For a new repo,

Believe these are the steps to at least setup the gh-pages branch using 
this github instruction page as guidance
https://help.github.com/articles/creating-project-pages-manua

- Clone the repo locally
- Create an orphaned gh-pages branch locally
- Remove the existing files (likely the master branch)

Now,
The github instructions describe how to create a file called index.html and 
commit/push the change to github.
After pushing the file to github, as expected the gh-pages branch is also 
created remotely.
I was hoping that it should be possible to simply merge the master branch, 
ie (while the working branch is gh-pages)

git merge master

But, it isn't working, possibly because the operation is being executed 
locally and not remotely? If this is the case, is there a "remote merge"

Am hoping to avoid downloading the master branch, copying elsewhere, then 
switching to the gh-pages branch, then copying all the master branch files 
into the local gh-pages branch before uploading which is similar to the FTP 
workaround (There, you also cannot simply dopy a file, you also have to 
download and re-upload).

TIA,
TS


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