Would Lee have won at Gettysburg with Jackson instead of Ewell in command?
If Stonewall Jackson was still alive at the battle of Gettysburg, would Lee have taken Big and Little Round Tops? Would Lee have won at Gettysburg with Jackson instead of Ewell in command?
This is excellent analysis.by Tom Powell In terms of Jomini, this is the point where the actual tactics that were constantly evolving in the Army of the Potomac left Jomini on the library shelves. I’m an Army Ranger. From my perpective, the Rangers go INTO Jomini’s battle space in order to close the 4th wall in our favor. I have been where the Iron Cross grows. I got there on purpose, I had planned on doing it the rest of my life, however breif that might be. I would have fit in at the Alamo. In either army. The tactics Rangers learn to do in their sleep is universal in the Karl Lewin group dynamics frame of reference. Everything I do is Lewinian occurs in the Lewinian “life space”, the E in Behavior = f(P,E). This is as a Newtonian a construct as F=MA. What goes on the the Jomini battle space is what was missing in McClellan’s personal command onf Jomini.
The direct answer to the question is that the battle of Gettysburg as it evolved when the Union skirmishers found a new anchor to stabilize a running gun fight to shift the flow of the battle. The fact they were there is what is missing in McClellan’s mind between the discovery of Lee’s staff orders and when Lee finally collided with him on his way home.
If Jackson had been their, he would have eliminated the anchor for the line and everybody on that side of the battle field would shashay by their Potomac flank back to the next battle line was already in place waiting to offer safety and redemption for Lee to run into.
Think in terms of Starship Troopers. They swoop down out of the sky, churn their way across a specific region and be recoverd by the Mother Ship.
At Gettysburg, Lee was the Mother Ship and J.E.B. Stuart was in the wind
Lee was on his way home. Lee had a logistical traffic jam between his vanguard and Dixie and that logistical log jam was the whole strategic point of the Cumberland Valley raid. He was headed to Gettysburg to interpose himself between that log jam and Hooker, who had already surprised him by getting the entire Army of the Potomac on the same side of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. This is a “battle in depth” concept for the Jomini battle space between Lee and any 4th wall he may hope to acquire.
The lesson that needs to be learned to debunk any Lost Cause credibility lingering in the collective consciousness in regards to Gettysburg occurred at Malvern Hill. Before he took command of what became the Army of Northern Virginia, he was ridiculed as the “King of Spades” because of all the defensive fall back positions he created between McClellan and Richmond: journalist who had no more idea what battle command was, inside the Jomini battle space, than the Pope is familiar with gynelcology called him in essence, a sissy for his lack of enthusiasm for the manly enterprise of battle.
Malvern Hill tossed that opinion on the dust bin of history. He created an instrument that would expect to prevail before the battle, like at Chancellorsville.
Audacity. Audacity. Always audacity. That’s the principle of Malvern Hill the Lost Cause celebrate in their public relations campaign of stolen valor.
My job in Vietnam was as bait on the Ho Chi Minh Trail just after the 4ID returned from Cambodia. Our mission was to provoke a battle more or less identical to the climax of The 13th Valley. The closest I ever came to winning a Silver Star was one late afternoon about this time of year a gun ship began working out on what they reported as 800 NVA sunbathing less than a click away, in a straight line, but required running down a series of trails in time to get into direct combat and develop the situation. Well, it didn’t happen. I was awared a Bronze Star for getting over there so quick, but just as it became night and began a monsoon rainstorm.
This is where the final battle of Starship Troopers describes the last battle of The 13th Valley, the Bugs coming out of the ground. The NVA was building the Maiginot Line underneath the entire Jomini battle space of the Republic of Vietnam, especially the Central Highlands. We occupied the German relative position at Verdun and the NVA held the French position. Like the Bugs in Starship Troopers.
Lee was betrayed by Virgina and forced to make a political choice that illustrates the nature of Fascism as a process devolving paradox to dilemma and preventing synthesis by a force choice between two dimensions of a chaotic system.
Lee knew he was being forced to kill Virginians either by opposition or by command. I buy completely into the analysis of the zeitgeist that “states rights” as a allaiance of shared values as opposed to the secular rule of law was the prevailing understanding, This is absolute gospel to the Lost Cause and I stipulate to it. The Civil War ended the Tory Socialism of the Southern Aristocracy as the defining constraint of the US Constitution and replaced with the Democratic Socialism of the Declaration of Indendence. This is what the Lost Cause intends to reverse.
