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 Posted: Sun Sep 7th, 2008 11:15 pm
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pamc153PA
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ole,

I agree with you there, for the reasons you mentioned. And I always had trouble with the "We tried the left flank, and the right flank, let's try the center" theory--to me, that doesn't sound like Lee. However, it sounds more like Lee to me to add,"And let's see what damage we can do to Meade's army before we head south." I had never thought about that before, but that makes more sense. True, Lee was not feeling his best physically, and he was also still learning tactics and strategy without his "right arm," but I never pictured him as, well, dithering on that decision to stay. He was tenacious, but not to the ridiculous point.

Pam



 Posted: Mon Sep 8th, 2008 01:48 pm
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martymtg
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Guys,
So he sent 12,000 men up there with no cover, jsut to get a few last licks in? knowing that if they didn't succeed, the retreat would also be uncovered?
With all due respect, I can't buy that one. I believe he felt they'd break in the middle.
Otherwise, why not just blast away at Little Round Top instead of the union center, and hope to loosen up that flank one more time? At least the artillery would have had a target they could train on.



 Posted: Mon Sep 8th, 2008 02:03 pm
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HankC
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Perhaps he was thinking of Antietam where, if McClellan persists, another attack in the center splits Lee's army and finishes the ANV...



 Posted: Mon Sep 8th, 2008 02:59 pm
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20th_Mass
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To me the discussion of whether Lee should have attacked the center of fought at Gettysburg at all is like debating whether the coach should have gone for it on 4th down. If he makes it he is a genious and if he doesn't he is the dumbest coach in the world. Lee had been taking chances throughout the war so why change that at Gettysburg.



 Posted: Thu Sep 11th, 2008 05:40 pm
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martymtg
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That's right on, 20th Mass. He'd fought the whole war as the aggressor and it sure had worked up til then.

You're right about the coach analogy, but aren't we ALL Monday morning quarterbacks here?



 Posted: Thu Sep 11th, 2008 06:31 pm
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j harold 587
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General Lee basically followed conventional military wisdom of the time when assaulting a triangle defense. The fish hook is a turn of the century term. As taught at West Point on a traingle you strike both legs (flanks) to pull reserves to there thereby weakening the center by pulling the reserves away from the center. Even with the heavy commitment to the Picket, Pettigrew, Trimble charge ther were enough CSA troops to exploit a breakthrough in the center to keep the flanks from closing in on the break threw. It would have been difficult to redirect the artillery toward the break threw and not fire on friendly forces due to the legs of the triangle. CSA artillery just had to maintain their presure if they had adequate ammunition to support a break threw.

US forces were not taken by suprise by the assault on the center. Sears in his book relates that units with smooth bore muskets near the highwater mark were putting double loads ( two charges of buck and ball on one powder charge) togeather on the evening of the second day as their commanders were anticipating being hit hard on the next day.     



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 Posted: Fri Sep 12th, 2008 03:44 pm
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martymtg
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Well, joyride might be a little harsh, if I remember right he actually raided the countryside and gathered quite a lot of supplies and livestock. But he sure wasn't where Lee needed him at a critical time.

What makes him look even worse is the fact that Buford, his counterpart, performed so well at the same time that Stuart was MIA.

Buford's quick reaction bought Reynolds time to get there, thus giving the union a chance to seize the better ground and set the table for the victory. So, even tho Stuart fought bravely and well until he was killed, you could say that the union cavalry saved the AoP, and that the southern cavalry was largely to blame for setting the stage for the confederate loss.



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 Posted: Fri Sep 12th, 2008 09:05 pm
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martymtg
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Not that I know of. He was certainly to report to Lee. Now, its known that Lee had a way of couching his orders in such a manner as to give subordinates a certain leeway. Maybe his orders to Stuart were vague enough that Stuart misinterpreted, or thought that his movements were up to his own discretion more than Lee intended?

 



 Posted: Sat Sep 13th, 2008 05:26 am
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ole
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Lee was understandably miffed at discovering Buford's Division and the First and Eleventh Corps converging on him before he had conceentrated his army. We might remember, however that the Federals were also between him and Stuart.

And I seem to recall that Stuart was to link up with Ewell somewhere near Harrisburg.

But Stuart knew that the Federals were heading north en masse, so you might assume that he'd have at least sent off some couriers to warn Lee. On the other hand, Lee did have cavalry at his disposal but he didn't use it -- something Stuart couldn't know.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 13th, 2008 11:28 pm
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pamc153PA
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Could Stuart really not have understood Lee's orders? Or could it have been misunderstanding accidently on purpose?

