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 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 02:57 pm
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j harold 587
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Great point Joe. With spanglers grove behind them even in control of the ridge the round tops still would have provided a higher artillery platform. I beleive they would have required some work however.  And if it was determined that taking that hill wrecked the Getttysburg line there were still fresh AoP trops to counter march and hold pipe creek.  Which would have left Ewell still in the scape goat position of sacraficing so many erreplaceable troops to gain a position that really didn't improve the overall tactical position of the ANV. This after Marse Robert told him only if an advantage can be gained.  Old bald head could not get a break.



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 03:24 pm
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David White
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Lee should have focused on Cemetery Hill and not spread his forces to the south, he still would not have the interior lines but he would not have been so spread out.  Having Culp's Hill even if it wasn't an artillery platform would still have helped him but it wasn't essential so I don't view that as the lost opportunity of the battle it is commonly portrayed as.

As to the Pipe Creek Line, flanking Meade might not have been the right choice, you get in his rear means he's in yours too (sounds bad doesn't it ;-)).  Meade's ability to change supply sources would be easier than it might be for Lee caught between Meade and the Washington garrison.  Meade would have had the political pressure of having to drive Lee out of Pennsylvania and Maryland.  So if I'm Lee, I spread my troops out as he did in ‘62 to allow them to live off the land and create havoc and despair in the North by sacking Harrisburg and moving on Baltimore and Philadelphia.  Basically I would spend my summer vacation in Pennsylvania touring and scaring the locals ;-).    Politically Meade could not just sit there while that was happening.  



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 04:02 pm
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ole
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Meade would certainly have been between a rock and a hard place. The politicians would have had to make some hard decisions: pursue Lee or defend Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. Doing both while Lee is fattening his troops in Pennsylvania doesn't seem possible.

Ole



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 08:05 pm
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PvtClewell
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We always need to keep in mind that Meade takes command of the AoP on June 28, just three days before the battle takes place. Not only that, he's already in pursuit of Lee while trying to keep his seven corps in support of one another. Talk about on the job training. I think this is a historically understated moment in the history of the AoP. C'mon, appointed a new commander while his army is on the move? Wow. By June 30, Meade has the Pipe Creek circular prepared, but because chief of staff Dan Butterfield fumbles the paperwork, the circular is not issued until July 1, and then it is rescinded shortly thereafter. According to Stephen Sears in his book "Gettysburg," Meade is irate and chastizes Butterfield "for his slowness in getting out orders. (Meade said he) had arranged for a plan of battle, and it had taken so long to get the orders out that now it was all useless." By then, events are in rapid motion. The Pipe Creek circular is a dead letter.

In any case, Meade's already under political pressure, charged with the protection of Washington DC. I think that goes without saying — I'd say it's part of the job description. Doesn't really matter where he is on the map. All that matters now is performance.

By 4 p.m., Ewell has had quite a day. He arrives at G-burg after a march from Harrisburg, showing up at just the right time and place, routs the 11th Corps, and now finds himself at the base of Cemetery Hill. He already sees Orland Smith's brigade of the 11th Corps on the hill, where it has been deployed since 1 p.m. while the rest of the 11th Corps went north of town.

This is ironic: I think the eventual rout of the 11th Corps, and the prisoners that are collected, actually slows down Ewell.

Anyway, Ewell doesn't know it, but by now he's got a window of opportunity of just over an hour to attack the hill. By 5:30 p.m., Slocum's (Slow Come, according to Ed Bearss) 12th Corps is on the field and the rest of Meade's army is rapidly approaching. Hancock's 2nd Corps is still marching, but Hancock is personally in command on the hill, giving the Federals a top-notch on-site field commander.

Ewell already knows he's not getting support from AP Hill's Corps or Rodes' division and Johnson's division is not yet up. His own men are disorganized and exhausted from their big day. He can't attack the hill from town, which will channel his troops in the streets, even if he can get them ready before Slocum shows up. He needs a lengthy march to the left to find good ground to attack, and even then, he's got no place to put artillery. I'm not a military man, but even I can see this is not a real good idea. It's just not "practicable."

