Gettysburg - July 3, 1863

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by KenH, Jul 3, 2005.

  1. KenH

    KenH
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    JULY 3 1863

    Lee's confidence was unshaken by the events of July 2. That night, he ordered Longstreet, who had been reinforced by Major General George Pickett's division, to renew his assault on the Federal left. Simultaneously, Ewell, who had also been reinforced, was to storm Culp's Hill. Stuart's cavalry, which had rejoined the army late that day, was ordered to march well east of Gettysburg, and attempt to penetrate to the Federal rear where they might disrupt communications and distract Meade.

    Meanwhile, Meade had determined to hold his position and await Lee's attack. However, at Culp's Hill he authorized XII Corps to drive Ewell's forces out of the captured Federal trenches at daylight. The Federal effort opened with a concentrated artillery bombardment which precipitated a tremendous musketry battle.

    With Ewell already engaged, Lee rode to Longstreet's headquarters to observe his preparations for the attack on the Federal left. Longstreet misunderstood his orders and was planning instead a movement to turn the Federal left. With the hope of a coordinated attack now lost, Lee was forced to modify his plans. He determined to shift his main attack to the Federal center on Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet was placed in command of the effort. The plan was first to subject the Federal position to bombardment by nearly 140 cannon, then to send Pickett, Pettigrew and half of Trimble's divisions (formerly Heth's and Pender's) - nearly 12,000 men - forward to smash the Federal center.

    While Longstreet made his preparations during the morning, Ewell's forces were defeated in their counterattacks on Culp's Hill, and withdrew around 11:00 a.m.

    At l:00 p.m., Longstreet opened the great bombardment of the Federal line. The Federal army replied with approximately 80 cannon and a giant duel ensued which lasted for nearly two hours. After the bombardment subsided, the infantry went forward. This has subsequently been known throughout history as "Pickett's Charge." Federal artillery, followed by musketry, cut their formations to pieces and inflicted devastating losses. A small Confederate force effected one small penetration of the Federal line, but was overwhelmed. The attack ended in disaster, with nearly 5,600 Confederate casualties. Meanwhile, three miles east of Gettysburg, Stuart's cavalry was engaged by Federal cavalry under Brigadier General David Gregg. The cavalry clash was indecisive, but Stuart was neutralized and posed no threat to the Federal rear.

    The battle was effectively over. Federal losses numbered approximately 23,000, while estimates of Confederate losses range between 20,000 and 28,000.

    Source: This description of the battle was taken, for the most part, from James M. McPherson's " The Atlas of the Civil War."

    - SOURCE
     
  2. 4His_glory

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    Gettysburg was a battle of "what ifs"

    If Longstreet had another 5,000 men would he have broken the Fedral line?

    If Ewell was sucessfull on the first day in taking Culps Hill, what would have happened?

    If the 20th Main had not made there historic stand would the Union flank have been turned?

    If Jackson had survived would there even have been a Gettysburg?

    Fun to speculate what might have been, but what took place is what took place. IMO I don't think it was as desicive a victory as some have made it out to be, considering that cautious Meade did not pursue Lee. Perhaps though he couldn't, perhaps he army was badly mauled and he deemd it best to rest.
     
  3. KenH

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    The Union lost about the same number of men as the Confederates. Meade thought they had done enough and that Lee was prepared for an attack. He wasn't.

    I started watching "Gods and Generals" last night(for the second time). I would like to watch "Gettysburg" today(I watched it on TNT years ago) but that is one looooonnnngggggg. movie.
     
  4. rsr

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    Add to your list:

    What if Stuart had provided Lee with accurate information on the whereabouts of the Army of the Potomac?

    Gettysburg was decisive in that the Army of Northern Virginia was thereafter on the defensive, leaving no room for Lee to maneuver his forces in the brilliant manner he did earlier in 1863.
     
  5. mioque

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    KenH
    I watched that film Gettysburg once. Still have difficulty believing folks watch that monstrosity for entertainment.
    ....general gives a short pompous speech...not very stirring battle sequence...different general gives a short pompous speech....not very stirring battle sequence....a couple of officers engage in exposition...repeat...

    The only good moment in the thing is when general Armistead points out the illustrious ancestry and great quality of himself and of the men serving under him.

    Another potentially great moment get's ruined for modernday political reasons when a Confederate general get's to explain to the British observer (colonel Freemantle) why the British will never enter the war on the Confederate side instead of the other way around.
     
  6. PatsFan

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    I love that movie! I have it on DVD. It probably helps that I've been to the battlefield several times.
     
  7. 4His_glory

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    You pretty much have to be a Civil War buff to enjoy "Gettysburg" and "God's and Generals".
     
  8. PatsFan

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    I'm sure you're right. For those of you who liked "Gettysburg," how does "Gods and Generals" compare? I still haven't seen it yet?
     
  9. KenH

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    It's probably a War Between the States history buff thing, mioque. [​IMG]
     
  10. Jim1999

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    Wife and I went to Gettysburg for 8 summers. Each time we got to see the reenactment. It was a marvellous sight. Not to glorify war, but to think that this actually happened just 66 years before I was born, and during my grandfathers lifetime. The thought brings it all into perspective.

    At the town of Gettysburg, there are stories within the story. We took our high school girls one summer and a friend of theirs. We thought they would be bored to death. Quite the opposite. All three were anxious to go again and it was all history........that most boring subject in high school.

    Cheers,

    Jim, Canadian and into the US Civil War theatres.
     
