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1stvermont
Vermont, VT, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 80

A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/22/2017 9:52:17 PM
A Critical Look at Robert E Lee

Lee is regarded, perhaps, more than any other general, as the greatest general of the civil war. In almost ever poll he is either first or second. I don't deny he was a brilliant general and deserves his name and much of his reputation. However I believe his shortcoming are often not spoken of and he at times is given the credit of others.

Virginia my Home

“His mind and heart were attended only to the armies of northern Virginia. Inability to remove his attention from Virginia”
-E Merton Coulter The Confederate States of America


To Lee the most important thing that mattered in the confederacy was his home state of Virginia. This hurt the rest of the confederacy's cause and defense. Lee would not be a good commander of all a nations forces like Grant excelled at, as his focus was with Virginia. Davis wanted Lee to take command in Tennessee for the Chickamgua offensive when Virginia was not under threat. Lee rejected and even did not want to send any of his force away to reinforce Bragg for the needed offensive.

“Lee was a department commander..he constantly opposed any transfer of troops out of his command and contently agitated for their return”
-Steven E Woodworth Six Armies in Tennessee the Chickamagua and Chattanooga Campaigns University of Nebraska press 1998


Finally Davis was able to pry Longstreet and 2 divisions from Virginia to help with the offensive in Tennessee. However the delay caused by Lee's objections caused the Virginians to arrive late to the battle and almost cost the south the victory and may have allowed Rosecrans to escape. Know this downfall of Lee caring for his home state may seem less important as Virginia and Richmond were the most vital areas of the confederacy to defend, for sure this played a part in Lee's thinking. However had Lee been from North Carolina it may have taken him almost out of the war. So by chance it lessons the criticism of him. However Lee almost nullified a great advantage the south had. Interior lines and the ability to quickly maneuver troops from Virginia to Tennessee and back. Because Lee was always asking for more troops in Virginia and to weaken forces elsewhere, while not allowing his forces to leave and help elsewhere. This may have hurt the rest of the confederacy.

The Army of Northern Virginia

Lee had the best army the confederacy could muster under him. What made this army better than the other confederate armies is not simply Lee, but the army as a whole. Yes Lee was the south's best army commander but the army in Virginia got first dibs on weapons, supply, as well as generals. This made the army under him more productive than other confederate commanders had. No northern army would have the talent of commanders under their commander as Lee enjoyed. Thus credit should be spread around the army not just its commander. I also believe Lee was the best defensive general of the war. The fact that he generally fought defensive battles makes him appear a better general than he was since it played into his strength. He could not win a major attacking battle after Jackson was gone. The confederates also had shown they could beat a larger army at Bull Run before Lee was in command.

Lee's Strategy

Lee's overall strategy of meeting the enemy strength head on in large battles looking for a decisive victory turned out to be a bad idea for the south. The manpower and material of the north was such that made this strategy unsuccessful. Had Lee adopted a strategy like Jackson of hitting the enemy where they are weak and outmaneuvering strategically, more so than tactically, it would have served the south better and conserved its manpower.

Lee in Western Virginia

“Outwitted, outmaneuvered and outgeneraled,"
-Richmond Examiner


Many think Lee's first action was as commander of the army of northern Virginia. However Lee's first action of the civil war ended in defeat in western Virginia at Cheat Mountain in September of 1861. Lee performed terribly, and after was sent to South Carolina to build fortifications. The Richmond press described the Lee's campaign as being timid, and building trenches instead of fighting. He was called “Granny Lee” King of spades” and the “Great entrencher.”

Lee Takes Command

“Lee upheld the defense of Richmond as an absolute priority...its integrity was the foundation of his strategic and tactical outlook. His hallmark audacity and daring offensive tactics were built upon the imperative that the enemy be kept away from Richmond”
-Thomas J Rowland George B McClellan and civil war History


Davis replaced Joe Johnston after being inured in the Peninsula campaign with his than military adviser Robert E Lee. Lee saved Richmond, but by direct frontal assaults against defensive terrain. Near the end of the 7 days campaign Lee ordered an attack on Mavern hill that was unneeded as the federals were already in retreat, and Lee could have flanked the position and forced its retreat. Instead he took 5,600 losses in the attack. Lee could have went along with Jackson's plan or reinforcing the valley to take the offensive, and move towards D.C and pull McClellan from the peninsula without direct frontal assaults, and accomplish the same thing that cost the south 20,000 men.

Second Bull Run

“Much of Lee's success was due to the skills of James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson”
-David G Martin The Second Bull Run Campaign


Second Bull Run was a great victory but it was Jackson that deserves the most credit. Jackson got behind Pope, destroyed his rail and supply, prevented any reinforcements from D.C and drew Pope into attacking him. He than defended for two days from pope attacks and set up the battlefield perfect for Lee to win the fight. Lee even resisted not wanting to engage, but finally when conditions were to good to pass up, he attacked. His delayed attack allowed Popes army to escape at nightfall. All the heavy work was done by Jackson and tactically by Longstreet flanking attack, Lee almost negated it and prevented a decisive victory by not attacking sooner. Union general George Gordon said “It was fortunate that Jackson was not in command of the confederate forces” who would have attacked with Longstreet on day 1.

Antietam

Davis had wanted to appear to Europe as only defending and wished not to invade so as to gain their support. Without permission from Davis Lee decided to invade into Maryland despite that, as he admitted to Davis, his army was in no shape for an invasion. ¼ of the army deserted before the battle due to lack of supply, food and exhaustion. Than despite being outnumbered 87,000 to 47,000 Lee set up his army in front of a river that could have led to disaster had he lost the battle. After the heavy fighting that ended in a tactical draw, the next day Lee chose to stay on the field even though all his commanders said they could not hold against another attack. Lee's first invasion had been stopped and he returned to Virginia. With the loss Lee cost the south any chance of European reorganization and with it, perhaps the best chance the south had for independence.

Fredircksburg

At fredircksburg Burnside actually had the upper hand on Lee. He left his position and reached the opposite side of Fredricksburg without Lee noticing he was gone. However his pontoons were not up yet so he could not cross. Lee was known to anticipate his enemies moves, but admitted to Davis he was unsure of Burnsides intentions at this moment. Butlers buildup and the delay from the pontoons made his plan clear, Lee was than able to react with his army and fight from a very advantageous position.

Chancellorsville

“Hookers flanking movement had caught Lee off guard”
--David G Martin The Chancellorsville Campaign


This time it was Hooker who got the step on Lee. Hooker “stole a march” and was able to maneuver 70,000 men across a river and got on Lee's flank without his knowledge. Hookers men and commanders were jubilant and predicted either a complete victory, or the inglorious and know dangerous retreat of Lee's army back to Richmond. The only other option as they saw it was for Lee to attack Hooker on the defensive that they believed would destroy Lee's army. Never had been the union army in a better position to destroy Lee than know. Lee was simply out of options.

“This is splendid... we are on Lees flank and he does does not know it”
-George Meade

“God almighty will not be able to prevent the destruction of the rebel army...The rebel army is now the legitimate property of the army of the Potomac”
-”Fighting Joe” Hooker commander of the Army of the Potomac


However Lee would be saved from defeat by one of his talented commanders Stonewall Jackson. Lee sent an outnumbered Jackson to meet the flanking force and defend. But Stonewall would alter the course of the battle by attacking the flanking army of Hooker putting the federals on the defensive. This enabled Jackson to than conduct his know famous flanking maneuver around Hooker and turn what could have been a disastrous defeat, into yet another victory for Lee.

“[Jackson] Transformed a desperate situation for the confederacy into an opportunity for a great victory”
-David G Martin The Chancellorsville Campaign


For Jackson's maneuver he took 26,000 men and left Lee with just 14,000 to face Hookers 75,000 in front of Lee. Clearly Lee was desperate and handed the battle over to Jackson and the fate of his army. Jackson yet again won Lee a victory.

“I congratulate you upon the victory. Which is due to your skill and energy”
-Robert E Lee Letter to Stonewall in the Hospital

“Could I have directed events, I should have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead”
-Robert E Lee letter to Jackson in hospital


Vicksburg/Gettysburg

Lee's best known failure was at Gettysburg. Instead of doing as Davis thought best, to send a force from Virginia to relive Vicksburg to save the 29,000 or so confederates trapped within, manpower the south could not lose. Lee's concern was of Virginia and its farmland and he convinced Davis of an invasion into the north. Lee's invasion was simply to get the enemy army in the open and destroy it where he could take advantage of a victory on northern soil that he could not have done in Virginia while giving Virginian farmers a rest while collecting supply in the north. So instead of capturing a major northern city or doing damage to the war capacity of the north, Lee's aim was the federal army only, its strength not its weakness. Had Lee followed Longstreet and Jackson's [before his death] plans of a strategic offensive invasion while a defensive tactical battle. By getting to a point such as a major city/ rail and forcing the enemy to attack on ground of the defenders. It would have most likely ended with a confederate victory. I believe at this point Lee and many others may very well have thought his army invincible and attacking could potentially bring about a major victory. Lee wanted to end the war.

