• Just because a man is a brilliant general doesn’t mean he’s infallible, and can’t make a crucial mistake.  You don’t fight a war like that for 4 years and then decided to throw it away by slaughtering thousands of your own men.  Grant earned the title butcherer through his willingness to use lives to win battles.  From everything I’ve read Lee cared about his men.  I find it inconsistent with everything I’ve understood about his character to think that he would intentionally order thousands of men to their deaths, in order to lose a war he’s been fighting for 4 years.

    Lee was not an idiot. He had to know that defeat would crush the South and send it into the third world status it achieved in post civil war/post reconstruction times. You’re trying to say that a man who cared deeply about his men, and his state, and southern society in general, who suddenly decide to throw it all away at once? I find that hard to swallow. Even the best men make mistakes, and I think that’s what this was.

  • @Cmdr:

    I apologize, I did accidentally replace the names of the two Cavalry commanders.  I am sure that Brigadier General John Buford was spinning in his grave being mistaken for Major General JEB Stuart.

    For that I apologize.  However, your condescending attitude about a simple mistake of using the wrong name only proves your position has no strength of its own and relies on attacks on the character of other conversation participants, Mr.  Smacky.

    it was quite a gaffe, and I think rather telling.

    Now, with that said, here’s how I see Gettysburg going down.

    2)  General Buford, realizing that there were 12 major roads passing through Gettysburg, and realizing that the Army of Northern Virginia (here-after referred to as ANV) would have extremely good positioning if he allowed them to pass and waited for General Mead (who was commonly seen as a man who would be patient and move slowely so as to not over extend himself) and that Gettysburg could mean the difference between stopping the AVN or not; put up a scrap (fight.)

    Buford had no idea what he was fighting against. The union had only the vaguest idea of Lee’s position. Lee had abolutely no idea where Meade even was. Heth had sent two brigades into Gettysberg. That’s ALL Buford had. He held Heth off for about an hour, then he  found himself up against an entire division and fell back. Reynolds arrived and was promptly killed.

    The confederates, through sheer luck, were able to get more men into the fight, and the Union withdrew to the hills. Ewell was in an excellent position to take the heights, but hesitated because he had lost a leg and just assumed command of Stonewall’s old Corps.

    Meade was a very competent general (Grant kept him on throughout the entire war), and shored up his position, wisely preferring to let Lee come to him. If Sickles hadn’t fucked up the entire line, the 2nd day would have gone disastrously for Lee.

    3)  General Heth, assuming he was attacking local militia, directed two brigades forward (under Gen. Archer and Davis), however he miscalculated, he was actually attacking dismounted cavalry who were soon supported by 1st Corps.

    Heth caused the Union to abandon the town, and just as soon as he was exhausted, Pender’s division rode up and attacked. The Union was in full retreat, and took a defensive position at cemetary Hill and Seminary Ridge. Ewell could have stormed the heights but didn;t.

    4)  Gen. Buford’s tactics won The Army of the Potomac (hereafter referred to as AP) the strong defensive positions.

    Luck (and Ewell’s temerity) got them the position.

    Thus, I say that General Lee’s army lost on Day 1.  They failed to achieve their primary objectives (getting the shoes)

    LOL, so Lee’s primary objective was to get shoes? He was there to compell Meade’s army to battle, and destory it.

    Day 2:

    1)  With the strong positions on Culp’s Hill, Cemetary Ridge and both Round Tops (Round Top and Little Round Top) dugin and defended with artillery batteries and infantry units; the AP deserted the less secure Gettysburg city for the stronger positions to the south of Gettysburg.

    Dug in? LOL, Little Round Top was defended by a Signal Corps. Both sides saw the danger/oppurtunity. There was a race to take it, Chamberlain got there with about ten minutes time to spread out his unit and dig in.

    Meanwhile, Sickles (an idiot who got his commission through politics) rode out ahead of everyone, and got his a** handed to him. Give him this though: he took the loss of his leg well, and donated it to a museum later. I think it’s still there.

    2)  Lee, smelling victory, directed General Longstreet’s First Corps to attack Little Round Top where he could roll up the APs “Fish Hook” emplacements.  Unfortunately, General Stuart’s cavalry was not present to give Lee accurate intelligence, and this allowed the 20th Maine, under the direct command of Colonel Chamberlain, as well as the defense of the Peach Orchard sent General Longstreets divisions reeling.

