GDG- Neither this Capital nor Harpers Ferry could long hold out against a large force

Jack Lawrence jlawrence at kc.rr.com
Wed Jan 25 15:27:31 CST 2012


Andy,

Meade had construcyed a multiple fort defensive line of some 33 miles around 
DC.
It is my impression thoyugh that it wasa not fully manned,
rom Coddington we know that defending Pennsylvania was the bigger concern 
than DC though, with Stanton establishing the first ever National Reserve 
with a commanmd center i Harrisburg, under Curtain (even though it was a 
flop).

A I read your blurb (did not go into the OR you cited), Halleck was just 
pushing Hooker, whom he did noot like, a little harder.

Obviously, the AoP was the DC first line of defense, which is that Halleck 
is saying.

But who knows.

To respond to some earlier speculation about a what happens if Lee defeats 
the aoP in detail, which means renders it militarily ineffective as a 
fighting force, obviously they exfiltrate to Dc and see if Bobby lee wants 
to test his luck.

Lee, if he is smart, goes home anyway. He might try Philidelphia or 
baltimore though, as the British learned, it was defensible to a fault.

The Harrisburg thing is, IMHO, militarily unsound.

More certainly though is Lee is not going to defeat Meade in detail, but 
rather drive him off the fish hook. In which case he goes back to Pipes 
Creek.

And Lee gets degeated in detail.

Regards,

Jack
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Andy Mills" <amills at jplcreative.com>
To: "GDG" <gettysburg at arthes.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 10:08 AM
Subject: GDG- Neither this Capital nor Harpers Ferry could long hold out 
against a large force


> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> In reading one of the articles posted earlier ( 
> http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/gett/gettysburg_seminars/10/essay4.pdf ) 
> , on page 144, Halleck is quoted as to have said:  "Neither this
> Capital nor Harpers Ferry could long hold out against a large force. They 
> must depend for their security very much upon the co-operation of your 
> army"
>
> It has been said in this forum that Washington was a nearly impenetrable 
> fortress and the ANV could never actually capture the city.
>
> But this quote makes it seem that he feared very much for the safety of DC 
> and I have to believe Lincoln would also feel this way, or Halleck 
> wouldn't be able to send such telegrams to the army.
>
> Did they see a reality that is we don't see today?  Were the forces that 
> defending Washington DC impressive on paper, but troops to which you 
> couldn't rely on when the fighting got heated?  In 1863, how many troops 
> defended the capitol and were they mostly green troops with short 
> enlistments?   What makes us today claim DC was unable to be taken when 
> the military men of the time thought the exact opposite?
>
> I know there are a lot of questions, but I am trying to figure out the 
> differences in beliefs and if this is all with the hindsight of history to 
> know Lee / ANV / Confederacy never had the capabilities the Union / US 
> high command believed they were capable of.
>
> Thanks,
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