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Court Martial: James Longstreet.

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  • R. Evans
    replied
    Reading back through this makes me miss Chase all the more. I really enjoyed reading his posts.

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  • cici
    replied
    Originally posted by RichardS View Post
    Bump. Just an old interesting thread to me. Let's see what the new bloods have to say.
    Richard,

    I would refer you to Chase's post 192 where he provides a link to the Karlton Smith article. Smith is an extremely knowledgeable Gettysburg NPS Park Ranger and historian. I think the peeps have spoken on this overwhelmingly. Oh, there will always be a few naysayers who blame Longstreet for every wrong, real or imagined. And, in turn expose their extreme biases and hypocrisies in equal measures.

    A good example is some will say Longstreet took a nap on the third day while excusing Jackson for sleeping during the whole Seven Days ( noted Jackson fan club member and chronicler of ANV, Robert Krick called Jackson's inability to stay awake around Richmond, asleep in the saddle).
    Last edited by cici; 07 Mar 17, 23:38.

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  • American87
    replied
    1.) I don't know if Pickett's Charge was delayed any longer than it should have been. However, Lee's original plan for July 3 was for Longstreet to resume his attack against the Union left flank. Longstreet disobeyed orders by not having his troops ready for this attack, and when Lee arrived to inspect the troops Longstreet argued with him until Lee decided it was best to adopt a new plan, i.e. attacking the Union center. So technically I would have to say my opinion is pending, but Longstreet did delay and argue before Lee settled on the plan for Longstreet to attack the Union center.

    2.) Again this one might go on a technicality. If you literally mean Longstreet neglected Pickett's division, I would probably say "not guilty." If you mean Longstreet neglected the force that made up "Pickett's Charge," I would say "guilty."
    Lee ordered that the two brigades from Pender's division should be placed en echelon to the left of Heth's division. When these two brigades arrived on the field they were temporarily under Lane's command. Longstreet ordered Lane "to form in rear of the right of Heth's division." Thus instead of advancing on the left en echelon, Lane's two brigades advanced immediately behind Heth's right flank.

    3.) Longstreet did try to pass responsability of the attack onto Alexander. After he wrote a message to Alexander telling that officer to make the final judgement call, Longstreet went into the woods, laid down, and closed his eyes. He later wrote that he was meditating new ideas for helping the attack, but Col. Fremantle believed that Longstreet had fallen asleep. A courier interupted Longstreet with a reply from Alexander, and Longstreet ordered the bombardment to start.
    Alexander ended up not taking responsability for the assault, and he sent a message to Longstreet urging him to advance if he wanted artillery support. When Pickett asked if he should advance, Longstreet replied by dropping his chin to his collar. Pickett repeated his question for confirmation, but Longstreet said nothing until Pickett walked away.

    4.) I would add a fourth charge: Drinking while engaged in battle. While Longstreet was preparing his troops for a possible counter-attack after Pickett's Charge, he took Col. Fremantle's flask and started drinking rum. His subsequently confused the orders he gave to McLaws.

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  • RichardS
    replied
    Bump. Just an old interesting thread to me. Let's see what the new bloods have to say.

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  • Jack Torrance
    replied
    Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
    As an aside, maybe as siemperpietas says; Earl van Dorn was a good cavalry commander. But who in the &*%# put him command of an army?

    As you can see, I would have voted for van Dorn on this poll.

    Whoops wrong topic
    Ahem....I made mention that Van Dorn had two notable successes as a cavalry commander. Semper has enough glory already

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  • Nickuru
    replied
    As an aside, maybe as siemperpietas says; Earl van Dorn was a good cavalry commander. But who in the &*%# put him command of an army?

    As you can see, I would have voted for van Dorn on this poll.

    Whoops wrong topic
    Last edited by Nickuru; 25 Nov 12, 22:27. Reason: offtopic

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  • semperpietas
    replied
    Karlton D. Smith, a Gettysburg Park Ranger, has an excellent essay on Longstreet and the third day here:

    http://www.nps.gov/history/history/o...s/7/essay7.pdf

    I will post some excerpts from it here, in regards that they relate to Longstreet's role in planning the third day:

    While clearly not approving Lee’s plan of attack on July 3, Longstreet did everything he could, both before and during the attack, to ensure its success.
    It appears that Lee wanted a continuation of his July 2 battle plan to take place on July 3 with the troops launching their attacks from the positions gained on July 2. The only change was to be the addition of Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett’s Division of Longstreet’s Corps, which had not yet been engaged. The major drawback to Lee’s plan was his failure to meet personally with his three corps commanders on the evening of July 2 to ensure that they understood his intentions and their role in the coming battle. Longstreet also admitted that contrary to his usual practice of meeting with Lee he only sent a message on the July 2 action. If any orders were issued for July 3, they were either written orders which have not survived, or verbal orders delivered by either a staff officer or courier. Richard S. Ewell was the only corps commander who wrote that he received positive orders to renew his attack at daylight on Friday morning, July 3. Given this seeming lack of communication it is hard to see how Lee hoped to achieve his “proper concert of action.”
    In any event, Lee’s plan for July 3 was disrupted by the actions of the Army of the Potomac. At daylight, about 4:30 a.m., the Union 12th Corps artillery, positioned on and near Power's Hill, opened fire preparatory to a planned Union counter-attack. This action forced Ewell to launch his attack with Johnson’s Division before the rest of the army was ready.. Half an hour after the attack started, and while Johnson was heavily engaged and unable to withdraw, Ewell received word that Longstreet would not be able to attack until at least 10:00 a.m. The fighting at Culp’s Hill would not end until approximately 11:00 a.m

    All these circumstances forced Lee to rethink his plan of action. Shortly after canceling Longstreet’s proposed flank move, Lee met with Longstreet, Hill, Major General Henry Heth, Colonel Armistead L. Long, Maj. Charles S. Venable, and possibly Col. Walter Taylor, the last three members of Lee’s staff. Lee proposed using Longstreet’s entire corps to attack the Union center. Longstreet objected that Hood and McLaws “were holding a mile along the right of my line against twenty thousand men, who would follow their withdrawal, strike the flank of the assaulting column, crush it...” Lee agreed to leave them in place and assign other troops to join Pickett’s Division in the attack. It may be that at this point Hill, and possibly Heth, offered Heth’s Division and two brigades from Maj. Gen. William D. Pender’s Division as substitutes. These troops were already in the right position to join Pickett.
    It would appear than that the only troops designated for the attack and thus directly under Longstreet’s authority were Pickett, Pettigrew, Trimble, Wilcox, and Lang. It does appear that if the attack succeeded, Lee intended for other units to exploit the break-through and the anticipated Union retreat. An action which Lee’s army had executed at Second Manassas and Chancellorsville with some success
    Longstreet had the responsibility of organizing and deploying over 12,000 men from two different corps, in a line over a mile long and have them maneuver so as to converge on a narrow front of the Union line. Longstreet escorted Pickett to the crest of Seminary Ridge to show him where to shelter his men, the direction and the point of the attack. Pickett “seemed to appreciate the severity of the contest he was about to enter, but was quite hopeful of success."
    Col. Birkert D. Fry, commanding Archer’s Brigade, Pettigrew’s Division, reported that during the forenoon, Lee, Longstreet, and Hill seated themselves on a fallen tree near Spangler’s Woods to examine a map. After, the trio remounted staff officers and couriers issued orders for the coming assault. Longstreet later reported that Lee rode with him at least twice to see that everything was properly arranged.
    After the troops were in position Lee again rode over the field with Longstreet “so that there was really no room for misconstruction or misunderstanding of his wishes.” Longstreet “rode once or twice along the ground between Pickett and the Federals, examining the positions and studying the matter over in all its phases so far as we could anticipate”
    Capt. Louis G. Young, aide-de-camp to Pettigrew, wrote that the division had been directed by Longstreet “to form in rear of Pickett’s Division and support his advance” but that the order “was countermanded almost as soon as given, and General Pettigrew was instructed to advance upon the same line with Pickett, a portion of Pender’s Division acting as supports.” Harrison and Young seem to imply that Pickett’s Division was originally to deploy into a division front with all three brigades (Kemper, Garnett, and Armistead) in one line and with Pettigrew as a support
    Pickett’s Division was finally deployed into two lines. Brig. Gen. James Kemper and Garnett in front with Armistead in a second support line. Longstreet, probably through Hill, arranged Pettigrew and Trimble into three lines. Pettigrew’s regiments appear to have been deployed into division columns thus forming two battle lines with Trimble’s two brigades in support. This was probably done to add more weight to the center of the attacking column. Wilcox was ordered to move on the right flank of Pickett “to protect it from any force that the enemy might attempt to move against it.”
    Longstreet appeared to have worked closely with Hill in arranging Hill’s troops.
    Longstreet wrote that Pickett, “who had been charged with the duty of arranging the lines behind” the artillery, reported that the troops “were in order and on the most sheltered ground.” Longstreet also stated that Pickett had been ordered to form his line “so that the center of the assaulting column would arrive at the salient of the enemy's position.” Pickett was to be the guide or the attacking column and was to “attack the line of the enemy’s defenses.” Pettigrew was to move on the same line as Pickett and “was to assault the salient at the same moment.” The only change to these orders, of which Longstreet may not have been aware, was to make Fry’s Brigade, Pettigrew’s Division, the brigade of direction, not Pickett. This arrangement was made by Pickett, Garnett, and Fry prior to the cannonade.
    The officer responsible for determining the effect of the cannonade, and thus the timing of the assault, was to be E. P. Alexander and not James B. Walton. Longstreet justified Alexander’s increased responsibility by explaining that in this situation he considered Alexander as more of an engineer staff officer than a battalion commander. Longstreet said that Alexander was more familiar with the ground and was an officer of “unusual promptness, sagacity, and intelligence.” At about 11:00 a.m., Alexander reported that the artillery was posted and ready. He was then “ordered to a point where he could best observe the effect of our fire, and to give notice of the most opportune moment for our attack.”
    Longstreet, “being unwilling to trust myself with the entire responsibility” appears to have come close to abnegating his duty by placing the responsibility for ordering the attack on the shoulders of a 26-year old lieutenant colonel. Alexander, who also wanted to avoid the responsibility, began to see “overwhelming reasons against the assault.” Alexander discussed these points with Brig. Gen. A. R. Wright, who helped him draft a reply. Alexander, who did not keep a copy of his reply, stated, in effect, that he would only be able to judge the effect of his fire by the enemy’s return fire and if there was any alternative to the attack “it should be carefully considered.”

    This note seems to have brought Longstreet back to his sense of duty. He replied that it was the intention to advance the infantry if the artillery could drive off the enemy. When that happened Alexander was to advise Pickett and advance such artillery as he could to aid the attack.

    As Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble started to advance Union artillery began to hit the flanks of the column. Longstreet with “...his soldierly eye watched every feature of it. He neglected nothing that could help it.” Longstreet observed that the “advance was made in a very handsome style, all the troops keeping their lines accurately, and taking the fire of the batteries with great coolness and deliberation.” When he saw a threat to Pettigrew’s left flank he sent Maj. Osmun Latrobe, of his staff, to warn Trimble. Latrobe's horse was shot from under him and by the time he delivered the message Trimble had already detached two regiments from Lane’s Brigade to protect the left. Longstreet sent Moxley Sorrel to warn Pickett about a threat to his right. In the confusion Sorrel failed to find Pickett but he did find Armistead and Garnett on the way to the front. Sorrel also had his horse shot from under him when a shell burst took off both hind legs.
    I hope these excerpts clear up some misconceptions and provide detail about Longstreet and the third day. It is a well written and detailed essay and I recommend it.
    Last edited by semperpietas; 25 Nov 12, 16:52.

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  • semperpietas
    replied
    Originally posted by Jack Torrance View Post
    As an infantry commander he was awful although his tactics at Elkhorn Tavern weren't bad except for the fact that he left his baggage train way out of reach and he could partially be pardoned for being sick that day. As a cavalry commander he had two notable successes; and had a reputation as a ladies man ., briefly.
    A bloody frontal assault was all that Van Dorn could ever be capable of commanding an infantry force. Not only were his men exhausted, but had no ammunition resupply, and were routed when Curtis counterattacked. The idea was a sound plan, but Van Dorn asked to much of green troops and didn't think the details through.

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  • Jack Torrance
    replied
    When I get time (hopefully tonight and tomorrow) I will present a case for the courtmartial of The Young Napoleon for his actions at Second Manassas.

    I will try to be fair (cough, cough).

