GDG- ISusquehanna River

CWMHTours at CWMHTours at
Wed Jan 25 18:52:59 CST 2012

I don't have a problem with the idea of Lee crossing the Pot R  at Whites 
Ford (Ford- not Ferry- n the Ferry was mile+ down the river from the  Ford.  
Plus you had several other fords all the way down to Rowsers S of  Seneca 
I can see that.  Plus it would scare the beejeeezers out  of Lincoln & 
A  Loyal Neo-Anti Unionist,

In a message dated 1/25/2012 5:25:41 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
pennmardel at writes:

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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