    Longstreet’s problem was he got lost. If he’d taken the right road, he would have been in a much better position to attack the Union’s flank. Longstreet hardly went “reeling”. The Peach Orchard was abandonded after Sickels was attacked on all three sides.

    It should be noted that in this engagement it was Union Commanders such as Colonel Chamberlain, who lead bayonet charges against superior numbers, that allowed the AP to destroy Caldwell’s Division, Anderson’s division, and many other of Lee’s armies.

    Highly doubtful. Chamberlain was in command of about 500 men. And as I showed before, both sides suffered similar casualties BEFORE Pickett’s charge. None of Lee’s divisions were “destroyed”.

    Meanwhile, the Union, having the defensive advantage, the strong defensive positions, and good internal lines, was able to switch out units as needed to keep the ground.

    So it is, on Day 2, after the Peach Orchard Battle, the Battle of Little Round Top, the Plum Run Valley (“Valley of Death”) and other scirmishes along the Union lines, and with the retreat of Gen. Lee without gain, that I award day 2 to the Union.

    Except that there was a whole nother attack going on against Hancock’s line. Ewell again delayed and the attack didn’t begin until 4. The confederates broke through in some spots, but it was too late to exploit anything.

    Ewell has a great quote about Gettysberg: “It took a lot of mistakes to lose Gettysberg, and I made most of them”. You have to admire people who were willing to accept responsbility for failure.

    The Union held there position due to several factors:
    1. Meade recognized the value of good defensive terrain
    2. Longstreet got lost
    3. Ewell lost his nerve (again)
    4. Chamberlain had been born

    Lee had come SO close attacking the flanks, the only thing left was to either retreat to fight another day (hard to do since the Confedrates were foraging from the countryside and were far away from their base of supply), or attack the center.

    Now.  After being bested twice in a row, not having achieved your objectives and not destroying your enemy.  With your enemy in control of the best defensive positions on the field and with you attacking from the worst possible angle.  With your general staff advising against your attack plan for day 3, your common sense as an experienced field commander telling you the battle is lost, why would General Lee order a suicide run with 3 divisions through an open field (a LARGE open field, it was over a mile from the tree line to the top of the ridge), over a picket fence which was sure to disrupt your formations and slow your infantry advance; against every gun the Union had in the region first firing concussive rounds and later firing grape shot?

    1. Lee WON the first day. The Union was in full retreat to the hills. It wasn’t a tactical decision. They got their asses kicked in the town itself. The hills were the only place left to go.
    2. Lee’s general staff supported Lee. Picket was raring to go. Only Longstreet was adamantly opposed.
    3. Lee had done a MUCH MORE daring attack at Chanclersville, seperating his smaller army into two smaller pieces. A capable general would have destroyed Lee. Lee had Jackson, and Fortunately, for Lee, Hooker had been in charge. The confederates had also won at 2nd Manassas, forced McCellan to abandon the Peninsula Campaign, won Frederickberg, tied at Antietam (DESPITE having their battlke plans fall into McClellan’s hands). All against long odds.

    Lee’s mistake was in believing that Meade was like all the other commanders he had bested. He finally ran up against a good commander with an excellent general (Hancock) in his command. Lee might still have done it (as someone else poiinted out), but his artillery barrage overshot the union lines.

    By the way, this was the mistake quite a few competent generals made in WWI. They believed that massive artillery barrages would pave the way for massed infantry assaults. Doesn’t work that way- the defenders just burrowed deeper, waited for the guns to fall silent, and mowed down the attackers. Tactics almost always lag behind technology. Guderian was probably the best general in history to RECOGNIZE, in THEORY, what the power of artillery, the tank, infantry, and plane could do, in combination.

    The only two options I have to chose from are:

    1)  Lee lost his mind and suffered from temporary insanity after having to admit he lost a battle for the first time in the war.

    2)  Lee sabotaged his own army for reasons personal to him, but which I will speculate relate to his desire to end the war to save further punishment on his home state of Virginia (who was suffering greatly as the AP roamed about pillaging and destroying.)

