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O.O. Howard and July 1 - Battle of Gettysburg - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 12:12 am
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pamc153PA
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Some of you know that one area of great interest to me is the 153PA at Gettysburg on Day 1. Following this passion, I've recently been reading about General Howard's role in what happened to the 11th Corps that day. I have to say, I've come away with pretty negative feelings about the man's command.

I find it hard to justify that Howard received the Thanks of Congress citation for choosing Cemetery Hill  to anchor the  Union position--and Reynold, Buford and Hancock did not. Especially considering the breakdown of the Corps and Divisional command that day--which Howard was undeniably partly responsible for--I can only believe Howard "knew" someone (political?) to bestow the Congressional citation on him.

I also have a question about if Howard was even in command position officially, or temporarily, on July 1, and finalized later. This may have had something to do with his attitude toward the 11th Corps.

Also, how much did Devin's cavalry being driven off by Wiedrich's battery (friendly fire) figure into the results that day? I know that Devin's withdrawal meant the flank was uncovered. Is this by itself important, or is it a "perfect storm," combined with the other missteps by command on July 1?

Thoughts?

Pam

Last edited on Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 12:16 am by pamc153PA



 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 01:10 am
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Doc C
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Keeping on the Howard thread, how was he involved in the establishment of the predominantly black university, Howard University in DC?

Doc C



 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 01:12 am
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Doc C
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The perfect storm was Early's division with first Gordon's brigade then Hays/Avery's Brigades.

Doc C



 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 01:48 am
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PvtClewell
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Pam,

There are few things Howard did right at Gettysburg, but one of them was to position Von Steinwehr's division on Cemetery Hill as a reserve when the 11th Corps arrived on the field. This placement of men obviously was a stumbling block for Ewell later on July 1, not to mention the 40 or so artillery pieces that were also on the hill. That foresight might have been worthy of a Congressional citation.

After Reynolds was killed, Doubleday was the commander on the field until Howard arrived. Howard was still the senior commander when Hancock arrived, then had his feelings ruffled when Hancock told him that Meade wanted him (Hancock) in charge, if I remember correctly. (Good thing I'm not taking the LBG test, huh Doc C?)

If I recall correctly, Howard — unlike Barlow — actually tried to defend his Germans, but I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Howard, incidentally, was awarded a Medal of Honor in 1893 for bravery after losing his right arm in the Fair Oaks battle in 1862.

Sent to the western theater, he was also instrumental in the victory at Missionary Ridge, and later, he served as the right wing commander in Sherman's March to the Sea.

Howard was indeed the founder of Howard University.

This site may be helpful:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_O._Howard



 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 02:15 am
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PvtClewell
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This comes from the Official Records:

HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
May 22, 1863.
General Schurz expressed in a conversation with me on the 19th instant his desire to go with his division to some other army. I wondered at it at the time. I believe that it would militate against him and his command to be transferred at this juncture. I withdraw my request, and will make every effort to reconcile all difficulties arising from the different nationalities in this command.

Respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD,
Major-General.

Howard wrote this as an 'indorsement' and clearly he was trying to mitigate the perception the rest of the world had of his Germans — his 'different nationalities.'

Gettysburg did not bring out the best in many commanding generals on both sides, and yet...



 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 09:25 pm
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Crazy Delawares
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Doc C,

I think it had a Freedmen's Bureau connection. I think it was named after him for the work he did through the bureau. I think.



 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 06:20 pm
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Crazy Delawares
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While I admire Howard, one has to suspect that Gettysburg was NOT his finest hour. By the same token, there were officers under him who performed just as poorly but, came out smelling like roses (Barlow). There were a few that came out smelling less than stellar too (Shimmelfennig-fairly or not).
When reading some CW history I find it helpful to know the author and his/her intention before coming to a judgement. That said, I would have to read up on July 1 more in order to comment further.



 Posted: Sat Dec 27th, 2008 06:15 pm
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HankC
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Howard's conservative tactics at Gettysburg necessarily beg comparison with those of the lamented Reynolds on 7/1. Unluckily, criticism of Reynolds' tactics was mostly unheard of until rather recently.

Howard's approach to his indefensible sector requires him to preserve both a fallback position and his lines of retreat.

His deployment of a division on Cemetery Hill and advance of only 2 divisions makes a bad situation slightly better. At best, 3 divisions will little delay the Confederate advance on the plain north of town while the 1st Corps extricate themselves.

