Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gettysburg-The Great Accidental Battle

Happenstance controlled a great deal of what happened at Gettysburg on Days 1 and 2. Lee could not have foreseen that AP Hill's corps would encounter Union cavalry in this town in south central Pennsylvania. Meade certainly hadn't planned on it. He had just received his command several days before.

The Union was very lucky in its junior officers. John Buford and his cavalrymen held the line until John Reynolds's corps could arrive. Gouverneur Warren ensured that Little Round Top would not be taken and the Union flank rolled up. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin saved that flank with the 20th Maine's defense and bayonet attack. If anything, the higher command served as a liability, especially with Daniel Sickles's movement of his corps that led to his forces being cut to pieces.

If not for the junior officers, the North's successful defensive maneuvers would have failed. It seems as if the North won in spite of the generals, not because of them. Fate placed capable, competent men into the right place at the right time.
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  1. Although Sickles move did cost him his Corps and his leg, I feel he gets too much flak for this move. Now I know that he wasn't a West Pointer so therefore he may ha no idea that this would happen, but I feel that by moving his Corp forward he did a good thing...even though he wasn't aware of it.

    Kinda like the "even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut" kidna thing.

    His corp didn't occupy the far slope of LRT and when he went forward he left that spot bare, which caught Warren's attention, who was able to get men up there. Likewise, all though at the sacrifice of his men, Sickles was able to weaken the Confederate advance just enough so that it did not overwhelm the 5th Corps units.

    Don't hear me praising Sickles as the greatest tactician in the battle, because he wasn't, I just think that people are a little--too--harsh on him.

    Great post!