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 Post subject: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 9:09 pm 
I am currently reading up on the Battle of Gettysburg (again!) and am posing this question to the group for some feedback.

So who was the most responsible party for bringing on the Gettysburg battle?

Reynolds for committing the Union infantry to the battle early on? Heth for pushing a reconnaissance too hard? AP Hill for failing to control the drive of his divisions? Buford for choosing the ground to defend? Lee for failing to caution his generals to avoid bringing on a general engagement on July 1? Stuart for letting the Union Army advance so far north without warning Lee?

Any thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 9:54 pm 
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Hi,

Sounds like a team effort, don't it?

I'm thinking Gettysburg did the most to bring on the Gettysburg battle because with so many roads converging there it was a natural concentration point for armies.

I read even before Heth went to Gettysburg looking for shoes Lee had already ordered a concentration there, so it was just a matter of time before the armies clashed there. Whether it would have assumed the form it did, though, is open to question.

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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 10:09 pm 
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My vote would have to go to John Reynolds. Not only did he show determination and decisiveness in pushing his infantry forward, but even in death his resolve led his subordinates to fight there under the axiom that you obey the last order given. Who would countermand him? Not Howard, not Hancock and, ultimately, not Meade.
John Ferry
LTC 2/20th Corps


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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 4:16 pm 
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While there are a lot of good arguments as to what was the cause, (Southern Aggression comes to mind), I agree with MG Mihalik's contention that the geography of Gettysburg, (the road network), was the most important factor in bringing about the battle.

If there was no easy road access by all parties from a multitude of directions would there have been such a concentration?
I would argue no, and without that ease of concentration the battle could have easily turned into a clash, no doubt, but nothing more than a preliminary act.

It is interesting to note how often road networks are the major determinate factor of serious engagements.
The roads allow one to attempt to get "thar the firstest with the mostest" if I believe the axiom is correct.

Respectfully

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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 9:40 pm 
Well the town didn't start the battle. It was merely a geographic locale. The entire Tullahoma, Mine Run, and Bristoe Campaigns occurred around other such towns but resulted in little more than skirmishes. Someone has to initiate the battle and someone has to accept the gauntlet once thrown down.

Reading Sears's book on the subject he lays the decision at the feet of Heth and Reynolds. Heth for committing an entire division to a mere reconnaissance (and ignoring Pettigrew's warnings of the previous day that more than mere militia was in the town) and Reynolds for choosing the battleground and committing to it by ordering up all of I, III and XI Corps.

Later in the day Ewell could have halted the battle after the initial fighting in McPherson's Woods but he took the initiative to drive into the I Corps flank at Oak Hill. Rodes's poor deployment of his division (also lousy commanders in it) made for a less than Stonewall-like flanking attack. Still, I think Ewell's decision to attack (even without Lee's blessing) was spot on. Coming in on the flank of two enemy Corps was too good to pass on. Jackson would have attacked as well but likely would have led from the front and gotten Rodes's men in better formation and driven them harder.

A moment made for Jackson.... and he wasn't there.


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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 10:18 pm 
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Between Heth and Reynolds, Heth didn't really grasp what he was in for; Reynolds did.
If the Battle of Gettysburg had been a one-day event, it would have gone in the books as a Confederate victory. Even though Lee had given guidance (not orders) that a general engagement was to be avoided, he could not have been too upset by the results at the end of the day. Everything was spot on, as Blake says, even if there were lapses in execution. Jackson would have driven it home. Thank God for the Union he was not there.
John Ferry
LTC 2/ 20th Corps


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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 7:55 am 
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Has anyone asked themselves why? :roll: Heth was marching for shoes. So I would blame the good shoe makers in Gettysberg for being too good! :lol:

After all, in some ways the whole campaign turned into a gigantic raid. While the battles were fought, much material was gathered up and sent South, all the better to equip the Rebs for times to come. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 8:50 am 
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Meade chose it. He sent Reynolds with one third of his army their to take and hold it while the rest of his army concentrated. Lee was blinded by the lack of cavalry and just stumbled into it. Meade on the other hand new the exact positions of every division in Lee's army before the battle. The advantage of being the home team and using cavalry properly.

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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 3:01 pm 
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don't forget the national park service for putting a park there. everybody knows all civil war battles were fought in parks :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 4:27 pm 
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:roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 4:42 pm 
Dave Stotsenburg wrote:
don't forget the national park service for putting a park there. everybody knows all civil war battles were fought in parks :mrgreen:


Or, to quote an old girlfriend at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield, "how'd they fight with all this traffic?"


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 Post subject: Re: Who brought on the Gettysburg Battle?
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 12:11 pm 
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ROFL :lol:
I bet she had other attributes that stood out. :oops:

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