tv Historians Discuss Leadership of General George G. Meade CSPAN June 11, 2017 6:00pm-7:46pm EDT
driving cars. we have a little taste of it, but we will see a lot more of it. watch "the communicators", monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern time, on c-span2. discussding historians prison escapes and confederate women and union soldiers and the chairman's army. this is american history tv only on c-span3. we take you live now to gettysburg, pennsylvania for our second day of live coverage of the gettysburg college civil war institute's annual conference. we will be here throughout the day for talks by authors and historians. talks include relations between union soldiers and confederate
women during sherman's march to the sea. plus a look at jesse james and his actions by the confederacy during the civil war. a panel this morning, of historians discuss the debates surrounding the leadership of george gordon meade. >> he is also the author of an acclaimed book. to his left, scott hartwig. he is a longtime supporter and also a retired historian from gettysburg national park. he has written a book on the battle of antigua. -- antietem. to the left of scott is jennifer murray. she is a professor of history at the university of virginia and
many of you met -- and last, we have brooke simpson, who needs no introduction. you do need an introduction? not everyone on c-span audience knows you. brooks is a professor of history at arizona state. let's turn to george gordon meade. the man who was behind one of the most important victories in american military history is barely recognized for his role in defeating the army at gettysburg. meade in fact, saw this coming. december 7, 1863, he wrote the
following to his wife. i see the herald is constantly harping on the assertion gettysburg was fought by the common soldiers and there was no generalship display. as does come after while, it will be discovered that i was not at gettysburg at all. [laughter] >> it would have been a truly astonishing if he identified in the same letter that a kernel of a main regiment was the true savior of gettysburg. so, that leads us to this. why doesn't george gordon need -- george gordon meade have a
bobblehead doll by joshua chamberlain? brooks suggested we should have double head dolls of all the cwi historians. >> brooks' bobblehead would be the biggest. [laughter] >> that wasn't scripted, i swear. >> my bobblehead would have have socks on. [laughter] >> i'm not surprised you don't understand a fashion statement. it is 90 degrees outside. we will do our best to turn the conversation away from us. questiono to a serious and that is, why does george
-- why's he forgotten here at gettysburg and really, his entire military career. -- reason i think is the lack of capable by refers at this point in time. we only have a handful of studies. we have heard of many in the works at this time that i think will give him a lot of attention in the same way that other people like rent himself who is a subject of a handful of biographies over the last decade. people have not found him attractive until recently. add that i think
there are two things related to gettysburg. the damageelated is to meade's reputation. both the pseudonym articles in the new york newspapers that and really condemning filled with half-truths and lies testimony the war which perpetrated that, but also the conduct of the war. the hearings that they held in the spring of 1864 were tremendously damaging to his reputation. initially, all the people they called forward were enemies. how -- he was a huge
enemy. decktried to stack the himnst meade and had testify in washington. he was not prepared the first time he testified so he did not come off well. the over link campaign, there was a correspondent who wrote for the philadelphia newspaper come i think the philadelphia inquirer and in a story, he wrote about the early part of the campaign. he mentioned -- actually a lot of this article was accurate. one of the things he mentioned retreate wanted to after the battle of the wilderness. he really took offense to what they put arote --
record on him, mounted him .ackward on a horse the result of that was all the other correspondence got cut meade outhey of anything that was positive in any disaster to the army, they put his name associated to it. combined toe things damage his reputation until today. a biggerd offer maybe lens on this question. almost every book that spans the civil war will have say, 500 pages on the war and hundred 50 on everything else -- 150 on everything else. had a chance to remedy the bad press that he received,
as ae have such a fixation public and historians on the possibility of existential moments when we read about the the we like to hang on existential moments. we believe the war could turn in an instant. participants at the time believed that the next big battle that they would participate in would be that moment, but after getting hurt it became clear to everybody -- or most people certainly lincoln, even abraham -- that the war would not hinge on a single existential moment. as consumers of drama, historians and the public alike, we have discounted.
we don't like that as much. it is not as a medic to focus on the grinding war of accumulation or time. aboutwhen he wrote military campaign, he often .efer to them as operations not battles, but operations. over time, he began to see the war much like grant. they began to see the war as an operation in those cumulative don't enrapture us the way gettysburg and the dramatic moments do. i think, quite simply, or mably simply butpturenot -- maybe not largely, our expectations of history in these moments i gettysburg, the union army is
going to collapse like a broken camp still. we had that expectation that if the confederates had one at gettysburg the world have one would have been different. there's nothing in the war that tells us that case. i will add to that. mead is very much aware of his declining reputation. if you read through his letters, he is talking to his wife about his reputation on the decline. in -- like grant, sure sherman and sheridan are cleansing him. it wasn't always that way. when he gets to frederick on people bring him
wreaths and trees -- re and he screwed it like a rock star. i thinkf the things goes back to what john is talking about. , youwe look at gettysburg go to the town and shops and there are all these paintings. you actually have to look very hard. there are a couple. they are not terribly exciting. statue on cemetery ridge is standing there looking, trying to see the virginia monomer across the way. only to see that liaison a higher pedestal and he is. the fact is we will go back to what peters is. if you look at those
three days, you don't seem meade in those heroics -- perot core automatic moments. he is an army manager. it is hancock who comes to rally the field. it is other people who do dramatic things even if they are wrongheaded like dan circles. if i'm asking you give me an image of meade at gettysburg, that.ard-pressed to give even meet himself misses the climax of the battle and says my god, has the enemy already been repulsed. i have not even seen this. the only other time we have an getting away from the bombardment is he goes to round time that meade was here after the battle
contemplating what to do next do of course, he chose to nothing great we might find that to be a wise decision, but there's nothing about what meade does that captures that imagination that is looking for that decisive turning point. he is a poor manager. my argument is very simple. at gettysburg, he proved he was not the general who would lose the war. he showed confidence which was lacking of his predecessors. add anything to -- 's point in what >> i would add that need was in many respects he developed into a modern soldier. one of the things that gets me is that meade constantly developed alternative plans in
case this happened or that happened. he wanted to have plans in place. that was relatively rare amongst the war commanders. and at alternatives plans they use that against him. he was a businesslike warrior so when you think about some of the ,reat leaders that emerged sherman never cultivated the press, but the press loved him. meade never cultivated the press. -- either whether it was with politicians, the people, the respect and heed
also did not do anything to build his reputation. you look at before the battle -- battle of gettysburg in your hard-pressed to find an officer with as good a record as he has. he was one of the most aggressive officers. he was a hard fighter, but people in the army knew that. people outside the army did not know that. he did not cultivate the press in any way. meadefact, the only time try to cultivate the interest of anyone to not work well. -- meade writes home to his wife
. part of his lunch flirting with mary todd lincoln. usually this would merit a combat service --. badge. [laughter] sawt was the only time mary someone flirting with her instead of her husband. thingsnderstood these and even then he was clumsy in trying to advance these things. he was very conscience of his reputation and was not very skilled at self-promotion. he would have been awful at twitter, for example. his facebook page would be bland.
kind of like hennessy's. case, he does not have those things. it is filled with pages that there are tributes to meade and how he has been unjustly overshadowed why others. meade doeses not -- not have that skill even though he wish he had it as an artificial promotion of his image. himself at a sees quintessential 19th-century philadelphia german. he writes over and over in his letters about duty. is duty. him, it a sense to be dutiful and follow orders which is not parallel to
shameless self-promotion. simpsond been more like -- >> then you would have a much more interesting biography. big bobblehead. >> at least my bobblehead has a scarf around it. us--making sure none of have to sit in a loveseat with books. something that we tend to overlook during the war and in life in general, we have all experienced in. when you're in a subordinate position, commenting on your superiors, it is very assertive aggressive,
, or imagine that you would've been, but the greatest on the earth is responsibility and wants have responsibility is yours, you see these leaders, especially of noticeably- most -- the but also meade first responsibility is to avoid disaster. verysubordinate, meade was vocal in his letters home in the need to be more aggressive. when he assumed command, he found it wasn't always as simple. it is also to me noticeable or worth noting that to assess meade you have to assess the army he commanded. his reception is a function of
their relationship with their prior commanders and rearrangement of how they perceive the commander of the army in total. by the time he took command, there had been mcclellan, john pope, hooker in the army in one wanted or did love a couple of them. by the time -- the army of the potomac came to themselves.h the army that march 2 gettysburg had a very powerful sense of identity in the reason, in my was soettysburg
important to the nation because it was so important to be potomac. afterwards, you see a rush to memorialize it service at gettysburg. the creation of the national cemetery. all of these things are a reflection of how important gettysburg was to the army and a reflection that the army identified so strongly with itself. grant as its identity, although they admired grant and came to admire meade as well. was the decision not to do something. as army saw the decision
careful solicitation of their well-being without risking the cause for which they want. they appreciated that a great deal. so it kind of low simmering placement of america's heritage in many ways a function of all these things. this is probably the large group of people that got up early since the great review in 1865. because interesting medes own correspondence is that it did not take place. meet own correspondence was i was ready to go. he gets credited with iron run, but oddly enough this is a
battle in which she wanted to be aggressive. meade did not always have a good pr since. it is a very interesting letter that he writes his wife on june 4, 1864, in which he claims credit for being in command on the field the entire preceding day. that was coal harbour. generally speaking, you would not want to take credit for what as commander of the attacking forces, but meade was so much into i'm in charge of this army that he had command on the field the whole day. meade was so proud of data, schmidt that he did not realize it was not much of an accomplishment at all but it was part of that grinding war that john is talking about. offorget the vast majority july 3,vices is after
1863 and that he plays an essential role in the campaigns of late 1863 which most people forget altogether and the campaigns of 1864 in 1865. his inability to avoid a spotlight that he craves privately but never talks about publicly -- george need is not present in the room when robert ely surrenders. -- robert e lee surrenders. the only comment is that he says you have gotten a lot greater.
