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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2007 12:44 am
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PvtClewell
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OK, I'll bite and start that new thread on Ewell and Cemetery Hill.

I just got back from a week at Gettysburg at the Civil War Institute and am pretty much full of myself by now. I had access to a roomate's laptop and saw Joanie's question concerning Ewell following Lee's order not to bring on a general engagement, so I corralled a Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide and asked the Big Question. Turns out, by his interpretation, Ewell had not personally spoken with Lee for several days and Ewell was still trying to follow the order not to bring on a general engagement by 5 p.m. on the first day. Go figure.

This comes from Harry Pfanz (Donald's father) from his book 'Gettysburg - The First Day' (page 342): ..."Ewell remarked that he had brought his troops to Gettysburg as ordered by General Lee, and that Lee had given him no further orders. Without additional instructions, he did not feel justified in continuing the advance..."

Pfanz also writes (page 344): "Soon after (Lt. James P. Smith, a staff officer) departure, Capt. Walter H. Taylor, Lee's adjutant, arrived with an oral message to Ewell from Lee. According to Taylor's recollection, Lee said that the enemy was fleeing in confusion and that it was only necessary for Ewell to press him in order to take Cemetery Hill. But neither Lee nor Ewell recalled it that way. Lee's recollection was that he instructed Ewell to attack if practicable but that he was to avoid a general engagement until the arrival of the other divisions of the army (from me - Johnson's division of Ewell's corps and Longstreet's corps were still not on he field). Ewell's memory of the message was that he was to attack only if he could do so 'to an advantage.' When he returned to Lee, Taylor was under the correct impression that Ewell intended to attack, but Ewell began to change his mind."

Harry Pfanz was the chief historian for the NPS before retiring in 1981. He was also the historian at the Gettysburg National Military Park, so you can take his credentials for what they're worth.

From me. Remember that Howard had posted a brigade from von Steinwehr's division on Cemetery Hill when the 11th Corps arrived on the field earlier in the day. And later in the day, by the time the retreating Federals had passed through town, Cemetery Hill bristled with at least 42 artillery pieces and much of the infantry was posted behind stone walls. Sounds pretty fortified to me. Ewell, by contrast, had no good ground to place his artillery (he had not reached Benner's Hill yet). Furthermore, he had to look into a report that a large body of Federals was approaching on his left along the York Road (there weren't).

We always have fun wondering if Jackson could have taken the hill if he was still alive. My gut feeling is that he would have attempted it, but would not have succeeded with exhausted men who'd been marching and fighting all day.

I think Ewell at Gettysburg is a scapegoat in Lost Cause mythology that basically suggests Lee could do no wrong. Lee's style of command was to issue general orders and then let his subordinates work out the details. But in the Gettysburg Campaign, he has two brand new corps commanders (Hill and Ewell) serving him in that capacity for the first time. Plus, Lee is not feeling well himself. To my mind, the whole Confederate command structure is a mess at this point.

Whew. I'm tired.

Last edited on Wed Jul 11th, 2007 11:37 pm by PvtClewell



 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2007 09:07 am
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JoanieReb
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Whee-hoo, on to the races!

Thank You, Private Clewell.  I am preparing to come back with my response, although it might take me a day, or two, to put it together.

I will agree with you on this statement (but, for the time being, perhaps nothing else):
 To my mind, the whole Confederate command structure is a mess at this point.

Yeppers, no doubt.  I have always described it as "Every notable Confederate General there was having a real bad day....or two, or three".

Thanks for coming out to play here, I think this could be very cool!

Regards,

Joanie

 




 



 Posted: Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 03:42 pm
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j harold 587
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I agree very much with PvtClewell. I feel that was a very well stated post.Also we must realize that there was a deep stream and a mill pond to the Union right of Culps Hill. That prevented easy movement of CSA troops or artillery to their left. There was a distinct advantage to the heights as well as a pre retreat artillery line and infantry support.  The inability of Ewell to position counter battery fire due to limited movement and lack of day light and I'm not sure artilllery support was even available. If an attempt to take the hill had been mounted it almost surely would have failed due to lack of artillery support.

 Also the Union line extended well to their right beyond Culps hill.The fish hook term did not show up untill vey late 1880s.  What Mead established was a triangle defense. The military training of the time (remember Lee had commanded West Point) was to hit both ends of the triangle to condense reserves to the center and pull reserves to the left and right. Then a strong push at the weakened center would bring a break through. Also any over shots from the artillery would strike the condensed reserves. This was a common problem for CSA artillery. Mead is recorded to have advised his staff prior to the third day that he anticipateed an attack in the center. The commander of a NY regiment near the copse of trees had his men double charge their smooth bore weapns (placing two projectiles on one powder charge) in anticipation of being attacked on the third day.  