Pam



 Posted: Sun Sep 14th, 2008 12:31 am
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ole
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Could Stuart really not have understood Lee's orders? Or could it have been misunderstanding accidently on purpose?

There may have been both misunderstanding and an excess of discretion. The communications were filled with "if this, that." Wittenberg and Petruzzi, in Plenty of Blame to Go Around, state that Stuart suggested a dramatic ride around Hooker (possibly because of some bad press) and that Longstreet and Lee thought it might be a good idea. After that came a series of suggestions and whereases and whatifs.

He was instructed to gather supplies and keep in touch with Ewell. (If I recall correctly, he never did find Ewell. Possibly because Ewell was heading west by that time.) Being thus encumbered with gathering supplies (and stealing enough horses and wagons to tote them:P), he was late in finding Lee and history has treated him shabbily ever since.

If you don't have a copy of the book, google Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. You'll find that Cornell and OSU have fine, searchable, free sites. Go to Confederate correspondence and start reading about June 18th. (Then get the book.)

ole



 Posted: Sun Sep 14th, 2008 03:14 am
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CleburneFan
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44th VA INF wrote: 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

 


Interesting use of "we".

Also interesting that you are a better tactician than Lee evidently was.

Time for a vocabulary lesson--FOG of WAR. This refers to the confusion and lack of clear judgment present in battles, campaigns, or even entire wars because those involved simply cannot know every important detail that will guarantee a positive outcome for their side. 

It means, in Lee's case, he simply could not know everything he had to know to make sound decisions at Gettysburg, especially given the state of technology of the times.  We can look back and judge Lee and Meade, but we know so much more than they did at the time. 



 Posted: Sun Sep 14th, 2008 05:42 am
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ole
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Which leaves only the question of whether he should have committed more troops. Beings Pickett's men were the only 'rested' troops, and since they came THAT CLOSE to breaking the line, maybe the guy really did the only thing he could really do at that point. Think how brilliant the move would be considered today had it succeeded.

Marty wrote this almost a week ago. My bad! I'm just catching up with an interesting thread.

Lee did commit more troops than just those. Pettigrew and Trimble were to take advantage of Pickett's break in the line and press the advantage, but they came under considerable fire and never really made it to the Union line. There were other brigades coming up from the south, but they were under oblique fire and didn't make it either.

Wait! Maybe those others were counted among the 12,000. Picket's division numbered about 5,578 on June 30th. Heth's was about 7,461 on the same day, and Pender's about 6,735. (No telling what Heth's -- under Pettigrew; and Pender's -- under Trimble had after their mauling on the first day.) So that could make about 12,000. (Now that I'm thinking about it, I really ought to look into what McLaw's and Hood's divisions (now under Law) -- were doing.

However, after two days of hard fighting, it is doubtful that Lee could have sent more. (Ewell's people were kind of busy on Meade's right.)

But it seems more and more like Lee just couldn't buy a coordinated attack anytime during those three days. Most everything he wanted to happen and when just didn't happen.

ole



 Posted: Sun Sep 14th, 2008 06:03 am
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ole
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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

Another of my bads. 44th wrote this two weeks ago. I had intended to respond then and forgot until Pam brought it up --- or was it Fan?

A major misrecollection here is that Longstreet was never intended to take Little Round Top. The end of Sickle's line ought to have been anchored against it and that end was what Longstreet was directed to roll up. And it wasn't possible to get artillery up there. (Okay, the Union managed to get a few guns up there after a half-day of virtually carrying them.)

Little Round Top was an accident. At least one of Law's Regiments (the one I recall is Oates' 15th Georgia) was chasing some of Berdan's Sharpshooters when it (or they) ran into the 20th Maine. Shaara made the action a whole bunch more important than it was.

Then there was Sickles, who was where he wasn't supposed to be.

ole



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 Posted: Mon Sep 15th, 2008 11:02 am
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gettysburgerrn
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Culps hill was the more important position than LRT in terms of the flanks...Old Pap Greene and COl Ireland just didnt have as good a PR guy as JLC...They help a more important posittion against greater odds for more time...

As for the attacks on day two...the wounding of Dorsey Pender and the inaction of AP hill are factors that cannot be overlooked (and Rodes' little deployment problem)

Ken

ken



 Posted: Mon Sep 15th, 2008 10:22 pm
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44th VA INF
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Well i wonder if everyone agrees this was a close battle



 Posted: Tue Sep 16th, 2008 12:10 am
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44th VA INF wrote: Well i wonder if everyone agrees this was a close battle.
 

It was definitely a close shave for Lee. Both sides took stunning and grievous losses The three days represented a serious set back for both sides, at least for the short term.  



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