>> -- they said sheridan's there, bring him in. >> i guess we are still how meade tries to present himself. we should emphasize private letters to his wife. i think we have forgotten something that is more fundamental and that is about philosophy. i think scott is 22 it and you -- ieed -- meade as a more think scott's point to it in using meade as a more -- he came to an understanding that civil war armies were indestructible. he came to that conclusion, one that lee never reached.
sherman certainly did. i don't know about grant. i think for us to really understand the decision in the field was the recognition you -- they recovered pretty quickly. he had seen that time and time again so he understood the limitations of what an army could achieve. that to me explains the conservatism that you mentioned. it is a great concern for the welfare of his men in a way that he never had that person's ability before. meade andere i think sherman sandow. you can't take the campaign and extracted from all operations because if you look at that, -- i'm notelieved
sure he did, but if you look at the campaign with the rest of the operations, it is possible to seek consistency in what meade did on the ground. he had to get a hold of the army and not let go so that sherman and others could do the maneuvering. remember what sherman said after alanna. let's not play their game. -- ill have i think what we are missing is that he stands out in terms of his philosophy. would say that part of being a good general is knowing when to fight and when not to atht and meade was good determining that.
as john mentioned, you could his formalt controversial decision not to attack lee at the end of the gettysburg campaign. he had some of his corps commanders who wanted to attack. it was wadsworth and howard indie once he trusted recommended against the attack. i think that is a good example of meade analyzing potential gains and risk. fighting a battle is a tremendous risk because battle is so uncertain. joker had a brilliant battlefield planned and then things started to go awry. meade there is a
couple of things. and he sees when you fight when you don't fight, but i think the other thing that meade sees is you can't win the war without fighting so you'll see people say he was criticized and he didcampaign not lose all his casualties. is you are doing transferring where the fighting is going to be. going to fight because you have to be his army. i think meade understands that seewhere you can look and , this iss not to fight a general who fights hard when he needs to, sometimes clumsily
and sometimes not well, but he knows you have to fight to break down the confederates and he also realizes armies are very resilient. you're not going to fight in battle and destroy the enemy army. it is going to be a grinding process. >> that leads to my next question. to describessible as dysfunctional when you consider from may the to june 24, 55,000 casualties. to me, that is a dysfunctional partnership. grant-meade --he first of all the grant-meade lee.tionship, not grant-
-- much more is achieved between the wilderness and the crossing of the james then the army of -- potomac. just like the stanley cup so ice sou win on the home to speak. thes only in 1864 that hankies gain and retain the initiative time and time again and it really doesn't matter that they don't win a decisive battle. they keep moving on.
they keep persisting and there's something to be said not only about the officers and men, but the generals and they will keep plugging at it until it is done as opposed to pull back afterwards and reconsider what they're going to do. there's things grant and meade understood which is the clock was ticking. 1864 is an election year. time was the one thing that grant in meade did not have. many had to produce a result and at least nullify lee's ability to turn the table while other subordinates of grant like
sherman could take care of business. when you focus tightly on the grant-meade relationship, you don't share grants appreciation of meade. time isant at the same keeping an eye on benjamin , keeping an eye on sherman, the authorities at washington. grant to exercise the responsibilities and grant himself pointed out to staff members that grant could manage the entire war effort at the same time. for your focus on casualties,
also conflicted 33,000 -- george meade is a union general most responsible for the disruption of the army of northern virginia. never forget that. true we would not forget that. -- >> how many casualties does lee suffer at gettysburg? -- meade suffer at gettysburg? 28,000. if you want to look at a man who lost a lot of men, you want to look at robert lee.
>> matter what you say that these 55,000 casualties tapers over a number of things. a number of casualties there were a number that were lost because meade and grant for whatever reason did not indicate well. there was some miscommunication that were failed opportunities. that 55,000 casualties nearly lost lincoln the election. best soldiers and officers. they are dead, wounded, maimed all the way down to richmond.
let's be clear there were a lot of missteps along the way and there were lost opportunities because grant and meade did not get their act together. there were also a lot of officers and men suffering short timers disease. we talked about a number of that isho reenlisted under 50%. one of those people is disillusioned. correspondence in 1864, basically the messages i can't wait to get out of here. i've had enough. one of the reasons is because people say i'm about to go home.
i'm not going to get killed at this point in time. i think that is a understandable calculus. both armies have wrecked themselves by mid-june. neither army has performed as ,ell from a larger perspective that achieves a great deal for the union because what had robert e. lee been able to do then reverse the flow of a daring counterattack. lee has no cards to play. it is a feeble reprise of 1862. grant has nullified lee. he could not have done that .ithout meade lee took the confederates -- confederacies greatest asset out of the war and now you're left
to rely on joe johnson. , who does not like to fight for hood. larger pointom a of view that takes us away just from the battlefield and looks strategically, this partnership achieves a major objective. it takes the army of northern virginia out of the war. of 1864 as aink of a case ofthink cancer. the campaign itself is chemotherapy. there are all different types of cancer. -- for theome with a chemotherapy is mild. and there are some types where
the chemotherapy comes as close to killing the patient as it to make them well in the 1864 campaign was that. , meet new it -- it, meade knew it. -- when they came to write the reports in the official records, that is what they called different parts of the campaign. not battles, but ethics -- epics. if you look at it from the perspective of grant and meade, both of them were in a difficult situation.
