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The Longstreet-Gettysburg Controversy

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Rebforever, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    To me, moreso than in most battles, the failures of the ANV at Gettysburg devolves to Lee's inability(or unwillingness) to command his corps commanders.

    The corps commanders in this battle, were a constant problem, not just Longstreet, and Lee seems to have been incapable of a remedy.
     

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  3. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    You got to risk big to win big! Put another way with 150 years of historical hindsight what else was Lee supposed to do?
    Already even by 1862 Confederate desertion is a serious problem. Their are already numerous Unionist guerillas throughout the Confederacy. Slaves are constantly escaping. Cotton exports and earnings are far below antebellum levels.
    As mentioned the overall strategic situation wss bleak. Something has to happan and Lee needs an audacious plan.
    What else can he do?
    Leftyhunter
     
  4. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    To be fair to Lee communications from a modern stand point are very slow. Lee can't micromanage his Corp Commanders. Lee is in a bit of a bind on command and control.
    Leftyhunter
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  5. RebelHeart

    RebelHeart Corporal

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    I, like anyone else, have no way of assuring that a less-aggressive approach would've yielded a complete victory for Lee and the ANV. Lee had the city of Gettysburg itself which had to be good for at least some water and rations. As of the afternoon of Day Two, he had Stuart with a caravan of Union supply wagons while Meade had a very defensible position but no means by which to reinforce or replenish his troops. Day Two's assault was ambitious and aggressive but clearly a failure. To repeat it on Day Three with only minor changes in strategy was just folly.

    For as good as Lee was at holding ground, one has to think that waiting out Meade and taking his chances with repelling other possible Union forces in the area had to be a better strategy than duplicating an already-fruitless frontal assault.
     
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  6. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Perhaps, but Lee found the time and opportunity to plan and discuss a coordinated assault, on Day 2 and Day 3, with his corps commanders.
     
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  7. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Corporal

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    I'm guessing someone else has already pointed this out, but Jeffry Wert, in his book General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier, makes a powerful case against the belated claim that Longstreet was guilty of excessive delay at Gettysburg. I think Wert refutes that charge.
     
  8. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    It's rare but it does occasionally happen. I agree completely with this. The real failure of Lees' at Gettysburg was going North with untried Corp Commanders and a completely new organizational setup. after Jacksons death, a new corp was formed and units were shuffled to new commands with new commanders. It was sloppy and needed more time to work itself out.
     
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  9. Rebforever

    Rebforever Captain

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    Sorry this turned into a Lee bashing. I'm gone.
     
  10. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    Brings to mind the old saying. "A stopped clock is right twice a day'"
     
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  11. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    I believe he was trying to refute the claim that Longstreet's excessive delays were deliberate. Personally I don't think he was being deliberate I believe he was just being incompetent.
     
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  12. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Then stoutly defend him sir! I will assist thou.
    Leftyhunter
     
  13. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    The Union absolutely could resupply and reinforce since the Taneytown Road was still open. Lee didn't have the manpower to surround Meade and Stuart's cavalry wasn't in any condition to do more than they did on the 3rd after their hard marching over the previous week.

    If Lee was going to fight in Pennsylvania after the 1st, it has to be at Gettysburg. He can't disengage without using cavalry to screen his movement and keep the Union cavalry at bay and couldn't remain in any one place for too long as he was essentially living off the land. After July 1st, he either fights at Gettysburg or begins a withdrawal.

    Ryan
     
  14. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    I'm still waiting to see what order Longstreet disobeyed at Gettysburg.

    Ryan
     
  15. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Does lee really have that kind of time? Sooner or later the AoP will once again attack Va. As mentioned Grant and Rosecrans will soon be on the offensive. If Lee is to go on the offensive why not strike while the irons hot. The AoP is demoralized after Chancellorville. Lee can't wait forever he has to attack well before winter.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  16. War Horse

    War Horse 1st Lieutenant Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2016 Member of the Year

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    The only thing Incompetent was Johnsons flawed scouting report! It takes time to counter March :sneaky:
     
  17. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    My next question would be ( it's been a while since I read Sears book on Gburg ) did Lee provide a detailed written plan for his commanders to follow?
    Leftyhunter
     
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  18. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    There's the very real possibility that if Lee doesn't take the offensive, Davis is going to strip troops from his army to send to Bragg in order to salvage the situation in southern Tennessee and Northern Georgia. If Lee is going to act, the time was then or else he may not be able to do anything for the rest of the year.

    Ryan
     
  19. Bee

    Bee 2nd Lieutenant

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    Lee? A detailed written plan? Wasn't he the one known for giving his commanders much Lee-way in their discretion as to how they carried out an order?
     
  20. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    I agree. Longstreet was following Lee's orders to the letter and not the spirit and this is where he can be fairly criticized. He was acting a bit petulantly but not incompetently.

    Ryan
     
  21. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    If memory serves correctly by the 1st day of Gburg the AnV has approx 70 k men which would require over 70k fresh gallons of water a day and that is just for the men . The temp is something like over 85f so both men and beast need their water. 60 to 70k men will need something like 30 tons of food per day. In addition if I recall right and @warhorse among other might know their was an unused Union Army Corps nearby that didn't have time to get into the battle but in a siege could of broken it.
    The next point is that Lee is a highly experienced officer he has the facts in front of him and although he may very well of made in error on the 3rd day but based on his knowledge he made what he thought was the correct decision. Their must of been a reason why he went on the offensive against the AoP vs trying to encircle them.
    Leftyhunter
     

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