Open Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
History and Philosophy
Steven J. Ramold, PhD, Chair
Robert Citino, PhD
John G. McCurdy, PhD
The question considered is what General Robert E. Lee’s plan for the battle of Gettysburg actually was, and why he fought the battle the way he did, based on a reexamination of extensive commentaries left by the participants in the battle.
General Lee believed that the Confederacy could not outlast the Union but had to win battles to cause the Union to abandon the war. This was one purpose of the invasion of the North. An initially favorable opportunity arose at Gettysburg. Despite some setbacks, Lee was encouraged and kept attacking. His plans failed because the Union Army had so weakened the Confederates that, on the third day, Lee’s subordinate commanders did not show their usual initiative and a pitifully small percentage of the army was involved. Accordingly, the attack failed, no victory to discourage the North took place, and attrition eventually led to the inevitable logical conclusion.
Mengel, Paul, "The Union Army Had Something to Do With It: General Lee's Plan at Gettysburg and Why It Failed" (2008). Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. 206.