Longstreet's Missed Opportunity at Chickamauga? Dave Powell weighs in on 900-yard gap in the Federal line between Snodgrass Hill and Kelly Field

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lelliott19

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Dave Powell has been doing a regular feature called "Fridays with Dave Powell." The series originated on a Chickamauga group page on Facebook. I had missed the series until I ran across this one, from May 10, 2019, re-posted on Dave's blog. It details the activities of four of my favorites - George H Thomas & Charles G Harker on the Union side vs. James Longstreet & Joseph B Kershaw on the Confederate side.

#12 FRIDAYS WITH DAVE POWELL—May 10, 2019
A conversation with Chickamauga’s leading author.

QUESTION: Dave, after Longstreet’s Breakthrough and Thomas’s gathering of troops on Horseshoe Ridge, there was a 900-yard gap in the Federal line between Snodgrass Hill and the Kelly Field that was never closed. Was this a missed opportunity for the Confederates? Could they have exploited this gap? Why did they miss it? In addition, did Longstreet also miss an opportunity on the Confederate left flank?

ANSWER: The Confederate breakthrough left the Federals grouped in two distinct lines – the half-moon or semi-circle around Kelly Field, and a long line that ran from the open end of Snodgrass Field across Hills One, Two, and Three, then due west along the spine of a narrow ridge for several hundred more yards. The Kelly Field Line largely faced east, in an arc; the Horseshoe Ridge Line largely faced south. Between them lay 900 yards of open timber, undefended. That gap was never filled. It offered a way to further split the Union lines, turn the flanks of both positions, and complete the destruction of the Army of the Cumberland. So why didn’t this happen?

Read the rest here https://chickamaugablog.wordpress.com/
Map Source: https://chch.oncell.com/en/stop-4-84513.html
@bdtex @uaskme @Buckeye Bill @major bill @ucvrelics James N. @Booner @archieclement @KLSDAD @Frums @22ndGa @Drew @rebel brit @Seduzal you guys will want to read this!
 

bdtex

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I read that and it is a good read. It doesn't really explain Kelly Field to me. I have been to Chickamauga twice and have yet to go to Kelly Field or Brock Field. I meant to try to ask Norman a question or 2 about Kelly Field back in October but I forgot to bring my maps that day.

ETA: The "poor battlefield reconnaissance" comment kinda explains it.
 
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uaskme

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Kershaw don’t have a horse. Hood is wounded in N Dyer field. A big What if, had Hood not been wounded. Kershaw don’t have the mobility to direct Humphreys.

I thought about doing this part of it. Had to stop somewhere. When we were in the North Dyer Field, we did Kershaw and Humphreys. The area Powell is talking about, is this narrow stretch of woods to the east and North of Dyer Field. Kelly Field is divided by Lafayette Road. When we did Horseshoe Ridge. Humphreys was at the bottom of the Ridge, right below where we parked, and extended to the East. That is where the gap was. Thomas knew the GAP was there. When Grainger come up, Thomas wants to deploy Grainger to the East, in this Gap. Thomas gets request for support to the West, so that is where Grainger goes. Humphreys stops at the bottom of the Ridge and stays there. All the attacks on Horseshoe Ridge are to the West. If Humphreys had of moved forward, could of been a career move. Instead he sends someone to Longstreet for confirmation. Longstreet tells him to hold his position.
 

lelliott19

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Kershaw don’t have a horse. ....Kershaw don’t have the mobility to direct Humphreys.... If Humphreys had of moved forward, could of been a career move. Instead he sends someone to Longstreet for confirmation. Longstreet tells him to hold his position.
Dave's assessment of Kershaw is completely accurate. But knowing a bit about how he performed in command of the Division later on in the war, I kinda get the feeling that if Humphreys had been in communication with Kershaw, or vice versa, ol' Joe would have told him to make the career move. :wink:
 

uaskme

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Dave's assessment of Kershaw is completely accurate. But knowing a bit about how he performed in command of the Division later on in the war, I kinda get the feeling that if Humphreys had been in communication with Kershaw, or vice versa, ol' Joe would have told him to make the career move. :wink:
I suspect Hood would if he hadn’t been wounded. Hood lines them up (Kershaw and Humphreys) in North Dyer Field and points them North. Kershaw and Bushrod Johnson stand over Hood (he is wounded), and argue who has seniority. So, Hoods wounding causes a command vacuum. And we all know James N, will blame all this on Longstreet and his Lunch Break.
 
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lelliott19

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The Role of James Longstreet in the Chickamauga Campaign
June 1, 2019

Panelists Dave Powell, Col. Matt Spruill, and Robert Carter discuss the role of James Longstreet in the Chickamauga Campaign. This panel discussion will take place at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Visitor Center, 11:00 am to noon on Saturday, June 1st, 2019. The discussion will be moderated by Chickamauga NPS Ranger, Christopher Young. Book signing by the authors before and after the discussion.
SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2019 (11 am to noon)
FREE; reservations not required.
https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?id=6AF14DC8-C601-8FBD-2FBD1962343E981E
 
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