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 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 12:22 am
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Doc C
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Wouldn't have mattered how much strength Lee had remaining, Meade still had the huge not engaged 6th Corp sitting to the east of the Baltimore Pike and the relatively fresh 5th Corp. These 2 corps were just sitting there in easy supporting distance for any move Lee's army was to make, i.e. break through at the round tops, cemetery ridge, etc.

Doc C



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 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 02:10 am
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Doc C wrote: Wouldn't have mattered how much strength Lee had remaining, Meade still had the huge not engaged 6th Corp sitting to the east of the Baltimore Pike and the relatively fresh 5th Corp. These 2 corps were just sitting there in easy supporting distance for any move Lee's army was to make, i.e. break through at the round tops, cemetery ridge, etc.

Doc C
yep that's true....which only serves to further illustrate my contention against the wisdom of fighting this ill advised action at all.



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 02:15 am
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Bama46 wrote: Captn Crow,

I really like the 50mph speed limit on the trace...ok so I go about 60 or so, but the point is that it is a leisurly drive down a gorgeous road that is for the most oart lightly traveled.. I have driven the trace through Tennessee and Mississippi and only dislike it thru the NW Alabama corridor because to me it represents civilization in an area that for most of my life was/is wild and unspoiled.... so long as folks leave NW Alabana that way, I guess i can tolerate the trace!

Ed
c
I can see your point...I'm still working on the leisurely part myself...I think it annoyed me because I was trying to do too much in one day and was way behind schedule))... Next time I go to the Vicksburg area I'm going to take a full three days and do it right. In fact I'm going to do several things differently next time ...like maybe have some decent maps and a guide(Sid V) for Champion hill.



 Posted: Thu Sep 25th, 2008 12:01 pm
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PvtClewell
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Captain Crow wrote:
I think it would depend on how costly a victory was won at Gettysburg. Personally, as I've stated before in other topics, I propose that Lee's greatest blunder of the war was in fighting at Gettysburg at all. Even if Longstreet's assault had succeeded in breaking Meade's center and possibly routing the Union forces from the field, how much strength would Lee have had left to follow up with?


But Captain,

What choice does Lee really have? He can't stay on the Rappahannock line because his troops are facing starvation. He can't detach troops to try and attempt to relieve Vicksburg because he'll weaken his own forces protecting Richmond. Plus, he has an army with momentum after Chancellorsville and it's a prime time to do something with it. Moving north is a gamble and he knows it, but for him, it's a risk worth taking, especially if he can influence political opinion in a war-weary north to recognize the Confederacy (and that point, I think, is what makes the eastern theater legitimate). Plus, he can restock the grocery store with provisions appropriated from the north. Plus-plus, he draws the AofP out of Virginia.

And even if you're being Gettysburg specific, it was never Lee's intention to fight at Gettysburg, as you know. That battle was an unplanned meeting engagement that rapidly grew out of everybody's control, I think. (Apparently, none of Lee's lieutenants listened to him when he ket telling them not to bring on a general engagement. Orders is orders.)

Still, Lee destroyed two Union corps on the first day and nearly broke the Union line on the second day. He had the momentum for 48 hours. He was getting what he wanted. How could he leave when he felt so close to victory?

I will agree, though, that the cost of such a victory is likely prohibitive. But, then, that was Lee. Nearly all his victories were costly.

This is the private being insubordinate, capt'n. :)

Last edited on Sat Sep 27th, 2008 12:00 pm by PvtClewell



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 02:19 am
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mikenoirot
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PvtClewell wrote: Still, Lee destroyed two Union corps on the first day and nearly broke the Union line on the second day. He had the momentum for 48 hours. He was getting what he wanted. How could he leave when he felt so close to victory?

I will agree, though, that the cost of such a victory is likely prohibitive. But, then, that was Lee. Nearly all his victories were costly.

This is the private being insubordinate, capt'n. :)


PvtClewell:

You are spot on with your assessment.  While Lee did not want to bring on a general engagement at Gettysburg (he preferred the Carlisle area) he had to follow up the momentum he had on the first two days.  Gettysburg may have ended, on day two, had Ewell coordinated his assaults, with Longstreet.  Hitting both Union flanks, simultaneously, was definitely the correct tactic.

