Gettysburg: Was A.P. Hill to blame for the Battle?

Scott1967

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England
Given the fact that elements of Ewell corps had been in Gettysburg on the 26th of June and that Pettigrew had done a recon on the 30th of June and seen was he determined to be Union Regular Cavalry and thus reported it to Hill , Why did Hill give permission for Heth to go to Gettysburg knowing that Union Cavalry were around the area?.

One theory I have is that Hill was itching for a fight and being new to corps command wanted to prove himself to Lee , Was Hill a hardened battlefield commander so naive as to think Union Cavalry would not be without close infantry support after all he had no way of knowing where the Union Infantry was.

I think what's interesting here is why he chose to ignore Pettigrew's report even if it was backed up by a member of Hills staff who was with Pettigrew at Gettysburg at the time of the recon.

I would love to know what people think on this subject.
 

Alaskazimm

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The explanation I've heard is that Hill thought Pettigrew was mistaken that it was Union Cavalry and said it was merely local militia he had seen.

*edit*
As far as my thoughts on it, it does seem that considering they were in enemy territory that Hill was far too incredulous about the report being correct as to units in and around Gettysburg.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
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Nov 12, 2016
Given the fact that elements of Ewell corps had been in Gettysburg on the 26th of June and that Pettigrew had done a recon on the 30th of June and seen was he determined to be Union Regular Cavalry and thus reported it to Hill , Why did Hill give permission for Heth to go to Gettysburg knowing that Union Cavalry were around the area?.

One theory I have is that Hill was itching for a fight and being new to corps command wanted to prove himself to Lee , Was Hill a hardened battlefield commander so naive as to think Union Cavalry would not be without close infantry support after all he had no way of knowing where the Union Infantry was.

I think what's interesting here is why he chose to ignore Pettigrew's report even if it was backed up by a member of Hills staff who was with Pettigrew at Gettysburg at the time of the recon.

I would love to know what people think on this subject.
I think you are on the right track. Hill was new to corps command and thus under emotional stress.
Corp command is a high pressure posting.
 

infomanpa

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Location
Pennsylvania
I think you are on the right track. Hill was new to corps command and thus under emotional stress.
Corp command is a high pressure posting.
I agree that the evidence is that Hill did not believe that there was Union cavalry in Gettysburg. Also, besides being a new corps commander, there is reason to believe that he was ailing from some illness during the battle.
 

jackt62

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Location
New York City
Hill was known to be an aggressive commander who could be impulsive and did not always think everything through before acting. This served him well in many cases as a division commander when he came to the rescue at Cedar Mountain and Sharpsburg, or when he acted on his own at Beaver Dam Creek when Jackson failed to show up on time. But later on, as Corps Commander, that trait may have failed him, as at Gettysburg or later on at Bristoe Station.
 

Scott1967

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Location
England
I found an interesting quote by Mosby made in 1908.

Quote:

In a defense of Stuart, fellow cavalryman John Singleton Mosby wrote in 1908 that Heth and Hill were not interested in shoes at all, but in battle, glory, and prisoners. Lee’s army was never blind, he claimed, and only selfishness and perfidy led to battle. “If Hill and Heth had stood still,” Mosby wrote, “they would not have stumbled.”

End Quote:

I have no idea where Mosby got his source from but it seems he came to the same conclusion as myself that Hill and Heth being new to their Commands seemed to be bored of touring PA and may have decided to get a little action.

I also found out the it was Jubal Early who had visited Gettysburg on the 26th of June and held the town to ransom , In the ransom he demanded 1500 pairs of shoes which the townspeople replied did not exist and he left without said shoes.

So where did the rumour come from that 1500 pairs of shoes were in Gettysburg the town itself had no such factory to make them and nowhere to store them , If Early had heard this rumour before the 26th could it be possible Hill had no idea that Early had been to Gettysburg.
 

rpkennedy

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Carlisle, PA
I found an interesting quote by Mosby made in 1908.

Quote:

In a defense of Stuart, fellow cavalryman John Singleton Mosby wrote in 1908 that Heth and Hill were not interested in shoes at all, but in battle, glory, and prisoners. Lee’s army was never blind, he claimed, and only selfishness and perfidy led to battle. “If Hill and Heth had stood still,” Mosby wrote, “they would not have stumbled.”

End Quote:

I have no idea where Mosby got his source from but it seems he came to the same conclusion as myself that Hill and Heth being new to their Commands seemed to be bored of touring PA and may have decided to get a little action.

I also found out the it was Jubal Early who had visited Gettysburg on the 26th of June and held the town to ransom , In the ransom he demanded 1500 pairs of shoes which the townspeople replied did not exist and he left without said shoes.

