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 Posted: Wed Aug 11th, 2010 02:27 pm
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Barlow
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I've been reading a few books about Lincoln's trip to Gettysburg in November of 1863.  Fascinating reading.  We all know the stories about his stay, the procession to the dedication, his horse being too small, etc, but I could not find any real authority or opinion on just when the denouement or "ah-hah' moment arrived in America when it was realized that his speech was one for the ages and one of the great literature achievements of all time.  I know there were 5 interruptions for applause and Everett's note days later, but most people came away disappointed for various reasons...too short, abrupt ending, bored after Everett's 2 hour speech, etc.  Did his death cause a reappraisal of his speeches and closer look at the Dedication Address?

Any thoughts?

Last edited on Wed Aug 11th, 2010 04:08 pm by Barlow



 Posted: Wed Aug 11th, 2010 02:49 pm
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Texas Defender
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  The two hour speech given just before Mr. Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address was delivered by the famous orator Edward Everett.

 

Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address — History.com This Day in History — 11/19/1863



 Posted: Thu Aug 12th, 2010 08:59 pm
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HankC
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Then, as now, there were those recognizing the speech's greatness and those that considerd it 'dishwatery'.

Just recently, the American Constitution Society distributed a pamphlet containing the speech but omitting the words 'under God' from the text (http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/07/god-and-gettysburg).


HankC



 Posted: Fri Aug 13th, 2010 12:17 am
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Barlow
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Might I suggest the book "Gettysburg Remembers..President Lincoln and Eyewitness Accounts of November 1863 by Linda Giberson Black.  Here's things I did not know:

1.  Everett memorized his entire 2 hour speech!  p.41

2.  Contrary to movies, i.e. Henry Fonda, Lincoln had a high pitched voice, maybe like the heavy set guy in the movie The Red Badge of Courage.  I think he would have sounded like Sam Waterson in the lawyer series on tv.

3.  The speech was interrupted by applause 5 times.  p45

As I said, one eyewitness put it perfectly:  "Only a few really understood the greatness of the words there and then spoken...What the crowd thought I do not know, but I do know what I thought, 'Well, Mr. Lincoln's speech was simple, appropriate, and right to the point, but I dont think there was anything remarkable about it..."



 Posted: Fri Aug 13th, 2010 02:30 pm
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HankC
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Without the Address, Gettysburg would be treated as most other big battles such as Chancellorsville, Stones River, Chickamauga, et al, and Antietam would be considered *the* major battle of the war...



 Posted: Fri Aug 13th, 2010 02:35 pm
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Mark
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If you are interested in such things I heartily recommend "Lincoln's Sword: the President and the Power of Words" by Doug Wilson. It covers Lincoln's entire presidency and examines how he carefully used the written and spoken word to shepherd the nation through the ACW.

Mark



 Posted: Sun Aug 15th, 2010 03:08 am
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Hellcat
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I recall that Everett sent a to Lincoln soon after the dedication in which he said he wished his speech would be remembered as long as Lincoln's. This had to happen before January 15, 1865 as that was when Everett passed away. Which means that at least someone never had to re-examine the speech after Lincoln's death but had a clue at the time it was made as to it's lasting impression.



 Posted: Sun Aug 15th, 2010 03:35 pm
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Barlow
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From the book Gettysburg Experiences by Diana Loski:

President Jack Kennedy was invited to attend the 100th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1963.  He accepted the invitation from Col. Sheads, his earlier LBFG.  Later, had changed his mind and declined the invitation because he had to "go to Dallas and mend fences."  If only he had returned to Gettysburg.



 Posted: Mon Aug 16th, 2010 11:12 pm
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TimK
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This is a pretty interesting topic - at least I think it is.

I've been pondering the point Hank made in post 5 for a few days. I personally have never thought of the Gettysburg address as being the reason that Gettysburg has been thought of as "the" major battle of the CW. I figured it was because it was a relatively long battle (excluding sieges), had over 50,000 casualties (more than any other major battle), and was close to the population centers on the east coast. By comparison, Antietam was a one day battle and had less than half as many casualties. It was, however, the single bloodiest day, not only of the CW, but American history and, like Gettysburg, close to population centers. Hank really got me to thinking on his point. I can't say I agree with it, but I'm not sure I totally disagree with it.

What do other people think? Was the Gettysburg Address the reason why Gettysburg is thought of as "the" major battle? I'm open to persuasion on this.



 Posted: Tue Aug 17th, 2010 02:28 am
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Hellcat
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I don't think so. To make the claim Antietam/Sharpsburg would have been the major battle because of the Gettysburg Address not happening brings up the question of how Antietam/Sharpsburg would have been viewed if the Emancipation Proclamation hadn't happened or had occured much sooner. Lincoln had been working on the Emancipation since before the battle and had been prepared to release it well before Antietam/Sharpsburg. He was persuaded not to do so after the string of defeats the North had suffered and to wait for some great victory. First coming only a few days after the battle, it can be said to have been what historically made Antietam/Sharpsburg important.

Also there is the matter of the respective invasions. I don't think at the time Lee's first invasion was that shocking to folks in the North. I think it was more shocking that it hadn't happened sooner. It seems that following First Bull Run/Manassass it was expected that there would be an invasion to immediately follow up the South's victory. With Maryland so close to Virginia it seems more likely it was expected that it would be invaded, but that Lee would never push further north. So there was more of an uproar when Lee entered Pennsylvania. That's what would have really set Gettysburg apart and made it more important even without the Gettysburg Address, Lee had penetrated further north than anyone expected and there were fears he'd march on NYC, Boston, Philly, or any major northern cities. Of course in contrast there had to be the fear that Lee could march on the capital, a fear which seems to have been expected when you look at both how close DC was to the Confederacy and how many forts surrounded the city at that point in the war.

