GDG- A little clarification please.

John Lawrence jlawrence at
Thu Jan 26 22:22:55 CST 2012

One huge advantage for Army of the Potomac were the interior railroad lines. The resupply of the AoP was done almost totally by rail. Lee could not compete with that. Lee could live off the land but he could not rear arm off the land (nor would it have been practice t string his trains to Harrisburg). In fact, Lee could not live off the land without moving. As Grant had learned in Mississippi the year before, an army can sustain itself in country previously untouched by war, but it can only sit in one place briefly.
lee did not have the luxury to sit still.
The quandary was that every foot he took outside of the Cumberland was a foot towards extinction.
Lee had limited options, and limited means to exercise them with.
Nowhere among those options I'd there any political gain. In fact, the whole fiasco was helping seal the foreign intervention option.

Tom Barrett <tbarrett21 at> wrote:

>Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
>From a military standpoint, I think he wanted to draw the AoP far enough so
>that they were separated from their supply and support bases and far enough
>that they would be tired, scattered, and not able to concentrate
>effectively.  Drawing them toward Harrisburg was a good plan, but spreading
>them out would have been even better, so the AoP Corps couldn't quickly
>support one another.
>I think he figured that his forces would be more rested and better
>concentrated than the AoP, and that he'd pick off and defeat the Union units
>as they came north.  
>As it turned out, Gettysburg wasn't far enough, and the AoP was well
>organized, well supplied, and was able to concentrate effectively.  For
>whatever reason, Lee chose to attack anyway.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at]
>On Behalf Of keith mackenzie
>Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:03 PM
>To: GDG
>Subject: Re: GDG- A little clarification please.
>Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
>It seems that everyone agrees that if Lee had gone to Harrisburg, he would
>not have tried to stay there any longer than necessary. So then, the
>contentious issue is wether he really planned on going there at all? 
> (This is a "Just Occurred to Me" question): If his goal was to draw the AoP
>north, how far north was far enough? 
>   > 
>>> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
>>> I tend to favor the notion that Harrisburg was a decoy to draw Union
>forces out into the open. I absolutely believe that Lee would have  sent
>forces into the city, primarily to destroy railroad  infrastructure, damage
>manufacturing operations, capture supplies, and  generally create further
>panic in the north, but holding the city was  never an option. I believe
>there was a relatively small window of  opportunity for the ANV to operate
>in Pennsylvania.
>>> On Jan 26, 2012, at 2:13 PM, keith mackenzie wrote:
>>>> 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.
>>>> My
>>>> 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.
>>>> thanks
>>>> K.
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