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 (1863) Battle of Gettysburg
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Larry Purtell
Little Meadows PA USA
Posts: 1304
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/3/2021 9:10:42 AM



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"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5100
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/4/2021 6:12:28 AM
This is a special day for you in Uncle Sam, so , first and foremost, Happy Fourth of July !

Reporting on the great battle, the article above proclaims that the Rebellion has received its “ mortal wound “.

By close of Day Two, the AOP had suffered close to twenty thousand casualties , compared with fourteen thousand in the AONV. This represented a significantly higher proportionate loss for Meade’s army, since his numerical superiority was slender compared with most Civil War battles.

By that point, mightn’t The Union have been in the more dangerous predicament ?

Regards, Phil

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"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
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6508
Joined: 2006
July 3, 1863
7/4/2021 7:59:24 AM
Hi Phil,

That’s true but only if Lee wins at Gettysburg, the North after all has still a much bigger pool of potential men to draw upon, continuing the war! As we know after Pickets Charge on day three, the ANV will never be in any major offensive mode again!?

Thanks for the 4th greeting,
Regards,
MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5100
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/4/2021 1:19:44 PM
Hi Dave,
At the risk of being controversial, how did the two armies that clashed at Gettysburg compare in fighting prowess one year later ?

My money would be on Lee’s boys .

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
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5100
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/4/2021 1:19:44 PM
DP
----------------------------------
"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
Larry Purtell
Little Meadows PA USA
Posts: 1304
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/4/2021 8:50:05 PM
Quote:
Hi Dave,
At the risk of being controversial, how did the two armies that clashed at Gettysburg compare in fighting prowess one year later ?

My money would be on Lee’s boys .

Regards, Phil


Being a Southern supporter and sympathizer I still have to put my money on Meade and AOP after the Gettysburg campaign. Too many ANV infantrymen and officers were lost at Gettysburg to ever replace with the same quality. True the AOP loss heavily also but their man power pool allowed to replace their loss's much easier and with more talent to draw from. Lee never mounts another major offensive campaign. He only reacts to AOP advances.

Best regards, Larry
----------------------------------
"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5100
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/5/2021 4:34:04 AM
Quote:
Quote:
Hi Dave,
At the risk of being controversial, how did the two armies that clashed at Gettysburg compare in fighting prowess one year later ?

My money would be on Lee’s boys .

Regards, Phil


Being a Southern supporter and sympathizer I still have to put my money on Meade and AOP after the Gettysburg campaign. Too many ANV infantrymen and officers were lost at Gettysburg to ever replace with the same quality. True the AOP loss heavily also but their man power pool allowed to replace their loss's much easier and with more talent to draw from. Lee never mounts another major offensive campaign. He only reacts to AOP advances.

Best regards, Larry



Larry,

One year after Gettysburg ?

AOP not looking too good. The impression I get is that Lee’s army was outperforming Meade’s / Grant’s in terms of resilience and reflexive ability. This of course reflects the frightful punishment of the May-June 1864 fighting that I’m convinced damaged Northern morale more severely than that of the South. Lee was the more successful attritionist in this phase of the war. I know this runs counter to conventional commentary, but I hope my argument might persuade .

Gettysburg itself was shattering for the AONV, I admit. I still feel that there was something more fragile in the Northern predicament , though. Were southern people more reconciled to losses of this magnitude than their northern counterparts ? I think so. The arithmetic was heavily stacked against the South, but there was more than mere numbers involved in the impact of that arithmetic. Lee himself stated that Meade’s army would be quiet as a “sucking dove” after Gettysburg.

In the reckoning of Gettysburg, we must allow for the way that Vicksburg added weight to the importance of the result, just as Sherman’s successes in Georgia were to rescue the Union in the later summer of 1864.

I hope that I might get my thoughts together and make a more effective argument.

