Most and least effective generals at Gettysburg

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K Hale

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K Hale

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Maj. General J.E.B. Stuart - failure to keep in communication with Lee's Army
He sent couriers to Lee with information that Hooker was moving north.
and lack-luster efforts in checking the Union Cavalry during Pickett's Charge. Most likely due to the exhausted nature of the Cavalry in general.
In what way were the efforts at East Cavalry Field lackluster?
 

Nathanb1

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KHALE, so you think Stuart did a great job? His orders are dated a week before the battle took place. What did he do during that week? I don't have my copy of the killer angels with me today so you'll have to wait till I get home.
There's a pretty complete thread on Stuart's role in the Gettysburg campaign which I highly suggest you read before throwing that one out there.....otherwise.......Incoming!
 
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M E Wolf

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Stand corrected --at least I knew it was a hill...[slaps head]

Oops. Wrong hills. Cemetery and Culps were on Ewell's end of the field, and I disagree. Ewell really couldn't have taken either one - didn't have the forces and/or the back-up. There's a good article in the current Civil War Times.
That is what I get for operating without much sleep. Thank you for correcting my errors and doing it so politely sir.

Civil War Times have good articles but, I am still of the opinion that he should have carried Lee's command out. He could have had Lee send more supports from other Corps and or Brigades. Had Ewell reported the impossibility, Lee would have had the opportunity to assign someone else and or assign more troops. Again - my stubborn opinion :wink:

Respectfully submitted,
M. E. Wolf
 

Rob9641

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That is what I get for operating without much sleep. Thank you for correcting my errors and doing it so politely sir.

Civil War Times have good articles but, I am still of the opinion that he should have carried Lee's command out. He could have had Lee send more supports from other Corps and or Brigades. Had Ewell reported the impossibility, Lee would have had the opportunity to assign someone else and or assign more troops. Again - my stubborn opinion :wink:


Respectfully submitted,
M. E. Wolf
I may be misremembering here, but I thought the only troops Lee would assign were Hill's, and Hill said he couldn't do it. Howard's Union troops had already dug in well by the time Ewell could have attacked Cemetery. As for Culp's, I think Ewell wanted to take it but did not have the support to do it until another brigade arrived, and it arrived too late - the Yankees beat them to it. IMO, if Ewell had tried to take Cemetery or Culp's, he couldn't have done it and there would have been many more Confederate casualties. The bigger question - if he had tried and failed, how would that have affected Lee's decisions over the next two days? Hmmm......
 

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I may be misremembering here, but I thought the only troops Lee would assign were Hill's, and Hill said he couldn't do it. Howard's Union troops had already dug in well by the time Ewell could have attacked Cemetery. As for Culp's, I think Ewell wanted to take it but did not have the support to do it until another brigade arrived, and it arrived too late - the Yankees beat them to it. IMO, if Ewell had tried to take Cemetery or Culp's, he couldn't have done it and there would have been many more Confederate casualties. The bigger question - if he had tried and failed, how would that have affected Lee's decisions over the next two days? Hmmm......
Lee could have sent in Anderson's division, but it would have taken an hour or two.

Johnson's division (from Ewell's corps) was coming up, but even later.

Rodes's division is battered (O'Neal's brigade and Iverson's, especially the latter, being gutted, and Ramseur and Doles have suffered too, though not beyond usefulness.)

Early's division: Gordon has lost almost a third of his brigade (500 or so out of about 1800). That leaves Smith (800 men), Avery (about 1200) and Hays (same as Avery).

Assuming you threw in what brigades would be most immediately posed to do something, that leaves at most 3,200 men.

Vs. about half that many Yankees + anything that's reformed/stayed together.

And by the time you can get through town in and organized fashion and assault, that's not good odds.
 
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IrishBrigade

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I think he followed his orders to the letter. If you think otherwise, show me what part was disobeyed.

Marched north and fought several battles with the Union cavalry, while carrying out the orders he'd been given.

Some good reading: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1932714200/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
June 22 - Stuart is asked where the enemy was and what he was doing, Lee needed to know this as he suspected Hooker was going to cross the Potomac, he was advised as you yourself has quoted, Stuart was ordered by Lee to take position on Ewells right and keep Ewell informed. The second letter send was directional, if Lee had even considered the route Stuart actually took he would have never have given such a discretionairy order.

June 23 - Final order, you must feel the right of Ewell's corp, Stuart eventually gets to within 5 miles of Washington(not on this date mind you) nowhere near Ewells right or left. Lee could have reasonably expected not to hear from him for 2-3 days, Stuart believeing the Union army to be extremely spread out tries to find a way throught them.

June 25th - Stuart heads for Glasscock gap instead of Hopewell gap, adding distance to crossing the Potomac but finds his way blocked by Union infantry(II Corps) so he heads further east, so now instead of keeping his Infantry screened a huge body of AOP infantry is now between him and his army.

June 26th - Marches till late and camps at Wolf run Shoals

June 27th - Splits his force with Fitzhugh Lee , Stuart rides to Fairfax Court house and engages in minor scuffles

June 28th - Stuart gets to within 5 miles of Washington DC whilst chasing wagons, now totally out of effective contact range with the ANV, he has ignored the "Without hinderance" part of Lee's command.

June 29th - Clashes at Wesminster, Lee writes - I cannot think what has become of him(Stuart) I ought to have heard from him by now, he may have met with disaster"

June 30th - All day action against Kilpatrick's division at Hanover, he marches overnight

July 1st - Still trying to locate Ewell he reaches Carlisle after midnight, Stuart then receives a message from Lee to march On Gettysburg where the ANV are engaged.

July 2nd - His exhausted and depleted brigade reach Gettysburg.




There's a pretty complete thread on Stuart's role in the Gettysburg campaign which I highly suggest you read before throwing that one out there.....otherwise.......Incoming!
Thanks for that, I will do so.

In what way were the efforts at East Cavalry Field lackluster?
He lost.
 

Nathanb1

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That is what I get for operating without much sleep. Thank you for correcting my errors and doing it so politely sir.

Civil War Times have good articles but, I am still of the opinion that he should have carried Lee's command out. He could have had Lee send more supports from other Corps and or Brigades. Had Ewell reported the impossibility, Lee would have had the opportunity to assign someone else and or assign more troops. Again - my stubborn opinion :wink:

Respectfully submitted,
M. E. Wolf
I read the article myself, Mr. Wolf, and it seemed to me (I suppose we could actually take it up in a thread) the title should have been "Why Ewell Couldn't ......Well, Because he decided not to." Inelegant, but I think it sums it up--I'm with you on reporting that back to Lee--fine if you don't think you can or should, but let Lee know so he can do something positive instead of dithering. We can also put the shoe on the other foot and say Lee should have been more forceful in letting Ewell know that, but it had worked for him before. Communication, communication, communication.....
 

Elennsar

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I read the article myself, Mr. Wolf, and it seemed to me (I suppose we could actually take it up in a thread) the title should have been "Why Ewell Couldn't ......Well, Because he decided not to." Inelegant, but I think it sums it up--I'm with you on reporting that back to Lee--fine if you don't think you can or should, but let Lee know so he can do something positive instead of dithering. We can also put the shoe on the other foot and say Lee should have been more forceful in letting Ewell know that, but it had worked for him before. Communication, communication, communication.....
I haven't read the article, but in my opinion Ewell was not in a position to do so (rather than simply deciding not to), but otherwise I think that sums it up.

The whole mishandling with 2nd Corps wasted a third of Lee's army. Even if he's exonerated for not attacking, that waste ought to count as gross ineffectiveness on the parts of the generals involved (including Lee, but referring primarily to Ewell and Early).
 
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Nathanb1

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I was reading the article (I'm interested to see what others think) waiting, waiting, waiting.....and the really clear "Bingo!" moment never came....it just sort of faded into a conclusion. I chew out my students pretty severely for letting their essays dribble to an end. I was really looking forward to enlightenment, too--something I could point to in arguments and say, "Aha!" However, it never came.
 

M E Wolf

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This may be interesting:

Southern Historical Society Papers.
Vol. XXXVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1909.
Review Of The Gettysburg Campaign.
(By David Gregg McIntosh )
By One Who Participated Therein.
I have frequently been asked by friends and members of my family to write something of my experiences during the great Civil War.

The pressure of a busy professional life has left me little in the way of leisure to gratify this request, and I have always felt that personal experiences were difficult to recall, and at best interested but few people.

I have not been unmindful, too, of Max Muller's caution that he doubted whether any historian would accept a statement made thirty years after the event, without' independent confirmation. In writing his autobiography, he says, "All that I can vouch for is, that I read my memory as I should read the leaves of an old manuscript, from which many letters, nay whole words and lines have vanished, and when I am often driven to decipher as a palimpsest what the original uncial writing may have been, I am the first to confess there may be flaws in my memory, there may be before my eyes that magic azure which surrounds the distant past, but I compromise that there shall be no invention, no Dichtung, instead of Wahrich, but always as far as in me lies, truth."

An occasional visit to the battlefields of Gettysburg in these latter years has served to revive my interest in the scenes, some of which I witnessed nearly fifty years ago.

I have been led to read again some of the discussions which were so rife after the war as to the causes of General Lee's failure. These again caused me to review the whole campaign in the light of the official reports and correspondence which have since been published, and the result of these investigations in connection with the facts of which I was personally cognizant are embodied in the following pages.

Popular interest in the battle of Gettysburg has suffered no abatement from the lapse of time. In popular imagination the shouts of the contending hosts, and the echoes of musketry and artillery still resound through the valleys and linger upon the opposing heights. While the battle is not accounted as sanguinary as Sharpsburg, and not as picturesque in its setting as Fredericksburg, and while there was no brilliant coup de main like that of Jackson's at Chancellorsville, yet, as marking the turning point in the fortunes of the war, and repelling the tide of Southern invasion, it is by common consent regarded as the most momentous of all the struggles waged between the army of the Potomac and the army of Northern Virginia.

