GDG- "Lee's Illness Lost Gettysburg"

joadx1 at joadx1 at
Fri Jan 27 12:52:50 CST 2012

 When all is said and done, I think that the reason the ANV lost the battle of Gettysburg can be traced to its prior experience with the commanders of the AoP.  We all here know that when the AoP got hit hard in the past, its commanding general usually ordered a retreat--especially as at Seven Pines through the Seven Days (often after a Union tactical victory in a given engagement) and Chancellorsville (which, even after the Jackson-led flank attack should have been a Union victory).  According to that pattern, the AoP should (from Lee's point of view) have retreated after getting hit hard on Day 1 at Gettysburg.  When the AoP held its ground south of the town, Lee, on the basis of past experience, rather understandably believed that another hard hit should do the trick.  Day 2 was quite a series of hard hits.  Still, the AoP failed to behave according to past performance.  At this point I think we can say that Lee, so to speak, got emotional, rather like a gambler who has had a winning streak and cannot believe that his luck has turned.  So he tosses the dice once more, and so we have day 3, and once again the AoP doesn't flinch.

Same thing happened in the Forty Days.

In short, as Pickett's old line has it, "the Yankees had something to do with it."  Meade (and, later, Grant) simply weren't McClellan and Hooker.  Had Grant been in charge at Seven Pines, the war would have ended in 1862 in a Union victory, ironically, as McPherson points out, with a restoration of the Union with slavery intact.  The prolonging of the war only intensified the depth of the eventual defeat.



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