Day 2: Lafayette McLaws on the Counter-march

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lelliott19

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Map from Cory Pfarr's presentation at the Gettysburg Heritage Center on CSPAN
I sent back and halted my division and rode with Major Johnson rapidly around the neighborhood to see if there was any road by which we could go into position without being seen. Not finding any, I joined my command and met General Longstreet there, who asked, "What is the matter?" I replied, "Ride with me and I will show you that we can't go on this route, according to the instructions, without being seen by the enemy."

The September CWT Video Discussion scheduled for September 9, 2019 at 9pm ET features Cory Pfarr's June 2019 presentation before the Gettysburg Heritage Center in Pennsylvania. In the presentation, Mr. Pfarr discusses a few key topics from his new book Longstreet at Gettysburg: A Critical Reassessment (McFarland, 2019.) < Book Video Discussion Page >

It seems that Mr. Pfarr is among a small group of modern historians who lend credence to the prolific post-war writings of former Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws. I am researching a regiment that served in McLaws' division, with the intent of one day publishing a regimental history. Most of my research has been confined to primary source material - including memoirs. As a result, I have probably read more McLaws than the average student of the Civil War and I've always admired his tact and diplomacy. It is possible that his memoirs provide the most unbiased Confederate eye-witness accounts available. They certainly deserve to be considered.

In the past, I've posted excerpts from McLaws' 1878 paper, presented before the Georgia Historical Society. In his presentation, Mr. Pfarr covers in detail some of the discrepancies related to the counter-march. In anticipation of the discussion tomorrow, this excerpt seems relevant and timely. <NOTE: Rank, spelling, and punctuation errors retained directly from the original 1878 paper by Lafayette McLaws; ie Major Johnston /Johnson.>

At length, my recollection is that it was about 1 pm, Major Johnston, of General Lee's staff, came to me and said he was ordered to conduct me on the march. My command was at once put in motion, Major Johnson and myself riding some distance ahead. Suddenly, as we rose a hill on the road we were taking, the Round Top was plainly visible, with the flags of the signal men in rapid motion.​
I sent back and halted my division and rode with Major Johnson rapidly around the neighborhood to see if there was any road by which we could go into position without being seen. Not finding any, I joined my command and met General Longstreet there, who asked, "What is the matter?" I replied, "Ride with me and I will show you that we can't go on this route, according to the instructions, without being seen by the enemy." We rode to the top of the hill and he at once said, "Why this won't do. Is there no way to avoid it?" I then told him of my reconnaissance in the morning, and he said: "How can we get there?" I replied: "Only by going back - by counter-marching." He said: "Then countermarch," and the movement commenced.​
But as General Hood, in his eagerness for the fray (and he bears the character of always being so), had pressed on his division, behind mine so that it lapped considerably, creating confusion in the coutermarch, General Longstreet rode to me and said: "General there is so much confusion, owing to Hood's division being mixed up with yours, suppose you let him countermarch first and lead in the attack." I replied: "General, as I started in the lead, let me continue so;" and he replied, "Then go on," and rode off.​

Excerpt from: [Lafayette McLaws, "The Battle of Gettysburg," a paper presented before the Georgia Historical Society, January 7, 1878.] The next excerpt, in sequence, is DAY 2 McLaws on Failed Reconnaissance

Previously Posted Excerpts:
DAY 2 McLaws on Failed Reconnaissance
DAY 2 McLaws Arrives on the Field
DAY 2 Hood & McLaws Prepare for the July 2 Assault
DAY 3 McLaws' View of Pickett's Charge
@cpfarr01
 
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FZ11

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Map from Cory Pfarr's presentation at the Gettysburg Heritage Center on CSPAN
I sent back and halted my division and rode with Major Johnson rapidly around the neighborhood to see if there was any road by which we could go into position without being seen. Not finding any, I joined my command and met General Longstreet there, who asked, "What is the matter?" I replied, "Ride with me and I will show you that we can't go on this route, according to the instructions, without being seen by the enemy."

The September CWT Video Discussion scheduled for September 9, 2019 at 9pm ET features Cory Pfarr's June 2019 presentation before the Gettysburg Heritage Center in Pennsylvania. In the presentation, Mr. Pfarr discusses a few key topics from his new book Longstreet at Gettysburg: A Critical Reassessment (McFarland, 2019.) < Book Video Discussion Page >

It seems that Mr. Pfarr is among a small group of modern historians who lend credence to the prolific post-war writings of former Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws. I am researching a regiment that served in McLaws' division, with the intent of one day publishing a regimental history. Most of my research has been confined to primary source material - including memoirs. As a result, I have probably read more McLaws than the average student of the Civil War and I've always admired his tact and diplomacy. It is possible that his memoirs provide the most unbiased Confederate eye-witness accounts available. They certainly deserve to be considered.