To the military student of the campaign, the tactical movements on either side, the manner in which the troops were brought into action, the nature of the ground, the strength of the several positions, and how each of them bore on the final result, furnish on a large scale rich material for the study of the art of war. Notwithstanding the volumes which have been devoted to the subject, no writer has yet appeared, able to paint the picture in all its fullness, tracing with bold sweep the general outlines, and deftly filling in its multitudinous details.

Historical truth evolves itself slowly. In the diary of the Hon. Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy, now being published, he records that Mr. Lincoln was extremely dejected at Lee's escape after the battle, and much displeased that Meade did not press Lee vigorously. The average Northerner, however, while he failed, as did Mr. Lincoln, to realize how close the Union army had been to defeat, was quite willing when success was assured to forget the panic which swept the country ahead of Lee's invading army when it made its swift march to the Susquehanna, and was too elated over the result to care to go much into the inquiry how it all came about. This feeling to some extent, affected the subsequent investigation before a Committee of Congress upon the conduct of the war. Everyone could afford to be generous when there was so much cause for mutual congratulation.

In the South it was different; the increasing exigencies of the Confederate government and its narrowing resources, left it no time during the remainder of its existence, to institute inquiries into the cause of Lee's failure, and at the conclusion of hostilities, the people were too much engaged in their efforts to repair the waste of war, to think of the past and its mistakes.

Still, with the army of Northern Virginia and among its officers and men, from the day their faces were turned again to the Potomac, the causes of the failure have been a theme of repeated, and sometimes angry, discussion.

When the magnanimity of General Lee prompted him, at the end of the third day, to assume the responsibility for the disaster, it allayed for the time any disposition to fix the responsibility elsewhere, and so long as he lived, his influence was felt in restraining heated discussions, which he discouraged as productive of no good, and the effect of which would be to alienate from each other those who had been comrades in arms.

The subject, however, was of such a nature, its discussion could not be finally suppressed. The Gettysburg failure touched too keenly the pride of the army and the reputation of General Lee, to permit silence on the part of his followers when it was believed by many that the responsibility rested upon other shoulders than his own. As time passed the discussion widened, and it became more and more apparent that General Lee's broad and generous mantle had covered the shortcomings of more than one of his lieutenants. One of the contemporary criticisms was directed against General Stuart, the cavalry leader, who was charged with having not only committed a fatal blunder, but with violating his instructions in detaching himself from the army when the Potomac was crossed, and failing to furnish the Commander-in-Chief with the information which it was essential for him to possess. Stuart's brilliant service afterwards, and his death in battle disarmed any disposition to emphasize whatever error he may have committed; but it remained for some of the general staff afterwards to point out and lay stress upon this feature of the campaign. This view was endorsed by General Longstreet, to whom Stuart was reporting immediately before the passage of the Potomac. Colonel John S. Mosby in his book recently published, entitled, "Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign," and in his letters to the press, has undertaken to refute these charges, and to show that Stuart not only acted within his instructions, but that his detour between Hooker's army and the city of Washington, was justified by the result, and that had he been with Lee on the march he could have rendered no special service, and his presence at Gettysburg would have been practically useless.

The most serious controversy, however, growing out of the campaign has 'been over the conduct of General Longstreet on the second and third days of the battle, and his alleged tardiness and failure to co-operate cordially with the Commander-in-Chief. In his book "From Manassas to Appomattox," and in various publications given to the press, General Longstreet has vigorously defended himself, and adopting the old Roman method has sought to carry the war into Africa, and made counter charges, sometimes with an exhibition of temper which his best friends must regret.

Now, that nearly all the chief actors in the memorable struggle have passed away, certainly those whose feelings were most enlisted in the controversies growing out of it, it is not inopportune to attempt in a dispassionate way a brief historical sketch of the campaign, tracing the movements of the two armies from the time they left the neighborhood of Fredericksburg, Va., noting the objects had in view by the Confederate leaders, and pointing out the causes of General Lee's failure at Gettysburg.

Mr. Davis in his work entitled "The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy," has put himself on record, that the main purpose of the movement across the Potomac, was to free Virginia from the presence of the enemy. "If (he says) beyond the Potomac, some opportunity should be offered so as to enable us to defeat the army on which our foe most relied, the measure of our success would be full; but if the movement only resulted in freeing Virginia from the presence of the hostile army, it was more than could be fairly expected from awaiting the attack which was clearly indicated."

continued
 

Rob9641

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I was reading the article (I'm interested to see what others think) waiting, waiting, waiting.....and the really clear "Bingo!" moment never came....it just sort of faded into a conclusion. I chew out my students pretty severely for letting their essays dribble to an end. I was really looking forward to enlightenment, too--something I could point to in arguments and say, "Aha!" However, it never came.
I think "bingo" moments are a modern convention, in writing and in living. We look for "okay, this PROVES he was right" or "this PROVES he was wrong," and there is often no such "this" in real life. Ewell made a call, on the spot. There is evidence that he made the right one, and there is evidence he made the wrong one. Same with Lee and Pickett's Charge. We are left to draw conclusions from the evidence (yeah, I am a retired lawyer, can you tell?) but we can't PROVE anything - just make our own calls, after the fact. I understand why Ewell did what he did, and the conclusion I reach is that he did the right thing. I understand why Lee did what he did, and the conclusion I reach is that he did the wrong thing.
 
