I believe the root source was only Trimble.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 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.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.
In other words, it shielded two of his top subordinates from criticism.It gives no hint that Lee knew fully well that at least Lngstreet 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.
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.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.
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'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?
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.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.
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: 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.
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.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.
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.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.
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.Many of those officers were being promoted to lead a desperate attack in which they hadn't ever held that degree of responsibility.
So you criticize him based on what you imagine he might have not been doing? Pure speculation.We don't know what, if anything, AP Hill said to Lee about his concerns, but I doubt Lee was listening.
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.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.
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.
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?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.
"Concert of action" was the term he used to describe his decisionmaking the night before, not that day. Again, unreasonable criticism, IMO.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.
Circumstances at Gettysburg, Michael Shaara and Ron Maxwell notwithstanding, were different from the circumstances at Fredericksburg.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.
And your evidence for this conclusion is what?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.
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.As you know, Lee later on didn't even admit defeat in his 7/31 letter to Davis.
More speculation, not evidence.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.