    Start with Sharra (Killer Angels), then read Foote and Catton for more indepth history. You will soon abandon this ridiculous theory.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator


    Jen, do you flame bait for the pleasure of it?

    I asked you to stop with the name calling BS and the flame bait.

    If you repeat this action again, I will request a temporary ban from GD for you.

    I’m not typing out his full name.  If he wants to be called something different he can bloody well change his name (highly recommended) or figure out something else to be called.

    I think you’re just a little biased in this circumstance.  It’s not flame baiting, it’s convenience.  I call you Switchy and that’s not flame baiting.  If I called you twitchy I could see flame baiting, but truncating a name and adding a ‘y’ is pretty much how everyone gets a nickname in this world.

    Superior or not, Dezrt, I think after your entire General Staff, the guys who helped you win all those battles, tell you there are no three divisions in the world that can survive that charge and produce victory at the end, maybe you should heed their advice.

    ST (is that one okay, or are you going to go crying to Master Switch again?  Cause I’m running out of names for you, boy.  not to mention you are really flame baiting and trolling around with all that “rather telling” crapola.  You know nothing about what I think or feel nor, obviously, do you have any idea about history based on what you’ve typed so far.)

    Are you a southerner or something?  Your stance on what happened is not echoed in any text book I have ever seen!

    General Buford knew who he was engaged with.  He knew that he had to hold the ANV from taking the solid defensive positions to the south of Gettysburg at all costs allowing the AP to pull up behind and get into position.  He bought that time and held off a force at least five times his numerical superior.  What did he have, like 2,000-2,500 troops?  What did General Heth have in 2 full divisions?  At least 10,000 possibly twice that.  I base that off General Pickett having 3 divisions equalling approximately 15,000 troops.  If 3 Div = 15,000 then 2 Div = 10,000 give or take.

    That’s not just a victory, that’s an amazing freaking victory.  That alone should have told Lee to move on and find somewhere else to go.

    Furthermore, Heth did NOT cause the Union to “abandon” anything.  Once the AP had dug-in and set up defenses in the highly defensible locations, Gen. Buford withdrew his halting force to the safety of the army.  It’s called a strategic redeployment.  (Not to be confused with how the term is used today.)

    Furthermore, YES!  Lee’s primary objective AT GETTYSBURG was to get shoes for his army.  It’s echoed in every major text on the battle and it’s even echoed on the worthless Wikipedia site.  If you can’t figure that out, I have to wonder if you know how to read.  No offense.  But that’s so common knowledge, every 5th grader and every contestant on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader knows it!  (Not to mention it’s the only part of the civil war we were taught as good little communist boys and girls in the Ukraine.)  I find it either silly that you claim not to know it, or sad that you really did not know it.

    Obviously Lee’s objective to invade the north was to destroy the AP.  However, the battle of Gettysburg was over shoes.

    Furthermore, the 20th Maine was NOT A SIGNAL CORPS UNIT.  It was an infantry unit.  Where ARE you getting your history from ST?  I hope you write a nasty letter to your history teacher complaining about the garbage s/he fed you in school.

    Lee lost on day 1.  You’ll have to show me evidence of his army storming up to the top of Cemetary Ridge to convince me he won.
    Lee lost on day 2.  You’ll again have to show me evidence of his army taking both Union Army flanks to convince me he won.
    Lee lost on day 3.  The more I listen to everyone defend Lee, the more convinced I am that he made the mistake on purpose for some long term goal.  What that goal is, I have no idea.  But it seems more and more evident to me that he did NOT expect to win that engagement and was throwing away the strength of his army for some purpose.

  • You have been asked, multiple times, to have a small degree of respect for the ID of another poster.

    It has been made clear that your repeated abbreviations ARE flame bait; and I have no doubt that they are intended as such.

    Lastly, there was no complaint filed.  I read the thread, and as primary Moderator of the GD Board I posted to put an end to BOTH of you continuing as you had been.

    One of you listened, the other is trying not to.

    I will say this one last time… ANY further flame bait will result in a temporary ban from GD.

    This is not open to discussion or debate.  If you wish to appeal, do so privately to another Mod or Admin.  I will consider further open discussion in this thread to be off topic and it will be deleted.


