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Part III - Everett's Review of the Events Leading to July 1, 1863

In order that we may comprehend, to their full extent, our obligations to the martyrs and surviving heroes of the Army of the Potomac, let us contemplate for a few moments the train of events which culminated in the battles of the first days of July. Of this stupendous rebellion, planned, as its originators boast, more than thirty years ago, matured and prepared for during an entire generation, finally commenced because, for the first time since the adoption of the Constituion, election of President had been effected without the votes of the South (which retained, however, the control of the two other branches of the government), the occupation of the national capital, with the seizure of the public archives and of the treaties with foreign powers, was an essential feature. This was in substance, within my personal knowledge, admitted, in the winter of 1860-61, by one of the most influential leaders of the rebellion; and it was fondly thought that this object could be effected by a bold and sudden movement on the 4th of March, 1861.

There is abundant proof, also, that a darker project was contemplated, if not by the responsible chiefs of the rebellion, yet by nameless ruffians, willing to play a subsidiary and murderous part in the treasonable drama. It was accordingly maintained by the Rebel emissaries in England, in the circles to which they found access, that the new American Minister ought not, when he arrived, to be received as the envoy of the United States, inasmuch as before that time Washington would be captured, and the capital of the nation and the archives and muniments of the government would be in the possession of the Confederates. In full accordance also with this threat, it was declared by the Rebel Secretary of War, at Montgomery, in the presence of his Chief and of his colleagues, and of five thousand hearers, while the tidings of the assault on Sumter were travelling over the wires on that fatal 12th of April, 1861, that before the end of May "the flag which then flaunted the breeze," as he expressed it, "would float over the dome of the Capitol at Washington."

At the time this threat was made the rebellion was confined to the cotton-growing States, and it was well understood by them, that the only hope of drawing any of the other slaveholding States into the conspiracy was in bringing about a conflict of arms, and "firing the heart of the South" by the effusion of blood. This was declared by the Charleston press to be the object for which Sumter was to be assaulted; and the emissaries sent from Richmond, to urge on the unhallowed work, gave the promise, that, with the first drop of blood that should be shed, Virginia would place herself by the side of South Carolina.

In pursuance of this original plan of the leaders of the rebellion, the capture of Washington has been continually had in view, not merely for the sake of its public buildings, as the capital of the Confederacy, but as the necessary preliminary to the absorption of the Border States, and for the moral effect in the eyes of Europe of possessing the metropolis of the Union.

I allude to these facts, not perhaps enough borne in mind, as a sufficient refutation of the presence, on the part of the Rebels, that the war is one of self-defence, waged for the right of self-government. It is in reality a war originally levied by ambitious men in the cotton-growing States, for the purpose of drawing the slaveholding Border States into the vortex of the conspiracy, first by sympathy, — which in the case of Southeastern Virginia, North Carolina, part of Tennessee, and Arkansas succeeded, — and then by force, and for the purpose of subjugating Maryland, Western Virginia, Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee, and Missouri; and it is a most extraordinary fact, considering the clamors of the Rebel chiefs on the subject of invasion, that not a soldier of the United States has entered the States last named, except to defend their Union-loving inhabitants from the armies and guerillas of the Rebels.

In conformity with these designs on the city of Washington, and notwithstanding the disastrous results of the invasion of 1862, it was determined by the Rebel government last summer to resume the offensive in that direction. Unable to force the passage of the Rappahannock where General Hooker, notwithstanding the reverse at Chancellorsville in May, was strongly posted, the Confederate general resorted to strategy. He had two objects in view. The first was, by a rapid movement northward, and by manœuvring with a portion of his army on the east side of the Blue Ridge, to tempt Hooker from his base of operations, thus leading him to uncover the approaches to Washington, to throw it open to a raid by Stuart's cavalry, and to enable Lee himself to cross the Potomac in the neighborhood of Poolesville and thus fall upon the capital. This plan of operations was wholly frustrated. The design of the Rebel general was promptly discovered by General Hooker, and, moving with great rapidity from Fredericksburg, he preserved unbroken the inner line, and stationed the various corps of his army at all the points protecting the approach to Washington, from Centreville up to Leesburg. From this vantage-ground the Rebel general in vain attempted to draw him. In the mean time, by the vigorous operations of Pleasonton's cavalry, the cavalry of Stuart, though greatly superior in numbers, was so crippled as to be disabled from performing the part assigned it in the campaign. In this manner General Lee's first object, namely, the defeat of Hooker's army on the south of the Potomac, and a direct march on Washington, was baffled.

The second part of the Confederate plan, which is supposed to have been undertaken in opposition to the views of General Lee, was to turn the demonstration northward into a real invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania, in the hope that, in this way, General Hooker would be drawn to a distance from the capital, and that some opportunity would occur of taking him at disadvantage, and, after defeating his army, of making a descent upon Baltimore and Washington. This part of General Lee's plan, which was substantially the repetition of that of 1862, was not less signally defeated, with what honor to the arms of the Union the heights on which we are this day assembled will forever attest.

Much time had been uselessly consumed by the Rebel general in his unavailing attempts to out-manœuvre General Hooker. Although General Lee broke up from Fredericksburg on the 3d of June, it was not till the 24th that the main body of his army entered Maryland. Instead of crossing the Potomac, as he had intended, east of the Blue Ridge, he was compelled to do it at Shepherdstown and Williamsport, thus materially deranging his entire plan of campaign north of the river. Stuart, who had been sent with his cavalry to the east of the Blue Ridge, to guard the passes of the mountains, to mask the movements of Lee, and to harass the Union general in crossing the river, having been very severely handled by Pleasonton at Beverly Ford, Aldie, and Upperville, instead of being able to ####### General Hooker's advance, was driven himself away from his connection with the army of Lee, and cut off for a fortnight from all communication with it, — a circumstance to which General Lee, in his report, alludes more than once, with evident displeasure.

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Part III - Everett's Review of the Events Leading to July 1, 1863, concluded

A detachment from Ewell's corps, under Jenkins, had penetrated, on the 15th of June, as far as Chambersburg. This movement was intended at first merely as a demonstration, and as a marauding expedition for supplies. It had, however, the salutary effect of alarming the country; and vigorous preparations were made, not only by the General Government, but here in Pennsylvania and in the sister States, to repel the inroad. After two days passed at Chambersburg, Jenkins, anxious for his communications with Ewell, fell back with his plunder to Hagerstown. Here he remained for several days, and then, having swept the recesses of the Cumberland valley, came down upon the eastern flank of the South Mountain, and pushed his marauding parties as far as Waynesboro. On the 22d the remainder of Ewell's corps crossed the river and moved up the valley. They were followed on the 24th by Longstreet and Hill, who crossed at Williamsport and Shepherdstown, and, pushing up the valley, encamped at Chambersburg on the 27th. In this way the whole Rebel army, estimated at 90,000 infantry, upwards of 10,000 cavalry, and 4,000 or 5,000 artillery, making a total of 105,000 of all arms, was concentrated in Pennsylvania.

Up to this time no report of Hooker's movements had been received by General Lee, who, having been deprived of his cavalry, had no means of obtaining information. Rightly judging, however, that no time would be lost by the Union army in the pursuit, in order to detain it on the eastern side of the mountains in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and thus preserve his communications by the way of Williamsport, he had, before his own arrival at Chambersburg, directed Ewell to send detachments from his corps to Carlisle and York[.] The latter detachment, under Early, passed through this place on the 26th of June. You need not, fellow-citizens of Gettysburg, that I should recall to you those moments of alarm and distress, precursors as they were of the more trying scenes which were so soon to follow.

As soon as General Hooker perceived that the advance of the Confederates into the Cumberland valley was not a mere feint to draw him away from Washington, he moved rapidly in pursuit. Attempts, as we have seen, were made to harass and ####### his passage across the Potomac. These attempts were not only altogether unsuccessful, but were so unskilfully made as to place the entire Federal army between the cavalry of Stuart and the army of Lee. While the latter was massed in the Cumberland valley, Stuart was east of the mountains, with Hooker's army between, and Gregg's cavalry in close pursuit. Stuart was accordingly compelled to force a march northward, which was destitute of strategical character, and which deprived his chief of all means of obtaining intelligence.

Not a moment had been lost by General Hooker in the pursuit of Lee. The day after the Rebel army entered Maryland the Union army crossed the Potomac at Edwards' Ferry, and by the 28th of June lay between Harper's Ferry and Frederick. The force of the enemy on that day was partly at Chambersburg, and partly moving on the Cashtown road in the direction of Gettysburg, while the detachments from Ewell's corps, of which mention has been made, had reached the Susquehannah opposite Harrisburg and Columbia. That a great battle must soon be fought no one could doubt; but, in the apparent and perhaps real absence of plan on the part of Lee, it was impossible to foretell the precise scene of the encounter. Wherever fought, consequences the most momentous hung upon the result.

In this critical and anxious state of affairs General Hooker was relieved, and General Meade was summoned to the chief command of the army. It appears to my unmilitary judgment to reflect the highest credit upon him, upon his predecessor, and upon the corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac, that a change could take place in the chief command of so large a force on the eve of a general battle, — the various corps necessarily moving on lines somewhat divergent, and all in ignorance of the enemy's intended point of concentration, — and that not an hour's hesitation should ensue in the advance of any portion of the entire army.

Having assumed the chief command on the 28th, General Meade directed his left wing, under Reynolds, upon Emmettsburg and his right upon New Windsor, leaving General French with 11,000 men to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and convoy the public property from Harper's Ferry to Washington. Buford's cavalry was then at this place, and Kilpatrick's at Hanover, where he encountered and defeated the rear of Stuart's cavalry, who was roving the country in search of the main army of Lee. On the Rebel side, Hill had reached Fayetteville on the Cashtown road on the 28th, and was followed on the same road by Longstreet on the 29th. The eastern side of the mountain, as seen from Gettysburg, was lighted up at night by the camp-fires of the enemy's advance, and the country swarmed with his foraging parties. It was now too evident to be questioned, that the thunder-cloud, so long gathering blackness, would soon burst on some part of the devoted vicinity of Gettysburg.

The 30th of June was a day of important preparation. At half past eleven o'clock in the morning General Buford passed through Gettysburg, upon a reconnoissance in force, with his cavalry, upon the Chambersburg road. The information obtained by him was immediately communicated to General Reynolds, who was, in consequence, directed to occupy Gettysburg. That gallant officer accordingly, with the First Corps, marched from Emmettsburg to within six or seven miles of this place, and encamped on the right bank of Marsh's Creek. Our right wing, meantime, was moved to Manchester. On the same day the corps of Hill and Longstreet were pushed still farther forward on the Chambersburg road, and distributed in the vicinity of Marsh's Creek, while a reconnoissance was made by the Confederate General Petigru up to a very short distance from this place. Thus at nightfall on the 30th of June the greater part of the Rebel force was concentrated in the immediate vicinity of two corps of the Union army, the former refreshed by two days passed in comparative repose and deliberate preparation for the encounter, the latter separated by a march of one or two days from their supporting corps, and doubtful at what precise point they were to expect an attack.

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I'll let tim fill in the gaps of the military movement from this point and won't go into the first day of battle until he catches up.

But at this point it's clear what Everett was trying to accomplish - this was a rallying cry for the north where nothing the south did was right noble or just. Enemies usually get that bad a rap from the other side. He even goes so far as to commend the Union generals even Hooker who was relieved from command. In that these reviews miss much of the story because he is clearly only protecting one side.

We do know this though; having made the plan to invade, Lee should have been better prepared to actually do it. As we get through the actual military movements from this point, it is almost nothing but a comedy of errors on the part of the south. Mistakes in supply lines, changed plans without long term thought, Lee made a mistake with JEB Stuart's calvary even though at the time it wasn't that bad of a decision. Couple that with the mistake in thinking that Buford's cavalry was just a small force that could be pushed out of the city and the initial decisions were just off.

From that moment, the battle reads like the start of World War I. A little skermish with some rebels requires reinforcement from federal troops that were close (and whom the south didn't think were there again thanks to JEB Stuart's failure). When the feds were reinforced, the south needed to do the same and a small recon force was reinforced with many more men.

The start of the battle was basically that. It started small and as each side reinforced, the other did as well. Buford knew early on that if there was going to be any battle there of any size high ground was important and he fought solely for that ground. As soon as Lee was able to realize that the feds had the high ground, the army wasn't small at all and the southern cavalry didn't do its job, he should have backed off. The second invasion wasn't necessary anyway. He was bolstered by Chancellorsville (I think) and had that arrogant air about him as Gettysburgh moved on to day 3. It didn't help that it looked like the south was actually winning the battle because the feds did retreat once, but they retreated to the high ground. I'm pretty sure Lee realized this because there are books on Ewell's failure to try to take the high ground, but once they failed he needed to back off.

Not only this (and I'm not a military historian at all) but Lee found out after day 1 that Meade was in charge now. He had to know that he was a far superior General and it wasn't worth fighting a massive battle at Gettysburgh when there were plenty of other places to regroup on ground that benefited them. If they backed off and Meade was dumb enough to follow them (which he ended up not being to his detriment after the battle) Lee could have picked any ground he wanted.

Lee forgot during that battle what he needed to do - keep his army winning and alive. Massive losses could not be politically supported for long. Unlike Washington who only needed to keep his army alive, Lee needed to keep it alive and not lose any huge battles so that more foreign pressure could be brought against the government. Jefferson Davis was sending emissaries to Washington right before and during the battle to try to sue for peace. In order to do that, the south can't have a massive loss.

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Sorry to backtrack - but just got back from vacation in Branson. Took one day to travel down to Pea Ridge. Well worth it. Fascinating story. I am about halfway through an excellent book about it written by William Shea. Very compelling read and an incredibly complex story for a two day battle.

Carry on.

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Sorry to backtrack - but just got back from vacation in Branson. Took one day to travel down to Pea Ridge. Well worth it. Fascinating story. I am about halfway through an excellent book about it written by William Shea. Very compelling read and an incredibly complex story for a two day battle.Carry on.

Thanks for the report! Been wondering if that book would be worth picking up, my ACW library woefully deficient in trans-Mississippi stuff.

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The Road to Gettysburg Part 3

On June 9 the Union cavalry crossed the Rappahannock in force 25 miles above Fredericksburg to find out what Lee was up to. Catching Stuart napping, the blue troopers learned that the enemy had begun to move north. The rebel horsemen rallied and finally pushed the Yankees back after the biggest cavalry battle of the war at Brandy Station. The southern press criticized Stuart for the initial surprise of his "puffed up cavalry." His ego bruised, Stuart hoped to regain glory by some spectacular achievement in the invasion. His troopers efficiently screened the infantry's advance. But the improved northern cavalry also kept Stuart from learning of Hooker's movements. To break this stalemate, Stuart on June 25 took his 3 best brigades for another raid around the rear of the Union infantry slogging northward after Lee. In its initial stages this foray caused alarm in Washington and added to the scare in Pennsylvania. But Stuart became separated from the Army of Northern Virginia for a full week. This deprived Lee of intelligence about enemy movements at a crucial time.

Nevertheless these halcyon June days seemed to mark a pinnacle of Confederate success. Lee forbade pillaging of private property in Pennsylvania, to show the world that southern soldiers were superior to the Yankee vandals who had ravaged the South. But not all rebels refrained from plunder and arson. The army destroyed Thaddeus Stevens's ironworks near Chambersburg, wrecked a good deal of railroad property, levied forced requisitions of money from merchants and banks, ($28,000 in York, for example), and seized all the shoes, clothing, horses, cattle, and food they could find- giving Confederate IOU's in return. Lee's invasion became a gigantic raid for supplies that stripped clean a large area of south-central Pennsylvania. In Chambersburg, Longstreet's quartermaster began to break open shops with axes until local merchants gave him the keys. To a farm woman who protested the seizure of all her hogs and cattle, Longstreet replied:

Yes, madam, its very sad- very sad, and this sort of thing has been going on in Virginia more than two years- very sad.

Southern soldiers also seized scores of black people in Pennsylvania and sent them south into slavery.

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The Road to Gettysburg Part 4

One of Lee's purposes in ordering restraint toward (white) civilians was to cultivate the copperheads. He placed great faith in "the peace party of the North". It was true, Lee wrote to Davis on June 10, that the copperheads professed to favor reunion as the object of peace negotiations. But, Lee advised, it would do no harm to play along with this sentiment to weaken northern support for the war. Lee further wrote:

After all, this is what we are interested in bringing about. When peace is proposed to us it will be time enough to discuss its terms, and it is not the part of prudence to spurn the proposition in advance, merely because those who made it believe, or affect to believe, that it will result in bringing us back into the Union.

Davis did indeed think he saw a chance to carry peace proposals at the point of Lee's sword. In mid-June, Alexander Stephens suggested to Davis that in light of "the failure of Hooker and Grant" this might be the time to make peace overtures. Stephens offered to approach his old friend Lincoln under flag of truce to discuss prisoner-of-war exchanges which had stopped because of Confederate refusal to exchange blacks. This issue could serve as an entering wedge for the introduction of peace proposals. Davis was intrigued by the idea. He gave Stephens formal instructions limiting his powers to negotiations on prisoner exchanges and other procedural matters. What additional informal powers Stephens carried with him are unknown. On July 3 the vice president boarded a flag-of-truce boat for a trip down the James to Union lines at Norfolk on the first leg of his hoped for trip to Washington.

Lee's invasion also sparked renewed Confederate hopes for diplomatic recognition. In the wake of Chancellorsville, John Slidell in Paris queried the French whether "the time had come for reconsidering the question of recognition." Napoleon agreed, as usual, but would not act independently of Britain. In that country, news of Lee's success stirred southern sympathizers into vigourous action. British proponents of recognition eagerly awaited reports of Lee's triumph in Pennsylvania. A motion for recognizing the Confederacy was already working its way through Parliament and had momentum as never before.

Everything seemed possible for the South in June of 1863. After 2 years of desperate fighting, despite the failure at Antietam, despite the threatened conquest of Vicksburg, despite all of the deaths, and the near starvation of its citizens, and the loss at Shiloh, and the loss of Stonewall Jackson, and all of the misery, the Confederacy had a real chance to achieve its goal of independence. If Lee could succeed in Pennsylvania. Northerners realized this as much as southerners did. And as the days in June went by, the question on everyone's lips was:

Where was Hooker?

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Not only this (and I'm not a military historian at all) but Lee found out after day 1 that Meade was in charge now. He had to know that he was a far superior General and it wasn't worth fighting a massive battle at Gettysburgh when there were plenty of other places to regroup on ground that benefited them. If they backed off and Meade was dumb enough to follow them (which he ended up not being to his detriment after the battle) Lee could have picked any ground he wanted.

As I mentioned early on in this thread, Gen. Meade is my 5th great-grandfather and this fact which I've hilighted above has been discussed in my family for years. I want to talk about this further but I will wait for the Gettysburg narrative to play out before discussing. This is generally seen as something that could have ended the war early, so Meade has not been looked upon as favorably as perhaps he should be, however there are two sides to every story and I will attempt to present Meade's point of view.

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Not only this (and I'm not a military historian at all) but Lee found out after day 1 that Meade was in charge now. He had to know that he was a far superior General and it wasn't worth fighting a massive battle at Gettysburgh when there were plenty of other places to regroup on ground that benefited them. If they backed off and Meade was dumb enough to follow them (which he ended up not being to his detriment after the battle) Lee could have picked any ground he wanted.

As I mentioned early on in this thread, Gen. Meade is my 5th great-grandfather and this fact which I've hilighted above has been discussed in my family for years. I want to talk about this further but I will wait for the Gettysburg narrative to play out before discussing. This is generally seen as something that could have ended the war early, so Meade has not been looked upon as favorably as perhaps he should be, however there are two sides to every story and I will attempt to present Meade's point of view.
That is so awesome! Does your family have any momentos, letters, uniforms, etc?

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Not only this (and I'm not a military historian at all) but Lee found out after day 1 that Meade was in charge now. He had to know that he was a far superior General and it wasn't worth fighting a massive battle at Gettysburgh when there were plenty of other places to regroup on ground that benefited them. If they backed off and Meade was dumb enough to follow them (which he ended up not being to his detriment after the battle) Lee could have picked any ground he wanted.

As I mentioned early on in this thread, Gen. Meade is my 5th great-grandfather and this fact which I've hilighted above has been discussed in my family for years. I want to talk about this further but I will wait for the Gettysburg narrative to play out before discussing. This is generally seen as something that could have ended the war early, so Meade has not been looked upon as favorably as perhaps he should be, however there are two sides to every story and I will attempt to present Meade's point of view.
That is so awesome! Does your family have any momentos, letters, uniforms, etc?
Unfortunately no.. I'm sure it would be next to impossible for me to acquire anything of his even if I wanted to seeing that it's been ~150 years.

I don't have much to offer other than to give an opposing opinion on the view that Meade should have pursued Lee after Gettysburg..

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Not only this (and I'm not a military historian at all) but Lee found out after day 1 that Meade was in charge now. He had to know that he was a far superior General and it wasn't worth fighting a massive battle at Gettysburgh when there were plenty of other places to regroup on ground that benefited them. If they backed off and Meade was dumb enough to follow them (which he ended up not being to his detriment after the battle) Lee could have picked any ground he wanted.

As I mentioned early on in this thread, Gen. Meade is my 5th great-grandfather and this fact which I've hilighted above has been discussed in my family for years. I want to talk about this further but I will wait for the Gettysburg narrative to play out before discussing. This is generally seen as something that could have ended the war early, so Meade has not been looked upon as favorably as perhaps he should be, however there are two sides to every story and I will attempt to present Meade's point of view.
That is so awesome! Does your family have any momentos, letters, uniforms, etc?
Unfortunately no.. I'm sure it would be next to impossible for me to acquire anything of his even if I wanted to seeing that it's been ~150 years.

I don't have much to offer other than to give an opposing opinion on the view that Meade should have pursued Lee after Gettysburg..

that's all right. it's still really neat.

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Ooh, I'll have to read up here, this is where the South starts getting :kicksrock:

-QG

Edited by QuizGuy66

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The Road to Getttysburg Part 5

In Washington, Lincoln was not pleased with the progress of Hooker's army. When Hooker first detected Lee's movement in early June, he wanted to cross the Rappahannock and pitch into the rebel rear. Lincoln disapproved and urged Hooker to fight the enemy's main force north of the river instead of crossing it. A few days later Hooker proposed that since the Army of Northern Virginia was moving north, the Army of the Potomac should move south and march into Richmond. Lincoln began to suspect that Hooker was afraid to fight Lee again. "I think Lee's Army, and not Richmond, is your true objective point," he wired Hooker. "If he comes toward the Upper Potomac, follow on his flank, and fight him when opportunity offers."

Although Hooker finally lurched the Army of the Potomac into motion, he moved too late to prevent Lee's whole force from crossing the Potomac. But this actually encouraged Lincoln. To Hooker he sent word that this "gives you back the chance to destroy the enemy far from his base that I thought McClellan lost last fall." To Secretary of the Navy Welles, Lincoln said that "we cannot help beating them, if we have the man." But Lincoln became convinced that Hooker was not the man. The general began to fret that Lee outnumbered him, that he needed more troops, that the government was not supporting him. Looking "sad and careworn," the president told his cabinet that Hooker had turned out to be another McClellan. On June 28 he relieved Hooker from command and named Geneiral Gordon Meade in his place.

If the men in the ranks had been consulted, most of them probably would have preferred the return of McClellan. Although Meade had worked his way up from brigade to corps command with a good combat record, he was an unknown quantity to men outside his corps. By now, though, their training in the school of hard knocks under fumbling leaders had toughened the soldiers to a flinty self-reliance that left many of them indifferent to the identity of their commander. Wrote one officer:

The men have something of the English bulldog in them. You can whip them time and again, but the next fight they go into, they are as full of pluck as ever. They are used to being whipped and no longer mind it. Some day or other we shall have our turn.

One very significant difference occurred when the Union army headed into Pennsylvania: civilians along the way began to cheer them as friends rather than revile them as foes. Their morale rose with the latitude. A Union surgeon wrote:

Our men are three times as enthusiastic as they have been in Virginia. The idea that Pennsylvania is invaded and that we are fighting on our own soil proper influences them strongly. They are more determined than I have ever before seen them.

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Not only this (and I'm not a military historian at all) but Lee found out after day 1 that Meade was in charge now. He had to know that he was a far superior General and it wasn't worth fighting a massive battle at Gettysburgh when there were plenty of other places to regroup on ground that benefited them. If they backed off and Meade was dumb enough to follow them (which he ended up not being to his detriment after the battle) Lee could have picked any ground he wanted.

As I mentioned early on in this thread, Gen. Meade is my 5th great-grandfather and this fact which I've hilighted above has been discussed in my family for years. I want to talk about this further but I will wait for the Gettysburg narrative to play out before discussing. This is generally seen as something that could have ended the war early, so Meade has not been looked upon as favorably as perhaps he should be, however there are two sides to every story and I will attempt to present Meade's point of view.
I know the argument. Or at least some of the variations. Meade had problems that no one gives him "credit" for. He took over less than 4 days prior to the first shot at Gettysburg. He didn't have his own staff in place and was thrust into a massive campaign when other generals have weeks to put together staffs and strategy. While Lincoln continued to look for a general that would push the whole fight against the south, much of the political will of Washington was changed towards wanted strong republicans, meaning that there was political infighting amongst the military and the various officers being appointed everywhere.

Further, given the proximity to Washington and the knowledge that it was the prime target, Meade was basically ordered to be agressive by Lincoln, while of course protecting Washington. That meant that he had to make sure that he was never pulled too far away from the ability to get to Washington if necessary. Had he followed Lee it was possible that Lee could have beat him to Washington, or, another branch of Lee's army could have already been on their way, using Gettysburg as a diversion.

Most of the defenses of Meade fall into that basic formula. And, to be fair to the man, many of those things all coming at once are compelling. The only problem I have in the narrative is that by the end of the battle Meade had to know what he was dealing with. Lee threw almost everything he had into that battle. He had to know that the possibility was there to strike a more destructive blow. We'll never know, of course, and managing these battles with a couple hundred years behind us to figure them out is easier then doing it while the cannons are firing around you. But his history is not one of aggression once he took over.

In all of this, if you took my comment as too strong against an ancestor, I apologize. I worded it badly. My point was this.

Lee should have known by the second day what he was looking at. Even with the failure of the calvary to get the information he was facing an enemy that held higher better defensable ground, and he was facing 5-10 times more troops then he initially thought. That should have caused the man some serious pause. He would have been better off backing down and moving the army in one of those attacking retreats where he drew the northern armies towards Washington. Once the northern generals ont he ground saw that Lee was moving towards Washington, they would have done anything to get there first or engage Lee whenver he gave them a chance. That let's him pick his field of battle. And he was a better general then Hooker and Meade. He didn't take advantage of his ability to give himself advantages.

But it didn't happen that way. Instead we had the battle we know. After that battle, the same basic principles apply in reverse.

Lee was decimated. Had Meade taken the opportunity to challenge Lee and follow him in the retreat he could continued to destroy what was left of that army. Lee didn't have the ability to make a move towards Washington after Gettysburg, and the constant pounding from the northern armies on their trail might have broken the back of the rebels under Lee. The PR alone of Meade, the new general, forcing the great Lee to be on the run would have been worth the cost of the continued fighting and challenging because the north needed to build on Vickburg and Gettysburg to keep the will to fight.

But it didn't happen that way. And the war went on for more seasons then it needed to. Lee was allowed to regroup and afterwards managed to get on the winning side again causing Lincoln to make the change in leadership that help push the final plan of the war - the appointment of General Grant.

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The army destroyed Thaddeus Stevens's ironworks near Chambersburg, wrecked a good deal of railroad property, levied forced requisitions of money from merchants and banks, ($28,000 in York, for example), and seized all the shoes, clothing, horses, cattle, and food they could find- giving Confederate IOU's in return. Lee's invasion became a gigantic raid for supplies that stripped clean a large area of south-central Pennsylvania. In Chambersburg, Longstreet's quartermaster began to break open shops with axes until local merchants gave him the keys.

Finally we get to the part where I can actually contribute, if only to a small degree.So, my dad’s mom’s family has lived in the Gettysburg area for over 200 years, and although I’ve yet to learn any names of relatives who might have served in the Civil War, my grandmother did pass on a story about her grandfather that might be of interest. His name was Marshall, and he lived on a farm in Fairfield, which is a small Pennsylvania town south of Gettysburg and northwest of Emmitsburg. There had been stories of Confederate forces moving closer to the Mason-Dixon Line all the time, but after several false alarms, it soon became a case of “the boy who cried wolf,” so when the news came that Rebels were burning Chambersburg, there was some question as to the reliability of the rumor. When these rumors were confirmed, the Confederates were already marching through Cashtown on their way to Gettysburg. Marshall, who was 14 at the time, was instructed by his father to take their three horses and a mule and hide them in the mountains until word was sent that the army was gone. They left the other livestock at the farm, partly because they wouldn’t move fast enough to be saved, and also out of fear that if bummers found nothing, they might burn the farm for spite. The plan was to go half way up Jack’s Mountain to the Tapeworm Railroad, and from there he could quickly move either north or south as the situation warranted. The Tapeworm was a railroad that was planned by Thaddeus Stevens, but much of it was never completed because it meandered so much and lost funding. The portion on Jack’s Mountain was nothing more than a railroad bed minus the actual rails and ties, so it wasn’t likely included on any maps the rebel force might have. It would allow Marshall to quickly cover ground in either direction without threat of encountering any troops. (I traveled this section in a Jeep 25 years ago, and it was rough but still passable. I’m told that erosion has obliterated huge sections of it in just that short of time.)Marshall found a small grassy area to stake his animals and spent five nights there in a cave. He was never aware of the huge battle that was being waged just miles from him, probably for the same reason that the citizens of Emmitsburg never heard the cannon fire as well. He worried horribly about the fate of his family when nobody came for him, and wondered if there would be any one or any thing to come home to.He almost decided to head toward Monterey Pass on the third day to put even more distance between himself and the army that he had envisioned was sacking his small village. It was well that he didn’t, since the retreating Rebels fought a fierce battle in that pass on their way to safety across the Antietam River. (I never even knew a battle was fought there until I found a number of period bullets with my metal detector years ago. Efforts are now being made to preserve the site of the last battle fought north of the Mason-Dixon.)When Marshall was finally fetched from his hiding place, he learned that it was actually Union troops who tried to appropriate the livestock left on the farm. His father told them “They already took my horses and mule. At least leave us something to eat.” The soldiers settled for some chickens, milk and eggs. The story also goes that before the battle, a turkey buzzard was a rare bird in that area. Apparently, crows took care of most of the carrion up until that time. When huge flocks of buzzards began to appear in the sky, it would frighten his little sister so that she would hide in the house from them.

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The Road to Gettysburg, concluded

When Meade took over the army, its 90,000 effectives were concentrated in the vicinity of Frederick, Maryland. Longstreet's and Hill's Confederate corps were 40 miles to the north near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Part of Ewell's corps was at York, threatening a railroad bridge over the Susquehanna, while the remainder was at Carlisle preparing to move on Harrisburg to sever the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad and capture the state capital. Lee had cut himself off from his faraway Virginia base, as Lincoln had hoped, but he had done so purposely. Like Grant's army in Mississippi, Lee's invaders took enough ammunition for their needs and lived off the country as they moved. Lee's greatest worry was not supplies, but rather the absence of Stuart with information about the whereabouts of the enemy. By contrast, Meade obtained accurate intelligence of the rebels' location and moved quickly to confront them.

On the night of June 28, one of Longstreet's scouts brought word that the Army of the Potomac was north of its namesake river. Alarmed by the proximity of a concentrated enemy while his own forces remained scattered, Lee sent couriers to recall Ewell's divisions from York and Carlisle. Meanwhile one of A.P. Hill's divisions learned of a reported supply of shoes at Gettysburg, a prosperous town served by a dozen roads that converged from every point on the compass. Since Lee intended to reunite his army near Gettysburg, Hill authorized this division to go there on July 1 to "get those shoes."

And so the stage was set for three of the most momentous days in American history: July 1-3, 1863: The Battle of Gettysburg.

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My great-great-grandfather on my father's side fought at Gettysburg in Ewell's Corp in the 23rd Virginia. He was captured at the end of the second day on Culp's Hill, as one of the units that had advanced the farthest up the hill, only to be captured.

After two and a half months in captivity in the Union POW camp at Fort Delaware, instead of remaining there he opted to swear allegiance to the Union and he fought in the Union Army for the remainder of the war in Louisiana.

Though it's hard to fault the practicality of his decision given the horrific nature of Civil War POW camps, for obvious reasons he never returned home to Amelia County Virginia where he was from.

True story.

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My great-great-grandfather on my father's side fought at Gettysburg in Ewell's Corp in the 23rd Virginia. He was captured at the end of the second day on Culp's Hill, as one of the units that had advanced the farthest up the hill, only to be captured.

After two and a half months in captivity in the Union POW camp at Fort Delaware, instead of remaining there he opted to swear allegiance to the Union and he fought in the Union Army for the remainder of the war in Louisiana.

Though it's hard to fault the practicality of his decision given the horrific nature of Civil War POW camps, for obvious reasons he never returned home to Amelia County Virginia where he was from.

True story.

Fascinating story, Chewbanks. Hopefully a little later in this narrative we'll be covering the POW camps on both sides, which are a terrible epic all their own.

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Gettysburg Part 1

When Hill's soldiers approached Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, they found something more than the pickets and militia they had expected. Two brigades of Union calvary had arrived in town the previous day. Their commander was weather-beaten, battle-wise John Buford, who like Lincoln had been born in Kentucky and raised in Illinois. Buford had noted the strategic importance of this crossroads village flanked by defensible ridges and hills. Expecting the rebels to come this way, he had posted his brigades with their breech-loading carbines on high ground northwest of town. Buford sent word to John Reynolds, a Pennsylvanian who commanded the nearest infantry corps, to hurry forward to Gettysburg. If there was to be a battle, he said, this was the place to fight it.

When A.P. Hill's lead division came marching out of the west next morning, Buford's horse soldiers were ready for them. Fighting dismounted behind fences and trees, they held off three times their number for two hours while couriers on both sides galloped up the road to summon reinforcements. Lee had told his subordinates not to bring on a general engagement until the army was concentrated. But the engagement became general of its own accord as the infantry of both armies marched toward the sound of guns at Gettysburg.

As Buford's tired troops were beginning to give way in mid-morning, the lead division of Reynold's 1st Corps double-timed across the fields and brought the rebel assault to a standstill. One unit in this division was the Iron Brigade, 5 midwestern regiments with distinctive black hats who confirmed here their reputation as the hardest-fighting outfit in the Army of the Potomac. They also lost two-thirds of the men they took into the battle.

The most crucial Union casualty on this first morning of July was John Reynolds- considered by many the best general in the army- drilled through the head by a sharpshooter.

About noon, General Howard's "Dutch" 11th Corps arrived and deployed north of town to meet the advance of Ewell's Confederate 2nd Corps coming fast after a brisk march from the Susquehanna. By early afternoon some 24,000 Confederates confronted 19,000 bluecoats along a 3 mile semicircle west and north of Gettysburg. Neither commanding general had yet reached the field; neither had intended to fight there; but independently of their intentions a battle destined to become the largest and most important of the war had already started.

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In all of this, if you took my comment as too strong against an ancestor, I apologize. I worded it badly.

Not at all.. And I completely understand the argument that Meade was too lax in pursuing Lee after the battle. He very well may have been. But there were many factors which I beleive led Meade to not pursue Lee which I will outline after the narrative.

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Gettysburg part 2

As Ewell's leading divisions swept forward against Howard, Lee rode in from the west. Quickly grasping the situation, he changed his mind about waiting for Longstreet's corps, still miles away, and authorized Hill and Ewell to send in everything they had. With a yell, 4 southern divisions went forward with the irresistible power that seemed to have become routine. The right flank of Howard's corps collapsed here as it had done at Chancellorsville. When the 11th Corps retreated in disorder through town to Cemetery Hill a half-mile to the south, the right flank of the Union 1st Corps was uncovered and these tough fighters, too, were forced back yard by yard to the hill, where Union artillery and a reserve division that Howard had posted there caused the rebel onslaught to hesitate in late afternoon. The battle so far appeared to be another great Confederate victory.

But Lee could see that so long as the enemy held the high ground south of town, the battle was not over. He knew that the rest of the Army of the Potomac must be hurrying toward Gettysburg; his best chance to clinch the victory was to seize those hills and ridges before they arrived. Or, as Yankee23fan has suggested, perhaps Lee should have realized that the terrain worked against him and simply have pulled out of Gettysburg altogether, in search of a better geographical advantage. Yankee is of course, not alone in this analysis; several military historians over the years share this view. But personally I have trouble seeing why. Lee did not choose this battlefied; as I have already narrated, it was chosen by accident and circumstance- Hill went there to secure shoes, and found Buford already occupying the hills. One thing led to another and by the time Lee got there the battle was on. It's pretty obvious that Robert E. Lee would not have deliberately chosen a battlefield where the enemy held the high ground; what general would? But the Confederates were winning. What general walks away from a battle that is an apparent victory? I think some of Lee's decisions later in this battle can be questioned, and they will be. But not the decision to stay at this juncture. He was close to victory.

So Lee gave Dick Ewell discretionary orders to attack Cemetery Hill "if practicable." Had Stonewall Jackson still lived, he undoubtedly would have found it practicable. But Ewell was not Jackson. Thinking the enemy position too strong, he did not attack- thereby creating one of the controversial "ifs" of Gettysburg that have echoed down the years. By the time dusk approached, General Winfield Scott Hancock of the 2nd corps had arrived and laid out a defense line curling around Culps and Cemetery hills and extending two miles south along Cemetary Ridge to a hill called Little Round Top. As 3 more Union corps arrived during the night- along with Meade himself- the bluecoats turned this line into a formidable position. Not only did it command high ground, but its convex interior lines also allowed troops to be shifted quickly from one point to another while forcing the enemy into concave exterior lines that made communications between right and left wings slow and difficult.

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Regarding the Ewell controversy: this has become one of the mainstays of the "Lost Cause" movement. Led by Lee biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, who published his masterful several volume work on Lee and his generals in the 1930's, southern historians have spread the following: Dick Ewell was a gutless coward who understood that Lee meant for him to attack. It was not simply a question of Ewell vs. Jackson; Lee's orders were given in a certain way, and everyone knew what he meant. Jackson would have attacked, and Ewell should have as well. By refusing to do so and allowing the Yankees to build up their strength, Ewell lost the battle and with it lost the Civil War for the Confederacy.

What's interesting about this is that Lee himself never criticized Ewell and said publicly after the war that the words "if practicable" meant exactly that, and that it was Ewell's decision, which could not be questioned. The Lost Cause people say this only proves that Lee was a great gentleman whom could be counted upon not to criticize his subordinates in public even when they deserved it. They note that Lee also had no negative words about Longstreet, either, and that is a man who they blame for defeat even more than Ewell (we'll get to it.)

Just as with Antietam, many writers of fiction have composed alternative histories in which Ewell did attack in the late afternoon of July 1, which ended up winning the battle and the war for the South. (No one seems to consider that Ewell might have attacked and not won the day, or even if he had, it doesn't necessarily mean the Army of Northern Virginia is ultimately victorious in forcing a peace.) Among the most recent of these authors is none other than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, though I haven't read his novel.

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The army destroyed Thaddeus Stevens's ironworks near Chambersburg, wrecked a good deal of railroad property, levied forced requisitions of money from merchants and banks, ($28,000 in York, for example), and seized all the shoes, clothing, horses, cattle, and food they could find- giving Confederate IOU's in return. Lee's invasion became a gigantic raid for supplies that stripped clean a large area of south-central Pennsylvania. In Chambersburg, Longstreet's quartermaster began to break open shops with axes until local merchants gave him the keys.

Finally we get to the part where I can actually contribute, if only to a small degree.So, my dad’s mom’s family has lived in the Gettysburg area for over 200 years, and although I’ve yet to learn any names of relatives who might have served in the Civil War, my grandmother did pass on a story about her grandfather that might be of interest. His name was Marshall, and he lived on a farm in Fairfield, which is a small Pennsylvania town south of Gettysburg and northwest of Emmitsburg. There had been stories of Confederate forces moving closer to the Mason-Dixon Line all the time, but after several false alarms, it soon became a case of “the boy who cried wolf,” so when the news came that Rebels were burning Chambersburg, there was some question as to the reliability of the rumor. When these rumors were confirmed, the Confederates were already marching through Cashtown on their way to Gettysburg. Marshall, who was 14 at the time, was instructed by his father to take their three horses and a mule and hide them in the mountains until word was sent that the army was gone. They left the other livestock at the farm, partly because they wouldn’t move fast enough to be saved, and also out of fear that if bummers found nothing, they might burn the farm for spite. The plan was to go half way up Jack’s Mountain to the Tapeworm Railroad, and from there he could quickly move either north or south as the situation warranted. The Tapeworm was a railroad that was planned by Thaddeus Stevens, but much of it was never completed because it meandered so much and lost funding. The portion on Jack’s Mountain was nothing more than a railroad bed minus the actual rails and ties, so it wasn’t likely included on any maps the rebel force might have. It would allow Marshall to quickly cover ground in either direction without threat of encountering any troops. (I traveled this section in a Jeep 25 years ago, and it was rough but still passable. I’m told that erosion has obliterated huge sections of it in just that short of time.)Marshall found a small grassy area to stake his animals and spent five nights there in a cave. He was never aware of the huge battle that was being waged just miles from him, probably for the same reason that the citizens of Emmitsburg never heard the cannon fire as well. He worried horribly about the fate of his family when nobody came for him, and wondered if there would be any one or any thing to come home to.He almost decided to head toward Monterey Pass on the third day to put even more distance between himself and the army that he had envisioned was sacking his small village. It was well that he didn’t, since the retreating Rebels fought a fierce battle in that pass on their way to safety across the Antietam River. (I never even knew a battle was fought there until I found a number of period bullets with my metal detector years ago. Efforts are now being made to preserve the site of the last battle fought north of the Mason-Dixon.)When Marshall was finally fetched from his hiding place, he learned that it was actually Union troops who tried to appropriate the livestock left on the farm. His father told them “They already took my horses and mule. At least leave us something to eat.” The soldiers settled for some chickens, milk and eggs. The story also goes that before the battle, a turkey buzzard was a rare bird in that area. Apparently, crows took care of most of the carrion up until that time. When huge flocks of buzzards began to appear in the sky, it would frighten his little sister so that she would hide in the house from them.
Great story!!! Thanks.

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Man I love your American battle history...this stuff is very interesting to read. Thank you to all who have donated some stories and facts.

I have been to Gettysburg and it was also my favorite Avalon Hill game.

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Man I love your American battle history...this stuff is very interesting to read. Thank you to all who have donated some stories and facts.

I have been to Gettysburg and it was also my favorite Avalon Hill game.

Classic! Mine was Third Reich (of the history ones; otherwise Bowl Bound.)

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July 1, 1863, the elan of the ANV was at its zenith. I believe at that point in time, their confidence in themselves and in Marse Robert was never higher. With good reason, too; with the exception of the draw at Antietam - and to this day I still don't understand why that man made a stand there when he was so outnumbered - they had whupped the Yankees every time. Bull Run, Seven Days, 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville. Thus far the invasion of PA had been a cakewalk. They had every reason to believe that whenever the inevitable battle came, they would whup 'em again.

After Day One at Gettysburg, when they wrecked two corps and chewed up the best division (1st of the I Corps) and the best brigade (Iron Brigade) in the AoP, there is simply no way Robert E. Lee could have turned that army around and marched them off the battlefield. Come what may, the issue was going to be settled then and there.

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The Barlow/Gordon Incident At Gettysburg

Returning from the banks of the Susquehanna, and meeting at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, the advance of Lee's forces, my command was thrown quickly and squarely on the right flank of the Union army. A more timely arrival never occurred.

The battle had been raging for four or five hours. The Confederate General Archer, with a large portion of his brigade, had been captured. Heth and Scales, Confederate generals, had been wounded. The ranking Union commander on the field, General Reynolds, had been killed, and Hancock was assigned to command. The battle, upon the issue of which hung, perhaps, the fate of the Confederacy, was in full blast. The Union forces, at first driven back, now reënforced, were again advancing and pressing back Lee's left and threatening to envelop it. The Confederates were stubbornly contesting every foot of ground, but the Southern left was slowly yielding. A few moments more and the day's battle might have been ended by the complete turning of Lee's flank.

I was ordered to move at once to the aid of the heavily pressed Confederates. With a ringing yell, my command rushed upon the line posted to protect the Union right. Here occurred a hand-to-hand struggle. That protecting Union line once broken left my command not only on the right flank, but obliquely in rear of it. Any troops that were ever marshalled would, under like conditions, have been as surely and swiftly shattered. There was no alternative for Howard's men except to break and fly, or to throw down their arms and surrender. Under the concentrated fire from front and flank, the marvel is that any escaped.

In the midst of the wild disorder in his ranks, and through a storm of bullets, a Union officer was seeking to rally his men for a final stand. He, too, went down, pierced by a Minié ball. Riding forward with my rapidly advancing lines, I discovered that brave officer lying upon his back, with the July sun pouring its rays into his pale face. He was surrounded by the Union dead, and his own life seemed to be rapidly ebbing out. Quickly dismounting and lifting his head, I gave him water from my canteen, asked his name and the character of his wounds. He was Major-General Francis C. Barlow, of New York, and of Howard's corps. The ball had entered his body in front and passed out near the spinal cord, paralyzing him in legs and arms. Neither of us had the remotest thought that he could possibly survive many hours. I summoned several soldiers who were looking after the wounded, and directed them to place him upon a litter and carry him to the shade in the rear.

Before parting, he asked me to take from his pocket a package of letters and destroy them. They were from his wife. He had but one request to make of me. That request was that if I should live to the end of the war and should ever meet Mrs. Barlow, I would tell her of our meeting on the field of Gettysburg and of his thoughts of her in his last moments. He wished me to assure her that he died doing his duty at the front, that he was willing to give his life for his country, and that his deepest regret was that he must die without looking upon her face again.

I learned that Mrs. Barlow was with the Union army, and near the battlefield. When it is remembered how closely Mrs. Gordon followed me, it will not be difficult to realize that my sympathies were especially stirred by the announcement that his wife was so near him. Passing through the day's battle unhurt, I despatched at its close, under flag of truce, the promised message to Mrs. Barlow. I assured her that if she wished to come through the lines she should have safe escort to her husband's side.

In the desperate encounters of the two succeeding days, and the retreat of Lee's army, I thought no more of Barlow, except to number him with the noble dead of the two armies who had so gloriously met their fate. The ball, however, had struck no vital point, and Barlow slowly recovered, though this fact was wholly unknown to me. The following summer, in battle near Richmond, my kinsman with the same initials, General J. B. Gordon of North Carolina, was killed. Barlow, who had recovered, saw the announcement of his death, and entertained no doubt that he was the Gordon whom he had met on the field of Gettysburg. To me, therefore, Barlow was dead; to Barlow, I was dead.

Nearly fifteen years passed before either of us was undeceived. During my second term in the United States Senate, the Hon. Clarkson Potter, of New York, was a member of the House of Representatives. He invited me to dinner in Washington to meet a General Barlow who had served in the Union army. Potter knew nothing of the Gettysburg incident. I had heard that there was another Barlow in the Union army, and supposed, of course, that it was this Barlow with whom I was to dine. Barlow had a similar reflection as to the Gordon he was to meet. Seated at Clarkson Potter's table, I asked Barlow: "General, are you related to the Barlow who was killed at Gettysburg?" He replied: "Why, I am the man, sir. Are you related to the Gordon who killed me?" "I am the man, sir," I responded.

No words of mine can convey any conception of the emotions awakened by those startling announcements. Nothing short of an actual resurrection from the dead could have amazed either of us more. Thenceforward, until his untimely death in 1896, the friendship between us which was born amidst the thunders of Gettysburg was greatly cherished by both.

Source: "Reminiscences Of The Civil War" by John B. Gordon

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That is indeed an awesome story.

A couple of notes about the Day 1 fighting: Buford's cavalry brigades were equipped with repeating rifles so, even with every fourth man holding horses, they were able to lay a lot of fire on the advancing brigades of A.P. Hill.

Also, when Reynolds' corps came up in relief, they entered the fray pretty much from the south, while the Confederates were attacking easterly. Thus the bitter fight was a series of deadly flanking attacks as the two forces were virtually at right angles to each other. Ewell's arriving troops from the north provided the final punch with yet another flanking attack against First Corps.

Finally, once Howard had dug in on the heights just south of downtown, the town itself became Ewell's chief impediment to advancing. Mustering his disorganized regiments and sending them through Gettysburg's narrow streets to get a crack at Howard was a monumental task. Culp's Hill, on the other side of town, however, was a different story.

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That is indeed an awesome story.

A couple of notes about the Day 1 fighting: Buford's cavalry brigades were equipped with repeating rifles so, even with every fourth man holding horses, they were able to lay a lot of fire on the advancing brigades of A.P. Hill.

Umm...actually, no. But like Heth's cover story he was going to G-burg to 'get them shoes', it is one of the enduring myths of the battle.

Nobody in Buford's Brigade had repeating rifles. They had single shot breech-loading carbine rifles, which were quicker to load than muzzle-loaders. The only Cavalry units with repeaters at Gettysburg were the 6th and 7th Michigan of Custer's Brigade (George made General on June 27th, along with two other Cavalry officers).

re: those shoes

:blackdot:

After the fact, when it came time to write the post-battle reports, A.P. Hill and Harry Heth needed an excuse for why they brought on the biggest battle of the war. The general commanding had made it clear he was not yet ready to fight a general engagement - and no one was to bring one on until all three corps were concentrated. Thus was born the lame excuse they needed shoes.

Let's think about that. You don't send two divisions - that's 8 brigades, 36 regiments - and two battalions of artillery (about 40 cannons) because you want to forage for supplies. That is not a foray, that is a reconnaissance-in-force. That's a couple of boys itching for a fight.

J.J. Pettigrew - without question, the most scholarly officer in the Confederate army - had taken the largest brigade in the ANV toward the 'burg on the 30th, but turned around when they saw some cavalry videttes. He studied their movements, and was certain it was AoP troopers. When there is a cavalry screening, their is certain to be an army behind it. He reported that to Hill and Heth. They didn't believe him. They said it must have been local militia. Pettigrew called over some other respected officers, guys who knew the difference, and they backed up what he had seen. Heth asked if Hill had any objection to finding out the next morning what was in their front, and Hill replied "None in the world".

Pettigrew was mindful of Lee's order to not bring on a general engagement. Hill and Heth simply disregarded it, and decided to go pick a fight.

I have a few small unit actions from Day One I would like to post about today.

[*]Buford's brilliant 'defense in depth'

[*]Archer's capture (Doubleday: "Archer! I'm damn glad to see you, Archer")

[*]Davis at the RR Cut (which quickly became the 6th WI at the RR Cut) - may also write about the death of Reynolds

[*]26th NC versus 24th Michigan - 1K casualties in 30 minutes

[*]Iverson's disaster and O'Neal's negligence

[*]Issac Trimble, aka Lee's PITA, Jubal Early (the Original Lost Cause author), and why Dick Ewell was right to not push forward

Will post throughout the day, but hoping timschochet will hold off from moving forward to Day Two until Tuesday...if practical.

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Thanks for the correction, Bobby. My memory gets worse every day. :lol:

Actually, I was glad you brought it up...repeaters and shoes are the two most oft repeated myths about Gettysburg.

There are actually a fair number of disbelievers re: Barlow-Gordon as well. It may not have happened exactly as Gordon told it, and he told a few whoppers in the post-war years. However, Mrs. Barlow was indeed on the battlefield, and went through the lines under a flag of truce a few times trying to find him. IIRC she finally did locate him around July 8 (keep in mind virtually every house and building in the town was by then a hospital of some sort).

Some folks think Gordon made the story up to promote reconciliation, and Barlow went along by remaining silent. I actually went to half day seminar / battlefield walk where it was the only thing covered. Weighing all the evidence, its one I feel is probably valid.

A couple other myths:

[*]Reynolds was killed by a sharp shooter

[*]the 1st Corps collapsed because the 11th Corps ran away

[*]Ewell could have easily pushed the AoP off Cemetary Hill

[*]Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's 20th Maine saved the Union

[*]G.K. Warren tipped off to the Confederate attack on Day 2 by reflecting bayonets (impossible)

[*]Pickett's Charge (how about Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble? Doesn't roll, does it?)

[*]Meade was too slow chasing after Lee

I'll try not to slow things down too much - you can (and I have) spend a lifetime on Gettysburg.

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The Barlow/Gordon Incident At Gettysburg

Incredible story, thanks for sharing Bobby

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Everett's Day 1 Story

And now the momentous day, a day to be forever remembered in the annals of the country, arrived. Early in the morning on the 1st of July the conflict began. I need not say that it would be impossible for me to comprise, within the limits of the hour, such a narrative as would do anything like full justice to the all-important events of these three great days, or to the merit of the brave officers and men of every rank, of every arm of the service, and of every loyal State, who bore their part in the tremendous struggle, — alike those who nobly sacrificed their lives for their country, and those who survive, many of them scarred with honorable wounds, the objects of our admiration and gratitude. The astonishingly minute, accurate, and graphic accounts contained in the journals of the day, prepared from personal observation by reporters who witnessed the scenes and often shared the perils which they describe, and the highly valuable "Notes" of Professor Jacobs of the University in this place, to which I am greatly indebted, will abundantly supply the deficiency of my necessarily too condensed statement.

General Reynolds, on arriving at Gettysburg in the morning of the 1st, found Buford with his cavalry warmly engaged with the enemy, whom he held most gallantly in check. Hastening himself to the front, General Reynolds directed his men to be moved over the fields from the Emmettsburg road, in front of McMillan's and Dr. Schmucker's, under cover of the Seminary Ridge. Without a moment's hesitation, he attacked the enemy, at the same time sending orders to the Eleventh Corps (General Howard's) to advance as promptly as possible. General Reynolds immediately found himself engaged with a force which greatly outnumbered his own, and had scarcely made his dispositions for the action when he fell, mortally wounded, at the head of his advance. The command of the First Corps devolved on General Doubleday, and that of the field on General Howard, who arrived at 11.30 with Schurz's and Barlow's divisions of the Eleventh Corps, the latter of whom received a severe wound. Thus strengthened, the advantage of the battle was for some time on our side. The attacks of the Rebels were vigorously repulsed by Wadsworth's division of the First Corps, and a large number of prisoners, including General Archer, were captured. At length, however, the continued reinforcement of the Confederates from the main body in the neighborhood, and by the divisions of Rodes and Early, coming down by separate lines from Heidlersberg and taking post on our extreme right, turned the fortunes of the day. Our army, after contesting the ground for five hours, was obliged to yield to the enemy, whose force outnumbered them two to one; and toward the close of the afternoon General Howard deemed it prudent to withdraw the two corps to the heights where we are now assembled. The greater part of the First Corps passed through the outskirts of the town, and reached the hill without serious loss or molestation. The Eleventh Corps and portions of the First, not being aware that the enemy had already entered the town from the north, attempted to force their way through Washington and Baltimore Streets, which, in the crowd and confusion of the scene, they did with a heavy loss in prisoners.

General Howard was not unprepared for this turn in the fortunes of the day. He had in the course of the morning caused Cemetery Hill to be occupied by General Steinwehr, with the second division of the Eleventh Corps. About the time of the withdrawal of our troops to the hill General Hancock arrived, having been sent by General Meade, on hearing of the death of Reynolds, to assume the command of the field till he himself could reach the front. In conjunction with General Howard, General Hancock immediately proceeded to post troops and to repel an attack on our right flank. This attack was feebly made and promptly repulsed. At nightfall, our troops on the hill, who had so gallantly sustained themselves during the toil and peril of the day, were cheered by the arrival of General Slocum with the Twelfth Corps and of General Sickles with a part of the Third.

Such was the fortune of the first day, commencing with decided success to our arms, followed by a check, but ending in the occupation of this all-important position. To you, fellow-citizens of Gettysburg, I need not attempt to portray the anxieties of the ensuing night. Witnessing as you had done with sorrow the withdrawal of our army through your streets, with a considerable loss of prisoners, - mourning as you did over the brave men who had fallen, — shocked with the wide-spread desolation around you, of which the wanton burning of the Harman House had given the signal,- ignorant of the near approach of General Meade, you passed the weary hours of the night in painful expectation.

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Getting into the actual battle I am posting the excerpts from Everett's great speech just to keep his words in the narrative. But, I am going to jump ahead to get to the main points and conclusions of Everett's speech and run both lines at the same time so that when we all end in the Epilogue that is Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, all points converge there.

As we've seen, Everett's speech was one of honor to the north and vitriol towards the south. His leading paragraphs make it clear as does his "history" of the battle. But when he reaches the third and final movement of his speech he makes it abundantly clear. And so we catch up to Everett once again as he ends the story of the aftermath of the final day of battle and the retreat of Lee...

And now, friends, fellow-citizens, as we stand among these honored graves, the momentous question presents itself, Which of the two parties to the war is responsible for all this suffering, for this dreadful sacrifice of life, — the lawful and constituted government of the United States, or the ambitious men who have rebelled against it? I say "rebelled" against it, although Earl Russell, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his recent temperate and conciliatory speech in Scotland, seems to intimate that no prejudice ought to attach to that word, inasmuch as our English forefathers rebelled against Charles I. and James II., and our American fathers rebelled against George III. These certainly are venerable precedents, but they prove only that it is just and proper to rebel against oppressive governments.

They do not prove that it was just and proper for the son of James II. to rebel against George I., or his grandson Charles Edward to rebel against George II.; nor, as it seems to me, ought these dynastic struggles, little better than family quarrels, to be compared with this monstrous conspiracy against the American Union. These precedents do not prove that it was just and proper for the "disappointed great men " of the cotton-growing States to rebel against "the most beneficent government of which history gives us any account," as the Vice-President of the Confederacy, in November, 1860, charged them with doing. They do not create a presumption even in favor of the disloyal slaveholders the South, who, living under a government of which Mr. Jefferson Davis, in the session of 1860-61,said that it was "the best government ever instituted by man, unexceptionably administered, and under which the people have been prosperous beyond comparison with any other people whose career has been recorded in history," rebelled against it because their aspiring politicians, himself among the rest, were in danger of losing their monopoly of its offices. What would have been thought by an impartial posterity of the American rebellion against George III., if the colonists had at all times been more than equally represented in Parliament, and James Otis and Patrick Henry and Washington and Franklin and the Adamses and Hancock and Jefferson, and men of their stamp, had for two generations enjoyed the confidence of the sovereign and administered the government of the empire?

What could have been thought of the rebellion against Charles I., if Cromwell and the men of his school had been the responsible advisers of that prince from his accession to the throne, and then, on account of a partial change in the ministry, had brought his head to the block, and involved the country in a desolating war, for the sake of dismembering it and establishing a new government south of the Trent? What would have been thought of the Whigs of 1688, if they had themselves composed the cabinet of James II., and been the advisers of the measures and the promoters of the policy which drove him into exile ? The Puritans of 1640 and the Whigs of 1688 rebelled against arbitrary power in order to establish constitutional liberty. If they had risen against Charles and James because those monarchs favored equal rights, and in order themselves "for the first time in the history of the world" to establish an oligarchy "founded on the corner-stone of slavery," they would truly have furnished a precedent for the Rebels of the South, but their cause would not have been sustained by the eloquence of Pym or of Somers, nor sealed with the blood of Hampden or Russell.

I call the war which the Confederates are waging against the Union a "rebellion," because it is one, and in grave matters it is best to call things by their right names. I speak of it as a crime, because the Constitution of the United States so regards it, and puts "rebellion" on a par with "invasion." The constitution and law, not only of England, but of every civilized country, regard them in the same light; or rather they consider the rebel in arms as far worse than the alien enemy. To levy war against the United States is the constitutional definition of treason, and that crime is by every civilized government regarded as the highest which citizen or subject can commit. Not content with the sanctions of human justice, of all the crimes against the law of the land it is singled out for the denunciations of religion. The litanies in every church in Christendom whose ritual embraces that office, as far as I am aware, from the metropolitan cathedrals of Europe to the humblest missionary chapel in the islands of the sea, concur with the Church of England in imploring the Sovereign of the universe, by the most awful adjurations which the heart of man can conceive or his tongue utter, to deliver us from "sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion."

And reason good; for while a rebellion against tyranny — a rebellion designed, after prostrating arbitrary power, to establish free government on the basis of justice and truth — is an enterprise on which good men and angels may fool; with complacency, an unprovoked rebellion of ambitious men against a beneficent government, for the purpose — the avowed purpose - of establishing, extending, and perpetuating any form of injustice and wrong, is an imitation on earth of that first foul revolt of "the Infernal Serpent," against which the Supreme Majesty of heaven sent forth the armed myriads of his angels, and clothed the right arm of his Son with the three-bolted thunders of omnipotence.

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While Lee's army was at it's zenith as it rolled north from the rappahannock I think that some underestimate the AoP's willingness to fight. There was a lot of pent up rage left over from Chancellorsville. When Hooker moved the AoP back over the river many corps commanders opposed the move. They thought that they had Lee in a good position and wanted to attack. So heading north you had several of the AoP's corps which had not seen much fighting at Chancellorsville. This included the I Corps and its famed Iron Brigade that really performed superbly on D1 at Gettysburg.

I think a fascinating argument is why did Lee move north? A few arguments:

Pro

-maybe the Euro's will come in if South wins a big battle(this tack seems to be taken for every one of Lee's moves)

-Penn. Governors race, maybe lead to a victory for the dems if Lee can make PA inroads.

Con

-not really a good reason to head north

-no clear objective

-lost some control of ANV with the death of Jackson and the enlargement of the command structure

-Lee loses communication with Stuart after Brandy Station

Those kind of issues are fascinating.

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While Lee's army was at it's zenith as it rolled north from the rappahannock I think that some underestimate the AoP's willingness to fight. There was a lot of pent up rage left over from Chancellorsville. When Hooker moved the AoP back over the river many corps commanders opposed the move. They thought that they had Lee in a good position and wanted to attack. So heading north you had several of the AoP's corps which had not seen much fighting at Chancellorsville. This included the I Corps and its famed Iron Brigade that really performed superbly on D1 at Gettysburg.

I think a fascinating argument is why did Lee move north? A few arguments:

Pro

-maybe the Euro's will come in if South wins a big battle(this tack seems to be taken for every one of Lee's moves)

-Penn. Governors race, maybe lead to a victory for the dems if Lee can make PA inroads.

(adding one more) - Lee wanted to give the Virginia farmers time to harvest their crops without the AoP around.

Con

-not really a good reason to head north

-no clear objective

-lost some control of ANV with the death of Jackson and the enlargement of the command structure

-Lee loses communication with Stuart after Brandy Station

Those kind of issues are fascinating.

The lack of clear objective is the problem; the other things are trivial by comparison.

I've conceptually analogized Gettysburg with the WWII Battle of Midway. In both instances the side with the initiative and the momentary advantage had combat resources that it was itching to use and generally wanted to inflict a blow that would politically bring its opponent to its knees. In both instances that vague plan - hurriedly arrived at of course - quite predictably fell apart when "things did not go as planned" - the very first rule of warfare - and instead of achieving the goal the opposite one was achieved; neither the ANV nor the Nihon Kaigun had sufficient offensive firepower to launch strategic offensives for the remainder of the war.

Edited by Chewbanks

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I will gladly wait until Tuesday or Wednesday before continuing with the narrative. Fascinating stuff, BL. I'm astonished that McPherson could have gotten so many facts wrong, if what you assert is true. I want to hear more, especially about Ewell.

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Great points, SofaKings, and an excellent analogy Chewbanks.

It's difficult to understand Gettysburg in the abstract, or as a stand alone affair; you have to look at in the context of the entire campaign.

Following that same line of thinking, the campaign is best understood when viewed within the context of the entire war.

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BL, what are your opinions of:

1. The film Gettysburg ?

2. The novel The Killer Angels, which the film is based on?

I enjoyed both, though I liked the novel a little better than the movie, which I found a little dry at times, and a little confusing (at the time I first saw it in the movie theater, I didn't know any of the details of the battle so I couldn't figure out what was going on part of the time.) I have no idea how real Civil War buffs regard this stuff.

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I will gladly wait until Tuesday or Wednesday before continuing with the narrative. Fascinating stuff, BL. I'm astonished that McPherson could have gotten so many facts wrong, if what you assert is true. I want to hear more, especially about Ewell.

McPherson is great, but its a big war.

Shelby Foote is my biggest hero, but he got a lot of stuff wrong as well.

It is fascinating is how history evolves. Foote and McPherson weren't the first two historians to repeat proclamations of earlier historians without re-checking or uncovering original source material.

Couple of G-burg books that deal with the role of memory and myth (great stuff, even if you know nothing about the battle):

Pickett's Charge in History and Memory by Carol Reardon

This book ranks among a tiny handful of works that anyone who really wants to understand history and historical processes, military or otherwise, should read. The title grossly understates the real subject. In concepts and content, this book stands with John Keegan's The Face of Battle, Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory, Carl Builder's The Masks of War, and Viktor Frankel's Man's Search for Meaning for insights into how individual human minds and groups work, turn isolated events into memory and history, and then have large-scale influences. Even among these, only Fussell and Reardon tie the threads together. With Pickett's Charge as a case study, Carol Reardon's project is two-fold. First she traces how a small, bloody episode in a long, bloody war quickly and irreversibly became attached to and glorified a minor figure in that episode. Second she traces how, in popular memory and myth, that episode came to codify that entire war. In carrying out these two projects, she hits at a complex array of core issues on several levels. For example, she analyzes how soldiers perceive, imbed in memory, privately recall, reprocess, and publicly retell their experiences. What she says of combat veterans applies equally to survivors of many kinds of catastrophe. She shows how the innate human desire to make sense of isolated bits of experience and, thus, achieve meaning in our lives, drives people to impose an artificial order on and attach extraneous material to experience that distorts memory and any record of an event. The elements and dynamics she describes apply equally well to any human experience and to any historical sources and topics. In discussing how the public awareness and interpretation of the events from the Civil War evolved, she describes a process that applies to anything that makes CNN today. In the current climate of interest in national values, her discussion of how the image of George Pickett portrayed through his adherents--most notably, his sycophantic and energetic wife--blended with prevailing Victorian emphases on virtue to magnify his role and the significance of the event. Reardon gives important insights into the well-trodden but currently-important subject of nationalism. Most important is what she says about the process of national formation. The political process she described to find and cement points of agreement on passionately divisive issues is tragically relevant--largely, in the negative--to efforts at peacemaking in many places today, such as Bosnia, the former Soviet states, and the Middle East. Particularly germane to scholars is her insight that, to achieve any immediate political and social goal, most people will eagerly sacrifice accuracy of historical description and analysis. Orwell's dark vision in 1984 of an overarching, totalitarian regime rewriting history and punishing those who try to preserve Truth is far less a real threat than the collective effects of banal, spontaneous, individual daily activities. An extension of the process she describes to other places and times can go a long way toward understanding how in Bosnia, for example, neighbors and even family members readily denounced, turned on, and even brutally murdered one another. The same applies equally well to persistent turbulence in many other trouble spots. Despite its focus on the American Civil War, this book has universal significance and demands reading by anyone genuinely interested in the social sciences. Once finished, a thoughtful reader can expect to feel much wiser but slightly to deeply disturbed.

*** SPOILER ALERT! Click this link to display the potential spoiler text in this box. ***
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These Honored Dead: How The Story Of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory by Thomas Desjardjin

Here is an article excerpted from the latter:

Battle of Gettysburg and American Mythology

Just to emphasize, you do not have to be interested in the American Civil War to enjoy these books. Both had a profound influence on my understanding of what it means to study and understand history.

Gettysburg was an important battle in U.S. history, but its elevated status in the national American ethos as much to do with the power of myth than what was actually accomplished on the rolling hills of southeastern PA. Most Americans have a very flawed view of the engagement, and in some sense, that's OK, it doesn't matter. What I mean is it has come to symbolize concepts and beliefs that go far beyond what actually happened. It's quite amazing and fascinating how it means different things to different people.

When President Carter was attempting to negotiate between Israel and Egypt, Begin and Sadat had such mutual antipathy toward one another that they only seldom had direct contact; thus Carter had to conduct his own microcosmic form of shuttle diplomacy by holding one-on-one meetings with either Sadat or Begin in one cabin, then returning to the cabin of the third party to relay the substance of his discussions. Begin and Sadat were "literally not on speaking terms," and "claustrophobia was setting in." Carter took the two leaders to the nearby Gettysburg National Military Park, and they spent the entire day there. Each of them saw the Battle of Gettysburg as analogous to their own country's struggle. They returned to Camp David and completed the negotiations for peace.

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BL, what are your opinions of:

1. The film Gettysburg ?

2. The novel The Killer Angels, which the film is based on?

I enjoyed both, though I liked the novel a little better than the movie, which I found a little dry at times, and a little confusing (at the time I first saw it in the movie theater, I didn't know any of the details of the battle so I couldn't figure out what was going on part of the time.) I have no idea how real Civil War buffs regard this stuff.

Well first off, amateur historians hate being called Civil War buffs.

:angry:

I liked both. I've seen a lot of discussion threads about all the errors in the film. I'm ambivalent; the follow-up film, Gods & Generals, is much more painstaking and literal - and a complete mess! Neither is supposed to history! They are, first and foremost, entertainment media.

I appreciate that both the book and the movie, as well as Ken Burns PBS documentary, had a tremendous influence in popularizing the Civil War. These was a sharp upward spike in NMP attendance following their release. Its led to some unfortunate misinformation, but overall, very positive vehicles that have helped preserve the battlefields (because greater interest = greater contributions to land preservation and upkeep).

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BL, what are your opinions of:

1. The film Gettysburg ?

2. The novel The Killer Angels, which the film is based on?

I enjoyed both, though I liked the novel a little better than the movie, which I found a little dry at times, and a little confusing (at the time I first saw it in the movie theater, I didn't know any of the details of the battle so I couldn't figure out what was going on part of the time.) I have no idea how real Civil War buffs regard this stuff.

Well first off, amateur historians hate being called Civil War buffs.

:construction:

I liked both. I've seen a lot of discussion threads about all the errors in the film. I'm ambivalent; the follow-up film, Gods & Generals, is much more painstaking and literal - and a complete mess! Neither is supposed to history! They are, first and foremost, entertainment media.

I appreciate that both the book and the movie, as well as Ken Burns PBS documentary, had a tremendous influence in popularizing the Civil War. These was a sharp upward spike in NMP attendance following their release. Its led to some unfortunate misinformation, but overall, very positive vehicles that have helped preserve the battlefields (because greater interest = greater contributions to land preservation and upkeep).

I never saw the film Gods and Generals, though in recent months I've begun thinking I should at least see part of it, because the guy who plays the villain in Avatar intrigues me as an actor, and I understand that his portrayal of Stonewall is the one good part of the movie.