So where did the rumour come from that 1500 pairs of shoes were in Gettysburg the town itself had no such factory to make them and nowhere to store them , If Early had heard this rumour before the 26th could it be possible Hill had no idea that Early had been to Gettysburg.

To be completely fair, Heth stated that they were looking for supplies in general, and shoes in particular. To my mind, this wasn't so far off of what the army had been doing in Maryland and Pennsylvania as they lived off of the land, gathering what supplies that they could.

In addition, it must be said that Pettigrew was new to the AoNV and this may have influenced how Hill and Heth viewed his report, especially considering that there was no information indicating that the AotP was as close as Gettysburg. When Heth moves forward on the morning of July 1, artillery led the way which indicates that Heth wasn't expecting anything serious.

To my mind, it really just falls to a lack of reliable information and what was reported was disregarded as inaccurate. It was definitely a command failure for both Hill and Heth.

Ryan
 

Scott1967

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Location
England
In addition, it must be said that Pettigrew was new to the AoNV and this may have influenced how Hill and Heth viewed his report, especially considering that there was no information indicating that the AotP was as close as Gettysburg.
I'm not so sure about that , Pettigrew had one of Hill's most trusted staff officers with him on the recon who also stated they were Federal Cavalry not Militia for Hill to discount both these men seems strange , Mosby is in no doubt both Hill and Heth were itching for a fight of course were not sure where Mosby gets his information from.
 

rpkennedy

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I'm not so sure about that , Pettigrew had one of Hill's most trusted staff officers with him on the recon who also stated they were Federal Cavalry not Militia for Hill to discount both these men seems strange , Mosby is in no doubt both Hill and Heth were itching for a fight of course were not sure where Mosby gets his information from.
For sure, they dropped the ball. To my mind, it came down to hearing what they wanted to hear in the absence of more solid information. At best, they figured it was either a small militia or cavalry force which would be easily brushed aside and they could get on with gathering supplies for the corps. In addition, if it did turn out to be more than that, the rest of the Third Corps was not far away and Ewell was also approaching so support was close at hand. I get what they were thinking but they seriously underestimated what could possibly happen.

Ryan
 

Alaskazimm

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For sure, they dropped the ball. To my mind, it came down to hearing what they wanted to hear in the absence of more solid information. At best, they figured it was either a small militia or cavalry force which would be easily brushed aside and they could get on with gathering supplies for the corps. In addition, if it did turn out to be more than that, the rest of the Third Corps was not far away and Ewell was also approaching so support was close at hand. I get what they were thinking but they seriously underestimated what could possibly happen.

Ryan

Do we have any information on how widely the report by Harrison (Longstreet's spy) was disseminated by July 1? I'm thinking if Lee regarded it as accurate enough to recall Ewell and consolidate the army then it probably made its way to the corps commanders at a minimum. So at least Hill probably could (should?) have known the AotP was closer than previously believed and therefore been more cautious that there was a stronger force of cavalry in G-burg.
 

rpkennedy

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Do we have any information on how widely the report by Harrison (Longstreet's spy) was disseminated by July 1? I'm thinking if Lee regarded it as accurate enough to recall Ewell and consolidate the army then it probably made its way to the corps commanders at a minimum. So at least Hill probably could (should?) have known the AotP was closer than previously believed and therefore been more cautious that there was a stronger force of cavalry in G-burg.
Not to my knowledge. It's reasonable that Lee may have said something to Hill about the AotP moving faster than expected but we don't have any hard evidence that he did so and Hill definitely did not act as if he suspected it to be true.

Ryan
 

Rebforever

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Not to my knowledge. It's reasonable that Lee may have said something to Hill about the AotP moving faster than expected but we don't have any hard evidence that he did so and Hill definitely did not act as if he suspected it to be true.

Ryan
Ryan. was't Hill sick and didn't show up until noon on the first day? Seems to me he was bedridden on his way there.
 

rpkennedy

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Ryan. was't Hill sick and didn't show up until noon on the first day? Seems to me he was bedridden on his way there.
Hill was ill on July 1 and was pretty much an empty suit for the rest of the battle. He was still in Cashtown when Lee rode forward upon hearing the heavy firing to the front (Archer and Davis vs. Meredith and Cutler). That would have been somewhat earlier than noon but you are correct.

Ryan
 
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rpkennedy

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Yes I have read about this which baffles me surely command should have been given to Anderson but it seems Hill wasn't to ill to order further assaults on the morning of the 1st by Pender.

Considering how poorly Anderson performed at Gettysburg, I'm not so sure turning to him would have been an improvement.

Ryan
 
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