Friday, June 30, 2017

About the Battle Anniversary Series

Presented here for the next several day will be a description of the people and events that made up the Battle of Gettysburg, and a final piece that deals with the Battlefield itself.

The essays are now posted in chronological order for ease of access and reading. Read them from the top, from 1-9.  At the bottom of the page, click "Older Posts" to continue the series. 

We hope they help you to grasp what happened here on those hot early summer days of 1863. We welcome questions. Please feel free to email us using the link that says "Email Me", just above the local weather near the top of the left sidebar.

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We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Monday, June 29, 1863

Courtesy of the Three Days at Gettysburg Blog

The movement of large bodies of Civil War troops from one point to another was a difficult undertaking.  While there are guidelines, many fall by the wayside due to the vicissitudes of time and distance, available roads, physical barriers such as rivers and streams, dense forests, rocky ground, mountains, lack of water, bad roads, lack of roads, and of course, the physical and mental condition of the troops, and finally, by the presence of the enemy in any strength that could present an obstacle to movement. 

So it was for both Robert E. Lee and George G. Meade at the end of June, 1863.  It began to become apparent to both that there would soon be a battle, but the question was "Where?"

Lee was in the Cumberland Valley perhaps 20 miles west of Gettysburg, with some of his troops farther north toward Camp Hill, and others separated from the main body by almost 50 miles, having marched to the banks of the Susquehanna River at Wrightsville. 

Meade was still in west-central Maryland but his troops were moving north at a good clip.  A network of roads led into western York County, and eastern Adams County, while some others led into central Adams County.  See the Campaign map below:



 
The natural convergence of the two armies would be somewhere around the town of Gettysburg.  One look at the map and you can see why the eye is naturally drawn to Gettysburg...the network of roads leading into and out of the town is geometric, balanced, and becomes a focal point:  it not only drew the eye, it drew the armies as well.


So it was with Lee, and Meade, and with John Reynolds as well.  Major General John Fulton Reynolds, commanding the First Corps of the Army of the Potomac, was a native Pennsylvanian, born and raised in nearby Lancaster City, about 65 miles east and well across the Susquehanna River.  Reynolds was also the ranking officer in the Army of the Potomac, and a trusted commander of the Union First Corps, known for its tenacious fighting regardless of its losses.  Premier among the First Corps was the First Brigade of the First Division, a brigade of Midwesterners under the command of Brigadier General Solomon Meredith.  The soldiers in the brigade were battle tested, battle hardened and some of the toughest fighters in either army.  They wore  distinctive high crowned black-lacquered hats, and that was how they were known in the ranks of the Army of Northern Virginia: "...them damned Black Hats!"    Meade placed Reynolds in command of his left wing of the army, which then  consisted of the First, Third and Eleventh Corps.

At the end of the march on the 29th, Reynolds made his headquarters in Emmitsburg, Maryland, just a few miles from the Pennsylvania border.  He recognized the focal point on the maps that Gettysburg presented, and the network of roads.  Additionally he could see that his line of march would take him straight north into downtown Gettysburg.  He also would have seen a network of side roads on the southeast of town.  That was something that could come in handy if they fought at Gettysburg. 

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In the Cumberland Valley, between Chambersburg and Carlisle, General Robert E. Lee was issuing orders to concentrate his forces near Gettysburg.  He had already ordered Ewell to head back with his two divisions [Rodes's, and Johnson's Divisions], to return to Chambersburg, and almost immediately changed those orders.  It was too late for Major General Edward Allegheny Johnson's Division as they had gotten on the road southwest to Chambersburg in near record time.  It would be foolish to turn them around when they had already covered so much ground.  Lee rode north and joined Major General Robert Rodes and his division at Carlisle.  The next day Lee would ride over South Mountain to York Springs with Rodes's Division.  Other orders recalled Major General Jubal Early's Division from far to the east, and bring them to East Berlin northeast of Gettysburg.  Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill's Corps was ordered toward Cashtown on the Chambersburg Pike about 8 miles west of Gettysburg.  Longstreet’s Corps was still in the Cumberland Valley waiting for the roads east to clear enough to start his men east.

It would take the bulk of the next day for the forces of both sides to consolidate into their final pre-battle positions. 

Both sides smelled a battle.  Lee was thirsting for the 'one big battle' where he would destroy the Army of the Potomac, while Meade, faced with the constraints from Washington to remain between Lee and Washington and Baltimore, maneuvered his men in a masterful use of available roads.  Lee would not expect them to arrive on scene as quickly as they did.  Meade began to formulate a plan of battle based on the Army of the Potomac moving east and south into Maryland to a location along Pipe Creek and there to invite Lee to attack him.  Events would grant him an attack by Lee, but not at Pipe Creek. 

Maps:

Campaign Map: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/maps/gettysburg-campaign-map-925.jpghttp://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/maps/gettysburg-campaign-map-925.jpg


Sources: 

Coddington, Edwin B., The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command, Touchstone Press, New York, 1997.  ISBN 0-684-84569-5.

Gottfried, Bradley M., The Brigades of Gettysburg, Da Capo Press, Cambridge, 2002, ISBN 0-306-81175-8.

 WGD

Our thanks to the Three Days at Gettysburg Blog

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 13th year!

Copyright © 2005-2017: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June 28, 1863

At three o'clock on the morning of June 28th, 1863, Major General George Gordon Meade, commanding Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, was awakened by a messenger from Washington DC. The messenger, Colonel James A. Hardie, from the staff of General-in-Chief of the Union Army, Henry Halleck, had arrived in the camp near the mouth of the Monocacy River, with a message of "trouble." Still not quite awake, Meade's thoughts turned to his impending arrest while asserting his innocence. Hardie gave Meade the message and Meade began to read it. The message was an order, from President Lincoln, through General Halleck, for Meade to assume command of the Army of the Potomac, replacing the recently resigned Major General Joseph Hooker. Meade is said to have commented later that he would rather have been arrested.