With regards to the cost in life, you have to look at proportional costs - Lee was on the losing end.  Even had Lee reformed along the Seminary Ridge line, he had been clobbered.  There is no way he could have done anything, after Pickett's charge, except retreat.



 Posted: Sat Sep 27th, 2008 12:26 am
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I'm not so sure the AoNV was necessarily facing starvation, at least not immediately. And of course as usual I strongly contend against the assertion that Lee could not hold the line and still send aid to Vicksburg. Keep in mind Meade was not exactly the prototypical offensive juggernaut when it came to taking the initiative. Also keep in mind that the AoNV was not the only force on hand. Longstreet and a corps could have made all the difference at Vicksburg if dispatched in a timely manner. This also would have had the residual effect of keeping the substantial flow of goods from the trans-Mississippi dept. flowing. Also consider the possibility of Grant being bogged down in an extended campaign against a newly reenforced and properly led Army of Vicksburg. I doubt lincoln would have been so eager to bring Grant east until the job was done in the west. And I think most of us would agree that Grant's presence was the difference in the east.

And PVT. your insubordination is duly noted and will be mentioned in your service record#%$#



 Posted: Sat Sep 27th, 2008 01:59 am
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ole
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I'm not so sure the AoNV was necessarily facing starvation, at least not immediately.

Of course not immediately. But it was looking at the dark end of the tunnel. History would not be kind to the general who didn't act when the ration box is nearing the end of the bottom.
 And of course as usual I strongly contend against the assertion that Lee could not hold the line and still send aid to Vicksburg. Keep in mind Meade was not exactly the prototypical offensive juggernaut when it came to taking the initiative. Also keep in mind that the AoNV was not the only force on hand.
Lee could have sent aid to Vicksburg, but he would have had to remain in place and hope that Meade/Hooker would not attack while he was weakened. (Remember that his ration box is being depleted.) And, although you are correct in your assessment of Meade, he could not have rested easy if he didn't whip up an offensive with Lee's army thus reduced. Lee was much too strong to be attacked where he was. Send off a quarter or third of his army and the temptation overwhelms.
Longstreet and a corps could have made all the difference at Vicksburg if dispatched in a timely manner. This also would have had the residual effect of keeping the substantial flow of goods from the trans-Mississippi dept. flowing. Also consider the possibility of Grant being bogged down in an extended campaign against a newly reenforced and properly led Army of Vicksburg.
Could have and might have. Unless Davis demanded the transfer (and put Longstreet in command over JEJ), it wasn't going to happen. It would make history a bit more interesting if Grant had personally crossed swords with a Longstreet outside of Vicksburg. I'm guessing that commander Longstreet would have ordered Pemberton to get out while the getting was good.

Re the "substantial" flow from the transMississippi: Vicksburg's importance was based on river traffic and it's railroad to Jackson. Early in 1863, the railroad was there, but there was precious little river traffic except for ferry boats -- not at all like it was in 1862.I doubt lincoln would have been so eager to bring Grant east until the job was done in the west. And I think most of us would agree that Grant's presence was the difference in the east.
Absolutely! Lincoln would not have brought Grant east until the west was secure.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 27th, 2008 11:59 am
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Captain Crow wrote:
I'm not so sure the AoNV was necessarily facing starvation, at least not immediately. And of course as usual I strongly contend against the assertion that Lee could not hold the line and still send aid to Vicksburg.


Capt'n,

This comes from Sear's book 'Gettysburg':

"It had become General Lee's basic premise that his army should not — indeed could not — remain much longer on the Rappahannock. In the first place, it was not a good setting for yet another battle. At Chancellorsville, even in losing, Hooker had certainly improved on Burnside's effort of the previous December, and Lee had to wonder if he could fight off a third attempt...

