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RE: Gettysberg

 
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RE: Gettysberg - 8/17/2010 7:00:55 PM   
Capt Cliff


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Gettysburg as Wellington called Waterloo was a close run thing for the Federals, or to that effect. To many events thwarted Lee's vistory, keep it just out of his grasp. Had the Iron Brigade not arrived at McPhersons' ridge and thwarted Heth's advance or even Buford not standing till Reynold's came up. The obvious was that Baldy Ewell screwed the pooch for not taking Culp's hill but perhaps he saw his boy's as being spent and with the sun setting didn't want to walk into fresh Federal reinforcements. Had not the 1st Minnasota not given it's last full measure of devotion at Plum run the line would have been pierced north of Little Round Top. An had not the 20th Maine been so stubbornly comanded the Federal flank would have been turned. By the 3rd day Lee, I feel, was at his wits end he needed a smashing victory to help the CSA survive strategicly. He may have forgot he no longer had Jackson to do his tactical thinking for him. Longstreet just saw the big flanking movement and by the third day only saw he was stepping into another Fredricksburg with the CSA on the recieveing end. Everything went bad for the CSA while everything went good for the Federals. Lee's luck had run out.

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RE: Gettysberg - 8/20/2010 1:37:44 AM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Capt Cliff

Gettysburg as Wellington called Waterloo was a close run thing for the Federals, or to that effect. To many events thwarted Lee's vistory, keep it just out of his grasp ...


... but tantilizingly close enough that Lee kept reaching for it.

I never considered Lee as a Napoleon, but Meade had Wellington's advantage in terrain.

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RE: Gettysberg - 9/6/2010 12:32:03 PM   
Mus

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joe D.

Maybe it was how Lee worded his orders, but at times they seemed to be more suggestions than commands.


I take it this is in reference to his often criticized use of the words "if practicable" to Ewell?

If so, the onus here is probably on Ewell, not Lee, as many authorities believe it was practicable, Ewell just failed to execute. "If practicable" in this context means without taking excessive casualties. He didn't want Ewell to get all "Marshall Ney" about it, just take the place if he can do so without breaking his command. These kinds of qualifiers are important in a command structure/military tradition that values personal initiative and the opinion of the officer on the scene, but if you inexplicably fail to execute something that could and should have been done you will rightfully be criticized for it in posterity.



I think Longstreet should have been listened to and Lee should have adopted the strategy to maneuver to block the Meade's lines of communication with Washington and stood on the defense hoping for interference by the political leadership of the Union (demanding an attack).

< Message edited by Mus -- 9/6/2010 12:46:42 PM >


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RE: Gettysberg - 9/6/2010 2:45:06 PM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mus

quote:

ORIGINAL: Joe D.

Maybe it was how Lee worded his orders, but at times they seemed to be more suggestions than commands.


I take it this is in reference to his often criticized use of the words "if practicable" to Ewell?

If so, the onus here is probably on Ewell, not Lee, as many authorities believe it was practicable, Ewell just failed to execute. "If practicable" in this context means without taking excessive casualties. He didn't want Ewell to get all "Marshall Ney" about it, just take the place if he can do so without breaking his command ...


Ewell wasn't Ney, and he certainly wasn't Jackson.

"... before the Union had fortified its positions, Lee ordered Gen. Richard Ewell, now commander of the late Stonewall Jackson's old units, to capture a key piece of high ground 'if practical.' To Jackson, that would have meant 'take the hill.' To the cautious Ewell, it didn't. The lesson: Do you recognize the characteristics of individual followers and adjust your leadership style accordingly?"

http://www.allbusiness.com/services/educational-services/4284202-1.html

It's already been suggested on this thread that somehow Lee thought he was still working w/(the late) Jackson; various reasons were given for this inexplicable behavior, such as poor health, desperation, etc.

Otherwise, "if practical" can mean almost anything, i.e., not if your troops are too tired, not if you don't think there's enough daylight for a prolonged struggle, etc.

Perhaps Ewell simply re-interpreted Lee's instructions as, "if impractical, dont take that hill"?

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RE: Gettysberg - 9/6/2010 8:15:14 PM   
Gil R.


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(I just want to say that if Tarantino can call his endlessly-playing-on-Showtime movie "Inglorious Basterds" then this thread can be called "Gettysberg.")


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RE: Gettysberg - 9/7/2010 12:25:22 AM   
Mus

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joe D.

"... before the Union had fortified its positions, Lee ordered Gen. Richard Ewell, now commander of the late Stonewall Jackson's old units, to capture a key piece of high ground 'if practical.' To Jackson, that would have meant 'take the hill.' To the cautious Ewell, it didn't. The lesson: Do you recognize the characteristics of individual followers and adjust your leadership style accordingly?"