put yourself in a situation of meade who's boss is going to take his chair and sit next to you at your desk all day everyday. the culture of the organization you managed for nine months is not quite what he wants and he is going to make a change if he has to any does. -- and he does. grantis also a story of interjecting himself into the .ulture of the army -- and meade in a
wayding way manages his through that. he is offended at times, angry at times, but he never succumbs or indulges to the point where he loses focused -- focus. i would count the partnership as in of the 45 important military history and i would count met lincoln would agree is athe 1864 campaign necessary, though harsh, on a patient the head only one path of survival and that was the path they took. >> i want to comment on the word -- the use of your word dysfunction. say i don't think
their management of the army was anymore dysfunctional. if you are using the number of casualties as a number of dysfunction, then they are both dysfunctional. sherman took atlanta and ultimately, lee's army surrendered. i would say that the thing that is remarkable to me about meade is the meade and grant relationship was a very , theyonal relationship made a lot of mistakes. if you read gordon race series meade and grant expected human beings to do things they were not capable of doing. the other point was that
everyone in the campaign after a certain point was utterly exhausted. their nerves were on edge. every single day you're not getting regular sleep or meals for weeks on end. what's remarkable is that meade emotionally and psychologically held up to the very end. if you look at the second world .ar as an example the same.under h hancock ultimately has to take his leave and the fact that that relationship held up under all
that strain and performed like a did is pretty remarkable. even though, they made a lot of mistakes. lives,rificed a lot of in some cases needlessly. gordon's point. thes very critical of communication. lost fromies were not exhaustion or fatigue. my point to bring up another angle is taken from gordon ray. maneuveru explain the
?hat grant embarked upon it is an incredible moment. it is an opportunity to steal petersburg. again, i don't know how one explains that. there is combination of factors there. meade cannot be held theuntable for crossing crossing of the james. john hennessy is exactly right. one of the comments we will go back to and we will cross to james later on. we want to go back to may after the movement starts from the
you have just been snubbed by your new boss. it.meade takes convert this to another commander who couple months later for the second time during the command inup the face of internet -- face of the enemy. quitter.not a punches inas many this relationship with grant that he does fighting confederate. -- -- jim has done a lot
of research on this. like hisd of neglected reputation. this monument goes up in 1927. if any of you have seen this washing -- this monument in washington, d.c., it sits further away from the capital. it goes up in 1927. pennsylvania a meadeure passed memorial. grants consistently in shadow during the war when they're planning for the
memorial, there is this large conversation about how the meade memorial cannot eclipse grants memorial. grants memorial at the capital, it has lines. lyonlions.ot exceed line you cannot eclipse lions. -- and reflecting on what brooks tot said is the ability subordinate ego. he endured a tremendous amount from the press and within the army so he could make this partnership work.
could you talk about his personality. he spoke about his sense of duty, but there is certainly was putg admirable, ego aside for the cause. >> we focus on the relationship with grant, but it might be worth focusing on conversation with lincoln as well. -- i think it is important when we evaluate meade or any others that we talk about what decisive battles mean. decisive battles are incredibly rare in world history. he can think of napoleon executing decisive battles.
to a lot of his tarnished reputation because he leaves one sport and offers his resignation. he said meade is in a quitter. you have a breakdown of relations during the gettysburg has ton and some of that go to lincoln's elementary understanding on what it takes to be an army and purple the army. becauselent observation lincoln is complement it for his restraint. he wrote a letter expressing his disappointment that meade did not pursue and deliver that final blow. he took that letter and put it as -- at his desk. he expressed all of his
frustrations and criticisms. the idea that lincoln showed restraint is just nonsense. i think you are exactly right. lincoln'sow how much thinking matured over time. your point about this researchhip, has your revealed anything about post aboutburg or is it just lincoln and grant on the side? lincoln says your golden opportunity is gone. crushes lee a meade at gettysburg, the war's over. it is just not going to happen.
tothere are people that like talk about the civil war as the modern war, hard work, or whatever. the effect of the matter is there historical comparisons are backward. ofy look back to a method napoleonic conflict as opposed to actual conflict. the letter not sent. what is equally important is the letter that is sent. the same day that lincoln composes this letter of disappointment, he also writes grant and says during the picks campaign, you were right and i was wrong. i made some bad calls here. he's willing to give grant the kind of slack in a campaign actively -- in a way willing.as not
it was really important that if you are general to get wounded and then get access to the president, it is joe hooker who gives his version and lincoln never shakes it. insists saying workers men is thought. so, what happens here, july 2. who was as shaky as , but thatses his way gives him first access to lincoln and he actually writes
the first draft of what happens at gettysburg and the first or they get is the story that sticks in their mind. understandingat with the notion i could've gone win. matt mead cannot july the fifth, the campaign against meade begins. >> one of the myth that is meade at least toth of the potomac had reach out and and that is with how they all testified.