  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Post in violation of previous mod ruling deleted.

    –You just gotta love it when the mod fails to respond to the request.  I had asked if there was a name HE would approve of, since obviously any name I use is offensive to someone, somewhere, in some way.

    His answer, delete the post and make a cryptic response it was in violation of some previous mod ruling and therefore deleted.


    No offense Mr. Switch, but could you please get down on our level and deign to give us some input once in a while?  Cryptic responses don’t help much. (And yes, I’d prefer to send this through PM, but it seems the karma and messenger services are down right now.  Or you attempted to lock me out of something and only managed to prevent me from awarding some worthy people some good karma.)

  • I’ll quote from Bruce Catton’s “Never Call Retreat” (my favorite volume (first edition). My dad has the other two at his house).

    Day 1:

    pg. 183
    “by half past three or thereabouts the survivors of the two defeated Federal Corps were going helter-skelter back through Gettysburg to take refuge on the high ground South of town, where Howard has posted a brigade of infantry and some artillery to stem the rout.”

    “In killed, wounded, and capotured, the Federals had lost 9000 men, half of all they had put into action; the Confederates, with substantial losses of their own, had swept the field, and this first encounter had been a smashing victory for General Lee.

    Day 2:
    pg. 185

    “The army of Northern Virgina tried to storm Little Round top, fought in a gloomy valley, swept across the Emmitsberg Road, wrecking Sickel’s III Corps, mangling the V Corps of George Sykes, and each time it came within an inch of success but had to fall back before that final inch could be gained.

    Day 3:

    “So there was only one card left to play, and it was plkayed so magnificently that it is not always easy to see that it probably was a losing card all along

    That’s from someone whose forgotten more Civil War history than any of us will ever know.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Who is Bruce Catton and what is his credentials, ST?  (BTW, is ST okay?  If not, I need a different, SHORTER, name for you.  Honestly, I don’t know why you are so touchy, but whatever.)

    BTW, I am not saying he does not have credentials, just that I, and probably many other readers of these forums, do not know what they are.  For all I know he could be a recent graduate of the University of Nigeria.  (No defamation intended to the University of Nigeria, just the most unlikely university I could imagine someone who published a book in English to come from.)

    I, personally, tend to rely on Shelby Foote and the work entitled The Civil War From Fort Sumter to Perryville for most of my information, then confirm it with readings from other text books given out in what you Americans call your high schools.

    All of them seem to agree that Buford royally handed Heth his buttocks.

    Furthermore, I find it difficult (not impossible) to believe that Gen. Buford, who had at most 2,500 men, lost 9,000 men to General Heth.  It seems more likely to me that General Heth, who had 10,000 men (give or take) lost 9,000 before being forced by General Lee to withdraw.

    And, for the record, “within an inch of success” is the same as saying “failure.”  You either succeed or you do not succeed.  You know the famous quote: “Do or Do Not, there is no try.”  So again, I say that Lee lost on day two as well as day one.

    He lost on Day one because the AP (Army of the Potomac/Union Main Army) took all the good defensive positions denying them to the ANV (Army of Northern Virginia/Confederates Main Army).  Lee again lost on Day two when he failed to push the AP off the defensible ground and instead, lost significant numbers with little or nothing to gain for it.

    Furthermore, and this seems extraordinarily obvious to me, he lost on Day 3 when his ranks were decimated 4 or 5 times over by whithering sniper, artillery and massed fire from the Army of the Potomac’s defense of the ridge.

  • I must admit Jen that I am surprised by your ignorance of the battle. I expected better of you.

    On the first day of battle, the two federal corps that engaged Hill’s men where virtually annihilated, and on the second day Sickles corp was annihilated. The Southern army indisputably scored great tactical victories in both engagements.

    The important factor though, was the Lee was still on the offensive. He faced an enemy much larger and better equipped than him, yet he forced them onto the defensive. Lee had the initiative. Gettysburg had the potential to be a colossal Southern victory after the 1st and 2nd days fighting.

    And as for “Pickets” charge (actually on a third of the force was made up of Pickets men) I find it quite remarkable that some men actually made it over the stone wall after crossing a mile of open ground under heavy fire on a July day. (I walked that mile when I was 16, and it aint no picnic in July, and that was without being shot at) Now to think that those men did all that just so that the upper class could keep their slaves.  :roll: remarkable.

