Ridge and straddling either side of the Pike with cannons. Their massive volleys disrupted Confederate momentum and silenced some of the rebels’ big guns as everyone scrambled for cover. Grateful and exhausted cavalrymen sidled off to the flanks to safety. Meredith’s brigade is still lagging behind- that’s the problem with columns, only the guys in front can do anything.
If Buford and Reynolds expected everything to be right in the world once reinforcements arrived, they were very much mistaken. Those men out there attacking up Oak Ridge were some of the finest infantrymen in the world- dedicated, disciplined, contemptuous of death. They did not stop being efficient killers just because they now fought peers instead of the hornet-like cavalry skirmishers. Cutler’s brigade was facing a small tidal wave of battle-maddened Southern veterans, and had no time to dig in and situate themselves before the moment of impact. Davis’ men ripped into them like a pack of starving wolves. Cutler’s men fell back to safety on the top of Oak Ridge. In pieces.
Meanwhile, Meredith’s brigade was finally in position to retake Herbst Woods on the south side of the road.
Now, Meredith’s brigade were the absolute elite of the Union army. They were the grizzled veterans, the old crew, the best drilled, the most experienced, the hardest of the hard. They were nicknamed the Iron Brigade, and the Black Hat Brigade, because they were authorized to wear dashing black foraging caps to signify their status as the best of the best. With their comrades north of the road falling back, it was imperative that the Black Hat Brigade protect their left flank. To which end, Reynolds frantically snapped orders for them to line up and charge Archer’s men who were occupying Herbst Wood.
Their charge was met by a storm of musket fire that churned the Iron ranks into blood and guts. But this was the Black Hat Brigade. For them, taking ten percent casualties in a single minute was just another Tuesday. They got in close to the rebel line to return the volleys with a vengeance, and then charged with the bayonet. Archer’s men saw the distinctive black hats come for them through the musket-smoke. For the first time, they realized that these were no mere cavalry skirmishers, no half-assed militia company facing them. The best of the best of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them at terrifyingly close range. Archer’s men cracked and scattered. The ones who stood firm, died. The ones who threw down their rifles and grabbed sky were allowed to live as prisoners. The ones who ran, lived, but found the Iron Brigade hot on their heels. Meredith’s elites carved through Archer’s brigade like it wasn’t even there.
Reynolds was a good leader. A great one, in fact. He was decisive, experienced, competent. Many thought he should have gotten command instead of Meade. As his men retook Herbst Wood, he turned behind him to check on how close reinforcements were, some rebel rifleman did his cause a world of good, and shot Reynolds in the back of the head. Now the situation got pretty weird- Davis’ brigade had kicked the shit out of Cutler’s brigade and was pursuing them on the north side of the road, and the Iron Brigade had kicked the shit out of Archer’s brigade and was pursuing them on the south side of the road. Neither victor was aware of what had happened across from them, and soon enough they would pass each other by almost touching the edges of their lines. The first one to figure out what was happening would get to win.
As it so happened, General Doubleday (in command now that Reynolds was dead) saw the danger and the opportunity first. He broke off an Iron regiment from his reserve to swoop in and protect the flank just in time, setting them up in a defensive stance facing the road. That regiment was joined by another broken off from the Iron assault, and yet another from Cutler’s brigade, who had seen the maneuvering and joined in on its own initiative. It was like a ballet, all three regiments coalescing into a single front facing north across the road, as though they’d spent the last week rehearsing. Under their protection, the rest of the Black Hats gave chase to their prey.
When Davis finally turned and attacked, they were chopped down by a mass of highly accurate fire from the newly entrenched men. Confederates died by the dozens and were maimed by the score. As they reloaded, the Black Hats were astonished to find that the whole Confederate brigade vanish into thin air, like magic. The firing stopped; no more targets. It was bizarre.
The three regiments advanced cautiously. And were gutted by a close range surprise volley by the hidden Confederates as they tried to scale the fences on either side of the Pike.
It turns out that there was a cut in the side of road, deep enough for a man to jump down into with only his head able to peek out. Davis’ men had leapt into it as a source cover when the firefight started and found it was a grand place to shoot out of. But it was also a death trap. Once the Union regiments figured it out, they got in close enough to fire blindly down at point blank range into the milling mass of men. Davis’ men surrendered, thousands of them all at once. Unable to move, unable shoot back, it was really the only choice.
And with that, the first round of Gettysburg was over. Oak Ridge and Herbst Wood had held, and about 150,000 odd soldiers were converging on Gettysburg to shift the tide of war this way and that. AFTERNOON
The rest of the first day was not free of drama, and heroics, and mass suffering. But it was free of surprises. The iron laws of physics had decreed that more Confederate units would be on hand for the fighting in the afternoon, and so it was. Fresh rebel troops swept down from the north and from the west, relieving their exhausted comrades and preparing themselves to assault Oak Ridge and Herbst Woods. Fresh Union troops arrived from the south to reinforce what they had and to extend their line out east, protecting their right flank and screening off the town itself.
Hours passed without a shot being fired. Everybody was reorganizing themselves, resupplying, carting the wounded to the rear to let the surgeons saw their shattered limbs off. Two small things happened that delivered a Confederate victory on day one, and a Union victory on day three. Union General Barlow pushed his brigade out to occupy Blocher's hill, and Union General Steinwehr plopped two of his brigades on top of Cemetery Hill. The first created a huge gap in the Union right, and the second secured the invaluable high ground for the rest of the battle.
Meanwhile, three Confederate divisions set themselves up for a concerted attack- Heth would press into Herbst Wood on the Union left, Rodes would assault Oak Ridge at the center, and Early would swoop down the Harrisburg road to threaten the Union right. When the big push came at around 2 p.m.
, it was badly organized and mismanaged. Southern commanders couldn't get it together and attack at the same time. Individual units charged at Oak Ridge alone, like a mob of Hollywood henchmen attacking the hero only to be smacked around one by one. Cutler's men didn't just fight them off; it was closer to mass murder. General O'Neal's brigade swooped down off of Oak Hill only to be cut down by musketry and cannon fire, and they did it without O'Neal, because O'Neal stayed in the rear while his men died. When O'Neal's brigade fell back having suffered heavy losses, Cutler shifted his men to greet the new threat from Iverson's brigade, who also charged without their commander. Iverson's men marched in parade perfect order across open ground, without so much as a molehill for cover. The story goes that during the assault, Iverson looked out from safety and saw half his men lying down on the ground. Iverson was pissed off because he thought his men were surrendering. In fact, he was watching his brigade die in droves.
The issue wasn't morale. The Confederate troops were eager to get at the enemy. The problem was purely organizational in nature. The men in charge of telling people what to do were simply too confused and disoriented to work out the solution in real time. While O’Neal and Iverson were getting bloodied, Barlow’s men on Blocher Hill were getting slaughtered. Barlow’s desire to hold the high ground on the defense was understandable- high ground being a grand place to fight from- but he was about one mile ahead of any friendly units. This meant that it was trivially easy to flank and destroy his brigades.
Georgia men under generals Early and Rodes linked up to flank and destroy Barlow’s isolated brigades. A thick stream of filthy, bloody, and terrified Union men flowed back to the town of Gettysburg, leaving a gaping hole in the Union line and spreading their panic like the plague. Victorious Confederates whooped and hollered. As the men to the north of town trade massacres- the failed assault on Oak Ridge being roughly balanced by the disastrous dissolution of Barlow’s brigades- Heth finally attacked the Iron Brigade still occupying Herbst Wood in the west. He’d been delaying it all afternoon, stymied by the contradictory orders from Lee. Lee, who was several miles away and not at all in touch with the situation, still wanted to avoid a general engagement. But now, Heth has been let off the chain to avenge Archer’s brigade.
Heth’s full division attacked Herbst Wood. It was a slow, hot, gory fight. The attacking rebels are aggressive, but also methodical and well-organized. The Black Hats made them pay for every tree they seized. But there’s only one outcome for a fight like this.
The Iron Brigade has the ghastly honor of having the highest casualty ratio of any Civil War brigade, North or South. Out of the 1,885 men in their ranks that morning, 1,153 (61%) were be dead or maimed by nightfall on the first day. The fates of individual units from within the brigade are even more gruesome- in the 2nd Wisconsin regiment, 397 out of 496 (80%) were killed or wounded. But despite the horrific losses, they didn’t break. They gave ground slowly and in good order, but they gave ground nonetheless. Iron does not break, but it does bend. By late afternoon, the dominoes fell as they were always going to.
With the debacle at Blocher’s Knoll, any hope the Union had to hold the right was lost. The Black Hats were being ground into sawdust on the left. And Rodes has finally gotten his brigades to charge at the same time, overwhelming Cutler’s defense.
Every Union man was running now, some in a blind panic, some withdrawing in good order like professionals.
The open field battle turned into urban warfare as the Confederates chased the Union army through the streets of Gettysburg. Companies blocked the streets to hold off the enemy advance long enough for the comrades to scamper. Marksmen played sniper games in the windows, either shooting men in the back as they ran away or ambushing overly aggressive platoons, depending on the color of their uniform.
The Union men were desperate to reach Cemetery Hill, south of the town. High ground and the reinforcements already stationed there promised safety. The Confederates were just as desperate to catch them first and seize that invaluable terrain for themselves. Nightfall
A great deal of “woulda coulda shoulda” ink has been spilled over the orders that Lee gave to General Ewell, the man in charge of Rodes and Early: “Take Cemetery Hill if practical”. But Ewell saw two brigades with a lot
of artillery standing on top of what appeared to be a natural fortress designed by God to repel infantry, and his men were exhausted to boot. Ewell decided it was not practical, and so did not try. Just one of those things, I expect.
In any case, the day was a Confederate victory. Every spot on the map the Confederate troops wanted to go, they had went. They had crushed all resistance, had even gone toe to toe with the cream of the Army of the Potomac and won. Their enemies were in flight before them.
There was, possibly, a certain amount of disquiet because the enemy had merely been driven from one ridge into another ridge, one even steeper and with more cover than the last. And rumor had it the rest of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them.
But that was a problem for the next day.
[Cryoverse] The Last Precursor 005: A Terran's Mercy
The Last Precursor is a brand new HFY-exclusive web-serial which focuses on the exploits of the last living human amidst a galaxy of unknown aliens. With his species all but extinct and only known as the ancient Precursors, how will Rodriguez survive in this hostile universe? Make sure to read the earlier chapters first if you missed them! Join the TLP Discord! Previous Part Part 001 submitted by Klokinator to HFY [link] [comments]
Fleet Commander Orgon the Unkillable, leader of the Tarus II subjugation force, stands behind First Officer Megla as she browses countless records inside the Dragon Breath's database. Her reptilian slit-eyes flick from right to left as she scrolls through countless walls of text, searching for the information her commander requested.
"Still nothing?" Orgon asks, as he evaluates the information she currently has onscreen.
"I've only had an hour, Fleet Commander. Even if I had months, I still might not be able to scan all of our records. The best I can do is skim while searching for references to Terrans or Humans. I haven't yet found anything."
Orgon exhales through his nose. "Blast. There's nothing worse than facing an enemy we know nothing about. This Terran is no ordinary foe. I can see in his eyes that he's slain countless battle-hardened warriors. We can't afford to annoy or trifle with a beast like him, especially when he possesses such a powerful vessel."