"In the second place, his men in their Rappahannock camps were hungry. They had been hungry since the first of the year, and it appeared they were going to be hungry for some time to come if they remained there. In the Army of Northern Virginia the only occasion for full stomachs thus far in 1863 had been immediately after Chancellorsville, when they feasted on the contents of thousands of captured or abandoned Yankee knapsacks. Even now Lucious Northrop, the Confederacy's peevish commissary-general of subsistence, was drafting yet another rationing edict — a quarter of a pound of bacon daily for garrison troops, a third of a pound for those in camp in the field, raised to half a pound only when on active campaign. This was to be in force, Northrop said, 'until the new bacon comes in' in the fall."

Earlier in the chapter, Sears writes about the war strategy conference on May 14-17 beween Lee, (secretary of war James) Seddon and Davis: "Thus the simple, convincing argument, presumably laid out in his typically quiet, authoritative way by the Confederacy's most successful general: Any attempt to turn back the tide at Vicksburg as Seddon was proposing was bound to put Lee's army in Virginia at unacceptable risk. Possibly Lee clinched the argument with some variation on what he had said to Seddon on May 10: 'You can, therefore, see the odds against us and decide whether the line of Virginia is more in danger than the line of the Mississippi.'"

Sears then writes: "In writing to his wife on April 19 about prospects for the coming campaigning season, Lee displayed a long view of affairs, looking toward breaking down the Republican administration in Washington. He did not suggest achieving this by one great war-ending battle of annihilation, a modern-day Cannae. His army, after all, was ever fated to be the smaller of the two armies. More realistically, Lee seems to have projected repeated morale-shattering victories that would eventually sap Northerners' support for the war. Gaining a third successive victory, of whatever dimension, over the Army of the Potomac, this time on Northern soil, should go a long way toward that goal. That was clearly a risk worth taking..."

From me: It should be noted that after Chancellorsville, Hooker was about to replace his losses with 48,000 reinforcements, and Lee knew this. "It seems to me," Lee told Davis, "that Virginia is to be the theater of action, and his (Lee's) army, if possible, ought to be strengthened." Clearly, Lee couldn't afford to cut loose men for Vicksburg, nor could he remain with a hungry army in his present camp. On top of that, Lee didn't have much faith in Pemberton at Vicksburg and wasn't about to put any of his troops under Pemberton's command. In my opinion, he really had no choice but to move north.

You don't have to agree with Sears, of course, but his assessment of the situation sure makes sense to me.



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 Posted: Sat Mar 20th, 2010 09:31 pm
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You don't suppose the proximity of Gettysburg to the District of Corruption had anything to do with its popularity, do you? Part of the reason Lee marched north was to draw troops from Vicksburg and a victory at Gettysburg may have lifted the siege. From that standpoint, Gettysburg is more important. From the standpoint of which had a larger impact, I would say Vicksburg - once it fell. Because the railroads of the south didn't have uniform guages of tracks, freight had to frequently be unloaded and reloaded to move it to destination. That, as much as anything, was the importance of Vicksburg, to be able to move supplies more efficiently. After that, supplies had to come from the southeast which was slower, and the quantity much lower.



 Posted: Sun Mar 21st, 2010 03:25 am
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You don't suppose the proximity of Gettysburg to the District of Corruption had anything to do with its popularity, do you? Part of the reason Lee marched north was to draw troops from Vicksburg and a victory at Gettysburg may have lifted the siege. From that standpoint, Gettysburg is more important. From the standpoint of which had a larger impact, I would say Vicksburg - once it fell. Because the railroads of the south didn't have uniform guages of tracks, freight had to frequently be unloaded and reloaded to move it to destination. That, as much as anything, was the importance of Vicksburg, to be able to move supplies more efficiently. After that, supplies had to come from the southeast which was slower, and the quantity much lower.
Way too much to pass up.

Part of the reason Lee gave Davis for not sending troops west to relieve V'burg was that he needed them to invade Pennsylvania. The jury is still out on what he was really thinking.

Vicksburg was symbolic. Across the river was a short railroad reaching to near Texas. On its own side of the river was a short railroad reaching to Jackson. There wasn't a whole bunch of Texas food destined for Confederate forces crossing the river at Vicksburg. Its value was primarily in the free traffic on the river.

