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

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 11/27/05 and covered Chapters 13 & 14.

11/27/2005 9:01 pm (et) Basecat: On that note. Welcome to the Sunday Night book chat, as we discuss Chapters 13 and 14 of the Day 2 book. Your thoughts and comments on Chapter 13, McLaws strikes the Peach Orchard. ?

11/27/2005 9:02 pm (et) bluelady: I knew if I forgot to mark something I would not find it again.  There was a term I wanted to know what it meant and now I can't find it. It began with a c.

11/27/2005 9:03 pm (et) Basecat: First thing that came to mind here was the arty. duel that occurred that day...and how it would become small pickens as to what occurs on Day 3.

11/27/2005 9:04 pm (et) mobile_96: Compared to day 1 it was impressive.

11/27/2005 9:05 pm (et) bluelady: But yet this was hot for the battalions as far as casualties go at least from what Alexander says later.

11/27/2005 9:06 pm (et) Basecat: Also if you notice, just how long it took the Union arty. to get into position while the Confederate guns were ready for action, even with the delay Pete's side trip caused. Also feel that the way the line was positioned invited attack from 2 areas instead of a head on advance.

11/27/2005 9:07 pm (et) Basecat: Blue, I was thinking about the poor guys who had to lie down while all of this was going on. The story about the one guy when told to advance, and he could barely get up on his hands and knees to participate.

11/27/2005 9:08 pm (et) bluelady: Yes, I think he was with the 141.  Many of the regiments were mustered here in Bradford County, PA.

11/27/2005 9:10 pm (et) jimtno: For me the opening remarks about this artillery exchange here, Alexander's comments about this being the most ferocious of the war struck me. Considering Antietam and also Malvern Hill come to mind as being incredible artillery duels.

11/27/2005 9:10 pm (et) jimtno: And this was worse. And this was just day 2. Incredible.

11/27/2005 9:11 pm (et) Basecat: Jim...IMHO, the closeness of the batteries on both sides had a lot to do with the ferociousness of the duel. Am struck by the One officer, who noticed one of the gunners dropping to the ground after his gun was fired, was thought to be a coward at first, but this guy was doing so to see just what type of damage his gun had done with each shot.

11/27/2005 9:12 pm (et) bluelady: For some reason reading this today did not give me the mental picture of the sheer terror of being over run and I know that is what happened here.  Somehow Harry did not paint that mental picture as good as I thought he could

11/27/2005 9:12 pm (et) jimtno: Ames Battery if I am correct?

11/27/2005 9:12 pm (et) mobile_96: Wind speed that afternoon must have been pretty low.

11/27/2005 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...I he spent more time telling where these batteries were positioned.

11/27/2005 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...IIRC...nary a breeze that day, and hence it took a while for the smoke to dissipate.

11/27/2005 9:13 pm (et) bluelady: Yes and that I really thought took away from what happened to them.

11/27/2005 9:14 pm (et) jimtno: I would agree, though he does paint a very vivid picture of the arty crews working the guns. Was amazed at their collective coolness under fire.

11/27/2005 9:14 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...At least he mentioned the problems they had in trying to set up their positions and the beating that the horses took as they got onto the field.

11/27/2005 9:14 pm (et) jimtno: And also several regiments lying in reserve behind the guns and having to lay there and "take it"

11/27/2005 9:15 pm (et) Basecat: Jim...Thing that stuck with me, it was so loud, and yet they all knew what to do, and did so to the best of their ability while using hand signals.

11/27/2005 9:15 pm (et) bluelady: That is true.  And I still see the images of the Trostel farm and all the dead animals and also the hand drawings of the retreat of Bigelow's battery.

11/27/2005 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: Jim...Not sure how those on either side could just sit there and "Take It". Harry makes a good point of Barksdale's angst in getting the attack started as they were taking it very roughly just sitting where they were in Pitzer's woods.

11/27/2005 9:16 pm (et) jimtno: Folks to Basecat's comments about it being loud. I have been around 3 arty pieces firing as a battery. And they were 1/4 loads and blanks! And that was LOUD! lol

11/27/2005 9:17 pm (et) jimtno: The 7th NJ comes to mind along with 2 NH. The Peach Orchard must have been Artillery Hell.

11/27/2005 9:18 pm (et) Basecat: BTW...Notice not that much written about just what the heck Sickles was doing at this time, and he is barely mentioned in the chapter until the last few pages.

11/27/2005 9:18 pm (et) mobile_96: Had to be a bit loud, with about 70 cannon going off, and then shells exploding.