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
Gregory C. White
Canton GA USA
Posts: 365
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/5/2021 12:31:33 PM
Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Hi Dave,
At the risk of being controversial, how did the two armies that clashed at Gettysburg compare in fighting prowess one year later ?

My money would be on Lee’s boys .

Regards, Phil


Being a Southern supporter and sympathizer I still have to put my money on Meade and AOP after the Gettysburg campaign. Too many ANV infantrymen and officers were lost at Gettysburg to ever replace with the same quality. True the AOP loss heavily also but their man power pool allowed to replace their loss's much easier and with more talent to draw from. Lee never mounts another major offensive campaign. He only reacts to AOP advances.

Best regards, Larry



Larry,

One year after Gettysburg ?

AOP not looking too good. The impression I get is that Lee’s army was outperforming Meade’s / Grant’s in terms of resilience and reflexive ability. This of course reflects the frightful punishment of the May-June 1864 fighting that I’m convinced damaged Northern morale more severely than that of the South. Lee was the more successful attritionist in this phase of the war. I know this runs counter to conventional commentary, but I hope my argument might persuade .

Gettysburg itself was shattering for the AONV, I admit. I still feel that there was something more fragile in the Northern predicament , though. Were southern people more reconciled to losses of this magnitude than their northern counterparts ? I think so. The arithmetic was heavily stacked against the South, but there was more than mere numbers involved in the impact of that arithmetic. Lee himself stated that Meade’s army would be quiet as a “sucking dove” after Gettysburg.

In the reckoning of Gettysburg, we must allow for the way that Vicksburg added weight to the importance of the result, just as Sherman’s successes in Georgia were to rescue the Union in the later summer of 1864.

I hope that I might get my thoughts together and make a more effective argument.

Regards, Phil


Phil,

I'm inclined to agree with your observation.

Eleven months after Gettysburg, Lee dispatched the Second Corps under Jubal Early to purge the Shenandoah Valley
of Union forces causing damage there. If not for the delay @ Monocacy on July 9th, Washington, DC was under
threat of being sacked. The delay @ Monocacy allowed reinforcements to be sent to Washington and stave off
Early's threat.

Many historians agree that the fall of Atlanta in September and Early's debacle at Cedar Creek (Oct.19) assured
Lincoln's re-election that November, something that was in doubt the summer of 1864.

The fighting propensity of the ANV was quite evident in May 1864 and ensuing months. The casualties sustained
by both sides was enormous. Of course, the Union had the advantage of endless manpower, conscripting newly
arrived immigrants and recently freed slaves.

It bothers me when the Union victory @ Gettysburg is deemed the "turning point" of the war when it was still 21
months to Appomattox Court House and Bennett Place and much of the war's most savage fighting had yet to
occur.

Best Regards,

Greg C. White




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“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevent their history, and denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of its destruction.” Sir William Wallace, 1280 A.D.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5100
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/6/2021 8:27:01 AM
Quote:
Hi Phil,

the North after all has still a much bigger pool of potential men to draw upon, continuing the war! As we know after Pickets Charge on day three, the ANV will never be in any major offensive mode again!?


MD



Dave, Larry and Greg,

Trying to compose a decent narrative about this, I find it difficult to get things together, but here it goes, FWIW....

