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Pursuit after Gettysburg - Battle of Gettysburg - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sat Nov 14th, 2009 10:52 pm
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Naim Peress
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Though this topic has been relentlessly debated, I'm curious to know what people think.  Would it have been possible for Meade to pursue and destroy Lee's army after the Battle of Gettysburg?  After the thousands of casualties endured by the Union Army due to the battle, I think not. 



 Posted: Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 11:49 pm
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ole
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Definitely an iffy, Naim. One of the least advised military movements is impetuously chasing a retreating army. (Chasing a routed army is a must, but not one that's taken time to get it's act together.)

It's possible that Meade could have, at great sacrifice, brought Lee to bay -- at a place of Lee's chosing. With a big pitched battle, with resultant casualties, he might have captured the AoNV.

It would have been a gamble with enormous payoff or disastrous results.

Aside from the whipping and the disorganization Meade suffered, it would have been possible to show a little more haste in an effort.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 01:04 am
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Doc C
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In due respect, once Meade got going he came extremely close to devistating the ANV prior to their escape across the Potomac, imho. A true wiskers' hair.

Doc C



 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 02:36 am
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ole
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Only because the river was high and the pontoons were nowhere close. Close counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades.

I'm of a mind that Meade did all he could reasonably expected to do, so I'm playing devil's advocate.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 11:27 am
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Naim Peress
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It's an interesting question. I wonder if the Army of the Potomac was in much of a position to pursue after Gettysburg.



 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 01:39 pm
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ole
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There were several Federal units in good enough shape to follow -- the broken cavalry was sent after the AoNV -- but there is a question of sorting out the jumbled trains to accompany a pursuing force.

And here it might be noted that Lee managed to send off his trains on the Fourth and marched the same day. What was Meade doing?

Ole



 Posted: Tue Nov 24th, 2009 11:34 am
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Naim Peress
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An interesting point.



 Posted: Wed Dec 30th, 2009 12:04 am
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HallowedGround
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I agree with ya Naim . I don't think  Meads army was in any condition to pursue the reb army and destroy them. I know Lincoln thought he should have, but then again Lincoln wasn't there.



 Posted: Mon May 17th, 2010 01:30 am
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bolaman1975
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well if you know how civil war units are organized...they all fight together meaning that if you fight in one corp you all stayed together...but on the third days battle there was an attack by Ewell on Culp's hill where if you look at the monuments are all mixed up...meaning that Meade had deployed part of the 6th corp to the Culps' hill. so i personally think that Meade had to have everyone get back into line. and that probably took awhile...also like someone else said too the Union army probably was in no shape to fight it out.



 Posted: Mon May 17th, 2010 02:06 am
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ole
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Read an interesting observation the other day, on this board or maybe another, that the pursued are on the defensive. They may have time to set up a position -- in which case the offensive force ought to have three times their number in order to have a chance to squish it.

So it's not really a matter of aggressive or tentative pursuit. Aggressive, in the G'Burg situation, may have been a price that ought to have been paid to obliterate the AoNV, but Meade chose to preserve the AotP.

We might never reach agreement on whether Meade ought to have been more aggressive in the pursuit. But I tend to remember that Meade was also ordered to protect Washington.

Rambling again. Sorry about that.

Ole



 Posted: Mon May 17th, 2010 04:29 pm
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HankC
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Any adjective describing the Army of the Potomac certainly applies more so to the Army of Northern Virginia.

However, the AotP had ample ammunution supplies.

In addition, the 6th and 12th corps were relatively untouched. Even the 5th corps had less than half the casualties of the other four army corps. In effect Meade had 3 corps that were combat-ready; Lee had zero.

Also, the 3rd day had been the 'easiest' for the bulk of Meade's army after fighting on the narrow fronts of Culps Hill and Pickett's charge.