Because of this Lee's first mistake was to actually march his men south to meet the enemy near Gettysburg somewhat tiring some of his troops for the battle. The confederates were well supplied and Lee had a large army at his command. The federal army of the Potomac morale was at its lowest point. Large scale desertion occurred between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and they had yet another commander George Meade. Yet over three days of intense fighting Lee could not dislodge Meade. The lowest point for Lee came when he ordered the know famous Pickett's charge on day 3 over open ground, while every federal gun could have a clear shot. The battle was a disaster and Lee lost around 28,000 men to causalities. Combined with the loss of the Vicksburg garrison of near equal amount, Lee's decision to invade cost the south its ability to take the offensive in Virginia and greatly reduced national morale and its ability to resits further federal invasions in 64 before the elections.

Spread the Blame Around?

“All this has been my fault. It is I that have lost this fight”
-Robert E Lee


Some say the battle was not Lee's fault and put the blame on a mix of Longstreet, Ewell or Stuart. Perhaps some of that might be justified. However ultimately the responsibility goes to the commander. What made a good civil war commander was not just making great plans for battle, it was how a commander could react to unseen circumstances and failures that came up. Ewell should have taken Culps Hill and Cemetery Hill on day 1 that was a victory for the south. However Lee told Ewell only to take the hills “if practicable” as he was use to with the aggressive Jackson who would than do the job. So blame should be placed on both and not Ewell alone. Also Lee was still handed Gettysburg on day 2 and Ewell did not force his actions from than on, Lee was in command and decided to attack a more murmurous defender on the high ground.

Lee encouraged generals to act on their own when they saw advantages and Stuart as well was given loose orders on raiding and was simply on one of his raids that Lee had encouraged before. Stuart was not “out for glory” and fulfilled his commands the best way he could given the circumstances. However two couriers Stuarts sent did not reach Lee. He left Lee multiple cavalry brigades and Lee did not use them as he should have as he came to trust Stuart only. Lee was given intelligence of the presence of union Calvary at Gettysburg with infantry likely behind and decided to move on anyways. Lee simply believed he could combine his force faster than he could to Gettysburg, for an offensive.

Longstreet is blamed for his delayed attack on day 2. However slow acting commanders is something every army commander had to deal with. Ultimately the blame should be spread around to all with the majority resting on Lee the army commanders over confidence and aggression. To show this was true Lee offered his resignation on return to Virginia.

Lee vs Grant

Wilderness


During the battle of the wilderness Longstreet was injured preparing for a surprise flank on the federals. Lee did not trust Longstreet inexperience replacement Anderson to accomplish the flanking maneuver, so Lee instead ordered and tactically controlled a frontal assault on fortified union lines. These attacks failed and were repulsed with heavy losses. Had Longstreet's flanking maneuver been carried out by Lee or Anderson, the Wilderness may very well have been a major defeat for the union and severed there supply line forcing a retreat.

Spotsyvania

During the battles Grant, not Lee was able to maintain the intuitive, besides minor attack on Grants flanks that caused no real change to the battle by Lee. At one point Lee thought Grant was retreating from the Muleshoe and removed the artillery as he thought there was no longer a threat to the area. This allowed the major union success and breakthrough at the Muleshoe where federals captured thousands of confederates.

Petersburg

“During the Petersburg campaign Grant outmaneuvered Lee from start to finish....by exploiting Lee's preoccupation with the safety of Richmond”
-John Horn Great Campaigns The Petersburg Campaign


Grant was able to use a diversionary moment to distract Lee and slip across the James. Lee was obsessed with Richmond and had thought Grant would attack by direct assault on Richmond. Beauregard who commanded the peninsula and Richmond area defenses had warned both Davis and Lee multiple times that Grant was preparing to cross the James in force, yet Lee did nothing. Despite the warning of Beauregard, despite 2 federal corps attacking, and multiple holes punched through the entrenched confederate lines. Lee was slow to react to Grants move across the river “Lee was not yet convinced that Grant had crossed the James.” Lucky for Lee, Grant was slow to send Burnside's army of the James and Meade to take advantage of Lee's slow reaction.

