Book Chat
"Gettysburg, The Second Day"
Harry W. Pfanz

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 11/20/05 and covered Chapters 11 & 12.

11/20/2005 9:04 pm (et) bluelady: Well folks there is no night owl yet so I guess we had better start anyway. Any comments on chapter 11?

11/20/2005 9:08 pm (et) amhistoryguy: One thing that stuck out in my mind, was that the developing fight was still a matter of positioning on the field, as it seems to have been right from the start.

11/20/2005 9:08 pm (et) mobile_96: Sickles overextended line sure gets exposed early in this attack .

11/20/2005 9:10 pm (et) bluelady: This is a very confusing part of the battle.  It reminds me of playground squabbles we had as a kid.  Started by a few and then others join in.

11/20/2005 9:11 pm (et) bluelady: But I have to agree with you Harry positioning was tough and I think the lay of the ground there has everything to do with that.

11/20/2005 9:11 pm (et) mobile_96: Tonight's reading took a lot of page flipping in Imhof to try and keep track of the movements of all the regiments. involved.

11/20/2005 9:13 pm (et) amhistoryguy: An interesting aside on Gen. Barnes - it is mentioned that he was a classmate of R. E. Lee, but it was not mentioned that while Lee was second in the class, Barnes was 5th in that class of 1829.

11/20/2005 9:13 pm (et) bluelady: Yes it did. and you can see from looking at those maps that comparing the Wheatfield fight to the ebb and flow of the ocean is a good analogy.

11/20/2005 9:13 pm (et) bluelady: That is interesting AMHG.

11/20/2005 9:14 pm (et) amhistoryguy: You are right mobile, it took lots of map reading to follow all the action.

11/20/2005 9:15 pm (et) mobile_96: Almost went over to a friends house to study this time frame, he has the full set of Bachelder maps.

11/20/2005 9:16 pm (et) amhistoryguy: All the interesting individual stories made all the action and movements a bit less mechanical, including them makes the story more real, as opposed to just moving pieces on a map.

11/20/2005 9:16 pm (et) mobile_96: Think if I had more room here I'd get a set myself.

11/20/2005 9:16 pm (et) bluelady: That stony hill is a bit of an incline on that side of the woods. De Trobriand's troops were able to hold until they were flanked basically.

11/20/2005 9:16 pm (et) amhistoryguy: At times there was almost too much information to process at one reading.

11/20/2005 9:17 pm (et) MAubrecht: If I may, on Gen. Barnes he was the second oldest general in the Army of the Potomac (61 at the time) and this was his first divisional command under fire.

11/20/2005 9:18 pm (et) mobile_96: I know, I had to get up and walk away several times, to stop my head from spinning

11/20/2005 9:18 pm (et) bluelady: I watched one of those history channel shows on the Wheatfield...told about cross and the 4th Michigan's color fight.

11/20/2005 9:19 pm (et) bluelady: But I get ahead with the 4th.

11/20/2005 9:20 pm (et) mobile_96: I tried to get time to look at some of the Gettysburg Mag. articles on the Wheatfield.

11/20/2005 9:20 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The lack of coordination between arms and even units was surprising to me - almost as if the commanding general wasn't running the show beyond inital positioning.

11/20/2005 9:21 pm (et) bluelady: Well AMHG you have to remember once the battle got started...the confederate division commander was down and there were units from 3 different corps in the wheat field from the union side.

11/20/2005 9:22 pm (et) mobile_96: Maybe the lay of the land prevented him from seeing more, and descriptions of the noise and smoke must have added a lot to the confusion.

11/20/2005 9:22 pm (et) bluelady: And some of the brigade commanders from both sides went down.

11/20/2005 9:22 pm (et) amhistoryguy: DeTrobriand tries to get some 5th Corp troops to come to his aid as they are withdrawing (even though they are not sure why).

11/20/2005 9:23 pm (et) bluelady: I recall reading that someone misunderstood the orders there AMHG...and it but a blot on Barnes's career.

11/20/2005 9:23 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That's true, when those brigade commanders went down it screwed some of the commands up, but even at a higher level I'm just not sure anyone knew "the plan."

11/20/2005 9:24 pm (et) bluelady: I think there really wasn't a plan...or Danny boy would have stayed where he was supposed to.

11/20/2005 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: Only plan on that end of the field was......get me more help, Immediately.

11/20/2005 9:26 pm (et) amhistoryguy: And there did not seem to be anyone willing to part with troops to provide additional support.