In both of his forays North, Lee's men took a terrible beating. I note that there is a kind of harmony here between Sharpsburg and Gettysburg : Lee had twice as many men fighting at Gettysburg as he had at Antietam, and suffered roughly twice the casualties. In both cases, Lee deployed his men to maximum effect, in so far as there was reasonably even distribution of loss throughout the different parts of his army. This was especially marked in contrast with the Federals, who failed to utilise numerical advantage as they might have done. At Gettysburg, for example, just the Union First, Second and Third Corps between them accounted for the greater part of the entire AOP casualty list. While Lee lost one third of his army, compared with Meade's loss of one fourth, there was a striking disparity in the distribution of loss. The arithmetic alone does not account for the whole story. The North had four times as many white men of military age as the South, plus the reserve of black soldiers who were to enlist in the Union army ; a kind of no brainer if it was just a simple arithmetical exchange. But it didn't work out as simply as that. The South was more skilful at utilising its manpower on the battlefield, and I get the impression that, Gettysburg notwithstanding, the events of the Overland Campaign indicate that there was a qualitative edge to the AONV, clearly demonstrated by the effective counterattacks in the Wilderness on 6 May. and in the ability to recover and hit back lethally at the Petersburg Crater after the shock of the mine explosion. We read about the ineptitude of the Union assault, but it was the skill and ferocity of Mahone's men that might be cited as the most remarkable feature of that sorry affair. The huge pool of yankee manpower did not translate well to advantage when we think about the way Ewell's ragged veterans slaughtered the men of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery deployed as infantry along the Spotsylvania lines on 19 May 1864......and the rebels were the attackers here. Look no further than the abysmal performance of Hancock's Second Corps at Reams Station in early August, if you seek to see which of the two armies had been more damaged by the attrition of that terrible campaign.

The awful lessons of Gettysburg - a dreadful experience for the South - were better assimilated and applied by the AONV than they were by the AOP : the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg battles convince me that we must apply a more nuanced view to the way that the numbers played out in the aftermath of Gettysburg.

Regards, Phil
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"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
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6508
Joined: 2006
July 3, 1863
7/6/2021 9:50:32 AM
Hi Phil, Larry, & Greg,

Nice discussing this point with, y'all,

Phil, You are correct if you are portraying Lee and The ANV as still the more effective fighting force, after Gettysburg, all things being equal!? But we're not, with Ulysses S Grant at the Union helm, you have someone as you say, in every way loses at the Wilderness, but keeps on coming! Who loses at Cold Harbor but keeps on coming! Who losses at Petersburg but again keeps on attacking! Call him the Butcher if you want!? He will give Lee no rest, he uses his Cavalry to keep on flanking the ANV, until in April 1865 he finally cuts Lee off from his supplies, & it's game, set, match, USS Grant!? So winning the battles & the ANV out preforming the AoP does happen for Lee after Gettysburg, but winning the war doesn't!?

Regards,
MD
----------------------------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5100
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/6/2021 11:20:03 AM
Dave,

Let me be the first to admit that I might have to reconsider !

For all my emphasis on the successful way that Lee spread the burden of the fighting throughout his army, it remains a stark fact that the fate of North Carolina at Gettysburg was to suffer disproportionately heavy casualties : if the loss was distributed reasonably evenly between the three CSA infantry corps, the same could not be said for the share borne by the individual states. The subsequent humiliation of the rebels at Rappahannock Station several months after Gettysburg might well be attributable in some degree to the resentment felt by the " Tar Heels" at the way they had been put through the grinder at Gettysburg. Arguing for a more nuanced approach to the interpretation of the numbers, I now concede that I might do well to take a more nuanced view myself !

As for Grant and his persistence and resolve, yes, I'm in heated agreement with you.

That said, I still feel that the fighting skills of Lee's army in the Wilderness Campaign were at the peak of their development, and the bloodshed that was inflicted on the yankees in this fighting stands as eloquent testimony to this.

Regards, Phil
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"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
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 106
Joined: 2020
July 3, 1863
7/27/2021 4:40:44 PM

