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The Longstreet-Gettysburg Controversy

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Rebforever, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. Rebforever

    Rebforever Captain

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    WHO COMMENCED IT.

    The Whole Matter Reviewed by J. William Jones, D. D.

    “The first publication made in reference to the cause of our defeat at Gettysburg by any Confederate who participated in the battle, so far as I have been able to ascertain, was made by General Longstreet in Swinton's. "Army of the Potomac," which was published in the spring of 1866.
    In this book (page 340) Swinton says, and gives Longstreet as his authority for the statement: "Indeed, in entering upon this campaign, General Lee expressly promised his corps-commanders that he would not assume a tactical offensive, but force his antagonist to attack him. Having, however, gotten a taste of blood in the considerable success of the first day, the Confederate commander seems to have lost that equipoise in which his faculties commonly moved, and he determined to give battle."
    Swinton then proceeds to criticize Lee very severely for not "manoeuvring Meade out of the Gettysburg position," and says: "This operation General Longstreet, who forboded the worst from an attack on the army in position, and was anxious to hold General Lee to his promise, begged in vain to be allowed to execute." (Ibid, p.341). He quotes General Longstreet as his authority for this, as also for the further criticisms of General Lee which he makes, and the very language of which bears a most remarkable resemblance to what General Longstreet has since printed over his own signature.”

    http://www.gdg.org/Research/SHSP/shjones.html
     

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  3. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    I find it incredulous that anyone, particularly a corp commander, would believe that R.E.Lee would bind himself to any strategy or tactic before the campaign even begins. Why in Gods' green earth would Lee make promises to Longstreet or anyone else?
     
  4. E_just_E

    E_just_E Captain Forum Host

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    I would not call it promises. I would call it discussing strategy and agreeing on strategy with his 3 corps commanders who were moving to PA pretty much independently, just in case something happens. Eg. Ewell had pretty much a week's head start. He should have known what the strategy was before he left to make sure there was alignment and he did not mess up. Imagine Ewell and his 25000 troops attacking Harrisburg just because, for example.

    That's why :wink:
     
  5. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose Sergeant Major

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    Glad you decided to make this post. Let the discussion begin.
     
  6. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose Sergeant Major

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    The link below gives some insight as to how General Longstreet was perceived and received in 1888 at the Gettysburg reunion. It paints a picture of a patriotic American, not a petty man. I understand that he continues to have his detractors, but I prefer to think of him like this. Of course I still love reading EVERYTHING folks share.

    http://john-banks.blogspot.com/2017/01/no-man-more-honored-longstreets-1888.html
     
  7. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    No opinion other than to observe that this discussion now properly belongs in the Longstreet Forum. @War Horse
     
  8. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    Lee told Davis prior to the battle that he intended to fight a defensive battle.
     
  9. Youngblood

    Youngblood Sergeant

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    They wanted to set up another Fredricksburg type battle by goading them into attacking a strong deffensive position but it just didnt work out.
     
  10. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    Meade said the Longstreet's plan was the one he feared. i.e. the plan lee told to pete and Davis and the one longstreet held so stubbornly held too.
     
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  11. E_just_E

    E_just_E Captain Forum Host

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    Which Davis? Joe?

    Here are Lee's letters and reports to Jefferson Davis during the Gettysburg Campaign:

    June 9, 1863
    June 9, 1863
    June 15 and June 18, 1863
    June 16, 1863
    June 19 and June 20, 1863
    June 23, 1863
    June 23, 1863 (this one closely has information regarding Lee's & Davis' plan with the Campaign)
    June 25, 1863 (ditto)
    June 25, 1863

    the next one is dated July 4th...

    Absolutely zero mention of a "defensive battle" or any "battle" as a matter of fact...
     
  12. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    Earlier than that. When there is talk of sending longstreet west. Yeah i know chancellorsville is first but lee desirse to move north.
     
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  13. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. What are the odds that Union commanders will always make stupid decisions vs Confederate commanders will always make brilliant decisons?
    Capturing Gettysburg won't make or break Lee's offensive plans. In order for the AnV to achieve it's objectives it has to defeat the AoP in detail. Not easy if the AnV is smaller and deep in enemy territory and far from its logistical base.
    Lee took a huge gamble and he lost. One can not always roll sevens and elevens.
    Leftyhunter
     
  14. dlofting

    dlofting First Sergeant

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    In his report that he sent to Cooper on January 20, 1864 Lee wrote

    It had not been intended to deliver a general battle so far from our base unless attacked, but coming unexpectedly upon the whole Federal Army, to withdraw through the mountains with our extensive trains would have been difficult and dangerous. At the same time we were unable to await an attack, as the country was unfavorable for collecting supplies in the presence of the enemy who could restrain our foraging parties by holding the mountain passes with local and other troops.

    This could be loosely interpreted as Lee saying he preferred to fight a defensive battle, but was governed by circumstances.
     
  15. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    It's what I've been saying all along. Longstreet was right, Lee was wrong!
     
  16. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    It's those confusing Davii, again :wink:
     
  17. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose Sergeant Major

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    I agree, but I doubt you're surprised.
     
  18. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    All I have to say is see what Meade had to say. What his biggest fear was at Gettysburg. I rest my case!
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  19. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    With perfect 20/20 hindsight one could argue both Longstreet and Lee where wrong. For a numerically smaller army to march deep into enemy territory with out a secure logistical supply line divided into three columns and beat a larger foe who has better logistics is a tall order indeed.
    So what if the Confederates seize Gettysburg? The Confederates just can't hang out they need food and can't afford to be encircled.
    The Union Army doesn't have to defeat the AnV in a decisive battle they just have to block the AnV advance or slow them down and win through attrition.
    Seizing Little Round Top is not going to help the AnV in the long term.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  20. Rebforever

    Rebforever Captain

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    Just a blog! However, He was a yankee favorite. They should give him the credit for the Union win at Gettysburg.
     
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  21. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose Sergeant Major

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    Longstreet obituary.jpg
    Nice try Rebforever. I'm sure you know that the men who served under General Longstreet held him in equally high esteem. There is pleny of evidence out there to support this.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017

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