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The turning point of the American Civil War... 150 years ago

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by MichaelWinicki, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    It's the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg– 150 years ago of course!

    Actually the armies of the North and South met on the outskirts of Gettysburg today, June 30th, when a Southern division looking for shoes brushed up against the Northern cavalry division of John Buford. The Southerners not wanting to start a scrap without the OK from R.E. Lee turned around.

    When they arrived back at camp they reported that there were Federals around Gettysburg. They were then ordered to go back the next day and get their shoes... that the Unionists around Gettysburg were simply militia and that the Union Army of the Potomac was still south of the Mason-Dixon Line– even though one Confederate officer felt sure that it was the Union Army due to their precision of movement.

    Early on the morning of July 1st, the Confederate division of Henry Heth moved along the Chambersburg Pike towards Gettysburg and the rest is indeed history.

    Not to be outdone at being the turning point of the war US Grant was at the same time laying siege to Vicksburg, Mississippi and soon an entire Southern army would be captured and the entire Mississippi would be under Federal control splitting the Confederacy in two.

    Yes, there was much anxiety across the land for both north and south 150 years ago.
    iceberg likes this.
  2. NorthTexan95

    NorthTexan95 Active Member

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    Thanks for the reminder.
  3. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Turing point had already happened before Gettysburg. Once Grant had Vicksburg invested, it was going to fall. From that point on the South had little chance to win the war. With the Emancipation Proclamation, England and France was not going to openly support a slave country. And that was about the only hope the South had.
    By 1863, Washington DC had become the most heavily fortified city on Earth and Lee had no chance to take it even if he was able to destroy the Army of the Potomac. Gettysburg really accomplished little except begin the process of the gradual degradation of the Army of Northern Virginia. They lost troops and officers they never replaced at Gettysburg.
  4. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Gettsburg was there for the taking by the South but because of delay and miscommuncation the south failed to secure the high ground, the entire outcome of the civil war would have been altered had the south won the battle of Gettysburg.
    Pickets charge was one of the wrost debacles of that battle taking the lives of many men as they crossed open field and over 2 fences while the North had protective cover
  5. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    I believe Vicksburg was very important... hence the mention in the OP.

    The capture of Washington DC wasn't the goal of R.E. Lee. Inflicting as much punishment on the Army of the Potomac was as well as scaring the bejesus out of the northerners.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013
  6. WV Cowboy

    WV Cowboy Waitin' on the 6th

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    A lot of Civil War history in and around where I grew up.

    The first land battle of the Civil War occurred near here in Philippi, WV in June, 1861. A lot of my motorcycle rides take me near or through Philippi and over the covered bridge. (old and new pics below)
    The bridge has strong associations with the American Civil War. It is over the Tygart River, which has two places we used to go and swim when I was younger.

    Then:
    [IMG]

    Now:
    [IMG]

    Just a few weeks ago, I rode through Philippi the day they were having the reinactment. I stopped and watched for a while. Everyone was dressed in uniforms, or the way they dressed back then. The people that are into the reinactments, have long hair, and beards, .. they always look very authentic.
    Always interesting.

    By the way, as you look at the bridge, on the left side as I come out, if I go right, that is the older, longer, easy-going, winding roads through the country way home. There is a little old grocery store where I like to stop, .. very small, still with the wooden floor, if you remember those.

    If I go left out of the bridge, it is a newer road, the quicker way home if I am in a hurry.

    Like I said, growing up here you are always aware of the Civil War. Landmarks all over.
  7. WV Cowboy

    WV Cowboy Waitin' on the 6th

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    Oops, misspelled 'reenactment'.

    I put reinactment because reenactment looked weird.o_O
  8. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt °¤~Cold Eternal~¤° Staff Member

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    I read a description some time back that kind of summed up West Virginia as far as Union or Confederacy background goes...

    West Virginia is the southern most northern state and the northern most Southern state.
  9. WV Cowboy

    WV Cowboy Waitin' on the 6th

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    Southern most northern state is most accurrate I would say.

    Kind of neat that we 'chose' to split off for freedom.
  10. StanleySpadowski

    StanleySpadowski Active Member

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    The reenactment this past weekend was the smaller of the two scheduled but probably still ranked as one of the top 20 in US history, next weekend's might be the largest ever. They're expecting over 20K reenacters and 200K visitors this week in a town of about 7K. The nearest hotels are approximately 1 1/2 away. My children are with my parents who made reservations last July on the first day of the one year window.

    If you ever make it to Gettysburg, the must do thing is a night ghost tour. The single creepiest thing you will ever do. The Land of Little Horses is a great children's activity in a cheesy, schmaltzy, kind of way.

    The Confederacy lost Gettysburg due to the terrain. From the college steeple, one thinks they can see the entire battlefield when one can't. Lee would have ordered flanking maneuvers rather than Pickett's charge had he seen the Union's overwhelming numerical advantage at that point of the line.