Phil, Larry, Dave Greg & Group,
Sorry I have been out of action but have been reading along when I can.
But one thing caught my eye;
“if Lee wins at Gettysburg, the North after all has still a much bigger pool of potential men to draw upon, continuing the war!” (MD)
1)
The original call 61 for union troops was for 500k; they got something like 685K.
In Oct 63 and feb 64 called for 300k & 200k; only 281k responded.
Military pop of union states (excluding borders states) was 3.9m 3.5x confed 1.1m.
south effectively produce about 95%+/- of available men. Union about 70%. And standard 3yr terms ratio was 3/2.
So to point that had lee won substantial victory at Gettysburg; it may have been partly mitigated by superior manpower/recruiting; we can reasonably say not so. With union victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, union recruitments were already showing decline.
A major confed victory at Gettysburg would have been a important morale and political wound. 63 draft riots after gettyb victory and previous 12 mos of confed successes. Its reasonable to expected reduced recruiting and manpower advantage would be harder to exploit.
2) Lee attack 3rd day
1813-1815 napoleon fought ten major battles. The attacker won 6 defender 4. Winners ave loss was 14% only one battle more than 20%; 2 less than 10%
1813-1860 in Europe attacker won 9/14 battles; ~65% nearly 2-1 for attacker.
4 major battles 1854-59; attacker won ¾; attacker loss ave less than 15%
American experience in Mexican war attacker won 6/7 battles; ~86%
The experience of the previous 50 years said attacker had a very reasonable expectation to win.
Lee had every right to expect that with longstreet making a full and forthright effort the 3rd day attack would succeed.

Thanks, Mike_C
mikecmaps
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 808
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/27/2021 5:20:02 PM
Quote:
Lee had every right to expect that with longstreet making a full and forthright effort the 3rd day attack would succeed.


Mike,

I kinda struggle with this....

1) I think that it can be argued that the rifled musket significantly altered the probability that a frontal assault could be successful. The attacking line (or column) would take heavy casualties much further from their target...which in many cases resulted in too many of the attacking infantry "going to ground" long before they came close to enemy lines i.e. good example would be what happened in front of the stone wall at Fredericksburg. The attacking Union infantry wasn't all shot down before they could reach the wall....but once the firing got intense enough, the attacking infantry just went to ground and starting exchanging fire.

2) A quick review of CW battles would suggest that the vast majority of frontal assaults were abject failures. Successes? Gaine's Mill, I guess. Missionary Ridge, but that was primarily due to Bragg's less than brilliant troop dispositions i.e. half the infantry at the bottom of the ridge, that would fire a round or two, then scamper up the ridge, giving the attacking Union infantry "cover", plus Bragg's artillery was on the summit, not the "military summit", meaning that the guns could not be properly depressed to fire at the attacking Union infantry. And maybe Longstreet's eleven brigade attack on July 2nd, which did a pretty good job of rolling up the Union right flank. And Hood's attack on the second day of Chickamauga, but that was successful because Woods pulled an entire division out of the line, opening a gaping hole in the Union defensive line that conveniently coincided with where Longstreet's column hit Rosecrans' line.

3) But sending maybe 12,500 (at best) infantry into the centre of the Union line, over almost a mile of open ground...with plenty of Union infantry close at hand to patch up any holes that the PPT assault might make? Yeah, I now have 20/20 vision as to what did happen, but it looks like a pretty forlorn hope to me-:)

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 106
Joined: 2020
July 3, 1863
7/27/2021 6:50:45 PM

Steve,
Of course 20/20 hind sight makes us all military geniuses, yes. Does not change what the experience had been. Yes in the civil war attacker averaged a 1/3 result. There simply was no tactical change resulting from the rifled musket. And the same tactics were used in Europe upto 1914. So based on your 20/20 hindsight the only answer appears to be that no one should have ever attacked??
But better answer may have been better preparation/coordination and effort to strike a vunerable spot, eg chancellorville. Yes main reason for 3rd day result was leadership and coordintation etc IMHO.
Again answer: ACW commanders just did not have knowledge & ability needed to attack effectively. Marching around, put men into line, even pushing to attack; but basicly didn’t really know what they were doing beyond the most basic movements.

