JEB Stuart And The Battle Of Gettysburg - Was He Responsible For Lee's Defeat

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As I recall, there were others in addition to Trimble who reported similar comments by Lee regarding this aggressive idea. I'm not at home with handy access to my library, but I'll check later on who else may have commented.
I believe the root source was only Trimble.

This comment is sophistry: The worst sophistry (IMO) involved the line: The result of this day's (Day 2) operations induced the belief that with proper concert of action, and with the increased support that the positions gained on the right would enable the artillery to render the assaulting columns, we should ultimately succeed, and it was accordingly determined to continue the attack." because..........

Lee's suggesting "it was accordingly determined" instead of "I determined" purposfully suggests that Lee didn't act alone and that others share in the blame/responsibility for continuingthe attack.
I think you're criticizing him for writing in a 19th Century style that emphasized passive voice instead of a 21st Century style that emphasizes active voice.


It gives no hint that Lee knew fully well that at least L:eek:ngstreet opposed continuing the attacks and that Ewell was in no better position to successfully attack Cemetery/Culp's Hills on Day 3 than on Day 2.
In other words, it shielded two of his top subordinates from criticism.


The verbiage also indicates that Lee mentioned nor seriously considered any other specific alternatives. In fact, Lee did not meet with any corps commanders prior to making his catastrophic decision. You asked why I stressed "unilaterally". That is because Lee usually conferred with his key subordinates on the evenings during battles so as to help him to fully comprehend the actual condition of his units and the relative success of the past day's results. Lee was rather oblivious to the the final results because he could not even see where his 1st corps positions were located as it was dark and he did not speak to Longstreet.
Did Lee meet with his subordinates on the evenings of the Seven Days? I don't recall reading that. In cases where the ANV was in a compacted position, it's very easy to meet with all subordinates at once. At Gettysburg, the ANV was stretched over an approximately 5-mile-long front.

Lee's alternatives were to continue the frontal assaults, reposition one or more corps out of their 5-mile long line, move some units around the Union left and interpose between Meade and Washington once Stuart arrived, simply remain in defensive position and await an attack from Meade...Is that enough?
Are any of those actually realistic? He has three corps. Which of those corps will he reposition, and reposition to where? When does he move them? What roads does he use to get around Meade? Stuart arrives on 2 July and has to rest the remainder of the day. How is he able to reconnoiter a path around Meade? How does he get his trains around Meade without them being attacked? How does he avoid being attacked on the march while trying to get around Meade? Once in a defensive position, how long can he wait without foraging? What does he do if Meade attacks while he is also attacked by troops from Washington in his rear and troops from Baltimore on his flank?


Lee was misleading readers of his report into believing that his decision was being counseled by others because he wrote "the results of the day's operation induced the belief". He hadn't consulted with his 1st corps commander (or any other) as to the result of the day's operation. IMO, in his report, he was covering up his battlefield obstinacy and enlarged ego.
Once again, you appear to be criticizing him for writing in the passive voice that predominated in the 19th Century instead of the active voice favored in the 21st Century.

You asked: How would he have known, at the end of Day 2, that there could be no concert of action?
I said that by 1pm on Day 3, Lee knew that no proper concert of action would be possible from Ewell's corps regarding simultaneous attacks on Culp's/Cemetery Hills because he knew his troops had been driven off and that the heavy, early morning gunfire had not succeeded in improving Ewell's corps positions in that sector. And that was well before 1pm when Lee still had the opportunity to halt Pickett's Charge, whose artillery barrage began at just about 1:07 PM as we know. Thus, my comments are reasonable criticism of Lee.
You criticized the wording he used to describe the decisions he made on the night of July 2, so IMO the criticism is unreasonable.


You asked: Why is it an error to have troops take part in the attack? Were there not officers placed in key open positions? Why can't troops attack with replacement officers?

Some of the units in Hill's corps were seriously shot up on Day 1 and a very unhealthy portion of key officers were among those already killed and wounded. I think Lee was probably blissfully ignorant of many of these issues.
They would be Hill's concern, not Lee's concern. It is up to Hill to make dispositions to remedy any deficiencies, and if unable to do so, to bring it to Lee's attention.


One in particular was the need to use Brockenbrough's brigade as the far left unit in Pickett's Charge. I think its a big mistake to assume that key leaders can simply be replaced like checkers on a board - especially in a battle that Lee knew was probably his last best opportunity to win his battle of annilhilation against the Yankees.
That's what military organizations do. They expect casualties, and they expect to have to replace key personnel. They can't go home simply because they lose some colonels.



Many of those officers were being promoted to lead a desperate attack in which they hadn't ever held that degree of responsibility.
Again, that's what military organizations do. Military officers anywhere and everywhere are expected to be able to perform their assigned roles, whether they have done so before or not.



We don't know what, if anything, AP Hill said to Lee about his concerns, but I doubt Lee was listening.
So you criticize him based on what you imagine he might have not been doing? Pure speculation.


