Skip to comments.150 years ago today -- the Gettysburg campaign begins
Posted on 06/10/2013 3:07:23 PM PDT by lowbridge
On June 10, 1863, the lead troops of General Robert E. Lees Army of Northern Virginia left the armys staging area near Culpeper Court House, Virginia and began a march northward.
Their destination: Pennsylvania where Lee hoped to win a major battle on Northern soil and end the Civil War with a Southern victory.
Soon his army would be trailed by his main Northern adversary, the Federal Army of the Potomac. Ahead of both armies, across the Potomac River and in the heartland of southern Pennsylvania, lay the quiet crossroads town of Gettysburg, which would become the site of the largest battle ever fought in North America.
It would also prove to be decisive battle of the American Civil War.
The war would continue for almost two more years until it claimed 620,000 American lives, but by many measures the battle of Gettysburg was its turning point.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/06/10/150-years-ago-today-gettysburg-campaign-begins/#ixzz2Vr01YXli
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
I guess Gone With the Wind is all we get.
Maybe General Buford can shed some light on the situation.
I think Gettysburg was a fine movie. The script was taken almost verbatum from The Killer Angels, which was a great book.
I do not think it was the decisive battle although certainly a bitter defeat for the greatest of armies. I always felt the decisive battle was the Wildnerness in ‘64 when although soundly beaten, Grant didn’t go back towards DC but instead went around the left flank and even deeper into Virginia where the battle of attrition and losses, the southener’s couldn’t make good on, began to pile up.
If Mexico is considered to be part of North America, then the largest battle ever fought in terms of duration, numbers involved and casualties would arguably have been Tenochtitlan, in 1521.
Confederate Captain Joseph Graham letter to his father written July 30, 1863. He witnessed the entire Pickett's Charge from an advantageous vantage point and describes in his own words what he witnessed - some observations defy prior speculation on what transpired on the final day.
Joseph Graham to William A. Graham, Culpepper [Culpeper] County, July 30th, 1863.
Since I left Kinston, I have travelled between seven and Eight Hundred miles, and have been engaged in one of the bloodiest conflicts of the War. We met the Enemy about two miles from Gettysburg, Pa., on the 1st. day of this month, and drove him, after a sharp contest, lasting all day, to Cemetery Hill, beyond town, distant about half a mile. During the next morning, nothing more than skirmishing occurred, until about two and a half P.M. When Longstreet's Corps arrived upon the Enemy's left, and commenced engaging him in his fortified position on the 'Hill.' In about half an hour, the fight became general, along our right, and right centre, (the right half of our Corps.) Our men advanced and fell back, in succession, until about six o'clock, when a desperate charge dislodged the Enemy from his position, but unfortunately our reserve was not near enough to support the brave, but decimated ranks of the assailants. Just at this time, the sun being nearly down, our Battalion was ordered up at a gallop, under the thickest fire I ever experienced to support our men, who had been overpowered by the enemy's reinforcements, and compelled to fall back with great loss. Darkness soon put an end to the operations, and the night passed off very quietly. This night and the night previous, the Enemy spent in fortifying his positions, already very strong from the nature of the ground. it was equal, if not superior to his situation at Malvern Hill. And that I think, naturally, the finest position for defence I ever saw.
We slept upon the field, and no sound was audible, except continuous din of the enemy's tools, and the awful groans of the wounded and dying. The next sun brought the fatal 3rd. day of July. Everything remained quiet 'till about 12 1/2 P.M. (by the watch I saw) when we began shelling their positions. On both sides I think there must have been between 350 and 400 guns in action. And after the heaviest Artillery duel of the war, (and said to have been heavier than the cannonade at Balaklava) and lasting about one hour and ten minutes, we silenced all their guns. They report that we killed and disabled nearly all their cannoneers, and they were compelled to get detachments from their Infantry to man their pieces. My men behaved very handsomely indeed, and shells from my guns blew up two of their Caissons loaded with Ammunition. The firing was terrific, and I never expect to hear anything to compare with it. We whipped them fairly in the Artillery, and they were in an elevated and fortified position, and we have no works at all. The distance was about 1 1/4 miles, over an open and gradual slope. The Infantry were to have charged through the dense smoke immediately upon the cessation of our fire, but by some mismanagement, there was quite a delay, until everything became settled, and the Enemy had time to prepare for the charge.