Thanks, Mike_C.
mikecmaps
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5100
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/28/2021 10:06:35 AM
Steve and Dave,

Gaines’s Mill in late June 1862 was extraordinary. Jackson, that stern Old Testament warrior, was impressed by the discipline and drill implicit in the feat of carrying such a strong position at bayonet point. “ Soldiers indeed ! “ was how he described the men in Hood’s command. Given the right determination and training, even the most formidable defences could be stormed. French soldiers at Solferino had demonstrated this, breaking the enemy centre by direct frontal assault, despite being faced by rifled muskets. The yankees at Fredericksburg accomplished something redolent of this 3 May 1863 in the Chancellorsville Campaign, and Upton’s troops performed it at the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania a couple of years later, 10 May 1864. Is it feasible that Lee might have been justified in expecting the same feats from his men when they advanced 3 July 1863 ? Failure to inform him of the damage already suffered by the units of Hill’s Corps on the first day meant that the deployment for the PPT assault was flawed. Were the American volunteers who comprised the bulk of the democratic citizen armies of 1861-65 cut from a different cloth from the old fashioned, regular armies ; did this pre-dispose them to “ go to ground “ and exchange fire, rather than press home the assault as the professional soldiers of old had done ? Guelzo certainly argues so.

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
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 808
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/28/2021 11:50:02 AM
Quote:
Were the American volunteers who comprised the bulk of the democratic citizen armies of 1861-65 cut from a different cloth from the old fashioned, regular armies ; did this pre-dispose them to “ go to ground “ and exchange fire, rather than press home the assault as the professional soldiers of old had done ? Guelzo certainly argues so.


Hi Phil,

I don't necessarily agree. There are certainly examples of "green" troops attempting things that more veteran infantry would shy away from....I do agree with Mike that leadership was very important. If you thought that the men commanding you would only order an attack if there was a good chance of success, you were more likely to attack with a strong element of élan. Perhaps a good example is Jackson's flank attack at Chancellorsville....his infantry knew that he had a track record of "victory" etc., and were willing to do much of what he asked of them.

I do think that "veteran" infantry was pretty good at gauging whether the attack he was involved in had much chance of being successful. Often (usually??) better at assessing the odds of success than the generals that ordered the attack-:) Hence, at Cold Harbor (hard for me to not type the "u" in the word harbour), much of the attacking infantry went to ground pretty quickly...knowing better than their generals that theirs was a forlorn hope.

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 808
Joined: 2004
July 3, 1863
7/28/2021 12:06:38 PM
Quote:
But better answer may have been better preparation/coordination and effort to strike a vunerable spot, eg chancellorville.


Agree. Too many attacks involved remarkably little forethought and/or practical planning. And, IMO, rolling up a flank was a much better idea than just throwing ten thousand men at a well defended centre. So yes, Longstreet's attack at Second Bull Run and Jackson's flank attack at Chancellorsville stand out. Albeit, both required almost willful ignorance on behalf of the defending Union armies. Clearly, Lee was fortunate to get to go up against a Pope or a Howard.


Quote:
There simply was no tactical change resulting from the rifled musket


Yeah, I have Griffith's "Battle Tactics..." on my bookshelf too-:)

That the tactics hadn't changed does not, IMO, mean that they shouldn't have....and frankly, a lot of the attacks that I would be especially critical of (Burnside at Fredericksburg, Pope on Day One at Second Bull Run, Lee on Day Three at Gettysburg, Lee at Malvern Hill, Sherman at Kennesaw, most of what Grant did during Overland and even during the first few days at Petersburg, given how badly those attacked were coordinated) were little more than (IMO) poorly thought out/badly planned/badly coordinated "forlorn hopes". There seemed to be little in the way of a realistic objective, other than to engage the enemy on unfavourable conditions.

Griffith argues that the rifled musket had little impact on the outcome of most or all CW battels...I struggle with this. However, that the long distance killing power of the rifled musket was not put to full use, due to poor training (or almost complete lack of the same), I won't disagree with. The low velocity weapons of the CW required practice to be effective much past 100 or 150 yards...and arguably, also a degree of "calmness" that would have been difficult to achieve during battle-:) Which does help to explain why most of the CW "firefights" took place at Napoleonic range.

s.c.

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