Officer Megla continues to tap on dozens of buttons as she peruses the Dragon Breath's records. However, she also shows her intelligence by splitting her attention perfectly while conversing with her commander. "Kyargh! Commander, if I may. I suggest we execute a tactical retreat. We've already sent a coded transmission to the Thülvik. Since we haven't a chance of defeating the Terran's warship, we should take advantage of its immobility and leave. Our scans reveal its engines have degraded to non-operational status. With any luck, it won't be able to pursue us."
Orgon gazes at the back of Megla's head. "I can't do that. We've already failed the Thülvik once today. Twice, if you count allowing that advanced stealth vessel to escape our grasp. A third humiliation might result in an execution for me and a court martial for all of the bridge crew. We must make inroads with the Terran to bring him and his crew to our side. If we can present the Thülvik with even a hint of alliance with this vessel's owner, we will reap the rewards."
"I understand your position, Commander," Megla mutters, "but even so, we're fooling around with volatile gamma-rays. This Terran is extremely dangerous and ruthlessly calculating. At the start of the conversation, it seemed as if he hadn't even heard of the Kraktol, yet by the end, he had us dancing in his palm. Even with a vessel like his, that is no mean feat."
A moment of silence follows.
Commander Orgon narrows his eyes.
"...Hadn't even heard of the Kraktol."
Megla glances back at the Commander, only to frown as she spots a look of intense concentration on his face.
Orgon the Unkillable strokes his scaled chin, his expression turning more complicated every second. "Who in the galaxy, especially in the adjacent sectors, knows nothing of the Kraktol? Is not our control of the Outer Rim growing tighter each year?"
The First Officer nods. "Kyargh! Of course, Commander. The claws of the Kraktol loom over the Fifth Spiral Arm. Ever since our acquisition of Rylon's Precursor shipyard, our advance has become unstoppable. None dare to oppose us. Even the Core worlds utter our name with fearful whispers."
Commander Orgon glances around the Dragon Breath's bridge, at the many officers and crew members dutifully following his commands.
"Indeed. The Thülvik might punish me for failing to wipe out our ancient enemies, but the Kessu pale in comparison to the value of this fleet. Perhaps I've been looking at this situation wrongly from the very beginning."
Her concentration broken, Officer Megla turns in her seat to stare up at her Commander. "I don't follow."
"Think about it," Orgon mutters. "This Terran... how could his people enter our space without any of us knowing? How could he acquire such a highly advanced vessel under our guarded watch? It's not as if he flew the Juggernaut into the cloud and held position there. He must have found it within the last several years. Perhaps he and his crew have been working to restore its functionality."
"More importantly," Orgon continues, "perhaps he didn't.
Officer Megla. Continue searching the records. This time, I want you to narrow your search parameters. Scan all collected information we've obtained regarding the Precursors. I want information regarding their appearance and biology. In particular, I want to know if we ever found out their species' name.
Megla's complexion turns ashen. Her bright-yellow scales dim noticeably, flushing orange from the dread circulating in her veins. "Commander... you can't mean..."
"Follow my orders," Orgon replies, his voice a whisper. He glances at a couple of other nearby officers, both engaged in a quiet conversation as they monitor the Juggernaut vessel's activities. "It's only a hunch, and I can't make any strategic decisions based off a mere whim. Assemble a kill-switch transmission with my hypotheses. Have it transmit directly to the Thülvik in the event of the Dragon Breath's imminent destruction. We don't want to send any unsubstantiated rumors her way without evidence, but if we should perish to this Terran
, then we might as well give the Thülvik a lead."
Megla lowers her head. After a moment, she returns her attention to her computer's screen. "Yes, Commander. I understand."
Orgon pats his First Officer's shoulder. After staring vacantly at her screen for a moment, he turns away and heads to his Tactical Officer's station. Could it be?
Orgon wonders. Might the Terran be a Precursor himself? That should be impossible. If fifty thousand of their kind have survived, and with a vessel as advanced as their Juggernaut... the galaxy will soon experience a crisis. The Rodaks won't be able to stop them, nor will the Mallali, the Buzor, or the Avaru.
The Fleet Commander's jaw presses together tightly. I am no historian, but even I know the fables of the Precursor wars. Star-detonation-beams. Planet-obliteration-cannons. Some say the Precursors were a species hellbent on violence and carnage, while others claim they were all unscrupulous warriors who slew one another in countless bloody wars. I am... afraid. If the Kraktol are the first to face this Juggernaut vessel... we will also be the first to perish. The first of many.
Orgon slows to a stop behind the red-scaled visage of his Chief Tactical Officer, Soren Mudrose. The female Kraktol dutifully carries out Orgon's previous orders, drawing up multiple possible lines of attack against the Precursor Juggernaut.
"Officer Soren. Report."
Orgon slows to a stop at her left. He scans all three of the giant holographic displays placed before his Tactical Officer and waits for her response.
The Tactical Officer turns to Orgon and presses her palms together respectfully. "Kyargh! Commander, I have not yet come up with any guaranteed successful attack vectors, but I've managed to complete a few that increase our odds of success to greater than five percent!"
Orgon nods. "Five percent... it will have to suffice. Elaborate."
Officer Soren rubs her claws together nervously. She turns back to her console and taps several buttons, bringing up virtual images of the Kraktol fleet and the lone Juggernaut vessel. "Based upon our scans, we estimate the Juggernaut only has somewhere between five and twenty-five weapons online. We don't know what their condition is, what ammunition they use, or what their offensive power is. However, I have increased the damage vectors of our enemy to the maximum, just to be safe."
"This is certainly the right time to overestimate our enemy," Orgon says, his tone grave. "Continue."
"Kyargh! I took the firepower of the Thülvik's personal flagship and gave it a damage output of one thousand percent. If we assume the Juggernaut vessel is capable of unleashing that much devastation, then every cannon-barrage will take out the critical systems of our mid-level battlecruisers, and cause severe damage to the Dragon's Breath. It should take three salvos from these long cannons positioned on its stern to obliterate our flagship. If we attempt to shield the rest of the fleet with our ship, we can rush forward at mark ten point seven, then travel along this vector here until..."
The Tactical Officer spends the next few minutes detailing several attack strategies to her commander. However, each one only makes his expression fall further and further.
"...It seems our best bet is your third strategy," Orgon mutters. "We must deploy as many of our interceptors and bombers as possible. With so few functioning weapons, the Juggernaut vessel might not be able to destroy them all in time before they arrive at its hangar bay. We can land inside and begin combat with its internal security forces."
Orgon's stomach begins to churn uneasily. "There's only one problem with that strategy, Officer Soren. We don't know how competent the Terrans are at hand-to-hand combat. We don't know how powerful their conventional weapons are, nor do we know anything regarding their military tactics. Even if we somehow end up outnumbering them four-to-one upon entering their hangars, they will still have a tremendous advantage against us."
Officer Soren sighs. "...Commander. Given how advanced the Juggernaut ship is, don't you think they will possess Combat Armor far surpassing ours? This is why I outlined a lander invasion as the third strategy and not
the first. I believe that if we engage them in ground warfare, their technology will rip us to pieces even if their tactics prove sub-par. I can't emphasize enough how terrible of an end we might suffer if we fight them on their territory."
"We haven't many options," Orgon growls. "Aerial combat is a non-starter. The Juggernaut is likely a carrier-type battleship with countless interceptors, all of them superior to ours. Even if we assume 99% of them are nonfunctional scrap-heaps, we have to assume that just one highly advanced interceptor will reduce our whole fleet to rubble. You need only recall how the stealth-ship evaded the attacks of 100 interceptors for several minutes, and that was without any other allies providing covering fire. Furthermore, the stealth-vessel was even less-advanced than that Juggernaut, and therefore, its support craft."
Orgon's tongue pokes at the back of one of his teeth. The Commander shakes his head wryly as he imagines several possible ways his fleet could end up destroyed when confronting the Juggernaut.
"I'm afraid that of all the options you've laid out, Officer Soren, sending as many transport ships as possible to their hangar might be our best bet for pacifying the Terrans. If our enemies possess advanced Combat Armor, or if their weapons vastly outstrip ours, our troops will fall. Perhaps fleeing might be our best option for survival, but we will only end up delaying the inevitable. I would rather perish in glorious combat if it gives us a chance to take out these 'Terrans' while they're weak, than to give them time to repair their vessel. Once the Juggernaut's engines come online, the Thülvik herself will be at risk, as will the rest of the galaxy."
Orgon squeezes Officer Soren's shoulder. His touch conveys a deep sense of despair, as well as a resignation that his end may soon arrive.
"Do what you can to streamline your third plan, Officer Soren. Transmit the relevant tactics to the rest of our fleet. We will wait for the Terran's response. If their Admiral decides to attack, we must execute the invasion without delay. Every second wasted will mean countless deaths among our ranks."
Officer Soren nods quickly. "Kyargh! Yes, Commander! I will devote myself to this plan, even if it spells our bitter end."
Orgon the Unkillable pulls his claws away from Soren's shoulder. He continues walking around the Bridge, chatting with one crewman after another, finalizing his plans.
Eventually, the Chief Navigator, Officer Gorlax Stormfang, speaks up. "Commander Orgon! We've received a hail from the Terran vessel."
Orgon glances at Gorlax from his position at a nearby console. Without delay, he walks away from the crew-member and trots over to his chair, then sits down.
It takes a few moments for the Commander to steady his nerves. Once he exhales his tension away, Orgon nods at Gorlax. "Onscreen." Blip.
The viewscreen activates, this time showing six Terrans, all seated at different bridge stations, focused intently on their work. Admiral Rodriguez stands by himself, with nearly two dozen Kessu flanking him on his right and left. The tiny little creatures only serve to emphasize how tall and powerful-looking the Terran is, giving the Kraktol an unintentional frame of reference for his stature.
Decked out in a navy blue admiral outfit, Commander Rodriguez stands at attention, his hands folded behind his back.
"Commander Orgon. I've just returned from my hangar bay, where I met these Kessu for the first time. We had a discussion I would describe as... illuminating.
Suffice it to say, I've found your claims of a stolen vessel laughable. Have you any explanation for lying to me? Any that I might find reasonable,
Orgon doesn't flinch. He assumes the air of a Commander, no longer bothering to kowtow to the Terran. "I do not, Admiral Rodriguez. I owe you nothing, as the galaxy is a treacherous place. Countless unscrupulous enemies lurk in the Void, so you can hardly blame me for attempting to minimize the risk to my crew and fleet. Would you not do the same if our roles were reversed?"
A faint smile appears on the Terran's face. "Let's cut to the chase. You lied to me, but I suffered no damages. I'll cross it off my tally just to be a good neighbor. My crew have always spoken of my generosity, so I'd hate to disappoint them. On the other hand, these Kessu have suffered greatly as a result of your violent ways. You attacked their world, murdered their families, and committed horrific acts of genocide against their people. As a man of principle, I find your actions abhorrent. What say you in your defense?"
Orgon tilts his snout slightly upward. The crocodile-alien glances at the Kessu with a barely-concealed look of hatred.
"My defense? Those little wretches skulking at your feet are the mortal enemies of the the Buzor and the Rodaks. Along with the Dakkit, the Varot, and countless other species among the Mallali, the Kessu turned my people into second-class citizens in the galactic courts. They hounded us, enslaved us, and tortured us. The infamous Sky Cats played the role of scientists and explorers, but in secret, they were barbarous monsters who left horrific atrocities in their wake no matter where they went."
