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Gettysburg and Chambersburg were unusual places.

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by wausaubob, May 16, 2017.

  1. wausaubob

    wausaubob Sergeant Major

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    Chambersburg was a place within the Congressional District of Thaddeus Stevens. Gettysburg was a place with a viable free black population where blacks went to school.
    There weren't many places like that in 1863.
    Maybe it was a coincidence that is where the AofV went in 1863. But the CWT rumor is that the army caught blacks and took them with them back to slavery.
     
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  3. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    More than a rumor, some Confederate sources confirm that Blacks were indeed taken in Pennsylvania, but perhaps no more than a few dozen by inference. Typically they were claimed to have been runaways from the South, but that's very unlikely, at least in some instances. But I don't see it as an official policy, otherwise many more would have been taken south into bondage. On the other hand, most Blacks in Pennsylvania fled from the path of Lee's army, which clearly reveals their great fear.

    The Confederate high command did make a clear point of destroying Thaddeus Stevens' iron works in Pennsylvania.

    Here are three pertinent sources - this topic has been well covered in other threads.

    - (Account of Alfred Zachry, 3rd Georgia) At Thad Stevens Iron Works, Sutler Allen Dyer of the 3rd Georgia arrested a negro here as a contraband, supposed to be a slave. Gen. Wright directed that he should be turned over to the provost guard with the other prisoners. His name was William Brown, and he said that he was a native of Pennsylvania. From personal knowledge of southern negroes, I believed his story, but we had to be troubled with him, and see that he did not escape. Prisoners were tied with a cord and led by the guard over gullies, ditches, through running streams and mud holes and all sorts of bad places.

    - (Journal of Joseph C. Snider, 31st Virginia) June 23, through the day some of the boys captured runaway Virginia negroes.

    - (War is the Place, L. T. C. Lovelace, 4th Georgia) 23 June; near Greencastle, PA. Several of our Brigade have brought in several runaway negroes since I have been writing, they belong to a man near Guineas Station, the boys played off on them and caught the bucks.
     
  4. wausaubob

    wausaubob Sergeant Major

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    Thanks, Tom. All of which happened after the slaves revolted and the U.S. army of the Tennessee paid a visit, at the Davis' plantation in Mississippi.
    I do not believe Gettysburg was a random target. No battle was intended, but it was one of the places that Lee wanted to get at.
     
  5. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA Sergeant

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    Sorry sir, just want to make sure I am understanding you correctly. Are you suggesting that Chambersburg and Gettysburg became operational military targets because of Thaddeus Stevens and the free black population and their school? And on the flip side of that, had Thaddeus Stevens and the free black population not been there, Lee would have went elsewhere?

    Thanks for your time.
    USS ALASKA
     
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  6. wausaubob

    wausaubob Sergeant Major

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    How much of all this was just random? The history were are given is that it wasn't directed by Jefferson Davis and he was not central to every action taken by the Confederate armies? It is OK history, but it seems pretty simple minded.
    The Confederacy was not random
     
  7. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

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    I share ALASKA's skepticism. Lee's offensive was the main Confederate operation at a critical point in the war. A major disaster was impending in the west, at Vicksburg, so serious that the government had considered sending a portion of Lee's army to try to recoup the situation. The argument against that was that Lee and the ANV could achieve a decisive victory in the east, which would turn the tide of a war which was overall going against the rebels. Grabbing a few blacks or burning a particular factory were very small parts of the picture.
     
  8. wausaubob

    wausaubob Sergeant Major

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    That is fine. Moving further east, towards Baltimore or Philadelphia would have been hazardous in the extreme if things went poorly. Attacking the fortifications around Washington, D.C. would have been murder.
    There weren't other good options.
     
  9. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    Neither Gettysburg nor Chambersburg were significantly different than other communities in rural mid-19th century free states, and- in most ways- than those in slave-holding states.
    As a map of the period clearly shows, Gettysburg was a transportation hub. It was an easy place to pull together a widely dispersed ANV.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
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  10. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    Lee went to Pennsylvania to draw the Army of the Potomac into a battle he was confident he could win. Side benefits were (1) feeding his army on the fruits of northern farms instead of continuing to despoil Virginia; (2) disruption of infrastructure and (3) intimidation of the US government in hopes of promoting a peaceful settlement favorable to the Confederacy.
     