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 03:02 am
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JoanieReb
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I have a lot of catching up to do here.  So many thought-provoking comments that I want to do them the justice of well-baked answers, and I am behind on about everything in my life right now.

I have a specific book in mind that will, most likely, bear out the above arguments that Ewell could not have taken the hill had he attempted to do so.  There is so much contradictory documentation out there that it is really hard to sort through it all, but I recall that this one found a way to put most of the major elements into play and follow logical conclusions to the end, and Nope, It Didn't Look Good for Ewell's Command.  I guess I have to go rescue That Book from it's storage box in the basement, but I'm not sure I am well-rested enough to do it right now, as it has a formidable position, in the corner, under a number of boxes, and surrounded by numerous other boxes. :shock:;)!  Guess I'll try an evasive manuever and go to the library....what would Stonewall do,;):D:cool:.

One element that I think has not really been brought into play here, however, is the morale and fitness of each army.   As I understand it, a number of soldiers in The ANV were reluctant (for a number of reasons) to take the battle North and therefore stayed behind, reducing the number of The ANV notably for that particular campaign. However,  those who fought were in the finest of spirits and probably the best fed and rested that they had been in for a very long time.  On the other hand, despite low morale and another doubtful change in command, plus losing John Reynolds that very day (A certain blow to morale, I would think) The AotP did have the home-ground advantage. 

Well, Unlike Pvt. Clewell, whom had a rich and very well constructed argument to share, that is all I gots right now; will do better next time.

Just, this could be a great thread, would love to get it going.. maybe draw in some of those frequent visitors...off topic, but there were 65 visitors on line at one time here Sunday night, according to the members/visitors summary!

G'night,

Joanie

 

Last edited on Tue Jul 10th, 2007 03:04 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 03:58 am
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ole
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Welcome back, Joanie. Rest tonight. Have a good breakfast -- steak and eggs with country fries sound good?

Could not have taken that hill?  I think he could have, at great price. But Ewell's great price might well have averted the possibly more costly attempts on day two and day three. Without that hill, Meade would have probably reverted to his Pipe Creek Line.

Which brings me to someone else's interesting observation: that Ewell was unaccustomed to Lee's wishes as orders--and that Jackson would have intuitively known that Lee meant, with "if practicable," that he needed it.

Say Ewell takes that hill and Mead beats it back to Pipe Creek. Lee now owns Gettysburg. But his supply line is weak and insufficient. The countryside is stripped bare of forage and fodder. And were is Lee? At the same place he was on day 2 and 3 at Gettysburg--attack or go home. Am unfamiliar with the Pipe Creek Line, but understand that it was (or would have been) all but impenetrable.

Ain't it fun playing armchair general?

Ole

 



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 05:29 am
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JoanieReb
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Good stuff, Thanks, Ole -

Traditionally, I have always thought as you say in your first two points.  Furthermore, I tend to think that the battle was lost for The South on the first day, when they failed to secure the good ground.  But I am so stuck in my way of thinking, I need take it to the next level now.

I'm glad to see someone bring up the Union Mills/Pipe Creek argument.  I was facing the daunting task of trying to figure out just WHERE that would fit in.  I vascillate.  Would Meade really have left the battle at G-burg and repaired to his chosen ground?  I honestly don't think so!  It's been awhile, but it would have been all too logical a thing to do:shock::cool:.  If I recall, it also would have brought him closer to his base of supplies, which I think was at Westchester or some such "West" -starting place?  Am somewhat uncertain there....

It's been a couple of years since I played this one out on the maps.  Darn, now I want all my books out of their boxes and in battle formation!

Actually, I like your strategy:  rest, then breakfast, the best....That's some damn-fine Armchair General strategy right there.  Until the bugle calls, then.....

 

 


Last edited on Tue Jul 10th, 2007 05:44 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 04:24 pm
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ole
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Would Meade really have left the battle at G-burg and repaired to his chosen ground?  I honestly don't think so!

I do. Without that Hill, Meade would have had no defensive position. Of course, Washington would be insisting that he drive Lee out of Pennsylvania, but I think he showed (by not chasing off after Lee) that he could resist such pressure.