The 1st Corps, meanwhile is placed, against great odds, with a flank exposed to the CS 2nd Corps and poor lines of retreat - no roads and open fields.

The question in my mind is: why, especially with the Pipe Creek circular clearly detailing Meade's wishes, did Buford and Reynolds choose to defend positions on McPherson and Seminary ridges? Merely because a position is a good one, does not require it be fought for.

Won oneders if Reynolds, acting as a wing commander, wished to prove himself at grand strategy by 'improving' upon Meade's directives.

Buford knew the whereabouts of Ewell's 2 approaching divisions and both men knew that any 2 rebel divisions outnumber any single Union Corps and especially the 1st and the 11th, the 2 smallest in the AotP.

In the long term, the 11th corps survived the battle, went west and was consolidated with the 12th corps into the 20th corps. The 1st corps, virtually demolished at Gettysburg, disbanded the next spring and it's units were reassigned as needed.


HankC



 Posted: Sat Dec 27th, 2008 11:33 pm
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PvtClewell
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Howard's conservative tactics at Gettysburg necessarily beg comparison with those of the lamented Reynolds on 7/1. Unluckily, criticism of Reynolds' tactics was mostly unheard of until rather recently.

I think it's a little unfair to compare Howard with Reynolds. Howard arrived after Reynolds was already engaged. Howard also covered, as noted, basically a geographically indefensible position. And Reynolds had terrain that was very defensible — Herbst Woods, Willoughby Run, McPherson and Seminary ridges. To me, it's like comparing apples and oranges.

I am curious, where can I find criticism of Reynolds' tactics? You're right — I don't believe I've ever seen such criticism.


The question in my mind is: why, especially with the Pipe Creek circular clearly detailing Meade's wishes, did Buford and Reynolds choose to defend positions on McPherson and Seminary ridges? Merely because a position is a good one, does not require it be fought for.

The Pipe Creek circular was supposed to be ready for delivery to Meade's generals on June 30, but Butterfield was slow in processing the paperwork and it was not ready before July 1. Stephen Sears writes: "...Meade 'roundly damned' his chief of staff (Butterfield) 'for his slowness in getting out orders.' Meade said he 'had arranged for a plan of battle, and it had taken so long to get the orders out that now it was useless.'

Sears also writes: "From...Reynold's stated determination to fight street by street through the town, Meade concluded that Reynolds had not received the Pipe Creek circular, nor even the explanatory dispatch asking him simply to evaluate the scene when he reached Gettysburg... Everything lay in the hands of his chief lieutenant on the spot — the right man for the right job, certainly, but as it happened, acting without the latest guidance from the general commanding."

Anyway, if Meade has the AofP withdraw into Maryland and Pipe Creek, doesn't that give Lee free rein in Pennsylvania? What guarantee is there that Lee turns south and attacks Pipe Creek when he's on the verge of capturing Harrisburg? It was Lee's plan to battle the AofP on ground of his own choosing, and I doubt Pipe Creek was it.

Muddling matters is that Gettysburg is a meeting engagement which didn't allow either side to make preparations in advance. The battle happened in Gettysburg because that's basically where two armies in motion happened to collide.

Won oneders if Reynolds, acting as a wing commander, wished to prove himself at grand strategy by 'improving' upon Meade's directives.

I don't know that much about Reynolds except that he was highly respected within the AofP. And didn't he turn down command of the AofP when it was offered to him? So why would he wish to prove himself at grand strategy?

Anyway, it's hard to be too critical of Reynolds, et al, when in fact they won the battle. :)



 Posted: Sun Dec 28th, 2008 02:52 am
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Crazy Delawares
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Was Reynolds a native of PA from Lancaster? I wonder if that had anything to do with why he committed his troops a he did.



 Posted: Mon Dec 29th, 2008 07:13 pm
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HankC
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PvtClewell wrote: Howard's conservative tactics at Gettysburg necessarily beg comparison with those of the lamented Reynolds on 7/1. Unluckily, criticism of Reynolds' tactics was mostly unheard of until rather recently.