At the last moment Hill was merely informed as a matter of fact of his troops' involvement on Day 3 and told that they were under Longstreet's overall command. Totally and unforgivably bad generalship and reflective of Lee who had talked himself into a box (with Davis & the cabinet) where he had to produce a signal victory and found that all his audacity wasn't helping when the Union commander didn't implode on cue.
1. Hill was not a potted plant. If he believed anything was untoward, it was his responsibility to bring it up. He apparently had no problem.
2. Lee didn't talk himself into a box. He had a good campaign concept. He came within a whisker of winning on July 2. If one or two key Union units are as much as 15 minutes later getting on the field, he wins. If Posey and Mahone attack as expected, he wins. If Rodes does more than look at Cemetery Hill and turn around, he wins.

Lee's only realistic alternative for "concert of action" was to hold off on Pickett's Charge and either redeploy for a different attack - or not attack frontally at all.
Again, what specific option does he have? What kind of different attack does he make? He had planned to make the same type of attack that had almost worked the day before, but Pickett wasn't available in the morning, so he had to come up with a new plan of attack that day. What does he do now that there is no time to make an attack on the flank?

Yet Lee's final report, in effect, implies that he was relying on "concert of action" for the success of the Day 3 assault. Sophistry at its worst, not to mention false. Lee knew there would be no "concert of action" but he did not stop Longstreet/Pickett et al.
"Concert of action" was the term he used to describe his decisionmaking the night before, not that day. Again, unreasonable criticism, IMO.

I wonder how we would scoff and deride Burnside if he had the temerity to claim his only mistake at Fredericksburg was PERHAPS expecting too much of his men. Yet 7 months later, there was the invincible Lee making at least as dreadful an attack order.
Circumstances at Gettysburg, Michael Shaara and Ron Maxwell notwithstanding, were different from the circumstances at Fredericksburg.

You wrote: Lee did take the blame--at first. As the troops came back on July 3 he said it was all his fault. Lee offered to resign, but Davis refused the offer. One can argue, perhaps, that Lee knew in advance his offer would be refused, but then Hooker probably was sure his offer to resign prior to Gettysburg would be refused. His later reports, though, did blame others for the defeat, at least to some extent.

On Day 3, Lee was simply desperate to stop the tide of Pickett/Pettigrew survivors from heading directly back to Cashtown and beyond, so I'm sure he would say anything to stop the shocked men. "Its all my fault" was simply his desperate way of trying to implore them to stop running and form a defensive line in expectation of a counterattack by Meade. It was by no means any concrete acceptance or admission of blame.
And your evidence for this conclusion is what?


As you know, Lee later on didn't even admit defeat in his 7/31 letter to Davis.
Why should he have worded his message any other way? He said they had heavy losses. He said they failed to drive the Federals from their position. He said they failed to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. He said they had to go back across the Potomac. Frankly, I don't see much wrong with that letter.

I have always thought that Lee's offer to resign was sincere - not because he felt blame, but because he knew defeat was just a matter of time. I think his ego was seriously dented in PA and I have to believe he just wanted out and felt he had shot his wad.
More speculation, not evidence.
 

rpkennedy

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The second day battle decimated the Union Army with the loss of 1 division.
All of Meades army had not gathered yet and Lee wanted to hit the Center of Meades
line before the rest of his army arrived.

There was such a mess up of orders that put off the attack until 3 in the afternoon. Thus allowing
Meade to reinforce. Too much blame to single out who caused what to happened. Historians
even disagree on what happened and who to blame.
The second day didn't go so well for the AoNV either. Hood's and McLaws' Divisions suffered devastating losses (including Hood), three of Anderson's brigades had been shot up pretty well, Pender had been mortally wounded, and that doesn't even talk about Ewell's men over on Cemetery and Culp's Hills. At best, the second was a wash in that the Confederates drove the Union troops from their advanced positions but at tremendous loss.

Lee didn't want to hit the center of the line on the second; he wanted to roll it up from the flank. The problem was that he didn't really know where the flank was and Sickles put a crimp in the plan.

R
 
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The second day didn't go so well for the AoNV either. Hood's and McLaws' Divisions suffered devastating losses (including Hood), three of Anderson's brigades had been shot up pretty well, Pender had been mortally wounded, and that doesn't even talk about Ewell's men over on Cemetery and Culp's Hills. At best, the second was a wash in that the Confederates drove the Union troops from their advanced positions but at tremendous loss.

Lee didn't want to hit the center of the line on the second; he wanted to roll it up from the flank. The problem was that he didn't really know where the flank was and Sickles put a crimp in the plan.

R
Both sides had taken heavy losses. Day One was a clear-cut Federal confederate victory in which two Federal corps were wrecked. Day Two was more or less a draw, with a third Federal corps and parts of two others wrecked, but at a high price for the ANV. I don't know that Sickles put any crimps in any plans other than Meade's. He placed himself in an awful, exposed position that forced Meade and Hancock to send troops to support him who otherwise would have met the confederates in a strong, integrated formation. Sickles, in my opinion, actually helped Lee out by forcing Hancock to move II Corps troops to the support of III Corps, weakening the II Corps position much more than it would have been had Sickles stayed in place. This led to further weakening Cemetery Hill, leaving it just about ripe for the plucking had Posey and Mahone made their attack as planned, or had Rodes attacked the hill.
 
