Post by Allen Wiener on Dec 1, 2012 19:10:04 GMT -5
The latest issue of "Smithsonian" magazine has an article on a new geographical technology that has been applied to historical terrain, including the 1863 Gettysburg battlefield, which yielded some interestying new impressions of the battle. Here is a link to an online version. If this won't open, the December issue, which is devoted to 2012 American Ingenuity Awards.
While the basic theme of the article is a position I've long advocated in thus forum - that you can't really understand a battle unless you understand the terrain, I disagree with the conclusion about Longstreet. I've physically retraced Longstreet's approach march, his decision to turn around, take a longer route, and to pass Hood's division back through so it remained the lead division were all obviously flawed. The proper question, is were these simple errors in judgement or deliberate acts to delay an attack he did not want to make?
The second issue, Longstreet changing the direction of the attack from Lee's orders was obviously a proper one. Union forces had repositioned between the time of Lee's orders and Longstreets attack. Lee's intent was for the attack to hit the Union left flank. Longstreet's change was in keeping with that intent. More importantly it would have been gross incompetence, at this point, to march across the front of what was now the Union flank, exposing his own flank to devastating fire, to attack what was now the Union center.
But, the greater problem remains, had Longstreet executed the attack plan on time in the morning and as violently as he did that afternoon the Round Tops, Devils Den, the Peach Orchard, would have been unoccupied.
Some folks learn by reading, some folks learn by seeing, and some folks just got to pee on the electric fence.
Post by Rich Curilla on Jul 31, 2013 19:16:07 GMT -5
Physical terrain is vital to an understanding of (and a focus on) any battle, IMO.
I have always been confused by a few points in the Battle of Bexar (December 5-10, 1835). With the primary Texian goal being to capture the town plaza by storming down Soledad and Acequia Streets, it gets foggy in the accounts after they capture the Veramendi Palace and the Antonio de la Garza house. Each eyewitness seems to identify different buildings as stepping-stones from there to the successful taking of Plaza de las Islas -- and even results in a vagueness of what their specific goal was.
For several months, I have been working on a virtual model of Bexar in the SketchUp program laid out over satellite views adapted to early city maps and refined by primary accounts. It quickly became obvious that I had to know specifics and forced me to scrutinize and compare accounts even more. This process in itself helped me to nail some locations down as probable rather than "Where the heck are they?" In any event, I'm having a blast creating my own Bexar.