Beyond the town of Gettysburg

If it what I think it might be that would only work during a prolonged static campaign. It took a month to do and that was with experienced personal which the confederacy lacked.
It does not involve extensive digging and explosives, I try to keep the TL realistic and that would imho be ASB. đŸ˜‰
 
30 - Up and Over
Chapter 30 - Up and Over

The Army of Northern Virginia went into position face to face with the Army of the Potomac in the early morning of July 7, 1863. Longstreet formed the right flank, Early was in the centre and Hill formed the end of the line. Lee immediately saw that Wade Hampton and John Chambliss had not exaggerated the previous evening. The altitudes were impressive and in many places so steep that an ascent seemed almost impossible. Longstreet began to advise against an attack from the first minute on. He called the enemy's position Fredericksburg in reverse, especially because there was a running water, Pipe Creek, which had to be crossed during an advance. Early, new in command, was cautious, but noted that it would be possible to take the position, although one would lack the means to hold it. Hill was in his tent, as he had fallen ill once more. Lee was torn as he was uncomfortable avoiding the enemy and struggled with the question of an attack until Richard Anderson arrived with a young officer and asked that Lee listen to the latter.

Colonel David Lang was actually the commander of the 8th Florida, but led the entire small brigade, because the real brigadier was ill with typhoid fever. The 25-year-old man had been a land surveyor before the war and naturally had an eye for terrain. He had been studying the lines of the Union Army since daybreak and had come across one, probably the only weak point. In front of the junction between the V and VI Corps there was a hill which dominated parts of the position in terms of elevation. Because of the angle of the slope, troop movements on the side facing away from the Union lines were hidden from the eyes of Meade's troops. Lang therefore proposed a limited and unusual attack. As in Napoleonic times, an attack column of twelve regiments was to be formed, five regiments deep. Only the first line would have their muskets loaded, the rest would proceed with bayonets attached. This column would be carefully led up the hill on the Confederate side and wait for the attack signal just below the topographical point. Should the order be given, the column would advance like a man and enter the position at storm speed. The first line would soften the enemy with a salvo point blanc and drive them away in close combat. The following regiments would then widen the breach and, if possible, roll up parts of the V. Corps, which would now be attacked additionally in the front by Hill's remaining corps. The speed, stealth and refusal to form a firing line would minimise losses in the attack column and the surprise factor would demoralise the enemy.

Lee was very enthusiastic about the idea of attacking a Union Corps in isolation and, if necessary, wearing it down. He was impressed by Lang's suggestion and therefore gave him permission to assemble his attack formation of hand-picked regiments. In keeping with his fighting spirit, Lang decided to form the first line out of the 740 men of his Florida Brigade. For the second line, the colonel chose the 26th North Carolina from Pettigrew's and the 11th Mississippi from Davis' brigade, Heth's division. The 26th North Carolina was raised in 1861 from central and western North Carolina, with Zebulon Vance as its first colonel. Vance was elected Governor of North Carolina in 1862 and command of the unit passed to 20-year-old Colonel Henry K. Burgwyn. The 26th spent the next year defending the North carolina coast, seeing its first action at New Bern. It then went north and fought in the Seven Days Battles before returning to the North Carolina coast. In 1863, it marched northwards and became attached to General Lee's army, where they were given the distinction of being not only the largest, but the best trained regiment present. The 11th Mississippi on the other hand was maybe one of the scrappiest regiments in Confederate servie. Raised among sharpshooting, wild backwoodsmen, it had also a company of university students who prided themselves on being always undisciplined and impulsive. Both units, as different as they were, were known to be combative and their task would be to cleanse the trenches after invading them. The third line was comprised of Archer's 14th Tennessee and Davis' 42nd Mississippi. Behind them were the 10th and 11th Alabama from Wilcox' brigade. Finally, the 6th, 12th and 16th Virginia from Mahone's brigade would bring up the rear. All together they represented some of Hill's best fighters, led by competent officers. The attack column thus numbered almost 4,500 men.

b9fc95f348589ffd8d74b9f1599f80c0.jpg
 
Looks like a good plan.
In late summer of 2018 I went to Spotsylvania (besides the Wilderness, Cold Harbor etc) and took the trail Emory Upton and his twelve regiments took. Since then I was fascinated with that attack, love to sort of incorporate it here.
 
In late summer of 2018 I went to Spotsylvania (besides the Wilderness, Cold Harbor etc) and took the trail Emory Upton and his twelve regiments took. Since then I was fascinated with that attack, love to sort of incorporate it here.
There is no substitute for having walked the ground on any battlefield to understand it. The armies at the time would need a local guide who knows the land.
 
Last edited:
Just one thing I doubt Lang would be in charge. He only commanded his regiment for the first time at Chancellorsville and given the mix of regiments I would expect a general would be preferred.
 
Napoleon mass attacks were a bad idea against entrenched enemies during the Napoleonic war, 50 years later with better arty and muskets it will be a slaughter
 
31 - Lang's Charge
Chapter 31 - Lang's Charge

Around midday of July 7, Lang called together his 12 regimental commanders. The knot of officers crept to the edge of the hill, across from the target area. Lang laid out his plan of attack. He would use coup de main tactics, incorporating speed and shock to gain the enemy works. He also called for a compact column five regiments deep, a formation reminiscent of the ancient hoplite phalanx. In the next two hours, the chosen Confederate units went into position.