This all ignores the pretty straight forward meaning of the qualifier "if practicable" and the fact that Ewell didn't even try to execute the order. Lee is criticized for giving a Corps commander too much lattitude, but Corps commanders are big boys and REQUIRE such lattitude by virtue of the scale of their position. Many of the same historians that criticize Lee for adding the qualifier to the order admit that Ewell's failure to attack cost Lee the battle and isn't easily explained. If Lee deserves criticism in dealing with Ewell it is promoting him beyond his ability, not for giving a subordinate requisite discretion that is subsequently abused. This is attested to by the poor coordination of the attacks by Ewell's Corps on day 2 of the battle.


< Message edited by Mus -- 9/7/2010 12:39:07 AM >


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RE: Gettysberg - 9/7/2010 1:27:57 PM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mus

... Many of the same historians that criticize Lee for adding the qualifier to the order admit that Ewell's failure to attack cost Lee the battle and isn't easily explained. If Lee deserves criticism in dealing with Ewell it is promoting him beyond his ability, not for giving a subordinate requisite discretion that is subsequently abused. This is attested to by the poor coordination of the attacks by Ewell's Corps on day 2 of the battle.


IMO, there's a world of difference between "Take that hill" and to do so only "if practical".

And there was more than enough blame to go around for the CSA to lose this battle; as the Union had interior lines, any confederate attack would experience problems w/its communications and co-ordination.

But if you want a scape goat, JEB Stuart's AWOL "joy ride" left Lee and all his subordinants in the dark from day one.

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RE: Gettysberg - 9/8/2010 1:17:17 PM   
nicwb

 

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Do you really need a scapegoat - Ewells failure to take Culp's Hill was poor, JEB Stuart's behaviour was literally cavalier but what on earth was Lee thinking in attacking across a large swathe of open ground into the middle of a prepared position and then with a view to assaulting up a hill ? He had seen what had happened to the Army of Potomac when Burnside had tried the same sort of assault against Lee at Fredericksburg - a pointless waste of troops. I think in the end that's what really turned Gettysburg into the disaster it was.

Most of Lee's earlier (and mostly successful) battles involved him striking at the flank - albeit with the aid of Jackson - why he did not listen to Longstreet or even re-attempt some form of flanking attack is surprising to say the least.

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RE: Gettysberg - 9/8/2010 2:41:31 PM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: nicwb

Do you really need a scapegoat - Ewells failure to take Culp's Hill was poor, JEB Stuart's behaviour was literally cavalier but what on earth was Lee thinking in attacking across a large swathe of open ground into the middle of a prepared position and then with a view to assaulting up a hill ? ...


Perhaps Lee was as desperate as Napoleon was at Waterloo -- actually Mount St Jean -- when the Emperor sent in the Old Guard en masse against Wellington's well-prepared positions?


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RE: Gettysberg - 9/10/2010 3:08:13 PM   
kverdon

 

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There is one theory that Picket's Charge was supposed to coincide with the attack by Stuart's Cavalry on the Union rear. It does make a bit of sense. With a mass attack coming at them from the front, had they then been hit behind by Stuart, thiings might have gone badly for the Federals. Unfortunatly for Lee, The Union Cavalry showed that it had come of age, and they, with a good showing by Custer, defeated Stuart. It is just a theory but it does somewhat explains Picket's Charge as being more than just a desparate last gasp by Lee.

Culp's Hill on the first day will always be one of the great "What if's" in history. It could have gone either way. The hill was certainly just not there for the taking. There was a heavy portion of the Ferderal Artillery reserve located on it along with 1 Fresh Federal Brigade along with the disorganised troops of the first Corps. Ewell's troops were not in great shape either so its definatly not a done deal if Ewell had attacked.

thanks,

Kevin

< Message edited by kverdon -- 9/10/2010 3:12:32 PM >

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RE: Gettysberg - 9/11/2010 6:32:45 PM   
ezz

 

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Looked at the Stuart's charge thing earlier on here.
But it doesn't add up. It seems the plan was just an additional part of the third day. Create a disturbance in the rear, and if Pickett was doing well enough the added arrival of Stuart should add to the panic and cause the union to run away.

It seems extremely unlikely it was the other way around with Pickett masking Stuarts attack, as is alleged.

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RE: Gettysberg - 9/12/2010 1:10:00 PM   
nicwb

 

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Joe D,

quote:

Perhaps Lee was as desperate as Napoleon was at Waterloo -- actually Mount St Jean -- when the Emperor sent in the Old Guard en masse against Wellington's well-prepared positions?


He must have been ! yet at least napoleon had the excuse of wanting to beat Wellington before Blucher's arrival (as usual trying to defeat a large opponent in detail)

Kverdon, the JEB Stuart suggestion is interesting but in the past Lee had always done that sort of thing with infantry rather than cavalry - I guess he really missed Jackson. Infantry were the heavy hitters of the day.

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