Of the discussion on IPBiz of Carhart's book Lost triumph: Lee's real plan at Gettysburg - and why it failed
, IPBiz found a link at encyclopedia.com (apparently) to text by Jason M. Bell (Army Lawyer)[See bottom of this IPBiz post]
. There are different themes of interest to IPBiz:
#1. On the idea that Carhart's idea was previously known, the Bell text includes lines such as
Although not an entirely novel theory, Carhart's reasoned analysis provides insight into Lee's Gettysburg strategy on the third day of the battle. (8) [IPBiz notes that footnote 8 is to Carhart at page 23 (acknowledging that other historians have speculated, without supporting evidence, that Stuart sought Meade's rear position).
Although the evidence for Lee's scheme of maneuver previously existed, Carhart's Lost Triumph sheds new light on Lee's ultimate purpose. (38) So why wasn't Lee successful?
Carhart's Lost Triumph forges a new
and more complex understanding of Lee's battle plan at Gettysburg, of Lee as a commander, and of Custer's officership.
#2. Of the use of older materials, the Bell text includes linesCarhart, however, disappoints readers by failing to note the account of Captain William E. Miller of the 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry:
[Stuart's] avowed object was to strike the rear of the Federal
army in cooperation with Pickett's grand attack upon its center.
For this movement he succeeded in attaining a most commanding
position, and, according to the surmise of Major H. B. McClellan,
Stuart's adjutant-general, gave to Lee the preconcerted signal
for the attack. The field of this cavalry fight was south of the
Rummel buildings. To this field Stuart advanced his whole force,
engaged in an obstinate and desperate struggle with the Federal
cavalry, was driven back out of the field and forced to retire
to his original position. (51)
IPBiz notes that footnote 51 is to WILLIAM E. MILLER, CAPTAIN, 3D PA CAVALRY, THE CAVALRY BATTLE NEAR GETTYSBURG, reprinted in 3 BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR 406 (Robert U. Johnson & Clarence C. Buel eds., Book Sales 2000) (1887).
Of #1, neither Carhart nor Bell have identified exactly what evidence Carhart put forward to advance his thinking over that of Paul Walker, who advanced exactly the same theory that Carhart did. [And, IPBiz is not saying Walker was first to advance the theory.] LBE raised this issue, in print, before the Bell matter was posted or published.
#2 is more interesting. In a rather convoluted citation string, Bell is quoting Miller (1887) who is citing McClellan (date unknown) for the proposition that Stuart "gave to Lee the preconcerted signal for the attack." This "preconcerted signal" idea is used by Carhart.
However, IPBiz, in researching a lead provided by civilwarcavalry (Eric Wittenberg), learned that, around the year 1878 (two years after Custer's demise at Little Big Horn), Brooke-Rawle and McClellan were having a disagreement over who controlled the Rummel building at the end of the battle at East Cavalry Field. In looking at that disagreement, one notes that McClellan's view of Stuart's action was as a diversion (not as an attack) and McClellan NEVER said the cannon shots WERE signals to Lee. What McClellan did say was I have been somewhat perplexed to account for Stuart's conduct in firing these shots
and McClellan allowed they might have been a prearranged signal to LeeOR
to determine if Federal cavalry were in Stuart's immediate vicinity. Unless McClellan had a massive change in thinking by the year 1887 (and Bell ought to provide a citation for that), one observes that Bell's use of the Miller text is misleading in mentioning ONE of McClellan's theories, but not the other.
Bell stated: "By failing to acknowledge Miller's testimony, Carhart misses a persuasive ally." However, one notes that Brooke-Rawle had considered the coordination of Stuart's attack with that of Longstreet/Pickett to have been "obvious." One does have to note a fine point. Even McClellan would say that Stuart's (diversionary) attack was coordinated with that of Longstreet/Pickett. However, McClellan's story is that Stuart was secondary in that Stuart was to divert AND to take advantage of what Longstreet/Pickett might accomplish.
A way to distinguish the theories is in the intent of the cannon shots. To believe Carhart, one has to believe the cannot shots were a signal to Lee (and NOT to the Union forces who were closer by) and that the cannon shots would not impair Stuart's ability to deliver a decisive attack to the Union rear. This does not pass the stright face test. The Union commanders were well aware of Stuart's position BEFORE Pickett's movement began. They were aware of the cannon shots. They even saw Stuart's men. Separately, if Stuart understood that driving into the Union rear was critical to the Confederate game plan on July 3, one suspects Stuart would have committed his numerically superior forces in a different way.