  11. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    No, the formation of the Confederacy "was not random": it was a deliberate act.
    Neither was it a product of some grand strategy. No need to complicate history more than it already is with theorries worthy of the National Enquirer....
     
  12. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    Though the numbers are small, I believe that is established fact.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
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  13. pfcjking

    pfcjking Sergeant Major

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    The 2nd Invasion had it's roots in Stonewall Jackson's repeated request to allow him to take 40,000 men to the Susquehanna. He asked many times, but in the Winter of 62-63, he bent Lee's ear seriously about it, and he had Jed Hotchkiss draw up a huge map that included Southern PA & Maryland in order to plan it. Lee carried this map throughout the campaign.
    I think that if Hooker had to instigated the Battle of Chancellorsville, The 2nd invasion was to begin almost as soon as Longstreet returned from Suffolk.

    Any way, I don't think for one second that it was a giant slave nabbing operation. Even if Lee had gathered 20,000 runaways, that wouldn't have done a thing for the war effort to replace the 20,000 veterans that he lost. Makes no sense.
     
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  14. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    According to the 1860 U. S. Census, there were only 200,112 free blacks in all northern states combined. Pennsylvania had a population of 2,906,206 people. Adams County had a population of 28,006, of which 186 were Blacks.
    According to Borough of Gettysburg 1863 tax roll, the Black population of Gettysburg at the time of the battle was 91. It is important to recognize that the Tax Rolls counted men over 21 and women who owned property. However, because they worked seasonal farm laborers or domestic servants, Blacks were often missed.
    Pennsylvania began free public school for all residents by the Free School Act of 1834. According to the 1860 Census, 33 Black children were enrolled in Gettysburg schools, 46% of eligible Black children. Many families- Black and White- chose not to enroll their children as they were needed for work on family farms and businesses.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
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  15. infomanpa

    infomanpa Sergeant

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    I don't think that there is any evidence to support your theory that Lee wanted to "get at" Gettysburg because of any black or slave issue.
     
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  16. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA Sergeant

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    And there were shoes there. Lots and lots of...oh...sorry...nevermind... :smile:

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     
  17. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    The objective- on either side- was not revenge, but victory. There was no 'master plan' with a huge map on the war room wall with red stickpins showing homes or businesses belonging to notables for destruction.
    However, as has been the case throughout history, if an army came close by such a place and it could be done without interfering with the larger objective, it would be sacked.
     
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  18. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    Was this because it was an important military supplier or because the business was owned by Stevens? If it were XYZ Iron Works would it have been destroyed?
    "Confederate high command": Davis, Seddon? Or was it commanders in the field?
    Thanks!
     
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  19. WJC

    WJC 2nd Lieutenant

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    Thanks for your response.
    As I understand it, no more than might be expected in similar, rural county seats.
    There was no shoe factory or warehouse in the vicinity. Early's Corps had come through Gettysburg a few days earlier and had failed to get 1500 pairs of shoes he demanded in an unsuccessful ransome ploy.
    <http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Shoes_at_Gettysburg#start_entry>
    Even horse shoes and nails were at a premium; Early had been successful in acquiring them. <"The Devil's to Pay": John Buford at Gettysburg. (El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie LLC, 2014), p. 60.>
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  20. wausaubob

    wausaubob Sergeant Major

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    Strange coincidence is OK by me. But in the invasion you do have a Confederate Army getting to a Union state and capturing blacks and it just happens to be in so. central Pennsylvania.
     
  21. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    Lee's army likely lost a lot more slaves ("servants") than it gained in Pennsylvania. Out of 65 Blacks whom I have identified as being with the Confederate army, 1 was killed, 2 deserted, 4 went missing, and 8 were captured. That works out to a total loss of 23.1 percent. Applying this percentage to the estimated 4,000 to 5,000 Blacks who were taken into the north by the Confederate army equates to a loss of about 1,000 slaves. In return, it seems the army captured less than 200 Blacks. So if that was an objective (which I strongly doubt), the Confederates failed badly.
     
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