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M E Wolf

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[excerpt]
So far then as General Meade was concerned, the battle of Gettysburg was a pure accident.


Let us see how it was on the other side. In his official report of July 31st, already referred to, General Lee states "that preparations were made to advance upon Harrisburg, but on the night of the 28th, information was received from a scout, that the Federal Army, having crossed the Potomac, was advancing northward, and that the head of the column had reached South Mountain," &c.

In General Longstreet's official report he makes a similar statement: "That on the night of the 28th, one of the scouts came in with the information, that the enemy had passed the Potomac, and was probably in pursuit of us," and in his book, "From Manassas to Appomattox," the scout is described as one who had been employed by him, and that he brought the additional intelligence of Meade's assignment to the command of the Federal army. Colonel Mosby has pointed out the extreme improbability, or as he thinks impossibility, that the scout referred to could have brought the news of Meade's assignment.

The messenger conveying the order of assignment did not reach Frederick until the morning of the 28th, and the order would not be promulgated and become known generally among the troops, so that it could be picked up by a spy until probably late in the day, when it would be next to impossible for a scout in the Federal camps at Frederick to reach Longstreet at Chambersburg the same night. It would appear too, notwithstanding the language of both these official reports, that General Lee must have had some knowledge of Hooker's movements prior to the news brought in by the scout on the night of the 28th. For in his letter to General Ewell, dated June 28, 1863, 7:30 A.M., from Chambersburg, he says, "I wrote you last night stating that General Hooker was reported to have crossed the Potomac, and is advancing by way of Middletown," &c. He adds, "That in that letter he had directed him to return to Chambersburg, or if there were any reason against it, to proceed in the direction of Gettysburg." The information, then, which reached General Lee on the 28th must have been that the column had reached South Mountain and not that it had crossed the Potomac. That it had reached South Mountain, and that up to this time, he had not heard a word from Stuart, doubtless surprised and disturbed him. Two cavalry brigades of Jones and Robertson, which had been left behind on the Potomac, and who were to receive their orders from Stuart, appear to have been still lagging on the banks of that stream, and Robertson only reported on the 2d of July.

General Lee was in a hostile country, and the only information he could pick up was the loose and uncertain news gathered from rumor, and brought to him by scouts. It was of the utmost consequence to him to have accurate and reliable information of the movements of the enemy: As the cavalry are said to be the eyes of an army, General Lee was like a blind man groping in the dark.

As an illustration of the conditions which prevailed at the time with the Confederate forces, the following incident may be mentioned. A number of the artillery horses in the third corps had given out since the march began from Fredericksburg, and there was urgent need for fresh ones to supply their places. Before Fayetteville was reached, Lieut. J. Hampden Chamberlayne of the corps, a brave and resolute officer, was directed by the Chief of Artillery to proceed with a small detachment of men drawn from the several battalions into the country adjacent to the line of march and gather up some draft animals. The lieutenant and most of his men were quickly gobbled up by the hostile cavalry hovering upon the Confederate flanks, and the mishap was only learned through those who escaped.

Up to this time the chief occupation of the army had been gathering in supplies; it now became necessary to concentrate. As soon as positive information was received of General Meade's movements, General Lee issued orders to bring his different corps within supporting distance.

[excerpt]

Early says that orders recalling him were received at York on the 29th. As these came through Ewell, who was thirty miles distant at Carlisle, and Carlisle is about the same distance from Chambersburg, it is probable that Ewell sent orders to Early immediately on receipt of the first letter from General Lee, written the night previous to the 28th. On receipt of General Lee's letters? Ewell, who was about to set out for Harrisburg, having sent forward his engineer to reconnoitre the defenses of that place, recalled his scattered divisions and turned his immense trains to the rear. The latter moved in a continuous stream towards Chambersburg, passing through that place the greater part of the night of the 29th. Johnson's division accompanied these and moved to Green Village, about seven miles from Chambersburg, whence it turned east on the 30th and marched via Scotland towards Gettysburg. The other two divisions of Ewell's countermarched, and Rodes moved, on the 30th, almost due south, about twenty miles to Heidlersburg, nine miles northeast of Gettysburg; and Early moved almost due west to a point three miles distant from Rodes on the road leading to Berlin.

