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Patch 
Posted: 15-Aug-2008, 03:24 PM
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I did not mean that it was not a terrible war or that at the time of Gettysburg the Union had the upper hand. That is how Lee came to be in Pa.
I was just discussing the History Channel program about "Picketts Charge and how it was, in all probability, the turning point in the war. Maybe over something as insignificant as two fences. When it was done Lee didn't have enough supplies to continue the fight. General Grant had a bit to do with the final outcome of the war too.

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Camac
Posted: 15-Aug-2008, 04:55 PM
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Patch;

I have in my library 151 History books including some on the Civil War. If you are interested I would recommend 4 of them. A Trilogy by Bruce Canton: The Coming Fury, Terrible Swift Sword, and Never Call Retreat. The forth is Civil War Reader by Richard B. Harwell a compilation of both official and private letters and diaries written during that period.

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Patch 
Posted: 15-Aug-2008, 07:54 PM
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Thanks I wrote the info down. I am at least three books behind right now and owe a book report on one of them on the Mideival Forum.

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Camac
Posted: 15-Aug-2008, 08:29 PM
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Patch;

Did you happen to watch the PBS Series the Civil War a few years back. Best docu on it I have ever watched.


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Sekhmet 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 12:26 AM
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There's a guy on youtube who has the entire Ken Burns series uploaded.

And incidentally, the cannonade prior to Pickett's Charge (Longstreet's Assault, whatever) was largely over the heads of the union line, but was still doing some pretty massive damage to reserve units and what few supply wagons were on deck on Cemetery Ridge, but failed for the most part to hit the main Union line.

Cannister shot (large shotgun shells, for all intents and purposes, a short-range anti-personnel load) were not used to take down the fences, as the artillery lines were well out of range of the Emmittsburg Road for cannister to do any good whatsoever, towards the end of the cannonade prior to the beginning of the assault the smoke was so thick that the entire field in front of them was totally obscured, and E. P. Alexander, who was in charge of the ANV's artillery didn't have the wherewithal, ammunition or the orders to take out fences that way.

I'm not being nitpicky, just trying to clarify a little. smile.gif


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Patch 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 01:58 AM
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QUOTE (Sekhmet @ 16-Aug-2008, 01:26 AM)
There's a guy on youtube who has the entire Ken Burns series uploaded.

And incidentally, the cannonade prior to Pickett's Charge (Longstreet's Assault, whatever) was largely over the heads of the union line, but was still doing some pretty massive damage to reserve units and what few supply wagons were on deck on Cemetery Ridge, but failed for the most part to hit the main Union line.

Cannister shot (large shotgun shells, for all intents and purposes, a short-range anti-personnel load) were not used to take down the fences, as the artillery lines were well out of range of the Emmittsburg Road for cannister to do any good whatsoever, towards the end of the cannonade prior to the beginning of the assault the smoke was so thick that the entire field in front of them was totally obscured, and E. P. Alexander, who was in charge of the ANV's artillery didn't have the wherewithal, ammunition or the orders to take out fences that way.

I'm not being nitpicky, just trying to clarify a little. smile.gif


Melissa

I need to read more. The History channel indicated it was union cannon that were lowered to fire into the charging Confederates. (The Union was trying to preserve the two fences.) The program stated that there was evidence that bolts, nuts, scraps of metal and probably even small stones were used in the Union cannon to cut down the Confederates at close range. Also, Pickett was not the only General involved in the charge nor was he "in charge" of it. History made it "his" charge.

I realize that TV tends to take liberties at times but this show was for "educational credit".

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LadyOfAvalon 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 06:13 AM
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The Pickett charge has from what I read been one of the deadliest of battles.
This is a passage of what I read about it and pics of the field.

The Field of Pickett's Charge
In the summer of 1863, this battlefield saw carnage like few others. Over the 3 days during which the battle of Gettysburg raged, between 40 and 50 thousand men, perhaps more, became casualties of the ferocious clash. The picture below shows a view of the field of the Pickett / Pettigrew Charge as viewed from the Confederate lines on Seminary Ridge near where the men from North Carolina would have stood as they readied for their advance. In the distance, nearly a mile away, General George Meade and the Army of the Potomac waited along the crest of Cemetery Ridge before this final charge on July 3, 1863.

Union Lieutenant Frank Haskell of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock's Second Corp, would describe the awesome site he next beheld. "Every eye could see the enemy’s legions, an overwhelming resistless tide of an ocean of armed men sweeping upon us! Regiment after regiment and brigade after brigade move from the woods and rapidly take their places in the line forming the assault. Pickett’s proud division with some additional troops hold their right. The first line at short intervals is followed by a second, and that a third succeeds; and columns between support the lines. More than half a mile their front extends; more than a thousand yards the dull gray masses deploy, man touching man, rank pressing rank and line supporting line. The red flags wave, their horsemen gallop up and down; the arms of eighteen thousand men*, barrel and bayonet, gleam in the sun, a sloping forest of flashing steel. Right on they move, as with one soul, in perfect order, without impediment of ditch or wall or stream, over ridge and slope, through orchard and meadow and cornfield, magnificent, grim, irresistible."


That must have been quite a frightening sight to behold.


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LadyOfAvalon 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 06:31 AM
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We have a good description about what southern soldiers had to endure on that dreadful day as they were to engage their enemies from the North.

