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I will paraphrase the authors logic...Since none of the participants ever discusses what the author thinks was "Lee's Real Plan" and there is nothing in writing regarding "Lee's Real Plan" then OBVIOUSLY the plan must have existed!!! Amazing how none of the Rebel leadership ever discusses this after the war? Even more amazing when one considers all the finger pointing after the battle (and there was much). Lee was one of greatest maneuvering army commanders of all time. But, he did suffer from attack frenzy at times, and he had difficulty disciplining wayward subordinates. It was these two flaws in Lee's leadership that contributed to the Confederate failure at Gettysburg. Pickett's frontal assault on the third day WAS the plan. Lee may have considered the middle of the Union line to be weakened from supporting the flank defenses which had been attacked the previous day. The Cavalry was sent to the rear of the Federal army, but it was never counted on as a critical component of the day 3 attack. Cavalry had evolved into the scouting, screening, and raiding arm of the army, and not in an assault capacity as used in the Napoleonic wars (the author argues that Lee wanted to use it as such). The thesis looses even more credibility when one realizes that Stuart's troopers and horses were exhausted even before making it to the battlefield. Pickett's charge was a big gamble, but one could argue that Lee took an even bigger chance with his army and successfully so during the battle of Chancellorsville fought just two months prior to Gettysburg. This book spends entirely too much time covering the background of the characters, and events (a lot on Napoleon's battles), but nothing concrete to support his claims. The traditionalists of the battle got it pretty much right; Lee did have a bad day. I think the author needs to take the facts of the battle for what they are and not grasp at what is not there.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
In point of fact, Tom Carhat's perception of Lee's plan is accurate in that Lee had a plan and Stuart's failure against Custer was a great part of the reason that plan failed. That said - let historians do their job.
A Confederate victory at Gettysburg would possibly lead to European recognition? Hardly. Not only had that time passed, Carhart forgets that Vicksburg fell that same day - July 3.
To pretend that the Confederacy could have won the war had they prevailed at Gettysburg is fabtasy fiction (see Newt Gingrich ) not the work of historians of any merit. Carhart is much too glib in his projections and not at all on solid ground. He also accepts the old nonsense of the trees being the object of Picket's charge when those trees were too young and small in 1863 to be seen well from across the pike. That alone is enough to look askance at his narrative.
His premise for the book is correct. His execution, like Lee's, leaves much to be desired.
Read the cover sleeve at Borders and use your credits here for well written and non hagiographic history.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful