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 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 06:12 am
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44th VA INF
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I have currently been looking closely at the battle of Gettysburg and wat i notice is that many book in school and published books fail to relise how close the south came to the much desired conclusion battle many say there was no way the confedrates could have broken the union line when they held the highgroud  and outnumbered them fighting on the second day might have ended in confedrate victory if longstreet attack would have commenced ealier like lee planned and another thing was ewell did not follows Lee oreders to take the hill s outside the town anyway i would enjoy to here yas commentss on the subject



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 06:52 am
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Captain Crow
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Lee should have never invaded Pennsylvania to begin with. Davis should have utilized a sizeable portion of the available troops-and possibly leadership-to releave Vicksburg. However since Lee did invade he should have broken off the engagement after the first day, moved between Meade and the capitol, and then possibly he could have enticed Meade to attack on ground of Lee's own choosing.

Last edited on Sat Aug 30th, 2008 06:57 am by Captain Crow



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 01:17 pm
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martymtg
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I don't think invading Pa was a mistake. He knew his resources were limited and time and money were on the North's side. So he gambled on a big victory on Yankee soil, knowing that it could be enough to arouse already strong Northern sentiment to end the war and possibly entice the English to come in on  the Confederate side. The British navy would have been able to stop the North from bottling up the ports, which would have changed the whole dynamic of the South's being unable to procure materials.

The longer the war stayed in the south the more the countryside was depleted (by both armies). Lee figured that if the people in the north felt the war the way Virginia had, the outcry for the war to end would be that much greater. It was a dice roll, but very understandable. Add to that the fact that the ANV to that point had seemed almost unbeatable.

But so many things went wrong that at that point maybe he should have marched straight on Washington, and, as you say, found his own ground to fight. What choice would Meade have had but to follow and engage?

 



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 01:59 pm
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britain would never support a Confederacy that meant to preserve slavery. they could have quite easily opened enough ports had the Conf. leadership/congress began some measures to end the peculiar institution.

but without british support (ship-building + armament supply) the South would not have persisted as long as it did.

i agree given that the South intended to go it alone, only a revolutionary modeled pronlonged resistance (defensive oriented strategy) could have endured Winfield's Scotts anaconda plan and northern industry. as capt crow says this more flexible and conservative method may have been used to free vicksburg or later that fall to take and hold chattanooga....

every significant northern invasion ended poorly for the South. AoT at Perryville, AoNV Antietam/Gettysburg, AoTM west port/mine creek, Morgan in Ohio. While in some cases time was bought or supplies gained or made useless to the north, overall these initiatives greatly depleted precious resources and in most cases were conducted at the expense of campaigns elsewhere.

Last edited on Sat Aug 30th, 2008 02:00 pm by Scout



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 02:14 pm
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Kinda agreeing with Captain Crow here. It seems to have appeared, to Lee at least, that there was a good chance that his unbeatable army could once again prevail.

Today it appears to have been a fool's errand in that he was dependent of a long line of rickety wagons, broken-down horses, and the provender of the countryside. (A moving army can live off the land so long as it is moving.) When he stopped at Gettysburg, the rock was met and the hard place was squeezing up behind him.

Must disagree with marty. Going around Meade to strike directly at Washington, Baltimore or Philadelphia would have been reckless, even for Lee. His supply line was, at best, tenuous -- leaving Meade behind him would have severed it completely and left a very large Union army behind him and formidable defenses in front of him. Lee was audacious, but that would have been foolish.

His chance, and I'm convinced it was his intent, was in catching Meade in a situation where Meade would be forced to attack him. (And, quite possibly, to avoid sending part of his army to rescue/relieve Vicksburg.)

It was risky, but the alternative was to do nothing: at least equally fatal to the AoNV.

ole



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 04:49 pm
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I  do think victory at Gettsyburg was possible but soe things that contribute to the confedrate loss was that Lee was used to ishuing genrals orders to his comanders and having them make up the details  and Genral ewell and Genral hill who were both excelent division commanders were not use to this.