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FZ11

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Let's also remember that Lee's report was written by Charles C. Marshall, who despised Stuart and later admitted that Lee made him tone down the original version of his report.
Very interesting detail. I did not know that. Thanks.
 
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Marylander

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I believe the root source was only Trimble.

I'll be looking for other similar comments.

I think you're criticizing him for writing in a 19th Century style that emphasized passive voice instead of a 21st Century style that emphasizes active voice.

No. I'm quite familiar with that style of writing having read original CW materials for many years. I also know a deliberate attempt to mislead when I see it. Lee said: The result of this day's (Day 2) operations induced the belief that with proper concert of action, and with the increased support that the positions gained on the right would enable the artillery to render the assaulting columns, we should ultimately succeed, and it was accordingly determined to continue the attack." This was written long after the battle. Lee well knew that he had not examined "the positions gained on the right" when he determined on the night of Day 2 to continue the attack on Day 3. Period. And it was also a sham of the truth to so report about the positions on the right because in the meantime, Lee changed the point of attack to the Union Center - thus the references to "the positions gained on the right" were long since academic issues and did not pertain to Lee's actual attack order on Day 3.


In other words, it shielded two of his top subordinates from criticism.

Not! Lee did not want his report to reflect that Longstreet and/or Ewell did not support the Day 3 attack. He was not trying to protect them. He was trying to drag them down with him. So Lee made it look like they all agreed to continue the attack. You claim is a long, long reach.


Did Lee meet with his subordinates on the evenings of the Seven Days? I don't recall reading that. In cases where the ANV was in a compacted position, it's very easy to meet with all subordinates at once. At Gettysburg, the ANV was stretched over an approximately 5-mile-long front.

Lee met with Jackson at Chancellorsville, Longstreet and Jackson at Antietam. Given the complex attack orders at 7 Days, its almost absurd to think that Lee didn't meet wit at least some of his key subordinates prior to launching morning attacks for days at a time. Besides, Lee was with his subordinates a good deal of the time immediately prior to and during battles, so it makes little sense to claim that Lee usually acted without any input from his key subordinates - as he did at Gettsburg on the evening of Day 2.


Are any of those actually realistic? He has three corps. Which of those corps will he reposition, and reposition to where? When does he move them? What roads does he use to get around Meade? Stuart arrives on 2 July and has to rest the remainder of the day. How is he able to reconnoiter a path around Meade? How does he get his trains around Meade without them being attacked? How does he avoid being attacked on the march while trying to get around Meade? Once in a defensive position, how long can he wait without foraging? What does he do if Meade attacks while he is also attacked by troops from Washington in his rear and troops from Baltimore on his flank?

Indeed. At least Porter Alexander thought so. He wrote that it was a strategic folly for Lee to attack the center when he though it was elementary that he should have attacked the salient at Ziegler's Grove that could have been charged from 2 sides by Ewell and Hill with far less Union artillery available to enfilade the columns in the bend of the Union fishhook. He didn't even have to reposition his corps to do that. But he could have removed Ewell from Gettysburg as he had given it serious consideration and discussed with Ewell and Early. He could have moved them to bolster his right and at least threaten a movement around Meade's left. We know Meade feared that. And BTW, if Lee was able to remove his entire army and trains the day after getting pummeled on Day 3, I think its absurd to claim Lee could not have moved ewell's corps from the left, which Lee knew was a troubling position.


Once again, you appear to be criticizing him for writing in the passive voice that predominated in the 19th Century instead of the active voice favored in the 21st Century.

Again, no. Lee was attempting to show that his subordinates participated in his personal, unilateral decision.

You criticized the wording he used to describe the decisions he made on the night of July 2, so IMO the criticism is unreasonable.

That's wrong. I wrote: I said that by 1pm on Day 3, Lee knew that no proper concert of action would be possible from Ewell's corps regarding simultaneous attacks on Culp's/Cemetery Hills because he knew his troops had been driven off and that the heavy, early morning gunfire had not succeeded in improving Ewell's corps positions in that sector. And that was well before 1pm when Lee still had the opportunity to halt Pickett's Charge, whose artillery barrage began at just about 1:07 PM as we know. Thus, my comments are reasonable criticism of Lee. I am in fact criticizing Lee for his obdurate insistence on another frontal assault knowing full well by 1pm on Day 3 that "concert of action" was impossible. I don't see the difficulty you have in understanding that.



They would be Hill's concern, not Lee's concern. It is up to Hill to make dispositions to remedy any deficiencies, and if unable to do so, to bring it to Lee's attention.

Well, Hill may not have been a potted plant at Gettysburg, but I think turnip is more fitting. In any event, that Lee just went ahead and selected numerous of Hill's units without any discussion and knowing that numerous high ranking officers were unavailable was a huge error and add to my image of Lee as an entirely desperate and out of control man by the evening of Day 2. On Day 3, IMO, Lee acted out of complete obstinacy bordering on arrogance. I think his behavior was unconscionable.


That's what military organizations do. They expect casualties, and they expect to have to replace key personnel. They can't go home simply because they lose some colonels.
Again, that's what military organizations do. Military officers anywhere and everywhere are expected to be able to perform their assigned roles, whether they have done so before or not.