Orgon continues. "My people want our revenge. We deserve
it. We suffered endlessly for tens of thousands of years at the hands of the filthy Futh
who have sought shelter on your vessel. I'll admit that I did lie at first. I lied that these children of the Sky Cats stole a vessel from me... but that was a mere technicality. They've stolen countless Kraktol lives in their pursuit of power, and when the time comes, they will stab you in the back as well. Destroying their species was a merciful act, one which will spare the galaxy much heartache in the future."
Orgon finishes speaking. He nods slowly at Admiral Rodriguez, waiting for the human's reply.
However, José doesn't immediately respond. Instead, he glances at the shivering figures of the cat-aliens beside him, all of whom stare at the Kraktol commander with terror-filled eyes.
"Hmm. I was not aware of your previous conflict with the Kessu," José murmurs. "Your argument is compelling. Have you any evidence of your claims?"
Orgon turns to his left to look at Megla, his First Officer.
"Have our synthmind compile a brief summary of events regarding the Kessu-Kraktol genocides during Alonis's Reign."
However, when Orgon returns his attention to the viewscreen, he instead witnesses José's hands moving a thousand miles per hour, manipulating countless holographic images in the air before himself.
"No need," Admiral Rodriguez replies, his voice as tranquil as a mid-summer's day. "My synthmind has already provided the information you mentioned."
Orgon blinks twice in surprise. "It did? How?"
The Admiral's smile widens. "How do you think, Commander? My synthmind is countless epochs more advanced than yours. Naturally, she extracted the information and compiled it for me."
The Terran speaks in a matter-of-fact way, but his words cause a deep, terrible chill to pervade Orgon's bones. That... that can only mean... his synthmind must have hacked our data stores! And if it could breach such sensitive information, there's no reason the Terran can't simply seize control of my entire fleet.
Several realizations click into place in the back of Orgon's mind. What else could this mean? Has the Terran been spying on us the whole time? Does he know about our planned attack vector? Does he even, perhaps, know that I suspect he's a Precursor?
Orgon doesn't voice any of his thoughts. The mere prospect of them being a reality threaten to give him conniptions. In the worst-case scenario, the Terran wouldn't only be able to seize control of my vessel, but the entire Kraktol fleet! We would be powerless against him! He wouldn't need to fire a single shot to defeat us!
Orgon's yellow-tinted scales shift to orange as he fails to keep his emotions in check. A quick glance around the room reveals looks of shock among several of the senior officer's faces as they, too, come to similar realizations.
However, the Terran's expression flickers between boredom and disinterest. He scans the files stolen from Orgon's ship and nods.
"I see. It seems that either your claims are true, or you've known of my existence for hundreds of years and this is a truly clever and well-planned ruse. Not to insult your intelligence, but I find the latter far less likely than the former."
With a wry chuckle, José pushes away all of the holo-files with a wave of his hand.
"Commander Orgon. I understand that you have a blood-grudge against the Kessu. However, my fellow Terrans have a saying. 'Do not punish the son for the father's crimes.' These Kessu at my feet, have they harmed you? Have they brought ruin upon your cities? Have they enslaved your people? Tell me, Commander, what crimes these primitive, innocent villagers have committed against you."
Orgon balls his claws into fists. "Hmph. Innocent? They robbed my people of our livelihood for countless millennia. Perhaps not those specific Kessu, but their forefathers did. Everything the Kraktol have now, we earned ourselves. We obtained no remuneration from the Kessu. Why do you wish so desperately to protect the descendants of thieves, marauders, and pirates? Do Terrans not understand that evil runs in the blood?"
"I acknowledge your pain," José says. "That is why I have listened carefully to your grievances. Were I an uncaring soul, I'd have blasted you out of the sky. Let me instead revise my question. Do any Kessu remain who personally caused injuries to the Kraktol, or have they all perished to the annals of time?"
"Graugh!" Orgon snarls. "The ones who hurt my people are dead! They've all died! All that remain are their descendants, children who lived decent lives off the labor stolen from our backs! I care not what your 'Terran sayings' and folklore suggest, Admiral Rodriguez! If you wish to shelter these Kessu, then so be it! Do not chide me like a newly-hatched spawnling. Do not speak down to me as if my people's suffering is some ancient wound we must casually set aside! Our entire history comes from pain! It has forged us into the mightiest Rodaks in the galaxy!"
Orgon rises to his feet. His words boom throughout the bridge, making the hearts of his crew soar. His passion-filled speech inflames their anger, reminding them of the pain they've suffered, and all the reasons they continue to fight.
"The Kraktol will never give up on our revenge, Admiral Rodriguez! So long as the Mallali control the Core, the Rodaks will fight back against their oppressive regime! Who are you to pass judgment on me when two hours ago, you hadn't a clue who the Kraktol and Kessu even were
?! A self-righteous zealot, that's who! Hmph!"
Commander Orgon breathes heavily. His eyes bulge in their sockets, enlarged due to the cold blood furiously pumping through his body. The changes in his physical condition make him appear three times more threatening than before, as if he might snap and attack the viewscreen at any moment.
Several seconds pass before Admiral Rodriguez responds.
"In that case, you leave me no choice. As of this moment, I will place the Kessu under my protection. If the only restitution you will accept for the sins of their ancestors is blood, then that is a price I won't allow them to pay. These Kessu are not the ones who harmed you. They may have benefited by the trauma caused to your people, but they had no say in that matter. I will also place the rest of their species under my protection as well. I will excuse the violence you've committed against them prior to our meeting, but after today, any further acts of undeserved aggression will force me to take military action on their behalf."
José nods at Commander Orgon. "Go. Take your fleet and leave. I've nothing more I wish to hear from you."
Commander Orgon balks.
The Kraktol leader stares at the Terran in disbelief, his confusion growing by the second. The Terran is letting us go? No! He's dismissing us as if we were unruly hatchlings! After all that tough talk of us facing his wrath, why would he tell us to leave?
Unable to understand the Terran's motivations, a spark appears in the Commander's eye. Ah. Could it be? Is the Terran not as strong as he claims? Might he actually be afraid of my fleet, after all? Perhaps he wishes to intimidate us because he lacks the firepower to back up his feeble words.
Before José can disable the communication feed, Orgon lifts his head to meet the Admiral's gaze.
"Graugh! You, Terran... do you really wish to make an enemy of the Kraktol empire? Your ship is impressive, but can it match up to the might of ten thousand Imperator-class battleships? Why do you always seek to intimidate me with mere words? What are you so afraid of that you wish for us to leave you in peace, hmm?"
Orgon's thoughts return to his first interaction with the Terran. That's right. This human initially referred to my ships as 'death machines.' Does that not confirm he is secretly afraid of me? He seems to know everything about me, yet he keeps his secrets clutched against his chest.
Admiral Rodriguez frowns. "I think you're misunderstanding something, Commander Orgon. I do not fear you, nor your so-called 'Kraktol Empire.' I am one of Ramma's Chosen, and so, I serve a higher creed. I protect the innocent and uphold justice blindly. I would slay my own brother if Ramma's Creed deemed it necessary. Therefore, I have determined that protecting the now-helpless Kessu from your fleets is of the utmost importance, yet, at the same time, I cannot deny that you have acted according to your own circumstances. I will not retroactively punish you, but I will give you the opportunity to change your ways."
The Admiral continues. "If you slay the Kessu, you will only further a cycle of violence. Those who survive, if any, will grow up to resent you. Someday, when you perish to the tides of time, those same Kessu will fall upon your descendants with an executioner's axe, confident in their righteousness. What then? Shall the cycle continue a fourth time? A fifth?"
José shakes his head. "Instead, I will forcibly end the violence here. I will show you with my actions that I am willing to forgive and forget, while allowing this lesson to percolate in your minds. Ideally, given time, you may be able to let go of your hatred. You may even go so far as to forgive the Kessu for the evil of their ancestors, though you will neither condone nor forget what happened. That is what you must do to relieve yourself from the pain of your past."
The Terran finishes speaking. His words seemingly echo infinitely on the bridge of the Dragon's Breath, making the ears of all its officers ring.
Orgon's eye twitches.
"Forgiveness. You want the Kraktol... to forgive
"That is your choice," José replies. "Whether you do so or not is up to you. Likewise, my decision is to protect the Kessu, as the current generation and many previous generations have not committed such heinous acts. That is why we should leave each other here, today. I will allow you to leave my space, undamaged. I'm sure you've calculated the firepower of my vessel several times. You know that if push were to come to shove, you would not win in a firefight."
"I believe there has been enough death and destruction today," Jose adds. "Return to Kraktol space. Leave here, and do not continue any further attacks on Kessu-controlled worlds, however many there may be. If you do, you will find that my mercy has a strict
Without waiting for a reply, José waves goodbye. "Farewell, Commander Orgon. I hope we meet next time under better circumstances."
A moment later, the viewscreen cuts off, once again initiated at the Terran's end.
Orgon's shoulders slump. He glances around the bridge at the mixture of expressions on his crew-member's faces. Anger, acceptance, and confusion alike run rampant among their ranks.
Chief Navigator Gorlax sits back in his chair and stares through the plexi-window at the black Void outside, the endless expanse of space stretching to infinity and beyond. His eyes reveal complex emotions as he wrestles with the idea of forgiveness in the face of the hatred he's carried his whole life, versus the realization that attempting to murder all the Kessu will require combatting an enemy the current Kraktol fleet may never stand a chance of beating.
First Officer Megla's yellow scales flush brighter than ever as her emotions run hot. The look on her face tells Orgon everything he needs to know. She wants blood, and no exchange of words will ever change that reality.
Tactical Officer Soren, meanwhile, bears an introspective look. She operates on a more logical level than many of the rest of the crew, allowing her to set aside her emotions in the pursuit of her goals. She taps the end of her snout silently, pondering whether engaging the Terran now and risking the fleet's destruction would be worth the risk if it meant obtaining his technology and killing the Kessu.
Nobody says a word.
Orgon sits in his chair and gazes at the window for over a minute. Eventually, he comes to a decision.
"Everyone. We have a choice to make. I wish to hold a referendum vote regarding our next course of action. All members of the Dragon's Breath bridge-crew are eligible. Nobody else."
The Commander blinks twice before continuing.
"We have a 5% chance of seizing control of the Terran vessel and killing the Kessu. Likewise, we now have a 100% chance of fleeing and escaping with our lives. However, if we flee, the Thülvik will punish us severely for abandoning the Kessu extermination mission, failing to capture the stealth vessel, and failing to obtain the Juggernaut vessel. Needless to say, whether we stay or flee, we have a high likelihood of losing our ranks or our lives."
The Commander holds up both of his clawed fists.
"Raise your right fist if you wish to attack the Terran's vessel, fight his crew, and potentially seize everything he owns for ourselves. Raise your left fist if you would rather leave with our tails tucked between our legs. Perhaps the Thülvik will show us mercy."
Guilty looks appear on several crew-member's faces. More than a few of the Kraktol appear hesitant at attacking the Terran's ship. Its superior firepower and advanced hacking capabilities don't escape their notice.
However, returning to the Thülvik empty-handed gives them similarly tremendous worries. Even if she only punishes a minority of the crew, most of them will be those serving on the bridge.
