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Counter attack after PPT charge - Battle of Gettysburg - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Fri Oct 28th, 2011 06:36 pm
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csamillerp
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I'd like ya'lls opinion on whether Meade should have Counter attacked after the PPT assault and if he had counter attacked do you think it would have changed the outcome of the battle? I think if Meade would have counter attacked immediatetly after the PPT attack then Lee would have had no defense set up to defend it and giving Lee's line being stretched out for what 4-5 miles he wouldnt have had the strength or the time to save his army. Granted i think Meade's casualties would have been close to that of Pickett's and Pettigrews due to the rebel artillery. Lee's artillery was out of Long range projectiles but he still had a sufficent amount of canister. Pickett's division would have been a non factor as they had suffered close to 60% casualties and all his subordinates were either killed wounded or captured. But pettigrew may have been able to set up some kind of defense but not likely to have been enough to repel an attack by Hancock's corp or even Gibbons division. But anyway what do you think?



 Posted: Fri Oct 28th, 2011 08:52 pm
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pender
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I think Longstreet would have welcomed an counter attack. As I have said before Longstreet was a master at the defensive as Jackson was a master at the offensive. Lee set up for the attack after the charge, but as you know it never came. But realistically though I think both armies were fought out at the end of the ppt charge on the third day. All I think would have happened if Meade would have counter attacked is he would have had as many casualties as Lee. Lee's artillery ammo was low but he had saved enough for just that. The ppt charge had ended the frontal assaults for the army of ANV. Every time they are going to meet the AOTP they are going to be dug in. Except in the tangle of the Wilderness. What a price to pay to learn the old Napoleonic ways of battle are over. Grant will learn this lesson after Cold Harbor.

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 Posted: Fri Oct 28th, 2011 11:35 pm
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csamillerp
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i agree that Meade would have taken heavy casuaties but if he would have ordered a counterattack directly after the charge then he would have met very little infantry resistance. Lee's center was in chaos and the only division Lee had that hadnt been too beat up was andersons, but even anderson had been engaged and i dont know what shape they was in to meet a large counter attack



 Posted: Sat Oct 29th, 2011 01:10 pm
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Mark
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It wouldn't be Hancock's Corps I'd be worried about. It would be the 6th Corps. Most of that was still unengaged and reasonably well rested. If Meade could have gotten them moving quickly they might have been able to split the Confederate center. I'm doubtful that Meade could have coordinated that big of an offensive maneuver on such short notice, though.

Mark



 Posted: Sat Oct 29th, 2011 02:07 pm
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csamillerp, I agree with Mark. If Meade counter attacks it's definitely going to be the 6th Corp. Still the only problem I have with the attack is Meade is going to take the same artillery barrage Lee's troops just took.

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 Posted: Sat Oct 29th, 2011 10:20 pm
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Mark
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I knew we would agree on something eventually Pender!

Mark



 Posted: Sat Oct 29th, 2011 11:42 pm
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omar
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I believe if Meade were going to counter attack he would have needed to have the 6th right there behind the line ready to go, and then set them loose the minute the confederate attack showed signs of faltering. Even if that were the case I cant see the counter attack doing much to break the rebels, the union troops would ahve to cross the same ground that Pickett's men just crossed and face roughly the same artillery barage that they did, also they would be attacking troops that held the high ground.  

   If the 6th were to break the confederate line their casualites would have been just as bad as Picketts, which means that Meade would have needed to have follow up units right behind the 6th to exploit the break and roll up the confederate line, and after three days of fighting I dont know that Meade would have troops fresh enough for this.

  All that being said I think a counter attack wold have done nothing more than to add more prisoners to the union coffers and more brave dead men to both sides



 Posted: Sun Oct 30th, 2011 05:45 am
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csamillerp
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I think ya'll might be forgetting that the union had just destroyed an attack by Lee, their morale was would have been extremely high. The average union soldier didnt know how many rebels had participated in the attack. i read a union prisoner's recollection about the charge. He was captured during the 1st days fighting and witnessed the attack and thought Lee was attacking with his entire army. If the majority of the yankees at the stonewall believed the same thing then they would also believe that they had repelled Lee's entire army. That would have been a morale boost from hell! Hancocks corp wasnt that badly hurt they could have still made a counter attack especially since Lee was nearly out of ammunition. Also Lee's Long range ordanace was defective. There fuses were that is. I agree that Meade would have had to use the 6th corp to support the attack and press any advantages that Hancocks corp would have opened up but the success of the counter attack would depend on timing with them attacking immediately after the failed assault on the stonewall. I know i could be wrong and meade would have suffered extensive causalties but i think it's probable that he could have destroyed Lee's army if he would have counter attacked. If you think about it hancocks corp would have been at pickett, Pettigrews and Trimbles heels as they retreated so that the reb artillery would have had to fire on their own troops to repel the union counter attack.



 Posted: Sun Oct 30th, 2011 05:50 am
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csamillerp
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I think ya'll might be forgetting that the union had just destroyed an attack by Lee, their morale was would have been extremely high. The average union soldier didnt know how many rebels had participated in the attack. i read a union prisoner's recollection about the charge. He was captured during the 1st days fighting and witnessed the attack and thought Lee was attacking with his entire army. If the majority of the yankees at the stonewall believed the same thing then they would also believe that they had repelled Lee's entire army. That would have been a morale boost from hell! Hancocks corp wasnt that badly hurt they could have still made a counter attack especially since Lee was nearly out of ammunition. Also Lee's Long range ordanace was defective. There fuses were that is. I agree that Meade would have had to use the 6th corp to support the attack and press any advantages that Hancocks corp would have opened up but the success of the counter attack would depend on timing with them attacking immediately after the failed assault on the stonewall. I know i could be wrong and meade would have suffered extensive causalties but i think it's probable that he could have destroyed Lee's army if he would have counter attacked. If you think about it hancocks corp would have been at pickett, Pettigrews and Trimbles heels as they retreated so that the reb artillery would have had to fire on their own troops to repel the union counter attack.



 Posted: Sun Oct 30th, 2011 01:57 pm
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csamillerp, I would assume that after the carnage of the PPT charge the last thing the union men wanted to do is jump over that stonewall and head after them. Though some soldiers in the union army may of believed the ANV had been destroyed the command structure knew it had not. A wounded lion is more dangerous than a healthy one.

In a letter to his wife Margaretta, Meade gives the reason for not making a counter attack. On the 5th of July Meade writes " It was a grand battle, and is in my judgment a most decided victory, though I did not annihilate or bag the confederate army. This morning they retreated in great haste into the mountains, leaving their dead unburied and their wounded on the field. They awaited one day, expecting that flushed with success, I would attack them, then they would play their old game of shooting us from behind breast works." Also they did not know Lee was done. For all they knew he was about to hit the flanks again.

csamillerp, I noticed your favorite general is Maxcy Gregg, one of mine too. Have you checked out the A.P. Hill's Light Division thread?

Mark, these truly are strange times we are living in:)        Pender



 Posted: Sun Oct 30th, 2011 06:19 pm
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ole
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I think those that survived PPT were so relieved that it was over, that they had no heart to pursue.

Pursuing was the logical thing to do, but it would be a difficult thing to get the remaining army to do it. Upshot: kinda what I would expect.



 Posted: Mon Oct 31st, 2011 12:39 am
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What artillery barage? I thought that Alexander's batteries were running low on ammo by the time the charge actually began after trying to dislodge Federal artillery for some time. If they were then an immediate counter charge might not have faced shelling. The thing would have been once Federal troops started getting close enough for canister.

But it probably would have had to be an immediate countercharge. And not just because of what had just happened to the Army of Northern Virginia but because of some of his own people. I still think that may have played as much of a role in how long it took Meade to pursue Lee after the batte as the army's own weariness did. Some of his commanders and staff were still loyal to Hooker and certainly after the battle undermined Meade as a commander.



 Posted: Mon Oct 31st, 2011 01:03 am
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Hellcat says " what artillery barrage " Good question http://www.historynet.com/gettysburg-remembering-picketts-charge.htm The question is how much was used in support.

 



 Posted: Mon Oct 31st, 2011 01:11 am
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csamillerp
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me being a southerner i cant decide whether im glad meade didnt attack or i wish he had lol. In the end though none of use will ever know what would have been giving any what if's but for as being a discussion topic i cant think of anything that is more exciting then thinking about the what if's.



 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 01:21 pm
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BHR62
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I think the Union Army felt it had just paid Lee's army back for Fredericksburg.  As they looked over the field full of Reb casualties they felt there had been enough killing for the day.  As mentioned Meade didn't know if the next day would bring more combat so he kept his reserves fresh for the next day if needed. 

My What If question on Hooker staying in command...this would probably be where Hooker would attack.  I think the VI Corps would go in adding to the blood bath casualty count.  Whether it would have been succesful or not would be hard to say with certainty. 

Last edited on Sun Nov 6th, 2011 01:57 pm by BHR62



 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 07:03 pm
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csamillerp
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i agree. Any counter attack would have been bloody but if it carried the chance of ending the war then would it have been more bloody then the 100,000 plus soldiers to die on the battlefield during the last 2 years of combat



 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 10:37 pm
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BHR62
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Meade just saw what happened to Lee's attack and knowing that the Rebs have plenty of artillery there probably thought it best to play it safe by staying on defense. The Confederate artillery would have raked the Yank counter attack with cannister leaving the field full of dead Yanks.



 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 07:52 am
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csamillerp
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i agree. meade probably felt like an outsider during the battle since he had only been in commnad for three days, well six days by the time pickett's charge occured. I guess he didnt want lose what he had just won. The only thing is you dont fight a battle just to not lose. That was the difference between R.E LEE and MOST yankee commanders that preceeded Grant, they all fought to not lose while Lee fought to win, not just the battle but the war. I doubt if he ever went into a battle doubting that it would be the last, just not his personality. He fought for keeps



 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2011 03:33 pm
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ole
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Chasing Lee would be very much like crawling into a hole to chase a rattler.

Meade's army was very much spent and not in any condition to wreak much damage on Lee's retreating troops who were, by the way, still full of fight.

I regret that Meade didn't do more, but I do think he did all he could. An organized pursuit just wasn't in the cards. A disorganized pursuit might have been possible, but Meade was Meade. He didn't treat his troops like that, nevermind that the war could have ended if he'd tossed caution to the wind.

Enough cliches? He wouldn't and didn't. It was what it was.



 Posted: Fri Nov 11th, 2011 10:50 am
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Last edited on Fri Nov 11th, 2011 11:04 am by BHR62



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