Friday, July 12, 2013

General Lee At Gettysburg: an Object Permanence Error

One of the long standing mysteries in Military History is why exactly General Lee, who beat the North in battle after battle, made errors at Gettysburg which resulted in the North's first major victory and, arguably, the turning point of the entire war.

New research suggests that the decisions he made at key points in the battle were based primarily on what he could see. And what he could see was, as a result of the terrain, not enough of the true picture to arrive at the conclusion that he was outnumbered and would lose this exchange.

A group of mapping experts have produced an interactive site that lets you see exactly what people on the ground actually could see as the battle proceeded:

What Lee Saw
What it comes down to is that
What Lee Actually Faced
what General Lee saw  was actually just a portion of the Northern Forces. What he thought was the whole was in fact just one flank. He should have imagined the possibility that what he saw was only a portion of a much larger configuration.

Here's me standing at the place where Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine saved the Union by holding Little Round Top. May God grant rest to all the men of both sides who gave their lives fighting in those fateful days.