At exactly two o'clock in the afternoon, at the western end of Lee's line, a targeted bombardment of the Union positions opposite began. The rebels' entire artillery reserve was involved. Longstreet fired heavily and began to deploy brigades in the open field of vision of the Yankees and sent out skirmishers to engage their counterparts. Everything seemed to indicate an attack in that area. Meanwhile, Lang's regiments in the selected formation slowly and deliberately climbed the ridge, lay down and waited just below the summit.

At 2:15 p.m. Colonel David Lang silently drew his sword from its sheath and pointed forward. Moments later, nearly 4,500 Confederate infantrymen sprang to their feet, climbed the last steps upwards and sprinted across some 200 yards of slightly vegetated high ground toward the link between VI. and V. Corps. Although a sheet of flame burst from the Union line, and the leaden hail swept the ground over which the column was advancing, in less than two minutes, the Rebel tide swept over and into the Yankee works occupied by Brigadier General James Barnes' First Division.

The men of the Florida brigade fired a salvo directly in the face of Sweitzer's 3rd Brigade. Shocked Federals threw down their rifles and surrendered or simply melted away to the rear. Scores of them were pointed toward the elevation and told to make their way toward the Confederate lines. The brigade was for all purposes finished as a fighting force. Behind the Floridians, the wild Mississippians from the 11th followed and threw themselves onto the now open flank of Tilton's 1st Brigade while the 26th North Carolina went into line of battle to the right to rake the exposed end of the VI. Corps line with heavy musketry. Barnes, who had recovered quickly from the initial surprise, did the only right thing and told Tilton to disengage and reposition at right angles together with the men of Strong Vincent's 2nd Brigade. The task proved to be difficult as the Mississippians would not let them simply leave. Even more men had to surrender before the two-brigade-line was realigned. As Lang's third, fourth and fifth line went into combat, the battle turned into a deadly hand-to-hand conflict. It was a scene of utter horror and pandemonium, with the bayonet used freely. Men thrust and threw bayonet-tipped muskets at one another, pinning them to the ground.

The locally concentrated superior Confederate numbers began to show, however, and Tilton as well as Vincent were forced back. Their lines had reached their breaking point and the mass of Union soldiers streamed in a northern direction. At that point, Heth's and Pender's divisions finally began to engage the rest of V. Corps at long range and therefore prohibited any reinforcements from Ayres' and Crawford's divisions to be sent down the line in support.

Barnes' whole division was reduced to a single understrength regiment that had been held in reserve, the 20th Maine Infantry. To buy additional time, Barnes ordered the regimental commander, Colonel Lawrence Chamberlain, to fix bayonets and charge the battle line, that by that time was being formed by Lang on the crest. Without hesitation Chamberlain gave the order and the 20th Maine went forward with a wild cheer. Because the Confederates were slowly being pressed from the south by more and more VI. Corps troops arriving, only the tiny Florida brigade, less than two times the size of Chamberlain's unit, was able to confront the charge. Colonel Lang's personal brigade delivered a solid volley and than countercharged, meeting the Maine men half way. The following struggle lasted for almost fifteen minutes and essentially wrecked both formations. While Chamberlain blunted the Floridians forward movement, around two thirds of his men, with them his younger brother Tom, were killed and wounded. Lang's men sustained around fifty percent casualties.

For all of the weaknesses that the Federal line presented in that area, one advantage was still its interior lines, which allowed faster movement inside of the position. Federal forces, mostly from French's recently arrived Harpers Ferry garrison, began arriving en masse within thirty minutes of the initial breakthrough. Confederate reinforcements did not materialize as Hill's men were unable to overcome the obstacles of the ground infront of them. Reluctantly, Colonel David Lang called for his men to withdraw.

Had they stayed, they would have become Union prisoners, so Lang and his men gave up the field. His hour or so of fighting had breached the Federal lines and secured some 1,000 prisoners of war, while more than 800 additional Yankees were killed and wounded. David Lang was visibly upset after the attack that his men had been driven back. His column lost some 1,000 men in the assault, more than one third of which had been with the Florida Brigade. At the end of the day, the Star Spangled Banner still flew atop the Pipe Creek line. Lee had been repulsed.

Flag_of_Florida_%281861%E2%80%931865%29.svg

Flag of the 2nd Florida Infantry, CSA.
 
interesting up date once again. Maybe an embittered Chamberlain enters politics post war. This was not a horrible out come as it could have become, for Lee.
 
Last edited:
There's been a more limited duration of fighting than OTL and Lee's supply line hasn't been severed. He probably has enough to fight out a couple days. If he does beat a retreat, with the garrison at Harper's Ferry now out of position he has much better options than rebuilding a bridge at the last minute a la OTL Williamsport.
 
Lees army must be lacking ammo by now
If we assume Lee spent the same amount of ammunition at Cashtown ITTL as at the second day of Gettysburg OTL and if we equate the rest of the fighting at Waynesboro and Pipe Creek combined to the fighting on OTL day one, he has at least enough left for one day of prolonged fighting, maybe more when we factor in that Lee did not quit the field after Picketts Charge but awaited a Union attack on Seminary Ridge and days later at Williamsport, so he definitely had some reserves.
 
Top