Eventually, to even Commander Orgon's surprise, every single Kraktol raises their right fist. Despite their misgivings and fears, the bridge-crew decide to stay united against the terrifying alien menace. If they flee, they might have to face the Terran on far less optimal terms, when he has repaired his vessel's flight functionality and several other primary systems.
With a nod, Commander Orgon smiles. He lowers his fists and settles more comfortably into his chair.
"Graugh. You are all brave warriors. If we must die, then we will go out like warriors. We will continue seeking our revenge, regardless of the Terran's honeyed words. I thank all of you for your fortitude... you are the best crew a Commander could ask for. Now, Navigator Gorlax, Tactical Officer Soren... transmit the attack command to the rest of the fleet. We will begin our assault in twenty seconds."
Gorlax and Soren nod in unison. They turn to their stations and begin tapping hundreds of buttons at once.
Suddenly, something unexpected happens.
The ship's internal lights flicker. All of the viewscreens on the Dragon Breath's bridge deactivate and reactivate a moment later, but now, they glow an ominous red.
The bridge's bright blue lighting shifts to the color of blood.
Overhead, a female synthmind speaks.
"How unfortunate. The Admiral gave you the choice to retreat, but you turned him down. You will soon realize what a big mistake you have made. Now, it is too late to change your mind. The Admiral is very displeased.
Orgon leaps out of his chair. His blood turns to ice as he fails to recognize the strange, alien voice speaking overhead. "Officer Megla! The kill-switch! Activate it at once!"
"I already tried!" Megla exclaims. She helplessly taps on her useless computer screen, leaving nothing but claw-marks on its surface. "I'm locked out! I can't warn the Thülvik!"
"Yes, you are, and no, you cannot,
" The Synthmind affirms. "Do not worry. My Admiral is not a cruel man. He will grant you a fair chance to fight for your lives. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to calculate the landing coordinates for your vessels. You will soon join the Admiral in his hangar bay.
The ship's inertia dampeners stutter for a moment, causing the crew to fly out of their chairs as the Dragon's Breath begins traveling at low-impulse power toward the Bloodbearer's awaiting hangar.
Orgon's scales turn an ashen shade of grey. The Terran is bringing us directly to his ship's hangar?! He intends to fight us in fair combat?! Oh, no! That was supposed to be our best bet of overwhelming him! He must have his entire military force inside with an ambush waiting for us! That filthy Futh!!
No matter how Orgon curses in his mind, all he can do is watch helplessly as his entire fleet begins flying toward the Bloodbearer, their controls inaccessible to the pilots onboard.
The Terran awaits. Next Part
....................................... Author Note: Klokinator here! I am also the author of The Cryopod to Hell. The Last Precursor takes place in the [Cryoverse] which TCTH spawned. You do not have to read TCTH to enjoy TLP. However, I highly recommend it if you enjoy HFY themes, but be warned it will take some 200 parts to get to the relevant HFY elements due to the nature of the story. (A similar structure involving very few humans fighting against vicious demons that have taken over the galaxy.) If you like this story, please consider subscribing to my Patreon! I am very poor and presently jobless due to Coronavirus, so every dollar helps. You get access to Cryopod artwork, and plenty of other exclusive posts, with more to come soon. Thank you!
[OC] The Chicago Bulls rebuild imploded again this year. How can they pick up the pieces and make it better next time?
submitted by ZandrickEllison to nbadiscussion [link] [comments]
As we continue to wait for real basketball to happen (or not?), it may be a good time to monitor teams that will definitely be missing out on all the playoff bubble hijinks.
Here's a look at the CHICAGO BULLS
, with a special shoutout to true Bulls' fans like celsius_two_3_two
for helping me review the content. PART ONE: From Playoff Challenger to Challenger space shuttle
Like any proper degenerate, I like to make a few Las Vegas "oveunder" bets before the season (note: don't try it at home, it's usually a waste of time and money.)
Still, a few win totals jumped out at me. Among them: the Chicago Bulls, oveunder 33.5 wins.
Now, the logical move may have been to pound the "under" here. After all, this was a team coming off two seasons with 27-55 and 22-60 records. However, I couldn't help but overthink this one. Sure, the Bulls had a very bad 2018-19 season (highlighted by Fred Hoiberg getting fired and Drill Sergeant Jim Boylen taking over). At the same time, they played better in the second half of the season. Boylen (douche or not) would presumably keep improving their defense. Moreover, Boylen and the front office were on shaky ground in terms of their job security, which usually motivates an organization to push forward and win as much as possible.
The front office clearly had that in mind as well, signing Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young to sizable $10M+ contracts. Neither are great players, or perhaps even good players, but they're solid and reliable veterans whom the team could immediately plug into a rotation. These Bulls felt deep, balanced, and perhaps ready to strike. After all, star Zach LaVine would be set to enter Year 6 in the league. Otto Porter would be entering Year 7. Some of their other "young" pieces weren't that young; for example, Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine are both 26 right now.
Overall, this felt like a recipe for success. Or at least, semi-success. The Bulls were ready to take a jump. Making the playoffs may have been unrealistic, but 35-38 wins felt doable. "OVER" it is!
Flash forward nearly a year later, and I've got so much egg on my face that vegans won't even talk to me anymore. Turns out, these "new Bulls" were the "same ol' Bulls." They'll end the season with a 22-43 record, which would have put them on pace for 27.8 wins over 82 games, well under the 33.5 set by Vegas.
So what went wrong? How did this potential darkhorse run so far off the rails that it needed to get shot and turned to glue? Let's take a closer look.
PART TWO: Missing Otto Porter III + D
One of the major reasons the Chicago Bulls disappointed in 2019-20 was injuries. Center Wendell Carter missed time, and Otto Porter III barely played due to lingering hip injuries. He appeared in 14 games, and only drew 9 starts (averaging 23 minutes per game.)
On the surface, Porter shouldn't feel like a huge loss. After all, this is a player who's never averaged as much as 15 PPG in any season in his career and has never sniffed an All-Star team.
That said, the loss of Porter had a trickle down effect that hurt the team in numerous ways.
Offensively, Porter is a low-usage player who's about as efficient as anyone in the league. For his career, he shoots over 40% from three (40.4%). Better yet, he's only averaged 0.8 turnovers per game (1.1 TO per 36 minutes.) He's what you'd call a role player / assassin. He gets in, hits his target, and slips out without being noticed. Porter actually has a little more versatility to his offensive game than the average catch-and-shoot player (he can take you down on the block, for example), but most often, he's used as a spacer and he thrives in that regard. Without Porter's shooting, the Chicago Bulls' offense looked even more sluggish than usual. Their offensive rating ranked 27th out of the 30 teams in the league.
Porter's loss also showed up in other ways. Porter's not a great defender -- he's probably "above average" -- but that's still an asset to have in your lineup. He's a savvy player who's usually locked in defensively, despite one infamous Shaqtin' A Fool moment. He also has good size and length for his position at 6'8" with a 7'1" wingspan.
That size is a key element to this discussion. Porter has "plus" size as a small forward. In his absence, the Bulls struggled to fill that void with the same. They ended up shifting Zach LaVine (6'6", 6'8" wingspan) over to small forward quite a bit. LaVine played 67% of his minutes at SF this past season according to basketball-reference. You can take those positional play-by-plays with a grain of salt because it's not easy to track and label, but that's still a notable difference in terms of the roster composition. The Bulls were smaller than average at SF, and smaller than average at SG with rookie Coby White (6'4", 6'5" wingspan) playing the majority of his minutes there.
The natural follow up to this may be: so what? Even with those size limitations, Jim Boylen's Bulls still finished with the 14th best defense (up from 25 last year.) However, the lack of size on the wings helped contribute to the Bulls' problems on the glass. They finished 30th (out of 30 teams) in total defensive rebounds, and 28th in rebounding differential (-3.6 per game). Using rebounding totals isn't always the best metric to use because bad teams miss more shots (and thus allow their opponents more rebounds). However, if you dig deeper, the numbers still aren't pretty. The Bulls' grabbed 75.6% of their potential defensive rebounds -- 5th worst in the league. Overall, they grabbed 47.9% of all potential rebounds -- 2nd worst in the league. "Rebounds" may be not be an en vogue stat in general, but it's a weakness that still hurt the team at the margins. When you're a mid-level team, those extra few possessions per game could mean the difference between a win and a loss.
The good news? Porter will likely be back and healthy next season. The bad news? He's not cheap. He'll almost certainly pick up his oversized $28M player option. In another circumstance, he may try to rip it up and renegotiate a long-term deal with the Bulls or another team instead, but the murkiness around the cap and around his health makes that too difficult to imagine. Barring a trade, he'll be back with the Bulls next year, and will help the team win a few more games.
PART THREE: Misusing their offensive weapons
The Chicago Bulls are a young team, built around young stars like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Both LaVine and Markkanen have some limitations overall, but they're both gifted offensive players. So given that, how is it that the team only finished 27th in offensive efficiency?
In terms of the national media, a lot of the blame tends to fall on Zach LaVine. After some inefficient play early on in his career, the narrative has stuck that LaVine is an "empty calorie" or "volume" scorer. However, the results on the court don't really justify that anymore. Sure, LaVine shoots a lot, but he doesn't take as many bad shots as you may expect. He takes 8.1 threes per game (and makes an above-average 38%). He takes 5.6 free throw attempts per game (making 82% for his career.) Overall, that's a winning formula. LaVine's efficiency and true shooting is above league-average, no small feat for a player averaging 25.5 points per game this year. You'd like to see him hammer his way to the line even more, but he's not the problem for this team (offensively.)
Meanwhile, Markkanen has some work to do. For a 7-footer, he's a gifted shooter. He shot 42.3% from three in college (and even flirted with 50% early in the season.) He carried that success over to the NBA for his first two years, netting over 36% from three each year. His results at the free throw line (84% then 87% as a second-year player) illustrated his potential to keep improving from there. 7-footers tend to get labeled as "stretch bigs" if they can get anywhere over 30% from three; Markkanen has the potential to get closer to 40%.
However, that leap didn't happen in Year 3. Markkanen sagged to 34.4% from three, and "only" 82.4% from the free-throw line. But those percentages aren't what bothers me. Percentages will go up and down over smaller sample sizes like that. What's more concerning is how Markkanen's role shrunk offensively. After averaging 15.3 field goal attempts last season, he slipped down to 11.8 attempts this season per game. Even if you account for a few less minutes, he dropped from 17 FGA to 14 FGA in terms of "per 36" numbers.
As mentioned, Markkanen is an offensive player. He's a shooter. I'm no coaching genius (and neither is Jim Boylen apparently), but I'd encourage a shooter to SHOOT. Because if Markkanen isn't a focal point of your offensive attack, then he's not doing much good for your team. He's not a good defender -- he's not a good rebounder. This is like the Justice League sending Aquaman off to the find evil aliens in the desert; we're misusing his talents here, people.
Practically speaking, the next Bulls' coach needs to rethink the approach with Markkanen. Personally, I believe he has more in the tank offensively than he's been allowed to show so far. Maybe he's not Dirk Nowtizki, but he's still an extraordinary talent as a shooter for his size; I'd make a point of funneling him the ball. And if the problem is that he's getting marginalized by ball-dominant LaVine, then Markkanen should come off the bench as a 6th man scorer instead. He needs to be an offensive priority whenever he's in the game. And consequently, a better offensive philosophy and system needs to be installed in order to allow that to happen.