ofy all make this statement easily they could have distorted the army. in the case of two of them, they're not in the battle of antietam. the battle of antietam, lee's army was in worse condition and they did not destroy it. .eade those things that story has resonated. outould have just reached if he had just been aggressive in attack, he would have ended the war. hademember, administration been forging a war effort intended to diminish by increments the south ability to wage war and i have often been
struck about the commitment to this kind of grinding war with respect to slavery and those sorts of things in the disconnect between that and lincoln's impatience as a related to military events. i think will receive out of his lincoln thinking on military matters ultimately -- at ao alignment aftertime and so you see the gettysburg campaign, you see in central virginia it is not succeed in its end. back during the campaign. assaultmeade launch an
and venues need launch a nothing that ends in and suddenly all of these things are somewhat acceptable. admittedly, i think is also deeply affected whether there are not a lot of choices. was that itnclined was discouraged, if not eliminated any possibility that lincoln would bring in a westerner to command the army itself. great theot gone well potomac to a remarkable degree is that they close shop, namely in the train commanders that has significant impact. there's only two or three the
entire war. it is a closed shop. theny event, i think expectations of military campaign is an important thing that we see happen after gettysburg and also it is worth noting that lincoln did not have a lot of options when it came to getting a new guy. >> brooks wrote a fantastic piece, i believe it is a gratification. it is about the press published in gary gallagher's essays on the wilderness and great expectations. when listening to the point about coming into alignment, your argument, that is that
begin -- how does that begin when it came to what he was inspiring to, what he envisioned? thehe press figures into argument that great things were expected from ulysses s. grant coming east. those expectations fall short during the overland campaign. what happens during that is general meade starts a war with the press. you think of scott hancock is this great guy because of what you get at gettysburg. he becomes pretty childish. he will never have such a nice monument as what he did in little round top.
we will remember him as the man who saved little round top but not some college professor. is redundant anyway. meade cannot win on this. meade understands this. if the army wins, the credit will go to grant. if the army loses, then they will blame me. meade is not good at structuring that politics of image, which i would argue is essential. for all the talk about actual performance, this is a war in which people's perception of leadership is crucial to what is going on. lincoln himself has a rather naive notion of military leadership.
he buys into this from the beginning of the war to the end of the war. their comments about sheridan. think 6'4", but 5'4" will do in a pinch. that betrays what lincoln thanks a general should look like and a popular image of what the general should look like. that is negated by this rather businesslike or management style adet grant and me engage in. we don't see that partnership as we do in the lee partnership. the fact of the matter is that partnership wins the war in the east. we tend to focus on the grant sherman partnership.
wayside onceby the again. shows thepanel ability of four scholars peter,ed to meade, and to go in a different direction and concentrate on different things other than meade's role in the war. >> i want to open it up to the audience. you all know the routine by now. come to one of the mics. >> san jose, sharks fan. before coming here, i did some reading. professor gelzo. i want to address the pie creek circular. these three guys treated as a foregone conclusion.
i look at the pike creek circular and the remarks such as the time for falling back can only be developed by circumstances. arisether circumstances as would seem to indicate necessity for falling back. eek question is pike cr circular, the iran or contingency plan? >> it is a plan. i'm not going to say it is contingency. it is a plan that meade would have liked to point. -- it isof sexual my an exceptionally strong position. that would have been the battle he wanted. the only way to get that battle is to draw lee out of pennsylvania and down into
maryland to attack him in that position. he clearly understood that might not happen. if you look at his actions on june 30, what he does is very important. empowers john reynolds to command the left-wing of the army. he makes in a wing commander. reynolds is essentially given the authority to fight a battle in pennsylvania, to precipitate a battle if he feels it is to the advantage of the army. it is a smart move by meade because he delegates his authority to someone he has trusted. he knows he cannot be everywhere at the same time. once reynolds does precipitate the battle at gettysburg, what does meade do? he does not tell everybody that we need to fall back to pike creek. it is not a contingency plan.
pike creek.do to his credit, when the circumstances change, he scraps the plan, orders the concentration at gettysburg, and fights the battle that was picked by his subordinates commander. him flexibility. >> we have been talking about the committee on conduct of war. it is an outstanding book edited by william hyde. i think it is published by lsu. the union general speaks. it has all the transcripts of the court. it is very well edited with great analysis. william hyde, it is a fantastic book. >> from mechanicsburg,
pennsylvania. i would like to understand the meade's personal politics and the army politics. how to does combined as to how he was viewed? >> i will go ahead with that. meade was a democrat. bad sympathetic -- been sympathetic to the more oftious limited war policies 1862. he also shows signs that he thes that ultimately determination of policy as it relates to confederate civilians and the abolition of slavery is not really his business in that he is not part of a process of making that policy.
himself as part of the process of making that policy. pope saw himself as part of making that policy. meade did not. by the time he assumes command, he has managed to dodge the political pitfalls of engaging which sunk men like mcclellan and franklin and many others. command,me he assumes the union debate over the nature of war, over the aims of the war is largely resolved. the emancipation proclamation is very controversial. it stimulates months of debate within the army and the. -- beyond.