In view of the order to Ewell to return to Chambersburg, and the subsequent order "to proceed to Cashtown or Gettysburg as circumstances might dictate," it is a little surprising to find in A. P. Hill's official report, after stating that his corps on the 29th was encamped on the road from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, that he proceeds to say, "I was directed to move on this road, in the direction of York, and to cross the Susquehanna, menacing the communications of Harrisburg with Philadelphia, and to co-operate with General Ewell, acting as circumstances might require," without any mention of change of plan, or the reception of orders other than those originally given. His report proceeds, "accordingly on the 29th I moved General Heth's division to Cashtown, some eight miles from Gettysburg, following on the morning of the 30th with the division of General Pender, and directing General Anderson to move in the same direction on the morning of July 1st. On arriving at Cashtown, General Heth, who had sent forward Pettigrew's brigade to Gettysburg, reported that Pettigrew had encountered the enemy at Gettysburg, (principally cavalry) but in what force he could not determine. A courier was then dispatched with this information to the General commanding, and with orders to start Anderson; also to General Ewell informing him, and that I intended to advance the next morning and discover what was in y front." Heth's division of Hill's corps moved on the 29th from Fayetteville to Cashtown, at the east base of South Mountain, where it remained until the morning of the 1st. Pender's division on the afternoon of the 30th, moved up to the north or west side of the mountain, from which point it moved on the morning of the 1st.

Anderson's division reached Fayetteville on the 27th, where it remained until the morning of the 1st. Longstreet's corps, except Pickett's division, which was left at Chambersburg to guard the rear, was moved on the 30th to Greenwood.

The respective distances of these two corps from Gettysburg on the morning of the 1st was as follows: Heth's division nine miles; Pender's in rear of Heth's a short distance further; Anderson's at Fayetteville, seventeen miles; two divisions of Longstreet's corps, Hood and McLaws at Greenwood, fourteen miles; and Pickett's at Chambersburg, twenty-four miles. General Lee, writing from Greenwood on July 1st to Imboden, who with a force of cavalry had marched from West Virginia and was about joining the army, directs him to relieve Pickett, who was to move forward to Greenwood, and giving further directions says, "You will at the same time have an opportunity of organizing your troops, refreshing them for a day or two and getting everything prepared for active operations in the field, for which you will be speedily wanted. Send word to General Pickett at this place to-morrow, which is eight miles from Chambersburg, the hour you will arrive there, in order that he may be prepared to move on your arrival. My headquarters for the present will be at Cashtown, east of the mountains." This letter does not indicate that Lee regarded an action as then imminent, but the opposing columns must have been almost, if not quite, in contact before the letter was dispatched.

[excerpt]
Captain Cecil Battine, of the 15th Hussars in the English army, who has written a most graphic and intelligent account of the campaign, thinks Hill did not display his usual vim during the first day, and that his actions were characterized by a timidity unusual to one of his intrepid nature, and that he committed a mistake in putting his troops into action by brigades and fighting the battle piecemeal. On the other hand, Colonel Mosby fiercely assails Hill in having departed from General Lee's plan in moving beyond Cashtown. He contends that this place and not Gettysburg was selected by Lee as the point for the concentration of the army, and that Hill and Heth in making the so-called reconnaissance, were acting entirely upon their own initiative, and with a selfish desire to acquire a little glory on their own account. Neither of these criticisms, the one suggesting timidity, the other, charging unauthorized temerity, are deserved. Hill and Heth were both brave and gallant soldiers, and Hill met an honorable death in the face of the enemy in front of Petersburg on April 2d, 1865.

[excerpt]
While Howard was sending urgent messages to his own corps, and to those of Slocum and Sickles, to push on as rapidly as possible, Hill, with another division at hand, permitted Heth to cope single-handed with his antagonists. He was waiting to hear from Ewell. When the latter learned from Hill on the morning of the 1st that he was advancing on Gettysburg, Rodes' division, moving in the direction of Cashtown, was turned to the left at Middletown, and its course directed towards Gettysburg. It was after 2 o'clock when the bright steel barrels of Rodes' men were seen glistening in the sun as his brigades emerged from the woods and deployed on the slopes of Oak Hill. They were none too soon, for Heth's men were well nigh exhausted, and they welcomed the hour of relief. The three leading brigades of Rodes' moved across the slope in splendid style, with ranks evenly dressed, at right angles to Heth's front, with the purpose of taking the enemy in flank and rear. The distance to be traversed was greater than expected, and unexpected obstacles made several changes of direction necessary. Before the enemy was reached, Robinson's division had been moved forward to connect with Wadsworth's right, forming at the junction, the apex of an angle, while Schurz's division was pushed forward on Robinson's right, leaving, however, a gap between.

Iverson's and O'Neil's brigades, sent forward by Rodes, missed their direction, and became involved in much confusion, during which they suffered a flank attack themselves, and met with stunning losses. The remaining brigades fared better and after a severe struggle, succeeded in forcing back their opponents.

The appearance of Rodes was the signal for Pender's advance.

Heth's men opening ranks, Pender's swept through them with extended front and the combatants were again locked in deadly embrace.
The struggle continued as before with varying success. While at its heighth Early with his division came up on Rodes' left. Gordon's brigade made an impetuous charge on Barlow's division, which in general prolongation of Schurz' line, faced north a short distance beyond the town.