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 06:01 pm
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44th VA INF wrote: I  do think victory at Gettsyburg was possible but soe things that contribute to the confedrate loss was that Lee was used to ishuing genrals orders to his comanders and having them make up the details  and Genral ewell and Genral hill who were both excelent division commanders were not use to this.There's no question that since the AoNV had been recently re-organized, with newly appointed corps leaders, that command and control was not as it should have been for Lee. That being said, it only further reinforces the argument against a nothern thrust to begin with. Instead of saving Vicksburg(thus keeping the South intact) they go north, get beaten, and by July 4th have been dealt a 1-2 knockout punch from which they never fully recover. The Gettysburg campaign, while being fascinating to study and dramatic in it's conclusion, was a form of folly the Conferacy could ill afford.
Even if Lee wins at Gettysburg there is no guaranty that he would have had the means neccessary to invest the defences at Washington. So the best that could have come from this invasion was a  major strategic loss at Vicksburg coupled with a very costly tactical victory in Pennsylvania...in my estimation that's a formula that doesn't favor ultimate victory for the South.

Last edited on Sat Aug 30th, 2008 06:02 pm by Captain Crow



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 09:53 pm
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I understand, Ole, but the amount of desperation that Lee (justifiably) felt cannot be overstated. Nor, probably, can the amount of confidence he had in his army.

So it almost becomes two separate questions. The first is: should he have invaded the North at all, and if you feel that he had valid reason for doing so, the next q is, once the chips were falling into place, and he knew the Union occuppied the high ground, should he have pressed the attack anyway, as he did.

You've got to think, any surprise advantage he'd gained by his brilliant march up the Shenandoah had to be nullified by the fact that he didn't know where THEY were, either. We all know that Jeb was not around to keep Lee abreast of the AoP's whereabouts. Once there, the attacks Lee ordered on the flanks, which were supposed to be simultaneous, did not go off as planned (did Pete drag his feet?). Was Ewell hesitant, as the movie indicates, or were his men just dog-tired by that point? Was it the plan or the execution? Lee probably believes that if his plan had been carried out correctly he'd have rolled both flanks.

Day 3, Anderson, (did I spell that right?) one of the best artillery men on either side, can't gauge his bombardment and make adjustments, partly because of the smoke, but mostly because when you're shooting uphill you have no way of knowing how much you're over-shooting. So the bombardment's effect is minimal, and Pickett has no cover on a mile+ march into the teeth of the union line. With a fence thrown in 2/3 of the way up for good measure.

On the other hand, Lee knows resources are limited, he knows the war in the west is not going nearly as well. He decides to go up the middle, and they actually breach the line, but are unable to sustain.

So lets say you're Lee, and Day 2 has come and gone with the Union still entrenched on the heights. What would you have done?

Sorry I got long winded. I enjoy these discussions with you boys.

 



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 10:06 pm
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martymtg
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That's good stuff, Captain.

I just think he wasn't going so much for a long campaign as he was for a victory on northern soil that would so demoralize the North that the anti-war clamour would have been too great for Washington to ignore.

Then saving Vicksburg becomes academic. And I also think that the AoNV and Jeff Davis were more concerned with Richmond's safety.



 Posted: Sat Aug 30th, 2008 10:45 pm
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So it almost becomes two separate questions. The first is: should he have invaded the North at all, and if you feel that he had valid reason for doing so, the next q is, once the chips were falling into place, and he knew the Union occuppied the high ground, should he have pressed the attack anyway, as he did.

Excellent observations from both of you gentlemen. (Are you ganging up on me?) Let's start with this.

Consider his alternatives in both cases: He can't very well sit on his hands in Virginia -- this is not Lee. To do nothing allows the AotP to do the planning and the maneuvering. Go to any successful commander. You never, never let the opposition take the initiative. He gets ahold of that and you are limited to responding. Same thing when he ran up against Meade at Gettysburg: he can't let Meade take the initiative ... so he does.

When we sit here and opine that he should have folded and saved his army, we're looking at his situation from a modern, non-military perspective.
Davis should have utilized a sizeable portion of the available troops-and possibly leadership-to releave Vicksburg.
When Grant landed at Bruinsburg, Vicksburg was already gone. Grant had the west bank so nothing was running through Vicksburg anyway. (Actually, Vicksburg was not really a major player in the west-to-east movement. Vicksburg did block the free movement of Union shipping on the Mississippi, but that bottleneck didn't stop Union supplies from feeding the troops in New Orleans.) Bottom line, relieving Vicksburg would not have changed Confederate fortunes. Consequently, sending troops to relieve Vicksburg would have been an empty gesture and would have given no appreciable boost to Confederate arms (except for phsycological and morale).