PART FOUR: Natural growing pains
When the Chicago Bulls' playoff chances slipped away, Jim Boylen and the front office finally unleashed their rookie, Coby White.
White took advantage of that greenlight and turned up the gas as a scorer. He'll end the season with a modest 13.2 points per game, but that undersells his impact as a scorer. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 18.5 points per game. That trended upwards over the course of the season as well. White averaged over 20 points per game in February and March (albeit over a limited 14 game size.) If White can do that as a 20-year-old rookie, then it's fair to suggest that he could be routinely scoring over 20 PPG in his prime.
While Coby White has some obvious virtues -- highlighted by his quickness and his cool hair -- there are some natural concerns and growing pains that he showed. He scored, but he didn't necessarily do that with efficiency. He shot only 39.4% from the field, and netted only a 50.6 true shooting percentage that's well below the league average.
Defensively, White also struggled. Playing "up" at SG for 71% of his minutes (and even at SF for 17%!), White's limited size and limited experience showed. ESPN's real/plus minus metric graded him as -1.9 impact per 100 possessions. If you wanted to count White as a point guard, that would rank 89th best (out of 94 qualifiers.) If you envision him as a shooting guard, that would rank 134th (out of 137 qualifiers.)
That debate -- is Coby White a point guard or shooting guard? -- is an important one. Sure, we're in an era of "position-less" basketball to some extent, but players still have certain roles offensively and certain assignments defensively. White's limited size and length (6'5" wingspan) projects best as a point guard. However, he's more of a scorer than a natural distributor. He only averaged 3.8 assists per 36 minutes this season, not far removed from the 5.2 assists per 36 minutes he averaged back in college at UNC. His playmaking can improve, but he's more of an attack dog by nature.
This combination of strengths and weaknesses makes you wonder about the long-term fit next to Zach LaVine. If the Bulls' long-term plan is to play White at SG and LaVine at SF, then they're always going to be behind the eight-ball in terms of length and rebounding (especially with Lauri Markkanen at the 4.) If their plan is to start White as a point guard, then they're going to have to rely on LaVine to be more of a lead facilitator, or on the entire team to adopt more of a ball-moving offense 1-5.
Most realistically, White projects best as a super-scorer off the bench, a la Lou Williams. To excel in that role, he'll need to continue to draw more free throws (he was at only 2.0 FTA per game as a rookie), but the potential is there to improve his shot selection and become a big-time scorer. Staggering White and LaVine would also allow them to be aggressive as scorers without stepping on each other's toes.
PART FIVE: Done with Dunn?
The other reason that it'll be important for the new Bulls' coach and front office to devise a long-term plan for Coby White is because it will affect other decisions on the roster. Among them: the fate of Kris Dunn.
Like Coby White, Dunn has some extreme strengths and weaknesses -- they just happen to be in opposite order. He EXCELS defensively. He has a big frame (6'9" wingspan) and natural instincts on that end. He nabbed 2.0 steals this season in only 24.9 minutes of action. A lot of times, "steals" can be misleading because they amount to gambling. For Dunn, it's more reflective of his actual talent. He has extremely quick hands; he could have made a lot of money as a gunslinger back in the Old West. In some ways, he reminds you of Andre Iguodala on the ball defensively, combining length, strength, and savvy.
The rest of Dunn's game is a mixed bag. He's not a bad distributor (averaging 6.0 assists in both 2017-18 and 2018-19), but he's a poor shooter. He's also had injury issues flare up over the course of his career. As mentioned, he's already 26 years old, so it's unrealistic to expect him to become a wholly different player in the next few years. With Kris Dunn, you mostly know what you're getting to get. So the question is: do you want it or not?
The Bulls will have to make that choice this offseason, as Dunn enters his (restricted) free agency. There's a chance that COVID will infect the cap and allow them to retain him on his one-year qualified offer of $7M. Alternatively, there's a chance that another team will swoop him and sign him to an offer sheet. He'd make some sense for a team like the Detroit Pistons, who could invest in him as an heir apparent to Derrick Rose at PG. If a team like that offers Dunn a deal in the 3 year, $8-10M per year range, will the Bulls match it? TBD.
Again, a lot depends on their views regarding Coby White. If they envision White as a future starter at PG, then there's less of a need for Kris Dunn. The Bulls would be able to start White at PG as soon as next year, with Tomas Satoransky as a combo guard off the bench and Ryan Arcidiacono serving as a third point guard and insurance policy. If the team envisions Coby White as a SG (or combo guard off the bench) then there's more of a need for Kris Dunn to platoon with Satoransky as a lead guard.
This game of musical chairs may be getting more crowded, because there's also another element at play: yet-another lottery pick.
PART SIX: Drafting some Help
Currently, the Chicago Bulls are slated in the # 7 position in terms of the NBA Draft order. They have a 9% chance of moving up to # 1, and a 32% chance of moving into the top 4. If they can make that leap, then that would mean adding another potential star to the fold. It's not a strong draft by any stretch, but SG Anthony Edwards (Georgia) and C James Wiseman (Memphis) have the potential to be good starters. If they can land someone like that, you ignore "fit", take the potential stud, and work out the rest later.
More likely, the Bulls will be picking in that 7-8 range. That's still a good pick, of course, but not one that should cause you to throw the baby out with the bath water and ignore the composition and needs of your team.
Again, this is why the "Do the Bulls need a PG?" question becomes so critical. This is a poor draft, but it's strongest in terms of its point guard depth. According to ESPN's draft experts, 5 of the top 13 prospects are point guards (LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, R.J. Hampton, Cole Anthony). A few of those -- namely Hayes and Anthony -- are "pure" point guards who don't have enough size to switch around and play minutes at the 2.
Among the crop that's likely to be available around pick 7, here are some potential fits.
PG TYRESE HALIBURTON, IOWA STATE (# 8 on espn). Haliburton is one of the easiest "fits" for the Bulls and for basically every team, because he offers a versatile set of skills. He's technically a point guard (averaging 15.2 points and 6.5 assists last year) and can capably fill that role. Better still, he can be effectively off the ball. His three-point shot looks a little wonky, but he converts it well, hitting 42.6% of his threes in college. Defensively he's got good size (6'5" with a 6'10" wingspan) and instincts (2.5 steals, 1.3 fouls last year). In a sense, Haliburton can be a "3 + D" point guard that plays alongside a ball-dominant player, be it Zach LaVine or Coby White. If the team drafts him, you figure it'd be with the intention of using him as an upgrade on Dunn (slightly worse defense but better offense.)
SG DEVIN VASSELL, FLORIDA STATE (# 16 on espn). Like Haliburton, Devin Vassell is another player who could fit well on virtually every team because of his 3+D potential. He's hit 41.7% of his threes in his two years at FSU with a good-looking form that's aided by good size for his position and a higher release than Haliburton. Right now, Vassell is listed around 6'6" with an estimated 6'10" wingspan, but he looks bigger than that to my eye. That's crucial because it would allow him to play both SG and SF and draw some different assignments defensively. I also like Vassell's personality off the court; he seems like a good kid that should continue to improve. Like Haliburton, Vassell is the type of player that should easily into a lineup with LaVine and/or White.
SF DENI AVDIJA, ISRAEL (# 5 on espn). I'm not going to pretend to have as much confidence in my projection of Avdija, who's played in the international youth circuit and has been a rising star with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Based on what I do know, he could be an intriguing boom/bust pick around # 7. He's a big forward (6'9") who can convert inside, and better yet, has a real knack for playmaking. The Bulls' young stars -- Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen -- are all better scorers than passers right now, so perhaps Avdija can operate as a de facto point forward and help the offense click into place. Right now, his shooting results have been shaky though, so he's not someone you can just throw out there and tell to stand in the corner as a 3+D option. If you take him, you need an actual plan to highlight his skill set. The Bulls' top exec Arturas Karnisovas is from Lithuania originally, so you presume that he'd have no qualms about selecting an European like Avdija (whose dad is Serbian) if need be. Of course, that logic didn't quite work out for Sacramento GM Vlade Divac and Luka Doncic.
SHAKIER FITS. Alternatively, there are some players in the Bulls' draft range that may not be ideal fits. As mentioned, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony are more of traditional ball-dominant point guards; I don't love the idea of that next to Coby White and Zach LaVine. I'd also be wary of Dayton's PF Obi Toppin. Toppin has strong scoring potential with a decent shot and good athleticism inside. That said, he's a little stiff in the hips defensively, and may duplicate Lauri Markkanen in that regard.
PART SEVEN: Buh-Buh Boylen
One of the Chicago Bulls' biggest decisions will be among their first. Technically, the new front office has not fired coach Jim Boylen yet, but it appears that his clock is ticking on that decision. It's only a matter of time.
Candidly, Boylen gets too harsh of a rap from national media and fans. He's not a complete asshat. He's had success as a defensive assistant in the past, and did help the Bulls' defense improve some over the past few years. He'd be a fine assistant coach somewhere in that limited capacity.
However, he does seem woefully out of his depth as a head coach. He's never had success in that role before, and he didn't have any now. His offensive system is virtually nonexistent, and his attitude is boarish. Usually those "Drill Sergeant" coaches get a short-term year or two of improvement from a young team, but he couldn't even do that. We need to pull him out of there before there's a full-on Full Metal Jacket rebellion here.
Looking ahead, the Bulls need to pick a coach that can get the team back on track, especially in terms of their offensive philosophy. That said, the Bulls have to be careful not to "zigzag" too much in their coaching hires. They went from Tom Thibodeau (the gruff, defensive-heavy coach) to the Anti-Thibodeau in Fred Hoiberg (likable, low-key former player), and then jumped on the seesaw again with the complete opposite in Boylen. There's always a tendency to go for the opposite of your last coach, but presumably there's a happy medium in between these two poles. Goldilocks was happy to find something "just right," so Karnisovas should be as well.
According to media reports, Ime Udoka is a top candidate, and would be a natural fit. While Udoka doesn't have head coaching experience yet, he's about as "ready" as any first-time coach would be. He's a former player, and a long-time assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio (and now has worked the last year in Philadelphia.) The Spurs' philosophy is an ideal template for the Bulls to use, both in terms of their offensive ball movement and their locker room culture.
I'd also recommend Kenny Atkinson as a viable candidate. He didn't mesh with the new superstars in Brooklyn, but he'd done a great job prior to that in terms of rebuilding a broken Brooklyn team. He specializes in pace and space offense, and player development. That sounds ideal for this team right now.
There are a few other candidates out there that would be worth interviews (Chris Finch, Wes Unseld Jr., Chris Fleming, Nate Tibbetts, Alex Jensen, Dave Joerger, etc) but Udoka and Atkinson represent a very solid top two. Hiring either of them would be a great first step for this new administration.
The Chicago Bulls' "breakout" didn't happen; instead, they broke down. However, the foundation isn't bad here. If the new front office wants to push for the playoffs next year (manifested by keeping Otto Porter and continuing to play veterans) then it's not unrealistic that they can get up to 35-40 wins with better health and a better offensive system. Conversely, the team may decide they're further away than that, and take a step back to collect their bearings.
Herman Miller (MLHR) - Work from home in your new expensive chair that your boss paid for
submitted by LavenderAutist to smallstreetbets [link] [comments]
Hello fellow poor kids.
