View single post by ole
 Posted: Fri Nov 21st, 2008 10:54 pm
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Joined: Sun Oct 22nd, 2006
Posts: 2031

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We're perhaps a bit deeper into topography than geology. I can't think of a battle wherein the topography didn't play a part: swamps, rivers, hills, dales, swales and gulches all figured into every battle.

A peculiar example is Perryville. The northern front was fairly typical; but the southern front was confusing. Climb the hill, look over there and you can see markers for something or another. Walk down and those markers should be at the top of this next hill. Nope. Two more ups and downs to get there.

You can't walk the ground where Cleburne went after Sherman at Shiloh. (Well, you can, but you'd have to be a bit addled to try it.) Walk to the bottom of Dill Branch (on the road) and picture yourself trying to struggle through the underbrush and the branch.

There is good reason that a body of troops sought to anchor each flank on a topographical feature that was very difficult to cross. Be it a swamp or a river or a mountain or a nasty ravine, your flanks were more or less protected if it took all day to get to you.

Stand in Bloody Lane at Antietam looking north. You have a rise in front of you. Over that rise came the Yanks. Turkey shoot. Then the Yanks work their way around to your right. Now you're the turkey.

It's all in the topography -- one of the reasons that there is nothing quite like standing on that ground. Failing that, a good map with topographical elevations will have to do, but always consider the topography.

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