Lessons Learned From Gettysburg Essay

947 words - 4 pages

When studying the battle of Gettysburg from the leadership perspective I found the three ingredients of planning, preparation and communication in the correct balance are essential to success. However, in the wrong amounts, they can lead to failure. These elements are the foundation for strong leadership in any organization especially in an educational setting. Throughout the accounts of the events leading to and during the battle both sides at different times had the edge in any one of these three ingredients. Nonetheless, during this particular battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania the Union forces had the leading balance in all three.

From the outset of the battle the Union forces had the advantage. Lee had changed his strategy of leading a continuous defensive campaign to now taking the offensive and invading the North. This is seen as a poor tactic in the light of all his previous victories were based on the opposite strategy and in his territory. Gettysburg would be the first battle fought on Northern soil and perhaps this condition was not paid enough attention. Prior to the battle, General Robert E. Lee’s army had been undefeated due in large part to its strong leadership. A major component of this was the familiarity of Lee with his Generals, Longstreet and Jackson. General Longstreet, known as Lee’s “old war horse” was an excellent tactician and communicator in his own right. Shortly before arriving in Gettysburg, General Jackson was killed at Vicksburg. He was a hard charging soldier who needed little direction to achieve tactical advantage. Both of these men were also control mechanisms for Lee’s fanciful wording of his commands to his generals. This is apparent in the examples of newly promoted General Ewell, who did not find it practicable to take little round top and General Stuart whose cavalry left Lee blind for the first two days of the battle. Lee’s failure to properly plan and communicate his Northern operations leads to his army’s loss at Gettysburg.

Rather than looking at the failures of the confederate army I will focus on the positives of the Union forces. From the beginning General Buford realizes the importance of the land and does all he can to ensure that the fight not only occurs where he wants but he maintains the high ground until Reynolds infantry reinforces his position. Buford’s forward thinking prior to the battle in acquiring repeating rifles for his cavalry is invaluable during this engagement. Buford operates outside the box by dismounting his cavalry to masquerade them as infantry. This maneuver buys him critical time as the opposing army approaches an infantry in a more deliberate manner than they would have pursued a cavalry regiment. These steps of preparation set the stage for him to withhold a...

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