 Posted: Sat Jun 11th, 2011 05:32 am
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bolaman1975
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but like it was said here...all the corps where mixed...so they had to get back into line....that takes time...the 12th corps was at 1/2 strength...the 6th corp had taken up for Sickles when he went to the Peach orchard and came tumbling back. also they had alot of wounded and dead...so was it possible yes and no...you also have to think of what there mission was the Union army. it was to be between the Confederate army and Washington, D.C. if Meade was able to get the 6th and 12th up and out right away then the war would have been over..but the other thing is i believe that there was a army of the confederates was in the Shenandoah valley too. so Meade had no idea of the strength of what Lee had left. and furthermore i think there was a sense of euphoria that they had actually beaten the rebels.



 Posted: Sat Jun 11th, 2011 08:40 am
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Hellcat
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There might have been more to it than whether or not the Army of the Potomac was in any shape and organized enough to follow the Army of Northern Virginia. He'd only been in command for a few days when the battle occured so he may have wanted to take a little time to sort some things out. But even without that idea the thing I'm actually looking at is his commanders and the troubles he'd have had with some of them. Sickles certainly didn't care for them and there's some question as to whether he misunderstood Meade's orders on July 2nd or whether he purposefully disobeyed them. Butterfield also appears to have disliked, if not hated, Meade. Now because of wounds both men recieved during the course of the battle neither was really around to cause Meade any troubles in trying to pursue Lee ASAP. But who else might have been there who might have had objections to his being the commanding general and caused him a little trouble. Howard could have been a little upset still that Meade had sent Hancock ahead of him to take command of the battle until he arrived. Howard was the ranking general on the field at the time Hancock arrived. Howard may have been a little upset about that still. And there may have been others who had their own reasons to hamper Meade so he may have had to deal with a little in fighting before he could even set out after Lee.



 Posted: Sat Jun 11th, 2011 08:57 pm
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Old Blu
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2 books for your reading pleasure on the retreat.

Retreat fro Gettysburg-Eric Wittenburg
Retreat from Gettysburg-Kent Masterson Brown.

Both books are terrific!!



 Posted: Wed Jul 27th, 2011 03:57 pm
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norbay1
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Thanks for the referral. I just now ordered a Kindle edition of: Retreat from Gettysburg-Eric Wittenburg. They also call it One Continuous Fight

Ken of Napa, California.:D

Last edited on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 04:01 pm by norbay1



 Posted: Thu Jul 28th, 2011 02:31 pm
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Old North State
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I especially recommend the Kent Masterson Brown study.



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 Posted: Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 10:32 pm
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The move to come north for Lee was an act of desperation. Lincoln already had his cut throats Sheridan, Grant, and Sherman moving south to burn, bomb, and rape our women and children. Meade could have pursued them but did it really matter? The North had so much more than the South. After we lost Jackson we lost our ability to act quickly and act with the bayonet.
"Lead with the bayonet and we will drive the Yankee intruder out of our homes".



 Posted: Thu Aug 4th, 2011 01:56 pm
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HankC
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In July 1863, Grant and Sherman were at Vicksburg.

Sheridan was a division commander with the Army of the Cumberland.

Most people consider the war over when Lee surrendered in 1865. It could of happened in July 1863...


HankC



 Posted: Tue Oct 4th, 2011 04:30 pm
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norbay1
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It seems that some of the answers are in the book I'm reading on Kindle "One Continuous Fight" - this is the next thing to being on the battlefield itself. Makes me sad to think of one countryman killing another. The greater good of course was to make our great nation as one.

Last edited on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 04:31 pm by norbay1



 Posted: Wed Oct 26th, 2011 08:14 am
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csamillerp
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I've always been told never to corner a wounded bobcat. Even though Lee's army was mauled at gettysburg he still had the support of his troops and Lee was a master of defensive positions. One of Napoleaon's theory's was that if you were to attack a well defended position you must have a 3:1 strength ratio over your opponent. Never the less it was a hairs breath away from being a second antietam!



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