I think it's a little unfair to compare Howard with Reynolds. Howard arrived after Reynolds was already engaged. Howard also covered, as noted, basically a geographically indefensible position. And Reynolds had terrain that was very defensible — Herbst Woods, Willoughby Run, McPherson and Seminary ridges.
it is  a bit unfair, but the gist of the original question was 'negative feelings' about Howard's preformance at Gettysburg. In turn I ask another question: what was Reynolds defending? The town itself had no overly redeeming qualities. It was well outside of the zone of operations for the the AotP which was spread all over northern Maryland...

The question in my mind is: why, especially with the Pipe Creek circular clearly detailing Meade's wishes, did Buford and Reynolds choose to defend positions on McPherson and Seminary ridges? Merely because a position is a good one, does not require it be fought for.

The Pipe Creek circular was supposed to be ready for delivery to Meade's generals on June 30, but Butterfield was slow in processing the paperwork and it was not ready before July 1. Stephen Sears writes: "...Meade 'roundly damned' his chief of staff (Butterfield) 'for his slowness in getting out orders.' Meade said he 'had arranged for a plan of battle, and it had taken so long to get the orders out that now it was useless.'

Sears also writes: "From...Reynold's stated determination to fight street by street through the town, Meade concluded that Reynolds had not received the Pipe Creek circular, nor even the explanatory dispatch asking him simply to evaluate the scene when he reached Gettysburg... Everything lay in the hands of his chief lieutenant on the spot — the right man for the right job, certainly, but as it happened, acting without the latest guidance from the general commanding."

Anyway, if Meade has the AofP withdraw into Maryland and Pipe Creek, doesn't that give Lee free rein in Pennsylvania? What guarantee is there that Lee turns south and attacks Pipe Creek when he's on the verge of capturing Harrisburg? It was Lee's plan to battle the AofP on ground of his own choosing, and I doubt Pipe Creek was it.

Muddling matters is that Gettysburg is a meeting engagement which didn't allow either side to make preparations in advance. The battle happened in Gettysburg because that's basically where two armies in motion happened to collide.
Meade's pipe creek circular was days in writing with input from, among others, Reynolds, who had an inkling of Meade's strategy, but decided on his own to commit his wing (2 corps) to fight at Gettysburg.
Won oneders if Reynolds, acting as a wing commander, wished to prove himself at grand strategy by 'improving' upon Meade's directives.

I don't know that much about Reynolds except that he was highly respected within the AofP. And didn't he turn down command of the AofP when it was offered to him? So why would he wish to prove himself at grand strategy?

Anyway, it's hard to be too critical of Reynolds, et al, when in fact they won the battle. :)

 
True, but my favorite basketball team won their last game and committed 12 fouls, had 12 turnovers and missed 43 shots. Many people learn from failure; very few learn from success. Did the Union army win at Gettysburg, because of Reynolds or in
spite of him?
 
 
HankC



 Posted: Tue Dec 30th, 2008 01:53 am
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PvtClewell
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HankC wrote:
Did the Union army win at Gettysburg, because of Reynolds or in
spite of him?


I think the AofP won without him, actually. ;)

But I think I see where you're getting at. If the premise is that Reynolds selected the ground and therefore was at least in part responsible for the AofP's success at Gettysburg, you certainly can't deny his contribution. But we also know that it's likely he was never aware of the issuance of the Pipe Creek Circular (do you want Reynolds to act on an 'inkling' of Meade's plans, or to take charge in the face of a clear emergency? Meade certainly trusted him), and he knew the ANV was approaching, so in his mind, I believe, there was no real alternative. There was no better ground to be than right where he was. I don't think the proximity of Lancaster had anything to do with it, or visions of being a master strategist or anything else other than here was an opportunity to stop Lee.

He couldn't have been that far out of the zone of operations. He was the closest to Lee. The AofP might have been spread all over the map, but so was the ANV. And Reynold's purpose wasn't to defend anything — it was to stop Lee.