command,me meade takes you do not see arguments on emancipation. in theirit as interests. policies in the regards to civilians in the same way his predecessors had. gradually over time more severely. the army of the potomac never wavered from the approach towards civilians that it assumed in late 1862. even under mcclellan, when he took the army back into virginia, the army related itself with civilians in the same way that pope's army had. of threea period
weeks where he lost control of his army. is policy towards civilians not rooted in an objection to suffering civilians, especially secessionist civilians, but the impact of that policy on the army itself. by 1863, that was pretty well set. meade had the wisdom to avoid the debate early on. once he assumed command, the debate in regards to the army was largely resolved. >> thank you. >> mike, pennsylvania. it is kind of well understood that the civil war was a transformative process. in listening to today's debate and last night, it seems to me that the civil war is kind of like a portal for these
different 19th-century personalities to transform themselves into some aspect of modernity. some of them do it well in certain aspects such as technology, and others might do it better in terms of managing the press and public image. things we accept routinely as part of modernity. overall, most of these characters seem to be conflicted because they don't completely step into this modern world we can see. i like the panel to comment on that. do you agree? all?en't we aren't we all stuck between what we know and what we are to learn? look at the internet. how many of you have flip phones? we are all stuck in that. it happens to apply to the military world as well. after gettysburg,
there was a significant reorganization of the army. what role or input did meade get into that reorganization of the army? get intot did meade the reorganization of the army? >> he had a huge role in the reorganization of the army. he was the primary proponents of the reorganization of the army. it was not grant. grant just approved it when he arrived. he thought the first and third suffered and had never really recovered after the battle of gettysburg. they did not have enough new units coming in. he also did not have enough
corps commanders that were competent to command army corps. he thought reducing the number of army corps. i think he saw how maneuverable lee's army was with a larger corps, and he thought that was a better model. he is never going to admit that. later on andrew humphries, who would become chief of staff of the army, he felt that having more army corps in certain circumstances worked better because it gave you more maneuver elements. the argument is when you reduce the number, you have less people to give orders to. that we proponent of organization. >> dennis, hagerstown, maryland. during the retreat from
gettysburg, the claim was that all meade had to do was reach out and the confederates were his. elaborateet an setup earthworks south of gettysburgthat makes look like a speed bump. how much did this line of earthworks affect meade's pursuit? >> meade recounts that area. at first the weather is foggy and he does not get a good view of what the area is like. then he holds a council of war and the desire not to push. ae following day they do reconnaissance in force. there are plenty of respected commanders in the army of the potomac that said meade made the
right decision not to attack, including two of the most senior commanders. charles wainwright, the first corps artillery got offers a similar sentiment that if he had attacked at falling waters, his forces would have been crushed. >> he's still part of my question. e part of my question. there are things that most people have not heard, that with was bogged down protective baltimore and washington, d.c. consequently he always had to be worried about being defeated in those two cities would be attacked. he waited a day after the battle was over to find out what was going on because lee's army was still there and were digging in,
hoping for an assault. williamsport defenses were built by engineers. if you have ever seen pictures of them, you would never want to attack them as a frontal assault. hoping forrates are a frontal assault. >> that is an excellent summary. we want to get to the question. your question is? >> meade when he did decide to move, part of his army moved 32 miles in one night. i don't have a question. i just want to bring this up. >> thank you very much. niceve done a very job of summarizing what has been said here. we appreciate your listening and summarizing. >> we should have had you up
here. >> go to the back mic. >> i am from howard county, maryland. something was mentioned on the panel about civil war armies being indestructible, that meade realized the army of northern virginia was indestructible. i have heard that the typical civil war radel is when both parties come together, bang the heck out of each other, don't actually destroy each other, and live to fight another day. if civil war armies could not destroy each other, why is that? or what does it mean to destroy the enemy in the civil war context? >> i heard the same thing you heard. as soon as i heard civil war armies were indestructible, i started thinking of vicksburg, fort donaldson, locations where
armies were destroyed. they surrendered. civil war armies could be defeated and captured. johnson's army of tennessee was defeated and surrendered. they could. really what we meant of care was here was that because of the abilities -- what is the difference between waterloo at hattiesburg -- and gettysburg? railroads there is no that waterloo to there is -- waterloo there is no railroads or the ability to sustain an army. it is much more difficult for the french to reconstitute their army. the panic spread.
civil war armies were better supply, and in some respects were more resilient because of the sort of weaponry they had, the logistical system they had to support them, it enabled them to recover from damaging battles. you think about the battle of gettysburg where these armies lose 20,009. how do they continue to function? they continue to function because the system that sustains them is well-developed. >> real quick. battles of annihilation are hard to achieve because the soldiers come from the same citizen soldier tradition. they have the same type of training that makes it harder to achieve an edge on one another. >> i would turn towards what i
think is the single best military history of the war, how the north won. the argument is that it is a policy of exhaustion and rating strategy that ultimately -- and raiding strategy that ultimately wins the war. we have time for to break russia's. we need efficient -- two quick questions. we need efficient answers. >> this is just a comment. >> we need a question. >> i just want to point out where that statue is. the building you see in the background is the main federal courthouse in washington. if you are accused of any major governmental malfeasance, that is where you are going to be. my feeling is you may see that statute in the future on national tv. [laughter] >> alright.
