Conclusion of a series.

Cross-posted at Emerging Civil War.

After examining the evidence, it seems clear that Senator Wade’s inflammatory and defamatory statements about Meade’s conduct of the pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia were simply incorrect. Given the circumstances under which he was forced to operate, the army commander did everything possible. His army had suffered massive losses, had lost its three most aggressive corps commanders, was saddled by constraining operating orders, faced severe logistical challenges, and then had to confront an incredibly strong defensive position under the command of one of the greatest military minds ever born in the North American continent.

“When Lee retreated to the river he selected a splendid position and fortified it …

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Part five in a series

Cross-posted at Emerging Civil War.

In the previous installment, we examined George Gordon Meade’s decision to defer an all-out assault along the lines at Williamsport for a day, instead of following his own aggressive instincts. Instead, he listened to the opinions of a majority of his subordinates, who cautioned against the attack. Not to be deterred, Meade ordered an all-out assault for July 14. However, when that all-out assault kicked off, the Army of the Potomac discovered that the Confederate army was gone, having retreated across the Potomac River. In this installment we will examine the question of whether that all-out assault might have succeeded had Meade launched it on July 13 instead. Unlike …

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Part four in a series.

Cross-posted at Emerging Civil War.

In part three of this series, we examined the question of how George G. Meade’s operational orders and the logistical challenges forged by the atrocious weather affected the Army of the Potomac’s pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg. In this part, we will examine the question of whether Meade should have attacked Lee’s positions around Williamsport earlier than the general advance that he ordered for the morning of July 14. When that advance finally occurred, the stout Confederate defenses were empty, with the bulk of Lee’s army having already made it to safety across the Potomac River.

Logistics continued to be a problem. …

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Part three in a series.

Cross-posted at Emerging Civil War.

General Robert E. Lee

General Robert E. Lee

In part two of this series, we examined the impact of the heavy losses sustained by the command structure of the Army of the Potomac on its ability to bring the Army of Northern Virginia to battle again before it could cross the rain-swollen Potomac River after the Battle of Gettysburg. In this part, we will examine the operating orders and operating environment that greatly hindered Meade and kept him tied to Gettysburg for three days after the end of the battle.

At all times pertinent, Meade was under orders to ensure that his army remained interposed between Lee’s army and Washington, D.C. This mandate …

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Part two in a series

Cross-posted at Emerging Civil War.

In the first installment of this series, we reviewed the findings of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War with respect to the conduct of the pursuit of the defeated Army of Northern Virginia by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac. Specifically, the Joint Committee’s report, penned by Radical Republican Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio, condemned Meade’s conduct of the pursuit. Wade claimed that the army commander’s pursuit was conducted too timidly and too slowly, thereby allowing the defeated Confederate army to escape. This article will examine how the heavy casualties among the Army of the Potomac’s command structure severely inhibited its ability to …

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imrsHere is some fascinating food for thought on how the Confederacy is remembered today, and why pernicious myths about it spun by Lost Causers greatly impact the way we remember it today. I think that the analysis set forth in this article is right on the money. It appeared in the July 1, 2015 edition of The Washington Post.

Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy? Because our textbooks and monuments are wrong. False history marginalizes African Americans and makes us all dumber.
By James W. Loewen, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont, is the author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader.”

History is the polemics of the victor,

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Part one in a series

Cross-posted at Emerging Civil War.

Maj. Gen. George G. Meade

Maj. Gen. George G. Meade

My two most recent posts dealt with the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War’s attempt to crucify George Gordon Meade for allegedly deciding to retreat from the battlefield at Gettysburg. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles made those allegations in an attempt to deflect criticism from his disobedience to Meade’s orders at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863 and also because he was angry at Meade for rebuffing his attempts to return to command of the III Corps in the fall of 1863. Sickles’ disobedience subjected his III Corps to near destruction at the hands of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s sledgehammer attack up the …

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Maj. Gen. George G. Meade

Maj. Gen. George G. Meade

This is the second part of a two-part series that was cross-posted on Emerging Civil War.

In part one of this two-part series, we examined the content of the Pipe Creek Circular, and we also looked at the Pipe Creek Line itself. In this, the second part, we will examine the controversy created by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s handling of the Pipe Creek Circular. Specifically, we will examine its role in the controversy that Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles stirred up to deflect attention away from his own conduct at Gettysburg. To recap briefly, Meade had the Army of the Potomac’s engineers lay out a very strong defensive position along Parr Ridge, a …

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The Pipe Creek Line as designed by the Army of the Potomac's engineers

The Pipe Creek Line as designed by the Army of the Potomac’s engineers

This is the first part of a two-part series that was cross-posted on Emerging Civil War.

No battle of the American Civil War has generated more ongoing and enduring controversies than the Battle of Gettysburg. With the anniversary of the battle looming once more, I wanted to address one of the more heated and oldest controversies of the battle, the Pipe Creek Circular and how it impacted the outcome of the battle. This two-part series will address the Pipe Creek Circular and its implications for the Army of the Potomac.

On June 30, 1863, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, who had only been in command of …

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Joshua_Chamberlain_-_Brady-HandyOn this July 3, the 152nd anniversary of the conclusion of the Battle of Gettysburg, this ageless valediction proves itself to be true once more, explaining why so many find themselves inexplicably drawn to the battlefield at Gettysburg, including me:

“In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls… generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power

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