    A Confederate win at Gettysburg would have left them with options to win the Civil War, the western front notwithstanding, as the Union Army's plan of retreat would have been Northeast to NYC. Philadelpha and Baltimore would have been largely undefended, creating an economic stranglehold of Washingon.
  11. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. One main reason a victory by the South would altered the course of the war in favor of the south was after other defeats of the North, the people in the North was losing the will to fight, Riots were breaking out in the North as people did not want to be part of the draft and get sent to fight. Gettysburg victory helped the North considerably turn the tide
  12. StanleySpadowski

    StanleySpadowski Active Member

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    The New York draft riots two weeks after Gettysburg would have been much, much worse had the South won the battle. Both from a psychological perspective and from the Union having troops available to squelch the riots rather than preparing a defense.
  13. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    true and it was happening in other parts of the North. The loss of life in the war was quickly turning many in the north aginst the war. South had just won a major victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville another loss such as Gettysburg would have been devastating
  14. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    As usual so many are wrong about so much.

    First the draft riots were only bad in NYC and that was mainly due to the Irish.

    second there was NOT any real loss of the will to fight in the north. enough victories from the west kept people going.

    third that was a joke about Philidelphia and Baltimore. Even if Lee had won at Gettysburg he did not have the ability to go any farther north; he would have had to have turned south no matter what after that battle. His supply lines were too long as it was.

    fourth only the seizure of Washington DC might have materially changed things and that was impossible. By Mid 1863 there was no way for the south to win. It was only a matter of how long it would take for the south to lose.
  15. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Your view and you are wrong, North was wanting an end to this fight. Taking Washington had nothing to do with it. If you take the will away from the people you don't have to take Washington. People in many cities in the North did not want to fight they opposed the draft and the will of the people would have needed the war. Your fixation on taking DC is ridicules.
  16. StanleySpadowski

    StanleySpadowski Active Member

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    A geography lesson for those too freaking stupid to look at a map. Gettysburg is north of both Philadelphia and Baltimore.
  17. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    actually depending on the roads you took it can very. Back then we did not have interstates. Philly was 150 miles to the east; and Balitmore was about 150 miles to the south east. Neither one was ever a possibility for Lee
  18. hipfake08

    hipfake08 Well-Known Member

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    Not really - When Stonewall Jackson died - that was the turning point.
    The South would never have tried it. With Jackson they always moved to a flank and caught the Union.

    Me - after watching many game plays of the event and actual troops involved - would have flanked to the south under the cover of the woods and the hills at night.
    Hit the Union early - taken the round tops. Feinted at the middle. Put my Calvary into their rear and train park, which was just over the hill from the high water mark.. Made the Union come to me and sliced them up.

    This would have only extended the war. With the cutting of the Mississippi by Grant the South was doomed. Their economy was not war adjusted to send supplies to the troops fighting. Rail lines were not the same as they were in the North.

    All the North had to do was keep leaning on the South and blood let them. Like Grant did to them to end it.
  19. hipfake08

    hipfake08 Well-Known Member

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    Oh. And I have walked many of the battlefields in VA and Gettysburgh. Also went up in the tower - that used to be there - before it was removed. So I got the idea looking at the maps - which I also have a book on from all Civil War battlefields.
  20. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    Certainly losing Stonewall was a big loss for the Confederacy.

    The trouble was Stonewall was a "mixed bag". You wouldn't know if you would get the Chancellorsville Stonewall or the 7-Days Stonewall. At Antietam his did a good job, at Fredericksburg... not so much.

    The move by the southern flank at Gettysburg getting around the left-flank of the Union Army is an interesting one. The challenges with doing that are that after the evening of the July 2nd and the movement of the 5th and 6th Corp of the Union Army along with the deployment of a cavalry brigade into that area would have made the chances of that succeeding– mighty slim.

    Then you have the evening of July the 1st to the afternoon of July the 2nd. There was a possibility of a wider flanking move possibly coming off but there were challenges of doing it even then, such as:

    1. Buford's brigade was bivouacked in the area of the Peach Orchard on the evening of July 1st until about noon on July the 2nd. Very small units probably could have positioned themselves for a flanking maneuver but I doubt a large unit consisting of a division or more could have.
    2. Longstreet's divisions weren't in position to even begin a flanking maneuver until later on in the morning of July the 2nd.
    3. Say Longstreet's divisions were in position to start a flanking maneuver at the crack of dawn on July 2nd, there was a large segment of the Union 2nd corps sitting behind the round tops, bivouacked on the late evening of July the 1st to the early morning hours of July the 2nd.
    4. Stuart's cavalry division wasn't available to R.E. Lee until the afternoon of July the 2nd. Lee's mistrust of the cavalry he did have on the field was awfully high in that he didn't even use them to screen units on their way to Gettysburg.

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