General John Buford, commander of a Union Calvary force consisting of 2,500 men, sat horseback on a hill located in the Gettysburg town cemetery on June 30, 1863 and watched thousands of Confederate infantry march out of the town. Buford’s job to scout for and locate the enemy was now accomplished. Instinctively, Buford recognized that the whole of General Robert E. Lee’s Northern Virginia Army was now joined on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Buford also realized that he now sat on the high ground and that Lee’s army had only one way to pass through the town and that was below the high ground.
Buford also had a choice to make – he could return to the main Union Army base and report on Lee’s position – forfeiting the critical strategic advantage of the high ground – which would surely lead to massive casualties to the Union Army and most probably another defeat at the hands of Lee’s Confederate forces. Or, Buford could stay, dig in and hold the high ground and hope that Union reinforcements would arrive before his troops were overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of men in the Confederate army.
While Buford contemplated his decision, one thought grew in conviction in his mind: a major battle would be fought over the next few days and the high ground would make all the difference in deciding the outcome of that battle.
Buford chose to stay and fight to hold the high ground. On July 1, 1863 beginning early in the morning Confederate forces attacked Buford’s position. Buford and his men repulsed attack after attack all morning. However, by late morning, ammunition was beginning to run low and the effect of being vastly outnumbered by the enemy was beginning to wear down Buford’s men. Buford figured they could hold on to their positions for another half hour and was contemplating a strategic retreat when he sighted the promised relief from the Union Army in General Reynolds and his Corps of men moving to him.
Buford’s choice to stay – to do what he could do changed the course of the Battle of Gettysburg and in turn the ultimate outcome of the Civil War. Buford’s choice was a deliberate action to do what he could do – to understand and recognize those things over which he had limited or no control - and to then focus on and do what he could do.
While we are not on a battlefield with guns and artillery, we still feel like our ‘normal’ way of life has exploded and we are caught in a pressure vise that squeezes us with unrelenting force. Fears of the unknown plague our thoughts, sometimes freezing our ability to move forward. Decisions we were able to make so cleanly just weeks ago now feel labored and difficult. So, what do we do?
Buford’s experience illustrates an age-old maxim – Do what we can do! Focus on what we can do – recognize the parts of our life over which we have limited or no control and then get on with what we can do.
How does this apply to investment assets? First, we are in this battle together - we, Cannon Capital Management, are invested in the same assets you are. Assets that have weathered recessions, political uncertainties, natural disasters and wars. Always the assets recover – why? Because underneath the assets we have invested in are people like you and us, people who will not be defeated and who are determined to make life better. People who focus on what they can do and do it. Investing in assets in which people have the ability and the willingness to improve their businesses makes our investments able to withstand enormous pressure and the fears of the unknown and to grow in value. We hold the high ground.
Now, because we hold the high ground it does not make us immune from economic difficulties – it does, however, give us confidence that we will recover and be rewarded for our ability to hold the high ground. As part of holding the high ground we are making strategic and tactical adjustments to our portfolios, positioning them to take advantage of an economic recovery that we believe will begin to materialize as we progress through this year.
We are also adjusting the way in which we meet with you – phone calls, video conferences are now becoming the norm. We plan to post more articles and videos on our website providing commentary on how we are taking care of your money. We are looking forward to seeing and meeting you in person, in the interim, we like many of you, are working from our respective homes. We have forwarded our office phones to our mobile numbers – we are anxious for you to be able to reach us with your questions and concerns.
Finally, in this time of uncertainty, there is one thing we are certain of – we will emerge from this historic pandemic, we will use the knowledge and experiences gained to better ourselves and we will move forward, and we will do it together!
We hope and pray for the health and safety of you and your family.