With the cannonade now subsided, about 12,500 Southern men stepped from the woods along Seminary Ridge and prepared to march across the fields towards what they hoped would be their demoralized, disorganized Northern foes. With temperatures of about 87 degrees and many Confederates wearing traditional woolen uniforms, both the heat and the distance would serve to wear men down. However, as the men of Major Generals George E. Pickett and Isaac R. Trimble, and Brigadier General James Johnston Pettigrew moved forward towards their watchful Union counterparts, they were blessed with occasional respites from the relentless Union cannon fire. As the men from the South approached within 400 yards of the Federal lines on Cemetery Ridge, Northern artillerymen replaced shot and shell with deadly canister rounds. Following the fence line in the picture to your right, you can plainly see the swales and rises of the terrain over which the soldiers engaged in Pickett's Charge traveled.


And here is the view of the now serene field of Pickett's charge from Seminary Ridge.


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LadyOfAvalon 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 06:39 AM
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Another interesting fact of why there was so many casualties is well described in this paragraph.

One reason for the high number of deaths during the war was the use of Napoleonic tactics such as charges. With the advent of more accurate rifled barrels and (near the end of the war for the Union army) repeating firearms such as the Spencer repeating rifle, soldiers were decimated when standing in lines in the open. This gave birth to trench warfare, a tactic heavily used during World War I.


Though the trenches were not adequately safe for the soldier then.For the canons would decimate them as easily as the Spencer repeating rifle mentioned above.


Confederate dead behind the stone wall of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, Virginia, killed during the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863


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Camac
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 08:38 AM
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Since everyone has jumped ahead to 1863 and Gettysburg I might as well join you.
Gettysburg was a battle that should not have been fought. It was a chance encounter that neither side had planned for. The superior Union position was the result of Brigadier General Bufords' Cavalry Brigades engaging the Rebels and holding long enough for Reynolds to bring up his Ist Corps along with Howards' XI and Sickles III Corps. The Battle that shouldn't be had begun and over the next 3 days would define the outcome of the War. Gettysburg was a major road junction in that area of Pennsylvania and both Armies just happen to collide there. Initially in the first engagements between Heth's division of A.P.Hills' Corps and Bufords' Brigades was a routine task of clearing Federal Cavalry out of the way. Lees' Army of Northern Virginia was stetched out over miles of Pennsylvania countryside and upon learning, belatedly, of the Union Armys' position in Northern Maryland sent couriers out with orders for them to join up at Gettysburg. Lee had no idea that three corps of Union troops were also gathering at Gettysburg. In fact do to a major foul up on the part of J.E.B.Stuart, Lees' Cavalry Commander, Lee was blind as to the disposition of the Union forces. The meeting engagement was about to become a major battle that took on a life of its own in the first hours.


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Patch 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 09:32 AM
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The two fences were about two hundred yards from the Union positions. Within rifle range of most soldiers. Canister shot has an explosive charge to scatter it's contents as a grenade would. It would, at closer range, have decimated the fences which the Union had planned to use for their strategic value from the beginning. The practice at the time was to bury the deceased where they fell and since virtually all the bodies were exhumed and re buried, Union dead on Cemetery Ridge and Confederate dead in memorial cemeteries in the South, only one record exists today. A map of the battle field showing the location and number of both Union and Confederate troops buried there was completed within a week after the battle. It shows the importance of the two fences and gives rise to questions as to why the first waves of Confederates did not dismantle them both.

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Camac
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 09:44 AM
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Patch; As to the fences. An excellent question, one unfortunately we will never know the answer to. Perhaps the Fog of War and the eagerness to the Rebs to engage. Just over 46,000 Americans were casualties over that bloody 3 days. The waste.



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Patch 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 11:25 AM
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Pickett lost his leg to a cannon ball which crushed it and killed his horse at some point in the battle. The amputated leg was preserved at Pickett's request and resides in a museum where he visited it occasionally until his death. The leg was not buried with him and is still in the museum.

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Camac
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 11:38 AM
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QUOTE (Patch @ 16-Aug-2008, 11:25 AM)
Pickett lost his leg to a cannon ball which crushed it and killed his horse at some point in the battle. The amputated leg was preserved at Pickett's request and resides in a museum where he visited it occasionally until his death. The leg was not buried with him and is still in the museum.

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Patch;

My friend I can find no reference to Pickett having lost his leg at Gettysburg. In point after the charge he was told personally by Lee to "See to his Division" which would imply that he was not wounded. He is alleged to reply" Sir I have no Division now"


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Sekhmet 
Posted: 16-Aug-2008, 12:05 PM
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Pickett was never hit at Gettysburg...in fact I don't believe he was ever wounded during the war.

I believe you're thinking of Gen. Daniel Sickles, who commanded the Union 3rd Corps. Sickles was hit in the afternoon of July 2nd in the fighting near the Wheatfield. He's a fun guy to research.

Pickett never did forgive Lee for ordering that offense that shredded his division. Pickett was chosen for it mainly because his was the last division to make it onto the field and were fresh troops (if you want to call walking for two days straight "fresh"). Pickett was fairly inexperienced, as were his troops. He is said to have told someone years after the war that "that old man" (meaning Lee) had killed his division.

The reason the fences on the Emmittsburg Road were never dismantled is because there was never an opportunity to do so. The Union lines had solidified into their "fish-hook" pattern that stretched across Cemetery Ridge and continued to be their position come the time of the Charge. While there had been an attack from Longstreet the day before, they had pulled well down to the south and around in order to attack the Union left.
Which incidentally is where Sickles lost his leg...

There had also been skirmishers, but most didn't get all the way to the road.

Had there been a clear way to those fences, they would've been down long before, and probably either burned for firewood or used in breastworks.

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