Gordon took advantage of a gap between Schurz and Barlow, and after a short struggle, Barlow's division was routed, and the General left for dead upon the field. This was the beginning of the end. The eleventh corps soon gave way and beat a hasty retreat into and through the town, Ramseur, Daniel and Gordon in pursuit.

Pender was meanwhile, hotly engaged, and confronted with the same obstinate resistance and valor, which earlier in the day had withstood for so many hours the Confederate assaults. Wadworth's division in the centre of the first corps, had continued the fight from the time it relieved the cavalry, and now with the assistance of Rowley's and Robinson's divisions was still holding its antagonists at bay. Nothing, however, could finally resist the rushes of Pender's fresh troops, and after many fierce struggles the first corps with its batteries was driven back to Seminary Ridge. Here a last and determined stand was made, and the artillery of the Federals massed in great force. Colonel Perrin, commanding McGowan's brigade, reports that the charge up the hill, which drove the enemy to his last position at Seminary Hill, was made without firing a shot. Here, he says, he received the most destructive musketry fire to which he had ever been exposed, and which for a moment staggered his men, and it looked as if one regiment had been entirely destroyed; that finally piercing the enemy's lines and turning in either direction, he succeeded in taking them in flank and effecting, a complete rout. Two of his regiments reduced to one-half the number they carried into battle, pursued the enemy into the town of Gettysburg, capturing two field pieces and many prisoners. While this was the work of two regiments, a third attacked the forces posted behind a stone fence to the right of the college, which was entirely successful, and made it easy for the remainder of the brigade now coming up to drive the enemy down the opposite slope and across the open field west of Gettysburg. "This (he adds) was the last fight of the day. The enemy completely routed and driven from every point, Gettysburg was now completely in our hands."


continued
 

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Having the town in their power, apparently gratified the ambition of the Confederates, and its possession unfortunately caused them to relax further efforts. A greater military blunder was never committed. It is the more surprising, because by this time General Lee and both his lieutenants, Hill and Ewell, were on the ground. The Union troops driven into the town from different directions were wedged and jammed in the streets, and soon became a disorganized mass. Artillery and ambulances struggling to get through the tangled crowd added to the confusion. Had the fugitives been allowed no pause, and had the Confederates followed close upon their heels the very momentum of the flight, to say nothing of the contagion of panic, would have swept aside every support, and the pursuers could easily have rushed the cemetery and the surrounding heights. As it was, a part of Steinwehr's division, which in response to urgent calls for aid from Schurz, had been sent into the town to his assistance by Howard, was involved in the retreating mass, and the only remaining troops left upon Cemetery Hill, consisted of a single brigade with some artillery.

Colonel Taylor says, that General Lee witnessed the flight of the Federals through Gettysburg, and up the hills beyond, and he went to Ewell with a message from Lee, that the enemy were seen retreating without organization and in great confusion, and it was only necessary to press them to get possession of the heights, and if possible, he wished it done.


The reason given by General Ewell in his subsequent official reports for failing to press forward, are that he understood the order to be to attack, if he could do so with advantage; that he feared he could not bring artillery to bear on the hill; that his troops were jaded by twelve hours' marching and fighting, and he was told that Johnson's division, the only one of his corps not engaged, was close to the town, that he proposed with Johnson to take possession of a wooded hill, which could command Cemetery Heights, but before that was effected night had come on. The official reports of the brigade commanders of the second corps show that several of the brigades, notably Hays' and Ramseur's, were almost intact, and equal to any further calls which might be made on them.

General Early seems to have had a better perception of the situation, and after the first halt, was inclined to attack, but hesitated, he says, to procure co-operation,—that he rode to find Ewell or Rodes or Hill for the purpose of urging an immediate attack, but' before he could find either of these officers he was influenced by a report, which he did not believe, that the enemy was appearing on his left, and his resolution seems to have given way under the influence of the rumor. General Hill rested, he says, because being under the impression the enemy was entirely routed, and his two divisions exhausted by six hours' hard fighting, prudence led him to be content with what had been gained. No one can read these subsequent reports without a painful consciousness that there was a lamentable want of vigor on all sides, and an utter failure to apprehend the situation.

When Perrin cleared Seminary Ridge, and as he says "made it easy to drive the enemy down the opposing slope and across the open field west of Gettysburg," another approach to Cemetery Heights was open besides that from the town, which seems to have been overlooked.

Looking from Seminary Hill at that time across to Cemetery Heights, the confusion from the town was seen to extend to the Heights, and batteries could plainly be seen limbering up and apparently making for the rear. There is no reason why the Seminary Ridge should not then have been occupied with Confederate artillery to play upon the opposing heights. Had this been done, and the demoralized troops on Cemetery Heights been subjected to an artillery fire, it is certain the effect must have been disastrous, and' might have led to an abandonment of the position. The two artillery battalions of the third corps, which had been actively engaged during the day, had met with severe causalities and several guns had been disabled, but their fighting efficiency was still unimpaired. Each had a complement of sixteen guns, about one-half of which were rifled pieces, and by this time Garnett's battalion of artillery had arrived. It was easily practicable to have placed thirty or forty guns on Seminary Ridge, south of Cashtown road, and used them precisely as they were used before Pickett's charge on the third day.

General Pendleton, chief of artillery of the army, says the proposition did occur to him, but on General Ramseur's suggestion that it would draw fire upon his troops in the town, it was allowed to drop. The suggestion was an untimely and ill-judged as its acceptance was weak and unfortunate.

Viewing the intervening ground as it looked the next day, and as it looks now after the lapse of forty-four years, it is almost incomprehensible how the situation could have escaped the attention of General Lee or of General Hill, or their subordinates in rank. It would appear that everybody was of the same mind as A. P. Hill, and was "content with what had been gained."

Up to this time two brigades of Pender's divisions had not been seriously engaged. Lane's brigade with Johnson's battery was looking out for Buford's cavalry on the flank, and both that and Thomas' brigade were fresh enough for further work. There was still three hours of daylight, and Anderson's division was close at hand. But the golden opportunity was let go by, and the Confederates contented themselves with the capture of about four thousand prisoners and a few pieces of artillery.

It is due to General Early to say that after the war he published an article in the Southern Historical Society Papers, inspired doubtless by a generous desire to vindicate the reputation of his corps commander, to whom he was greatly attached, in which he zealously and eloquently defends the action of General Ewell on this occasion, and admits that he himself had changed his opinion in reference to the advisability of further pursuit on the afternoon of the 1st, owing, he says, to information subsequently acquired by him, in reference to the preparedness of the enemy to resist further attack. The article further undertakes to show, that the possession of Cemetery Hill on the afternoon of the 1st, by the Confederates, was a matter of no importance and not worth the effort, inasmuch, as it would not, if occupied have been decisive, and would only have pushed back the battle ground to another field, probably to Pipe Creek. In reference to General Early's first point, if the facts as we have cited them, and the concurrent opinion at the time are not reasonably conclusive, we will supplement them by the opinion of General Hancock, expressed in a letter written to General Fitz Lee, dated January 17, 1878, in which he says, "—I am in receipt of yours of the 14th instant, and in reply have to say that in my opinion, if the Confederates had continued the pursuit of General Howard on the afternoon of July 1st at Gettysburg, they would have driven him over and beyond Cemetery Hill. After I arrived on the field, assumed the command, and made my dispositions for defending that point (say 4 P.M.) I do not think the Confederate force then present could have carried it." John B. Bachelder, of the Union army says there is no question but what a combined attack on Cemetery Hill, made within an hour, would have been successful.

As to General Early's second point, it would seem to be sufficient to say, that if the Confederates had taken Cemetery Hill the first day, they would have accomplished what they vainly tried to do on the 2d and 3d days; the moral effect would have been as inspiring to one side as depressing to the other; the tremendous losses suffered in the efforts to take it on the 2d and 3d days would have been averted, and Meade could nowhere have selected or stumbled upon a line of defense so impregnable as Cemetery Hill and Round Top proved to be.

In the engagements which have been described as occurring on the first day, six pieces of my command, Johnson's battery and a section of Hurt's were put in position on high ground to our right, and with Lane's brigade were engaged in holding in check Buford's cavalry. The two long ranged Whitworths occasionally shelled the woods and distant points wherever the enemy could be seen. The remainder of the battalion under my immediate command actively supported the attacks of Archer and Pender. This gave me an opportunity to witness a large portion of the battlefield, including Oak Hill where Rodes' brigades deployed in line.

It also gave me the opportunity of witnessing from the college near the Cashtown road, when the enemy had been put to flight, the confusion which prevailed on Cemetery Hill, and which even without the aid of field glasses was plainly discernible. The casualties of the first day were surprisingly small. Lieut. Wallace had one rifle piece disabled by a solid shot striking it full in the face.

During the night of the 1st, skirmish lines were established in the intervening valley between Seminary and Cemetery Hills by both sides, and during the two succeeding days, there were frequent and fierce encounters between the skirmish lines, sometimes supported by heavy reserves. These engagements were frequently participated in by the artillery of both sides.

Along the new line on Pender's front ran for part of the way a rough irregular stone wall or fence from two to three feet high, with occasional gaps a few feet in width. One of Capt. Hurts' guns happened to be placed opposite one of these gaps. The wall afforded some protection, and observing the location of the gun I directed it to be changed; before this could be done, however, a sharp engagement sprang up, and a shot passing through the gap mortally wounded the lieutenant in charge, taking off one of the poor fellow's legs.
[end of a lengthy excerpt as it goes into the rest of the battle of Gettysburg]

This is the cause of my opinions about General Ewell and A.P. Hill. Ewell was given the original order to 'take the hill' and his failure to gain help to do so created the blunder. Hill and Pendleton also had the opportunity to take the hill if Ewell could not execute this for Lee.

