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 Posted: Thu Jan 26th, 2006 05:59 pm
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rebalgray
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Hello all,

I'm new to this board. I'll tell you a little about me. I'm 67 and retired. I live in central Indiana. I'm a CW buff and lean to the South. My kin was in the 8th VA Cav Co F.. I've been to most of the battle fields in the East and some in the South and West. I'm thinking about going to Franklin, TN. in about a month on my way to Savannah, GA.

Regards, rebalgray



 Posted: Thu Jan 26th, 2006 06:39 pm
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javal1
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Welcome rebalgray!

You'll enjoy Franklin... great things going on there right now with the restoration of the entire Eastern side of the battlefield. Be sure to stop by Carter Hose and tell Tom Cartwright that CWi says hello. Then go to Carnton where you'll get a great view of the restoration of the battlefield - just look out at the adjoining acres which used to be a golf course! Welcome to the board.



 Posted: Sun Jan 29th, 2006 09:27 am
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ancatholam
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Hi Rebalgray and everyone else on the site. 

I too am new, however I am a Brit! My interest in the CW is that I am studing late 1862 to mid 1863 for an exam. 

I am trying to get inside General Robert E Lee's head and work out why he stayed at Fredericksburg after the battle, what did he hope to gain apart from rest and recouperation for his army.

Does anyone out there have an opinion or any knowledgable reason or can you direct me somewhere where I can get an answer.

ANCA



 Posted: Sun Jan 29th, 2006 04:14 pm
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Kent Nielsen
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Hi and welcome to you both.:):) Ancatholam, I'm going to wait to see how others respond to your question untill I say too much. What I would suggest is to try to look at a book titled Fredericksbug! Fredericksburg! by George Rable. It might help.  

Last edited on Sun Jan 29th, 2006 04:15 pm by Kent Nielsen



 Posted: Sun Jan 29th, 2006 10:22 pm
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ancatholam
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Kent,

Thank you very much, I will try and find that book.  I am very interested in what you have to say and why you wish to wait for others to post.

anca



 Posted: Mon Jan 30th, 2006 03:58 am
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Kent Nielsen
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Hi Anca:) To tell the truth I'm not as knowledgeable about Fredericksburg as I am about some other campaigns, so I wanted to wait untill others who might know more then I do had their say. But I will say this. I t would or should have been difficult for Lee to move his army in the face of Burnsides much larger force without waiting to see what Burnside would do next. You also have to remember that Burnside did try again, although he became bogged down in his infamous "Mud March. I'm also not sure, if Lee felt he had the supplies to move in winter so soon after a major battle. These are just suggestions.



 Posted: Mon Jan 30th, 2006 04:44 am
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rebalgray
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That sounds good Kent. He was waiting to see what Burnside was going to do.

rebalgray



 Posted: Mon Jan 30th, 2006 11:42 am
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ancatholam
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Kent,

I accept all you say, but in trying to get into Lee's mind I feel that he was after a Napoleonic style decisive victory and had he immediately counter attacked Burnside on the 14th Dec he may well have stood a chance of achieving this.  However having missed the opportunity he really did need to consolidate and feed and replenish his army.

But my question here is what do you think his plan was when the weather improved....was he intending to cross the Rappahannock and try to hit Burnside's supply lines and in doing so further destroy the moral of the Unions and perhaps sway public opinion which may in turn have resulted in a change of government and then perhaps peace.  Or was he waiting to see what Burnside was going to do, thus making him a reactive General rather than a proactive General?

ANCA:?



 Posted: Mon Jan 30th, 2006 03:06 pm
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David White
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An immediate counterattack would have been into the teeth of Union Artillery on Stafford Heights, Lee was not stupid.

Last edited on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 03:07 pm by David White



 Posted: Mon Jan 30th, 2006 04:13 pm
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Kent Nielsen
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Hi Anca:) David is right If he had counter attacked it would have been doing a Fredericksburg in reverse. And I'm not sure Burnside had all his troops across the river yet, so they could have been sent it to help handle Lee's attack. (Thanks David:) I should have said that also.) In the longer term, I think Lee was hoping Burnside would try again and receive a worse beating then he already had. Another point that I just remembered is that Lee didn't really want to fight there. He wanted to take up a position further south along the North Anna River, because he thought it would be a better position to counterattack from. But President Davis rejected the idea because it would have meant  giving up more Conferderate territory. Davia wanted to avoid that if and when possible. As for Lee he generally tried to be a proactive general. Too much so sometimes.   

Last edited on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 04:17 pm by Kent Nielsen



 Posted: Mon Jan 30th, 2006 06:24 pm
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ancatholam
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Kent and David,

Thanks for your replies, when I said a counter attack I meant an immediate counter attack.  Burnside crossed under the cover of darkness so why couldn't Lee; you also have to take into account that the Union were in disarray with rock bottom morale immediately after the battle.  I agree to attack in broad day light would have been a schoolboy error.  I also agree that Lee was a proactive General and that he was perhaps too proactive at times, but is it not also true that he could have learnt some lessons, in that:

     a) As he had far less men at his disposal than the Union and therefore couldn't afford to keep loosing so many that he should have changed from offensive actions to defensive at some stage during the war.

     b)  He should have realised (as he relied on the press for most of his information) that public perception (Southern) had changed and they no longer (around about post Chancellorsville) wanted brave head on attacks looking for the "total victory" style battle and in fact really wanted defensive battles to spare the men.

Am I being unfair to General Robert E Lee?

Going back to my original question of "What did Lee hope to gain by staying around Fredericksburg after his victory?"

I think, Kent, you are saying that he was looking for Burnside to attack again in the same spot so that he could inflict more casualties.  If this is so, then it goes against what I think Lee is about, in that he was always looking to end the war with one major decisive battle and a rerun of Fredericksburg would not have achieved that, unless he could have countered.

What do you think guys?



 Posted: Mon Jan 30th, 2006 06:36 pm
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David White
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Union artillery was not in disarray at all.

BTW, Kent is spot on and the fact that the Union would have an even stronger defensive position than his own was exactly why Lee didn't want to fight where he did. 

Lee didn't have much choice but to sit there and follow orders from Davis.  I think if Lee had freedom of action he would have retreatd to the Rapidan and get Burnside to fall for the trap he tried to set for Grant (but Grant refused to bite, Burnside on the other hand probably would have).  So Lee could not retreat (that option), could not flank Burnside on his left (river too wide), could not attack head on, that only leaves two options attack Burnside's right or sit tight.  The former option would uncover Richmond, something Davis would not approve and require operations in the cold and wet of December-January.  Lee selected the best bad option facing him.

Last edited on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 06:45 pm by David White



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