11/27/2005 9:19 pm (et) jimtno: Base, I would also add, Re: Barksdale. Longstreet rides up and IIRC its Barksdale. Complains about this and then Longstreet says we will all be going in shortly.

11/27/2005 9:19 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...may be a dumb thought, but have often wondered how many if any of those who were in the artillery service lost their hearing because of their service with that arm.

11/27/2005 9:20 pm (et) mobile_96: So the 'best' accounts on Sickles comes from himself?

11/27/2005 9:20 pm (et) Basecat: Jim...Pete did ride up, and told Barksdale we will all be going in shortly.

11/27/2005 9:20 pm (et) jimtno: Mobile and remember its all kinds of ammunition. Solid Shot, Exploding shells and then for good measure Cannister. Geezzzz

11/27/2005 9:20 pm (et) bluelady: Did you see all those pics of guys with ear trumpets? I bet they fought with the artillery.

11/27/2005 9:21 pm (et) bluelady: Mobile yes, unless you think Historicus is not Sickles! ;)

11/27/2005 9:21 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Yep...which is easy to understand, as those doing the real fighting had no time to see just what the hell he was doing..:)

11/27/2005 9:21 pm (et) mobile_96: Good clue Blue

11/27/2005 9:22 pm (et) jimtno: Base LOL :-)

11/27/2005 9:22 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...Never thought of that, but am with you on the point..:)

11/27/2005 9:22 pm (et) mobile_96: No way that Historicus could be Sickles!!!!!.........Not

11/27/2005 9:22 pm (et) bluelady: That was even better Basecat.   hehe

11/27/2005 9:23 pm (et) bluelady: lol

11/27/2005 9:23 pm (et) Basecat: Jim...Sad thing is, its true...IIRC...he rode up into that area by the Wheatfield Road once...and then spent most of his time at the Trostle Farm, and bemoaning why are my boys running.

11/27/2005 9:24 pm (et) bluelady: Duh...they were running because they shouldn't have been there to begin with.

11/27/2005 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: But also have to remember, that there weren't much in the way of treatment for any kind of ear problems back then.

11/27/2005 9:24 pm (et) jimtno: Back to the Artillery duel for a moment. In this action almost every kind of Arty ever used in the CW is represented here.  From 20 lb Parrots to 3 inch ordinance rifles, howitzers and then finally the napoleons.. The only thing missing were siege guns and mortars.

11/27/2005 9:25 pm (et) Basecat: Know you talked about this last week, but the thing that doomed the attack for the Confederates, is that some of those with Kershaw veered to the right instead of their initial target. As Harry explains opened a gap in the lines, and broke up the cohesion of the attack.

11/27/2005 9:25 pm (et) bluelady: Nope they just gave you an ear trunpet and told people to holler.

11/27/2005 9:25 pm (et) mobile_96: Only because Historicus didn't have time to get them in place.

11/27/2005 9:26 pm (et) mobile_96: If the Reb lines had been kept together better Sickles could have been destroyed, not just damaged.

11/27/2005 9:26 pm (et) jimtno: Mobile what has always struck me, was the fact that Sickles when the attack opens never rides near the front lines. Dag nab it, you put your men there, it behooves to at least take a LOOK !!!! sigfhhhhhhh

11/27/2005 9:27 pm (et) bluelady: Right Basecat and Harry also points out through the musings of Alexander that once they took the peach orchard, he saw the true line was back further and knew right then the attack would not be successful.

11/27/2005 9:27 pm (et) mobile_96: And they would have moved quicker, preventing some of the re-enforcing of the Union line.

11/27/2005 9:28 pm (et) Basecat: Just to add to Jim's comment...Pete most assuredly rode near the front lines, as as the book describes, tells the Georgia boys to quit cheering for him, and concentrate on the fighting ahead.

11/27/2005 9:28 pm (et) bluelady: But IIRC some of Kershaw's men were trying to stay in line with Semmes and it was the Georgians that were off course a bit as well?

11/27/2005 9:29 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...Thing I just picked up on tonight, was Alexander mad that the artillery. Duel lasted as long as it did, and thus used up more ammo than anticipated.

11/27/2005 9:29 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...Exactly, they got caught up in the fighting to their right.

11/27/2005 9:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Right, he found out that the recon that morning was far out of date by the time the attack started.

11/27/2005 9:30 pm (et) bluelady: I did not notice that about the length of the battle bothering Alexander.  But I can see him thinking that in hindsight.

11/27/2005 9:30 pm (et) jimtno: BTW, Naturally my attention was drawn to Clarke's Battery B from NJ. And amazed that one gun chief kept track of the number of rounds here fired. Over 200!