Respectfully submitted,

M. E. Wolf
 

K Hale

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June 22 - Stuart is asked where the enemy was and what he was doing, Lee needed to know this as he suspected Hooker was going to cross the Potomac, he was advised as you yourself has quoted, Stuart was ordered by Lee to take position on Ewells right and keep Ewell informed.
Which he did as soon as he was able.
The second letter send was directional, if Lee had even considered the route Stuart actually took he would have never have given such a discretionairy order.
The route Stuart took was not known by anyone ahead of time. It was known that he would pass in the rear of the enemy, and this was OK'd by Lee and encouraged by Longstreet. Once he passed in rear of the enemy, he would necessarily be on the other side of the enemy from Lee. This was known.
June 23 - Final order, you must feel the right of Ewell's corp,
Which he did. Once he got on the other side of the AotP, he began to travel north, seeking Ewell's corps, and was constantly pushed northeast by the aggressive Union cavalry.
Stuart eventually gets to within 5 miles of Washington(not on this date mind you) nowhere near Ewells right or left. Lee could have reasonably expected not to hear from him for 2-3 days, Stuart believeing the Union army to be extremely spread out tries to find a way throught them.
That's right. The timeframe was overly ambitious and all parties were overconfident.
June 25th - Stuart heads for Glasscock gap instead of Hopewell gap, adding distance to crossing the Potomac but finds his way blocked by Union infantry(II Corps) so he heads further east, so now instead of keeping his Infantry screened a huge body of AOP infantry is now between him and his army.
His job was not to screen the ANV at this time. That's what he had been doing during the Aldie/Middleburg/Upperville phase of the campaign. That phase was over for Stuart, because now he is tasked with moving to the other side of the AotP. The screening job was now to be taken up by Robertson and Jones after Stuart left with the rest of the division, and he left them beautifully clear and exact instructions on what to do and when to start moving north. Stuart's job now was to follow the orders he'd been given, which necessarily involve getting on the other side of the AotP from the ANV.
June 26th - Marches till late and camps at Wolf run Shoals
June 27th - Splits his force with Fitzhugh Lee , Stuart rides to Fairfax Court house and engages in minor scuffles
June 28th - Stuart gets to within 5 miles of Washington DC whilst chasing wagons, now totally out of effective contact range with the ANV, he has ignored the "Without hinderance" part of Lee's command.
No, he hasn't. Part of his orders were to gather supplies and do all the damage he can. Had he let that wagon train go by, he would have disobeyed his orders. Recall also that the wagons were full of grain intended for AotP horses. One reason Stuart is taking so long is that he has had to spend hours grazing his horses. Grain is an energy feed. With the grain in the wagons, he can now move faster.
June 29th - Clashes at Wesminster, Lee writes - I cannot think what has become of him(Stuart) I ought to have heard from him by now, he may have met with disaster"
June 30th - All day action against Kilpatrick's division at Hanover, he marches overnight
July 1st - Still trying to locate Ewell he reaches Carlisle after midnight, Stuart then receives a message from Lee to march On Gettysburg where the ANV are engaged.
July 2nd - His exhausted and depleted brigade reach Gettysburg.
Division, you mean. So... where's the "disobeyed orders" part?

Re: Why were Stuart's efforts at East Cavalry Field "lackluster"
Ah... so, Lee's efforts on July 3 were lackluster, then, too. I never suspected you felt that way.
 
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Nathanb1

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I think "bingo" moments are a modern convention, in writing and in living. We look for "okay, this PROVES he was right" or "this PROVES he was wrong," and there is often no such "this" in real life. Ewell made a call, on the spot. There is evidence that he made the right one, and there is evidence he made the wrong one. Same with Lee and Pickett's Charge. We are left to draw conclusions from the evidence (yeah, I am a retired lawyer, can you tell?) but we can't PROVE anything - just make our own calls, after the fact. I understand why Ewell did what he did, and the conclusion I reach is that he did the right thing. I understand why Lee did what he did, and the conclusion I reach is that he did the wrong thing.
Modern invention? Then positing a thesis and proving it is something we've recently invented? Perhaps I should fault the magazine rather than the article, since I believe it was trumpeted as "proof" Ewell couldn't have taken Culp's Hill. Call it a "discussion" of the reasons, and I'm good with it.
 

Rob9641

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Modern invention? Then positing a thesis and proving it is something we've recently invented? Perhaps I should fault the magazine rather than the article, since I believe it was trumpeted as "proof" Ewell couldn't have taken Culp's Hill. Call it a "discussion" of the reasons, and I'm good with it.
I said "CONvention," not "INvention." CONvention in the sense that it's a norm, not INvention in the sense that it's something new. I only meant that we're more inclined in our world to look for "bingo" moments in things than we were 50, 100, 150 years ago. Fault the magazine for its headline if you want, but IMO that's also part of our more "bingo" way of looking at things - headlines are usually more "bingo" than the articles prove to be because "bingos" sell magazines. Would it be as likely to make people buy it if it said "5 new battle maps give evidence Gen. Ewell may not have taken the high ground anyway"?
 
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K Hale

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Would it be as likely to make people buy it if it said "5 new battle maps give evidence Gen. Ewell may not have taken the high ground anyway"?
I would have been all, "Ooooh, maps!" and bought it.
 
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