Question of the Week: 6/26-7/2/23

In your opinion, what’s the overlooked moment of the Gettysburg campaign?

28 Responses to Question of the Week: 6/26-7/2/23

  1. I don’t know that any of it has been “overlooked” Somewhat less discussed are the cavalry fights on the third day, and the complex “meeting engagement” on the first day.

  2. Gettysburg Motor Speedway June 28, 1863. Race car Driver Billy Joe Hooker has his winning car taken away by his sponsor who lets Meade drive it in the Big Race. Meade is awakened out of a sound sleep at 3 a.m. and told this 3 days before the race. Hooker’s car defeats all contenders but the trophy ends up on Meade’s shelf.

  3. I don’t know if it qualifies as THE ‘overlooked moment’ of the campaign, but I believe the clash at Brandy Station was one such overlooked moment, at least as far as its impact and influence on Jeb Stuart. The Confederate media was not kind to him or the army’s cavalry because of Brandy Station.

  4. Confederate Captain Samuel Johnston’s ill-fated reconnaissance mission on the early morning of July 2nd.

  5. So much has been written about the Battle of Gettysburg that it is difficult to find something that’s been overlooked but perhaps as part of the Gettysburg. Campai? Perhaps the actions around Harrisburg and Hanover, They are obviously not Gettysburg, but part of the campaign.

  6. Maybe not totally overlooked, but definitely underrated, were the actions of George Sears Greene’s brigade on Culp’s hill, the night of July 2nd. The fighting there was critical to the defense of the Baltimore Pike supply line, and the rear of the Cemetery Ridge line. Their fight was overshadowed by the battles with Longstreet’s Division on the southern end of the battlefield.

  7. Colonel William C. Oates and his large 15th Alabama Infantry Regiment had camped overnight July 1 about four miles east of Chambersburg. The Alabamians tramped more than 20 miles to join Longstreet’s attack and then almost reached Little Round Top before Strong Vincent and his 3rd Brigade did. If Oates had not diverted the 15th and the smaller 47th Alabama up Big Round Top in a sharpshooter wild-goose chase, he and his men might have occupied LRT before Vincent arrived there.

  8. Hmm, so many underappreciated moments. I’d have to nominate the bold actions of Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery on the afternoon of July 2 when he cobbled together various artillery pieces to slow the seemingly unstoppable Confederate advance. This “Plum Run Line” of unsupported guns was probably as important as the gallant charge of the 1st Minnesota and the hot work performed by George Willard’s so-called “Harpers Ferry cowards” in saving that portion of Cemetery Ridge for the Union.

  9. I am reading the Mingus/Wittenberg two volume set on the movements of the armies to Gettysburg. I am amazed by the stories of the dislocations caused by Lee’s Army.

  10. As wbozic already stated, there are so many books out about the battle and campaign. If I were writing a book about an overlooked something of the campaign, I might pick some portion of the battlefield where there was action but today exists not monument or interpretive sign. I am told that Lee was stationed at Carlisle PA prior to the war. I can’t find much on this at all, so to me his intimate knowledge of the Pennsylvania geography is the most overlooked aspect of the campaign.

      1. Carlisle Barracks is a United States Army facility located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The site of the U.S. Army War College, it is the nation’s second-oldest active military base. The first structures were built in 1757, during the French and Indian War. Of this I speak.

  11. The poignant story of William Oates (15th Alabama) having to abandon his mortally wounded brother John on the battlefield and searching the rest of his life for John’s final resting place, which turned out to be Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

  12. The Pennsylvania militia burning the bridges over the Susquehanna, preventing the occupation of Harrisburg.

  13. A couple of moments, namely Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville – small but nasty actions that effectively screened Hooker’s movements from Lee and caused Stuart to have to keep moving northeast away from Ewell’s right wing. By the time the battle opened on July 1st he may as well have been on the moon.

    1. My thoughts exactly. After the Battle of Brandy Station these clashes of cavalry between Stuart and Pleasanton have not been covered until recently. At present I am reading an excellent book entitled Small But Important Riots by Robert F O’Neill covering Allie, Middleburg and Upperville.

  14. perhaps not a moment, but i am going with the leadership malaise and lackluster performance of Lee and his three corps commanders.

  15. Lee’s poor health at the time of the battle, following what may have been a heart attack in the winter of 1862-1863. Lee’s debilitated condition appears to have impacted his ability to traverse the battlefield and may have affected his thinking or at least his equipoise. I recall an article in years past discussing Lee’s medications for his heart condition, which may have caused intestinal issues at Gettysburg, distracting him, weakening him, and hindering his movements. All of this may have impacted his decision-making. Or, as Longstreet put it in Manassas to Appomattox [2004 Barnes & Noble paperback, pg. 323] – “That he [Lee] was excited and off his balance was evident on the afternoon of the 1st, and he labored under the oppression until enough blood was shed to appease him”

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