GDG- Harry Heth and the First Morning at Gettysburg

Nancy Householder pipecreek1430 at
Tue Jan 31 08:19:18 CST 2012

Where is Hill? That is the question throughout the Battle of Gettysburg? His body was there, but he doesn't seem to be a factor at all
during any of the fighting. As a Corps commander he should be right on top of things, but that does not seem to be the case.
Take a look at any of the fighting his III Corps is involved in here, and you find that Hill does not seem to be involved in any of it.

Nancy Householder

 From: Tom <bunco973 at>
To: GDG <gettysburg at> 
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 10:12 PM
Subject: Re: GDG- Harry Heth and the First Morning at Gettysburg
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
  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.

Tom B.

-----Original Message----- From: Tom Ryan
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 7:53 PM
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

Tom Ryan

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