GDG- Harrisburg

Tom bunco973 at
Wed Jan 25 19:52:05 CST 2012

  Excellent post, Tom - (and not only because we have the same initials) 
That was my interpretation of those articles. Just depends which school you 
choose. Personally, I favor Hewitt - he really lays it out.

Tom B. (The Other one)

-----Original Message----- 
From: Tom Barrett
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 7:15 PM
To: 'GDG'
Subject: GDG- Harrisburg

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:

OK, for what it is worth (0) here's what I think.

I've read through Tom B's (the other one) excellent NPS Seminar papers...
particularly Tony Nicastro's "Why G'burg" and Hewitts "Our whole force was
directed..." - not that I could be tested on them, but enough to understand
what they were saying.

As some of you know by now, they almost contradict each other.

The first clearly points to Harrisburg as the objective of the mission.

The second, in very great technical detail, shows that, although it was
intended to look as though that was the objective, it was likely only a
"demonstration", a feint with the intent of drawing the AOP toward
Harrisburg, especially in the last days of June.

I think Lee had an objective in mind all along, but that it wasn't a
physical objective.  I think he wanted to draw the AOP far enough north so
they couldn't anchor on "Fortress Washington", to tire them and to spread
them out and then to use his rested troops to jump the AOP Corps
individually and to defeat them piecemeal.  The defeat of the AOP was his

Harrisburg made a nice target for that plan.  Threatening it would make the
Pennsylvanian politicians go nuts and demand help from the then-Hookers led
AOP.  If they didn't react fast enough, well then, take the town and sack
it.  He could keep wreaking havoc in the general area until he got the
inevitable reaction he sought.

Hewitt points out that they were doing just that- seeming to threaten
Harrisburg, but dragging their feet- not making the dash that one would
expect if they were really intending to take the town before the defenses
could be beefed up.

That kept them in a position to concentrate when the call came.

I really think they expected the AOP to come rushing up, and to be able to
defeated tired disorganized groups of Yankees.

I don't think Harrisburg or the Susquehanna river mattered much to Lee.  To
him it was simply a convenient place on the map.  If the AOP were to come up
on the East, he'd move East.  If not, he'd stay on the west bank.

I also think, Halleck not withstanding, that the ANV, as a field army
designed for maneuver, wanted no part of "Fortress Washington" and siege
operations.  They were a field army out to defeat another field army.

Enough words for now...



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