our file question. -- final question. >> landsberg, virginia. uva. i wonder if you could talk about meade's postwar career and if he had any role in reconstruction. >> he does. he is sent down in 1867 and 1868 to handle georgia and several other states. for all of his early resolve about issues of race, he is much more aggressive in protecting african-american citizens in georgia. president andomes they engage in promotions, meade finds that he is not going to get along coveted third star. rivals to his longtime
philip sheridan. he spends those last several years unhappy, feeling unappreciated. just after election day in 1872 with grant winning reelection, meade dies. >> on that note we will end. [laughter] paneliststhank the for our lively conversation. thank you all. [applause] have about a 15 minute break before our next session. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] watching live're coverage of the gettysburg civil war conference.
next, we will be back with the author of the civilian work -- war. we will be back in about 20 minutes here on american history tv. right now we are on top of the sixth traverse in for sure. you get an understanding of what the strategic importance of this fortification was. there is the river. you have a commanding view of anything. the trees were gone. you would have a commanding view for miles going up and down either side of the river. on the other side, we have the atlantic ocean. over here we have complete mastery of any ship for miles around until the curve of the earth came into play. in this case, we could literally see ships moving back and forth. we could tell how many blockade
ships were out. we could see blockade runners pulling in so we could actually protect them. men could actually stand up and look in front of the fort. all of these trees now would have been clear-cut for at least half a mile. you could see united states army soldiers getting ready for an attack. from this vantage point, you get an understanding of how impressive psychologically this fort was. >> this was the largest earthworks, coastal defense fortification in the confederacy in the civil war. started in 1861, never truly completed. came andunion forces launched an affinity is operation to -- amphibious operation to capture the fort.
this was over a mile and a half long and held 44 different canons. it was impressive to the point that it was a most psychologically as tough to think about attacking as it was in actually attacking it. this was the largest amphibious operation undertaken by the united states until june 6, 1944, which was the invasion of france. the united states had never taken any kind of activity or operation in this major. it is still important to understand how did this come off. how did they supply these troops? how do you capture a fixed fortified position? when it was founded, this is 32 miles upstream from the south mouth of the river. it was built right next to new inlet, which is 18 miles south
of the town. this river could control trade moving up and down and was a major part for their carolina leading up to -- north carolina leading up to 1855. this was incredibly important for the confederacy. from the war of 1812, there was a battery here to protect this inlet from british version. -- incursion. nothing was ever truly built until the south seceded. orth carolina joined the confederacy in 1861. supplied confederate forces, civilian and military. in august of 1863, this was the for blockadert
runners. they could offload supplies onto trains in the town of wilmington and head north to richmond and the battlefront. as ships approached, there was a series of defensive fortifications all along the river. this being the largest of all the forts. lmes. was actually fort ho if had fort anderson three miles of river. you had numerous batteries all over the area. you had obstructions in the area. the unioneant to keep fleet from sailing up the river, which they did in new orleans where they sailed right past the defensive positions. when this was first started, it was april 1861. there was not a lot of
organizational capacity to this. nobody actually thought about what was supposed to be the basis of a fortification. what started out was a series of five different gun emplacements. interconnected. they were just mounds of dirt with artillery pieces on them. july 4, 1862, a new commander came to the fort. what he decided to do was to take this series of batteries and connect them and make one strong bastion that would become fort fisher. what he did was already existing here. a major he had enough soldiers. was to literally shovel and move sand to build the fort behind me.
that fortification would be 25 feet tall. another 10 feet on top of that would be traverse mounds. this would be something that was supposed to be impregnable. peninsula,re on a you would normally think you are going to have a round or octagonal or pentagon shape. this was actually shaped like a number seven or letter l. the majority of the land or sea bass, it had multiple came inside, garrison easily. there was about 600 yards between the river and ocean that had art of the fortification on it as well. that means any attack coming and the north could be spot put into retreat, which happened in december of 1864.
not the best garrison life. the soldiers who were garrison here all came from the local surrounding area. most of these guys would not be going to virginia to fight the war. they would not be sent elsewhere to fight. they lived in this area. this is one ofew the worst places they could go. many of the soldiers complained about the sand in their own, their bunks, their weapons. that was the problem. they liked to call this the kingdom of mosquitoes because it was so bad to live here. these men living here trained literally every single day to defend this fortification. it was chronically understaffed.
