But would Grant have been content to sit and let Lee keep attacking him?
If Grant were to have been appointed to command the AotP at the same time as Meade actually was (3 days before the battle), the disposition of the army corps were already in place, not giving much time for any commander to maneuver, let alone study and understand the layout of the field. Which is way Meade relied on Hancock and Howard to act as his forward observers to reconnoiter and recommend immediate actions after the 2 armies collided on July 1st. There may be some similarity with Grant's position at the Battle of the Wilderness; Grant did not intend a fight in that terrain, but was forced to engage by Lee's aggressive movements, in which case Grant was forced to fight a mostly defensive battle.But would Grant have been content to sit and let Lee keep attacking him?
If Grant had assumed command of the AotP say after Chancellorsville, thereby replacing Hooker, it might very well have been correct to say that a battle at Gettysburg would not have occurred. Grant would have taken more aggressive steps to thwart Lee's movement down the Shenandoah and Cumberland Valleys by either threatening Lee's flanks and/or covering the mountain gaps to the Valley more thoroughly. Or even more likely, Grant would have commenced his own campaign across the Rappahannock/Rapidan front first.had Grant been in charge there probably wouldn't have been a battle of Gettysburg.
One problem with these hypotheticals is the Army of the Potomac. Grant was close to breaking all the furniture in his HQ dealing with that Army's ponderous habits and its political elements. He was able to deal with those in the A of the T much more easily. See: McClernand.Success has a lot to do with having the right people, at the right time, in the right place. Would the Union have been as successful if Grant commanded at Gettysburg and Meade at Vicksburg?
That was what Longstreet had long advocated for the Pennsylvania incursion. His advice to Lee was to maneuver into a position in which the AotP would be the attacker, and the ANV the defender. Of course, Lee disregarded that counsel and the rest is history. As far as Grant is concerned, I don't believe that Grant would have even allowed the ANV to get as far as it did. Aside from the Wilderness example I gave previously, Grant, and Lee for that matter, where both wiley enough to play a good cat and mouse game such as during the rest of the Overland Campaign, where neither side was able to get the best of the other.might Grant have more aggressively hounded Lee before the battle and played into his hands by attacking Lee and allowing Lee to fight on ground of his own choosing?
Another problem with these hypotheticals is that there are too many other factors that come into play, and isolating just one (e.g., Grant as commander), makes everything highly speculative. But its fun anyway.One problem with these hypotheticals is the Army of the Potomac
Sure. But it's also fun to point out the counters. Over the many decades a lot of people have taken the Ewell/July 1/Jackson/Cemetery Hill hypothetical as gospel.Another problem with these hypotheticals is that there are too many other factors that come into play, and isolating just one (e.g., Grant as commander), makes everything highly speculative. But its fun anyway.
If Grant had been at Gettysburg, it's likely Sickles wouldn't have gotten off with just losing a leg.Ultimately though, I just don't see Grant showing up on the night of July 1, like Meade did, and being content to sit and wait for Lee to attack over the next two days. I think Grant would have had to go on the offensive somehow because that is how he operated. And Lee kept hoping the Union would attack him.
I think Meade played his cards really well during the actual battle of Gettysburg, but I don't think he had the creativity, or courage to think outside the box, or stubbornness of Grant to pull off the siege of Vicksburg. So again, it was the right general in the right place at the right time. If they had been switched, the Union would not have had two great victories in July 1863 and both of them would perhaps have seen the end of their careers. Fate is fickle that way.