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 (1863) Battle of Gettysburg
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Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
54th New York flank marker???
1/19/2021 1:33:39 PM
Hoping to start a discussion....with the current Covid lockdown, I seem to have too much time on my hands-:)

I was skimming thru Gottfried’s “The Maps of Gettysburg” and noticed how close to Rock Creek were the 54th & 68th NY regiments (von Gilsa’s brigade, Barlow’s division). And that sent me to the books on Day One from Pfanz and Martin.

Curious, has anyone here seen the flank markers for the 54th? I am guessing that the right flank marker must be right at the edge of Rock Creek.

From my Martin and Pfanz readings, it looks as if Rock Creek might have been around waist high at the time of the battle, and therefore very fordable. But I also read that the banks were quite steep, and climbable only in certain places. Which leads me to wonder why – if Barlow was going to push his small division (barely the size of a good sized brigade) way out, as he did – why not defend the crossings at Rock Creek?

Gordon’s attacking brigade (he used five of his six regiments) brought 1200 muskets to the fray…so it strikes me that defending the creek could have been very effective. 1200 men was NOT an overwhelming force. Yes, eventually, Hays and Avery would have outflanked Barlow, but they would have outflanked him anyways, if he insisted on centring his defense on Blocher’s Knoll.

A larger question is why in hell did Howard think that pushing his four smallish brigades outside of town was a good idea??? He knew that Ewell's divisions were "up".
Why did he not tell Doubleday to either retreat back to the edge of town (and use the town’s buildings for defense) or all the way back to Cemetery Hill. And why did he think that his four brigades could hold off Ewell’s divisions? Rodes was already engaging the I corps…and Doles brigades of Rodes’ division was engaged with von Arnsberg’s brigade, which was essentially just a big skirmish line. And Howard was told that Early was approaching...

In fact, given the amount of space that Howard’s two small XI divisions were expected to cover (only made worse by Barlow’s decision to push out to the knoll that now bears his name), all but Krzyzanowski’s brigade were essentially in just one lengthy skirmish line. On what, I gather, was little more than an open plain i.e. no natural defensive positions.

And even without the rest of Early’s division, just Doles and Gordon were able to completely manhandle two Federal divisions and send them headlong in retreat. This I struggle with. Gordon and part of Doles brigade attack the brigades of von Gilsa and Ames, sent them in a head long retreat, then bust up Karzyzanoswki’s brigade, and finally, Doles shatters the 400 man 157th NY. The defending XI regiments are sent scattering through the town, while the attacking Confederate regiments remain largely intact. What does this say about the relative fighting capabilities of the forces engaged.

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4936
Joined: 2004
54th New York flank marker???
1/19/2021 3:36:54 PM
Steve,

Without looking at a map, or even consulting my books, I would venture an opinion.

Howard was smarting after Chancellorsville, and sought redemption for himself and his troops.

He deployed quickly and aggressively to prove a point.

Things were happening at point blank range in a developing encounter battle.

Gordon was a first rate brigade commander, and his boys were experienced and skilful.

The qualitative edge enjoyed by the southerners here was of great significance.

This is a quick reflexive answer , unadorned with anything more than a general impression.

Hope this helps kick the discussion along.

Regards, Phil
----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
GregT
Three Rivers MA USA
Posts: 132
Joined: 2013
54th New York flank marker???
1/19/2021 4:25:34 PM
Hi Steve

I walked down to the 54th marker about 20 years ago. It's small with no flank markers I'm aware of.

Today it's heavily wooded and not so imposing.

In 1863, probably a lot less wooded and a lot more imposing, and steeper.

GregT
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
54th New York flank marker???
1/21/2021 10:47:46 AM
Quote:
Hi Steve

I walked down to the 54th marker about 20 years ago. It's small with no flank markers I'm aware of.

Today it's heavily wooded and not so imposing.

In 1863, probably a lot less wooded and a lot more imposing, and steeper.

GregT


Greg,

After reading your reply, I did a quick google search, and found the following:

Quote:
The marker indicating the advanced position of the 54th New York Infantry Regiment on July 1 near Rock Creek is much harder to find. To do so, start at Barlow's Knoll and walk in a direct line from the statue of Union General Francis Barlow to the monument to the 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, then continue down the hill about 100 yards until you reach the treeline. Then turn right and go roughly another 100 yards along the treeline until you see a very small clearing. Turn left into the clearing and go about 40 more yards; the small marker is in a tiny clearing and only 20 yards or so before you reach Rock Creek


I am guessing that this is what you are referring to?

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
54th New York flank marker???
1/21/2021 10:55:32 AM
Quote:
Howard was smarting after Chancellorsville, and sought redemption for himself and his troops.

He deployed quickly and aggressively to prove a point.


Phil,

I am inclined to agree with you. He appears to have thought that sticking his head into the lion's mouth would prove how virile he was-:) Of course, it wasn't his head...since I gather that he spent much of the time back on Cemetery Hill. Reynolds may have acted too much like a colonel, and got himself shot as a reward. But I do think that Howard - if he was going to have five of his six brigades fighting north of the town (including Coster's brigade here...) might have been more involved in how they were placed...i.e. someone should have kept Barlow's leash a little shorter.

But after getting outflanked at Chancellorsville, I also would have thought that he might have been a little more gun shy about having the same thing happen to him on the fields north of Gettysburg.

s.c.
GregT
Three Rivers MA USA
Posts: 132
Joined: 2013
54th New York flank marker???
1/21/2021 3:12:58 PM
Steve

As to the 54th marker that seems about right, but I don't remember it being very hard to locate.
Probably only a 100 yds from the bridge over the Harrisburg Rd.
However I know a lot can change in 20 yrs, especially overgrowth.

As to Howards deployment, IIRC he accompanied at Barlows Div to the Almshouse area where they were deployed
with Schurz's Div to link up with the 1st Corp on Oak Ridge. Barlow advanced to the front(knoll) without orders from
Schurz the temporary 11th Corp boss. The endgame probably would have been the same had he stayed, but
with a lot less loss to both Divs, including Coster's brigade.

GregT

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