And of course there is the question as to the kind of victory. Meade won Gettysburg both strategically and tactically. But the same can not be said of McClellan as there are questions as to whether or not he won tactically. Remove both the Emancipation and the Address and it would be more how total the victory was that would cause both battles to be looked at in terms of their overall importance.



 Posted: Wed Aug 18th, 2010 04:56 pm
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HankC
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Since this is all 'what-if' with few facts over which to quibble, about the best I can come up with is the assertion about strategic/tactical success being a major factor.

At both Antietam and Gettysburg, each side held the same position at the end of the battle as at the start. Then Lee withdrew.

If South Mountain is considered as the 'first day' of Antietam, then Lee, similar to Buford, uses a delaying action to ensure he can hold the high ground while his forces converge, similar to Meade at Gettysburg. So the battle tactis are the same though with the sides reversed.

I'm not really sure that Potomac veterans thought of the battle as saving New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, though I may stand corrected. Defending the capital was alwasy a high priority. Anxiety over it's capture was much higher at the time of Jackson's valley campaign.

On the other hand, Fort Stevens gets a lot of ink since Lincoln 'was there' and Monacacy, strategically more decisive, is mostly forgotten.


HankC



 Posted: Thu Aug 19th, 2010 02:04 am
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Hellcat
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The arguement of the tactics being reversed doesn't seem to me as good an arguement as there is the question as to whether McClellan had a total victory. He won Antietam/Sharpsburg strategically, but it's his tactics that are questioned. Even if we say the tactics were reversed by adding the fight at South Mountain we are still left with the question of did McClellan win tactically or did his tactics fall short.

Also the question seems to be was Buford's actions at Gettysburg a delaying action or a holding action. I'd probably argue it was a holding action, both to hold the heights and hold the Army of Northern Virginia in Gettysburg until Reynolds 1st Corps could arrive. More holding the Heights as Lee could have easily just gone around him or kept moving north. South Maountain seemed more a delaying action meant to delay McClellan's advance.

In the end though it still comes back to the importance of the Gettysburg Address and if it is really what made the battle so important. And I still say that if we want to argue how that speech affected the view of the battle then we have to do the same thing with the Emancipation Proclamation and Antietam/Sharpsburg.

 



 Posted: Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 02:55 pm
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HankC
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The nation celebrated the EP immediately. The importance of the GA took a while.

Antietam was the last battle in a fairly long campaign that started in June on the peninsula, moved northward through Cedar mountain and 2nd Manassas and finally across the potomac. In effect it was McClellan's thrust and Lee's counter-thrust which finally returned both sides to more-or-less their positions of the previous winter.

The battle of South Mountain allows Lee to hold the heights at Sharpsburg and to delay the Army of the Potomac until Jackson could arrive - the same thing Buford does at Gettysburg.

the 2 battles are almost carbon copies at the 'macro' level, except that the final attack at Gettysburg came in the center rather than on the defense's right:

first phase: active defense delays the attacker while better ground is held and all defensive units converge,

2nd phase: tremendous attack on the defensive left, to which every available unit is rushed. The line bends but does not break. Some areas change hands many times (corn field/Wheatfield).

defense of the right: uncoordinated attacks are costly but not decisive

battle for the center: tremendous slaughter in an attack on a well defended position (divergence here as the CSA retreated from their position but the AoP could not follow up)


HankC



 Posted: Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 03:00 pm
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HankC
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I'd add that Lee's tactics were in line with his strategy: he meant to fight at Sharpsburg.

Meade had no intention of fighting at Gettysburg. Buford and Reynolds chose the ground - their tactics forced the strategy...


HankC



 Posted: Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 10:58 pm
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Captain Crow
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Not sure how much the average citizen "celebrated" the E.P.
In fact I seem to recall it being pretty unpopular in certain northern circles.



 Posted: Wed Aug 25th, 2010 06:02 am
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Edward Everett was among those who realized early on the importance of the Gettysburg Address. And I think the arguement is still that if we claim the speach made the Battle of Gettysburg then the same must be said about the Emancipation Proclamation and the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg.



 Posted: Sun Aug 29th, 2010 10:31 pm
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ole
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I go with the theory that the President's address at Gettysburg did give a jump start to the popularity and subsequent development of the park.

Who knows? 150 years from now, Obamacare (call us when you're shovel-ready) might well be hailed as a turnaround moment in American history.)__



 Posted: Thu Jan 20th, 2011 02:15 pm
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wardenerd
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I think many Lincolnphiles think the war began and ended with everything Lincoln.  I think Gettysburg was THE battle of the war because it was the one remaining chance to end the war for the Confederacy.  You can argue the location and changed outcomes but it was the back breaker for either side that lost.

That said Lincoln was the linchpin for the north and his assassination in Baltimore in 1861 would have been the deathnell for the Union as we knew it in my humble opinion.



 Posted: Thu Jan 20th, 2011 02:42 pm
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wardenerd
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who in his right mind would ever speak at Gettysburg after the Lincoln speech.  It may be political and insincere but it was a hell of a speech



 Posted: Fri Jan 21st, 2011 12:31 am
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Albert Sailhorst
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I think it was a good speech because it very simply defined what America was, is, and should be.....



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