And who's your favorite basketball team anyway?:)



 Posted: Thu Feb 12th, 2009 05:11 pm
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gettysburgerrn
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The problem I have with Reynolds was that he never had any 1st corps staff define a possible line of retreat through the town in case the pressure became too great. IMHO Howard is also cuplable for this though. BTW Wasn't Devin's Cavalry out scouting Barlow's right? at what point in time did they withdraw?

ken



 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 12:27 am
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ethn1956
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Oh Oh Howard might be the proper response to Howard at Gettysburg....he was even late in visiting the battlefield west of town



 Posted: Tue May 19th, 2009 05:25 pm
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The general agreed upon line of defense was Cemetery Hill, or rather, the heights beyond the town. That's why Buford set up his defense-in-depth to the west of town and Reynolds' decided to hold the line upon his arrival with his Wing, when he had the authority to withdraw from the fight if the terrain wasn't defendable. Meade's plan was to draw the Army of Northern Virginia to the Pipe Creek Line, so they had a strong defensive position, despite having to constantly move to protect Washington D. C. Reyonds' was aware that he and the AoP needed to stop Lee from moving freely in the North and potentially threatening DC. So a chance to cripple the ANV's ability to support themselves in the North was Reynold's priority.


The men knew the value of the ground, so in the confusion of trying to coordinate two Union Corps against the approaching threat from both the West and the North, it probably made it confusing for him to clearly state it to staff officers, but they all knew. Then unfortunatly Reynolds' was killed.

Therefore, although he may have not cearly stated it, it was definatly well known as the point upon which the army was to converge. I think Reynolds performed admirably and made the right calls. This is just me though. Great discussion!

Last edited on Tue May 19th, 2009 05:37 pm by CoryB



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 Posted: Fri Jul 2nd, 2010 05:19 am
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CameronsHighlander
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I don't want to upset people but Oliver Howard was the worst commander in the Union Army. Union High Command had little, if any faith in him, following the fiasco in Chancellorsville in Gettysburg a few of his brigades held Cemetary Hill with the remainders of the 1st Corps and Bufords Cavalry. If the Union Army had faith in Howard why were Winfield Scott Hancock, Henry Hunt, George Sykes, and Gouverneur K. Warren rushed to Gettysburg.  Meade was afraid Howard was going to run like a sculded dog with Reynolds Dead, Doubleday was a Junior officer and Howard was the Sr. Commander in the field. Meade needed someone who he knew wouldn't run and Hancock was the man. (Pvt Clewell you are 100% Correct) As for Howards less then Finest Hours Gettysburg would be number 2. Chancellorsville was his biggest error. More of what happend on Cemetary Hill was because Hancock was there not because Howard was.



 Posted: Fri Jul 2nd, 2010 08:56 pm
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HankC
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That's quite a paragraph.

Can you substantiate any of it?

Once the shooting started, 160,000 men 'rushed' to Gettysburg. All because of a lack of faith in Howard?


HankC



 Posted: Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 02:09 am
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CameronsHighlander
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I am not refering to the corps. I am refering to the individual men Hancock,(I actually mean Butterfield not Sykes), Hunt, and Warren were sent to Gettysburg for varying reasons Hancock to command the defenses, all the others were headquarters men and Artillery Reserve Commander  http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/167785 as for Howard it was by his pure luck that the Battle was a northern Victory on Days 2 and 3 by him placing his reserve on Cemetary Hill, Culps Hill, and Cemetary Ridge, but it was his fault that the battle was nearly a defeat because of day 1.  http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/oliver-o-howard/ this one in particular indicates that Hancock commanded the Defenses of Gettysburg in truth it was Actually Francis Barlow who made errors in this Battle and resulted in the Confederates controlling the town of Gettysburg Howard simply tried to save face and make Doubleday look bad.



 Posted: Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 04:10 am
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I'm fairly sympathetic to Gen. Howard. He took command of a confusing meeting engagement against an enemy that was superior in both numbers and position without a good idea of the ground and managed to hold two corps together enough to preserve the key terrain of Cemetery Hill. Regardless of how he handled the rest of the battlefield he did have the presence of mind to leave Von Steinwher's division on Cemetery Hill. The presence of a formed body of Yankees on the high ground south of Gettysburg was enough to convince Ewell to break off his attack on the afternoon of 1 July.

Mark



 Posted: Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 12:16 pm
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CameronsHighlander
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that and John Sedgewick and the 6th Corps appearing on Ewells left Flank.. I think had Sedgewick not been there Ewell would have gone in knowing it was the 11th Corps but Ewell listend to Early and Early was a coward. I do give Credit to Howard it was kinda dumb luck credit and his late war performance was exemplery compared to his performance from May - July 1863. Which seems to actually be a trend with Eastern theater officers who go west they dont fight in the east but do really good in the west eg. Hooker, Burnside, and Howard.

Last edited on Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 12:19 pm by CameronsHighlander



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