previous next

[268] for miles furnished no supplies of consequence, and the presence of Meade's army in the vicinity, with its superior cavalry force, would have rendered it impracticable to send out foraging parties. Moreover, the country people would have been stimulated to a resistance to our demands which we had not met with at first, though many of them fled with their herds and flocks before us across the Susquehanna. The probability, therefore, is that before we got ready to fight Meade in his position when found, our army would have been without the food necessary to sustain it, and we would have been compelled to retreat without fighting another battle. To sustain the horses and mules of the army alone, a very large amount of forage was necessary, and that part of the country did not afford it.

The failure, therefore, to seize the heights on the afternoon of the 1st, whoever may have been responsible for it, cannot be legitimately assigned as one of the causes of our failure at Gettysburg. That may have prevented the battle from taking place there, but if we had been compelled to retire from want of provisions without fighting, that would have equally been a failure of the campaign as a decisive one.

I may go further and say, that even a capture of those heights on the 2nd or 3rd of July would have been of no avail to us, unless we could have inflicted on the enemy a decisive an'd crushing defeat.

If we had merely been able to drive the enemy from the heights and occupy them ourselves, without being able to follow him up and destroy his army or materially cripple it, we would have had but a barren victory instead of a drawn battle, as I regarded it, or a repulse, as others style it. In that event, also, we would have had to retire for want of supplies, and the enemy could soon have recovered from the blow by another levy of troops.

The concentration of Meade's army at that point, after the success on our part on the 1st, coming up as it did in detail, did give us the opportunity of striking him a decissive blow, which we would not otherwise have obtained. When he was bringing up his corps to Cemetery Ridge, one at a time, to use a war phrase very common with correspondents and editors, “we had him just where we wanted him.” General Lee saw and recognized at once the great opportunity furnished him, and determined to avail himself


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Gettysburg (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Cemetery Ridge (Mississippi, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Meade (3)
Fitzhugh Lee (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1st (2)
July 3rd (1)
July 2nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: