Ewell and A. P. Hill, were there better choices?

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major bill

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People find fault with the performances of all three Confederate Corps commanders at Gettysburg and a few people even find fault with Lee himself. So did Lee have any real other options for Corps commanders?

I see no possibility of Lee replacing Longstreet as Corps commander before the Battle of Gettysburg so I think this option is off the table. This leaves Lee with the option of keeping the two Corps army system, or forming a three Corps army. Did Lee have anyone who could have led this second Corps? Lee probably had A.P. Hill, Ewell, or Stuart for choices. Did any of these three have the skills necessary to command half of Lee's army?

So let us look at Lee's three Corps options. Again we probably have Hill, Ewell and Stuart as possible commanders of the last two Corps. Would have Stuart made a better Infantry Corps commander than Hill or Ewell? I am not sure we can know how Stuart would have done. Did Lee have any other candidates for Corps commanders?

In the end Lee was probably correct with who he picked to be Corps commanders, with Stuart being an unknown player as Corps commander. I remain unconvinced that Lee would have won at Gettysburg with different Corps commanders. Who else could have Lee used as Corps commanders that could have performed better at Gettysburg?
 

Robin Lesjovitch

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People find fault with the performances of all three Confederate Corps commanders at Gettysburg and a few people even find fault with Lee himself. So did Lee have any real other options for Corps commanders?
I remain unconvinced that Lee would have won at Gettysburg with different Corps commanders. Who else could have Lee used as Corps commanders that could have performed better at Gettysburg?
With different Corps commanders, I'm convinced there would not have been a Battle of Gettysburg.
The actions of Powell Hill and Henry Heth on 1 July were dangerous and contrary to orders.
 
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rpkennedy

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After Chancellorsville, Lee had a few options for corps command to both replace Jackson and to head the new Third Corps.

A.P. Hill: probably the best division commander in the army. He had performed very well to this point with only a few hiccups.

Richard Ewell: Jackson's second-in-command and his picked successor. He had performed very well in the Valley and until Second Manassas when he had lost his leg.

Richard Anderson: Senior division commander who was both solid and reliable but with two knocks against him; he was junior to both Hill and Ewell and if he was promoted, the Third Corps' divisions would all be commanded by men new to that level. Lee wanted one reliable and senior officer to help the new corps commander.

Lafayette McLaws: Senior division commander but had lost the trust of Lee after the Chancellorsville Campaign. Lee took him out of contention almost from the start.

After these men, virtually all of the division commanders were relatively junior officers and Lee wanted them to have more experience at that level before considering them for promotion. And of these four, there are really only two choices in two of his best and most senior officers. Ewell had some questions about how effective he would be in the field after the loss of his leg and with Hill, there were really no questions. Unfortunately for Lee and Hill, Hill's health, which was always fairly tenuous, broke shortly after his promotion and he was never really the same officer as he had been prior to May 1863.

Ryan
 

Robin Lesjovitch

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Longstreet plainly put Harvey Hill next in seniority to Ewell in his writing.
Lee much preferred Powell Hill and after the acrimony involving troop assignments, D H was in the dog house. If D H were made Corps commander, Lee would have had to find another Dept. commander to replace him...not as easy as it sounds. Had D H been in command of 3rd Corps, I do not think a fight at Gettysburg would have happened. Hill would have examined things for himself and consulted Lee, and there would have been no fight there.
.
 

Rio Bravo

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I think that had Gen. J.B.Gordon been in command of Ewell’s Corps at Gettysburg, the Confederates would have continued to drive the Yankees well beyond Cemetery Ridge,Culp’s Hill and the Roundtops, resulting in an overwhelming Victory at that Place.
Gordon was also held back, for 8 hours, by Ewell at The Wilderness until just before dark at which time he was finally released by LEE himself, Gordon drove & routed Sedgewick’s entire Corps.If he had been unleashed 3-4 hours earlier, it would have been another GREAT & GLORIOUS Victory for the South !
 
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jackt62

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Lee's decision to choose AP Hill and Ewell for Corps command was probably the right decision, given the information, knowledge, and past performance that Lee had at the time of these men. As they say in the equity brokerage field; "Past performance is no guarantee of future performance."
 

thomas aagaard

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I think that had Gen. J.B.Gordon been in command of Ewell’s Corps at Gettysburg
He was only a brigade commander. He might have been good, but jumping him to command of a corp would both be a bad bad idea since there was nothing that showed that he would be able to handle such a large force...
And it would be pissing of a lot of senior officers.
 
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jackt62

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Gordon was also held back, for 8 hours, by Ewell at The Wilderness until just before dark at which time he was finally released by LEE himself, Gordon drove & routed Sedgewick’s entire Corps.If he had been unleashed 3-4 hours earlier, it would have been another GREAT & GLORIOUS Victory for the South !
I agree with Gordon as being an excellent choice. Point of information, however; wasn't it Jubal Early, who was Gordon's immediate superior officer, who was not keen on Gordon's flank attack and held him back, until Lee intervened?
 

