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General thoughts on an interesting What IF that also impacts “How to win”

. . .Joe Ryan has an interesting new theory about the gamble that Lee was taking when he “invaded” the North. He says we really have no documents that can be trusted to let us see what he really intended to do. Many of his orders to his army were not preserved, let alone a diary with his intentions as he crossed the Potomac. And his after the fact reports may be examples of CYA. If Joe Ryan [google him+Gettysburg] is right that Lee, all along, intended to suddenly converge on the advance guard of the Federals when it reached Gettysburg [unless it was too strong] and attack it to crush it, then we can say 1] Lee was right that a bite sized advance guard did move there, but 2] that this is a perfect example of the maxim that it is very hard to pull off a converging concentration in the presence of the enemy because the plan failed.

This plan suggests itself from the way all the roads seem to converge on Gettysburg, just look at a map.

. . .Joe argues that the plan went wrong and that kept 2 div. away from the battle until late pm of 7/1 when they arrived too late to join the fight. What happened was that Johnson's div. and the II Corps trains [presumably incl. the Art. Reserve] were located about 11 miles (I think) NW of Gettysburg on the other side of South Mountain [a very long very high ridge that reaches from the Potomac R. way into central Pennsylvania]. Lee ordered him to Gettysburg. Instead of the planed move-- SE directly over South Mtn. on a side road, that Lee knew was there, Johnson moved 10 miles SW to the main road thru the Cashtown gap over South Mountain. This had 2 effects 1] it delayed Johnson, because to go SE is the direct route for him to get to Gettysburg [to go via Cashtown is double the distance] and 2] it created a traffic jam on the Chambersburg Pike thru the Cashtown gap. The trains were in front of Johnson's div. and got ahead of Anderson's div. too. Since there is just 1 road thru the gap there was no other route for the divisions to take and they had to wait while the trains [wagon born Art., ammo, and supplies, etc] moved down the road. Only then could they march down the road. The wagon train was 20 to 25 miles long, so it would take several hours for the rear end to reach the place that the front end was. Next in the line was Anderson then Johnson. [BTW This means the II Corps Art. Res. should arrive before Anderson not with him.]

. . .So like I said this might be an interesting “what if” to explore. What if Johnson had gone straight over the Mtn toward Gettysburg? 1] He would have gotten to the map board sooner and more on the N side near the NW corner, followed by the II Corps Art. Res. And 2] Anderson would have moved down the Pike sooner and arrived sooner on the map board too.

. . .I would suggest that Joe got it part wrong. Johnson should form the right wing or center of the II Corps line [not march behind the other 2 divisions of the II Corps] and Early's div supported by Jenkin's Cav. should sweep around behind the Union right, to cut them off. Anderson could have formed a reserve behind Heth and Pender. I wonder what Lee's plan was for Stuart's Cav. to be doing at this time, if he had stayed between Lee and Hooker/Meade? Would he have entered the map at Fairfield (west edge) and turned the Union left to help surround them? But, would the Union I Corps have fallen for the trap? And XI Corps? Would they have kept back or fallen back? This question may help explain the lack of rush shown by Hill that morning, he needs to push hard enough to force Reynolds to rush the XI corps to support him. But he should not push so hard as to convince him that he is facing too much force and should pull back to Pipe Creek.

. . .Notice that the Brandeis Univ. OB makes the I & XI Corps smaller than the original game does and makes the Confed. stronger too. They may not even need Johnson and Anderson to crush them. Stuart would be nice though. But, if Stuart had moved up the east side of South Mtn. then, surely another Union Cav. Div. would be in the area too. So, another Union Cav. Div. arrives at 8AM (or maybe 6AM), on Emmitsburg Road w/Horse Art.

. . .This suggests that controlling roads is not what Lee wanted. He wanted to destroy a good part of the Union Army.

. . .Once a game system is a good simulation of the reality of the time, it can be used to explore What Ifs like these.
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