GDG- Harry Heth and the First Morning at Gettysburg

Tom bunco973 at optonline.net
Sun Jan 29 21:12:08 CST 2012


   Forgive me, as this is all off the top of my head - Hill doesn't believe 
that the AOP is anywhere near, and  is still at Middleburg, regardless of 
Pettigrew's warning, seconded by Louis Young, who Hill had known previously. 
Hill sends 2 full divisions plus artillery to Gettysburg with the caveat of 
not bringing on a general engagement (as per Lee). Heth encounters Buford's 
pickets near Marsh Creek, and from the stubborn resistance they employ, 
knows it isn't militia. He deploys skirmishers to push them back, keeps the 
rest of the troops in column until they reach Herr Ridge, where he now 
deploys battle lines (meanwhile he must have communicated with Hill of the 
situation unfolding, and is still given the OK to proceed). Then on to 
Willoughby Run, and the infantry of the AOP engages him. The 2 sides are 
engaged, Archer & Davis are defeated and pushed back to Herr's Ridge. Some 
hours go by - and the CSA again engages the AOP. With the aforementioned, 
condensed version of events - where is, or what is Hill doing. Two thirds of 
his command are engaged, and he's not there as a guiding hand. And there is 
a lull (I take issue with that word), and Hill doesn't break it off and 
stand down, holding Herr's Ridge, until his guiding hand (Lee) appears to 
make further decisions. IMHO - Heth is being categorized along with 
Longstreet , Stuart & Ewell as the reason of failure at Gettysburg. 
Disclaimer: have not read the magazine article. Hill sent the 2 divisons - 
Hill contacted Ewell for Back up - Hill is the disbeliever that the AOP is 
not in the vicinity - so, why doesn't history lump Hill with all the other 
Corps commanders for the failure, instead of dumping on Heth. (2nd 
Disclaimer: I'm not related to Heth ;-D) Ok - Rant is over and I stand to be 
corrected(and thus learn).
P.S. While typing this post - Jim's post arrived - and he sums up in a few 
words what my tome tried to put forth.


Regards,
Tom B.





-----Original Message----- 
From: Tom Ryan
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 7:53 PM
To: GDG
Subject: Re: GDG- Harry Heth and the First Morning at Gettysburg

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
<<I'd suspect that given the fact Heth had not just his own division, put
Pender's behind him and a good deal of artillery, that there wasn't much
concern about his being able to handle any outriding cavalry he might
encounter.  As indeed he would have.  Infantry was of course a different
matter, but even there, after having suffered a reverse, Heth was under no
immediate threat and, as I've said, reacted appropriately in awaiting
further orders before renewing the action.>>

Given that, it is instructive to read the author's conclusion which comes
down pretty hard on Heth:

"General Heth's lifelong guilty burden was, as at a minimum, about the wrong
thing.  He would have done better to regret the wasting of two brigades in
an ill-conceived, hasty attack based on false beliefs, the drive to be
approved by his superiors, and his impulsive nature."

This conclusion takes into account Heth's military performance prior to
Gettysburg.

Tom Ryan



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