Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pensacola Civil War Roundtable meeting tonight

[From the PCWRT press release]

The Pensacola Civil War Roundtable meets tonight at 7pm at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), located at 6031 Goodrich (Corner of Langley and Goodrich). The meeting is the final in a series of three talks about Gettysburg.

Robert E. Lee and George Gordan Meade shared a goal for the fight that must result from Lee's intrusion into Pennsylvania: Both wanted to assume a strong defensive tactical position and have the other destroy his force with senseless frontal assaults. Meade won, not just because Lee uncharacteristically abandoned manuever but also because Meade was thinking defensively and postioned his army accordingly.

Even though a battle at Gettysburg was not inevitable, the two armies moved inexorably toward that place as though guided by an invisible hand. Meade ordered his corps to move as follows on July 1st:
- The First Corps to Gettysburg with the Eleventh to follow within supporting distance
- The Second Corps to Taneytown or on to Gettysburg or Emmitsburg as circumstances might dictate
- The Third Corps to Emmitsburg
- The Fifth Corps to Hanover
- The Twelfth Corps to Two Taverns
- The Sixth Corps, the largest in the Army of the Potomac, would remain at Manchester, Maryland

Meade thus put two corps at Gettysburg, where Lee's forces seemed to be coming together, and four more in supporting distance, while maintaining the large Sixth Corps in a position to defend on the east as well as to support Meade's ultimate defensive line, the Pipe Creek Line. This proposed defensive line would be atop the 800-1000 foot Parr Ridge, above Pipe Creek, which was 15-20 miles south and southeast of Gettysburg. In his directive known as the Pipe Creek Circular, Meade gave some detail to his thinking on how the army would move to this line. It would be not only a strong defensive position, but would be close to his supply base at Westminster and would also block Lee from Baltimore and Washington.

What if, though, after day one of what would be known as the Battle of Gettysburg played out just as it did, what if, on day two, July 2nd, Lee reverted to the Lee of Second Manassas and Chancellorsville and maneuvered instead of assaulting the strong Union positions on Cemetery Ridge?

What if Lee listened to Longstreet's criticism of the assaults planned on the night of July 1st and boldly split his army, making the kind of move that could achieve what he so passionately desired, a decisive victory over the Army of the Potomac on northern soil?
What if Lee moved his corps quickly, distracting and confusing the Union generals as he had so often in the past?

You'll learn the answers to these questions Tuesday night, March 10th, as we look at the book Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War, by Newt Gingrich and Professor William R. Forstchen

Meetings are free and open to the public. Visitors are welcome.  For more information call (850) 968 6094 or email ronbesser@hotmail.com. 

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