|View single post by PvtClewell|
|Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 02:49 pm||
I might have to politely beg to differ (I can't believe you've got me sticking up for Sickles. Sheesh).
Granted, we now see that Sickles disobeyed a superior officer, but maybe it's a matter of semantics here. Sickles did ask Meade if he could change his ground. Meade, busy at the time, sends artillery chief Henry Hunt to inspect the new ground with Sickles, and Hunt agrees it does offer some advantages. I think Meade thinks Sickles will deploy his troops in a way that still keeps the integrity of the line on Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top intact and is ultimately shocked when the Third Corps goes marching off to the Peach Orchard. Is Sickles following what he thinks are discretionary orders or is he patently disobeying Meade? Sickles is not a West Point guy, no military training, but he saw what happened when he had to withdraw from Hazel Grove in Chancellorsville two months earlier, and he makes what he feels is the correct decision, under his discretion, to take the high ground at Gettysburg. When Meade finally does show up, he voices his displeasure, and Sickles offers to bring the Third Corps back — but it's too late. The battle is on. What they really needed were walkie-talkies.
I think Sickles' move really is the central question here. It changes the nature of the battle. If Sickles stays put, then maybe Longstreet's en echelon attack evolves as planned, the Union Third Corps probably doesn't lose as many men, there's more daylight left for the Confederates to carry out the attack (we have to remember that most of the critical fighting on July 2 takes place after 4 p.m. — maybe four good hours of daylight remain.) The Rebels build momentum, there is no 1st Minnesota needed to be heroes, Mahone continues the Confederate push, the depleted Union center gives, Ewell never has to live down not taking Cemetery Hill on July 1 and Joanie is a happy girl. Pipe Creek what? The Confederacy is saved and gets recognized. Seccession now has a precedent, slavery continues for another 30 years or so, and by the 20th century, we're faced with an illegal immigration problem from African Americans crossing the Virginia border.
What a guy this Sickles is.
Maybe Sickles should have been courtmartialed, but he's probably not because he gave a leg for cause and comrades.
After the war, Sickles, if I remember this correctly, lobbied for a Congressional Medal of Honor and never got it. He later claimed the Gettysburg battlefield was his personal monument. He was instrumental in the place becoming a national military park so even this vile creature does something good.
Jeez, Joe. I can't believe you made me write this stuff. I plead temporary insanity.