Was Meade at fault for not catching Lee after Gettysburg?

Zoe, if I’m doing the math right, your grandfather was born in 1844, your father in 1906, and you were born in 1943? I’m not disputing your personal family history, but I think you’ll agree that it’s atypical. Most Southerners by now are five, six, or seven generations removed from the Civil War and are more likely to have grandfathers who fought in World War II.

FWIW the Official Battelfield guides at Gettysburg say this was his main priority and mix in a healthy dose of Spavined Gelding’s analysis as well when explaining why he didn’t pursue.

I have nothing to ad but to makethis post for my friend the Doper HONESTABE who is temporatily suspended for his GD run in with the Doper LITTLEGIANT
The case, summarily stated is this. [Meade] You fought and beat the enemy at Gettysburg; and, of course, to say the least, his loss was as great as yours. He retreated; and you did not, as it seemed to me, pressingly pursue him; but a flood in the river detained him, till, by slow degrees, you were again upon him. You had at least twenty thousand veteran troops directly with you, and as many more raw ones within supporting distance, all in addition to those who fought with you at Gettysburg; while it was not possible that he had received a single recruit; and yet you stood and let the flood run down, bridges be built, and the enemy move away at his leisure, without attacking him. And Couch and Smith! The latter left Carlisle in time, upon all ordinary calculation, to have aided you in the last battle at Gettysburg; but he did not arrive. At the end of more than ten days, I believe twelve, under constant urging, he reached Hagerstown from Carlisle, which is not an inch over fiftyfive miles, if so much. And Couch’s movement was very little different.

Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last monday, how can you possibly do so South of the river, when you can take with you very few more than two thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect, and I do not expect you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it.

Little Nemo, your point is well-taken. My apologies to all.

I made the same point in another thread. I will be 84 come Sunday and my great-grandfather was in the Civil War. My grandfather was born in 1860, my father in 1889 and I in 1922.

Southern soldiers fought with great determination and bravery, but I never forget that they were defending a social and economic system built on human slavery.

I was born 40 years ago today and I had one great-grandfather who, while too young to fight in it, remembered the Civil War quite well (he remembered chasing his father’s horse and waving as he rode off until he could no longer see him, and that was the last time he saw his father). I had three great-grandparents born during the war and all the rest were born during Reconstruction.

I have a distant cousin who was born in 1964. Her father was born in 1881 [not a typo- she was his 20th child and the second born after his 80th birthday, with several born in the 1950s and 1940s] and her grandfather, a member of the Prattville Dragoons (CSA cavalry unit) was born in 1841. There is no doubt of her paternity and so she and her siblings are probably the youngest grandchildren of a Civil War soldier I’ve known.

OTOH, there are tales of very young women marrying very old vets for their pension checks in the early 20th century. A child born of one of these marriages who became a father in middle age could have produced a similar aged child to my cousins, or younger even.

And you’ve got a problem with that, do ya? :dubious:

To the OP, the South had one hell of a lot of fight left in it after Gettysburg/Vicksburg fell, plus it’s not a foregone conclusion at all that Meade would have crushed Lee had he pursued. Any number of factors could have caused a considerable upset and best case scenario would have involved many Union casualties.

My guess is that Virginia would have fallen sooner had Meade pursued, but the remnants of Lee’s army (because at that time he was not ready to admit defeat) would have removed further south and made a serious stand the deep South (SC/GA to TX [minus New Orleans and TN, of course]) that possibly would have been an even bloodier campaign than it ultimately became, ESPECIALLY if in the collapse of Virginia Jefferson Davis (a fanatic and terrible war president) had been killed or captured and the South replaced him with Lee or Johnston as a dux bellorum type figure.

Also, even had Meade crushed Lee and forced the South to sue for peace the terms would have been far more favorable than ultimately granted. It’s very possible that slavery would not have been Constitutionally outlawed, almost certainly not as early.

Not at all. I’ve read the speeches by John Calhoun pointing out how much better off the slaves were than had they been left to their own devices in Africa.

While it’s somewhat off the subject, it’s true that slaves in America had a *relatively * good life (at least in the eastern states, where slave discipline was fairly lax). Certainly in terms of materials well-being, the slave population, though poor, increased massively, indicating that they were taken care of and had plnty to eat. It’s also irrelevant, for moral reasons.

In any case, the impetus to war was largely provided for a weird seige mentality. The souther elites felt somehow trapped and oppressed by the northern ones, although in actual fact the northern states hardly noticed the southerns. Southern economy was more constrained by soil conditions and labor and capital concentration (or lack thereof). It’s true, of course, that the tariffs favored by northern states hurt southern ones. But the converse would have been true had a few arguments gone the other way. Frankly, the eastern planters (who mostly led and spawned the Confederacy) were doing badly because of exxhausted soil and inefficient farming methods.