  11. 4His_glory

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    Gettysburg is the "Mecca" of Civil War buffs. Each time I go, I can't help but enjoy myself immensly. If you stand in the woods where the Confederates assembled before making their fateful charge, and look out across the field, you can't help but imagine those long grey lines marching to do the impossible.
     
  12. blackbird

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    Didn't Gettysburg fall along the same timetable as the seige of Vicksburg???

    I've visited the Vicksburg museaum and battleplacements----red posts indicate Rebel forces---blue posts indicate Federal forces

    Says one rebel to his buddy in the trenches

    "The poor Yankees have us surrounded!!!!"

    It was an obvious victory for the Yankees---too bad!!!
     
  13. KenH

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    Yes.
     
  14. blackbird

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    Yes. </font>[/QUOTE]Thanks, Ken! I visited the Vicksburg battleground not long ago----no earthly way the Rebs were gonna pull a victory from that----it was hopeless.
     
  15. fromtheright

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    4HG,

    I'm not a Civil War buff but I did get a walking guided tour of the battlefield from my best friend who was an Army officer after he had just completed a staff study on the battle while at the Army's Command General Staff College. I've been rather captivated by that particular battle of the Civil War ever since though I've still not developed any passion for the Civil War in general.
     
  16. robycop3

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    Mioque...many Europeans may not be as familiar with our Civil War, just as we aren't often well-informed of the Dutch-British naval battles of the 1650s with such names as Tromp, De Ruyter, Blake, and Monck standing out.

    As for Gettysburg...it began when some Confederates, scrounging for shoes in the town, encountered some Federals, the advance guard of Meade's army. Soon, a full-scale battle loomed. Meade, a skilled defensive specialist, believed he faced a much-larger Rebel force, and so formed a defense upon Cemetery Hill, which overlooked a large open area. Gen. Lee's subordinates advised him the Union defensive position was nigh-well impregnable, but Lee was determined to attack, seeing a chance to destroy the Army of the Potomac, which was the main Federal force.

    The Rebels formed up on Seminary Ridge, about a mile away. However, Meade had no intention of attacking, but Lee didn't know that. He had sent his cavalry, led by General J.E.B. Stuart, to scout the Feds. Stuart, a very competent but flamboyant cavalry leader, rode entirely around the Federal army, as had been his wont in earlier battles, but this time he had cut off his force from the main battle and was unable to keep Lee posted on the Fed dispositions.

    To keep a long story short, for 2 days, Lee vainly attacked the Federal positions. The famous "Pickett's Charge" was carried out by more than just Pickett's forces. Lee had believed his earlier artillery barrage had softened up the Union positions, but they'd simply withdrawn from the Rebel artillery's range, knowing an attack was coming after the barrage ceased.

    This charge was across more than a mile of OPEN GROUND, and the Feds killed many Rebels by simply firing into their massed ranks. There was a wooden fence about 2/3 of the way to the Union lines, which had to be clinbed by the Rebels, and the Feds took advantage by loading their cannons with as many musket balls as they could safely fire & blasted them like huge shotguns into the Rebels stalled at the fence.

    The results were that Lee's last attempt to storm the Union position ended in disaster, and the effectiveness of the once-powerful Army Of Virginia was blunted for good. The Feds could easily replace their losses, but the Rebs could not. Lee then began a slow withdrawal from Pennsylvania, but the Feds had taken quite a few losses themselves, and made but little effort to pursue. Though Meade was croticized by those who believed he'd let a chance to destroy Lee's army slip away, his own army was in no shape to have done so, and he might well have suffered a larger defeat than the victory he'd just won.

    The Discovery Channel had an excellent re-enactment of the part of the battle involving that wooden fence, reconstructed from the voluminous descriptions of the battle made by participants of both sides.

    The History Channel detailed the heroic efforts of the population of Gettysburg, a town of only 2100 at the time, in trying to help the wounded from both armies, whose numbers were many times that of the townspeople. It appears they were responsible for saving thousands of lives, not concerned about which army they were from, all the while being acutely short of supplies and enduring the horrible miasma from thousands of bodies decaying less than a mile away, these including over 5000 horses and countless mules, donkeys, & cattle. THAT WENT ON ALL SUMMER! It was late fall before Lincoln was able to send a work force to take care of the bodies, and their first effort was the removal of the bodies of the animals. I believe the efforts of the townspeople should be recognized more.

    On July 4, the day after the battle ended, the city of Vicksburg, Miss., the most important post of the Rebels on the Mississippi River, surrendered to Grant, thus yielding control of the entire river to the Feds, effectively cutting the Confederacy in two. All chance for the Rebs to win the war by military decision were now gone.
     
  17. Jim1999

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    An interesting sidenote on the Battle of Gettysburg, despite the fierce fighting on both side, only one civilian was killed by a single stray bullet that penetrated a wall killing the woman.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. KenH

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    And don't forget the bayonet charge led by Joshua Chamberlain. Gettysburg might have turned out differently if not for quick thinking on Chamberlain's part. I have to give full credit to a Yankee on that one.
     
  19. 4His_glory

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    Chamberlin's "text book" charge was effective. Some times a quick attack by the defenders turns the tide of the battle.
     
  20. carpro

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    A little off topic but:

    I toured most of the battlefields of the western battles in Tennessee. Haven't made it to Gettysburg yet.

    It seemed like the South sent the worst generals they had to conduct the war in the west. They made one unbelieveable goof after another.

    The generals they did have that were worthy of the title were killed before they had a chance to command the western army instead of a division.

    Five, that's right, five confederate generals were killed at the battle of Franklin in one insane charge after another.
     

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