Rio Bravo

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I agree with Gordon as being an excellent choice. Point of information, however; wasn't it Jubal Early, who was Gordon's immediate superior officer, who was not keen on Gordon's flank attack and held him back, until Lee intervened?
Yes, I think you are right in that it was Early’s recommendation which Ewell carried out.
At Cedar Creek, Gordon was driving the Corps of Yankees before them, when Jubal Early called a halt to the pursuit, which allowed Sheridan to arrive, reform his vanquished hordes, and to then overwhelm the Confederates by sheer weight of numbers & defeat them.
Gordon’s Wife, Fanny Haralson Gordon accompanied him in all his campaigns. She was a prime annoyance to Jubal Early, who was once heard to “...Wish to God that the Federals would capture her” !!!
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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Probably the best choice for 3rd Corps commander would have been none.
I cannot see that the ANV was advantaged in any way by 3 rather than 2 Corps.
 

James N.

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Yes, I think you are right in that it was Early’s recommendation which Ewell carried out.
At Cedar Creek, Gordon was driving the Corps of Yankees before them, when Jubal Early called a halt to the pursuit, which allowed Sheridan to arrive, reform his vanquished hordes, and to then overwhelm the Confederates by sheer weight of numbers & defeat them.
Gordon’s Wife, Fanny Haralson Gordon accompanied him in all his campaigns. She was a prime annoyance to Jubal Early, who was once heard to “...Wish to God that the Federals would capture her” !!!
Be careful about this opinion because it's based primarily on Gordon's postwar account, stiffened with a huge dose of hindsight from the same author who gave us the Barlow-Gordon Incident!
 

rpkennedy

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Probably the best choice for 3rd Corps commander would have been none.
I cannot see that the ANV was advantaged in any way by 3 rather than 2 Corps.
Three corps gave Lee more flexibility rather than having to form ad hoc corps from existing organizations as had been done during the Seven Days, Second Manassas, and Antietam Campaigns.

Ryan
 
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rpkennedy

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DH Hill. But after say Longstreet and Jackson, the South didn't have a real deep team of Corps commanders. Personally, DH Hill and McLaws would be my choice
The problem with D.H. Hill, other than his difficult (at best) personality, was that Lee didn't want him in his army which is why he was shipped to North Carolina in the first place.

That said, Hill was an excellent division commander who probably could have grown into a very good corps commander but his attitude got in the way.

Ryan
 

Robin Lesjovitch

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Three corps gave Lee more flexibility rather than having to form ad hoc corps from existing organizations as had been done during the Seven Days, Second Manassas, and Antietam Campaigns.

Ryan
i appreciate the thoughts, but, Lee claimed the two Corps system was too much for the Corps commanders.
After Jackson's attack at Chancellorsville, Lee was down to no Corps commanders with the army.I think that the real reason Lee pushed for 3 Corps when he did.
Lee was not well, and maybe without some of his needed patience. Come the first major fight (Gettysburg) the ANV effectively reorganized into two Corps before it was over._ ....
 

rpkennedy

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i appreciate the thoughts, but, Lee claimed the two Corps system was too much for the Corps commanders.
After Jackson's attack at Chancellorsville, Lee was down to no Corps commanders with the army.I think that the real reason Lee pushed for 3 Corps when he did.
Lee was not well, and maybe without some of his needed patience. Come the first major fight (Gettysburg) the ANV effectively reorganized into two Corps before it was over._ ....
And that's a reasonable assertion as well. If it hadn't been reorganized, the First Corps would have numbered around 28,000 and the Second about 35,000. Corps of that size are going to be getting a bit unwieldy on the march and in battle for one person to oversee.

Ryan
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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The problem with D.H. Hill, other than his difficult (at best) personality, was that Lee didn't want him in his army which is why he was shipped to North Carolina in the first place.

That said, Hill was an excellent division commander who probably could have grown into a very good corps commander but his attitude got in the way.

Ryan
I'm not sure we are being fair to those involved. The position in NC came open. That command required a Maj. Gen. Hill was sick and ready to leave the army. (Hill may have become ill habitually when not on campaign). .Hill identified with NC. The CSA War Dept did the addition. There is no evidence that Lee wanted to lose Hill as a division commander. Hill would still be under Lee's command, as Lee was responsible for the District of NC. Lee and Hill had different personalities, but I see no other reason Lee would not want Hill with him.
 

rpkennedy

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I'm not sure we are being fair to those involved. The position in NC came open. That command required a Maj. Gen. Hill was sick and ready to leave the army. (Hill may have become ill habitually when not on campaign). .Hill identified with NC. The CSA War Dept did the addition. There is no evidence that Lee wanted to lose Hill as a division commander. Hill would still be under Lee's command, as Lee was responsible for the District of NC. Lee and Hill had different personalities, but I see no other reason Lee would not want Hill with him.
I would have to look but I believe that Lee had written about some reservations he had in regards to Hill early in 1863 but I don't recall the specifics and will have to see if I can find those documents. While Hill was still under Lee's command, he was not serving with the army which seems to have been what Lee wanted (after all, Lee had a propensity to transfer problem officers). Another indicator that Lee did not want Hill with the army was that when he was contemplating the reorganization, he did not seem to consider D.H. Hill at all even though he was senior to A.P. Hill.

Ryan
 
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