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 Posted: Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 05:46 pm
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Joined: Wed Jun 8th, 2011
Location: North Carolina USA
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I have a question to the members of the board on Lee's army after Chancellorsville. My question is, why did Lee change his tatics? I started to give this question it's own thread, but the Light Divsion is mentioned so much I will use this one. I have pondered this alot so I am going to ask the members. I will be reading Martin Schenck's book" UP CAME HILL." This will give you the understanding why I have asked this question. It is rather long so please bear with me. Starting on page 290 Schenck say's "A brief review of the six campaigns in question illustrates the different methods by which the union troops were forced to move. It is to be noted that the controlling factor is not necessarily confederate movement , although this was several times the device employed to set off the enemy movement, which resulted each time in union failure. At the start of the Seven Days, Hill was forced to open the campaign by attacking a defensive line set up by Porter along Beaver Dam. Lee's plan to force union movement, however, had been based upon Jackson's hitting Porter's flank from the north, thus causing him to withdraw in front of Hill. Jackson's delay prevented this from being done on Lee's schedule. Nevertheless, when Porter was finally forced to pull out, Longstreet and Hill followed in pursuit along the union flank, literally herding McClellan's army toward the James. Thereafter, the Battles of Gaines' Mill and Frayser's Farm were waged against union troops that were kept off balance because they were forced to protect the constant retrogressive movement of their supply trains. At Malvern Hill, McClellan made a temporary stand and had his only successful day of the Seven. Nevertheless, he was now in retreat and was committed to a withdrawal to the James, where his supplies were accumulating. The battle of Slaughter's Mountain, known in the north as Cedar Mountain, was actually the start of the Second Manassas campaign. It was nevertheless, a complete battle in itself and it occurred some time before the fighting around Manassas, many miles to the north. Here again, the Federals were on the move when they were encountered. Jackson ran into Banks somewhat by chance. Banks was outnumbered badly and should have withdrawn. Nevertheless, he elected to engage in a head on fight. This was a battle of movement on both sides, with the issue being decided when Powell Hill raced up in time to put the union troops to rout. The actual Second Battle of Manassas was a masterpiece of maneuver planned by Lee, with its opening phases performed by Jackson, and with Longstreet arriving on the scene in time to seal the victory. Jackson marched around Pope's flank and got behind him. Pope was then forced to turn around and move against the concealed and entrenched confederates. The Light Division magnificently held the left, where the main union effort was made. Then Longstreet came up through Throughfare Gap and smashed the flank of Pope's massed line which was concentrating in movement against Jackson. Along the Antietam, Lee established a defensive line and let McClellan attack. This strategy nearly proved a fatal mistake for Lee, because McClellan moved in with an overwhelming force, which would have destroyed the army of Northern Virginia had not A.P. Hill arrived at the last possible moment and charged into Burnside's moving and exposed flank. Hill's attack broke up the left phase of the union attack and permitted Lee to extricate the rest of the army. At Fredericksburg, Lee's tatics were somewhat different, but they resulted in forcing the union troops to move where he wanted them. Longstreet was firmly entrenched on Maryes Heights. Jackson was deployed in a semicircle on the right. Burnside moved into the same type of viselike formation as Pope had at Manassas. The result was a resounding defeat for the army of the Potomac. The Light Division bore the brunt of the attack on the confederate right. Finally, at Chancellorsville, Lee and Jackson conjured another great flanking movement that suprised Hooker and knocked him so far off balance that he had to move out of previously planned positions to attempt to counteract Jackson's attack. Again he was outmaneuvered so badly that he never was able to put a great part of his army into action. Hooker lost a Battle that he should of won against less talented opposition. As usual, A.P.Hill's Division was in the thick of the battle, sustaining the heaviest losses on the Confederate side. The strategic pattern by which Lee forced the enemy to move to its own destruction in these six campaigns was discontinued after Chancellorsville. The tide turned a few weeks later in Gettysburg. There Lee met his first great defeat. There the southern victories that had spawned the likes of Vallandigham, and had caused such great consternation, even among the most loyal elements in the north, came to an abrupt end. The end occurred at Gettysburg because Lee adopted new tactics. He attacked superior strength in strong defensive positions. Meade was premitted to dig in and make preparations that were sufficient to smash a suicidal attack, just as Lee had done at Fredericksburg. The union won, and assumed the initiative as Grant arrived on the scene to conduct the last stages of the war against Lee. After Gettysburg, with one notable exception, the Confederates were kept on the move and were unable to employ the enemy movement pattern that had been so successful from the Seven Days through Chancellorsville. The one exception was at Cold Harbor, where Lee manuvered Grant into attacking extremely well-fortified positions. The result was a terrible defeat for the north with the most concentrated casualty rate of the war. By then, however it was to late. Lee had to retreat to Petersburg to stand a long siege that ultimately led to the surrender at Appomattox. The immediate question, as one reviews these six battles, is why did Lee change his successful campaign pattern? No one can safely attribute the great Confederate leader's reversal of policy to any single factor. There are a number of obvious ones, however. For one thing, in Meade, Lee met a far sounder general than he had faced, at least in Pope, Burnside, or Hooker. Another factor was the absence of Stuart's cavalry at Gettysburg. This practically eliminated his intelligence gathering agency and kept him from being able to anticipate Meade's movements and thus entrap him as he had ensnared the other Union commanders. The inception of the Battle of Gettysburg was an accident, which good information would have prevented. This was not true of the six preceding battles, except possibly Slaughter's Mountain. Many other sound reasons have been advanced for Lee's failure at Gettysburg in the countless words that have been written about this battle. The fact that stands out, however is that Lee at Gettysburg, and in subsequent campaigns, did not have at his command the same army that had been so victorious during the previous twelve months. Jackson was no longer with him. The men of the Light Division were divided into two parts, each competently commanded, but the whole lacking the cohesiveness and fierce pride of the original unit when it was under the direct command of A.P.Hill. Then too, the new three -corps army was different and more unwieldy than the old two wings, especially from the command viewpoint, as there were now three instead of two elements to be coordinated and given orders. Besides, neither A.P. Hill nor Ewell had a chance to gain experience in higher command before going into action at Gettysburg. Lee, therefore, was not only deprived of Jackson's counsel and unique flanking ability, but he also had two newly organized corps, led by inexperienced men, to take the place of a single streamlined command that Jackson had handled so well, at least after he got over the spell of the Seven Days. The old Light Division was not there. Tell A.P.Hill to come up, would now be a meaningless order. Had Jackson been at Gettysburg, it is impossible to believe that Meade would have been able to set up his defenses on Culp's Hill and along Cemetery Ridge. The Jackson of Manassas and Chancellosville would have had the Light Division in the town and smashing at Meade's troops while they were recoiling from the first encounter. This would have prevented Meade from organizing his defenses as Ewell permitted him to do. Ewell lost the advantage by waiting for orders which Lee never issued. Jackson would have held the initiative. Robert E. Lee, accustomed to Jackson, might well have thought further orders to Ewell unnecessary under the circumstances. In any event, after the first day at Gettysburg, Lee found himself in an unaccustomed position and without some of the tools he had previously employed. He then made the same paramount mistake that his opponents had made on the other occasions. He did the moving against the superior force in a superior position. Pickett's charge is history.

 Now that you can see my question in more detail, I ask do you agree?

 What is your assessment on Schenck's notes here? I must say I agree fully with him.

 In other words what is the difference in the ANV up to Chancellorsville, then after?



Last edited on Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 06:00 pm by pender

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