Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The 11 th New Jersey Regiment of Volunteers at Gettysburg Part III - A controversy

Or better known when the ground doesn't match the After Action Report. 

During the later afternoon hours of July 2,1863 the III Corps is ordered to advance to a line that begins just south of the Cordori Farm, extending down the Emmitsburg Rd ridge line, through the Peach Orchard, then makes a turn back towards the Rose Farm, extending through the Wheatfield and ending on Devils Den.

The 11th NJ is part of those who are ordered along with its Brigade under Joseph Carr to the Emmitsburg Rd by the Klingle Farm complex. The units with it are the 12th New Hampshire, 2 Massachusetts regiments, and the 120th NY. The 5th NJ is ordered there as well (We will touch on the 5th in another post).  Two artillery battery's are ordered there as well.

This photo is what creates the controversy.
That is little old me. Over my left shoulder is the Trostle Barn. The side to us is the north side of the barn. Over my right shoulder is the Trostle house. With the other out building in between. So ok whats the problem. Notice whats to my immediate left and actually to my right. Boulders right?  Where I am standing is just WEST of Plum Run. During the time of year when the advance would have taken place, this is filled with thorn bushes, and scrub and other growth  what I refer to as trash. Then in this area there are other boulders, some of them as big as a standard 8'X8" room in a house! With some even larger mixed in for giggles.

The controversy is this. It is reported in several AARs that the units who marched out to not only the Peach Orchard but the Emmitsburg Road marched THROUGH this garbage in battle formation with flags flying and bands playing. Now we all know Civil War combat formations were basically linear. That means rows on rows of men, shoulder to shoulder.. The problem is the rocks and the boulders and all the other trash would have hindered this great display in spades. Then on top of all this. as one would get out of the little valley that is Plum Run there is a row of thick brush, along a fence line (According to the Warren map its there at the time of the battle) that would have been intertwined with the undergrowth. Not very conducive to the combat formations of the period.

Oh yes I almost forgot.. There is Plum Run itself. Its described in the writings of the period to be much as it is today. Meandering, through the little valley, at times wider then about 8 feet with sections of it up to a mans waste. At the time of the battle it was a trickle of what it would be AFTER the battle, but still, thousands of feet marching through it, would have after only a few had passed through it, a slippery mess on the western bank of it...

So how if the accounts are true do they get out there? I suspect Humphrey s division was split into two parts. One the Trostle lane which ends just north of the Peach Orchard and then there is in the Warren Map another farm lane that is in essence just south of the Cordori Farm. Now it makes sense if that is the case. But then again, that's not what I have read in the after action report.

Its quite possible I am making a mountain out of nothing. But this has had me thinking for quite a while.... And in the book as I have them advancing out there, to take up the position, I have them using the little lane just south of the Cordori Farm.

There are others who are more knowledgeable about this then me... But for now.. There is a controversy that I cannot sync up with the ground. Lt Col (ret) Wayne Wachsmuth has always said. "The Ground drives the battle".. In this case, the ground and the accounts don't sync up...

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