  • Official Q&A 2007 AAR League

    For those who want my favorite part of the story from the horse’s mouth:

    http://www.civil-war.net/searchofficialrecords.asp?searchofficialrecords=Chamberlain Gettysburg

    Cmdr Jennifer, Smacktard’s rebuttal is very much in line with every film, documentary and text I’ve read on the subject.

    I’m willing to take reference to Mr. Catton as authoritative:


    He won a Pulitzer Prize for history in 1954 for A Stillness at Appomattox, his study of the final campaign of the war in Virginia.

    Good enough credential for me.  🙂

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Basically, what I am hearing is this:

    You attack Caucasus with Germany and lose 67% of your infantry and kill 1% of the Russian defending infantry.

    Russia elects, on it’s own accord, to retreat to Moscow and give you Caucasus.  From there you launch an attack on Moscow and get soundly defeated again, doing 2-3% damage to the defenders and taking another 67%.

    Then, in an act of shear lunacy, you attack Moscow again but this time only with tanks, losing a full 80% before retreating.

    Now, you want to call all three of those battles victories for Germany?

    Honestly, I’d call all three of them defeats for Germany and victories for Russia.  And the same is true for the battle of Gettysburg.  Lee attacked on Day 1 and failed to get the land.  Buford fell back to more defensible lines, yielding the indefensible town to Lee.

    Then Lee attacked the dug in defenders at their main base and got stomped on both flanking attacks.

    Then Lee ran his last remaining units; under Pickett’s leadership (even though he only brought one of his own units, the rest were loaners) into a maelstorm of enemy fire with no chance of success.

    Now, you want me to believe after losing many more infantry units then the other side, and being denied the defensible terrain on all three days, that he WON!?

    No.  He lost on all three days.  Had he won on day 3, you may have had a chance to argue war by attrition to justify days one and two.  But he lost on day three, therefore, he also lost on days one and two because he failed to achieve any of his objectives on either of the first two days. (Military objectives, obviously.  If his objective was to get pancakes and maple syrup from the Gettysburg general store, then he achieved his personal objective of pancakes and syrup.)

  • I think I can succintly sum it up: You can either believe a Pullitzer prize winning author of more than a dozen civil war books… or Jen.

    M36, did you get a sense of history of the place? Ive always wanted to tour some of the battlegrounds but something always comes up.

  • '19 Moderator

    Smack, you put together a good assessment of the battle.  I don’t thing there’s any need for further argument 😉

    Thomas Jackson has long been my favorite General when all time periods are included.  It’s amazing what difference was made at the loss of one semi-crazy guy.  I think if Jackson had been there and in control of Ewell’s (as well as Hills) Corps things would have been different.  I personally think Jackson was the best commander the Confederacy had and Lee was used to giving him free reign and having success because of it.

    At any rate your analysis was as enjoyable to read, as Jens was entertaining 😉

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator


    I’ve been told we cannot call him “Smack” and, evidentially, I’ve been locked out of Private Messages because I called him thus.

    Anyway, I think your Bruce Catton may have put his opinion on history.  Lee most assuredly lost in all three engagements by any measurement I can apply to the battle.

    And no, “almost winning” is not the same as winning.  “almost winning” is the same as losing.

    You have Catton, I have Foote:

    Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. (November 17, 1916 – June 27, 2005) was an American novelist and a noted historian of the American Civil War. With geographic and cultural roots in the Mississippi Delta alluvium, Foote’s life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the Old South to the Civil Rights era of the New South. Foote was relatively unknown to the general public for most of his career until his appearance in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary The Civil War in 1990, where he introduced a generation of Americans to a war that he believed was “central to all our lives.”

    Upon approval for the new plan, Foote commenced to write the comprehensive three volume, 3000-page history, together entitled The Civil War: A Narrative. The individual volumes include Fort Sumter to Perryville (1958), Fredericksburg to Meridian (1963), and Red River to Appomattox (1974).

    Foote supported himself during the twenty years he worked on the narrative with Guggenheim Fellowships (1955-1957), Ford Foundation grants, and loans from Walker Percy.

