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Posted By: on: 08/29/2000 13:17:42 EDT
Subject: RE: Gettysburg and should Meade have persued Lee?

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Sure, Lee's army did have to cross a river. But, before they were able to, they realized they were going to have to wait awhile, so what did they do? They dug in behind fixed fortifications. Anyone ever remember hearing of a battle in Virginia in Dec. of 1862 involving a dug in army and fixed fortifications? I do.

Take any army of 90,000 men with a new commander. March it many miles in several days. Let it fight brutally for three days, losing 25% of its effective strength, including three of its corps commanders, two of whom were most excellent. Also, take from it several brigade and division commanders, and dozens of regimental commanders. Through in a severe rain, and then expect the exhausted and most likely battle-fatigued men to mount a pursuit against an army that they've finally beaten, led by a commander with a reputation of snatching victory from seeming defeat and defying the odds time and time again. Better to wish upon a falling star, because at least that does not spell out the recipe for disaster.


Who said they had to attack right away? AAROGON

They would have had to attack right away because the ANV was only on the north side of the Potomac waiting for the pontoon bridge to be rebuilt and for the water level to go down so they could cross. Meade didn't attack right away and when he did decide to advance the ANV had almost finished crossing.

Of course the original question was, should Meade have pursued Lee? IMHO I think he did a pretty good job under the circumstances (as noted by JR and others). Could he have done better? - Maybe, but hindsight is always 20/20. Remember, both Armies were pretty beat up and tired, but the ANV HAD to head south due to certain critical supply problems, mainly ammo. The ANV had been pretty well fed during the campaign, the AOP on the other had hadn't. By July 3, Meade hadn't eaten a good meal or had more than a few hours sleep since he took command.

Someone questioned earlier why didn't Meade realize that the ANV had to cross the Potomac sooner or later so why didn't he cut off Lee's line of retreat beforehand? That's easier said than done, BUT, Union Cavalry did burn about half of the pontoons (why not all?????) for Lee's pontoon bridge - that was part of the reason for the delay in crossing the POTOMAC by the ANV.

Bill N-T

Bill, if the answer was that the AOP was too tired and hungry to wait for the opportune moment when half of the enemy's troops are trying to cross pontoon bridges then that's the answer...why does everyone talk about fortifications, new leadership, Hancock etc, etc? It would take the AOP a long time before they would be in a position to inflict such a potentially damaging punishment. Oh well, Abe agreed with me...hmmmm(pondering)AAROGON

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