Confederate Command With Jackson, Lee had grown accustomed to issuing broad orders and having Jackson respond in an aggressive, semi-independent fashion Death of Jackson required Lee to reorganize –Created three corps (Longstreet, Ewell, and A. P. Hill) –Ewell and Hill were new to corps command and Lee did not have the relationship with them he had with Jackson A. P. Hill
Confederate Command Furthermore, Longstreet, Lee’s only veteran corps commander, had misgivings about Lee’s offensive designs Instead, Longstreet felt that once the Army of Northern Virginia crossed into northern territory, the Federals would be compelled to attack. If the Confederates could select a good defensive position from which to receive this attack, they might gain another inexpensive victory like at Fredericksburg.
Confederate Command Lee will fail to adjust his leadership style to meet the needs of his new subordinates –“If I [would have] had Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg, I would have won that fight.”
Gettysburg Confederacy had to choose between Eastern and Western theaters –Grant was closing in on Vicksburg in the West Davis, Longstreet, Johnston, Beuaregard, and others all leaned toward a western priority However, based on Lee’s tremendous prestige, his argument for the Eastern theater was accepted –Relieve pressure on Virginia –Gain a victory on Northern soil Possibility of foreign recognition and a negotiated peace –Take Union attention of off Vicksburg
Gettysburg On June 27, 1863, George Meade was ordered to take command of the Army of the Potomac after Lee had already advanced into northern territory and the Union Army had pursued into Frederick, Maryland. –Meade said the order was “totally unexpected” and confessed “ignorance of the exact condition of the troops and position of the enemy” Meade assumed command under extremely difficult circumstances and would resolve to play it safe.
Gettysburg, Day 1 Stuart was riding around Federal army –Deprived Lee of his eyes Lee “had become dependent upon [Stuart] for information on the enemy’s position and plans, and in Stuart’s absence, he had no satisfactory form of military intelligence… The injudicious employment of the Confederate horse during the Gettysburg campaign was responsible for most of the other mistakes on the Southern side.” –(Freeman, R. E. Lee vol III, 147-148).
Gettysburg, Day 1 Battle began July 1 as forces met northwest of town –Both sides committed reinforcements –Confederate forces were closer and gain upper hand –Day ended with Confederates driving Federals south of town and Federals defending from Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill in a fish hook configuration
Gettysburg, Day 1 Lee’s orders: –Told Ewell to capture Cemetery Hill “if practicable”, but didn’t insist on it –Ewell decided not to –Federals were able to keep Cemetery Hill and use it as the foundation for their defensive line
Gettysburg, Day 2 Longstreet recommended the Confederates move south and east across Meade’s line of communications, find a strong defensive position, and force Meade into a costly attack. Longstreet was surprised when Lee insisted upon attacking instead and later wrote that he told Lee, “We could not call the enemy to position better suited to our plans. All that we have to do is to file around his left and secure good ground between him and his capital.”
Gettysburg, Day 2 In spite of his misgivings, Longstreet’s corps was to conduct main attack on July 2 against Federal left. Attack began late at 4:30 p.m. and without recon. –Consisted of massed artillery followed by massed infantry. –Severe fighting on Little Round Top saved the day for the Federals.
