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Did the South Lose the Entire Civil War Because One General Got Lost at the Battle of Gettysburg?

July 27, 2023
00:00 53:41
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Did the Confederacy lose the entire Civil War on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 because one of their generals showed up late to a battle site? That’s a very simple answer to a very complicated question, but as early as the 1870s, former Confederate generals like Jubal Early offered such an explanation, laying the war’s loss at the feet of Lt. General James Longstreet, who was hours late to a battle because of faulty intelligence delivered to him by Captain Samuel Johnston.

Longstreet’s countermarch and Samuel Johnston’s morning reconnaissance are two of the most enigmatic events of the Battle of Gettysburg. Both have been viewed as major factors in the Confederacy’s loss of the battle and, in turn, the war. Yet much of it lies shrouded in mystery.

To explore this event, and determine whether or not the war was really lost in one day, is today’s guest Allen Thompson, author of In the Shadow of the Round Tops.

Though the Battle of Gettysburg is one of the most well-documented events in history, the vast majority of knowledge comes from the objective words and memories of the veterans and civilians who experienced it. In the Shadow of the Round Tops focuses on individual memory, rather than collective memory. It takes a personal psychological approach to history, trying to understand the people and explain why the historiography happened the way it did with new research from previously unused sources.

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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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