During the siege Grant was able to maintain the intuitive, use faint attacks in one area to send the main attack in another. He was able to pin down Lee's men, replace units on the line, and move men behind the lines for large attacks making it hard for Lee to respond. He was able to tighten the noose around Lee's army cutting roads, bridges, and rail lines and finally with an all-out assault that broke the Peterburg lines in multiple places. Lee was forced to retreat and gave up Peterburg and the confederate capital of Richmond.


Atlanta?

The loss of Atlanta cost the south their last and best chance to win independence. By mid 64 it looked to most that Lincoln would not be re-elected and peace democrats would win in the north. Lincoln himself thought this was true. The north was tired of war and the heavy casualties in the spring and summer of 64 with no end in sight caused many in the north to want peace. The capture of Atlanta changed northern opinion. Had the south reinforced Johnston or Hood they may well have held onto Atlanta. Instead Lee sent Jubal Early on a “long shot” mission towards D.C. Instead of helping in the west and possibly saving Atlanta.

Appomattox

Lee was unable to distance himself from Grant and Sheridan on his retreat from Appomattox. His tired, worn out army was fading fast from desertion and casualties. Grant and Sheridan cut off Lee's retreat to North Carolina and forced his surrender of the confederacies largest army. Around 28,000 men were surrendered to Grant by Lee at Appomattox. Grant had defeated Lee.

References
-Great Campaigns Jackson's Valley Campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1994
-Great Campaigns The Peninsula Campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1992
-Great Campaigns The Shiloh Campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1996
-Great Campaigns The Second Bull Run Campaighn David G Martin Combined Books PA 1997
-Great Campaigns The Antietam Campaign John Cannon Combined Books PA
-Great Campaigns The Chancellorsville campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1991
-Great Campaigns the Atlanta campaign John Cannan Combined Books PA 1991
-Great Campaigns The Wilderness campaign John cannon Combined Books PA -Great Campaigns The Spotsylvania John Cannan Campaign Combined Books PA
-Great Campaigns The Petersburg Campaign John Horn Combined Books PA
-Great Campaigns The Appomattox Campaign Chris M Calkins Combined Books PA
-The Shenandoah in Flames The Valley Campaign of 1864 Thomas A Lewis Time Life Books Alexandria, Virginia
-Battles for Atlanta Sherman Moves East Ronald H Bailey Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia 1985
-Rebel Resurgent Frederiscksburg to Chancellorsville Willliam K Goolrick Time life Books, Alexandria, Virginia William K Goolrick 1985
-Receding Tide Vicksburg and Gettysburg the Campaigns That changed the civil war Edwin C Bearess and J Parker Hills National Geographic D.C 2010
-Thomas J Rowland George B Mcclellan and Civil war History in the Shadow of grant and Sherman Kent State University Press 1998
-Six Armies in Tennessee the Chickamagua and Chattanooga Campaigns Steven E Woodworth University of Nebraska press 1998
--John J Hennessy The first battle of Manassas Stackpole Books 2015
-The Campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and of Forrest's Cavalry Da Capo Press 1996
-Such Troops as these The Genius and Leadership of confederate General Stonewall Jackson Bevin Alexander Berkeley Caliber 2014
-How the South Could Have Won the Civil War: The Fatal Errors That Led to Confederate Defeat Bevin Alexander 2008 Crown Forum
-Personal Memoirs of U.S Grant Da Capo Press 2001
-The North Anna campaign http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields...ww.google.com/ --The Confederate war Gary Gallagher Harvard University press 1999
-A History of the south the Confederate States of America E Merton Coulter Louisiana State Press 1950
-James V Murfin Battlefields of the Civil war
-Battle Tactics of the Civil war Paddy Griffith Yale university Press 1989
-The Rifel Musket in Civil war Combat Reality and Myth Earl J Hess University of Kansas Press 2008
-The Civil war Ken Burns PBS documentary
-The Ultimate Civil war Series 2012
-America's Civil war Magazine http://www.historynet.com/americas-civil-war
-Civil war Trust http://www.civilwar.org/
-Rutland Free Library
-Gary Gallagher the American civil war great courses in modern history lecture series Teaching company 2000
---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2542

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 2:04:08 AM
An interesting mirror image of your assessment of McClellan, 1stvermont.

In Mac's case you sought to draw attention to an unduly weighted criticism which had inflated his defects and ignored his qualities.

This is the opposite.

I prefer your McClellan venture.

In the case of Lee, I think revisionists go too far, protest too much.

