In your opinion, which general – Union or Confederate – made the most difference during the Battle of Gettysburg? Why?
Unfair question because off the top of my head I can think of three Union generals who saved the Gen. Meade’s bacon. The first one would be Gen. Buford recognizing the importance of holding the in front of the the town and pointing out to oncoming commanders the importance of the heights to the southeast of Gettysburg. Second would be Gen Green on Culp’a hill and extending his line and defending Early’s night attack. And lastly would be Gen. Warren on little round top recognizing the importance of the position and hurrying forward Ccl. Vincent’s brigade to defend it. Like I said unfair question. Failure of one of these officers to not follow thru with his actions would’ve, could’ve, should’ve changed the Army of the Potomac’s fortunes at Gettysburg
Richard Ewell for NOT finding it ‘practicable’ to take Cemetery Hill on Day One.
Winfield S. Hancock. Day One, he arrived to confirm holding Cemetery Hill and send message to Meade that brought him forward to the battlefield. Also sent Wadsworth’s remnants and fresh 7th IN to hold Culps Hill. Day Two, cobbled together enough resistance along Cemetery Ridge to hold and then drive off The deepest Confederate penetration of the day. Day Three, despite contradicting Hunt’s use of the Second Corps Artillery brigade, he made certain that Pickett’s Charge would be remembered as a colossal mistake,rather than the decsive stroke by the genius Lee.
I know a far greater general who made a greater difference “during” the Battle of Gettysburg. Ulysses S. Grant won the Battle of Vicksburg during the Battle of Gettysburg. The question doesnt ask for a difference “at” Gettysburg, but “during.” Plus Lincoln didnt get upset with Grant for “letting the Confederates get away after the battle. Plus Grant later tracked Lee down and didnt let him “get away” when they met in 1865 either.
I have given this great thought since reposting this morning–and I have decided to choose … Sickles. Why? Several reasons. His actions on the battlefield have given Civil War historians much fodder for both laughter and serious discussion for over 155 years. Many folks were first informed of Gettysburg in the first place by seeing Sickles’s amputated leg at Walter Reed–or maybe even “on tour” somewhere (maybe it was the leg–maybe not!). and finally, without the efforts of our favorite New Yorker, there would be no battlefield to visit in the first place. General Dan worked tirelessly to reclaim those hallowed grounds, even if he simply wanted a personal monument. So–I’m saying Sickles.
Mark Twain, world-famous and honored and traveled world-wide, went to visit Dan Sickles at Sickles’ New York City home one evening. Reporters were waiting when he came out. Reporter: “Mr Twain, what did you and General Sickles talk about all evening?” Mark Twain: “Dan Sickles.”
I hope that Mr. Clemens checked his hip pocket when he left Dan;s house – just to make sure he still had his wallet.
Henry J. Hunt. He resisted Hancock’s silly directive that his gunners waste ammunition making noise for infantry morale during the Confederate barrage (especially given the significant overshooting by the Rebels) ; he and McGilvery established a line to enfilade the Pickett/Pettigrew charge; and he had batteries withdraw from the Cemetery Ridge line in a way that duped his opponent into thinking that the barrage was having its intended effect. For good measure, on July 2 he had figured out the mess that Sickles had gotten himself into and helped sort out the proper Union response. There’s a reason that Meade placed heavy reliance on him at Gettysburg and that Hooker should have had the same insight at Chancellorsville.
I would say Harry Heath for starting a battle that Lee did not want. Of course you have to include AP Hill for allowing Heth to engage.
I have no argument with any of the above responses…but I would add General Reynolds to the mix. His arrival in support of Buford was critical and cost him
Ever hear of a fellow by the name of Greene? Fair to say he played a role.
What a great question!
My two cents would be Ewell for the Confederates and Hancock for the Union.
JEB Stuart, who failed to show up and denied Lee the intelligence he needed to make the tactical decisions that cost him the victory that the South sorely needed.
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