Meade and Lee After Gettysburg: The Forgotten Final Stage of the Gettysburg Campaign, from Falling Waters to Culpeper Court House, July 14-31, 1863

Narrated by: Colonel Ralph Henning
Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Jeffrey Hunt’s Meade and Lee After Gettysburg: The Forgotten Final Stage of the Gettysburg Campaign, from Falling Waters to Culpeper Court House, July 14-31, 1863 exposes what has been hiding in plain sight for 150 years: The Gettysburg Campaign did not end at the banks of the Potomac on July 14, but two weeks later, deep in central Virginia along the line of the Rappahannock.

Contrary to popular belief, once Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slipped across the swollen Potomac back to Virginia, the Lincoln administration pressed George Meade to cross quickly in pursuit - and he did. Rather than follow in Lee’s wake, however, Meade moved south on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a cat-and-mouse game to outthink his enemy and capture the strategic gaps penetrating the high, wooded terrain. Doing so would trap Lee in the northern reaches of the Shenandoah Valley and potentially bring about the decisive victory that had eluded Union arms north of the Potomac.

The two weeks that followed was a grand chess match with everything at stake - high drama filled with hard marching, cavalry charges, heavy skirmishing, and set-piece fighting that threatened to escalate into a major engagement with the potential to end the war in the Eastern Theater. Throughout, one thing remains clear: Union soldiers from private to general continued to fear the lethality of Lee’s army.

Meade and Lee After Gettysburg, the first of three volumes on the campaigns waged between the two adversaries from July 14, 1863 through the end of 1863, relies on the official records, regimental histories, letters, newspapers, and other sources to provide a day-by-day account of this fascinating high-stakes affair. The vivid prose offers a significant contribution to Civil War literature.

Thanks to Hunt these important two weeks - until now overshadowed by the battle of Gettysburg and almost completely ignored by writers of Civil War history - have finally gotten the attention they have long deserved. Listeners will never view the Gettysburg Campaign the same way.

©2017 Savas Beatie (P)2019 Savas Beatie

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Eastern Theater Book of The Year, 2017 (Eastern Theater)

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A Texan writes about Meade

This is a standard dismissal of George Gordon Meade’s generalship that ruins an otherwise fine telling of the movements and challenges of pursuing an army through mountain passes. Like a Monday night quarter back he sees only the possibilities of some grand strategic offensive that he concludes Meade was incapable of navigating. Easy to contend since Lee did get away but so simplistic a mindset and poorly supported by the facts that it’s distracting.
The premise that Meade was ineffective rests first on the fact that he did not bring Lee to battle at Williamsport. He thanks Kent Masterson Brown in his acknowledgments but one wonders if he read his book. The author concludes: “A potential (and it is important to stress that word) opportunity to destroy Lee at Williamsport had been squandered, and the chance to potentially cut off and wreck a portion of his army in the Valley was also missed. An even greater and more realistic chance to beat the Rebels to the Rappahannock or Rapidan was lost as well.”
The author simply ignores recent scholarship by both Kent Masterson Brown (read his description of entrenchments pg. 310-312) and Eric Wittenberg on the pursuit after Gettysburg. Starting with the erroneous and tired premise that Meade “squandered” an opportunity to defeat Lee at Williamsport is a poor place to start the narrative and he keep using this to bolster his argument that Meade was a cautious, General who “took counsel of his fears” and had no strategic vision. I was very disappointed with the author’s intrusive assessment of a general in command of his army for just three days, who then fought and won a bloody victory over the Civil War’s most audacious and aggressive general that even with Grant at the helm was not defeated until eighteen months later. There is very little military appreciation for the comparative ease of escaping in general. One could ask why Grant and Sherman did not pursue the Confederates immediately after Shiloh having been reinforced by Buell or for that matter, why stop pursuing Bragg after Chattanooga.
Let the reader come to our own conclusions based on the facts presented, that is all I’m asking. I respectfully recognize the author’s research and skill of presentation but I submit his assessments were too heavy handed.

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A True Original.

Goes far in answering question how did Marse Robert get away after his pummeling at Gettysburg. Too bad Grant wasn't in command.