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  • Jack Torrance
    replied
    Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
    I don't know any vehement Earl Van Dorn defenders on this forum. You certainly wont find one in me.
    As an infantry commander he was awful although his tactics at Elkhorn Tavern weren't bad except for the fact that he left his baggage train way out of reach and he could partially be pardoned for being sick that day. As a cavalry commander he had two notable successes; and had a reputation as a ladies man ., briefly.

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  • Jack Torrance
    replied
    Originally posted by newjack66 View Post
    Thanks Hellboy !!!!!!

    Damm in my rage against the Longstreet charges I lost my mind and listed stuart.

    I am man enough to say that I have withdrawn the Stuart remark for fear of Eric.

    You could say that it was a 'tactical retreat'.
    Hell, I don't see why Stuart should get a pass. Lee gave him an express suggestion (Lee rarely gave direct orders) that if Stuart encountered a heavy concentration of federal troops he should turn back. Stuart ignored this suggestion. Stuart's other fault lies in taking Hampton with him instead of Beverly Robertson who was useless as a picket and had zero initiative when left on his own

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  • Jack Torrance
    replied
    Originally posted by newjack66 View Post
    Here .... here !


    While we are at it I'd charge Heth.

    Heth for committing his forces before the army was concentrated.
    You might get some Lost Causers placing blame on A. P. Hill for that. IMO, Lee had no idea were or how many federal troops were in the vicinity of Gettysburg and the fact that day one was a Confederate victory shouldn't count against either Heth and Hill. And besides there were them shoes.

    If anyone deserves to be courtmarshalled for Gettysburg is Marse Robert himself. hell, he blamed himself and offered his resignation after the battle.

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  • semperpietas
    replied
    Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
    It is human to make mistakes. Sometimes a commander has to go by instinct, which is a much trickier affair than superb intelligence. Both Joe Johnston and James Longstreet were not at their best in this campaign. But the strategy worked, expensively, sadly, but it worked.

    Others have suggested who else should be court martialed before James Longstreet. I suggested Earl van Dorn (ducks from the incoming artillery fire from this opinion)
    I don't know any vehement Earl Van Dorn defenders on this forum. You certainly wont find one in me.

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  • Nickuru
    replied
    It is human to make mistakes. Sometimes a commander has to go by instinct, which is a much trickier affair than superb intelligence. Both Joe Johnston and James Longstreet were not at their best in this campaign. But the strategy worked, expensively, sadly, but it worked.

    Others have suggested who else should be court martialed before James Longstreet. I suggested Earl van Dorn (ducks from the incoming artillery fire from this opinion)

    Leave a comment:


  • Bladerunnernyc
    replied
    Originally posted by RichardS View Post
    Charge: Dereliction of Duty.
    Specifications: On July 3rd, 1863; Lieutenant General James Longstreet; Commander of 1st Corp, Army of Northern Virginia did willingly commit dereliction of duty by 1) failing to prepare his Corps and associated units in a timely manner for the assault on Cemetery Ridge; 2) removed himself from effective command of Pickett's Division; 3) removed himself from command of the assault.

    Particulars

    Charge 1: General Longstreet on receipt of his orders did procrastinate in an attempt to get General Lee to modify or abandon the orders all together. By failing to move the assault in time of the order; it did allow the forces of the United States to discern the place of attack and bring reinforcements to the critical area which fatally weakened the attack and caused undue casualties to his command.

    Charge 2: Major General George Pickett, being known as a careless soldier and having to be directed closely by his Commanding General was given neither firm direction nor positive handling to ensure the attack was carried out on time and with the intent of the Commanding General of the ANV.

    Charge 3: Rather than exercising tactical control of the assault as directed; General Longstreet shirked his responsibility by making a Colonel of Artillery (Edward Porter Alexander) responsible for the launching of the attack. Despite being told four times to begin the attack or they artillery would not be able to support Pickett, and that there was at least 18 guns still firing from the United States center, he (Pickett) still deferred to General Longstreet for the final go order. Rather than actively and responsibly giving the order to go or to retire; General Longstreet merely bowed his head.

    How do you vote? Guilty or Not Guilty and if so inclined a reasoning for your verdict.

    NOT GUILTY. If JL is guilty for this- Jackson should be shot five times over for the Seven Days and AP Hill for the Bristoe Station Disaster

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