GDG- Inevitable defeat

Tom bunco973 at
Mon Jan 23 22:58:41 CST 2012

  Thank you, Joad - great points to consider - the meeting of Davis & Lee 
prior to the move north is (to myself), an obsessive mystery. Especially in 
the case of Davis himself - I'm surprised his Mississippi-centricity did not 
manifest itself in his decision, but I guess Lee was a better debater than I 
give him credit for. As per your post - I guess it was a chessboard strategy 
on Lee & Davis' part - either some of Lee's troops are sent west to 
reinforce Vicksburg, or, Grant will have to send troops east if Lee moves 
north. To only have been a fly on the wall for that crucial meeting 
resulting in the Gettysburg campaign.

Regards, Tom B.

-----Original Message----- 
From: joadx1 at
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 11:35 PM
To: gettysburg at
Subject: Re: GDG- Inevitable defeat

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:

I believe that the greatest Civil War scholars themselves cannot answer with 
any certainty what Lee was thinking when he persuaded Davis that a move 
north would be preferable than an attempt to relieve Vicksburg.  (It's worth 
remembering in this regard that Lee could have reasonably expected Johnston 
to do something and cannot be blamed that Johnston sat on his hands.)

And I'm not a scholar of the war at all, just an interested person.

But my sense of the matter, gleaned mostly from reading Catton and 
McPherson, and from what I know of Lee himself (I have read Freeman's 
biography), is that Lee genuinely believed that a move north would be more 
effective, strategically, than a move west.  I think that he was wrong in 
this, and that his thinking was restricted by his own very Virginia-centric 
point of view, but I think he was sincere in it.  My sense is that he 
thought if he could induce panic in the north (he did, after all, come very 
close to taking Harrisburg), that Grant would have to send troops east, and 
that at any rate that no besieging army could withstand a Mississippi summer 
in a malaria ridden swamp.  Who knows what would have happened if things had 
not gone wrong with Stuart, who was himself a victim of contingent 
circumstance?  What happened with Stuart was not unlike what happened with 
Lee's orders during the campaign that ended at Antietam: a contingency that 
wasn't, and really couldn't, have been
planned for.  Had Stuart returned to the ANV in a timely fashion (not having 
been blocked by the AoP), who knows what would have happened?  If McClellon 
hadn't received Lee's plans, who knows what would have happened in 1862?

In short, as McPherson argues in a number of places, contingency had so much 
to do with the outcome of the war.  This is the real reason why I say that 
nothing was inevitable.

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom <bunco973 at>
To: GDG <gettysburg at>
Sent: Mon, Jan 23, 2012 8:12 pm
Subject: Re: GDG- Inevitable defeat

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
   Disclaimer : I respect Lee, and a big fan of Longstreet - but - I
honestly feel Lee's finest hours was the Jackson episodes, thus deferring to
most of Dave's post. IMHO - Lee was an accomplished strategist - Jackson was
the tactician, deferring to your post of the Lee-Jackson combo. Sometimes I
wonder (at the risk of getting slammed in this group), whether Lee headed
North, besides the tried and true reasons, to stave off the chance of losing
some of his command to the West (Vicksburg especially). Commanders don't
like to lose troops to another command, maybe an ego thing ;-D. Not saying
Lee's best interests for the Confederacy were not in his heart, but the
acceleration of his movements after meeting with Davis was  (to me) a bit
suspect. If my musings are wrong, so be it, as I'm sure this esteemed group
will put me in the right direction - just a thought, though! (Have to go
back to lurker mode - starting to put my fat in the fire !!)

Tom B.

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