Did Napoleon lose the Battle of Gettysburg?
Of course not – he wasn’t even alive.
However, his far-reaching influence on military thinking may have made an impact on why Robert E. Lee lost the Battle of Gettysburg (or maybe it was just that the Yankees had something to do with it). Gettysburg Park Ranger Dr. Chuck Teague spoke earlier tonight at the monthly meeting of the York Civil War Round Table, presenting a PowerPoint presentation examining what impact the theories of war espoused by Napoleon may have had on Lee’s thinking and planning.
Chuck has become widely known in Civil War circles in recent years, and his theories and ideas always spark lively conversation and thought.
Dr. Teague began his talk with a brief review of Napoleon’s overall principles of war, as later interpreted by Guy de Vernon, Jomini, and Mahan (the latter an instructor at West Point), and how Lee perhaps was strongly influenced by these men, and ultimately, by Napoleon Bonaparte. He then looked at Napoleon’s views and principles on grand tactics and finally on battle planning. He compared some of these principles to Lee’s plans and tactics at Gettysburg, and then gave a few reasons why he believes Lee lost at Gettysburg (and, yes, he did include Pickett’s famous quote that the Yankees had something to do with it).
Ultimately, Chuck stated the reasons were a combination of poor staff cohesion, bad execution by his lieutenants, unclear orders and objectives, exhaustion of his army, and personal health, along with a marked failure to follow a few of Napoleon’s other maxims.
Next month’s speaker is York Emporium owner and multiple author Jim Lewin, who will speak on Abraham Lincoln and the popular media of his day, examining political cartoons and drawings that portray Lincoln in various viewpoints, both positive as well as strongly mocking. This is taken from his 2007 book Lines of Contention.
See you there!!!!
Click here for the
2009 speaker schedule