Confederate victory at Gettysburg, Day 3

MichaelWinicki

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Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Not only do you have a Union line there that's fairly solid, you also have the problem that gaining the Round Tops themselves doesn't actually inflict serious threat on Meade's line - you need to push past them to gain control of the road and thus begin rolling up the Federal flank, but if you're doing this with the fresh troops then you're not pressuring the Union centre and consequently Meade can pull troops out of that area to form a new reserve. He has more time to react, basically.

Remember that the Round Tops weren't a target on July 2 - nobody actually considered them useful. It was all a SNAFU that led to fighting over them because a Confederate division veered off course when its commander went down.

I agree with several of your points but still don't think attacking the Union center offered the greatest chance of success.

I guess that's why they call it a "What if".
 

Saphroneth

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Feb 18, 2017
I agree with several of your points but still don't think attacking the Union center offered the greatest chance of success.
I think the problem is that in order to hold that view you need to present an alternative that is clearly outright superior, rather than being a wash. I think there's an argument that an echelon attack against the hinge of the Union line (11th Corps) was the best option, because 11th Corps is the weakest corps on the field and you can hit them from two directions, but that was Lee's day-two plan and it all fell apart due to bad luck.
 

MichaelWinicki

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Jul 23, 2020
I think the problem is that in order to hold that view you need to present an alternative that is clearly outright superior, rather than being a wash. I think there's an argument that an echelon attack against the hinge of the Union line (11th Corps) was the best option, because 11th Corps is the weakest corps on the field and you can hit them from two directions, but that was Lee's day-two plan and it all fell apart due to bad luck.

And I agree that hitting the "hinge" (again or in a more effective manner) as you call it had a lot of merit.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
And I agree that hitting the "hinge" (again or in a more effective manner) as you call it had a lot of merit.
I think the issue with it is that some of the troops who should have hit the hinge of the Union line actually did go in, and were repulsed; this reduces the punch you can deliver. You also need to deliver some kind of fixing attack in the area of the historical Charge, because you need to fix the troops there to ensure they can't be sent in to help contain the breach (which an echelon attack would do, but would involve attacks in the area of the historical Charge).

Longstreet's attack on Day Two offered a superb opportunity, tying down so many Union troops (and all their reserve) that on the rest of the field the Confederates had both the initiative and a superiority in numbers, but casualties among the generals at the wrong time wrecked the chance. I think you probably could design an attack that would hit the hinge of the line on Day Three, but I can understand why Lee wouldn't want to just repeat a plan which fell apart so anticlimactically yesterday; if nothing else doing the same thing twice makes it more likely the enemy will be expecting it!
 
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