Even a bid to occupy neighboring Culp's Hill, and perhaps outmanuever the Yanks from Cemetery Hill, is basically lost by 6 p.m. Johnson finally shows up, but darkness is descending and Johnson goes into bivouac. It's been a hard day. And maybe it's just fate afterall.

One more thing — I think David makes an interesting comment about Lee should be sacking Harrisburg instead of Gettysburg. There is a book, "North with Lee and Jackson" written by James Kegel in 1996, that suggests Jackson always wanted to get into the Pennsylvania coal fields. Ewell got pretty damn close when he got to the Susquehanna River, but was then recalled by Lee to form on Gettysburg. Can you imagine if Ewell captures Harrisburg, and the coal region is laid wide open? Set a few coal mines on fire and you ruin the industrial Northern economy. Set those coal mines on fire and they still might be burning today.

Last edited on Wed Jul 11th, 2007 11:33 pm by PvtClewell



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 09:06 pm
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ole
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Set a few coal mines on fire and you ruin the industrial Northern economy. Set those coal mines on fire and they still might be burning today.

Would they have known that at the time? What did Ewell know of coal mines or how important they were to northern industry. Or Lee, Longstreet and Stuart? I'd suspect Jackson knew the devastation on northern industry by simply breaking up the head buildings; i.e., it wouldn't be necessary to fire the coal--just the things that made a mine work.

Serious question. Glad you brought up an invasion goal of the mines. Or was Lee simply working on drawing Meade into a war-deciding battle?

Great discussion. Will have to dust off my G'burg books and do some cram reading.

Ole



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 09:12 pm
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David White
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Coal fired just about every machine in the country-- the Cornfeds knew that.



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 11:30 pm
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PvtClewell
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I read Kegel's book when I bought it in '96 and was intrigued by it. I vaguely remember it had a few footnotes and a bibliography, so evidently Kegel was serious about it. I have long since donated the book to our library, but I wish I had it now. Anyway, I've never seen the coal mine thing pursued by other Civil War scholars or authors, so I have to wonder how substantial Kegel's premise really is. Coddington, Sears, Pfanz, Martin, et al, never mention it that I can recall. But it's certainly food for thought to imagine a Confederate army romping though the Pennsylvania coal fields. I guess it could have happened.

Last edited on Wed Jul 11th, 2007 11:32 pm by PvtClewell



 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 02:02 am
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ole
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Coal fired just about every machine in the country-- the Cornfeds knew that.

I'll agree that it was essential to steel production and locomotives, but every machine? What happened to the water-powered mills?

Ole



 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 11:46 am
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PvtClewell
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I'm not positive about my timeline here, but I'm thinking the industrial revolution is really picking up steam (so to speak) by the Civil War. I think Bethlehem Steel, for example, was cranking up just in time to armor-plate the Federal coal burning, steam-powered navy (Richmond, for its part, had Tredegar). Ole also mentioned railroads, which were burning coal all across the north (the transcontinental railroad begins ambitious construction in 1863, as if there was no war at all. That blows me away). I'm guessing that most water-powered mills were mostly located in New England (Water is a cheap and abundant resource there) and used primarily for manufacturing textiles and maybe turning the lathes for Springfield rifles.

The more I think about it, the less credence I put in Kegel's book. If the northern coal fields really were a serious war aim of the south, we'd have read about it long before 1996. I think Ole makes a stonger point suggesting that Lee basically wanted to bring the Federals out for a war-ending battle.

Which brings us back to that damn hill again. All this over a little hill...



 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 03:15 pm
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David White
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I was thinking more of fully mechanical steam devices that came out of the Industrial Revolution as my definition of a machine (engines, tools, capital equipment, steamboats and locomotives).  I wasn't really thinking of mills as a machine, despite their being somewhat mechanical too.  I guess allowing mills as a machine, I am probably wrong that "most" machines were coal powered.

I don't think the coal mines were the initially planned target.  Lee was looking for a victory on Northern soil, plain and simple.  But if Meade sat on the defensive in a strong position, Lee would be forced to look for other alternatives.  Stripping the Pennsylvania of resources and destroying key infrastructure would have been an attractive alternative to beating the AoP. 



 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 07:21 pm
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JoanieReb
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Wow - great stuff here. So many excellent points.

I do think that the whole ranksacking, creating havoc, and destruction of property as general stradegy would have been utterly against the moral charater of Lee's army at that time. 

 I Very Much appreciated David's post:

As to the Pipe Creek Line, flanking Meade might not have been the right choice, you get in his rear means he's in yours too (sounds bad doesn't it ;-)).  Meade's ability to change supply sources would be easier than it might be for Lee caught between Meade and the Washington garrison.  Meade would have had the political pressure of having to drive Lee out of Pennsylvania and Maryland.  So if I'm Lee, I spread my troops out as he did in ‘62 to allow them to live off the land and create havoc and despair in the North by sacking Harrisburg and moving on Baltimore and Philadelphia.  Basically I would spend my summer vacation in Pennsylvania touring and scaring the locals ;-).    Politically Meade could not just sit there while that was happening.  

I think that had Thomas Jackson been there, such a stradegy may have been considered, if the circumstances so evolved.

But, at this point, supposedly, The ANV was going into the North expressly for the purposes on "fattening up" and then engaging in a major, hopefully definitive, battle.  Lee gave express orders against the wanton destruction of property, he did not want a campaign of terror;  he asked his army to create as good as relations with the citizens as possible.  He wanted to win the war in such a way that resentments would not disallow an easy peace afterwards.

The ANV was, in general, a very religious army, and many members felt it was wrong to take the war into the North, and that God would turn His back on them if they did so!  Thomas Jackson knew how to combine God and Chrisianity in an aggressive way, prehaps he could have rallied all to a different strategy, however....

I have to leave until Friday night in about 2 minutes; am punching this out as fast as I can; hope it makes sense found some of the maps I was looking for...

Thanks for the great maps, Joe.



 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 07:33 pm
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David White
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Joanie:

I agree it is a little unknown how much Lee would be willing to attack the commerce of the north.  On the seas, the Confederates didn't seem to have a problem with it from the get go.  But on land, Lee might have held back some.  For obvious military infrastructure like the Carlisle Barracks he didn't seem to have a problem with its destruction but as to burning coal mines and tearing up railroad networks the answer might have been maybe and probably, respectively.  I don't think he would have had a problem with taking the Pennsylvania harvest of 1863 and paying for it with worthless promissory notes from Richmond based on Confederate currency.  He also had no problem scooping up slaves and freed blacks and sending them back south into captivity.  So I'm not so sure he would have had a problem with attacking Northern Industry in 1863, it might have been interesting to see.

 



 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 08:00 pm
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javal1
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"...and destruction of property as general stradegy would have been utterly against the moral charater of Lee's army at that time."

I must admit I get a bit bemused when I hear of the "moral character" of the South. Would that be the same moral character that burned the town of Chambersburg, PA to the ground after a failed blackmail attempt? Can't help but notice that the people who want to label Sherman a devil seem to have amnesia when it comes to this. Man at war can be a beast - regardless of what corner of the country you're from.

But poor Pvt. Clewell, who is desperately trying to get this thread back to Culp's Hill ;) Here, let me try Pvt.: "Which brings us back to that damn hill again. All this over a little hill..." :D




 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 08:13 pm
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David White
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Javal:

Chambersburg was after the ante had been upped by Hunter's Burning in the Shennandoah.  The war took a decidedly more vicious turn in 1864 than it did in 1863 for both sides.  I don't think one side was more moral than the other in waging war and not committing war crimes but I think there was more pause and reflection on those issues in 1863 (and even more in 1862) than there was in 1864.  It's just the south had fewer opportunites after 1863 to execute operations in the north.  Still you see them burning during Early's northern invasion, the plot to burn New York City, St; Alban's Raid, attempts free prisoners, etc.



 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 08:23 pm
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javal1
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"I don't think one side was more moral than the other in waging war and not committing war crimes..."

David - That was my only point. Thanks!



 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 12:16 am
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PvtClewell
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Nice point, Joe, comparing Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania to Sherman's march. I've often wondered why Lee's was considered righteous but Sherman's was viewed as sinister. I think basically Lee had a better postwar PR department.

Both armies also experienced religious revivals throughout the war, the greatest of which came in the fall of 1863, I think. Confederates alone did not corner the market on faith. Plus, I don't think religion comes into play anyway when you're busy trying to knock the crap out of your enemy.

Thanks, Joe, for trying to reroute this thread. I've been (pant, pant) trying to climb (gasp, pant) this damn hill for two weeks now (pant, pant) and I'm about whipped (collapse).

Anybody up for a thread on Sickles?



 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 01:23 am
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ole
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Is there any more discussion to be had about that hill? I'm game to learn more if anyone has anything more.

Sickles would be fun, but shouldn't we find a Sickles fan to add spice?

Ole



 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 01:42 am
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javal1
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"Sickles would be fun, but shouldn't we find a Sickles fan to add spice?"

Does such an animal exist? ;) Seriously though, I think it would make for a good thread....

As for that hill that Pvt Clewell has been climbing for weeks, I've always thought about it the same way I think of Big Round Top - a high point? Yes. A strategically vital point? No.




 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 08:52 am
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JoanieReb
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Ole wrote:

Is there any more discussion to be had about that hill? I'm game to learn more if anyone has anything more.

Please do not give up yet.  I swear, I am working to put together the maps that I think will give us a real foundation for further discussion  - I've got some real headway - say, I'll post them Sunday night?  I think we need a 3-D topographical map, and, as I said before, maps of troop positions with details of their conditions (ie, how rested, supplied, commanded, etc).  For the other question ( if That Hill had been taken), need supply lines, roads for flanking positions, possible strategies.  I have a thing about starting with maps.  But, I always want very detailed maps, and tend to draw up my own.

I am working on this and serious about it - just so overwhelmed with the "paying work" that I need to catch up on:  damn bills -  they always get in the way of the things I'd like to be doing - but I have pulled out three maps that I drew up for my own edification 2 years ago; a little more work and I can compile them,  then scan and post them.

With a good facsimile of the real landscape, as it was, at the time, and a time-line, and troop details, we can really get down to business.  I did this for my own enjoyment once, back when I had time to doodle around for fun.  I just need to set aside a few hours where I can really focus.  I don't think I will have that until Saturday or Sunday - so, like I said, I'll post them Sunday night. 

I think we have something here -

I'm actually way ahead of the game on the Union Mills/Pipe Creek possible-flanking-movements thing.  That was a favorite of mine, so I have pulled out 6 hand-drawn maps I made two years ago for possible movements on Baltimore, Harrisburg and/or Philadelphia, and maybe even Washington.  Awfully rough stuff, just for my own fun back when - but, after I do the "That Hill" map ( or maps) I'll get that one going.  Westminister makes it great fun!  Oh, the possibilities!

Let us NOT give up:  I WILL commit myself to the "Hill" map being good and functional by Sunday night, just like when I was a grad student on a deadline - which was every hour for four years. Cringe! Only, this time, REAL gratification!

Joanie

(Laptops are Sooooo wonderful for travel and sleepless nights....)

   

Last edited on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 09:03 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 10:11 am
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JoanieReb
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Joe quoted me on this:

"...and destruction of property as general stradegy would have been utterly against the moral charater of Lee's army at that time."

When I wrote that, the critical phrase to me was : "at that time".

Armies, like people, have personalites, go thru growth and changes. 

Think of The AotP, under McCellan, who wanted a "gentleman's peace",  vs under Grant, whom wanted an end to the war, period. 

As I said, it may have different with Thomas Jackson around, whom was like an old testament warrior with a Christian demeanor.

"AT THAT TIME", all important. 


 

Last edited on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 10:13 am by JoanieReb



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