But the reason I didn't see it is that I read the novel and it was awful. The author, Jeff Shaara, has made a career out of copying his dad's style and format. He has done 2 books on the Civil War (a before and after for The Killer Angels), several o the revolution, and several on WWII. I've tried to read others besides GG, and as I wrote, he follows his dad's format in each one, but something vital is lacking IMO.

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I met Stephen Lang at the 140th re-enactment of Antietam. Great guy.

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BL, what are your opinions of:

1. The film Gettysburg ?

2. The novel The Killer Angels, which the film is based on?

I enjoyed both, though I liked the novel a little better than the movie, which I found a little dry at times, and a little confusing (at the time I first saw it in the movie theater, I didn't know any of the details of the battle so I couldn't figure out what was going on part of the time.) I have no idea how real Civil War buffs regard this stuff.

Well first off, amateur historians hate being called Civil War buffs.

:confused:

I liked both. I've seen a lot of discussion threads about all the errors in the film. I'm ambivalent; the follow-up film, Gods & Generals, is much more painstaking and literal - and a complete mess! Neither is supposed to history! They are, first and foremost, entertainment media.

I appreciate that both the book and the movie, as well as Ken Burns PBS documentary, had a tremendous influence in popularizing the Civil War. These was a sharp upward spike in NMP attendance following their release. Its led to some unfortunate misinformation, but overall, very positive vehicles that have helped preserve the battlefields (because greater interest = greater contributions to land preservation and upkeep).

I never saw the film Gods and Generals, though in recent months I've begun thinking I should at least see part of it, because the guy who plays the villain in Avatar intrigues me as an actor, and I understand that his portrayal of Stonewall is the one good part of the movie.

But the reason I didn't see it is that I read the novel and it was awful. The author, Jeff Shaara, has made a career out of copying his dad's style and format. He has done 2 books on the Civil War (a before and after for The Killer Angels), several o the revolution, and several on WWII. I've tried to read others besides GG, and as I wrote, he follows his dad's format in each one, but something vital is lacking IMO.

GnG is clearly "meant" to be accurate, to a fault, really. For example, they spend quite a bit of time "naming" regiments / etc, for no other reason than to give them a moment in the sun. But they also get overly dramatic (the "Hail Caesar" speech, Stonewall and the black cook praying, etc), and I can see where the whole thing can be a fairly boring mess to someone not interested in the war - hence the poor reviews. But, if you like the Civil War, you'll like the movie (I like it a lot, to be honest). Lang is incredible as Stonewall, too.

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While Lee's army was at it's zenith as it rolled north from the rappahannock I think that some underestimate the AoP's willingness to fight. There was a lot of pent up rage left over from Chancellorsville. When Hooker moved the AoP back over the river many corps commanders opposed the move. They thought that they had Lee in a good position and wanted to attack. So heading north you had several of the AoP's corps which had not seen much fighting at Chancellorsville. This included the I Corps and its famed Iron Brigade that really performed superbly on D1 at Gettysburg.

I think a fascinating argument is why did Lee move north? A few arguments:

Pro

-maybe the Euro's will come in if South wins a big battle(this tack seems to be taken for every one of Lee's moves)

-Penn. Governors race, maybe lead to a victory for the dems if Lee can make PA inroads.

(adding one more) - Lee wanted to give the Virginia farmers time to harvest their crops without the AoP around.

Con

-not really a good reason to head north

-no clear objective

-lost some control of ANV with the death of Jackson and the enlargement of the command structure

-Lee loses communication with Stuart after Brandy Station

Those kind of issues are fascinating.

The lack of clear objective is the problem; the other things are trivial by comparison.

I've conceptually analogized Gettysburg with the WWII Battle of Midway. In both instances the side with the initiative and the momentary advantage had combat resources that it was itching to use and generally wanted to inflict a blow that would politically bring its opponent to its knees. In both instances that vague plan - hurriedly arrived at of course - quite predictably fell apart when "things did not go as planned" - the very first rule of warfare - and instead of achieving the goal the opposite one was achieved; neither the ANV nor the Nihon Kaigun had sufficient offensive firepower to launch strategic offensives for the remainder of the war.

I totally left that one out for some reason!

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There was one?

From an anthropological standpoint the culture is interesting but didn't this end many many years ago?

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Heth's division had about 7,500 men on July 1, 1863. The lead brigades were Archer's (1200 men in five small regiments) and Davis' (1650 in three large regiments), along with 20 cannon from Peagram's Battalion.

"John Buford's First Day Defense at the Battle of Gettysburg"

The following is a brief description of John Buford's actions on the first day at Gettysburg. It was presented in a Civil War chatroom one evening by Eric Whittenburg, author of "Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Battles" and John Buford's biographer. Since chatrooms do not lend themselves to large posts, it was presented in small increments over the course of about a half hour. For ease of reading it has been reformatted into the form you see here, However, very little changes were made and what you see is basically as it was presented to the group.

The concept that John Buford employed in the initial defense of Gettysburg is called a "defense in depth". The theory behind a defense in depth is for the defending force to select a position far from the point that it ultimately wants to defend, so that there is a place to fall back to. A delaying action is fought, with the idea of slowly making a fighting withdrawal. The defending force makes use of the terrain to delay the enemy's advance.

Buford recognized the good high ground to the south and east of the town square and elected to fight a defense in depth to hold it until the infantry could come up. Buford had been consulting with John Reynolds in Emmitsburg on the way to Gettysburg on June 30, and knew how close the infantry was. He would defend the town from the west and north. Gamble on the west side, and Devin on the north.

Buford set up his videttes on an arc seven miles long. Gamble's farthest post was four miles from the town square, Devin's six. The idea of videttes is to serve as an early warning system. They make contact with the enemy, fire warning shots, delay as long a possible, and then fall back to the next chosen defensive position. Gamble covered an arc from the Fairfield Road to the Mummasburg Road. Devin covered the Carlisle, Harrisburg and York Roads. The next fall back position from the west was Herr's Ridge (which combines with Belmont School House Ridge), and then finally, the main line of battle was atop McPherson Ridge.

The vidette line of Gamble's brigade was manned by about 275 men. The farthest post was atop Knoxlyn Ridge at the Whisler blacksmith shop. Vidette posts were typically manned by three or four men, and commanded by a non-com. This particular one was commanded by Sgt. Levi Shaffer of the 8th Illinois Cavalry. Lt. Marcellus Jones of the 8th Illinois commanded the regiment's vidette line. Early on the morning of July 1, Sgt. Shaffer spotted billowing clouds of dust arising along the Chambersburg Pike, indicating the movement of a large body of men. Shaffer called for Jones. Jones watched for a moment, borrowed Shaffer's Sharps carbine, rested it on a fence post, and squeezed off the first shot of the Battle of Gettysburg. Fired at a range of about 700 yards, it hit nothing. Instead, it sent up the alarm among Heth's advancing infantry. Soon, more shots rang out along the vidette line. It was about 6 a.m. Word was sent back to Buford to let him know that the Confederates had begun to advance. While he sent for Calef's artillery, the surprised Confederates stopped and began to deploy into line of battle, a process that took nearly two full hours. Just by firing a few shots that hit nothing, Buford bought two hours' time. In the meantime, Buford sent messengers to Reynolds to try to hurry the infantry to Gettysburg.

In the meantime, the videttes fell back to Herr's Ridge. There, along with about 500 others of Gamble's brigade (total strength, about 750), they made a stand for the better part of an hour. Remember, too, that effective strength had to be reduced by 25% due to the fact that one in every four men was given task of holding horses. So, the actual strength was about 450. They stood there for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, Calef's three sections of artillery deployed along McPherson's Ridge. Two sections (4 guns) deployed on the Chambersburg Pike and the other two about four hundred yards away, near the spot where Reynolds fell. The idea was to disperse the guns to create the illusion that Buford actually had more than 6 pieces of artillery at his disposal.

The Confederates, after driving Gamble off Herr's Ridge, then got caught in the valley created by Willoughby Run. They came under heavy fire there, and it took time for them to regroup and begin to advance up the western slope of McPherson's Ridge. By this time, it was nearly 9:15. Buford had already bought more than three hours' time by his stand. However, he grew worried, as there was still no sign of the advance of Reynolds' infantry. He went up the cupola of the Seminary to search for the head of Reynolds' column, worried--he realized that it was just a matter of time before he had to pull back or he ran out of ammo. As McPherson's Ridge was the chosen spot for the defensive stand, Buford deployed all of Gamble's brigade there, as well as a regiment of Devin's, positioned to the north of the railroad cut. There, they stood for about an hour before the Confederates began pressing them back, both by flanking the position and because Gamble's men were running out of ammunition.

As things looked most desperate, Buford's signal officer, Lt. Aaron B. Jerome, spotted the advance of Reynolds' column, and reported it to Buford. Buford ascended the cupola again, saw it himself, and said, "Good, now we can hold the place." He sent a messenger to Reynolds, who spurred ahead to meet with Buford. Reynolds called out, "What goes, John?" Buford characteristically replied, "The Devil's to pay!" and pointed out the advancing Confederate infantry. Reynolds then asked whether Buford could hold, to which the cavalryman responded, "I reckon so." Buford then came down, and he and Reynolds conferred and rode out to the front to see the situation.

Reynolds then sent his staff officer, Capt. Stephen Minot Weld, to Meade with a sitrep, wherein Reynolds said, "Tell the General that we will hold the heights to the south of the town, and that I will barricade the streets of the town if necessary." Weld rode off to report. In the meantime, Reynolds gave orders for his infantry, led by Doubleday's division, to come up at the double-quick, which they did, advancing across the fields on the oblique. As Gamble's men were running out of ammunition, the infantry came up, and Gamble's tired troopers opened ranks to make room for them to come into line. After being relieved, Gamble's troopers took up a position on the Union left. The men of the 3rd Indiana Cavalry refused to leave the line of battle, holding a position next to the Iron Brigade. Meanwhile, Joe Davis was pressing Devin back. Since Devin had only a regiment and a half atop the ridge, their position was more desperate. Reynolds responded by calling up John Robinson's division, which arrived just in the nick of time, just before Devin's guys ran out of ammunition.

This was a perfectly planned and perfectly executed defense in depth, executed with perfect dragoon tactics. If one reads the manual for this sort of thing, what Buford did was by the letter of the book.

Buford is one of the unsung heroes of Gettysburg. He died from disease in 1864, so he wasn't around to promote his reputation in the post war era. He was never one to blow his own horn anyways; just a solid, competent and dependable trooper who was very good at his job.

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