there were not enough soldiers to man this. life here was pretty easy. there was a few times when soldiers would go over the fence and leave to bring in the harvest. they would come back, no harm, no foul. that was until 1864 when rumors were building that there would be an attack on this area. they started clamping down on anyone going awol. this was the key to the entire river defense. 1864, they landed about two regiments onshore. most times you would polish it ship intor -- pull a harbor. had long boats. many of the soldiers landing januarydecember and
1864 and 1865, many of them would fall into the water. the waves would knock these votes over -- these boats over. they would have to walk to shore and dry everything out. you can imagine, all your ammunition is wet. your gun is worthless. this was sod that strong that it would not be able to be attacked and captured with the forces at hand. the order was given to withdraw. all the soldiers were sent back to virginia. it was a major blow for grants and lincoln that the first
attack failed. they realized that to stop the war wilmington had to be captured. lincoln later told grant that he was going to have to capture fort fisher because the country would not allow another failure. a new commander was chosen. in januaryn here 1865. there is a three day bombardment of this fortification. the largest naval bombardment of the american civil war. they would then launch a two-pronged attack. the navy doesn't want to be left out of the honor of capturing fort fisher. and attempt to use marines navy landing personnel on the beach. over the river road. they have a brand-new strategy to let the army pounded the fort into submission. they targeted specific
locations, gun chambers, palisade walls. into the wall so that when the army attacks, they dge atrun through the bri the front of the fort or through the swamp and the holes in the wall. there were about 3000 federal troops who were battle hardened, and then through the worst of the virginia fighting. these confederate soldiers had never iron a shot -- fired a shot in anger. this was a new experience for them. this is the main entrance to fort fisher. there was a road that ran from wilmington all the way down here and came to this gate. as federal forces were attacking 12 poundtion, a lone bronze cannon was here.
it's job was to literally sweep any attacking force coming across the bridge into the fortification. this position had command over anything trying to move to the front side of the fort. that worked out great until you have sharpshooters posted by union soldiers on the other side of the bridge. they were picked off one by one. like any type of military, these guys didn't want to come back out here because it was instant death. union forces were able to literally push the gun out of the way and move through this area. forces werese union actually trying to push into this fortification and capture it, the difficulty coming through the bloody gate, they started coming over the sides of the fort as well and through the marsh. this wouldhe fort,
have been the first traversal shepherds battery. in here would have been a 32 pound cannon. you actually had two cannons in this location. this gun is a reproduction. we do fire this going for programs. it would have a 32 pound iron ball. it would fire about two miles maximum range. when we find this, we cut the powder charge in half. it is only four pounds. it is loud enough that people many miles away could hear this going off. once they come through that palisade fence, they literally started gathering at the front of the fort and started climbing up the fort. as these men were trying to defend this site, then would
appear coming over the top and sides. the defenders would actually be surrounded by union troops going through hand-to-hand combat. during the december attack, the union navy was shooting at every single building or flagpole they could find. the garrison lost pretty much every single building during the attack. after the navy and army retreated, they have to find tents to live in. in december, this is not the best place to live. the men started living inside the bombproof. those were probably about 10 feet wide, 15 feet long, and five feet tall. inside would be all the black powder and material needed for
the guns that were on top of the fort. these men were living amongst all the black powder, ammunition. it would have been extremely cramped. during the january attack, the --bardment that to prior that took place prior to the attack, they only came out during the night when the shelling stopped to repair the fort. with the attack on fort fisher from these union troops, the fort falls january 15, 1865. there will be 72 metal bar recipients from the actions here -- medal of honor recipients on the actions here in battle. they will see the worst fighting the civil war has. gettysburgre at
reference this as the worst fighting. many say this was even worse than being at the crater in petersburg. for them it would be as if someone today who had actually landed on omaha beach during caissonas a marine at in vietnam, this was a place of honor. this would be a place people would hold in high esteem. you actually fought at fort fisher and survived. three battles in u.s. history with more metal bar recipients --medal of honor recipients. that makes this hallowed ground. >> on c-span, retired revere general jerry calloway -- revere
general jerry calloway. most significant aspects of battlefield contact. whether it is runways, open seas, the hell you are going to climb. when they are in change, the military is concerned about that. the military has long had an interest in dealing with things like this. >> wisconsin congressman jim sensenbrenner at a town hall meeting. [inaudible] [applause] remember what i said at the beginning of the meeting. that is that interruptions, you know, are not going to be tolerated. ok. would you please sit down, sir?
she has the floor. you do not. would you please sit down, would you please sit down or go out in the hallway. king at aenator angus hearing on the foreign intelligence surveillance act. >> why are you not answering these questions? is there an invocation by the president of executive privilege? >> not that i am aware of. >> then why are you not answering the question? >> i do not feel it is appropriate. >> what you feel does not matter. >> today we released a report beat. was the cop on the this was regarding the holy inadequate role in investigating the wells fargo
accounts scandal. b was asleep at the wheel. are availableore by searching our video library. >> monday night on the communicators, -- columncided there was a in championing average people who never wanted to be techies and challenging the industry to serve those people. >> the first of a two-part conversation with one of the countries top technology watchers. >> i believe we are going to see in the next five to 10 years of burst of new stuff, virtual reality, augmented reality,
artificial intelligence. i think all kinds of new ways of driving cars. we have a taste of it, but we will see a lot more of it. all kinds of things going on in your home. >> watch the communicators monday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> tonight, your day is in hyde park new york at the franklin d roosevelt library and museum where we get a rare look at fdr's personal office and collection of artifacts. juneis library opened in 1941. he was still present of the u.s. -- presdidentthe of the u.s. by fdrook was selected to be in this room. this room is a most exactly as
it was on the day that he died. >> watch from the franklin d. roosevelt museum and library at hyde park, new york. we continue now with our live coverage of the gettysburg college civil war institute conference in pennsylvania. frank, is lisa tendrich author of union soldiers during sherman's march. this is american history tv on c-span3.