Civil War Interactive Discussion Board Home
Home Search search Menu menu Not logged in - Login | Register


Gettysburg Trapsing Around - Battle of Gettysburg - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
 Moderated by: javal1
 New Topic   Reply   Printer Friendly 
 Rate Topic 
AuthorPost
 Posted: Mon May 7th, 2007 11:15 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
1st Post
Doc C
Member


Joined: Sun Oct 1st, 2006
Location:  Eastern Shore, Maryland USA
Posts: 822
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Just got back from GB. Have been there on 2 other occasions. This time honed in on just a couple of locations which I wanted to concentrate on. First was the eastern slope of Cemetary Hill. Was amazed that my uncles 9th La was able to get as far as Ricketts Battery. First they had to get past the cannon blasts on the flat portion then advance up probably one of the steepest portions of the GB Battlefield. Second, always thought Smith's battery in Devils Den (the 4 cannons) was on level ground around DD rather than on the western, high portion of DD next to the triangular field. My point to all of this rambling is that until we actually walk these hollowed fields we don't really get an appreciation for them and the ordeals that all these individuals went through.

Doc C



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 12:23 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
2nd Post
Doc C
Member


Joined: Sun Oct 1st, 2006
Location:  Eastern Shore, Maryland USA
Posts: 822
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

During my Monday visit to GB I walked the charge of Pettigrews (Marshalls) Brigade on July 3 and Hayes Brigade July 2. I'm always amazed/curious at what was going through the soldiers minds during these charges. These were all veterans, at least Hayes Brigade was, and had seen the elephant on numerous occasions. Would be interested in the psychological or thoughts of these individuals facing these charges. I can't imagine the thoughts these individuals had at the onset of the 2 charges. Was it pride in their army that they were invisible, naieviety, etc. Would like to hear comments. Facing these 2 locations myself, I don't know how I would have summoned up the courage.

Doc C



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 04:56 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
3rd Post
CleburneFan
Member


Joined: Mon Oct 30th, 2006
Location: Florida USA
Posts: 1021
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I just don't know what would have made me go forward on July 3. That is such a vast area to cover out in the open under galling Union artillery fire. Plus it was hotter than heck. The only thing I can imagine that would make me step out into that field would be that I was more scared of being called a coward than I was of being cannon fodder. Frankly, I think I'd rather be called a coward.

I don't know if I possess the grand sense of duty and bravery that was demanded to head out toward almost certain death or debilitating injury. No one was exempt from the danger, not officers, not non-comms, not enlisted.  Everyone was at grave personal risk. How they did it, I will never know. What must it be like to stare certain death or dismemberment in the face?

This scenario was repeated again and again elsehwere. The Battle of Franklin comes to mind. "Pickett's" Charge did little to teach much of anything about modern warfare.



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 05:00 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
4th Post
JoanieReb
Member
 

Joined: Wed Jan 24th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 620
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

 Was it pride in their army that they were invisible, naieviety, etc. Would like to hear comments. Facing these 2 locations myself, I don't know how I would have summoned up the courage
Doc,

The one thing that I always hear pointed out as a major contributing factor regarding this is that many of the soldiers joined up together from the same village or county, and thus were in their home units with brothers, cousins, fathers, sons, friends, etc.

So, the emotional bonds and bonds of pride kept the individual from breaking down and running away.  If your brother/cousin/father/friend goes, you go.

That is, of course, just one simple and obvious factor.  Like you, I wonder about the subtleties.

One thing I do wonder about:  I've frequently read individual accounts that said,  the soldier was afraid until he started moving forward, then just got caught up in it and forgot to fear.  I've read this so often, it has really made me wonder if these men just had more "fight" in them than the average American does today.  I keep reading about normally mild-mannered men "getting their blood up" and being transformed in battle into something that was then seen as glorious and noble, but that our society might not only shy away from glorifying, but also discourage today.  



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 05:04 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
5th Post
JoanieReb
Member
 

Joined: Wed Jan 24th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 620
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

"This scenario was repeated again and again elsehwere."
The one that always really gets to me is Cold Harbor, where the northern soldiers wrote  their names on scraps of paper and pinned these to their jackets, knowing that they were going into a basically suicidal charge....

 



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 05:13 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
6th Post
CleburneFan
Member


Joined: Mon Oct 30th, 2006
Location: Florida USA
Posts: 1021
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Yes, Cold Harbor is a great and tragic example. By that time of the war, it seems as if officers and troops would have known better and tried to figure out a different plan. But they didn't. That is what puzzles me time and again. It is as if they felt the only way was the massive carnage and slaughter of a frontal assault. Maybe they thought it would be faster than some other ploy.

Even if you were there with your dad and your brothers, your cousins and your neighbors, would you be willing for all of these fine people to go to certain death? I'd be the one trying to say let's fight smart, not brave. Fighting smart isn't cowardly. Besides you might live to fight another day. 



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 05:36 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
7th Post
JoanieReb
Member
 

Joined: Wed Jan 24th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 620
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

By that time, the average soldier did want to "fight smart", and knew the advantage of digging in.  These forward charges thru open areas were understood to be suicidal.  When the "paper collar soldiers" were brought into the Wilderness from the forts around Washington DC, one thing the veterans repeatedly commented on  was how they just stood up in line to fight (and fell in line) instead of trying to dig in or find cover.

I've read a few accounts saying that the final charge Grant ordered at Cold Harbor was basically refused by the troops.  Geoge Walsh's book, "Damage Them All You Can" contains this summary: 

"Some hours after the failure of the....assault, General Meade sent instructions to each Corps Commander to renew the attack....but no man stirred, and the immobile lines produced a verdict, silent yet emphatic, against further slaughter."

Last edited on Thu May 10th, 2007 05:37 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 10:25 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
8th Post
Doc C
Member


Joined: Sun Oct 1st, 2006
Location:  Eastern Shore, Maryland USA
Posts: 822
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

What's unfortunate is that these same tactics were used duing WWI in which thousands upon thousands were slaughtered advancing in open terrain toward the fortified trenches with even more killing power than Cold Harbor.

Doc C



 Posted: Sun May 13th, 2007 08:13 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
9th Post
Kentucky_Orphan
Member


Joined: Wed Dec 20th, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 125
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Sorry I've not been able to join in many discussions of late, going to school fulltime and working 25 hours a week will do that.

Anyways, I might have a slightly different opinion on cold harbor than others. Grant is many times made out to be an ignorant butcher, and his critics site this battle more than any other. Grant gambled that the whole ANV was "used up" and wanted to destroy it as quickly as possibe, that is the reason he resorted to the frontal assault against Lee's works.

Cold Harbor has always been an enigma to me in many ways. People point to earlier examples of frontal attack failures of the past years of the war as examples field commanders should have took note of. Nobody would have expected the carnage and the ease of the repulse that resulted from that attack, however, and accounts by the troops involved bear this out.

Lee's "works", for example,  were really not all that extensive, being at closer examination seemingly far less formidabble than the works at Spotsylvania Court House. The attack was lauched with, I believe, 3 corps in concert (correct me if I am wrong) and theoretically, at least, that should have been enough troops to crack the Confederate line which was stretched VERY thin. The "killing field" was also much smaller than, say, the Confederates faced at "picketts charge". You may point to battles like Franklin as further example as to the failure of the frontal attack, but that was made piecemeal against what should have been stronger positions.

As to how troops made such attacks, remember there was a entirely different mindset among people back then. It sounds simplistic, but I believe it is true. People lived harder, and generally died harder as well. A greater amount of trust in a higher power, a cause that was fully embraced by the men, different societal norms, etc.



 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2007 08:45 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
10th Post
Stoneveld
Member
 

Joined: Wed Apr 11th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 5
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Yes and Grant stated later that he always regretted the frontal assault at Cold Harbor - and that from the arithmetician.



 Posted: Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 03:00 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
11th Post
Zod
Member
 

Joined: Mon Dec 11th, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 7
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Of course the thinking among the high command was that sustained artillery shelling would soften up the positions.  In many cases it didn't even destroy the barbed wire.  Keegan wrote that the British Empire never recovered from the first day at the Battle of the Somme.  The BEF lost 58,000 in the first day, many in the opening moments.  It is a staggering figure upon any analysis.



 Current time is 06:18 pm
Top




UltraBB 1.17 Copyright © 2007-2008 Data 1 Systems
Page processed in 0.3631 seconds (10% database + 90% PHP). 25 queries executed.