In the past, I've posted excerpts from McLaws' 1878 paper, presented before the Georgia Historical Society. In his presentation, Mr. Pfarr covers in detail some of the discrepancies related to the counter-march. In anticipation of the discussion tomorrow, this excerpt seems relevant and timely. <NOTE: Rank, spelling, and punctuation errors retained directly from the original 1878 paper by Lafayette McLaws; ie Major Johnston /Johnson.>

At length, my recollection is that it was about 1 pm, Major Johnston, of General Lee's staff, came to me and said he was ordered to conduct me on the march. My command was at once put in motion, Major Johnson and myself riding some distance ahead. Suddenly, as we rose a hill on the road we were taking, the Round Top was plainly visible, with the flags of the signal men in rapid motion.​
I sent back and halted my division and rode with Major Johnson rapidly around the neighborhood to see if there was any road by which we could go into position without being seen. Not finding any, I joined my command and met General Longstreet there, who asked, "What is the matter?" I replied, "Ride with me and I will show you that we can't go on this route, according to the instructions, without being seen by the enemy." We rode to the top of the hill and he at once said, "Why this won't do. Is there no way to avoid it?" I then told him of my reconnaissance in the morning, and he said: "How can we get there?" I replied: "Only by going back - by counter-marching." He said: "Then countermarch," and the movement commenced.​
But as General Hood, in his eagerness for the fray (and he bears the character of always being so), had pressed on his division, behind mine so that it lapped considerably, creating confusion in the coutermarch, General Longstreet rode to me and said: "General there is so much confusion, owing to Hood's division being mixed up with yours, suppose you let him countermarch first and lead in the attack." I replied: "General, as I started in the lead, let me continue so;" and he replied, "Then go on," and rode off.​

Excerpt from: [Lafayette McLaws, "The Battle of Gettysburg," a paper presented before the Georgia Historical Society, January 7, 1878.] The next excerpt, in sequence, is DAY 2 McLaws on Failed Reconnaissance

Previously Posted Excerpts:
DAY 2 McLaws on Failed Reconnaissance
DAY 2 McLaws Arrives on the Field
DAY 2 Hood & McLaws Prepare for the July 2 Assault
DAY 3 McLaws' View of Pickett's Charge
@cpfarr01
Yes but an error by McLaws and Longstreet. The troops should have About Faced,in place, and retraced the march with Hood now in the lead. Jmo.
 
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War Horse

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Yes but an error by McLaws and Longstreet. The troops should have About Faced,in place, and retraced the march with Hood now in the lead. Jmo.
That would have changed the order of the March something Longstreet would not have wanted. That’s why when McLaws objected Longstreet agreed. The order of March is not something the happens happenstance.
 
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FZ11

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That would have changed the order of the March something Longstreet would not have wanted. That’s why when McLaws objected Longstreet agreed. The order of March is not something the happens happenstance.
No. Look at McLaws last paragraph. By turning about with McLaws continuing to lead a 'round about', the troops become entangled with Hood's brigades. Longstreet recognizes this problem and suggests, simply, about facing with Hood now in the lead. McLaws, stubbornly, refuses and Longstreet acquiesces to McLaws. This 'turn about' slows the deployment of the troops and further tires the,already tired, Southern troops. Not beating on Longstreet and McLaws,just pointing this out.
 
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War Horse

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No. Look at McLaws last paragraph. By turning about with McLaws continuing to lead a 'round about', the troops become entangled with Hood's brigades. Longstreet recognizes this problem and suggests, simply, about facing with Hood now in the lead. McLaws, stubbornly, refuses and Longstreet acquiesces to McLaws. This 'turn about' slows the deployment of the troops and further tires the,already tired, Southern troops. Not beating on Longstreet and McLaws,just pointing this out.
Yes, I know that. Longstreet acquiesces so easily because he preferred to have McLaws in the lead. He may have felt differently once he saw what a mess it caused but he allowed because that’s how he wanted it to begin with. Knowing this makes leading a March an honor and McLaws to maintain it.
 

novushomus

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Yes, I know that. Longstreet acquiesces so easily because he preferred to have McLaws in the lead. He may have felt differently once he saw what a mess it caused but he allowed because that’s how he wanted it to begin with. Knowing this makes leading a March an honor and McLaws to maintain it.
There is also the consideration that Lee was quite specific about the placement of McLaws's division, to the point that he overruled Longstreet on the placement of McLaws's division in relation to the Emmitsburg Road.
 
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War Horse

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There is also the consideration that Lee was quite specific about the placement of McLaws's division, to the point that he overruled Longstreet on the placement of McLaws's division in relation to the Emmitsburg Road.
I have read that also. IIRC the author and I can’t remember who claims Lee was so frustrated with Longstreet by this time he gave McLaw’s direct orders himself. I must admit I have a hard time believing that. It wasn’t Lee’s style and it’s buying into the idea that Lee was frustrated with Longstreet.
 

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McLaws says it happened but makes no inference that it was a result of Lee's frustration - with Longstreet or anyone/anything else. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/day-2-mclaws-on-failed-reconnaissance.160908/#post-2104866
Yes I had read that also. The account that I refer too and probably shouldn’t have stated Lee gave direct orders to McLaws on the counter March as well usurping Longstreet’s authority over McLaws. Once Lee did that Longstreet refused to take responsibility for McLaws and when asked why he didn’t give McLaws orders. Longstreet stated he is under General Lee’s direct command now. Insinuating Longstreet was sulking about the matter. I can’t provide a source and probably shouldn’t have posted it.
 
