I've been on a Gary Gallagher kick lately and I came across this vid that I thought others might be interested in watching. He explains Lee's inner feelings in resigning from the army in 1861 and his feelings towards the Yanks during and after the war. It puts Lee in an overall good light in that despite his inner feelings he chose to not spread animosity in reconciling with the North.
The more I know, the less I REALLY know.
Over the years I have found, in my studies, that General Lee was TRULY a gentleman. His character and sense of duty prevented him from denying his home State of Virginia at the beginning of the war, just as it guided him to reconciliation after the war.
Yet, I still find that I lack in understanding General Lee's motivations in Campaigns such as Gettysburg. (specifically, Pickett's Charge)
Last edited on Thu Aug 16th, 2012 03:48 pm by sgtredleg
I agree Lee was a true gentleman. Even though he held a great resentment against the Yankees for understandable reasons he realized the South had been defeated and they should reintegrate into US society again. Stanton or Johnson were pricks for not granting him a pardon...would have been a grand gesture at reuniting the country. But with the war so fresh....I guess grudges are understandable in that situation.
My view on Gettysburg Campaign...I used to think it was a waste of his manpower with nothing gained. But while I still believe he suffered a big defeat....his army was able to gather large amounts of supplies in Pennsylvania to keep his army going. Virginia had become war ravaged to where it needed a break. He suffered heavy casualties at Gettysburg but he would have suffered a hell of a lot of casualties if he stayed in Virginia also. Hooker or Meade would have launched some kind of offensive into Virginia that summer if he hadn't gone north. Pickett's Charge though Lee just had over confidence in his men. Even if they had taken the ridge though.....the Yanks had plenty of fresh reinforcements to wipe them off the ridge as soon as a breakthrough occured. Definitely should have listened to Longstreet.
"his army was able to gather large amounts of supplies in Pennsylvania to keep his army going. Virginia had become war ravaged to where it needed a break. He suffered heavy casualties at Gettysburg but he would have suffered a hell of a lot of casualties if he stayed in Virginia also. Hooker or Meade would have launched some kind of offensive into Virginia that summer if he hadn't gone north."
Thanks for the insight on this point. While I have had a general sense of these possibilities, I have never REALLY thought through the "what ifs" of General Lee NOT invading as he did.
Have you guys read the "The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in command, by Edwin B. Coddington? If not try and find a copy and read it. Well worth the time. Coddington shows a very clear grasp of the campaign and the personalities.
I like Professor Gallagher very much. I have taken two of his courses on Lee and the Confederate High Command. When I visited Arlington house some years back, I was struck by the strong feelings still lingering in Lee's study upstairs. Wow, to me it was like walking into an electric field.
Darryl...I haven't read that one yet. But it sounds interesting from your description. I will keep that one in mind. I just recieved in the mail, The Battle of the Wilderness by Gordon Rhea...Southern Storm by Trudeau, and Stonewall of the West: Cleburne by Symonds. So it might be a little bit before I get to that one.
I bet Gallagher would be pretty cool to have as a teacher. Sounds like I need to take my wife to Arlington house. She picks up on stuff like that. I never notice a thing when it comes to that stuff.