    Foote labored to maintain his objectivity in the narrative despite his Southern upbringing. He deliberately avoided Lost Cause mythologizing in his work. He gained immense respect for such disparate figures as Ulysses Grant, William T. Sherman, Patrick Cleburne, and Edwin Stanton. He grew to despise such figures as Phil Sheridan and Joe Johnston. He considered United States President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest to be two authentic geniuses of the war. He stated this opinion once in conversation with one of General Forrest’s granddaughters. She replied, “You know, we never thought much of Mr. Lincoln in my family.”

    Foote went on to narrate many Civil War documentaries.  His penchant for speaking as if the war were currently going on was a favorite among viewers and writers a like.

    Now, i can’t say he ever earned a Pulitzer, not that a Pulitzer is all that big of a deal when they give it to simple journalists anyway.  But it makes you wonder, if a southerner says that Lee lost all three days, shows you numbers lost on both sides, goes into great detail on how and where Lee lost, maybe Lee actually lost?

    Especially when you put it in perspective of this game, as I did above.  You cannot say that when you attack with 5 times the size of the defender on day 1, get your butt handed to you and finally take what is given to you when the defender decides it is time to leave that you won.

    Same with day 2.  You cannot throw multiple waves of attackers at the defender, get kicked back to the curb each time, and pretend you won.

    And, while I don’t think anyone is arguing this point, on Day 3 he royally lost.  Sure, he made it too the stone wall.  Guess what, the Union made it to the stone wall in Fredericksburg too!  The men who crossed over were nominated, by Southern Soldiers, for the medal of honor.  BOTH sides knew, WELL in advance that those types of attacks were insane and not very fruitful.  Lee decided to destroy his army as a serious fighting force, decimating moral and reducing his numbers significantly making the attempt anyway - DESPITE ALL HIS OFFICERS TELLING HIM OTHERWISE (and yes, Pickett wanted into the fight, but he did not necessarily want to make the charge of the Light Brigade seem wise and victorious!)

    Therefore, there are only two options:

    1)  Lee lost his bloody mind, at least temporarily.  Much akin to the player who just lost Japan to America and makes a last ditch effort, against all the odds, throwing everything he has at Russia in hopes of luck playing to his advantage. (Almost never works, but there’s a chance, albeit slim though it is.)

    2)  Lee realized that his invasion was doomed and with it, the cause of the south.  Thus, if he could incur enough casualties, maybe he could dishearten the patriots of his country into surrendering before the Federals could re-invade his homeland and return to pillaging and destroying the countryside.

    As for me, I want to believe it is number 2.  However, if you want to keep convincing me it was number 1, feel free.

  • '19 Moderator


    I’ve been told we cannot call him “Smack” and, evidentially, I’ve been locked out of Private Messages because I called him thus.

    There’s nothing wrong with Shortening a name, several of the times you shortened his name were intentionaly antagonistic.  You obviously know that, so letts play nice and drop the subject. 🙂

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator



    I’ve been told we cannot call him “Smack” and, evidentially, I’ve been locked out of Private Messages because I called him thus.

    There’s nothing wrong with Shortening a name, several of the times you shortened his name were intentionaly antagonistic.  You obviously know that, so letts play nice and drop the subject. 🙂

    Let’s give back my access to PM and karma too. 😛

    And twice I shorted it to the last four letters, the time Switch flew off the hook I shortened it to Smack like you did.  (Sorry, I’d keep this in PM and out of the public eye, but for some reason my PM access was cut off.)

  • '19 Moderator

    If that’s possible to do, a mod can’t do it, only admin.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator


    If that’s possible to do, a mod can’t do it, only admin.

    Well, I’d ask an Admin, but I seem to not be able to do so.  Never heard of anyone being banned from private messenger. 😛  Generally thats where Mods send you complaints about what you are doing!

    So if you could ask and email me, that’d be great. (I can’t even look at profiles atm.)

  • Official Q&A 2007 AAR League

    Jennifer could you provide a citation from Foote contradicting the ones Smacktard provided from Catton?

    You have provided Foote’s credentials which I will not dispute as being less than Catton’s. I will accept Foote as authoritative a source as Catton.