Sure, just get out the cookie cutter and cut out all the new generals and colonels you want. Put them in the oven and 3 hours later you made replacements. That's what military organizations do.


So you criticize him based on what you imagine he might have not been doing? Pure speculation.

I criticize Lee based upon his terrible performance at Gettysburg and his disgraceful attempt to deny defeat and pass the blame on others. That is not speculation.


1. Hill was not a potted plant. If he believed anything was untoward, it was his responsibility to bring it up. He apparently had no problem.
2. Lee didn't talk himself into a box. He had a good campaign concept. He came within a whisker of winning on July 2. If one or two key Union units are as much as 15 minutes later getting on the field, he wins. If Posey and Mahone attack as expected, he wins. If Rodes does more than look at Cemetery Hill and turn around, he wins.

Hill may have been a turnip but he was Lee's turnip. Lee appointed him over some very good people and took on this huge invasion of Gettysburg with him and 1 other new corps commander. This was IMO, another huge risk in that Lee now had to deal with 3 instead of 2 corps commanders taxing his already questionable system of issuing orders - in this case, to 2 men who he hadn't had to rely for leadership at that corps level - and in such a crucial campaign so far from base in Pennsylvania and without Jackson. And it came back right away to bite Lee on his rump at the crucial moment at Gettysburg. Those are yet additional legitimate criticisms of Lee.

Lee did indeed talk himself into a box. He absolutely insisted he could not spare troops to save Vicksburg and said that because of the heat, Grant would have to break the siege. He also egotistically insisted that he could go to PA and win a decisive victory forcing Grant to send troops east to protect Washington. So Lee went to PA and could not walk the walk. He panicked and desperately kept trying to force Meade into a mistake. His "game plan" sucked. He put himself at too many logistical/geographic disadvantages - of which Stuart's was a big one. He underestimated the value of spies that he had in Virginia telling him the position of the enemy. In PA he was blind because everything didn't go right with his recon - even as he neglected to use the cavalry that he had available.


Again, what specific option does he have? What kind of different attack does he make? He had planned to make the same type of attack that had almost worked the day before, but Pickett wasn't available in the morning, so he had to come up with a new plan of attack that day. What does he do now that there is no time to make an attack on the flank?

What he does is not make yet another costly frontal assault. And Pickett wasn't available in the morning on Day 3 because Lee did not tell him when to arrive as he said he would on Day 2 in front of Longstreet. That was also on Lee.

"Concert of action" was the term he used to describe his decision making the night before, not that day. Again, unreasonable criticism, IMO.

Nope. Lee knew he needed to have concert of action to expect to pierce the Union position on Day 3. By 1PM on Day 3 when he could still call off Pickett's Charge knowing that no "concert of action" was possible, he failed to call off the suicidal attack. And of course, Alexander pointed out that Lee chose the wrong position to attack. Alexander also summed things up by my way of thinking by saying that Lee "bolluxed up the fight" at Gettysburg


Circumstances at Gettysburg, Michael Shaara and Ron Maxwell notwithstanding, were different from the circumstances at Fredericksburg.

Sending all those men across the valley on Day 3 was tantamount to Burnside's foolishness at Fredericksburg. Lee deserves similar if not the same odium attached to his name. And as Sears points out, Lee "was not prepared to admit any battlefield misjudgments of his own: But with the knowledge I had then, & in the circumstances I was then placed, I do not know what better course I could have pursued." That says it all! And note the misleading language again: "and in the circumstances I was then placed..." Nonsense. Lee placed himself in the position.

And your evidence for this conclusion is what?

I said: On Day 3, Lee was simply desperate to stop the tide of Pickett/Pettigrew survivors from heading directly back to Cashtown and beyond, so I'm sure he would say anything to stop the shocked men. "Its all my fault" was simply his desperate way of trying to implore them to stop running and form a defensive line in expectation of a counterattack by Meade. It was by no means any concrete acceptance or admission of blame. My evidence of that is that Lee not only did not accept the blame, he failed dishonorably to man up and even admit defeat. That is my evidence. And its pretty dern strong.


Why should he have worded his message any other way? He said they had heavy losses. He said they failed to drive the Federals from their position. He said they failed to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. He said they had to go back across the Potomac. Frankly, I don't see much wrong with that letter.

Because he was soundly defeated and was too egotistical to admit it in writing. He made pathetic excuses as above: But with the knowledge I had then, & in the circumstances I was then placed, I do not know what better course I could have pursued." Poor me. What else could I do? I can't see. I was misled. Longstreet was late. The cavalry was absent. My men weren't as courageous as I thought. Oh, and how about this utterly ignominious dishonorable 7/29/1863 statement to Davis: Our people are so little liable to control that it is difficult to get them to follow any course not in accordance with their inclinations". I guess those confederate troops just couldn't be trusted by dear old General Lee to reach that copse of trees, as he complained to his excellency Mr. Davis. That, cash, is not speculation about Robert E. Lee. Sadly, it is fact.
 

johan_steele

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I think Stuart gets a lot of unfair criticism for Gettysburg; all too often there is who is to blame questions. Well Pickett said it best when he said he though the yankees might have had something to do about it.

