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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pickett Victorious: Lee's Plan of Attack on Gettysburg's Third Day Ought to Have Prevailed

Mathematical modeling based on Lanchester equations developed during the First World War to determine the numbers necessary for successful assaults shows that with the commitment of one to three more infantry brigades to the nine brigades in the initial force, Pickett’s Charge would probably have taken the Union position and altered the battle’s outcome, but the Confederates would likely have been unable to exploit such a success without the commitment of still more troops.  Michael J. Armstrong and Steven E. Soderbergh, “Refighting Pickett’s Charge:  mathematical modeling of the Civil War battlefield,” Social Science Quarterly 96, No. 4 (May 14, 2015), 1153-1168.  The authors do not include Wilcox’s and Lang’s brigades in the initial force.  Ibid., 161.  Timelier commitment of Anderson’s entire division with the initial force would have supplied five additional brigades and from 4,950 more men, making the attack force fourteen brigades and almost 18,000 men.  Ibid., 161, 164.  According to the modeling, this number would have practically guaranteed a lodgment at the Angle and refuted Longstreet’s assertion that “thirty thousand men was the minimum of force necessary.”  Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox, 386.