John C. Calhoun’s rampant idiocy may be illuminating: throughout his later career, his idea of compromise was for the northern states to surrender policy decisions, precisely on the grounds that they were more powerful! Perhaps ironically, the southern states could have made a real compromise and kept most of what they wanted. But they threw a hissy fit and got nothing. Historical justice. :smiley:

[Hijack] David. Happy early birthday. I hope I’m as alert as you 22 years from now.[/hijack]

Happy Birthday, David! Planning on having more children? I can hear the future conversation now:

Grandson Vidsim: My GranDee was in World War Two!

His Friend: On which planette?

Sampiro, my husband’s people are from Prattville. That should be interesting and easy to research. I had posted a question about true sons and true daughters and their off-spring a few years ago and managed to find only one other person from the forties. The UDC and SOC have not been much help. Thanks for the heads up.

My grandfather did not get his pension until shortly before he died in the 1920’s. Good thing my grandmother was in her forties when my father was born and that he was the youngest of 17 in a blended family. Otherwise, I might think that you were casting aspersions on my kin. As it is, it is merely other people that you know nothing about. It is unkind and presumptive to judge the motives of the young women who married the old veterans.

I know one woman in Montgomery who is the daughter of a Confederate veteran. She is about 92 and her father was in his late 60s when she was born, and I doubt she’s the youngest child of one even in the city, so they do still exist.

Me cast aspersions on other’s genealogy? I was 20 years old before I realized not everyobody’s elderly female relatives pissed in the yard and standing up, so it’s not likely. :wink:

On the subject of old father’s, my cousin (the one born in 1964) who is the daughter of Reuben (b. 1881 in the boondocks of Autauga County, same county as Prattville) has through him a great grandfather born in 1787. (Reuben’s mother, Becky, was born in 1857 when her father, G.J., was 70 and was not his youngest child [she had 4 younger siblings in fact, the last two posthumously born twins].) Assuming the average great-grandparent is between 75 and 80 when their g=grandchild is born, that’s a full extra century above normal; or throw in G.J.'s father, a Revolutionary War veteran, and it’s the entire history of the U.S. in five generations.

BTW, do you know if your Prattville ancestors were in the dragoons? If so there are several good web resources. Also, do you know if any were involved in the Dutch Bend settlement? [Mine were; it was a party of about 20 families of mostly Swiss Huguenot stock from South Carolina who settled Alabama shortly after the Creeks ceded millions of acres following Horseshoe Bend; surnames include Rawlinson, Deramus, Traywick (also spelled Trawick, Traweek and Treywick), Golson (also spelled Golsan and Gholston), Stoudemire, Rumph, Tschudy (also spelled Judy, Judith and Goody), Tresvant, Roy and Guice (also spelled Geiss and Geese), and if you have one of those surnames in your heritage you have a lot more of them as well as they intermarried for two centuries.) There were lots of May-December marriages over the centuries; 80 year old men with two dozen living and dead children and a wife the same age as their oldest grandchild weren’t terribly uncommon.

Eh, true enough. To quote my grandfather (whose sister’s first husband was 40+ years her senior), “Some gal’s just don’t seem to mind old age sinkin’ in, I reckon”. The comment on the pension comes more from the much written about “Last Confederate Widow in Alabama”, this old horror who even in her official and romanticized bios admitted she married a man 60 years her senior for his $50 per month pension. (I call her a horror not for that so much as for the fact she appeared as guest of honor at KKK and other white supremacist rallies as a living relic of sorts and admitted that the son she had while married to her 80-something 2nd husband wasn’t fathered by him.)

Incidentally Confederate veterans often received better pensions and benefits than Union veterans. The reason was that whenever attempts were made in Congress to increase veterans benefits they were loudly denounced and blocked by Southern Congressmen (most notoriously Seaborn Roddenbery) on the logic that “why should southern tax dollars pay for pensions for the old men who destroyed our homeland while our own veterans have to be paid for by our state?” Consequently a Union veteran was doing good to get $18 per month or so in benefits (Harriet Tubman received I believe $8 per month as the widow of a Union veteran and nothing as a former scout/nurse/first-woman-to-lead-troops-in-battle and national icon). Some states, particularly the western states whose constituencies included lot of Confederate veterans who resettled after the war and lots of non-veteran European immigrants, didn’t feel the need to subsidize this with state money, and so an 82 year old former private in Alabama often did better than an 82 year old former Union officer and war hero in North Dakota. Interesting time.

Sorry for the long hijack.

PS- Regarding Shelby Foote, he was the great-grandson of a Confederate cavalry officer (Hugen Foote) and grew up in a house that included his great-grandfather’s bent sword (it was damaged in battle) and a horse’s tail that was shot off his great-grandfather’s horse at Shiloh. His mother’s father, Morris (or Maurice) Rosenstock, was a German Jew whose family moved to Mississippi after the war. Both of his grandfathers were millionaires at one time though both died penniless, basically leaving him with a lot of nice antiques and that’s about it. (Shelby himself was, not surprisingly for a man of his voice and [even in old age] good looks, a notorious ladies man in his prime, even court-martialled during WW2 for going AWOL to court the Irish lady he eventually married [and soon after divorced] while stationed in England awaiting D-Day.)