GDG- ISusquehanna River

John Lawrence jlawrence at
Wed Jan 25 20:24:51 CST 2012

Not to waste words. One only has yo glance at a theater map to realize that Lee separating himself from the Valley by a single day placed the ANV in mortal peril.

You know, this whole two cop thing is based on some comments that are based on less than a frag order. Every military in the world has open plans on file based on what ifs.
Before WWII, Canada had a plan on file for, war with the United States.
But somehow, on the flimsiest shreds of speculation (no evidence) 
So we now have Lee AND two corp on the other side of the river, cut off, and no plan other than "more than mischief".
My favorite is the one about that most Falstaffian of Confederate officers, was sent scurrying off by Lee to help with this fubar.

If you want to pluck floating fragments of historical flotsam and quilt them together, fine with me.

But when I put a theory together, I start with a map follow what was done on the map. Then it all makes sense.

In this case, Lee snuck around Hooker and proceeded north. I think, but cannot prove that he planned to fall back on the AoP and destroy in sequence.
Once he was not pursued, any plan he did have was moot.

So now he is trapped in the Cumberland with the AoP to his rear.
I think that is a reasonable statement for me to make.

So what is a general to do.

Well, since he was effectively surrounded (he could, of course) go in any direction but home, but even west lodged him in the mountains, subjected him to total isolation and an AoP envelopment outside the valley and north subjected him too bushwackers and further separation.
So, as we learn from sun tzu, he attacked' every where he could, with no DISCERNABLE  MILITARY objective than to confuse and alarm the enemy with the purpose of drawing the AoP north and freeing up his rear.
I emphasize, Lee gained nothing militarily from this operation other than freedom to his rear. Even so, his incursion was over. Any idea of gobbling up the AoP  as it floundered in the ANV's wake was finished. He now simply needed to gather his own army and make do with his situation.
I truly believe that Lee's best move at that point was to leave.
But if course the ear, as ward always are, was it's own master.

They armies bumped into collided, decisions were made at the mid command level (a subject for discussions elsewhere) and the battle occurred.

Everything that happened after Lee crossed the river was based on decisions made by others.
As in all operations like this go the plan lasted 10 minutes. Then the war had it's way.


CWMHTours at wrote:

>Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
>Excellent comments  George!
>Semper Fi! Mac!
>A  Loyal Neo-Anti Unionist,
>In a message dated 1/25/2012 5:58:43 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
>georgeconnell at writes:
>Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:
>I have no problem with this interpretation Jack, as  long as you recognize 
>it's just an opinion. Keep in mind though, Lee, at one  point envisioned 
>himself and at least two corps on the east side of the  Susquehanna, with is a 
>bit more than "mischief." 
>I think we all need  to remember that none of us know what Lee had in mind. 
>We can only use the  hints in the historical record to speculate. I, for 
>one, think his ties to the  Cumberland Valley were important, but not nearly 
>as important as seizing an  opportunity to destroy the AoP. Keep in mind that 
>Meade had orders to stay  between Lee and Washington/Baltimore. If Lee were 
>to move east, Meade would  have had to move even farther east to follow his 
>orders. Before long, the  Cumberland Valley becomes less and less relevant.
>Hoping for a reply  that contains more than ten words, I remain you Marine 
>Corps  friend,
>26ª11'56"N   81ª48'19W"
>On Jan 25,  2012, at 5:37 PM, Jack Lawrence wrote:
>> Esteemed GDG Member  Contributes:
>> The rub here is the difference between what they where  doing and why 
>they were doing it.
>> Lee was going to create  mischief as far and wide as possible, whike 
>maintaining his lifeline to the  Cumberland Valley. He could never slip that 
>> Your i  terpretation to read "....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".  acknowledges they were only going to stay until they got bit.
>> Which affirms the real mission here. To create enough  trouble  force the 
>AoP north.
>> This was simnply a raid and, once  the aoP DID move north, Lee called it 
>> Regards,
>> Jack
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Ryan"  <pennmardel at>
>> To: "GDG"  <gettysburg at>
>> Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 4:25  PM
>> Subject: Re: GDG- ISusquehanna River
>>>  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. 
>>> "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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