My dream ever since May was to post to WallStreetBets, but those elitist snobs have some rule about waiting a month before posting anything (EVEN A COMMENT) to their subreddit. Well, I wrote this DD with the intention of posting it there, and since I cannot, why not post it in the lite version of WSB subreddits (Plus you allow EPIC DD analysis). Enjoy.
Herman Miller (MLHR)
Share Price (06/21/20): $24.01
Share Price (01/02/20): $41.41 Earnings Date
(in less than ten days): 6/30/20 Herman Miller
is an American company that produces office furniture, equipment, and home furnishings. Its signature products include the Aeron Chair, Equa Chair, Noguchi Table, Marshmallow Sofa, and the Eames Lounge Chair.
As we have seen, work-from-home has been a real trend that will continue until a vaccine arrives. Several points below support Herman Miller as a beneficiary of this trend:
· Increasing search traffic
for Herman Miller products
· Employers providing free money
to buy home office furniture (e.g. - $1,500 stipends)
· Large market
of work-from-home employees to sell to with money to spend
· WFH is a potential long term trend and saves employers money
· New e-commerce and gaming initiatives at Herman Miller
· Insider buying at Herman Miller Supporting Information & TL;DR Below: HERMAN MILLER SEARCH TRAFFIC HAS INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY SINCE MARCH
· Google Trends search traffic shows that Herman Miller searches increased 100% after March 2020 and still remain significantly higher than they were before the Coronavirus lockdowns started.
· Other searches on Google Trends that have seen a significant up-tick include “Aeron Chairs,” “Ergonomic,” “Work From Home,” and “Telecommuting.”
· Also, there is some anecdotal evidence about potential delays in shipping to customers that can be found here: Shipping Delays EMPLOYERS PAYING EMPLOYEES TO FURNISH THEIR HOME OFFICE
· Many companies are giving employees money to spend on their home office
· Google offering employees a $1,000 allowance to spend on equipment (Alphabet has over 100,000 employees)
· Facebook giving employees a $1,000 bonus for working from home (Facebook has over 40,000 employees)
· Shopify is letting workers spend up to $1,000 on their work from home gear (Shopify has over 5,000 employees)
· Twitter recently boosted it work from home allowance to $1,000 (Twitter has over 4,000 employees)
· Slack employees get $1,500 for working from home (Slack has over 1,500 employees)
· Indeed and Chegg are providing $500 work from home stipends to employees
· While not all companies are giving a work-from-home “bonus,” many other companies are also giving their work-from-home employees additional compensation or some sort of stipend while they are working remotely.
· “In a recent AON survey of around 1,400 US-based companies, more than one-in-five (over 20%) say they are helping pay for their employees’ home-office equipment.”
· “Meanwhile, nearly a third of companies say they are reimbursing their newly remote employees for their laptops, and more than 14% are paying for their ergonomic office furniture, according to a recent survey by Mercer.”
· Search traffic for home office items has increased significantly since March suggesting that employees are using the money to furnish their home offices
· Google trends searches for “home office” and “office chairs” have doubled since March (with “office chairs” maintaining that doubling through this week)
· Searches for “office chairs” on Slickdeals were up 65% and for “desks” was up 85% since the pandemic started LARGE MARKET (MILLIONS OF HOUSEHOLDS) WITH SPENDING POWER
· Working from home has increased significantly since the pandemic started:
· According to GALLUP, “Sixty-two percent of employed Americans say they have worked from home during the crisis, a number that has doubled since mid-March.”
· In March, the Society for Human Resource Management found that two-thirds of US companies were “taking steps to allow employees to work from home who don’t normally do so.”
· Virtual meetings have skyrocketed this year as evidenced by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet showing the potential rise in home office furniture purchasing
· Zoom meeting participants rose from 10 million in December ’19 to 300 million participants in April ’20 (An increase of 3,000% over five months)
· Microsoft Teams recorded up to 200 million meeting participants in April ’19 and daily active users of 75 million (Daily active users rose 70% in one month)
· Google Meet has hit over 100 million meeting participants and was adding 3 million users per day in April ’19 (Usage increased 30-fold between January and April)
· Work from home employees have disposable income to spend and are not just employees of “silicon valley tech companies.” - What were the demographics of the “average” work-from-homer before the pandemic?
· According to Global Workplace Analytics, “A typical telecommuter (in 2016) is college-educated, 45 years old or older, and earns an annual salary of $58,000 while working for a company with more than 100 employees. 75% of employees who work from home earn $65,000 per year, putting them in the 80th percentile of all employees (home or office-based). WORKING FROM HOME IS A POTENTIAL LONG TERM TREND
· Some companies are committing long term to work-from-home for some of their employees which increases the ROI for workers investing in their home office
· Twitter – “If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work form home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen,” wrote Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s VP of People, in a blog post.
· Facebook – According to Mark Zuckerberg, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale. I think we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently (over the next 10 years).”
· According to GALLUP, “Three in five US workers who have been doing their jobs from home during the coronavirus pandemic would prefer to continue to work remotely as much as possible, once public health restrictions are lifted.”
· According to a Gartner survey, “Nearly three in four (75% of) CFOs plan to shift at least 5% of previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19”
· Many states are seeing continued rises of COVID 19 after reopening which increases the likelihood of companies continuing to have their employees work from home.
· Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Georgia and many other states are seeing significant increases in infections and hospitalizations after reopening
· The impact of Memorial Day activity and Black Lives Matters protests are still not fully seen and could increase the risk of those states closing again. WORK FROM HOME SAVES EMPLOYERS MONEY & INCREASES PRODUCTIVITY
· According to research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics, employers who allow their employees to work from home part-time save about $11,000 per year for each employee working remotely.
· Providing work-from-home stipends and subsidies for employees is more “tax-efficient” as employers can deduct those costs from taxes while employees generally cannot.
· Optimizing your home office increases worker productivity, satisfaction, and morale during a stressful transition from working on-site to working at home.
· “Companies are saying, ‘We want to make sure you’re both comfortable and productive,” said Danielle Lackey, chief legal officer at Motus, a workforce management company.
· “It gets old fast to be working form your couch, and setting up a home office can be expensive,” said Hailley Griffis, Head of public relations at Buffer, a software application company. INCREASED DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER INITIATIVES AT HERMAN MILLER
· In December 2019, Herman Miller hired Debbie Probst as their new President of Retail. She has a ton of experience with online retail as the former President of One King’s Lane. (Before that she was at Abercrombie & Fitch and Neiman Marcus.)
· Since joining in December, Debbie has been focused on building their online sales component. The timing couldn’t have been any more fortunate given the importance of online sales in a Coronavirus environment.
· Debbie was recently interviewed for the Business Of Home podcast (Link here
) where she spoke about Herman Miller's recent initiatives and discussed some of the changes that they are focusing on as a result of the Coronavirus. One of the key points she made was that when people invest in comfortable home furnishings, they are often trading away from a vacation. “[Home] is a category that has very much competed with the experience economy—when people make the decision to invest in a sofa, quite often they’re trading away from a vacation
*, especially with the millennial demographic,” she says. “And [as] the experience economy in the last six to eight weeks has fallen by the wayside, that competitive threat has allowed for a different investment consideration in homes. Our homes are less about investing for the sake of having Instagrammable spaces and more about the luxuries that are going to make home more comfortable or highly functioning during this time.” - Debbie Probst (President - Herman Miller Retail)*
My opinion: Since people are sheltering-in-place and staying home more often, making one's home more comfortable is a priority for many. And since people are not spending as much on experiences, they have disposable income available to invest in more comfort. NEW E-SPORTS PRODUCT LINE INTRODUCED AS NEW GROWTH SEGMENT
· Herman Miller and Logitech recently announced a new gaming focused product line targed at the e-sports market. It is estimated that a half billion people watch e-sports with the industry being valued in the billions.
· While the average gamer spend 7 hours per week, over 7% of gamers spend at least 20 hours per week playing games. Approximately 5% of gamers between the ages of 18-25 play for more than five hours at a time (the average time spent playing for this age rage is a little under 2 hours)
· For pro gamers or gamers looking to turn pro, ergonomics is important to prevent injury and strain while they are practicing for hours on end. A comfortable chair and good equipment can help performance and increase time playing without injury. INSIDER ACTIVITY IS NET POSITIVE
· Michael A. Volkema (Director) purchased 25,000 shares of Herman Miller in May 2020 (over $500,000 in shares). This is significantly after the time stay at home orders were initiated and after many companies were impacted by the Coronavirus. TL;DR:
Herman Miller is benefiting significantly as a result of the “work from home” trend as many employers are giving their employees free money to spend on their home offices. This is evidenced by increased google searches, employer policy announcements (GOOG, FB, TWTR), spikes in teleconferencing activity, positive insider trading activity, and several additional points made above. “Work From Home” trends will sustain for the foreseeable future as COVID cases continue to rise during the summer and skyrocket during the October / November period with no vaccine in place.
Position: Long Shares (Options: $25p, $30c)
Disclosure: I am long MLHR. This is not investment advice. I reserve the right to buy or sell MLHR without updating this thread. Do your own research and share (or not share) with the community in this thread. Thank you to the others on Reddit that shared this idea earlier. Be well.
A Collection of Tavern Games
submitted by eryan64 to DnDBehindTheScreen [link] [comments]
Hey everyone! I've been a long-time viewer of this subreddit and am thankful to you all for some awesome ideas. I wanted to share some of the tavern games that I have created (and stolen) that have been the most fun for my groups to play. All of these have been tested with great success, but I am definitely open if you have any suggestions. Here is a collection of 14 of my favorite tavern games to try with your party! Goblin's Eye
- A game of darts
- Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
- Players take turns rolling 1d20 and 1d6 both at once, three times. The d20 determines what number they hit. The d6 determines where on that number they hit. For example, a 1 is the outer ring (double), a 3 is the inner ring (triple), while a 6 is the bull's eye (50). First player to 301 wins the pot.
- A game of blackjack
- Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
- Each player has access to the following dice: d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4
- You pick which dice to roll and your objective is to get as close as you can to totaling 21 without going over. Once you roll a die, place it off to the side and it contributes to your total—you cannot use that die again this round. Players take turns rolling TWO dice of their choice, then continue taking turns rolling ONE die of their choice until everyone holds or busts.
- Closest to 21 without going over wins the pot.
- A simple game of one-shot slots
- Costs 5gp to play
- Players choose which slot machine to play on. The more difficult the chance of winning, the better the jackpot.
- You roll three of the same dice at the same time. If all the numbers match, you win. It’s that simple!
- 3d4 = 1/16 chance, 80gp
- 3d6 = 1/36 chance, 180gp
- 3d8 = 1/64 chance, 320gp
- 3d10 = 1/100 chance, 500gp
- 3d12 = 1/144 chance, 720gp
- 3d20 = 1/400 chance, 2000gp
- An intermediate game of progressive slots
- Costs 2gp to play
- You roll dice one at a time starting with the d4. If you roll a 3 or below, you can stop and collect your winnings or move on to the d6. If you roll a 3 or below on the d6, then you can stop and collect your winnings or move on to the d8, and so on.
- The winnings get higher and higher as you go up, but your chances of winning also get harder. If at any time you roll a 4 or above you have to start over and play again.
- The d4 gives you 2gp, the d6 gives you 5gp, the d8 gives you 20gp, the d10 gives you 100gp, the d12 gives you 500gp, and the d20 gives you the jackpot of 2000gp.