11/20/2005 9:26 pm (et) bluelady: And all those brigade commanders going down did not do Caldwell any good either.

11/20/2005 9:27 pm (et) bluelady: The understanding was that the 5th corps would be in support of the 3rd corps but the forward position put the 5th in a more active roll than had to come from other places.

11/20/2005 9:28 pm (et) bluelady: And the closest troops at that time were those of Cross, Kelly, Zook and Brooke.

11/20/2005 9:28 pm (et) bluelady: 2nd corps troops.

11/20/2005 9:29 pm (et) bluelady: Getting back to Barnes, Historicus really rips into him with claims that Pfanz says were totally fabricated.

11/20/2005 9:31 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Have to mention Sykes here too, since I was not here last week. Pfanz mentions that Sykes was one of a long line of forgotten generals. While he may have been somewhat forgotten in history, in the military, "Sykes Regulars" still exist today. Among the many battle streamers the unit displays with its flag, is one marked "Gettysburg." I spent a couple of years in that unit and the history of the unit and Sykes is held in high regard today.

11/20/2005 9:32 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Is Historicus covering his own errors by pointing out others?

11/20/2005 9:33 pm (et) bluelady: IMHO he is...and I still think Historicus was none other than Daniel E Sickles.

11/20/2005 9:34 pm (et) bluelady: Historicus reeks of Sickles self promotion.

11/20/2005 9:34 pm (et) mobile_96: Sure sounds like it.

11/20/2005 9:37 pm (et) bluelady: So to wrap up the opening of the battle, Caldwell and De Trobriand were in a fight with Anderson and then Kershaw comes in a more federal troops are needed.

11/20/2005 9:37 pm (et) ks: Isn't that the truth (about Historicus)! ;)

11/20/2005 9:37 pm (et) bluelady: And sweitzer comes in and leaves.

11/20/2005 9:38 pm (et) bluelady: How about chapter 12?

11/20/2005 9:40 pm (et) bluelady: By looking at the Imhof maps it is not hard to figure out why the union troops were pushed back.

11/20/2005 9:40 pm (et) mobile_96: Got a better understanding of the functions of file-closers.

11/20/2005 9:41 pm (et) mobile_96: Surprised they held in as long as they did.

11/20/2005 9:42 pm (et) bluelady: Their lines were more uniform and the stony hill...which I think is the loop today was very confusing.

11/20/2005 9:43 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Partly because I'm also reading "A treatise on the Tactical Use of the Three Arms," it seems to me that having a separate artillery brigade, rather than having artillery units assigned to the individual brigades, further confused how artillery was supported by the infantry, and infantry by artillery. Artillery seeming to be not much of a factor in the Wheatfield - it could have been.

11/20/2005 9:44 pm (et) bluelady: And that was the AoP's and the confederate army's mistake.

11/20/2005 9:45 pm (et) bluelady: Artillery units were assigned to the corps and their commanders.

11/20/2005 9:46 pm (et) bluelady: AMHG,  Pfanz does discuss on of the problems with artillery.. they need to see what they are shooting at...they could not in the Wheatfield which puzzles me about Winslow's unit there.

11/20/2005 9:47 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Had artillery been assigned to brigades (As in the West) Artillery would have known where their support is coming from and vice versa.

11/20/2005 9:48 pm (et) mobile_96: Isn't that why most of them were positioned along the Wheatfield road?

11/20/2005 9:49 pm (et) bluelady: Yes, but still not effective for all their different kinds of ammo.

11/20/2005 9:50 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Canister ?

11/20/2005 9:50 pm (et) bluelady: Now in comes the Irish Brigade and Zook, Cross, and Brooke as well as Anderson once again and Kershaw, with Semmes not too far behind.

11/20/2005 9:50 pm (et) mobile_96: Only in open ground.

11/20/2005 9:50 pm (et) bluelady: Canister would be their most effective but that is a short range ammo and you really need to see what you are firing at ..and hopefully your guys are out of the way.

11/20/2005 9:51 pm (et) bluelady: Right mobile.

11/20/2005 9:53 pm (et) amhistoryguy: My "vision" of the Wheatfield must be flawed.  I see rise on the east side (Ward Burling and Cross) as perfect for artillery with canister.

11/20/2005 9:54 pm (et) bluelady: Only if you are facing the roundtops.

11/20/2005 9:55 pm (et) amhistoryguy: It will make better sense to me when I see it.

11/20/2005 9:55 pm (et) bluelady: And then to fire towards the confederated Devils Den is in the way.

11/20/2005 9:56 pm (et) bluelady: If you face toward the Wheatfield you have the woods in your way.

11/20/2005 9:56 pm (et) bluelady: And Smith's battery sort of had that area...terrible ground.

11/20/2005 9:58 pm (et) mobile_96: Pfanz sure didn't go into much detail on what might have been done with the artillery.

11/20/2005 9:59 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Artillery was very poorly used, Hunt even knew that Smith would lose his guns in the position he was in.

11/20/2005 9:59 pm (et) bluelady: I think mostly because there wasn't much you could do with it on this part of the field...unless you go further toward the peach orchard where you have a clear view.

11/20/2005 10:00 pm (et) bluelady: And that is another reason Hunt would not put the stamp of approval on sickles move forward.

11/20/2005 10:03 pm (et) bluelady: Any other comments about the fight described in chapter 12?

11/20/2005 10:04 pm (et) mobile_96: Think I'm going back and read 12 again.

11/20/2005 10:05 pm (et) bluelady: LOL mobile, I don't blame you.

11/20/2005 10:06 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Wish I had a big sand table.

11/20/2005 10:06 pm (et) bluelady: AMHG, this chapter had a lot of those personal stories of gallant behavior on the field...but the quote of the day is about that rabbit.  If I was you I'd run too but I have a reputation to keep.

11/20/2005 10:07 pm (et) bluelady: AMHG, one where you can build up the contours and place the troops as described.

11/20/2005 10:07 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I enjoyed the rabbit reappearing later...still getting out of the way.

11/20/2005 10:07 pm (et) bluelady: As well as the trees.

11/20/2005 10:07 pm (et) mobile_96: How about when it jumped on the guy and he thought he had been shot.

11/20/2005 10:07 pm (et) bluelady: LOL, I'm killed...hit in the neck!

11/20/2005 10:08 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Yeah, sometimes I just don't get it until I can see it.

11/20/2005 10:08 pm (et) mobile_96: Worse, would have had him dying of a heart attack because of it.

11/20/2005 10:08 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That had to have been a great tension breaker !!

11/20/2005 10:09 pm (et) mobile_96: Is civilwaralbum back online yet?   They have a lot of photos.

11/20/2005 10:09 pm (et) bluelady: AMHG, I too am that way...and I really am glad for the Imhof book of maps I have.  It has helped greatly.

11/20/2005 10:09 pm (et) bluelady: I have a question...what is derogative about WAX to a shoemaker?

11/20/2005 10:10 pm (et) mobile_96: Shoewax??

11/20/2005 10:10 pm (et) bluelady: That's the only thing I can think of.

11/20/2005 10:11 pm (et) mobile_96: Such as shoe polish I'd think.

11/20/2005 10:11 pm (et) bluelady: Yeah...but why that would be an insult is beyond me.

11/20/2005 10:12 pm (et) mobile_96: To protect the leather, wonder if it made your hands black so everyone knew you were a shoe maker?

11/20/2005 10:12 pm (et) amhistoryguy: IIRC, sometimes instead of sewing soles to the upper and using wax to close the holes, they skipped the sewing and have them attached only with wax .

11/20/2005 10:13 pm (et) bluelady: Ok...then that is the lazy way of doing it...hence the insult.

11/20/2005 10:14 pm (et) mobile_96: Does imply an insult then.

11/20/2005 10:14 pm (et) bluelady: Well guys.. Homework for next week is chapters 13 and 14.

11/20/2005 10:14 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That's what I thought of when I read it - but then again it could be something else.

11/20/2005 10:15 pm (et) bluelady: The peach orchard.

11/20/2005 10:17 pm (et) mobile_96: Anyone going to read Culp's Hill by Pfanz before muster?

11/20/2005 10:18 pm (et) mobile_96: And I don't have the next book yet, so might not join the discussion.

11/20/2005 10:18 pm (et) bluelady: Mobile, I have it and have read it once before...but as the case of this book need to re read it.

11/20/2005 10:18 pm (et) bluelady: I have that one and have read it before as well.

11/20/2005 10:18 pm (et) bluelady: Well guys good night and thanks for your input.

11/20/2005 10:19 pm (et) mobile_96: night Blue

11/20/2005 10:19 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Good night Bluelady, and thanks.

11/20/2005 10:20 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I need to re read something more general mobile - too much information just confuses me.

11/20/2005 10:21 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Then I can go back and fill in the details with Pfanz

11/20/2005 10:22 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Reading Pfanz without a good background is kind of like starting math class with trig.