11/27/2005 9:31 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile..and that's why some folks say Sickles won the battle by moving where he did...To me, it took a long time for Alexander to readjust to the conditions at hand.

11/27/2005 9:31 pm (et) bluelady: Now that made me think...when would he even have time to do that! about being cool under fire.

11/27/2005 9:31 pm (et) bluelady: Basecat, and not just Alexander but the whole Confederate force.

11/27/2005 9:32 pm (et) mobile_96: Blue, he was mad by the time the Rebs had hit Emmitsburg Road.

11/27/2005 9:32 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...True. Notice no mention of what Lee was doing at this time either.

11/27/2005 9:34 pm (et) mobile_96: Was he further north?

11/27/2005 9:34 pm (et) bluelady: least old Pete was trying to keep things going.  Even if he did disagree with it.

11/27/2005 9:35 pm (et) bluelady: But that was like Lee...leave it to his Lt's.

11/27/2005 9:35 pm (et) bluelady: After he made the decision.

11/27/2005 9:35 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...IIRC...He was in the area where Anderson's troops were. To me the whole attack changed once Hood was wounded...and they did a horrible job of figuring out just who should take over for Hood.

11/27/2005 9:36 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...Which is very true...and Meade did the same thing...Left it to his LTs.

11/27/2005 9:36 pm (et) mobile_96: So they lost cohesion at that point.

11/27/2005 9:37 pm (et) bluelady: I believe so Mobile which is why I think it is one reason the echelon attack petered out.

11/27/2005 9:38 pm (et) Basecat: And yet they still came close to finishing the job. The other thing that stalled the attack is when Barksdale is killed, as that Brigade was making a lot of progress as well.  Happened about the same time they were running out of ammo, which did not help either.

11/27/2005 9:38 pm (et) Basecat: Anything more on Chapter 13?? If not...Let's move on to Chapter 14.

11/27/2005 9:39 pm (et) bluelady: now that is one thing Pfanz did not put a lot of ink to...the wounding of Barksdale...and yet seems that I recall there is a story there.

11/27/2005 9:40 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...Surprised me as well, as I thought it was a critical thing.

11/27/2005 9:40 pm (et) bluelady: Almost as if no one witnessed it.

11/27/2005 9:43 pm (et) Basecat: Reminds me of when Ashby was killed in the Valley...No one saw him go down, but on the retreat they saw him on the ground. Here is where I have a problem with Lee. He relied on Hill to get his boy's in motion, but obvious to me, Hill was in la la land, and that's why Barksdale's boys were left out to fend for themselves. Hard to imagine, the delay of those north of Barksdale in terms of being involved in the attack.

11/27/2005 9:44 pm (et) bluelady: It seems that it must be that the brigades of Kershaw and Barksdale came fast because the batteries had to fire as they retired to be able to move some of their pieces...and all the dead animals.

11/27/2005 9:45 pm (et) Basecat: Blue, that and the fact that they ran out of ammo. This goes back to Alexander being mad that it took so long to dislodge the Union lines in front.

11/27/2005 9:45 pm (et) bluelady: but didn't the ones north of Barksdale have to wait until they were deployed?

11/27/2005 9:46 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...IMHO, they waited too long as in...oh we have to go in as well??? Not prepared as they should have been, and yet again...major confusion in orders.

11/27/2005 9:48 pm (et) bluelady: Hill is a big mystery...It is as if he didn't think his troops were part of the attack on the union left because they were in the center.

11/27/2005 9:48 pm (et) Basecat: Thing that has always struck me...Union lines were in total disarray at this time of the battle, but the same can be said for those who wore the Gray, and that had to be an even worse case scenario for those who were doing the attacking.

11/27/2005 9:48 pm (et) bluelady: Or he was just too sick to care? Who knows?

11/27/2005 9:49 pm (et) Basecat: It's a mystery that I don't think will ever be solved...and will be forever one of those things debated as long as folks talk about the Battle of Gettysburg. That said, he sure picked the worst time to let Le down.

11/27/2005 9:49 pm (et) bluelady: Basecat...What union lines.. I was having a real hard time figuring out what was left after the peach orchard was over run.. did they retreat all the way back to cemetery ridge?

11/27/2005 9:50 pm (et) bluelady: Without trying to reform?

11/27/2005 9:50 pm (et) mobile_96: So there's no reports or eyewitness accounts as to Hill's whereabouts at this time?

11/27/2005 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...For the most part yep they retreated back to Cemetery Ridge. Pockets of resistance to enable all that could do so, and you also have to remember that there was ample enough re-enforcements back there to stabilize the situation after a while. You also must put into context the time of day when this was all going on, and IIRC, Cushing prayed that the sun would go down sooner than later.

