Post by oldpop2000 on Dec 8, 2013 21:47:15 GMT -5
I was reading a short book on why the Gettysburg Campaign was so named. The author contends that Lee wasn't headed towards Gettysburg, but Harrisburg, Pennsylvania so the campaign should be titled "The Harrisburg Campaign". Interesting observation and partially correct. Lets get a definition first.
If we use that definition by the well know military strategist and author, well respected by the US military, then the statement "towards a single, specific, strategic objective or result in the war" needs be used. With that information, then the question is whether Gettysburg was the ultimate objective? No, it was a meeting engagement between a Union cavalry unit on patrol and a Confederate infantry unit headed to Gettysburg ostensibly to get shoes. (There were no shoes, btw) It was never the ultimate strategic objective.
Remember that except for his memoirs, all of the information we have to use, was written by the Confederate aides and generals after the war, in some cases many decades after the war. This subject was very sensitive in the South after the war. So, what were Lee's intentions, or objective: an invasion of Northern territory. According to Lee's memoirs, not written by himself, the object of the campaign was the defense of Richmond. That defense would be an offensive type defense by attacking the north to draw the Army of the Potomac away from the Rappahannock and into the northern areas, to be defeated in a battle up there. His specific objective or objectives were Maryland and/or Pennsylvania. Lee stated that "the best course would be to invade Pennsylvania, penetrating this State in the direction of Chambersburg, York, or Gettysburg." His memoirs state that he never had designs on Philadelphia. He would be satisfied that the Federal Army, if defeated would be seriously disorganized and forced to retreat across the Susquehanna and this would give him control of Maryland, Western Pennsylvania and most likely West Virginia. It might even cause the downfall of the Federal Government.
Does this agree with many of his officers? Generally, most believed that Lee wanted to conduct a summer campaign in the North, to feed the army in the Cumberland Valley and draw the Union forces to him for defeat. Longstreet, Colonel Long his long time secretary, Major Taylor and others agreed that no city was a specific objective, because Lee felt that the defeat of the AOP, would bring these fruits to him. The objective then was the Union army and any location in the north suitable for a stout defense to destroy the AOP. Helmut Von Moltke the Elder once stated that "no plan survives contact with the enemy" and in this campaign in the north, that was certainly true. The rest is history.
So, what is the answer? Well, what's in a name? To be specific, we should call it The Northern Campaign because that was its objective, the north. We could call it the AOP campaign, but in order to get an enemy force to fight, you must attack something it has to defend. I don't think this works. The Gettysburg Campaign, after one hundred and fifty years, seems to be what we are stuck with, but it was, in fact, THE NORTHERN CAMPAIGN, ending with the Battle of Gettysburg.