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From: Brooks Simpson

More queries for the GDG on the battle of July 1:

I'm well aware of the criticism made of Francis C. Barlow's decision to occupy the knoll that now bears his name. But there remain a few areas I would like to hear from others about.

It's my understanding that Thomas Devin's brigade warned O. O. Howard of the approach of Ewell's Crops, including Early's division. Yet the approaches to Gettysburg along the Harrisburg/Heidelburg/US Bus 15 route seem to have been left uncovered--to the point that Early could set up his artillery north of Rock Creek without much concern about return fire, and that Gordon could advance through the woods on the banks of the creek and hit Barlow without detection. Devin's men were looking out for Confederates on the York Pike. Why was Early able to approach so close without detection?

What do the rest of you make of how well von Gilsa's brigade fought when attacked? Barlow insisted that initially he was attacked in front, and the flank attack came later and was led by other CSA brigades. But the location of the monuments in that area and the fact that both Barlow's monument and the bugler atop the 153 PA's monument face west (toward Dole's position) suggest that he was pinning the blame on his men in order to conceal his own shortcomings. What do the rest of you think?

Finally, I gather that there's a lot of dispute over the Barlow-Gordon incident. Again, what do the rest of you think? I've always had trouble trusting Gordon's recollections, and with good reason. I am aware that in 1985 someone published a piece on this in CWTI.

Thanks again!

Brooks Simpson

From: acameron@tcac.com (Alexander Cameron)

Hi Brooks,
Buford's Signal Officer sent Howard a message warning him of Ewell's approach also. This message is never quoted by authors describing the first day. Here it is:

General Howard: [July 2], 1863 Over a division of the rebels is making a flank movement on our right; the line extends over a mile and is advancing, skirmishing. There is nothing but cavalry to oppose them. A.B. Jerome First Lieutenant, Signal Officer
[OR 27, 3, p.488]

The reason it is never quoted is that it is mistakenly marked as a July 2 message. The compilers of the Official Records thought it was sent on July 2 because the rest of the messages turned in by Jerome are July 2 messages and sent from LRT. This message has the date in brackets indicating it was placed there by the OR compilers. That is a mistake. The message makes absolutely no sense coming from Jerome's position on LRT on July 2. However, it makes a hell of a lot of sense if it came from the Seminary Cupola on July 1, which it did. Jerome signaled it to Howard's signal officers. Now I know that finding this message in the OR on the wrong day is not comparable to finding Lincoln's footprints in the Evergreen Cemetery. However, it made my day.

BTW, John J. Pullen has an article on the Gordon-Barlow Story in Gettysburg Magazine 8.


From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg


I will respond with respect to Devin. Devin's men came under friendly fire from Weidrich's battery atop Cemetery Hill. Under fire, and believing to be hostile, Devin had no choice but to withdraw, which he did, thereby leaving the flank uncovered. The perfectly set the stage for the flank attack.

Hope this helps.

Eric Wittenberg

From: DPowell334@aol.com

In a message dated 96-01-30 22:51:47 EST, you write:

>Thanks for bringing this up. I was about to suggest, as a topic for >general discussion, the fight of the XI Corps on July 1--Howard's >generalship, the behavior of the troops, and the possibility that the >Federals might have held the line n. of G'burg had Barlow not advanced >(against orders).

> >This was as much a factor on day 1 as the behavior of I Corps, but >gets lots less ink, even though it was the site of the decisive >action, as thinks turned out.

> >Anyone want to take up this thread?

> >Norm Levitt


Sure, why not.

I think Howard did very little that was good on the First Day. Doubleday handled the First Corps with some skill, and faced most of the CSA troops - three of the four divisions engaged. Howard, however, assumed wing command, and left Shurz to run the XI Corps. neither really took a firm hand over the corps disposition. and that's why the three divisions of XI corps were all beyond mutual supporting range when Early struck - as well as why Early's attack was a surprise.

Barlow's advance left both of his brigades out of mutual supporting distance as well. Effectively, his division was defeated piecemeal by only a part of Early's Division, with Doles' (of Rodes) helping out.