Stuart did his job, his ride was intended to gather info about the enemy, confuse that enemy and disrupt the enemy. When he arrived at Gettysburg he brought along a lot of captured supplies, information and veteran Cav to contribute to the fight. IMO Stuart deserves none of the blame for Lee's loss at Gettysburg.
 
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ole

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I think Stuart gets a lot of unfair criticism for Gettysburg; all too often there is who is to blame questions. Well Pickett said it best when he said he though the yankees might have had something to do about it.

Stuart did his job, his ride was intended to gather info about the enemy, confuse that enemy and disrupt the enemy. When he arrived at Gettysburg he brought along a lot of captured supplies, information and veteran Cav to contribute to the fight. IMO Stuart deserves none of the blame for Lee's loss at Gettysburg.
When Stuart arrived at G'Burg, his horses were tuckered out. Not a good basis for one of the best Cavalrys ever fielded.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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When Stuart arrived at G'Burg, his horses were tuckered out. Not a good basis for one of the best Cavalrys ever fielded.
And W. W. Blackford, Stuart's engineering officer, made it quite clear that the only reason why Stuart's horses were in any kind of condition to get them through the fight on East Cavalry Field and during the retreat was because of the high-grade fodder contained in the captured wagon train taken in Rockville. If that's true--and there is no reason at all to believe that it's not true--then imagine what sort of state they would have been in without that wagon train full of fodder....
 

ole

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Forgot about the plus side of taking those wagons which slowed him down considerably on the ride.

Stuart gets flak about burdening himself with those wagons. And we tend to forget that Lee's orders included foraging and that, without those wagons, he might well have not gotten to G'Burg.
 
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Eric Wittenberg

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Forgot about the plus side of taking those wagons which slowed him down considerably on the ride.

Stuart gets flak about burdening himself with those wagons. And we tend to forget that Lee's orders included foraging and that, without those wagons, he might well have not gotten to G'Burg.
Precisely.

And then those 150 wagons were used as ambulances during the retreat from Gettysburg. Let's remember that, too.....
 
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I think you're criticizing him for writing in a 19th Century style that emphasized passive voice instead of a 21st Century style that emphasizes active voice.
No. I'm quite familiar with that style of writing having read original CW materials for many years. I also know a deliberate attempt to mislead when I see it.
From George Meade's report:

"June 28 was spent in ascertaining the position and strength of the different corps of the army, but principally in bringing up the cavalry, which had been covering the rear of the army in its passage over the Potomac, and to which a large increase had just been made from the forces previously attached to the Defenses of Washington. Orders were given on that day to Major-General French, commanding at Harper's Ferry, to move with 7,000 men of his command to occupy Frederick and the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and, with the balance of his force, estimated at 4,000, to remove and escort the public property to Washington.

"On the 29th, the army was put in motion, and on the evening of that day was in position, the left at Emmitsburg and the right at New Windsor. Buford's division of cavalry was on the left flank, with the advance at Gettysburg. Kilpatrick's division was in the front at Hanover, where he encountered this day General Stuart's Confederate cavalry, which had crossed the Potomac at Seneca Creek, and, passing our right flank, was making its way toward Carlisle, having escaped Gregg's division, delayed in taking position on the right flank by the occupation of the roads by columns of infantry.
On the 30th, the right flank of the army was moved up to Manchester, the left still being at Emmitsburg, in the vicinity of which place three corps (the First, Eleventh, and Third) were collected, under the orders of Major-General Reynolds. General Buford having reported from Gettysburg the appearance of the enemy on the Cash-town road in some force, General Reynolds was directed to occupy Gettysburg."

Are you going to claim Meade didn't want people to think he had given those orders?



Lee said: The result of this day's (Day 2) operations induced the belief that with proper concert of action, and with the increased support that the positions gained on the right would enable the artillery to render the assaulting columns, we should ultimately succeed, and it was accordingly determined to continue the attack." This was written long after the battle. Lee well knew that he had not examined "the positions gained on the right" when he determined on the night of Day 2 to continue the attack on Day 3. Period. And it was also a sham of the truth to so report about the positions on the right because in the meantime, Lee changed the point of attack to the Union Center - thus the references to "the positions gained on the right" were long since academic issues and did not pertain to Lee's actual attack order on Day 3.
Nothing wrong with that. On the night of July 2 he decided to attack again because having gained the Peach Orchard he now had an artillery platform close to the Federal line.

Sorry, but you just don't understand what he's saying. The positions gained on the right were the Peach Orchard and Devil's Den. He wanted to attack in the same manner on July 3 as he attacked on July 2, so those positions would be very valuable to him. His talking about his decisions on the night of July 2 has nothing to do with the new attack plan to which he changed during the day on July 3. You're trying to conflate two days into his explanation of what happened in one evening.

In other words, it shielded two of his top subordinates from criticism.
Not! Lee did not want his report to reflect that Longstreet and/or Ewell did not support the Day 3 attack. He was not trying to protect them. He was trying to drag them down with him. So Lee made it look like they all agreed to continue the attack. You claim is a long, long reach.
Actually, your claim is the long reach. There is no other way to describe your interpretation than utter BS.

Longstreet's actions could make him liable to criticism and possible court-martial for acting so slowly. Lee was protecting him.
Did Lee meet with his subordinates on the evenings of the Seven Days? I don't recall reading that. In cases where the ANV was in a compacted position, it's very easy to meet with all subordinates at once. At Gettysburg, the ANV was stretched over an approximately 5-mile-long front.
Lee met with Jackson at Chancellorsville, Longstreet and Jackson at Antietam.
But not during the Seven Days?

Lee met with Jackson because they were trying to find a way to get to the Federal flank. Lee was there with Jackson. At Antietam, the confederate position was compact. Longstreet, Lee, and Jackson were in the same place. That's unlike Gettysburg.


Given the complex attack orders at 7 Days, its almost absurd to think that Lee didn't meet wit at least some of his key subordinates prior to launching morning attacks for days at a time.
Evidence would be nice. I'm not saying he didn't, just that I don't recall reading that he did.

Besides, Lee was with his subordinates a good deal of the time immediately prior to and during battles, so it makes little sense to claim that Lee usually acted without any input from his key subordinates - as he did at Gettsburg on the evening of Day 2.
According to Douglas Southall Freeman, "Longstreet did not ride to Lee's headquarters to report, contrary to his custom, but, still sulking, contented himself with sending a verbal account of what had happened on his front. Lee replied with orders for Longstreet to attack the next morning." [D. S. Freeman, R. E. Lee, Vol 3, pp. 105-106] During the evening of the 2nd, Ewell sent a report to Lee. "Ewell quickly relayed his alternatives to Lee, who soon sent his response. Ewell was to advance on Culp's Hill come dawn." Samuel J. Martin, The Road to Glory: Confederate General Richard S. Ewell, p. 238] According to James I. Robertson, "By midevening, breezes had blown away the gunsmoke, and the stars shown brightly. Hill rode again to Lee's headquarters, where he shook hands with a number of Stuart's officers, now on the scene. Lee was busy in his tent, but Hill's voice carried to him. With an affection that was unusually warm--almost fatherly--Lee came out, made his way through a group of officers, grasped Hill by the hand, and said: 'It is all well, General. Everything is well.' " [James I. Robertson, Jr., General A. P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior, pp. 219-220] According to eyewitness Jacob Hoke, Lee took Hill aside and "spoke to him privately for nearly a quarter of an hour." [Jacob Hoke, The Great Invasion, p. 355]

Lee, then, had input from Ewell on his alternatives. He had a sulking James Longstreet who supplied a written report. And he had A. P. Hill, whom he saw personally that evening. It does seem he had input from his subordinates. The difference is he didn't have face-to-face with all three of them simultaneously.
Are any of those actually realistic? He has three corps. Which of those corps will he reposition, and reposition to where? When does he move them? What roads does he use to get around Meade? Stuart arrives on 2 July and has to rest the remainder of the day. How is he able to reconnoiter a path around Meade? How does he get his trains around Meade without them being attacked? How does he avoid being attacked on the march while trying to get around Meade? Once in a defensive position, how long can he wait without foraging? What does he do if Meade attacks while he is also attacked by troops from Washington in his rear and troops from Baltimore on his flank?
Indeed. At least Porter Alexander thought so. He wrote that it was a strategic folly for Lee to attack the center when he though it was elementary that he should have attacked the salient at Ziegler's Grove that could have been charged from 2 sides by Ewell and Hill with far less Union artillery available to enfilade the columns in the bend of the Union fishhook. He didn't even have to reposition his corps to do that.
That's one person's opinion, someone who himself would admit was not as talented as Lee, and was writing over 40 years after the fact.

But he could have removed Ewell from Gettysburg as he had given it serious consideration and discussed with Ewell and Early. He could have moved them to bolster his right and at least threaten a movement around Meade's left. We know Meade feared that. And BTW, if Lee was able to remove his entire army and trains the day after getting pummeled on Day 3, I think its absurd to claim Lee could not have moved ewell's corps from the left, which Lee knew was a troubling position.
Says who? The key terrain of the battlefield is Cemetery Hill, and Culp's Hill was probably #2. And you want Lee to move Ewell away?

Again, what roads does Lee move his entire army on? How does he not get attacked while on the move? How does he reconnoiter the route? Is the route to take supposed to just light up in his path? How does he move his trains without them being attacked? It's real easy to say just move around the left when sitting at a computer 150 years removed. It's quite another thing to have to do it and to wrestle with the actual logistics. Where is the road network that goes around Meade's left?

Meade, in a postwar letter, said he feared that move, but there is question as to whether or not that was a fact or whether he was simply saying that to be kind to Longstreet. The point remains that in order to make that move, there had to be reconnaissance and a road network, as well as protection of the trains and security of the column.
Once again, you appear to be criticizing him for writing in the passive voice that predominated in the 19th Century instead of the active voice favored in the 21st Century.
Again, no. Lee was attempting to show that his subordinates participated in his personal, unilateral decision.
Apparently you need to read more 19th Century military reports. Passive voice was very common. It's still not uncommon to this day. I had to correct the wording of a number of reports from subordinates.