OCOKA Observation and Fields of Fire Cover and Concealment Obstacles Key Terrain Avenues of Approach
General G. K. Warren Warren surveyed the scene from the top of Little Round Top to the east and noted its criticality. Finding no Federal troops on Little Round Top he dispatched aides to find troops to defend the hill. Meade’s Chief of Engineers “Endowed with an excellent feel for ground.” –Clark, Gettysburg: The Confederate High Tide, p. 77
Obstacles “From the orchard, another ridge ran off to the southeast, terminating about 1,100 yards in a fantastic jumble of huge granite boulders called Devil’s Den. Between Devil’s Den and Little Round Top, 500 yards to the east, was a marshy, rock- strewn swale that would soon be known as the valley of death; through it flowed a little stream named Plum Run.” Clark, p.76 “This was miserable ground (the valley between Devil’s Den and Round Tops) for a fight, the rocks and gullies breaking up formation so that there seemed to be no connecting lines of any kind.” Catton p.291
Key Terrain “ The citadel of the field” James Longstreet “With this little mountain in the Confederate’s possession, the whole position would be untenable.” PVT Theodore Garrish “With half an hour I could convert Little Round Top into Gibraltar that I could hold against ten times the number of men that I had.” COL William Oates “If the Rebels ever got Little Round Top the whole of Cemetery Ridge would have to be abandoned and the battle would be lost once and for all.” Catton, p.291
Observation/Fields of Fire “In plain view of the Union signal station on Little Round Top, some of (Lee’s) forces were compelled to make a wide detour.. to avoid observation.” Storrick, The Battle of Gettysburg, P.26 “In front of and to the left, open fields stretched away…” Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War, Gardner, Plate 38 “A portion of Gettysburg…, located in front of Little Round Top, is known as the Slaughter Pen. Upon the conclusion of that engagement, the ground was found in many places to be almost covered with the dead and the wounded.” Gardner, Plate 44 “If Little Round Top were lost, the Union line on Cemetery Hill would be exposed to a deadly enfilading fire.” Catton, AH Picture History, P.335
Observation/Fields of Fire Little Round Top had been recently cleared of timber Therefore it had better observation and fields of fire than the more heavily wooded but taller Big Round Top
Cover and Concealment “Very craggy and full of boulders” Catton, P. 285 “Breastworks of stone and timber…instantaneously thrown up ….each change in the lines…was marked by defenses of stones, our troops never neglecting thus to protect themselves.” Gardner Plate 38
Avenues of Approach “An even fold of high land ran off southeast from the Peach Orchard in the direction of the Round Tops. This ground was rugged, with little hills and ravines and woods and rocky ledges, and if the Rebels got in there they would be squarely on the Federal left flank and it might be extremely hard to dislodge them.” -- Catton, P.286
Gettysburg, Day 3 Longstreet opposed renewing the attack and again urged a turning movement. –Lee ordered attack nonetheless. Result was “Pickett’s Charge.” –Inelegant massed artillery and massed infantry frontal assault. –Confirmed the lethality of the defense and weakness of the tactical offense. –“Highwater mark of the Confederacy”
Frontal attack The frontal attack is frequently the most costly form of maneuver, since it exposes the majority of the attackers to the concentrated fires of the defenders. As the most direct form of maneuver, however, the frontal attack is useful for overwhelming light defenses, covering forces, or disorganized enemy resistance. Commanders may direct a frontal attack as a shaping operation and another form of maneuver as the decisive operation.
Gettysburg, Day 3 “For every Southern boy, fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it there is an instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances, which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time, Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain.” –William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust
Gettysburg Lincoln urged Meade to follow up on his victory –“The opportunity to attack [Lee’s] divided forces should not be lost. The President is urgent and anxious that your army should move against [Lee] by forced marches.” Meade made a halfhearted show of pursuing, but Lee withdrew back to Virginia Meade and his staff. Gouverneur Warren and Henry Hunt would staunchly defend Meade’s decision not to aggressively pursue Lee.
Gettysburg “Meade was on the road with his troops, an infinitely weary man with dust on his uniform and his gray beard, feeling responsibility as a paralyzing weight. He had been one of the few men who could have lost the war irretrievably in one day, and he had managed to avoid the mistakes that would have lost it. He would continue to avoid mistakes, even if he had to miss opportunity… Meade could see all the things that might go wrong…” –Bruce Catton Union dead at Gettysburg
Gettysburg Lincoln believed Meade has failed –“I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.” On Nov 19, Lincoln went to Gettysburg to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery and delivered the “Gettysburg Address”
Gettysburg Results Army of Northern Virginia lost 20,000 (1/3 of strength) –Lee’s offensive capability blunted for rest of war “It’s All My Fault” by Mort Kunstler
Gettysburg and Vicksburg Defeat at Vicksburg and Gettysburg cost Confederates about 50,000-60,000 casualties. –More manpower loss than Confederacy could sustain. Gettysburg remains the largest and costliest battle in North America. –Three-days of fighting cost both sides about 50,000.