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  • Lee's offensive post Gettysburg 63

    That lead to the disaster of Hill's attack at Bristoe. Wonder if people can help here as I am curious is though
    1) What was Lee's immediate objective going on the offensive
    2)What did he think he could achieve with it
    3) With Longstreet detached and the Gettysburg casulties how on earth did he think he could actually achieve anything
    4) How did the battle effect the above

  • #2
    Well, to be honest, this is not a campaign I have studied in depth. I only know of two books that cover it in detail: Tighe's The Bristoe Campaign and another one I cannot think of off the top of my head. There is a lack of material on the campaign, probably because it was overshadowed by Chickamauga and Chattanooga in the west, and the fact that the campaign did not have much of a strategic impact outside of allowing Meade to position for his Mine Run offensive. The most common reference I see to the campaign is Hill's failure at Bristoe, and Lee's laconic remark in response to the casualties suffered. I wonder if Lee ever regretted appointing Hill to corps command?

    In regard to your questions I will try to pose answers to the best of my knowledge.

    1. To gain the strategic initiative and to bring on a decisive battle. This was also to tie down Federal troops in the east. Lee failed on all three counts. Lee was audacious, and when he could strike the enemy he would try. Odds didn't matter to Lee.

    2. Perhaps Lee sought a spectacular win like Second Manassas or Chancellorsville.

    3. Because Longstreet's detachment the Army of Tennessee prompted the XI and XII Corps to be dispatched to Chattanooga to reinforce the Army of the Cumberland after Chickamauga. Both Armies were numerically weakened by the campaign in the west and casualties from Gettysburg. Lee perhaps saw a vulnerability with a weakened Army of the Potomac.

    4. The Battle of Bristoe Station effectively ended the campaign. The defeat here forced Lee to return to his winter encampment. It also allowed Meade to begin planning for Mine Run.
    Last edited by semperpietas; 26 Aug 12, 18:43.
    "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

    Pyrrhus Travels West:
    Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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    • #3
      Thank you for you reply though I believe you are slightly incorrect that it lead to the end of the campaign. Were there not the battles for Kellys Ford and Rhappahonock station as well. Both Northern victories. Interesting that since Meade took command he seemed to have the tactical edge on Lee and Gettysburg was not simply a lucky 1 off.

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      • #4
        You are are in error. The Battle of Kelly's Ford was not a part of the Bristoe Campaign, having take place earlier in May.

        The Battle of Rappahannock Station happened after Lee had returned to his position south of the Rappahannock. Bristoe Station effectively ended Lee's strategic offensive. Lee did plan to launch a tactical offensive at Kelly's Ford, but the loss of Rappahannock Station undermined this.
        Last edited by semperpietas; 08 Sep 12, 07:43.
        "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

        Pyrrhus Travels West:
        Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

        Comment


        • #5
          I find no orders from General Lee telling General Hill to attack.
          But it appears he stumbled across them.

          http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields...e-station.html
          In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.
          Robert E. Lee

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          • #6
            Originally posted by semperpiertas
            I wonder if Lee ever regretted appointing Hill to corps command?
            I've come to think that Lee treated Ewell and Hill unequally. Lee threatened to remove Ewell in late 1863 merely because he had been sick for a while, but that was a constant problem with Hill as well. Hill screwed up Bristoe Station and Jericho Mills, and did at least as poorly as Ewell at Gettysburg and considerably worse at the Wilderness. Perhaps Ewell simply had the misfortune of getting ill at just the right time to make Jubal Early his replacement, and Lee couldn't think of anyone better to supplant Hill.
            "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

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            • #7
              After Gettysburg, much like after Antietam, Lee was very worried about protecting his army's supplies in the N Shenandoah.
              According to Meade and Humphreys, who by then the COS, Meade pushed Lee back to a continuous skirmish between the Rapidan and Rappahannock until Grant came with reinforcements.
              Meade could only do so much with a shortage of men (and leadership as well) and having to protect Washington as well as attempt to drive Lee back toward Richmond.
              Grant could have done no better (and didn't at the Wilderness).
              In fact, Meade wanted to reposition around Fredricksburg, away from the river triangle, but Halleck was fearful that Lee would then attack Washington....Puulllleze!

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              • #8
                Robertson's book, A.P.Hill, indicates that General Lee and General Hill
                had various walks together and private discussions. I guess this would mean to say they had a good relationship.
                In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.
                Robert E. Lee

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                • #9
                  ...For those who criticized AP Hill at Gettysburg, Day2 and 3..Lee from most reports, was at Hill's side during most of time, either Lee had Hill on a short leash, or preferred it.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Viperlord View Post
                    I've come to think that Lee treated Ewell and Hill unequally. Lee threatened to remove Ewell in late 1863 merely because he had been sick for a while, but that was a constant problem with Hill as well. Hill screwed up Bristoe Station and Jericho Mills, and did at least as poorly as Ewell at Gettysburg and considerably worse at the Wilderness. Perhaps Ewell simply had the misfortune of getting ill at just the right time to make Jubal Early his replacement, and Lee couldn't think of anyone better to supplant Hill.
                    Looking at leadership in the Second Corps, Ewell could be replaced by Early and Rodes (eventually Gordon). These men were great combat officers with skill.

                    Looking at the Third Corps, I don't see anyone who can replace Hill outside of Anderson (who proves the peter principle does work in reverse). I can imagine Heth would have been disastrous. Note that when Hill was killed, Lee simply gave the Third Corps to Longstreet.
                    "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                    Pyrrhus Travels West:
                    Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by B7B Southern View Post
                      Robertson's book, A.P.Hill, indicates that General Lee and General Hill
                      had various walks together and private discussions. I guess this would mean to say they had a good relationship.
                      It was good enough for Lee to break seniority when he nominated Hill for the Third Corps. McLaws was pissed. And it did seem to give an impression that Lee showed favoritism for Virginians.
                      "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                      Pyrrhus Travels West:
                      Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                        You are are in error. The Battle of Kelly's Ford was not a part of the Bristoe Campaign, having take place earlier in May.

                        The Battle of Rappahannock Station happened after Lee had returned to his position south of the Rappahannock. Bristoe Station effectively ended Lee's strategic offensive. Lee did plan to launch a tactical offensive at Kelly's Ford, but the loss of Rappahannock Station undermined this.

                        I ment the Kellys ford battle on nov 7 1863 not the May battle and the day before Rappahnock station.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by History fan View Post
                          I ment the Kellys ford battle on nov 7 1863 not the May battle and the day before Rappahnock station.
                          There was no separate fight at Kelly's Ford on Nov. 7th from Rappahannock Station. Lee had intended to strike French's III Corps there as it crossed at Kelly's, but Sedgewick's assault on Early's position at the Station changed that.

                          The NPS includes the action at Kelly's Ford in with Rappahannock.

                          http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/va043.htm
                          "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                          Pyrrhus Travels West:
                          Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                          Comment

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