You criticized the wording he used to describe the decisions he made on the night of July 2, so IMO the criticism is unreasonable.
That's wrong.
No, it's right.

I wrote: I said that by 1pm on Day 3, Lee knew that no proper concert of action would be possible from Ewell's corps regarding simultaneous attacks on Culp's/Cemetery Hills because he knew his troops had been driven off and that the heavy, early morning gunfire had not succeeded in improving Ewell's corps positions in that sector. And that was well before 1pm when Lee still had the opportunity to halt Pickett's Charge, whose artillery barrage began at just about 1:07 PM as we know. Thus, my comments are reasonable criticism of Lee. I am in fact criticizing Lee for his obdurate insistence on another frontal assault knowing full well by 1pm on Day 3 that "concert of action" was impossible. I don't see the difficulty you have in understanding that.
You continue to misunderstand what Lee wrote. The concert of action was a factor in his deciding, the night of July 2, to renew attacks on July 3. It has nothing to do with what actually happened on July 3. This is very easy and only requires a simple reading of what he clearly wrote.

They would be Hill's concern, not Lee's concern. It is up to Hill to make dispositions to remedy any deficiencies, and if unable to do so, to bring it to Lee's attention.
Well, Hill may not have been a potted plant at Gettysburg, but I think turnip is more fitting. In any event, that Lee just went ahead and selected numerous of Hill's units without any discussion and knowing that numerous high ranking officers were unavailable was a huge error and add to my image of Lee as an entirely desperate and out of control man by the evening of Day 2. On Day 3, IMO, Lee acted out of complete obstinacy bordering on arrogance. I think his behavior was unconscionable.
See the above. There is strong evidence Lee consulted with Hill the night before. If you want to claim Lee didn't consult with Hill, then you'll have to provide evidence to the contrary, such as perhaps Hill claiming he was not consulted.

He doesn't make such a claim in his official report.
http://www.civilwarhome.com/aphillgettysburg.htm
That's what military organizations do. They expect casualties, and they expect to have to replace key personnel. They can't go home simply because they lose some colonels.
Again, that's what military organizations do. Military officers anywhere and everywhere are expected to be able to perform their assigned roles, whether they have done so before or not.

Sure, just get out the cookie cutter and cut out all the new generals and colonels you want. Put them in the oven and 3 hours later you made replacements. That's what military organizations do.
You apparently have never been in a military organization.
So you criticize him based on what you imagine he might have not been doing? Pure speculation.
I criticize Lee based upon his terrible performance at Gettysburg and his disgraceful attempt to deny defeat and pass the blame on others. That is not speculation.
So then where is your evidence to back up this claim: "We don't know what, if anything, AP Hill said to Lee about his concerns, but I doubt Lee was listening."

Please let us know your source for A. P. Hill speaking to Lee and Lee not listening to him. Otherwise, it is, as I said, pure speculation.


1. Hill was not a potted plant. If he believed anything was untoward, it was his responsibility to bring it up. He apparently had no problem.
2. Lee didn't talk himself into a box. He had a good campaign concept. He came within a whisker of winning on July 2. If one or two key Union units are as much as 15 minutes later getting on the field, he wins. If Posey and Mahone attack as expected, he wins. If Rodes does more than look at Cemetery Hill and turn around, he wins.

Hill may have been a turnip but he was Lee's turnip. Lee appointed him over some very good people and took on this huge invasion of Gettysburg with him and 1 other new corps commander.
So who should have been made a corps commander instead of Hill? Whose record, after Chancellorsville, showed better promise than Hill's?


This was IMO, another huge risk in that Lee now had to deal with 3 instead of 2 corps commanders taxing his already questionable system of issuing orders - in this case, to 2 men who he hadn't had to rely for leadership at that corps level - and in such a crucial campaign so far from base in Pennsylvania and without Jackson. And it came back right away to bite Lee on his rump at the crucial moment at Gettysburg. Those are yet additional legitimate criticisms of Lee.
In what way did it "bite Lee on his rump?" Is it your claim that one shouldn't fight a battle with officers who have been promoted to new positions? In that case, once officers have been promoted, Lee should have just disbanded his army and not fought another battle, otherwise those inexperienced officers might cause him to lose the battle through their inexperience.

Lee did indeed talk himself into a box. He absolutely insisted he could not spare troops to save Vicksburg and said that because of the heat, Grant would have to break the siege. He also egotistically insisted that he could go to PA and win a decisive victory forcing Grant to send troops east to protect Washington. So Lee went to PA and could not walk the walk. He panicked and desperately kept trying to force Meade into a mistake. His "game plan" sucked. He put himself at too many logistical/geographic disadvantages - of which Stuart's was a big one. He underestimated the value of spies that he had in Virginia telling him the position of the enemy. In PA he was blind because everything didn't go right with his recon - even as he neglected to use the cavalry that he had available.
Sending troops to the west would be a mistake. Lee was right about that. Lee had these objectives in the Gettysburg Campaign:
  1. Draw the Army of the Potomac away from its Fredericksburg position to a place where it can be successfully attacked.
  2. Relieve the lower Shenandoah Valley from Milroy’s troops.
  3. Bring the war into the loyal states north of the Potomac.
  4. Force the AoP to leave Virginia.
  5. Possibly draw troops to support the AoP from other theaters.
  6. Disrupt Federal plans for offensives.
  7. “Other valuable results” which “might be attained by military success.”
He accomplished most of those objectives, and he came extremely close to winning the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2. To claim he had talked himself into a box is to fundamentally misunderstand the entire situation.

Again, what specific option does he have? What kind of different attack does he make? He had planned to make the same type of attack that had almost worked the day before, but Pickett wasn't available in the morning, so he had to come up with a new plan of attack that day. What does he do now that there is no time to make an attack on the flank?
What he does is not make yet another costly frontal assault.
So you have no real alternative for him. You're just making a complaint without knowing what to do in place of what he did. Until you have a realistic alternative for him, you're just wasting bandwidth. Give us a specific option.

And Pickett wasn't available in the morning on Day 3 because Lee did not tell him when to arrive as he said he would on Day 2 in front of Longstreet. That was also on Lee.
Lee did tell Pickett he would send for him, but once Lee gave orders to Longstreet to attack, it was up to Longstreet to ensure he had his force together for the attack. It was up to Longstreet to have Pickett in position.

"Concert of action" was the term he used to describe his decision making the night before, not that day. Again, unreasonable criticism, IMO.
Nope. Lee knew he needed to have concert of action to expect to pierce the Union position on Day 3. By 1PM on Day 3 when he could still call off Pickett's Charge knowing that no "concert of action" was possible, he failed to call off the suicidal attack. And of course, Alexander pointed out that Lee chose the wrong position to attack. Alexander also summed things up by my way of thinking by saying that Lee "bolluxed up the fight" at Gettysburg
Well, that idiot Jefferson Davis made a huge mistake putting Lee in command when Alexander was just so much smarter.

Alexander has his opinion. His opinion may or may not be right, but it's only one man's opinion and isn't written on stone tablets. The plain language of Lee's report shows that concert of action was one of the factors he used to determine, on the night of July 2, to attack on July 3. It had nothing to do with what happened on July 3.

Circumstances at Gettysburg, Michael Shaara and Ron Maxwell notwithstanding, were different from the circumstances at Fredericksburg.
Sending all those men across the valley on Day 3 was tantamount to Burnside's foolishness at Fredericksburg.
With the exception that it was completely different.


Lee deserves similar if not the same odium attached to his name. And as Sears points out, Lee "was not prepared to admit any battlefield misjudgments of his own: But with the knowledge I had then, & in the circumstances I was then placed, I do not know what better course I could have pursued." That says it all! And note the misleading language again: "and in the circumstances I was then placed..." Nonsense. Lee placed himself in the position.
Ah, Sears. Now I see why you're so misguided on this.

Have you ever stood where Pickett's Division formed for the attack? Have you ever followed their route from the Spangler Farm? While not a brilliant plan, Lee's attack plan was a reasonable plan.

And your evidence for this conclusion is what?
I said: On Day 3, Lee was simply desperate to stop the tide of Pickett/Pettigrew survivors from heading directly back to Cashtown and beyond, so I'm sure he would say anything to stop the shocked men. "Its all my fault" was simply his desperate way of trying to implore them to stop running and form a defensive line in expectation of a counterattack by Meade. It was by no means any concrete acceptance or admission of blame. My evidence of that is that Lee not only did not accept the blame, he failed dishonorably to man up and even admit defeat. That is my evidence. And its pretty dern strong.
No evidence at all. It's mere speculation. Hard as it might be to believe, your beliefs and speculation are not evidence.
Why should he have worded his message any other way? He said they had heavy losses. He said they failed to drive the Federals from their position. He said they failed to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. He said they had to go back across the Potomac. Frankly, I don't see much wrong with that letter.
Because he was soundly defeated and was too egotistical to admit it in writing. He made pathetic excuses as above: But with the knowledge I had then, & in the circumstances I was then placed, I do not know what better course I could have pursued." Poor me. What else could I do? I can't see. I was misled. Longstreet was late. The cavalry was absent. My men weren't as courageous as I thought. Oh, and how about this utterly ignominious dishonorable 7/29/1863 statement to Davis: Our people are so little liable to control that it is difficult to get them to follow any course not in accordance with their inclinations". I guess those confederate troops just couldn't be trusted by dear old General Lee to reach that copse of trees, as he complained to his excellency Mr. Davis. That, cash, is not speculation about Robert E. Lee. Sadly, it is fact.
Sadly, it's your misreading of plain language combined with your own personal beliefs. No evidence there.
 

OpnCoronet

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It is at least certain that Lee's defeat was Not the responsibility of Stuart's. In fact, even if Stuart had been on station as Lee preferred, that fact alone would say nothing about Lee's ability to command his corps commanders in the battle itself.
 

Rebforever

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It is at least certain that Lee's defeat was Not the responsibility of Stuart's. In fact, even if Stuart had been on station as Lee preferred, that fact alone would say nothing about Lee's ability to command his corps commanders in the battle itself.
Opinion. No evidence.
 
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