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 Posted: Sun Jul 29th, 2007 12:37 pm
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PvtClewell
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KO,

According the Stephen Sears' book 'Gettysburg', Sears writes that Heth departed Cashtown at 5 a.m. on July 1, and ran into the videttes of Buford's cavalry at 7 a.m. (this would be Knoxlyn Ridge, just before Herr's Ridge). Buford, of course, has planned a defense in depth to buy enough time for Reynolds and the 1st Corps to approach.

Here's what Sears writes:
"It was about 9 o'clock when Confederates in full battle array started forward against Herr's Ridge. James J. Archer's Alabamians and Tennesseans were on the right, south of the Chambersburg Pike. Joe Davis's Mississippians and North Carolinians were on the left, north of the pike. Their line of battle, some 2,900 strong, was almost a mile wide. The line of Yankee troopers, essentially a reinforced picket line (of 550 men), had done its job well and gained General Buford a good two hours and more, but now it was time to go. Slowly, turning back to fire, the troopers drifted down the slope of Herr's Ridge, splashed across Willoughby Run, and joined the cavalry's main line on McPherson's Ridge."

Buford had 2,950 troppers under brigade commanders Tom Devlin and William Gamble on McPherson's Ridge, with every fourth trooper holding the reins of horses. They held on until Reynolds' 1st Corp arrived, sometime around noon, I think. I'm also guessing that with Archer and Davis already deployed and engaged, there's no time for Heth to deploy Pettigrew and Brockenbrough at this juncture.

Sears adds:
"From the crest of Herr's Ridge, Harry Heth now surveyed the scene before him and came to a momentous decision. He phrased the moment in his report: 'it became evident that there were infantry, cavalry and artillery in and around the town.' This was what he had been sent to Gettysburg that morning by corps commander Hill to find out — what enemy lay in front of them"

Heth was under orders not to bring on a general engagement. Sears points out that if Heth withdraws to Cashtown at this point, he's following orders — he does not bring on an engagement and he knows there's more than just militia in front of him. Instead, Heth orders Archer and Davis to 'march forward and occupy the town.'

"This is a reckless act," writes Sears. Heth knew what was in front of him. "...as a mere division commander on a reconnoitering mission he was bound to report his findings to a superior before he charged headlong into battle. In so doing, Harry Heth committed to half his share of responsibility for bringing on the Battle of Gettysburg."

OK, so here's Heth, yet another guy who's not following orders in this battle. Is this any way to run a war? Heth disobeys Lee, Sickles disobey's Meade, Hood disobeys Lee and Longstreet on July 2 by trying to go behind the Round Tops instead of Emmittsburg Road. Sheesh. Ewell actually obeys Lee, tries to folllow orders not to bring on a general engagement, and gets ripped for it when he doesn't take THAT HILL.

By the time Pender's division arrives and is deployed, the Union 1st Corps is already on the field. Eventually, the Union 1st Corps and 11th Corps are flanked and forced to retreat by overwhelming numbers. The first day of Gettysburg is actually a resounding victory for Lee, destroying two Union Corps and running them off the field. I think the first day turns out to be a battle of geography and timing.

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