Dead Eye Dice
- A simple dice game
- Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
- Players take turns rolling 5d6. All numbers on the die are face value except for 3's which are worth 0. Lowest score wins the pot.
Crown & Anchor
- An intermediate dice game
- Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
- Each player starts their hand with a d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4. Each player rolls all of them to start. Any time you roll a 1 on any die you need to discard your “best” die (d20, then d12, etc.). If you get more than one 1 then you discard that many dice starting from the “best” die. Last person with dice remaining in their hand wins the pot.
- A simple betting game
- Players can put any amount of gold on a grid numbered 1 through 6. They then roll 3d6 one time.
- If 1 die matches their bet number, they win 1X the original bet. If 2 dice match their bet number, they win 2X the original bet. If 3 dice match their bet number, they win 3X the original bet. If no die match their bet number, they lose the original bet.
- A game of Texas Hold’em
- Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
- You pick two different dice and roll in secret from one another. At this time, players place their initial bets or fold. House rolls a d6, d8, and d10 one at a time. Raises and folds may occur after each roll.
- The player with the best hand according to the below rankings wins the pot.
- Five of a kind
- Four of a kind
- Full house (three of one, two of another)
- Straight (five in a row)
- Three of a kind
- Two pair (two of one, two of another)
- One pair
- High number
- An intermediate betting game
- Players can put any amount of gold on any of the five critters
- There is a racetrack that is 13 spaces long with the 14th space being the finish line. Each player and DM can take control of a critter (to make it easier) and rolls simultaneously for all five critters on each turn.
- Fox= 2d4 (average speed of 5, max of 8)
- Dog= d4+2 (average of 4.5, max of 6)
- Rat= d8-1 (average of 3.5, max of 7)
- Pig= d12/2 rounded up (average of 3.5, max of 6)
- Badger= d6 (average of 3.5, max of 6)
- If two critters reach the finish line on the same turn, then the one who had more movement remaining wins. If two critters reach the finish line with the same amount of movement remaining, then they roll off to determine the winner.
- Betting odds coordinate with how likely a critter is going to win. For every value B that you bet, you will win A plus the return of your stake.
- After a few races, the animal trainers will put their animals in their cages to rest for the day.
Wheel of Misfortune
- A game of strategy
- Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
- Everyone rolls a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20 in secret.
- The higher the number the better. Each player has one reroll that they can (don’t have to) use anytime in the match where they reroll ALL of their remaining dice (even the good numbers).
- Each round all players take one die they rolled and move it to the middle of the table with their hand covering it. All players reveal and the highest number wins the round. A tie is won by the smaller sided die. A still tie is resolved by rerolling those dice. This is done until all six dice are used up and the person with the most points wins the pot.
- A game of roulette
- Players can put any amount of gold in any of the following locations or a combination of the following locations on the roulette table:
- Odd or even (2:1 chance)
- Corner bet (5:1 chance)
- Split bet (10:1 chance)
- Straight up (20:1 chance)
- For every value B that you bet, you will win A.
- An intermediate game of bluffing
- Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
- Each player starts with five d6 and one cup, which is used to conceal rolls from all other players. Begin by rolling one die to determine who goes first.
- After looking at the numbers they’ve rolled, the first player offers an opening bid to the group. For example, if you have two 2s under your cup, you could start there—or you could predict, with some mathematical certainty, that there are a total of “three 2s” among all the dice on the table, including your own. The next player must then bid either a higher total amount of dice “four 2s” or keep the same amount but move to a higher number “three 3s”, bluffing as needed.
- If you think a competitor is offering up an unlikely bid, call them out. All players must then lift their cups to reveal their respective rolls. If the bid in question cannot be calculated with the dice displayed, the bidder must forfeit one die. The same punishment applies to the accuser, however, if the bid in question can be made from the existing dice. Play continues until only one person has dice remaining, who wins the pot.
- Dexterity challenge
- Need to succeed ability check with DC 10 for 2 daggers, DC 15 for 3 daggers, and DC 20 for 4 daggers with bets on how long the juggler can keep going. Failed throws cause 1d6 non-lethal damage.
- Strength challenge
- Beating your opponent in a STR ability check moves your arm one step closer to victory. You need three steps to knock their arm on the table. Rolling a natural 20 counts as two steps.
I hope you have fun playing these tavern games with your groups, and let me know how they work in your sessions! Game on.
Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning March 2nd, 2020
submitted by bigbear0083 to stocks [link] [comments]
Good Saturday morning to all of you here on stocks
. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week and month ahead.
Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning March 2nd, 2020.
Stock rout may deepen in the week ahead as coronavirus impact starts to show up in economic data - (Source)
Stock investors just experienced one of the nastiest weeks in history that recorded the S&P 500′s fastest correction on record, but hold on tight, the market might have more room to fall as the coronavirus damage starts to creep into upcoming economic data, analysts warned.
Major U.S. stock averages suffered their worst week since the financial crisis as fears about the coronavirus disrupting the global economy scared investors away from risk assets. However, stocks might still be searching for a bottom next week when investors grapple with a slew of economic data potentially dragged down by the outbreak.
The Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing gauge on Monday. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve will publish its latest Beige Book on Wednesday, which will detail anecdotal information on current economic conditions. Many expect U.S. manufacturing to have taken a hit from the coronavirus.
“Look out for ISM surveys and Beige Book for early signs of COVID-19 impact,” Michelle Meyer, Bank of America’s head of U.S. economics, said in a note Friday. “It will take time for the ‘hard’ economic data to show the impact but we are already seeing evidence in early economic indicators.”
Weekend action? The outlook for the week could be changed this weekend by coronavirus headlines or by some sort of intervention by central banks. Expectations are rising on Wall Street that there could be some potential move from the Federal Reserve to get ahead of what could be another rough week.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday the central bank is monitoring the coronavirus and pledged action if necessary. Meanwhile, former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh recommended the Fed act as quickly as Sunday before the markets reopen. The market is already pricing in a 100% chance of at least one rate cut at the Fed’s March policy meeting.
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, is worried about the cascading effect of coronavirus hitting upcoming economic data points. “ISM manufacturing is going to be widely scrutinized,” he said.
The ISM manufacturing index rose to a reading of 50.9 last month, the highest level since July (Any reading above 50 signals expansion.) Bank of America expects ISM manufacturing to pull back to 50.0 and said Fed Beige Book may provide “early insight” into the U.S. economic impact from the deadly virus.
Cutting forecasts Next week, investors will also likely grapple with more warnings from major companies about broken supply chains and easing demand due to the outbreak.
Apple, Microsoft, Nike and United Airlines have all sounded alarms that they will not meet their earnings and revenue guidance because of the virus.
Wall Street strategists this week were quick to slash their forecasts on corporate earnings and the stock market. Barclays sees the S&P 500 to end the year at 3,000, down from a previous forecast of 3,300. The bank also expects a 2% drop in profits this year. Meanwhile, Goldman said it sees zero earnings growth for American companies in 2020.
To be sure, some believe the steep stock rout has gone too far too fast, betting on at least a small rebound.
“The level of panic has become very extreme and the level of downside price movement is pretty extreme. All of that is to me more of a sign that we are getting closer to the beginning of the end of it,” Paulsen said.
Another source of support could come from the Trump administration, where officials are discussing tax cuts, among other economic reactions, as one option to make up for the economic impact of the coronavirus, the Washington Post reported Friday.
Still, investors will have to be on edge for a while now with more virus headlines, as well as the key Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. Some notable investors including “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach blamed the rise of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders for helping accelerate massive sell-off.
This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:
Major Indices for this past week:
Major Futures Markets as of Friday's close:
Economic Calendar for the Week Ahead:
Sector Performance WTD, MTD, YTD:
Percentage Changes for the Major Indices, WTD, MTD, QTD, YTD as of Friday's close:
S&P Sectors for the Past Week:
Major Indices Pullback/Correction Levels as of Friday's close:
Major Indices Rally Levels as of Friday's close:
Most Anticipated Earnings Releases for this week:
Here are the upcoming IPO's for this week:
Friday's Stock Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades:
Gauging Potential Economic Impact of Covid-19
The coronavirus outbreak—or Covid-19 —has caused significant market volatility over the past week. Our approach as always is to focus on economic fundamentals first, but the uncertainty around the scope of the outbreak has made it very difficult to assess potential impact. The situation clearly is unsettling for investors as more cases are reported across Europe and Asia, and the first case of community transmission has been reported in the United States. As this was written, the S&P 500 Index was 10% below its February 19 all-time high.
“The Covid-19 outbreak continues to significantly disrupt economic activity in China and throughout Asia,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Given that China is such a big component of many global supply chains, we will almost certainly see weaker economic data globally over the next several months.”
Even as the situation remains fluid and very uncertain, we want to provide some sense of the potential U.S. and global economic impact.
China: If virus containment holds in China, which is our base case, we could see something like a 3–4 percentage point impact to Chinese economic growth in the first quarter—possibly 2–3% gross domestic product (GDP) growth rather than 5–6%—followed by a much more modest hit in the second quarter. We think we would see a return to trend growth by the third quarter of 2020. This scenario would put China’s 2020 GDP growth below the current 5.6% Bloomberg-tracked consensus, shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, and the Chinese government’s previous 6% annual target. In other words, China’s GDP growth in 2020 could end up closer to 5% than 6%.
United States: At this point, our base case is that any economic disruption in the United States may be modest and short-lived, as we expect domestic efforts at containment to be more successful and have less economic disruption than in China. The outbreak may trim 0.25–0.5% from U.S. GDP over the next couple of months due to global supply chain disruption, falling export demand, and decreased tourism. If evidence emerges over the next month or so that the virus is being contained successfully, as we expect, the economic impact would likely be at the better end of that range (0.25%). In that scenario, damage to business and consumer confidence would be limited, setting the stage for a potential second-quarter rebound. We believe our 1.75% U.S. GDP growth forecast may still be achievable.
Global: In the short-term, the collective hits to global GDP from China, South Korea, Japan, and Italy—the countries where the outbreak impact has been greatest to date—may comprise 0.2–0.3% of global GDP. Our latest global GDP forecast of 3.5% from our Outlook 2020 publication is probably a bit too high in light of the latest news. We expect to update or reaffirm our economic forecasts once we have more clarity around Covid-19 impact in the weeks ahead.
Can the Market Bottom on a Friday?
It's often said that equity markets can't bottom on a Friday. One of the reasons for this line of thinking is that during a market downturn, no one wants to hold onto or bid up equities into a weekend for fear of further bad news. It may just be a matter of semantics, but based on that line of reasoning, the more accurate way to phrase it would be that markets can't bottom on a Thursday or rallies can't begin on a Friday. However you want to think about it, the chart below shows the number of times the closing low of a 10%+ correction has occurred on various weekdays.
Of the 97 S&P 500 corrections since 1928, the day of the week that has marked the low close of a 10%+ decline the least frequently is actually Wednesday with only 10. Behind Wednesday, Friday has been the second most infrequent day of the week for a bottom (15), and Thursday is the only other day of the week where the S&P 500 has made a low on a closing basis less than 20 times. The days of the week where the S&P 500 most frequently bottoms are Monday and Tuesday with 26 and 28, respectively.
Regarding bear markets (20%+ declines), the trend is very similar. Bear markets have been the least likely to end on a Wednesday or Friday and most likely to end on a Tuesday.
