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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