However since Lee did invade he should have broken off the engagement after the first day, moved between Meade and the capitol, and then possibly he could have enticed Meade to attack on ground of Lee's own choosing.


And Lee was going to do what to feed his men after he moved between Meade and the Capital? Check the roads between Gettysburg and Washington, Baltimore, Harrisburg, or Philadelphia. It's not quite so easy to march around either of Meade's flanks. On the march, the commander doesn't have the luxury of entrenching. He has to have flankers out with no wagons to speak of. His train (what there was of it) has to be walled off from opposing cavalry; consequently, the troops live on what they carry. Given that the AoNV pulled off amazing feats of endurance, such a move would severly tax the troops. I don't see moving around Meade as an option.

ole



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 12:05 am
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Excellent oppion ole Ibelive that we should have broken off the battle after the 2nd day the attacks by longerstreet ont he right faln nearly seeced but was repulsed if that attack had seeced Lee could shell there flank from he round tops and rool up there line like a piece of paper forcin meade to evacuate and them we could have attacked them while they were on the move and deshtroy the army of the potamc and the war could have been won that day

 



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 12:22 am
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izzy
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Huh?  Spell that again.



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 12:54 am
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Good shootin' Ole. I can see you ain't just another pretty face.

Marching up the other side of the mountain range, unbeknownst to the AoP, whose leadership is in flux, up the Shenandoah among rebel sympathizers pretty much the whole way, is a much different animal than just 'sliding around' Meade. Now Meade knows he's there, and every move will be scouted and countered. If we concede that argument, Lee had no choice but to take the fight to Meade.

He couldn't very well sit and watch and live off the Pa. countryside, like Hannibal did for 16 years in Rome, not while the western campaign was going badly and the harbors were blockaded. The north had all the manufacturing. Even the railroads in the north were better. Lee was looking for shoes, for cryin out loud.

As you say, Lee to that point had already befuddled all the previous union commanders by being bold and brash in the face of their indecision and hesitance. And, OK, incompetence.

So, if we continue this discussion, what should he have decided going into Day 3?

Should he have pounded away at the flanks, which he was aware were being strengthened through out the night?

Or do we wind up deciding that Pickett's charge was his only real viable option, after all?

Last edited on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 01:29 am by martymtg



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 02:20 am
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I suspect the mere threat of attacking Washington would have prompted a speedy response from Meade thus negating the need to "sit and wait". At that point Lee was essentially living off the land and out of his wagons anyway. I doubt there was a massive flow of supplies coming from the Shenandoah considering one of the stated reasons for going north was to facilitate that region's renewal.
Also I must heartily dispute the assertion that Vicksburg did not have a major controlling influence in flow of manpower and supplies west to east and vice versa. After the fall of that city the trans-Mississippi pretty much withered on the vine from lack of military goods that were mostly manufactured east of the Mississippi. And it definitely deprived the Eastern theater of a source of manpower and foodstuffs by closing off Texas as well as Louisiana and Arkansas.

In addition, when I earlier stated that Vicksburg should have been relieved rather than beginning this northern folly I meant relief should have been sent via rail long before the time of the Gettysburg campaigns inception. Imagine what a corps of infantry along with perhaps Lee himself taking overall command as well as uniting with and organizing Johnston's scattered forces could have accomplished. Imagine this is done in early may before Champion hill but after Grant crosses the river. Imagine a single voice of unquestioned authority such as Lee's orchestrating the strategy and it's not hard to imagine U.S. Grant getting a much hotter reception than he historically did. also keep in mind that before the blitzkrieg of the Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, and Big Black river victories Grant held only a slim advantage in overall numbers. Personally I would put my money on Lee when fighting a defensive campaign while possessing at least a numerical parity with his opponent.

And as for the Eastern theater, I suspect Longstreet with 2 corps of infantry along with Stuart's cavalry (not to mention the various scattered units at his disposal in Virginia and North Carolina) would have been more than enough to handle whatever feeble offensive George Meade could have mustered. Remember after all that Meade is the guy who essentially sat on his hands while the much depleted AoNV escaped across the Potomac after Gettysburg. an offensive juggernaut he was not.
Of course I realize that the probability of getting Lee to come east is pretty much nil. But hey we're dealing with "what ifs" here so we might as well go all out eh?