I'm not sure, however, that a better defense north of town would have let the Federals hang onto their line. It seems likely that Early plus Doles' brigade could have still managed to occupy the attention of XI corps, if not defeat it outright. That means that the I Corps still had three CSA divisions attacking it, and would still be flanked. I think they'd still have been forced back.

For what it's worth, I think the Barlow-Gordon incident is fiction. Gordon was good at that...

Dave Powell

From: acameron@tcac.com (Alexander Cameron)

Dave wrote:

>For what it's worth, I think the Barlow-Gordon incident is fiction. Gordon >was good at that...

Hi Dave,
Agree. It's a nice story but it's not true. The definitive work on this is William Hanna, "The Barlow-Gordon Incident? The Yank Never Met the Reb: A Gettysburg Myth Exploded," CIVIL WAR TIMES ILLUSTRATED, May 1985.


From: "James F. Epperson"

On Wed, 31 Jan 1996, Alexander Cameron wrote:

> Agree. It's a nice story but it's not true. The definitive work on this > is William Hanna, "The Barlow-Gordon Incident? The Yank Never Met the Reb: A > Gettysburg Myth Exploded," CIVIL WAR TIMES ILLUSTRATED, May 1985.

But it is such =good= fiction . . .

Isn't it the case that Barlow's wife died from a disease she caught while working as a nurse in the Union hospitals at Gettysburg?

Jim Epperson

From: ENordfors@aol.com


Very good points on the XI Corps....you have given me an agenda this w/e with which to pursue...However you did fail to mention an aspect of the XI that is near and dear to my heart...
The fine Corps Commander (senior Commander during GB) O.O. Howard...born in Leeds Me 8 Nov 1830 he graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850 and in 1854 finished 4th in his class at West point....his selection of Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge as sites on which to anchor the Union Position earned him a Thanks Of Congress citation.....another fine Maine Soldier at GB....all this and he succeeded despite himself....I have no rose colored glasses for Howard...he had his moments of glory and of tragedy (Chancellorsville)...however during the GB ordeal he was A.O.K....


From: DPowell334@aol.com

In a message dated 96-01-31 10:18:10 EST, you write:

> >But it is such =good= fiction . . .

> >Isn't it the case that Barlow's wife died from a disease she caught while >working as a nurse in the Union hospitals at Gettysburg?

> >Jim Epperson


As a student of the Wilderness, you should be familiar with the quality of fiction Gordon could spin...

As for that about Barlow's wife - I've heard it before, but couldn't say where, Maybe some other soul will provide.

Dave Powell

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg

Hi, all. It pleases me to see some discussion regarding the plight of the XI Corps. Personally, I've always felt that, despite Barlow's poor selection of high points to defend, the XI Corps fought extremely well on July 1. Actually, if you have ever spent any significant period of time out on Barlow's Knoll, and look at the area where Early's attack came, you will quickly realize that the XI Corps had no choice but to retreat. As I mentioned in a prior post, the friendly fire from Wiedrich's battery atop Cemetery Hill made Devin withdraw, leaving the flank uncovered in a prime position for the Confederate attack to catch Barlow's line at its terminus.

Actually, there are a lot truly interesting stories about XI Corps's fight on July 1. Dilger is one, Bayard Wilkeson another, the fights of the 54th New York and 17th Connecticut still others. In my humble opinion, it's high time for someone to do a comprehensive study of the XI Corps fight, including microtactics.

At the risk of getting flamed, I'm tired of Pickett's Charge. I tend to be interested in the more obscure elements of this battle, and the XI Corps fight simply does not get the attention that it deserves.

Eric Wittenberg

From: DPowell334@aol.com<;p> Eric,

I've always been of mixed opinions about the XI Corps. Individually, a number of units fought very well. However, the leadership placed them in a very bad position, and then proceeded to fight that position quite poorly.
Specifically, I think Howard, Schurz and Barlow mismanaged affairs so much that the individual bravery of several units (I'm a big fan of Dilger myself - THERE was a battery commander of note!) ended up mattering little to the overall defense.

The first problem is that the senior leadership neglected their basic duties. Given Doubleday's effective management of I Corps, Howard had few pressing tasks on that front. Yet he remained aloof from his own corps, failing to pay much attention to their dispositions, despite the fact that they were essential to secure the I Corps flank. Schurz, the senior divisional commander who took over nominal command of the corps, was no better. His own division was dispersed over too wide a front. The original plan called for the corps to occupy Oak Hill, but when that became moot, no alternative plan was really adopted - the XI Corps just sort of ground to a halt and awaited developments.
Schimmelfennig, who took over nominal command of Schurz' Division as Senior Brigadier, was unsure as to how far his authority extended.

Then came Barlow. Not only did he advance to a position that was in the end, too long and too far forward to maintain a strong connection with Schurz' Division, he occupied this ground in a very shoddy fashion, sending forward at first only a single brigade, and then intermingling the other at the last minute. Both Schurz and/or Howard paid no attention at all to Barlow until it was too late.

Finally, Schurz and Schimmelfennig allowed Doles' CSA brigade to move laterally across their entire divisional front to strike Barlow in the flank, just as Gordon was hammering him (Barlow) from the front. This is a terrible job of divisional command.

Dave Powell

>From Susan & Eric Wittenberg

At 11:22 PM 1/31/96 -0500, you wrote:


> >Very good points on the XI Corps....you have given me an agenda this w/e with >which to pursue...>However you did fail to mention an aspect of the XI that is near and dear to my heart...
>The fine Corps Commander (senior Commander during GB) O.O. Howard...born in >Leeds Me 8 Nov 1830 he graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850 and In 1854 finished >4th in his class at West point....his selection of Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge as >sites on which to anchor the Union Position earned him a Thanks Of Congress >citation.....another fine Maine Soldier at GB....all this and he succeeded despite >himself....I have no rose colored glasses for Howard...he had his moments of glory and >of tragedy (Chancellorsville)...however during the GB ordeal he was A.O.K....

> >Ed:

At the risk of stepping on your Maine toes, I don't think much of Howard for a number of reasons. If you're interested, I'll explain why. Suffice it to say that he was a bit of a prima donna and Buford, Reynolds and Hancock deserved that Congressional citation every damned bit as much. None of them got it. Gee--could it be that Howard was politically connected with the Radical Republicans?


From: lawrence (Dennis Lawrence)

> Dave wrote:

> > >For what it's worth, I think the Barlow-Gordon incident is fiction. Gordon > >was good at that...

Jim Epperson

But it is such =good= fiction . . .

Hello, Everyone

Gordon was a very powerful voice in the movement to heal and move on after the war. The Barlow story would certainly fit his attempt to draw tight again the Union based on mutual admiration for the heroism of the foe. Oliver Wendell Holmes championed this view, and it became the prominent memory of the war by the time of the 1890's - the memorial period at Gettysburg.

In another post war camp - Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison bivouacked there - the above view was anathema. To these orators the honorable foe interpretation precluded the ideological interpretation of the war they sought to stamp on the public mind.

A good source to stir up this issue is _Frederick Douglass' Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee_ by David Blight.

I recognize this is not the forum to discuss the causes or memory of the war - so just keep your hand off that "off topic post" little brother. Gordon's story, whether true or not, was a very important story, and not unique. I just thought it needed to be placed in the context of the post war times.


From: ENordfors@aol.com

In a message dated 96-02-01 22:17:03 EST, Mike wrote:

>After Chancellorsville it was easy to say that the XI Corps let the army >down on the first day but I think the blame rests solely with their >commanders. The Corps itself fought very hard that day and gets very little >credit.

Hi Mike et al..
I agree whole heartedly....the fighting men of the XI Corps all did well to survive that day...many did not....I do not think there is a question that the actions of the Corps Command leadership on down (with exceptions) were tremendously ineffective or pre-occupied with hidden agendas...I am searching for the answer of whether the Corps Commander (i.e. Howard) was officially in that role or temporarily there and finalized after the Battle...that should not make a difference but some Officers may have had motives not entirely beneficial to the XI Corps....
Reference me badgering Eric about the XI Corps activities....and his response...Howard gets Congressional Recognition and Buford, Reynolds, and Hancock do not?? And Dave's account of Corps/Divisional Command breakdowns....a good example.. All these address the inadequacies of the Command staff and NOT the fighting men...they paid the price thereof....and did an admirable job at that!


