GDG- ISusquehanna River
dherko at kc.rr.com
dherko at kc.rr.com
Wed Jan 25 16:34:45 CST 2012
Lee's freedom of movement would be hampered after a fight of any substance. The retreat from Gettysburg showed the problems Lee had and the long the campaign would have lasted before such a climatic battle, the sum of skirmishes before such a battle would have put a drain on Lee's limited War resources. Ammo, fresh horses, cannon, horse shoes, stuff he could not procure from the citizens of PA.
Meade fought a campaign of movement at Mine Run and Bristoe Station and it was Hill that made the biggest mistake not Meade with his cumbersome Corps Organization Newton, Humphreys, French, Sykes and Sedgewick with Pleasenton.
I do not know if Lee could have fought him in detail, because Meade was unwilling to risk the Army in such a way just like the other McClellanites.
---- Tom Ryan <pennmardel at mchsi.com> wrote:
> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> Just to add a couple of points to what has already been said, further evidence that Lee planned to cross the Susquehanna was Early ordering Gordon to capture the Wrightsville-Columbia Bridge, a few miles northeast of York. However, PA militia burned the bridge before Gordon could capture it. This is what Early said about this incident in his report (OR, 27, II, p. 367):
> "I regretted very much the failure to secure this bridge, as, finding the defenseless condition of the country generally, and the little obstacle likely to be afforded by the militia to our progress, I had determined, if I could get possession of the Columbia Bridge, to cross my division over the Susquehanna, and cut the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, march upon Lancaster [about 15 miles east of the river], lay that town under contribution, and then attack Harrisburg in the rear while it should be attacked in the front by the rest of the corps...."
> This statement seems to give credence to the plan for Lee to send his troops across the Susquehanna, and, at the very least, attack and capture Harrisburg. It should also be noted that Gordon later wrote that he planned to send a contingent toward Philadelphia, however, there appears to be no way to determine whether this was an exaggeration on his part.
> At any rate, Early continues in his report:
> "...relying, in the worst contingency that might happen, upon being able to mount my division from the immense number of horses that had been run across the river, and then move to the west, destroying the railroads and canals, and returning back again to a place of safety."
> The way I read this last part of his statement is that his division, and by extension the rest of the army, would stay on the east side of the river accomplishing whatever goals General Lee had in mind. However, if the ANV ran into trouble in the form of a large number of Union troops, then they could still retreat back across the bridge which had been secured to the west bank and onward "to a place of safety." Those ANV troops further north around Harrisburg would presumably retreat across the river in the same way they forded the river initially.
> In addition, when this subject came up on the GDG a while ago, I argued that Lee did not have to rely on a single direction of retreat, specifically retracing his steps back across South Mountain, but could have logically moved south toward Washington and crossed the Potomac in that vicinity. As I recall there were few, if any, who agreed with this scenario. But, as I recall, there was no evidence given that this route of march was not feasible for Lee's army to travel.
> Regards, Tom Ryan
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