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Thread: George Armstrong Custer

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    George Armstrong Custer

    As the commander of the 7th Cav in one of the worse defeats of US forces, many Americans don't recognize his prior extraordinary achievements. He was pivotal in the Union victory over the southern rebels.

    Custer, born in New Rumley, Ohio, on December 5, 1839, was a member of the second class of 1861 at the Military Academy at West Point, graduating a year early because Southern artillerymen had opened fire on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. The newly commissioned second lieutenant fought in the Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) on July 21, 1861. On his own initiative, he protected the Union retreat at the Cub Run Bridge, and his Company G, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, was one of the last Union formations to leave the battlefield. Custer went on to distinguish himself in nearly every major battle fought by the Army of the Potomac.


    Because of his aggressiveness in cavalry charges, 23-year-old Custer was promoted from captain to brigadier general just days before the Battle of Gettysburg. The Union's youngest general was given command of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. On July 3, 1863, when Maj. Gen. George Pickett's Confederate forces began their assault on Cemetery Ridge, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's Rebel cavalrymen were maneuvering to make an attack on the Union rear. Saber-wielding General Custer and his Wolverines were there to stop what some historians have suggested could have been a battle-winning assault. Vastly outnumbered, Custer twice charged Stuart's forces, throwing them off balance and denying them access to the Federal rear.


    The dashing young general stayed in the spotlight with the Michigan Brigade until September 30, 1864, when he was promoted to major general and given command of the 3rd Cavalry Division. Custer would hold that command post until the end, particularly distinguishing himself during the Appomattox campaign. After the Rebel surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan, who had been Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's chief of cavalry, purchased the table on which the articles of surrender had been signed. He would later present this table to Elizabeth Bacon Custer, General Custer's wife, with a note saying: I respectfully present to you this small writing table on which the conditions for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia were written by Lt. General Grant and permit me to say, Madam, that there is scarcely an individual in our service who has contributed more to bring about this desirable result than your gallant husband.
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    The Calvary battlefield is often overlooked because of Pickett's Charge, but if Pickett's charge were successful the union would've retreated and if the Calvary assault had succeeded it would've made it extremely difficult to get out of the fishhook

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newpublius View Post
    The Calvary battlefield is often overlooked because of Pickett's Charge, but if Pickett's charge were successful the union would've retreated and if the Calvary assault had succeeded it would've made it extremely difficult to get out of the fishhook
    Right. Calvary was not a primary arm of military power at that time. It was auxiliary. I think Lee screwed up and should have won had he been more patient. That is a serious battlefield. Lee should have moved north and forced the Union off the high ground.
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    He can't. Look at a map of the Gettysburg Campaign. It explains why Gettysburg was going to happen at Gettysburg. Lee is using the Blue Ridge mountains as a shield, the second he ventures east of them, he faces a wider Potomac to the South and the Susquehanna to his north. If he goes north, the Army of the Potomac will be able to interpose between the Army of Northern Virginia and DC and the Potomac.

    He won't be able to get out......

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    Wow, let me pull up some maps. Number one for a commander- know the land.

    Quote Originally Posted by Newpublius View Post
    He can't. Look at a map of the Gettysburg Campaign. It explains why Gettysburg was going to happen at Gettysburg. Lee is using the Blue Ridge mountains as a shield, the second he ventures east of them, he faces a wider Potomac to the South and the Susquehanna to his north. If he goes north, the Army of the Potomac will be able to interpose between the Army of Northern Virginia and DC and the Potomac.

    He won't be able to get out......
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter1469 View Post
    Right. Calvary was not a primary arm of military power at that time. It was auxiliary. I think Lee screwed up and should have won had he been more patient. That is a serious battlefield. Lee should have moved north and forced the Union off the high ground.
    Exactly my belief.

    For some reason, Lee simply mismanaged that battle.

    I stood where Pickett began that charge. Mad ... dumb. Very stupid. The Union held the high ground.

    As you say, flanking moves can handle the high ground provided the army has sufficient time to get to the area. A long run over a empty field is a good way to get killed. No cover at all on the ground of Pickett's charge.

    Pickett could have perhaps been part of a diversion tactic. Lee later adopted a much more defensive way to fight. And did very well using it.

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    Lee attacked the Union army when the Union had the high ground. He didn't have to. He could have withdrawn in any other direction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Exactly my belief.

    For some reason, Lee simply mismanaged that battle.

    I stood where Pickett began that charge. Mad ... dumb. Very stupid. The Union held the high ground.

    As you say, flanking moves can handle the high ground provided the army has sufficient time to get to the area. A long run over a empty field is a good way to get killed. No cover at all on the ground of Pickett's charge.

    Pickett could have perhaps been part of a diversion tactic. Lee later adopted a much more defensive way to fight. And did very well using it.
    It was a war favoring the defense of course. The problem was that unlike WWI with trench lines unable to be flanked, a Civil War army could always be flanked. Here we're talking about two different things, the decision to fight at Gettysburg itself (I think the topography of the day leaves little choice, all roads in that theater lead to Gettysburg and then of course, once there, how to tactically proceed with the battle.

    I'll post my pictures from the Longstreet Tower, assaulting the center seems like suicide of course, but the Confederates do get to the 'High Tide' and if you think about it, that fence killed them.

    Ever see a crowd funnel through one door despite the ease a second door could be opened? Same effect here except opening the second door wouldn't have been as easy. That fence absolutely should've been addressed and Hill's corps should've been ready to go at dawn.

    and let's not forget, like Pickett said regarding the reason the Army of Northern VA lost at Gettysburg and he said, paraphrasing, "the army of the Potomac had something to do about it"

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    My point is that Lee didn't have to commit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Newpublius View Post
    It was a war favoring the defense of course. The problem was that unlike WWI with trench lines unable to be flanked, a Civil War army could always be flanked. Here we're talking about two different things, the decision to fight at Gettysburg itself (I think the topography of the day leaves little choice, all roads in that theater lead to Gettysburg and then of course, once there, how to tactically proceed with the battle.

    I'll post my pictures from the Longstreet Tower, assaulting the center seems like suicide of course, but the Confederates do get to the 'High Tide' and if you think about it, that fence killed them.

    Ever see a crowd funnel through one door despite the ease a second door could be opened? Same effect here except opening the second door wouldn't have been as easy. That fence absolutely should've been addressed and Hill's corps should've been ready to go at dawn.

    and let's not forget, like Pickett said regarding the reason the Army of Northern VA lost at Gettysburg and he said, paraphrasing, "the army of the Potomac had something to do about it"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter1469 View Post
    Lee attacked the Union army when the Union had the high ground. He didn't have to. He could have withdrawn in any other direction.
    Well he could've withdrawn to the west of course, but see here

    gettysburg campaign map

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ge...g_Campaign.png

    see the motion of the AoP? He can't slip around them to the South and if he were he'd be on the Taneytown Road in essence abandoning the Emmitsburg Road, Chambersburg Pike and Hagerstown....and that's dangerous because if he needs to extricate himself from that situation he won't be able to shield his army with the mountains and he'll have his back to an ever wider Potomac river.

    not to mention his army was strung out and elements were far to the north...

    when heth makes contact he has to consolidate.....he can't let the AOP interpose between him and safety.....

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