I spent the weekend in Gettysburg attending yesterday’s “Winter Skirmish” with Lt. Col. (ret) Bill Hewitt. Last year we studied Meade’s operational plan, so this year it was Lee’s turn. Bill puts on a rather unique seminar. We spent 4 hours in the classroom discussing the operational details of the plan. The “what did Lee know, and when did he know it” type stuff. From there we digressed into a lengthy discussion of the fact that Gettysburg was not a chance encounter, but rather a battle that both commanders were looking for and expected. I have to say, I like Bill’s perspective. His experience as a military trainer becomes very obvious in the first nanosecond of his instruction. The details leading up to the actual meeting of the armies, including such logistics as clearing the roadways, setting up your lines of communication and the like are often missed by the historians – but not lost on the military minds that must consider such things.
“Lee’s General Plan was unchanged” is a subject that sometimes gets discussion passionately – mostly due to Troy Harman’s book. I admire Troy’s work quite a bit and even more so after the benefit of spending countless hours with Bill Hewitt and discussing the topic. I’ll get into more about all of this later as there are at least two really cool concepts that I took away from the training.
It was also great to see my friend Harry Smeltzer….Harry is a guy that I’ve spent some good quality time with at Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. He’s one of those guys that you can not talk to for a month or two and pick right up where you left off when you do see or talk to him. His knowledge of the ACW is vast and I can’t think of very many “better read” individuals. Heck, I just learn a lot from the guy! Not to mention the fact that we both have a sympatico sense of humor.
So, all in all it was a great weekend. I’ll have some posts over the next couple of weeks as time permits to go into more detail on what we learned at the seminar as well as some information on the fenceline of the Alabama troops near the D-shaped field. My friend Mike Waricher and I wandered around there on Friday afternoon and thanks to some folks before me who marked it on a GPS and sent me the coordinates – I now know where it is. Plus another surprise or two awaits you!
So, why the title on this post? Well, as Bill Hewitt said….”if you think Meade & Lee’s only job was to show up and look good on the horse, you are sadly mistaken!”
Time now, for some sleep!