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lelliott19

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Lee gave direct orders to McLaws on the counter March as well usurping Longstreet’s authority over McLaws.
McLaws does not mention Lee's presence during the counter-march. Seems like he surely would have, had it occurred. He tells everything else in excellent detail. I can't imagine him leaving out something as important as the commanding General's presence. McLaws certainly doesn't give any indication that he thought Longstreet's authority has been bypassed.

I wonder if whoever wrote that, thought that the exchange between Lee and McLaws with the map took place in the afternoon, at the place where McLaws division was staged for the attack? Instead of early in the day, before the march was initiated and well before the counter-march? If the account is not read carefully, that is an easy mistake to make and one I had some confusion about myself until @Tom Elmore set me straight. Thanks Tom! :thumbsup:
 
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War Horse

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McLaws does not mention Lee's presence during the counter-march. Seems like he surely would have, had it occurred. He tells everything else in excellent detail. I can't imagine him leaving out something as important as the commanding General's presence. McLaws certainly doesn't give any indication that he thought Longstreet's authority has been bypassed.

I wonder if whoever wrote that, thought that the exchange between Lee and McLaws with the map took place in the afternoon, at the place where McLaws division was staged for the attack? Instead of early in the day, before the march was initiated and well before the counter-march? If the account is not read carefully, that is an easy mistake to make and one I had some confusion about myself until @Tom Elmore set me straight. Thanks Tom! :thumbsup:
Could be. I will say after Chancellorsville Lee had pretty much had it with McLaws and Longstreet knew it. Lee giving orders directly to McLaws would not be taken as a slight by Longstreet in the least. Lee simply wanted his direction followed to the tee and he wanted McLaws to follow them to the tee. McLaws was on thin ice with Lee.
 

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Yes I had read that also. The account that I refer too and probably shouldn’t have stated Lee gave direct orders to McLaws on the counter March as well usurping Longstreet’s authority over McLaws. Once Lee did that Longstreet refused to take responsibility for McLaws and when asked why he didn’t give McLaws orders. Longstreet stated he is under General Lee’s direct command now. Insinuating Longstreet was sulking about the matter. I can’t provide a source and probably shouldn’t have posted it.
I've read the same thing but I would have to go through a lot of books to find it . I thought it seemed an odd thing to do .
 
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Pardon my observations concerning the counter-march, but there was no stubborn refusal in McLaws request to continue as begun, and no irritability in Longstreet's response. McLaws consistently reports in a 'matter-of-fact' manner giving his impressions of exactly what is occurring. The point I find most rewarding in the video discussion by the author was the attempt for historians to 'read into' Longstreet's remarks that prove the attitude of the General. This is where the most significant divergence for basic facts has occurred. Nobody can really know what another man is thinking precisely upon that moment. Longstreet had a whole Army Wing to worry about, and a distinct misgiving about something, which we have been led to believe. The whole idea of 'time is running out' for the rebellion is enough to cause a sharp remark without being personally irritated with another. IMO.
Lubliner.
 

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It is my understandng that Longstreet was already present with Lee when Mc Laws reported to Lee. If that is true, why was Lee usurping Longstreet's authority in the first place?

From the evidence of Mc Laws recollection, it would seem that Lee had not adequately informed Longstreet as to his plans or intelligence of where Lee thought the Union flank was located. The incident would seem to indicate that Longstreet thought the Union Line was stretched to the Round Tops and tried to overrule Lee's instructions to Mc Laws was Longstreet not privy to Johnson's scouting report, otherwise.why would, Longstreet, of all people try to do that, especially in the presence of Lee himself?
 
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It is my understandng that Longstreet was already present with Lee when Mc Laws reported to Lee. If that is true, why was Lee usurping Longstreet's authority in the first place?

From the evidence of Mc Laws recollection, it would seem that Lee had not adequately informed Longstreet as to his plans or intelligence of where Lee thought the Union flank was located. The incident would seem to indicate that Longstreet thought the Union Line was stretched to the Round Tops and tried to overrule Lee's instructions to Mc Laws was Longstreet not privy to Johnson's scouting report, otherwise.why would, Longstreet, of all people try to do that, especially in the presence of Lee himself?
Longstreet wanted McLaws line formed slightly different than Lee wanted it positioned. Longstreet believed the Union line stretched all the way to LRT. Lee believed it did not. Longstreet was correct. Giving a subordinate office direct orders in front of his commanding officer is not considered usurping anyone’s authority. Lee simply wanted his position occupied.
 

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Yes, I know that. Longstreet acquiesces so easily because he preferred to have McLaws in the lead. He may have felt differently once he saw what a mess it caused but he allowed because that’s how he wanted it to begin with. Knowing this makes leading a March an honor and McLaws to maintain it.
I agree 'order of march' was probably in McLaws mind but I think Longstreet was so frustrated with Lee, by this point on Day 2, that he just threw up his hands and acquiesced to McLaws.
 
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