From: lawrence@appsmiths.com (Robert W Lawrence)

I am glad we finally got into a detailed discussion of the first day. I have a couple of questions to throw out.

1. having spent a lot of time on Barlow's Knoll I have often wondered why he chose to anchor his line on this rather "low" geographic feature. if he had extended his line a couple of hundred yards to the northeast he could have anchored on Marsh Creek. Was his stopping at the knoll a result of a. a hurried deployment, b: a lack of troops(stretched to thin) or inadequate reconnaissance?

2. I believe the XI corps is the corps that was so brilliantly overrun by Jackson at Chancellorville and that it was heavily populated people of German ancestry. can anyone verify the story I have heard that the New York Times had a headline the next day that stated simply "Germans Run Again". ?

Robert W Lawrence

From: Marc73@aol.com

Forgive me gang if this has already been posted.

Vol 2 of Gettysburg Magazine has an excellent article by D. Scott Hartwig on the XI Corps Howard, Barlow etc.

I have just recently purchased all 14 issues and I am reading an article a night, hopefully I can have all read by the spring muster.

Again, if someone else has already mentioned the article in Vol 2, I beg forgiveness.

Pvt Marc Riddell

From: jobuford@ix.netcom.com (Edward J. Keen Jr. )
Subject: XI Corps Line

.Just what happened to the XI Corps line on the 1st. Exactly what happened on the night of the 2d: bad leadership. In my humble opinion, there were a number of mistakes, not attributable to the fighting men themselves.

Howard attempted to place his troops to connect with the I Corps' line. Then, once off to command his "wing" he failed to notice, or simply did not care, that the lines failed to connect. Schurz, in command of the corps, now failed to notice Barlow's movement ahead of his designated line at the Almshouse (a la Sickles). And if these two things are not bad enough, why did someone not have the sense to pull back once the Confederates were seen to be in control of Oak Hill?

If anyone doubts that bad leadership flowed downward, check out the "tactics" used by Adelbert Ames on the night of the 2d. Many a Buckeye would have been saved had he remained in command of the 20th Maine.

Your obedient servant
Ed Keen

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: XI COrps line

The XI Corps line was completely untenable once Devin's cavalrymen were driven off by the friendly fire of Wiedrich's battery atop Cemetery Hill. This left the flank completely uncovered. If you have ever walked the XI Corps line, and stopped at Barlow's Knoll, you will look out toward the York Road and see that, once the flank was left uncovered, there simply was no stopping Early's men, and no way for XI Corps to hold that position. It was untenable.

The better position would have been along the Almshouse. That was good ground with an anchorable flank. It also would not have been on Early's direct line of march. This position could have been held.

Eric Wittenberg

From: benedict@ns.moran.com (Benedict R Maryniak)
Subject: XI Corps Line

Ed - There's nothing to indicate that Howard (or anyone else with clout) had foresight about placing XI troops to connect with the I Corps' right. As the XI Corps line developed north of town, everyone became transfixed by the CSA artillery fire coming from Oak Hill and I feel they "leaned" (without orders to that effect) to face that elevation. There was a specific, stated intent to eliminate the gap between I and XI, but, as you might expect, no one was sent/told to command the gap area. The Schimmelfennig/Von Amsberg regiments simply tried to get as close as they could to the First Corps' line (the 13th MVI position on the Mummasburg Road), and they pretty much accomplished this. The 45th NYV and 157th NYV were positioned along the Mummasburg Road. The I-XI gap never seemed to be the object of a Confederate exploitive attempt, however. Rodes obligingly bashed away at the Oak Ridge position of Robinson's division of I Corps.

There was impromptu I-XI collaboration in dealing with O'Neal's Alabama brigade. The 45th NYV of Schimmelfennig's brigade whacked away at O'Neal's left while Paul's I Corps brigade took him on in front.

Your observation that Barlow moved ahead of the Almshouse line is part of that XI "lean" toward the CSA artillery on Oak Hill. Bayard Wilkeson's battery went out ahead of everybody, leap-frogging sections until he deployed on Blocher's knoll. Supports went to his - uh - support, and pretty soon the division was aligned toward the northwest. It's my guess (and only a guess) that the CSA artillery fire coming from the northeast, from Early, didn't make much of an impression because it was arriving along with the fire from Oak Hill.

My understanding of Early's attack on Barlow is that it initially struck the "front" of XI line as it leaned toward Oak Hill. Gordon's Georgians were across Rock Creek and fighting with the Buckeyes in Blocher Woods (if you stand on the knoll alongside the 153rd PA's stone(d) bugler, that fighting would have been ahead of you as well as to your left) BEFORE the thrust from a more-easterly direction that swept bluecoats from Blocher's/Barlow's knoll. This happened so quickly, however, that I'm really splitting hairs.

I don't think that - when the fight was developing - Oak Hill "looked" like it was firmly in CSA hands, because of the threatening Yankee presence on Oak Ridge. Further, Dilger's & Wheeler's batteries were very close to Oak Hill and looked to be in good position to damage the CSA guns arrayed there.

There are too many personal accounts to deny that XI was receding, if not off the field, before Robinson's men were off of Oak Ridge. Doubleday seemingly gave up baseball and devoted his free time to castigations of XI Corps for betraying I Corps by leaving their backs unguarded.

Ben Maryniak

From: Martjim@aol.com
Subject: Re: XI COrps line

i agree with Eric on the Almshouse line, it could have been held....particularly if Coster's brigade had been ordered up quicker to prolong the line to the right AND if Barlow hadn't taken Von Gilsa's brigade out to Blocher's Knoll. Coster's brigade was too small and arrived too late at the 'brickyard' to stop the onslaught of Avery and Hays. Howard had ignored a number of requests from Schurz to bring up reinforcements from Cemetery Hill. I believe Scott Hartwig and David Martin in their writings have shown that the IX Corps was actually defeated in detail because of the faulty positioning of the Corps by Howard, Schurz, and Barlow. Early was able to coordinate his attack on the IX Corps positions to bring more men at the point of attack than the Federals ...even though the total numbers engaged were actually pretty close. i'm new to the board and very impressed by the intelligence scholarship and civility of the group.

jim martin

From: "Michael D. VanHuss"
Subject: Re: XI Corps Line

Ben, Eric and Ed,

I think you all have some good points here. First and foremost command and control on the 11th Corps line was virtually non-existent. Barlow moved way out in front of where he was supposed to be. I don't think this was necessarily a lean but more of a "There is some high ground let's go get out of the way of these shells" and without specific orders otherwise and no one there to make sure this was the correct placement away he went. I think this single move lead to the eventual rout of the 11th corp. Based on this Krzyzanowski moved forward in what was supposed to be support but by this time it was to late. Seeing his position Barlow realized he really screwed up and send forward Wilkeson. Here is where I think Jones' Battery did its damage silencing Wilkeson's battery although not without a fight from Wilkeson. At this point I don't think the guns on Oak Hill were engaged very heavily with Barlow's boys. They were too busy getting mangled by Dilger and Wheeler's guns.

This one simple and timely movement by Barlow allowed Gordon to hit Barlow full force with little to no support and once a hole was puched in Barlow's line the entire position was untenable. After Barlow's line collapsed it was basically rolling up the flank. Any help that was sent after that was too little too late.

I think Eric is right if Barlow had of stayed where he was in the Almshouse line with Schimmelfennig on his left as intended the line was definitely better anchored and could have been held longer. I think also that Coster then may have made a difference. I don't think that it would have changed the course of the battle except we wouldn't have the discussion of the fighting on Cemetery Hill that night (Should he or Shouldn't he). For I think it was Howard's intention from the moment he arrived on the field to buy time and eventually fall back to the Cemetery Hill line.

I think that numbers alone on this first day were the tale of the tape. Defeat for the Confederacy on this day was not in the cards. Although we could consider that if the 11th had held would the 1st have also held. Or would it have been the 1st who broke and caused the retreat.