Lee could not remain in Gettysburg; his supply line was long and quite rickety. Further foraging would again require that he divide his forces and lenthen his supply line. There was no way he could threaten Baltimore or Washington without attacking Meade; if not where he did, then at Pipe Creek.

Love my Lazy-Boy.

Ole



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:20 pm
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JoanieReb
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Generals (You have been promoted for the remainder of the thread, Pvt. Clewell, unless you object, of course):

I think what we need now is MAPS!  Good, solid, very detailed maps.  To address both questions - both That Hill and the Union Mills/Pipe Creek connection.

Genenal Harold brought in the all-important topological and physical details of the landscape that need to be considered.  What we also need to know is exact location of the different troops and their specific conditions (numbers, how well-rested or used up, supply lines, and any other pertinant information).  Both at the time Ewell was dealing with the issue of That Hill and the next morning, when, should That Hill have been taken, Meade would have decided whether to fight on at G-burg or not.

What we really need to do is meet at G-burg and walk it through, but I'm not up to it today, LOL!

Ole, I think that even if Meade would have withdrawn to Pipe Creek, Lee would have chosen not to attack there - my understanding is that it was a truly wonderful defensive position for anyone whom held it.  Perhaps if Meade had his army burrowed in there, Lee would gone around it and  gotten between the AofP and Washington, forcing Meade to attack him!  If I recall correctly about the AotP's base of supplies  being about 20 miles down the road from G-burg, then Lee could have even cut off Meade's supply line altogether!

But, I get too far ahead, now.....

 

 

Last edited on Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:23 pm by JoanieReb



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:29 pm
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javal1
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Let's see if this link works. This is on the "Wayback Machine", and it's an article we ran 8 or 9 years ago on the Pipe Creek Line. It had 2 maps with it, sadly one isn't very clear and the other is a broken link. But the info in the article is top-notch.

PIPE CREEK LINE ARTICLE



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:32 pm
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PvtClewell
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Hey! I've been to Pipe Creek. A couple years ago, our CWI field trip was to Annapolis and we took the back roads. About a minute before we got to Pipe Creek, our guide said it was coming up so look out your windows as we zip by. We had about all of 5 seconds to get a look at it. Having said that, it was in pretty rugged terrain, in the shadow of the Catoctin Mountains, I'd say. I know as soon as the bus crossed the creek, it had to downshift to get climb a fairly intense incline and the area was heavily forested. Clearly, a defense by Meade here would have made Marye's Heights look like an exercise.

I think I remember reading somewhere that the Pipe Creek Line was about 20 miles long,from just south of Taneytown to Manchester, and about 25 miles northwest of Baltimore. Meade had five of his seven corps immediately available for defense of the line.

I can't say what the area looks like near Taneytown, but I've been told it's on a plain and not nearly as difficult terrain as the interior that I briefly saw. Also, Meade had good roads behind the creek to facilitate troop movement.

If Lee was forced to attack Meade here, I don't know that Lee, an engineer with an eye for good ground, would do it. But I don't know. His blood was up, as they say, and if "those people" are there, he meant to atack them. But I just can't see it.

And if he doesn't attack, Ole's point is well taken: what is Lee doing here? What choice does he have?

Joanie: I think Meade's supply base was Westminster, very close to the Pipe Creek Line.



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:37 pm
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PvtClewell
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I think three of us just posted within minutes of each other. Does that happen often?

We're in the midst of a severe thunderstorm right now, so I'm going off-line. But this is fun. See you later tonight.



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:48 pm
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JoanieReb
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Thanks, General Joe - I'm headed there now.

Thank you, General Clewell (you haven't objected to your promotion yet); it's coming back to me now.  Westminister, a railroad station poorly defended by an unorganised conglomerate of about 5000 Union Troops considered otherwise unfit for duty, about 8 miles from the Pipe Creek Line, on a line between Pipe Creek and Washington.  I still have to verify this all, but I remember working it out, about two years ago, thinking Lee would understand how suididal it would be to attack at Pipe Creek and would have enough info (lots of Confederate sympathizers in that area) to know where the Union base of supplies was.  Even with his blood up, the beauty of getting between Meade's army, it's supply line, and Washington  - thus Forcing Meade to attack The NVA, hopefully (for the NVA) at a position of Lee's choosing, would be irresistable to Lee - and, I'm guessing, Longstreet would have liked it to.  Heck, maybe they could even take Westminister and use the Union's suppies themselves.

Oh-oh:  My blood is up and I think that I am hijacking the thread....

Last edited on Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:49 pm by JoanieReb



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 12:23 am
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PvtClewell
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WOW, Joe. That's the best overview of Pipe Creek I've ever seen. However, map 2 didn't come up for me. Pretty good stuff, nevertheless.

Joanie has a good idea: Road trip to Gettysburg!!! (Joe gets to eat Tastykakes again)

Back to business. If Meade is at Pipe Creek, not sure that Lee can march around him to strike Meade's base of supply. Lee is still without Stuart, and besides, Lee likely would have to march 20 miles or so in front of Meade to get around him, given the terrain and the road network. That makes Lee vulnerable to points of attack by Meade, I think. Plus, the more Lee marches, the more his own supply train is stretched.

Not sure that Lee really gets much help from Maryland residents. Didn't help him much in Sept. 1862, either.

(Sidebar: the argument that Lee is without Stuart's cavalry eludes me. Stuart may have been off capturing a wagon train and seeking headlines, but Lee still has substantial, if not reliably proven, cavalry in Beverly Robertson, Grumble Jones, Albert Jenkins and John Imboden. Why aren't they being utilized?)

All of this becomes counterfactual argument, though, since there was, of course, no battle of Pipe Creek. I think Pipe Creek is significant only in the fact that Meade knew he had it as an option, and a fall-back option at that. Once the battle began at Gettysburg, Pipe Creek vanishes. Turns out the ground was pretty decent in Gettysburg, too.

Which brings us back to that hill...



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 12:47 am
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JoanieReb
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"Which brings us back to that hill..."

Yes, it does!   This is GOOD Stuff!

Major Thunderstrom moving in, must bail -

Will be using my generator to draw up maps, since the power always goes off here for about two days during any major storm.


Last edited on Wed Jul 11th, 2007 12:53 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 02:06 am
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ole
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Wish I had a T-storm. Have battery backup so "What? Me Worry?"

Thanks for the Pipe Creek info Joe, and Pvt.  If Lee had been able to go around, Meade wouldn't have picked it as a defensive line.

Ole



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 04:28 am
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JoanieReb
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I think that I may have a fight on my hands.  And, I think I can rise to the occasion.

I think I may possibly be the only person on this board with leanings toward the South in the Eastern Theatre.  I joined this board because it was heavily weighted towards the West, and The South-Western Theatre breaks my heart so bad that I can barely read about it;  I thought that this board would make The Western Theartre more tolerable for me..... but, I'm on my home turf, now. 

Bring it on......

Actually, I am not laying down such a bad challenge as it sounds.  I'm just guessing that I am the only fan of The Army of Northern Virginia here?  It's hard to stand alone, but I'm ready to dig in my heels....


I still think that we can't go further, productively, without good, solid, well-researched maps...

And once we have them, we shall also have great fun....
 


Last edited on Wed Jul 11th, 2007 06:00 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 01:09 pm
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javal1
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 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 02:15 pm
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PvtClewell
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Joe, yuddaman. Nice map. Much better.

Joanie says: "Actually, I am not laying down such a bad challenge as it sounds. I'm just guessing that I am the only fan of The Army of Northern Virginia here? It's hard to stand alone, but I'm ready to dig in my heels...."

Hey, try being the only Yankee in a North Carolina Civil War roundtable.

My thoughts about the ANV belong on another thread and I'm all for that if somebody else wants to start it. But for now, I'm ready to go back to that hill...



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 02:26 pm
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javal1
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OK, so here's a question: Let's say Ewell takes the hill. What then? Was there a clear LOS (line of sight) for any artillery on that heavily wooded hill? If not, what good is it? Inquiring minds, etc.....



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 02:38 pm
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j harold 587
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Great map Joe. Good article too. I will have to read it completely later. Your map shows just how strong the pipe creek line would have been. anchored on the left to a creek and road (that would have been used to move troops if a flank move was tried. The right was anchored on a road with mountains. This is why Mead made it first choice for a defensive line to stop the ANV. However once it was rejected by his council of war and the decesion was made to hold the line formed at Getysburg pipe creek was striclty a retreat line if necessary.

Joanie. I hope I did not come off as biased toward north or south. With blood kin in the ANV and in blue I try to stay impartial:D. Thanks for the promotion Buck sargent is the best I ever got on my own.

If any one wants to set up a walkabout I hope to be in Gettysburg in October for the Friend's of Gettysbugs muster dates not anounced yet. 

Bottom line on that hill. The CSA troops faced an elevated position, with artillery and well rested veteran infantry support. With or with out the retreating broken infantry that was streaming back without artillery support an assault was bound to fail.



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