The problem with southern rails was not so much the different gauges (most were actually the same gauge), but the inability to keep them running and the sorry idea that few went anywhere. The practice was, and it was true in the north as well, that (for example) this RR went from Cleveland to Cincinnati. Across town, there was another RR that went to Chicago and back. On the other side of town was another that went to Pittsburgh. Nothing connected. Investors would build a road to sell Pittsburg steel in Cincinnati, but they didn't figure on selling it in Chicago or Indianapolis as well. But, in spite of the disconnect, one could actually get from Chicago to the District of Corruption on trains (love that name). Try getting from Atlanta to Charleston. Only possible.

Another problem with southern rails was that many were designed simply to get cotton bales to the nearest river. Nobody built rails to get Kentucky grain to Georgia or Alabama.



 Posted: Sun Mar 21st, 2010 02:15 pm
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Are we looking too much at what the loss of Vicksburg meant to the South as opposed to what its gain meant to the North? I think it was more of a symbolic than actual objective to the South, but its loss eroded Southern morale much more than the defeat at Gettysburg (the Southern press found that it is hard to spin the loss of an entire army). But on the other hand, opening up the Mississippi River to economic traffic was extremely beneficial to Northern merchants and farmers in the old Northwest. In fact, in 1862, there was a halfhearted movement afoot in the Confederate Congress to peal the Northwest away from the Northern war effort by opening up the Mississippi to economic traffic. I think the economic benefits gained by the North vastly outweighed the loss of any troops (that were out fighting Indians in west TX) or food (as Ole pointed out, the Southern logistical system ensured that most of the food consumed by Confederate armies came from local sources) were to the Southern cause.

V/R

Mark



 Posted: Sun Mar 21st, 2010 09:00 pm
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By 1863, there weren't that many crops left in the Shenandoah, they had all been trampled and blown to bits. That's not to say there weren't some available but the feed for horses was in extremely short supply and THAT was a huge concern for Lee. That was why so much grain and forage had to come from the southeast after the fall of Vicksburg. Lee also hoped to fatten his horses in the north and leave the fields of Virginia to grow so he could feed his starving horses when he returned.



 Posted: Mon Mar 22nd, 2010 11:14 pm
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re: what the South lost with the fall of Vicksburg see my post on Page one of this topic-these figures come from Terrence J. Winschel, Chief historian at Vicksburg national Military Park.....man go away for a few months and....pretty much nothing has changed LOL!



 Posted: Tue Mar 23rd, 2010 02:22 pm
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Very nice continustion of an old thread ;)

In comparing the two campaigns, I'd say the CSA decided that Vicksburg was worth the risk of losing an army. The strategic union goal of commanding the Mississippi forced the CSA tactical loss of the southern Army of Mississippi.

In the east, Meade was in no such position. In fact, in 4 years, the Army of the Potomac was never in a position where it's loss was a risk worth taking.

At Gettysbutg, Meade on the defensive, had much less at stake than Pemberton at Vicksburg. The town of Gettysburg and the position at Cemetery Ridge is several orders of magnitude less crucial to the war effort then Vicksburg and worth little actual risk.

No one ever looked at a map and said, 'Gettysburg is the key...'; it's just another crossroads where 2 armies bumped into each other...


HankC



 Posted: Tue Mar 23rd, 2010 10:13 pm
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Haven't changed my mind since the first post: Vicksburg was not a major loss to the supply of the Eastern Confederacy, but it was a major morale loss the Confederacy (and a gain to the Union morale).  And, as someone mentioned (Hank?), it opened a two-front war that the Confederacy was ill-prepared to meet. While Lee was pinned in place winning (and losing) battles in the defense of Richmond, the real breadbasket of the Confederacy was being gobbled up -- Kentucky and Tennessee; then Mississippi and Georgia. Then South Carolina and North Carolina.

I'm ambivalent as to the "turning point" -- there were so many (and most of them were in the west.)

Ole



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