Mike VanHuss

From: Victor Vernon
Subject: Re: XI Corps Line

Michael D. VanHuss wrote:

Or would it have been the 1st who broke and caused the retreat. I think here is the key to your discourse. Given the number of troops engaged by both sides and the terrain involved, it was simply a matter of time before EITHER the I or XI corps would break. Lee simply had too much for the two corps on the first day.

From: DPowell334@aol.com
Subject: Re: O. O. Howard on July 1st

Jack Kelly wrote:

Some time back, Bill Cameron brought up a very interesting point about warnings from Lt. Jerome to the commander of the XI Corps about large concentrations of Confederates on Howard's right flank. I had some problems with my mail server over the next several days and did not see anything more on Bill's thread.
I thought that this was a rather momentous discovery (noting the inconsistencies of date and message) I had not seen anything like this before. The lack of response to this message from Jerome certainly indicates some serious negligence on Howard's (or Schurz's) part in ignoring warnings about enemy activity in his sector. Doesn't this look a little like the Chancellorsville situation before Jackson's attack?

Jack Kelly


I agree, it was negligent of both Schurz and Howard - all the more so because Jerome's was only one of several warnings. Devin's Brigade of cavalry was picketing that flank, and informed higher-ups of approaching Rebs, and finally moved off when they got no support (and were being fired on by Union arty, as I recall - friendly fire is a great way to really annoy the guys on your side.) Certainly the Union commanders knew that large CSA units were to the north of them, in general.

Dave Powell

From: DPowell334@aol.com
Subject: Early's attack on Barlow

While I can't be sure, I believe that the order of Early's brigades was Gordon, followed by Extra Billy Smith, followed by the Stonewall Brigade. As you know, Smith's brigade never really got into the fight until the third day, due to the absence of Confederate cavalry to screen Lee's left flank.



Actually, Gordon and Hoke were the two lead brigades in Early's attack, with Hoke in support. Smith's small brigade was detached as set to watching the York Pike, mostly because Early thought Smith too excitable to be in a battle.

The Stonewall brigade was in Johnson's Division, not yet up.

As for the question of would Coster have made a difference for Barlow, I think not. For starters, Early still had Hoke's uncommitted brigade to extand on that flank, and likely still could've overlapped the Union flank. Also, not much could be done to save Barlow's position as long as Schurz's Division of 11 Corps (3/11) was going to allow Doles (from Rodes' CSA division) to shift laterally across their position to take Barlow in the other flank, which is essentially what happened.

In other words, as long as Schurz fought the 11 Corps in such a piecemeal and unsupported fashion, it was still likely to get badly defeated, even with Coster up forward at start.

What might have happened if Coster came forward, Barlow and Schurz fell back, and settled on a more compact line? That might have left Early really no option but a frontal attack with only 3 brigades, a much less enticing proposition.

Dave Powell


Hello all. I was interested to read your comments regarding the XI Corps at Gettysburg on day one. My brother is a Civil War historian living in Laurel, MD., with an interest...no, an obsession...with the XI Corps. He has written several books on Wladimir Krzyzanowski, who was a brigade commander in the First Division of the XI Corps, and was at Gettysburg. Currently, he has just finished a book on the 26th Wisconsin, which was attached to the XI Corps, and was made up predominantly of German immigrants from the Milwaukee area. I just finished the section on Chancellorsville, and if what my brother has written is correct, they were ordered to retreat, and did not run as the papers said. In fact, when they found out what the papers had reported, they were incensed, and bombarded the folks back home with letters about how they had been ordered to abandon their positions.

I will let you know what the manuscript says regarding their performance at Gettysburg. I plan to read that tonight.

My brother is also working on a general history of the XI Corps, and just returned from Maine, where he was searching through the collection at Bowdoin College of the letters and writings of O.O. Howard. I won't tell you what Jim thinks of 'The Christian General.' Let's suffice it to say, the best thing he could say was he was "an idiot." (His words, not mine). I haven't seen a manuscript for the XI Corps book yet, by the 26th Wisconsin is tentatively entitled, "Unserer Deutches Regiment."

Incidentally, my brother doesn't think too highly of Barlow, either.

ANYWAY...I'll keep you posted on what he has to say regarding "the Germans" once I finish the Gettysburg section.

Cheryl Pula

From: tjackson@gis.is.net