    What you have not done is provide evidence that Foote agrees with your interpretation of events.  🙂

  • '17 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Who is Bruce Catton?

    Man i grew up on that guy, That American Heritage book on the civil war will remain the worlds greatest classic tabletop book on the Civil War. He was the Stephen Ambrose of the 1950’s and 60’s.

    I have like 3 copies of that book and i used to sleep with it under my pillow. The most fascinating thing was those brilliant pictures of the battle scenes with the little soldiers all drawn by hand in full color. In preschool and first grade i wasted half the day staring at that, studying the various feints and charges and battlefield stories that were told by way of pictures. Its what led me to start playing with toy soldiers and latter wargames, and still latter Axis and Allies.

    The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (1960) — Catton wrote the narrative portion of this book, which also included over 800 paintings and period photographs. It received a special Pulitzer citation in 1961.

    everyone must own the above book. No question about it. Its like a bible for the starting point on learning this historical period. by now on ebay its only like $5


  • Jen, what the hell are you under the influence of!!!??? On the first day of battle, the federal army was completely smashed. The 10th corp lost 10000 men in prisoners alone! The federals did not fall back, they ran as fast as their legs could carry them. They DID NOT choose to fall back, they where forced to.

    Smacktard: If you haven’t been to Gettysburg, you should really consider spending a couple of days out there. It is a little crowded, but to walk across the ground where general Lee’s men did is really quite an experience that words cant describe.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator


    Jennifer could you provide a citation from Foote contradicting the ones Smacktard provided from Catton?

    You have provided Foote’s credentials which I will not dispute as being less than Catton’s. I will accept Foote as authoritative a source as Catton.

    What you have not done is provide evidence that Foote agrees with your interpretation of events.  🙂

    I did before, maybe it got lost in the background.

    Shelby Foote: The Civil War, a Narrative

    Chapter 5:

    • Gettysburg Opens, Meade Arrives (notes wonderfully how the American cavalry and elements of the First Infantry Corps held off two full corps of the Confederates giving Meade all the time he needed to move into position to the south of Gettysburg and thus denying the Confederates the chance of taking those positions themselves.  Also notes how Meade was very cautious and very slow moving, which is why General Buford needed to make a stand to allow him time to move in.  Had Meade been a more expedient man, then this engagement would not have needed to take place, probably.)

    • Gettysburg, July 2: Longstreet (Notes how the Union repelled attacks in the Peach Orchard, Little Round Top and battles on the other flank of the army after repeated assault by some of General Lee’s best and brightest inflicting significantly greater casualties on the enemy then they themselves sustained.  Note, a causality is not a death, it is also wounded men.  Again, it is noted that it was rank and file Union leaders who won the day for the American army, not generals and general staff.)

    • Gettysburg, Third Day: Pickett (Notes how General Pickett desperately wanted into the fight with his boys, but his personal misgivings about the battle plan set forth to him from General Longstreet on behalf of General Lee.  This could be hindsight moping, but it is in his personal journals and his journals are referenced.  )

    • Gettysburg, Lee’s Retreat.  (General information of minor skirmishes between cavalry units as Lee tucks tail and runs for the safety of Virginia after being totally beaten at Gettysburg.)

    Here’s a review of his description of just the battle of Gettysburg:

    Gettysburg is described with such meticulous attention to action, terrain, time and the characters of the various commanders that I understand, at las, what happened in that battle.  Mr. Foote has an acute sense of the relative importance of events and a novelist’s skill in directing the reader’s attention to the men and the episodes that will influence the course of the whole war, without omitting items which are of momentary interest.  His organization of facts could hardly be bettered.


    Now, that said, one should also remember that it was much harder for Lee to replace captured cannons, destroyed cannons, lost men; etc.  The Americans had these materials in abundance and thus, could afford to lose more men then Lee if they had too.

    It’s said that Lee lost less then Meade on Day 1.  However, another point that should be raised is that the American Cavalry unit only had 2400 men and held off 9700 of Heth’s men for hours waiting for elements of the 1st corps to arrive.  By the time Lee was able to get reserves forward to help Heth, First corps was in place and helping Buford.

    After the day’s fighting, Buford and 1st Corps moved back to the rest of the Union lines, their job done.  They had allowed the Americans to gain the high ground and given them time to fortify themselves.

    To me, that’s a win.  You hold off a numerically superior force for an entire day, allowing 6 Corps of American infantry to get in line and dig in and then withdraw to more secure lines after inflicting serious wounds on the enemy, and I don’t see how anyone can call that a loss!

    Hell, boys, if you attack Caucasus with Germany, lose 30 infantry and 5 tanks, and I retreat 20 infantry, 10 tanks to Moscow (losing 15 infantry in the defense) that’s a win.  Especially if on your attack on Moscow goes bad and then I attack and push you all the way back into Europe!  And that, in game terms, is exactly what happened at Gettysburg.

  • You “note”? Here are some actual QUOTES from Foote (who NEVER considers the idea Lee ordered Pickett’s charge out of any other motive other than VICTORY).

    On Meade:

    "One more item concerned Lee, though few of his lieutenants agreed that it should be so. They were saying that Meade was about as able a general as Hooker, but considerably less bold, and they were exchanging congratulations on Lincoln’s appointment of another mediocre opponent for them. Lee, who had known the Pennsylvanian as a fellow engineer in the old army, did not agree. “General Meade will commit no blunder on my front," he said, "and if I make one he will make haste to take advantage of it.”

    Day 1:

    The Federals were retreating pell-mell into the streets of Gettysburg, already jammed with other blue troops pouring down from the north, under pressure from Ewell, as into a funnel whose spout extended south.”

    “These two hills, their summits a hundred feet above the town, which in turn was about half that far below the crest of Seminary Ridge, afforded the enemy a strong position — indeed, a natural fortess — on which to rally his whipped and panicky troops

    “Moreover, both of these reasons for continuing the offensive were merely adjunctive to Lee’s natural inclination, here as elsewhere, now as always, to keep a beaten opponent under pressure, adn thus off balance, just as long as his own troops had wind and strength enough to put one foot in front of the other.
            - The Federals are driven from Seminary Ridge”

    Day Two:

    “And yet, in light of the fact that each of the three attacking divisions in turn had come close to carrying the day, there was more to it than that. Specifically, there was Warren and there was Hancock, both of whom had served their commander in a way that none of Lee’s chief lieutenants had served him.”


    Odd, how Foote’s actual quotes dovetail with Catton. Both admit the federals were routed on day 1, both admit Lee had come very close on day two, and (though Foote doesn’t specifically mention Ewell), both talk about the strengths of certain Union officers (Chamberlain, Hancock, Warren), and the weaknesses of others (Ewell, Sickles).

    Now, as Drzt says, maybe we can put this to rest? What turned into an interestikng hypothetical has become an exercise in fanaticism and futility.

  • One last: Jen made the point that to almost win is the same as losing. Not true. For example, if I punch someone in the face repeatedly, and ALMOST knock him out, did I somehow lose the fight? Meade’s forces were defeated on the first day… Meade was punched repeatedly on the 2nd, but stayed on his feet… Lee thought he could land the knock-out blow with Pickett, and failed.

    That is basically Gettysberg, in one paragraph.


    Just to extend the metaphore further, Gettysberg was like a three-round fight:

    Round 1: Lee cautiously approaches Meade. Lee lands several devastating blows. Meade staggers. Lee continues pummelling Meade, but Meade is saved by the bell. Meade retreats to his corner and regroups.
    Lee wins the round.

    Round 2: Meade assumes a defensive stance. Lee pummels Meade the entire round, opening up several cuts. Meade reels, staggers, drops to the ground twice, but Lee misses several knockout blows. Meade counters and bloodies Lee.
    Lee narrowly wins the round on points.

    Round 3: Meade keeps his defensive stance, knows Lee will go for the knockout blow to the center. Lee begins the round with a weak attack that Meade easily counters. Lee and Meade circle each other warily. Lee, unaware he is ahead on points, throws one last desperate haymaker. Meade guards his center. Lee breaks his hand on Meade’s forearm. Meade, barely conscious, has a chance to finish the fight, but is too battered, bruised and bloodied to do anything but wait for the bell.

    Lee is unable to continue the fight. Meade wins a TKO.

    Edited cause I like boxing.

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