GDG- A little clarification please.

Tom Ryan pennmardel at
Thu Jan 26 15:19:52 CST 2012


My understanding of Lee's intent regarding the invasion was to capture an
important town or city.  The capture would be sufficient to embarrass the
Federal government, and impress potential foreign allies such as Britain and
France.  There was no need to hold the captured location for any length of
time in order to accomplish these goals.

One of Lee's objectives was to motivate the Northern population to press
Washington to bring about a peace settlement, and the capture of a major
city or town would fit the bill nicely along those lines.

It should also be noted that Lee wanted to lead the Peace Democrats
(Copperheads) and others who favored a settlement with the South to believe
the South was serious about ending the war and reuniting with the North.  As
he mentioned to President Davis in his proposal along these lines, there
would be no intent to actually rejoin the Union once a ceasefire/settlement
was reached.

It appears that Lee was being more than a bit devious in this respect.

In a lengthy and revealing message to President Davis on June 10, 1863 (as
the invasion was about to get underway), Lee made a number of observations
of how the war could be won by other than debilitating military means.  The
following excerpt sums up Lee's approach:

"Should the belief [in the North] that peace will bring back the Union
become general, the war would no longer be supported....  When peace is
proposed to is not the part of prudence to spurn the
proposition...[to] those who wish to...believe...that it will result in
bringing us back to the Union.  We entertain no such aspirations...the
desire of our people for a distinct and independent national existence will
prove as steadfast under the influence of peaceful measures as it has shown
itself in the midst of war."  See OR, 27, III, pp. 880-82.

Suggest you read this entire lengthily message.  It is one of the most frank
and revealing missives that Lee wrote during the Gettysburg Campaign, and
perhaps during the entire war.

Regards, Tom Ryan

-----Original Message-----
From: gettysburg-bounces at
[mailto:gettysburg-bounces at]On Behalf Of keith mackenzie
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 2:13 PM
Subject: GDG- A little clarification please.

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
I've read a couple of posts where the esteemed member insisted that Lee did
not intend to hold Harrisburg if he did in fact assault and take it.
I don't know if it was more than one poster or only one several times.
question is, does anyone think he would have attempted to hold it? I don't
think anyone has put forward that POV, but I might have missed it.

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