Last edited on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 02:21 am by Captain Crow



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 03:13 pm
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No doubt that Meade allowed the AoNV to escape when he possibly could have ended the war right there. Give him credit for the victory, despite the fact that he didn't get there and take command until Day 1 was already in the books. But among all these 'what ifs' it must be mentioned that he was in a position to cut off the retreat of a stunned army and didn't act.

This didn't sit well with Lincoln, nor did Meade's commment that "We have pushed the invaders from our country," to which Lincoln responded, "ITs ALL our country!" (or words to that affect)

I still don't see Lee ever straying that far from Virginia and leaving Richmond exposed to aid Vicksburg, tho, or Davis ever giving that order. After all, there are two huge armies within proximity of each other's capitol. And, again, Lee wanted that big victory on Northern soil, he wanted the north to 'feel' the war. He probably didn't believe that a long, drawn out, defensive war could be won in the end, in the face of the North's greater resources. If he marches to support Vicksburg he's probably giving up any chance of ever fighting on Yankee soil. And everything he'd done boldly to that point had pretty much worked. For my money, even Antietam was really a confederate victory, altho at too great a cost. He's well aware of the indecision and incompetence of the AoP's command, northern anti-war sentiment, and he decides to go for the jugular, which leads to Gettysburg.

That doesn't mean you're not correct that supporting the defense of Vicksburg may have been the best course of action. I just don't think it was a serious consideration. As far as how vital (and far gone) Vicksburg was at that point, I'll leave that one for you and Ole to hash out.



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 03:33 pm
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Gettysburg was one of the  closetes battles of the civil war ift he confedrates had got on the roundtops the confedratrates would be able to shell and roll up there line like piece of paper and then attack meade on the move trying t evacuate and the war would have been over that day



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 03:33 pm
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Pickkets charge would have needed 30,000 men to break the union line though

Last edited on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 03:35 pm by 44th VA INF



 Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 06:55 pm
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44th,

There's no doubt that the occupation of Little Roundtop was the key to the battle, particularly for the Union because it gave their flank an impregnable anchor.

They say that Ewell could have gotten there first but hesitated. Lee's orders to him were. "Take those hills if you think it practicable."

Ewell is criticized to no end for not doing it, but he was coming off a forced march and if I'm not mistaken, his men had already been engaged in heavy fighting through a good part of the day.

Give Warren the credit for seeing the importance of the hill, Strong Vincent for getting there without waiting for definitive orders, and the 20th Maine and Chamberlain for refusing to crumble under sustained attacks from Longstreet. Vincent actually risked disciplinary or even court martial proceedings by taking it upon himself to divert troops that had other orders and sending them up to Little Round Top.

So it seems that for once, union leadership was firm where the confederate generals hesitated, instead of the other way around. It could even be argued that Buford did everything for Meade and Reynolds that Jeb Stuart failed to do for Lee. Altho Stuart was an excellent and fearless cavalry commander, his failure to report to Lee or even stay in contact may be a bigger failure than Ewell's. Contrast that with Buford's immediate recognition that the whole rebel army was on the doorstep, dismounting his 2,500 cavalrymen to hold off the Reb infantry while Reynolds approached from some 8 miles away. Buford slowly gave way thru town, buying time and knowing that if he could retreat in orderly fashion to the heights he'd have averted the disaster of the Rebs settling in on the high ground. This while sustaining severe losses to his cavalry, men that were used to fighting on horseback.

So when the smoke clears, the question still remains what should Lee have done Day 3.

This is a good discussion you got going with your question the other day.

 

 



 Posted: Mon Sep 1st, 2008 03:03 am
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On Day 3, there's the question of, what was Lee's real plan with Pickett's Charge? I have always found it hard and a little too simplistic to believe Lee thinking, Well, we tried both flanks and failed--let's try the middle of the line! However, if his plan was truly to have Jeb Stuart come from the rear of the Union lines, in effect to have that "pincher effect" then throwing 15,000 men against the center of the Union line makes more sense. He couldn't have known until too late about Stuart's failure. I think Lee was bold, had proven himself to be so over and over leading up to Gettysburg, but I don't think he was reckless. There's a difference.

I can't help thinking somewhere around Day 1 Lee was thinking, If only Jackson was here. . .

Pam



 Posted: Mon Sep 1st, 2008 04:16 am
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When Lee Marched to gettysburg his army thought they were invinsble also the preassure of being so close to ending the war must have began to take its toll on genral Lee



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