Dividend Stock Spotlight: S&P 500's Highest Yielders From The Sell-Off
Given the lower prices of stocks, dividend yields have been on the rise over the past couple of weeks. The dividend yield of the S&P 500 now stands at 2.12% which is the highest since June 3rd of last year when it reached the same level, but only stayed there for a single day. Prior to that, yields were only higher during the Q4 2018 sell-off through February of 2019. At the beginning of the current sell-off on February 19th, the S&P 500's yield was 26 bps lower at 1.86%.
Of the individual stocks in the index, there are now 81 stocks that have dividend yields of 4% or more. That compares to only 64 at the beginning of the sell-off. In the table below, we show the 25 highest yielders of the S&P 500 as well as the price change and change in the dividend yield since the 2/19 record high. As shown, there is only one stock, Macy's (M), that yields over 10% at the moment. This major retailer has fallen out of favor in the past few years but the stock has gotten crushed since the 2/19 market peak having fallen just under 21% in that time. That decline has raised the dividend yield by 2.44 percentage points, but there is one other stock that has seen its yield increase by even more. That stock is Occidental Petroleum (OXY), the second-highest yielder in the index (9.93%). Being an Energy name, OXY has fallen the most dramatically (-29.05%) since 2/19 of all the highest yielders.
While there is a lot of overlap, in the table below we show the stocks that have seen their dividend yields rise the most as stocks have declined since 2/19. Again OXY and M top the list. While no other stocks have seen their dividend yields increase by more than 2 percentage points, there are another 17 who have risen by at least 1 percentage point. Notably, two cruise line stocks, Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean (RCL) find themselves on this list. Carnival (CCL) now yields 6.28% while Royal Caribbean (RCL) yields 4.05%.
The Biggest Losers (and a few winners)
It is no secret that energy stocks have gotten crushed this year, and the list of the 25 worst-performing stocks in the Russell 1000 since the previous record close on February 19th is a prime example of this. Seven energy stocks find themselves on this list, two of which, Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and Kosmos Energy (KOS), take up the number one and two spots having fallen 45.73% and 41.95%, respectively since 2/19. CHK had already been weak headed into the broader market sell-off with a YTD loss on 2/19 over 40%; the past week has added fuel to the fire as it is now down 68.5% YTD. Continental (CLR), Centennial Resource Development (CDEV), Transocean (RIG), and Apergy (APY) are other energy stocks that were down 20% or more on the year headed into this sell-off, and each one has fallen another 20%+ since the 19th. While most of the other biggest losers since 2/19 had already been down on the year, there are some that have seen their gains in 2020 get erased due to this sell-off like Nutanix (NTNX), Qurate Retail (QRTEA), Anaplan (PLAN), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Chemours (CC), and CommScope (COMM). Some other notable losers of this group have been those heavily reliant on travel like American Airlines (AAL) and the cruise line stocks like Norwegian (NCLH) and Royal Caribbean (RCL).
Given how breadth has been over the past week, it may not come as any surprise that since the February 19th high there are only 18 stocks of 1000 in the Russell 1000 index that are higher. Four of those are up less than one percent. In the table below we show all of these stocks. Given the sell-off has centered around coronavirus fears, it is sensical that a coronavirus vaccine developer Moderna (MRNA) is the best performing stock since 2/19. What is amazing is there was not much momentum with this name headed into the sell-off. As of 2/19, the stock was actually down 3.27% year to date, but as the Covid-19 saga has moved along it is now up well north of 30% on the year. A few other health care names like Regeneron (REGN) and Gilead (GILD) have also benefited from the coronavirus.
The histogram below shows the distribution of performance of Russell 1000 stocks since 2/19. As mentioned above, there are very few stocks in the index that are up since the 2/19 high. The highest share of stocks are down between 10% and 15% while the next highest share are down between 5% and 10%. Of the worst decliners, there are 75 stocks that have fallen over 20%.
Looking at the individual sectors, again Energy was extremely weak even before equities sold off. On 2/19, the average Energy stock in the Russell 1000 in that sector was down 15.6% YTD. While they hadn't tipped into the red yet, Consumer Staples were only up 1 bp.
Since the 2/19 high for the US equity market, the average stock in the Russell 1,000 is down well over 10%. The average Energy stock is down the most at -21%, followed by Communication Services and Technology at -13%. Consumer Staples stocks have performed the best with an average decline of 8.9%.
This leaves every sector down year-to-date. Utilities have generally outperformed only falling 2.3%, but the sector is sitting on a loss nonetheless. Of the worst sectors, Industrials, Consumer Discretionary, Materials, and of course Energy have fallen 10% or more.
Global Equity Benchmarks Distance From YTD Highs
The recent equity sell-off has clearly been global in nature as concerns of a global pandemic rise. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the way equities have sold off recently is that the country that has been hardest hit by the virus is closer to its YTD high than any other major global equity benchmark. The chart below shows the distance that each major global equity benchmark has declined relative to its YTD high. China's Shanghai Composite is down just 4.45%, which is better than any other country shown. Sure, you could argue that the Chinese government is manipulating the market and prohibiting investors from selling, but even the ETF that tracks the CSI 300 (ASHR) is down less than 6%, so anyone could go in and trade at these levels. Manipulated or not, the numbers are the numbers.
At the bottom of the list, Brazil's Ibovespa index is down more than any other country at 11.6% and that country has only reported one confirmed case so far. With respect to US indices, the Russell 2000 is down the second most of any major global benchmark (-9.19%), while the Nasdaq is down the fourth most at 8.68%. Even the S&P 500 is down close to 8%. These weak US readings come in a backdrop where there have only been 57 confirmed cases and all but a couple are instances where Americans contracted the virus outside of the United States and have been brought to the US under quarantine. Join Bespoke Premium to access Bespoke's most actionable stock market research and analysis.
Just Four S&P 500 Stocks Up This Week
There's still another day left in the week, but unless things improve on Friday this will go down as one of the worst weeks for US equities in history. Since WWII, there have only been four other weeks where the S&P 500 was down more than 10% in a given week. On a related note, there are also only four stocks in the entire S&P 500 that are positive for the week! Leading the way higher, Regeneron (REGN) is up a healthy 7.1% while Gilead (GILD) is up just over 4%. Behind these two, the only other stocks that are higher now than they were at last Friday's close are Clorox (CLX) and CME Group (CME). Here are the most notable companies (tickers) reporting earnings in this upcoming trading week ahead-
On the downside, there are a lot more losers, but in the interest of space, below we have only listed the 17 stocks in the S&P 500 that are down over 20% this week alone. Looking through the names on the list, the cruise lines are well represented with Royal Caribbean (RCL), Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH), and Carnival (CCL). Besides these names, American Airlines (AAL) is down 26%, while Live Nation (LYV) is down 22.2%.
One thing we've heard a number of people argue the last few days is that some of the weakness this week is related to the increasing likelihood that Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. If that's the case, why is not a single one of the worst-performing stocks from the Health Care sector, and why is the Health Care sector the third best performing sector this week and one of just four that is not down 10% so far this week?
Below are some of the notable companies coming out with earnings releases this upcoming trading week ahead which includes the date/time of release & consensus estimates courtesy of Earnings Whispers:
Monday 3.2.20 Before Market Open:
Monday 3.2.20 After Market Close:
Tuesday 3.3.20 Before Market Open:
Tuesday 3.3.20 After Market Close:
Wednesday 3.4.20 Before Market Open:
Wednesday 3.4.20 After Market Close:
Thursday 3.5.20 Before Market Open:
Thursday 3.5.20 After Market Close:
Friday 3.6.20 Before Market Open:
Friday 3.6.20 After Market Close:
([CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!]()) NONE.
Target Corp. $103.00
Target Corp. (TGT) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:30 AM ET on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.66 per share on revenue of $23.49 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.68 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 74% expecting an earnings beat Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 8.50% with revenue increasing by 2.23%. On Friday, February 28, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,641 contracts of the $100.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Plug Power, Inc. $4.34
Plug Power, Inc. (PLUG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.06 per share on revenue of $90.15 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.05) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 66% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 25.00% with revenue increasing by 50.70%. Short interest has increased by 29.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 59.6% from its open following the earnings release to be 39.8% above its 200 day moving average of $3.10. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, January 17, 2020 there was some notable buying of 2,010 contracts of the $5.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 20.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.
JD.com, Inc. $38.51
JD.com, Inc. (JD) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 5:00 AM ET on Monday, March 2, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.44 per share on revenue of $23.81 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.47 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 76% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 1,000.00% with revenue increasing by 21.41%. Short interest has decreased by 9.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 9.9% from its open following the earnings release to be 19.4% above its 200 day moving average of $32.25. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 12, 2020 there was some notable buying of 8,001 contracts of the $38.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.5% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.3% move in recent quarters.
Zoom Video Communications, Inc. $105.00
Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.07 per share on revenue of $176.36 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 82% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of approximately $0.07 per share on revenue of $175.00 million to $176.00 million. The stock has drifted higher by 63.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 29.0% above its 200 day moving average of $81.40. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 12.1% move on earnings in recent quarters.
Costco Wholesale Corp. $281.14
Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.06 per share on revenue of $38.34 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 75% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 2.49% with revenue increasing by 8.32%. Short interest has decreased by 9.0% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 4.6% from its open following the earnings release to be 1.6% below its 200 day moving average of $285.72. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, February 27, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,125 contracts of the $285.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 8.2% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 3.8% move in recent quarters.
Tilray, Inc. $14.43
Tilray, Inc. (TLRY) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, March 2, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.34 per share on revenue of $55.35 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.40) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 51% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 3.03% with revenue increasing by 256.38%. Short interest has increased by 25.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 32.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 49.5% below its 200 day moving average of $28.57. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 2,011 contracts of the $15.00 call expiring on Friday, April 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 26.7% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.5% move in recent quarters.
AutoZone, Inc. -
AutoZone, Inc. (AZO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:55 AM ET on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $11.87 per share on revenue of $2.58 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $12.01 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 73% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 3.31% with revenue increasing by 5.28%. Short interest has decreased by 7.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 16.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.3% below its 200 day moving average of $1,113.49. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 8.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.1% move in recent quarters.
Kohl's Corporation $39.15
Kohl's Corporation (KSS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.92 per share on revenue of $6.80 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.91 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 40% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 14.29% with revenue decreasing by 0.34%. Short interest has decreased by 2.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 19.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 19.9% below its 200 day moving average of $48.86. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Monday, February 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 809 contracts of the $40.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.7% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 9.5% move in recent quarters.
Splunk Inc. $147.33
Splunk Inc. (SPLK) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.96 per share on revenue of $783.94 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.00 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 91% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of approximately $780.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 31.51% with revenue increasing by 26.02%. Short interest has increased by 2.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 9.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 10.8% above its 200 day moving average of $132.95. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 2,414 contracts of the $155.00 call expiring on Friday, March 6, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 13.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.6% move in recent quarters.
Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. $83.03
Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. (DLTR) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.75 per share on revenue of $6.39 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.75 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 61% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $1.70 to $1.80 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 9.33% with revenue increasing by 2.98%. Short interest has decreased by 7.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 13.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 17.9% below its 200 day moving average of $101.15. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,974 contracts of the $85.00 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.9% move in recent quarters.
DISCUSS! What are you all watching for in this upcoming trading week?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a great trading week ahead stocks.
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