The final day at Gettysburg...desparate times call for desparate measures.

· 3rd Day-July 3, 1863
 --Lee considers one final assault to break Union center; “Picket’s Charge”
-- failure of Confederate artillery preparatory barrage
-- lack of Union counterattack when Confederates vulnerable
-- end of combat due to mutual exhaustion of both sides

The final day of Gettysburg was, well, tragic. I have to say the military logic of Picket's Charge really eludes me.  I can only conclude that physical ailments inhibited Lee's decision making ability...or maybe he really did think that one final charge would carry the day.  His logic was not far a strange way...since the Confederate charge did break the Union center.  However, Lee had no more reserves to throw into the fight and exploit the breakthrough while the Union army had reserves to plug the hole and drive the final charge back. 

One of the great unanswered questions of Gettysburg is why didn't Meade counterattack right after Picket's Charge was repulsed?  This is a good question...Lee was nearly out of artillery ammunition, his center was very weak, and his men were exhausted.  However, the same was true for Meade's force.  One of the reasons that very few battles in the Civil War were really decisive like an Austerlitz or Waterloo was that even the 'victorious' army was nearly spent and had little energy or forces for a pursuit.

There were some really outstanding columns and commentaries on Gettysburg today...hopefully more this week.  Of course, one of my favorites was by Ralph Peters, one of my favorite, favorite grouchy military analysts and commentators...and authors.

The hero of Gettysburg:  Hardly anyone knows his name, but 150 years ago, one of America’s greatest generals, George Meade, saved a nation

First of all, just the title says it all...most Americans can name a freakin' Kardashian sister, but they don't know about our history...but I digress.  It's a great column and really shows that Meade was a key factor in the Union victory.  

So, on to books.  Jeffry D. Wert is an outstanding Civil War historian, and has penned the final of my three books covering the three days of the battle. 

Now, normally, I only recommend non-fiction books, but there has been some really outstanding Civil War fiction produced, primarily by the Shaara father-son duo.  If you haven't read Killer Angels, Gods and Generals, and Last Full really should.  However, I would like to recommend the new novels by Ralph Peters.  I have them both on hold at the library and am anxious to see if he actually does write a better novel about Gettysburg than Michael Shaara...pretty tall shoes to fill.  And, he has written a follow up book on the Overland Campaign of 1864...which I am also looking forward to.


Rick Dehn said…
I found a new analysis of the Topography of Gettysburg that shows Lee really couldn't see the true disposition of the Federal troops.
Combine that with an abysmal performance from Lee's scouts and he never really had a good picture of the battlefield.