My operational experience really ends at the tactical level of a rugby game. My platoon in Vietnam never had more that 22 people on the ground at anytime outside the wire. When we came back in from the woods for a Stand Down, I had close to 40 people in different phases of their personnel status at any given time. In the combat we did conduct, I basically let them run themselves they way they had in Cambodia and I moved things around to suit their immediate requirements. I had learned to do that playing rugby, but it was reinforced by the Ranger School and then OJT in Vietnam.
Tom Powell’s commentary filled in a blank in my command of the tactical level of operations at my personal level of experience in Vietnam.
J.E.B. Stuart fulilled the letter and the spirit of the mutual understanding of the orders that authorized Stuart’s part of the raid. He came into Lee’s lines with 12 miles of wagons to add to the log jam behind the Mother Ship on the way home to Dixie. Because of all the forward activity of the AOP that had been missing the first two times he had a similar reconnaissance and diversionary thrust mission, only Hooke had them on the move and Meade inherited an organic response that brought Lee to bay. It wasn’t the last trench, but it anticipated Appomattox down to the final salute from Chamberlain and the noble response. Those are the only people with a say in the outcome and the Lost Cause dishonors their paroles by their campaign of stolen valor by cultural assimulation, like walking in the back door of a Metro Bus backwards to avoid paying the fare.
The tactical detail of Tom Powell’s response is what has been a missing link in my own understanding of the operating components in the Jomini battle space.
To understand how good Lee was it is vital to understand how good Hooker had become and how good Meade was until the end of the war. Julius Caesar used the rivers in the same way Lee did at Gettysburg to anchor a flank. The Union army closed in on him faster than it ever had done before and he knew that the instrument he had created at Malvern Hill was just about used up and he exploited the theater he had inherited from Fredericksburg and sent Pickett forward.
Lee knew the war was lost before it started. He was betrayed by a bunch of privileged white supremacists into choosing between a scared oath and his family. Fortress Monroe controlled Jomini’s 4th wall and the commercial decision to withdraw from an unalienable contract signed in blood at Yorktown for crass silfishness and personal benefit. If Lee had been in command of the Army of the Potomac before the 7 Days, he wouldn’t have been fooled at Yorktown by highschool staging and driven straight to Richmond, which, without his professional guidance, would not have the entrenchments prepared to defend the capital. Beauregard would have duplicated Lee’s preparations, but Lee would have overwhealmed the confederate forces pretty much in detail before they could be effectively occupied.
So, whatever was going on at the rugby game level of the Jomini battle space at Gettysburg was pretty much an even fight. Hooker had unhooked the Army of the Potomac from McClellan’s expectations and moved to the offensive in all contingencies. Whether or not they were thinking in terms of deep battle or not, they were acting, organically, to achieve that end and close the 4th wall on Lee. In the final analysis, the wasting process, itself, became the decisive battle that eluded McClellan and Lee pretended wasn’t happening until Virginia had used up its youth for a bad idea born of the Virtue of Selfishness.
So, again, the answer to the question I submit is that the battle of Gettyeburg wouldhn’t have happened if the union army had been dislodged from culps Hill. Everybody that could would have fallen back to the next prepared battle line and await developments.
What would have happened then? I think it depends on recovering J.E.B. Stuart. My argument is that Lee wanted to get his loot back to Richmond and he would have found a convenient point to end any pursuit and back out of North and daring anyone to try to stop him.
Pickett’s charge just made it a part of American mythology. The high-water mark of unadulterated libertarian stupidity. Like the invasion of Iraq.
Lee represents the difference between the fantasy of Command and Control and the effectiveness of Command and Influence. Again, this is way above my pay grade in actual experience, but Lee gets a great deal of criticism for his informal methods of command, that his staffing was inadequte, at best. There was breakdowns in staffing throughout the rebellion. This was a confederation of shared lusts, not a union of structural interdependence and uniform purpose. Lee inherited those tendencies in the cultural makeup of everybody around him and depended upon the urgency of the rebellion to compel timely operational responses to his command design.
Lee continued to try to compromise Culp’s Hill and the right flank: in some respects, he had the Union army trapped by the sort of restricted front Lee engineered until Petersburg and if that flanks had collapsed, Lee might have gotten the battle of annihilation he was seeking with Pickett’s Charge. But if Jackson had taken Culp’s Hill the first day, Pickett’s Charge might have occured at the Monancy. Or Lee might have tucked J.E,B. Stuart back under his wing and skedattled bact to Dixie.