11/27/2005 9:52 pm (et) bluelady: Very true.. I was forgetting about the time.

11/27/2005 9:52 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Nothing definitive as to what Hill was doing.. Some say he was sick in an ambulance, or lying down on the ground.

11/27/2005 9:53 pm (et) Basecat: And yet he refused to turn over his command to next in line for the Corps.

11/27/2005 9:54 pm (et) bluelady: Basecat.. at this time who would that have been second in command anyway?

11/27/2005 9:54 pm (et) bluelady: Anderson?

11/27/2005 9:54 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...Probably would have been Anderson.

11/27/2005 9:55 pm (et) bluelady: Heth and Pender were both out of commission.

11/27/2005 9:55 pm (et) Basecat: Doubt it would be Heth, and you already posted what I was gonna type..;)

11/27/2005 9:56 pm (et) bluelady: And he sure didn't do too well the 1st far as going with the plan was concerned.

11/27/2005 9:56 pm (et) Basecat: That's a good question, and one I will ask when we are down there in June...Why Hill was allowed to keep command of the 3rd Corps, when we don't know just what he did??

11/27/2005 9:58 pm (et) bluelady: But I really do think the time of day and lack of ammo as well as the confusion of lines did more to stall the attack than sickles move forward was able to do...but I do have to say this...that move forward did not save lives IMHO.

11/27/2005 9:59 pm (et) Basecat: BTW...Great story about Cushing on Day 2...and how his battery was moved over the stone wall and placed near the Codori farm to repel the attack. He thought that his life would be over that day, and greatly feared that they could not stop the attack. Little did he know that the next day would be even worse, and end up costing him his life.

11/27/2005 9:59 pm (et) bluelady: If anything it took away from the main line of defense...with the 5th corps and parts of the 2nd and even the 6th.

11/27/2005 10:01 pm (et) Basecat: Blue...Hate to say this...while his idea was good in a way, he needed help for it to work, and not enough time to do so. That said, part of me feels many in the other corps wanted him to fail, and really did not do their best to save him from that predicament, which is an even worse sin in my eyes.

11/27/2005 10:02 pm (et) bluelady: I didn't catch that from some in the other corps unless some were writing about that in other things you have read.

11/27/2005 10:05 pm (et) Basecat: Blue..It just reminds me of some of the stuff that went on at Second Bull Run...and points to the main problem in the AoP, which was not fixed until Grant came East. Yeah some helped Dan, but not as best as they could. That said, what he did was wrong, and just not enough in the 3rd Corps to secure that high ground he wanted.

11/27/2005 10:07 pm (et) Basecat: Guess the world just stopped turning, as I gave Danny boy a compliment..:) Anything else any would like to add about the homework?

11/27/2005 10:08 pm (et) mobile_96: Was hard to understand the Union fall back.

11/27/2005 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Tend to think it was easier to not reinforce as by the time they could, it was a failure...and they still had the numbers on their side.

11/27/2005 10:10 pm (et) mobile_96: Meant to follow the order in which they fell back

11/27/2005 10:12 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Understand now...and yeah, more confusion...officers who said I have not gotten orders to fall back, and yet those on their left and right were already doing so.

11/27/2005 10:12 pm (et) Basecat: IMHO...Became a you are on your own situation.

11/27/2005 10:13 pm (et) mobile_96: And straight back was the only option.

11/27/2005 10:15 pm (et) Basecat: Have often wondered how those involved in the repulse of the attack felt, when they looked over their shoulders and saw all those in blue not really rallying to help them out as best as they could...Had to be depressing as hell.

11/27/2005 10:16 pm (et) mobile_96: Considering the smoke levels, and the constant shooting, maybe nobody was really paying attention to what was in back of them.

11/27/2005 10:20 pm (et) Basecat: Which is a good point, as they were just doing anything to get away from that situation. My last on the homework tonight is the tale of Frederick Cavada...commander of the 114th PA...who when the retreat started, he just sat down and leaned against a building of one of the farms in that area, and was pleaded to retreat, and he replied, he was just too exhausted to do so.

11/27/2005 10:21 pm (et) Basecat: Will also point out, when Sickles was wounded...he first thought of himself, as in don't let me get captured...which is conveniently forgotten by the pro Danny boy camp.

11/27/2005 10:21 pm (et) mobile_96: Doubt if he was the only one to feel that way.

11/27/2005 10:22 pm (et) Basecat: Thanks all for a fine discussion...Homework for next week are chapters 15, 16, and 17.