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Lost Triumph: Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg and Why It Failed - Civil War Books - Civil War Entertainment: Books, Movies, Music & Art - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Thu Dec 21st, 2006 12:14 am
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Johnny Huma
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Ole,

I believe by taking Cemetery Hill Lee would have made the Union position untenable.

(If my spelling is bad it is because it is bad):)

The fields of fire there would have made Meade have to withdraw and maybe put into action Plan B.. Falling back to Pipe Creek. You have to give Meade a pat on the back for having a backup plan there. If the Union Army was to fall back because of this Lee could have moved on Harrisburg or moved to threaten DC..I dont think he would have made the second choice..Lee was looking for a Victory here wherever or however it may have came. A victory on Northern Soil would have put a lot of pressure on Old Abe to look at some type of Peace Treaty because there were a lot of people in the North at this point of the war who were condeming it and wanted it stopped...(Kinda like a lot of people in the US who would rather not be fighting a war in Iraq) Pressure on Bush. And so as History repeats itself pressure on Ol' Abe to stop the war at whatever cost...So you see it was not really a matter of what was he going to do then or where was he going to go after he took the hill..It was a matter of bringing the war north to put the pressure on Washington to come to some agreement for a truce...And that all may have come to past if it were not for the hard fighting Union Army..I think Lee underestimated the Union Army's will to fight because it was low prior to Gettysburg..But when they were fighting for their own ground and homes I believe the espirt de corps set in..Something Lee was not expecting..The same reasons existed in Virgina as to why the Rebs were hard fighting people..Our homes and our land...

I believe Lee would have headed for Harrisburg since it would have kept his supply line intact and a retreat route once he seized the Capital if he wanted a way out .That also would have brought the pressure he was looking for..I don't think for one second Lee thought he could come north and whip the whole Union Army and they would surrender to him..

He knew he was outmanned and outgunned...It was a classical Lee gambling against the odds which he had done so many times...And Gettysburg was one of those battles that could have went either way...But one cannot claim Victory unless the opposing Army has fled the battleground in order to fight another day no matter what the casualty count is...Lee was stopped there and could not sustain himself for any length of time in enemy country. Meades army would only get stronger as his would become weaker and so the decision to head back to Virgina..He could not move the AOP from it's stronghold on the fortified hills..So the importance of Cemetery Hill for whom ever controlled it..That is why I also believe that this hill was infact Lee's objective for the 3 days of battle once he made it to the Seminary and studied the ground in his front..He saw  from there the advantage that the hill had over the whole battlefield..Hence his orders for Ewell to take the hill on two different occasions and ordered fire placed on the hill to break up the troops who he could see rallying there..None of which came to past...But that is another whole area for debate..:)

Huma



 Posted: Thu Dec 21st, 2006 01:46 pm
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HankC
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Johnny Huma wrote: Now walk the field and put yourself if Lee's boots...
But Lee never had the chance to walk the field on Cemetery Ridge ;) Which brings us to an interesting line of thought...

Probably 99% of us know the field better than Lee and his generals. They were all working in the densest 'fog of war' - unfamiliar terrain in enemy territory. Seldom did they know what's over the next rise or beyond the tree line.

From our 21st century vantage point we've all seen the battlefield in air-conditioned, well-fed comfort from the left, the right and from up above. In an hour, we can a travel distances that took them 3 days to march. Civil war generals knew only what their scouts could tell them and it was usually jumbled, inaccurate, contradictory and second-hand.

Perhaps some Jedadiah was updating maps the first time through Gettysburg a week before, but Gettysburg, to them, was the pretty much the same, and, as important, as Fairfield or Mummasburg. We've seen Little Round Top, Culp's and Cemetery Hills; Lee, Ewell and Longstreet never did...

 

Cheers,

HankC



 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 11:53 am
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Historicaly Correct
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I'm gonna try to give you someting to think about.. I've benn reading alot on the battle of Chancellorsville and have also read the book Lost Triumph. Just to provoke some thought... Lee and Stonewall had a great understanding between them, as they met for the last time there was a lot of communication between them that was not spoken. Lee and Stonewall could visualize the others thoughts and ideas.(before any one getts the bright idea not ESP). Useing the battle at Chancellorsville, Lee used a tactic not unlike that of Gettysburg, dividing forces in the face of the enimey. Lee sent men to do jobs not knowing what the other hand was doing. As military history proves this can also be a bad thing too. Did Lee do the same thing here? who knows?
Yes I think the Union presence had alot to do with it, Tired horses, Men after 2 days of fighting, there are more than I can say.
HC



 Posted: Mon Feb 16th, 2009 12:29 am
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Ted51
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I found the Carhart book extremely persuasive; as the original review observes, it explains many things about the third day that are otherwise difficult to understand.  It may never be proven, but it outlines an interesting possibility.
 
Those who object on the grounds that the thesis of the book takes credit away from the Army of the Potomac are missing the point.  By this stage of the war, the Union cavalry had improved in equipment, organization, training, and perhaps most of all, leadership.  (Custer had been promoted from Captain to (Brevet) Brigadier General just weeks before Gettysburg.)   The action at Brandy Station a few weeks earlier had proven that the Union cavalry were the equal of the Confederates in an offensive role.  The action at Gettysburg shows that the Union horse could stand up to J.E.B. Stuart and company in a defensive role also.  Custer’s improvised stand, if Carhart is right, messed up the timing of the attack and led to the fiasco on Cemetery Ridge. 
 
If Carhart’s thesis is correct, then Stuart is open to criticism for being unable to punch through.  Lee can also be faulted for what turned out to be an overly elaborate plan.
 
One final point may have a bearing on the lack of proof.  Carhart contends that only a few people knew the full plan in the first place, and that those leaders maintained silence about it on the direct orders of General Lee.  As to why Lee should do that, Carhart makes a weak argument that Lee wanted to protect Stuart’s reputation, and by the time Lee wrote a full report, Stuart was dead.  I think another explanation is more persuasive. 
 
Whether or not Lee had any particular historical battle in mind, the whole cavalry corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, reinforced by mounted infantry, could have been a devastating battlefield weapon, particularly in the relatively open country of Pennsylvania.  If the plan had worked the way Carhart describes, the northern half of the Union position would have been completely surrounded.  The remainder would have been outnumbered, Lee would push on to Washington, and the Union would be forced to sue for peace.  Gettysburg would have been, in other words, the decisive battle so seldom achieved in the war.  I believe – with no proof, to be sure – that Lee ordered silence about the plan because he hoped to get another chance to try it.  Lee did not want to alert the Union to what he thought could be a war-winning maneuver.
 
 



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