The situation was dire. The Army of the Potomac had been moving for several weeks shadowing Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia as it moved up inside the Shenandoah Valley, and after crossing the Potomac River into Maryland, the Cumberland Valley, which would eventually lead that Army to the west shore of the Susquehanna River across from Harrisburg, the Capital of Pennsylvania. Meade himself was a mere twenty five miles from Pennsylvania. Several hours later, after drafting a reply to General Halleck, Meade and Hardie rode to the camp of General Hooker. Hooker met with them and for several hours, they discussed details of what orders Hooker had issued recently and the logistical details that are the heavy weight on the shoulders of any General. Specifically, the details of the locations and conditions within the other six corps of the army, along with the artillery, and of course, the cavalry, still fairly flush from their recent showing at Brandy Station. For the rest of the day, Meade was busy with assembling his Head Quarters staff, and issuing orders to the various commanders as to when and where they should head next. He wired Halleck that he would "move toward the Susquehanna, keeping Washington and Baltimore well covered, and if the enemy is checked in his attempt to cross the Susquehanna or if he turns toward Baltimore, to give him battle."
[Official Records, Part 3, pp. 61-62, as cited in Coddington.]

Late in the afternoon Halleck wired Meade information on Confederate Major General James Ewell Brown "JEB" Stuart, Cavalry Commander, Army of Northern Virginia. Stuart was conducting a raid and was east of Meade and his Army, which was east of Lee's Infantry. Meade essentially dismissed the news as other units not part of the Army of the Potomac and near Washington and Baltimore would have to deal with Stuart.

By the end of the Day, Meade had ordered the abandonment of the garrison at Washington Heights overlooking Harpers Ferry, transport of the military material from there to Washington, via canal, and the troops to move to Frederick and become the rear guard of the Army of the Potomac, which he had ordered to concentrate around Frederick. In addition, he carefully mapped out the roads over which he would move his army, and the massive supply trains that followed it, north into Pennsylvania in the coming days, while staying between Lee and Baltimore/Washington.

One other event of some note occurred when Meade agreed to a request from his cavalry commander, Alfred Pleasonton, to promote three junior officers to Brigadier General to command new units in his cavalry corps, formerly two divisions, now reorganized into three. Thus Captains Elon J. Farnsworth, and Wesley A. Merritt, and Lieutenant George Armstrong Custer were elevated to Brigadier General and each given a brigade to command. They would all play important roles in the coming battle.

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June 28th was Lee's first full day in Pennsylvania. The advanced units of his army, specifically the cavalry brigade of Brigadier Albert Gallatin Jenkins, which ranged the Cumberland Valley north to Carlisle, and east to Camp Hill across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg, had been in Pennsylvania for two weeks.

In the van of the Infantry columns was Richard S. Ewell's Second Corps, with General Jubal Early's Division leading the way. After passing through Chambersburg, Early sent Brigadier General John B. Gordon east through Gettysburg to try to capture a bridge across the Susquehanna east of York. In the process they cleaned out the shoes and boots that were available in Gettysburg. By the 28th they were in York getting $100,000 in ransom, supplies, food, hats, and shoes and boots.

One interesting observation was about some of the culture shock the Confederates experienced in Pennsylvania. "As Confederates pushed on into Pennsylvania, the countryside startled them. For most, this was their first trip to the North, and the natural beauty of the region and the level of opulence among northern farmers shocked these southern boys. They had accepted unquestioningly arguments about the superiority of slave labor. What they saw, however, belied those tales. Soldier after soldier wrote home of stunning landscape, with hardwood forests atop hills and lush pastureland and tidy fields scattered along the gentle slopes and valley floors. In Pennsylvania, the soil was rich and the livestock fat. Impressive stone homes and enormous barns dotted the panorama. Evidently, these middle-class farmers in a free labor society did quite well for themselves."  
[The Common Soldier's Gettysburg Campaign, Joseph T. Glatthaar, in Boritt, p. 9.]

The Confederate spy James Harrison reported to Longstreet and Lee on the night of the 28th that the Army of the Potomac had crossed that river and was in Maryland headed north. Hard on the heels of this news came the news of the replacement of Hooker by Meade. The absence of Stuart and the absence even of word from Stuart had cost Lee some time, but well into the night Lee was writing new orders to his commanders, calling them back to assemble near Cashtown, a few miles west of Gettysburg, at the foot of South Mountain on the Chambersburg Pike.

Sources:
Borritt, Gabor, Ed. "The Gettysburg Nobody Knows", Oxford University Press, New York. 1997. ISBN 0-19-510223-1

Coddington, Edwin B. "The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command" Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 1984. ISBN 0-684-18152-5 (pbk.)

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 10th year!

Copyright © 2005-2014: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Good News on Casino...and a new threat

David Levan, who was trying to get a license for a racino [racetrack and casino] has withdrawn his request.  The immediate threat to the area is now gone.  Some municipal actions will continue, such as the referendum by the township residents.

But lest we relax too much, understand a larger threat.  The Pennsylvania House has passed a law making legal small slots and other small games of chance machines across the state.  It would result in seeing slot machines just about everywhere [doubtful you'll find one in a  Church!].  You'll find them in bars, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, just about every retail nook and cranny in the state.

There is hope, as the bill is now in the Pennsylvania Senate and there is time to contact the Senators and give them a resounding "NO!".  Please contact your State Senator ASAP and just say "'NO!"

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 13th year!

Copyright © 2005-2017: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.