It was a very oppressive day, and our troops were much fatigued by the work of the two days previous, and consequently had to advance very slowly, exposed all the time to the Enemy's fire. The most of our Artillery Ammunition then expended, we could not do much towards driving off their batteries. However, our men advanced steadily, but I fear with too feeble determination, some, up to the work, others, not so far, and so on, 'till some did not go more than 150 yds. Gen'l Pettigrew told me that when the front line gave way, (we advanced in two lines) he could see their Artillery limbering up their guns to retire from the works. Our second line was 1000 yards from the first, and of course not near enough to support it. This being the case, the first was completely routed, and broke through the second, spoiling the whole affair. I saw the whole charge, the view was open from my position, to the Enemy's works, on the Heights. The lines moved right through my Battery, and I feared then I could see a want of resolution in our men. And I heard many say, 'that is worse than Malvern Hill,' and 'I don't hardly think that position can be carried,' etc., etc., enough to make me apprehensive about the result. Davis' Miss. Brigade was the first to give way. The slaughter is represented as terrible, but so far as I would judge, it was not near as bad as reported. And much is owing to the cowardice of the enemy, for when our men retreated, so much disordered, if they had charged upon them, our Army would have been utterly routed and ruined. It is painful to make such admissions, but they are nevertheless true. this part being over, the day passed off quietly in the centre. Gen'l Lee's plan was excellent, but some one made a botch of it indeed. Had we carried those Heights, that Army would have been ruined. There were only two avenues of escape, and Ewell had one, and Longstreet the other. So that they must have surrendered or been cut to pieces, and entirely ruined. They would have been scattered over the whole country, and we must have had Washington City, and Baltimore. And I hoped a speedy peace. But the fortune of war was otherwise. On the night of the 3rd. Inst., after the crippling of that day, the Enemy began to retire his Artillery, and kept moving out all night, Longstreet having moved back when we could not carry their works. On the 4th. Inst. they threw out heavy lines of skirmishers, and pretended as if they intended to advance upon us. That night, about dusk, both Armies, badly crippled, retired in different directions. they towards Baltimore and we towards Hagerstown. If we had only remained 'till the next day we could have claimed the victory. But our supplies were exhausted, and a retrograde movement absolutely necessary. And for want of transportation, we left about 4500 wounded to fall into their hands. Neither side buried the dead of July 3rd. before leaving. It was an awful affair altogether.
Vicksburg was much more decisive.
I tend to agree with you, except that Grant was not “soundly beaten” at the Wilderness. It was a tactical draw, but a strategic Union victroy, since the South could not afford to fight draws. Grant however claimed Vicksburg was more important strategically even than Gettysburg.
I loved reading both Grant and Longsteet’s memoirs. They were, IMHO, the first “modern” generals who understood the implcations of the new technology on warfare. Longstreet was sadly underappreciated and vilified by many in the South.
Interesting: the siege of Vicksburg was happening about this same time.
It would be a hoot if there was “live tweeting” on North and South sides......
Very poor acting by Robert Duvall. I was very disappointed.
“The South had the upper hand and the momentum up until this point. They were fighting in Northern territory!” And in so doing lost many of the tactical advantages that the ANV enjoyed when fighting on their home turf. The failures of JEB Stuarts cavalry division to properly screen the advance could not be compensated for with local friendly intel.
Duvall wasn’t in Gettysburg. Lee was played by Martin Sheen. Duvall was in Gods and Generals.
“I always felt the decisive battle was the Wildnerness in 64 when although soundly beaten, Grant didnt go back towards DC but instead went around the left flank and even deeper into Virginia where the battle of attrition and losses, the southeners couldnt make good on, began to pile up.”
Both battles were pivotal, but The Wilderness battle, I think, was the most decisive, because when Grant did not turn tail the South was forced to admit it could not win the War. At least after Gettysburg the South reasoned, “Well, we got thumped in enemy territory, but we still have our own, and we can beat the enemy there.” However, after The Wilderness, the South had to see the writing on the wall: “We have stopped them on our own soil, but they do not leave. And there are more of them than there are of us.”
JEB Stuart screwed up BIG TIME at Gettysburg. Lee lost confidence in him after that.
The absence of Stuart’s cavalry immediately before the Gettysburg fight, when Lee had been depending on Stuart’s cavalry to act as his eyes and ears, put Lee into an almost impossible position, and left him only two real choices: Attack with what he had and with what he knew; or withdraw. For several reasons, Lee could not withdraw. Thus, he found himself having to attack; and at that he almost won the fight.
It was a defeat for the second greatest army.
The greatest was the one who defeated them.
As a pure coincidence I picked up a copy of Killer Angles last week and have been reading it.
They mostly disliked Longstreet because of what he did after the war. He became one of those hated Republicans. They hated him so much, they blamed the loss of the war on Gettysburg, and blamed their loss at Gettysburg on Longstreet.
Certainly he did well during the war, and fought and bled for the insurrection. He commanded over half of Lee’s army during the Penninsula battles, when Jackson turned in a relatively poor performance.
Grant became acquainted with and courted Longstreet’s fourth cousin, Julia Dent, and the couple eventually married. Historians agree that Longstreet attended the Grant wedding on August 22, 1848 in St. Louis, but his role at the ceremony remains unclear. Grant biographer Jean Edward Smith asserted that Longstreet served as Grant’s best man at the wedding.John Y. Simon, editor of Julia Grant’s memoirs, concluded that Longstreet “may have been a groomsman,” and Longstreet biographer Donald Brigman Sanger called the role of best man “uncertain” while noting that neither Grant nor Longstreet mentioned any such role in either of their memoirs.
Killer Angels was in part based on Longstreet’s memoirs.