Trump’s Gettysburg Address Featured a Pirate Impression


Former President Trump Holds Rally In Schnecksville, Pennsylvania

Trump speaks at a rally on April 13 in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania.
Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

For many years, Donald Trump has been engaged in a posthumous, one-sided rivalry with Abraham Lincoln. Trump has repeatedly suggested that he might actually have been a better president than Lincoln, noting that his predecessor did not use the “art of the deal” to negotiate his way out of the Civil War and that he had lower poll numbers (though presidential polling didn’t exist in the 1860s).

Now, Trump has bested Lincoln once again — in a way. While Lincoln’s 1863 speech commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg remains one of the best-known in American history, Trump’s speech about Gettysburg features a pirate impression.

During an April 13 rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania — about two hours from Gettysburg — Trump regaled the audience with a retelling of the turning point in the Civil War. While Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle in the conflict, with more than 50,000 estimated casualties over three days, in Trump’s version, it was “so beautiful.”

“Gettysburg, what an unbelievable battle that was,” Trump said. “The Battle of Gettysburg. What an unbelievable — it was so much and so interesting, and so vicious and horrible, and so beautiful in so many different ways. It represented such a big portion of the success of this country. Gettysburg, wow.”

“Wow” indeed. Trump continued rambling about Robert E. Lee, lamenting that the Confederate general who fought to preserve slavery is “no longer in favor,” then suggesting that his men had screwed up Lee’s famous directive “Never fight uphill, me boys.” Explained Trump:

Robert E. Lee, who’s no longer in favor — did you ever notice it? He’s no longer in favor. “Never fight uphill, me boys, never fight uphill.” They were fighting uphill. He said, “Wow, that was a big mistake.” He lost his big general. “Never fight uphill, me boys,” but it was too late.

The problem with this account is that Robert E. Lee did not talk like Captain Jack Sparrow or the Lucky Charms leprechaun. The Confederate general didn’t give this command at the Battle of Gettysburg. And as historian T.J. Stiles pointed out on X, several months later the Union won the Battle of Missionary Ridge after soldiers charged uphill to overtake the Confederates.

Whatever, historian. Most Americans can’t remember what “four score and seven years ago” means, let alone actual facts about the Civil War. Wouldn’t it be more fun if we ditched the textbooks and let kids enjoy cool monuments to American traitors and run around shouting, “Never fight uphill, me boys”?

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