A decisive quotation on Stuart's intentions is Brooke-Rawle quoting Stuart himself: "Had the enemy's main body been dislodged, as was confidently hoped and expected" (by Pickett's charge) "I was in precisely the right position to discover it and improve the opportunity."
The words are IMPROVE the opportunity, not create the opportunity.
**Other relevant IPBiz posts -->
Of Bell's paper in August 2006:
The Billings Gazette
had text:Custer's legend began with his participation in the cavalry engagement during the third day of the battle at Gettysburg. Gen. Robert E. Lee sent his cavalry under Maj. Gen, J.E.B. Stuart to strike at the Union rear at the same time he sent Maj. Gen. George Pickett's division into the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Custer, leading the 500 horsemen of the 1st Michigan Cavalry with the cry "Come on, you wolverines," slammed into Stuart's Confederates with such violence that horses and men were thrown upside down.
"Custer's Civil War record has been overlooked," Williams said. He credits Custer with being the first member of the Army Air Corps.
During the Peninsula Campaign in 1862 as an aide-de-camp for Gen. George McClelland [sic], Custer was assigned to survey the enemy lines from a hydrogen [sic] balloon provided by Thaddeus Lowe.
"He described it as 'the most unpleasant experience of my life,' " Williams said. The basket on the balloon was but 2 feet deep.
Another reason that Jason M. Bell should NOT be surprised that Carhart did NOT mention Miller's work pertains to Miller's treatment of Custer:Miller notes
A lull in the firing now ensued, during which Custer's brigade returned. After the engagement had opened McIntosh had discovered that the force in his front was too strong for his command, and consequently he had sent word to General Gregg to that effect, requesting that Irvin Gregg's brigade be forwarded to his support. As this brigade was some distance to the rear, and therefore not immediately available, Gregg, meeting Custer, who was about to begin his march in the opposite direction, had ordered him to return
, and at the same time had sent word to Irvin Gregg to concentrate as much of his command as possible in the vicinity of Spangler's house. Custer, eager for the fray, had wheeled about and was soon on the field.
The 1st Michigan, drawn up in close column of squadrons near Pennington's battery, was ordered by Gregg to charge
. Custer, who was near, placed himself at its head, and off they dashed.
(...)These flank attacks demoralized the Confederate column.
Custer and McIntosh, whose tenacity had kept the head of the column at bay, now got the advantage.
The Miller text does contain the words identified by Bell:Stuart had with him the main strength and the flower of the Confederate cavalry, led by their most distinguished commanders. His force comprised 4 brigades with 20 regiments and battalions and 4 batteries. His avowed object was to strike the rear of the Federal army in cooperation with Pickett's grand attack upon its center. For this movement he succeeded in attaining a most commanding position, and, according to the surmise of Major H. B. McClellan, Stuart's adjutant-general, gave to Lee the preconcerted signal for the attack. The field of this cavalry fight was south of the Rummel buildings. To this field Stuart advanced his whole force, engaged in an obstinate and desperate struggle with the Federal cavalry, was driven back out of the field and forced to retire to his original position. At the opening of the engagement they were advanced to its northern side. The losses on both sides show the importance and determined character of the fight.
Of course, Miller does not mention that McClellan provided an alternate meaning for the cannon shots. But Miller does give a piece of data as to timing:A party of Confederate skirmishers thrown out in front of Stuart's center occupied the Rummel farm buildings, which were situated in the plain about three-fourths of a mile north-west of the Lott house, and near the base of Cress's Ridge. About 2 o'clock McIntosh, who well understood Stuart's tactics, and had correctly discerned his position, dismounted the 1st New Jersey and moved it forward under Major Beaumont in the direction of Rummel's. To meet this advance the Confederates pushed out a line of skirmishers and occupied a fence south of Rummel's. The 1st New Jersey soon adjusted their line to correspond with that of their antagonists, and firing began.
If the time of 2pm is correct, Stuart would have understood Pickett's Charge was proceeding, and would NOT have merely been putting out skirmishers, IF Stuart thought he was part of a critical plan to cut the Union forces in half. If Stuart was settling in to take advantage of something else, then his actions make some sense.