Term Paper: Battle of Bristoe Station Tenants

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[. . .] Maneuver

The critical maneuver of the battle was when Major Heth was ordered to form a battle line anchored on Greenwich Road. Before "North Carolinians commanded by CS Brigadier General John R. Cooke and CS Brigadier General William W. Kirkland deployed on the right and left of the road, with CS Brigadier General Henry H. Walker's Virginia Brigade behind Kirkland's Brigade." But the impatient commander Hill sent his troops forward and "directed CS Major William T. Poague's artillery to fire into the Union troops." Because Hill was focused on the Union troops near Broad Run he failed to see Warren's corps. The Union columns screened by the railroad cut to his right. He also neglected to note that Ewell's corps was too far away to reinforce him. (CWBG, 2003)

2. Offensive

Hill's decision to launch a hasty offensive spelled the demise for his forces.

3. Surprise

Although General Robert E. Lee initially began the battle as a surprise action, the Union forces were able to make better use of surprise tactics during the actual battle, as is evidenced by Hill's surprise by the two converging forces without proper reinforcement. The Union victory was decisive, and a surprise, but this surprise was not an inevitable outcome of the Union strategy. (Bristoe Station, 2003)

4. Security

Hill left his troops clearly vulnerable to attack, without proper reinforcement.

5. Mass

The Confederate brigades, together numbering approximately 4,000 men. (Terry, "The Mystery Flags of Bristoe Station") However, this number of forces proved inadequate to the Union's division of these forces and use of surprise, though the Union's army was at similar parity.

6. Objective

The Confederacy failed in its initial tactical objective to launch a surprise attack that was anticipated by the Union army.

7. Unity of Command

The Union's synchronization of their two flanking forces proved superior to the Confederacy, because of Hill's judgment error.

8. Simplicity

The Union's simplicity of a 'divide and conquer' strategy was well deployed.

9. Economy of Force

Although both troops had suffered heavy loses before the Battle, the Union army of the Potomac better employed the forces at its disposal.

IV. Assess Significance

1. Short-term effects

Lee lost confidence in Hill's ability of leadership, and the Confederacy was dealt another blow.

2. Long-term effects

In sheer manpower, this was a costly battle for the Confederate army. It had lost more than 1,300 men in the short, furious fight without any corresponding strategic gain. Federal losses, by contrast, numbered only 546.

V. Review Strategic Setting

1. Causes of conflict -- Immediate causes

The desire of Lee to engage the recent reinforcement of the Union army precipitated the immediate conflict.

2. Compare antagonists (key players) (What is the Army's Corps Division)

Major Gen. G.K. Warren led the Union army. Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill led the Confederates.

a. Military Systems -- strength, logistics, intelligence, C3

Although both troops began in a relatively equal position, the Union deployed its existing forces to superior advantage, and Hill's tactical initiatives were faulty.

b. Previous performance

Previously, both troops were in a state of redress, but the battle left the Union in a state of superiority.

c. Logistical situation

Responsibility for the disaster rests squarely on the shoulders of A.P. Hill. He attacked the Federals without proper reinforcements and recognizance.

d. Morale, health and welfare

The battle proved a boost to Union morale, and a key tactical defeat for the Confederacy. It is said "the following day, as Lee and Hill rode together over the corps-strewn battlefield, Hill sought to explain the previous day's misfortunes. Lee listened quietly, the sad expression on his face clearly showing his disappointment. 'Well, well, General," he said, when the younger officer had finished, "bury these poor men and let us say no more about it.' (CWBG, 2003). However, Hill never regained his position of trust in Lee's esteem.

Works Cited

Bristoe Station." (2003). Historical Confederate Preservation Project. http://www.angelfire.com/wv/wasec15/. Retrieved on November 13, 2002.

CWBG. (2003) "The Battle of Briscoe Station. Civil War Battlefield Guide Website. http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/civwar/html/cw_007503_bristoestati.htm Retrieved on November 13, 2002.

CWSAC. (2003) Battle Summaries. Website of the American Battlefield Project.

http://www2.cr.nps.gov/abpp/battles/va040.htm. Retrieved on November 13, 2002.

Terry, M. "The Mystery Flags of Bristoe Station." Website of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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