I don't deny he was a brilliant general and deserves his name and much of his reputation .

Agreed.

Editing : Forgive me for not doing better justice to your post. It's worthy of a more thorough response. There is a good deal more that I wish to say, but circumstances don't allow.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

1stvermont
Vermont, VT, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 80

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 10:14:57 AM

Quote:
An interesting mirror image of your assessment of McClellan, 1stvermont.

In Mac's case you sought to draw attention to an unduly weighted criticism which had inflated his defects and ignored his qualities.

This is the opposite.

I prefer your McClellan venture.

In the case of Lee, I think revisionists go too far, protest too much.

I don't deny he was a brilliant general and deserves his name and much of his reputation .

Agreed.

Editing : Forgive me for not doing better justice to your post. It's worthy of a more thorough response. There is a good deal more that I wish to say, but circumstances don't allow.

Regards, Phil
--Phil andrade


I also prefer my mac post. I fully agree my op is unfair in the worst way to Lee. Who was, if not the best, one of the best generals of the war. However, i do think some criticism is deserved.
---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 452

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 11:05:21 AM

Quote:
I also prefer my mac post. I fully agree my op is unfair in the worst way to Lee. Who was, if not the best, one of the best generals of the war. However, i do think some criticism is deserved.--1stvermont


Hi 1stvermont,

Are you saying the above post isn't your work or isn't representative of your actual views? If it's the latter, let's hear your true views, please, as there is (historically) little appetite on this forum for Devil's Advocate.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

1stvermont
Vermont, VT, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 80

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 11:20:39 AM

Quote:

Quote:
I also prefer my mac post. I fully agree my op is unfair in the worst way to Lee. Who was, if not the best, one of the best generals of the war. However, i do think some criticism is deserved.--1stvermont


Hi 1stvermont,

Are you saying the above post isn't your work or isn't representative of your actual views? If it's the latter, let's hear your true views, please, as there is (historically) little appetite on this forum for Devil's Advocate.

Cheers,

Colin

--Lightning


thanks for the comments. My views are lee was one of the best generals of the war, even arguable the best, though I dont think so personally, but i could understand why some would. He was not infallible however and even he did things wrong at times. More than just at Gettysburg.
---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2542

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 11:40:46 AM
With the notable exception of Napoleon Bonaparte , I cannot think of any general in modern history who demanded so much blood from his soldiers, and who was so heartily loved by them.

It is literally phenomenal, and must be attributed to that special something that goes beyond technical expertise.

I daresay that in terms of military science, Joe Johnston was the better general....Grant certainly avowed him so.

But Lee stands head and shoulders above him in terms of overall performance.

Lee was quick to admit - and lament - his own flaws.

He preferred not to deride his opponents.

I cannot think of anyone else who could have accomplished what he did.

The fact that he made mistakes, far from diminishing him, lends greater lustre to his legend and makes his ability to hold things together for so long all the more remarkable.

Regards , Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Larry Purtell
USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 493

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 1:55:29 PM
"The federal army of the Potomac morale was at its lowest point. 40,000 men had deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and they had yet another commander George Meade. Yet over three days of intense fighting Lee could not dislodge Meade"


40,000 union troops deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg? You lost me right there.
---------------
"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.

jahenders
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
top 60
E-3 Private First Class
Posts: 54

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 2:37:12 PM
Nice summary. Well written and researched.

I tend to agree with the general thrust, though it may be a bit sweeping in its criticism at times.

I didn't note Bonekemper in your sources. I suggest you read some of his stuff if you haven't -- he addresses some similar concerns/failings.

1stvermont
Vermont, VT, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 80

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 7:23:00 PM

Quote:
"The federal army of the Potomac morale was at its lowest point. 40,000 men had deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and they had yet another commander George Meade. Yet over three days of intense fighting Lee could not dislodge Meade"


40,000 union troops deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg? You lost me right there.
--Larry Purtell



After the defeat at Chancellorsville union morale was lowest after a string of defeated and especially Chancellorsville where they new they were out-generaled, but not out fought. Numbers for union army at that point from my sources [listed] is usually around 130,000. Gettysburg usually bout 85,000. This is off memory so this is a guess. Causalities at Chancellorsville around 17,000.


130 minus 17= 113,00 minus Gettysburg army of 85,000= close to 30,000. Add in reinforcements during the time period and slight injuries causalities at Chancellorsville that returned, you get 40,000. Reports from both sides told of large numbers of union men leaving the army. Perhaps 40 is a little high but i have read that number from 2 sources. If you can correct it if it is wrong, i will gladly edit my op.
---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

1stvermont
Vermont, VT, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 80

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/23/2017 7:26:54 PM

Quote:
Nice summary. Well written and researched.

I tend to agree with the general thrust, though it may be a bit sweeping in its criticism at times.

I didn't note Bonekemper in your sources. I suggest you read some of his stuff if you haven't -- he addresses some similar concerns/failings.
--jahenders



Thanks. I have not read his book on how Lee lost the civil war perhaps i should. i did watch his "myths of the lost cause" presentation on c-span. In that talk he argued against Lee and for grant but it was not the entire focus of the talk.
---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2542

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 4:40:09 AM
1stvermont ,

You invite us to reconsider things .

This is brave : I like the cut of your jib.

A request from me: would you please try a similar excercise for Confederate general Braxton Bragg ?

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 528

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 11:22:12 AM
1stvermont,

What is one of the fist things the movie Gettysburg shows? That part of another Maine Regiment, the 2nd, is being folded into the 20th, the part who's enlistments hadn't ended. The difference in numbers between the two battles isn't because 40,000 Union troops from the AOP deserted. Many of the men who enlisted in 1861 did do for a two-year period and that 2 years was ending in May-June-July 1863.

I like your post on Mac a lot better just wondering who you do think was the best commander of the war?

Phil,

How can Grant say Joe Johnston was the best he ever faced if he never faced Joe Johnston on the field of battle? If Johnston is C&C West in name only, which he was, and he never faced Grant on a battlefield except Jackson which he ran as soon as the Union troops showed up how is Grant's opinion valid in any way when Grant says he was the best he faced during the war?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 528

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 11:24:54 AM
Phil,

You want somebody to try and make Bragg look good?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Larry Purtell
USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 493

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 12:09:48 PM

Quote:

Quote:
"The federal army of the Potomac morale was at its lowest point. 40,000 men had deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and they had yet another commander George Meade. Yet over three days of intense fighting Lee could not dislodge Meade"


40,000 union troops deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg? You lost me right there.
--Larry Purtell



After the defeat at Chancellorsville union morale was lowest after a string of defeated and especially Chancellorsville where they new they were out-generaled, but not out fought. Numbers for union army at that point from my sources [listed] is usually around 130,000. Gettysburg usually bout 85,000. This is off memory so this is a guess. Causalities at Chancellorsville around 17,000.


130 minus 17= 113,00 minus Gettysburg army of 85,000= close to 30,000. Add in reinforcements during the time period and slight injuries causalities at Chancellorsville that returned, you get 40,000. Reports from both sides told of large numbers of union men leaving the army. Perhaps 40 is a little high but i have read that number from 2 sources. If you can correct it if it is wrong, i will gladly edit my op.
--1stvermont



Pennsylvania alone had 16 9 months infantry regiments (122nd thru 137th) discharged between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg campaigns. New York also had numerous two years regiments return for discharge after the Chancellorsville battle. Battles-Leaders, volume III page 258 references 58 regiments totaling 25,000 men discharged after Chancellorsville. This figure added to the loss of 17,287 at Chancellorsville accounts for the loss of manpower in AOP.

Larry
---------------
"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 1:17:54 PM

Quote:
Phil,

You want somebody to try and make Bragg look good?
--John R. Price


If the lipstick's right, a pig can look good.

Seriously, I've cherished a conviction that there were some qualities in Bragg that might merit some mention.

Shall I fetch my coat ?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 3:46:04 PM

Quote:
Phil,

You want somebody to try and make Bragg look good?
--John R. Price


Phil and John,

Put a modern present day PR and advertising/social media firm on it and you'll find somehow one confederate monument "going up" instead of coming down.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

John R. Price
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 3:46:26 PM
Phil,

As a training and quartermaster maybe. But even then there is the story of when he was a young officer acting as both post quartermaster and a company officer submitting a requisition to himself then denying it as quartermaster then arguing with himself in writing why the items were needed and he should get them.

In all honesty if you believe that the war was won/lost in the West, and I do, Bragg is the prime candidate for person most responsible. Recently I've been doing a lot of research into certain relationships in the high command of the Confederacy mainly in the West and think this man is the most poisonous because he took everything personally and held a grudge on every personal insult which really was anything said that wasn't praise for him and his actions. It is the Southern code of honor on steroids and at its worse. The code was in large part based on reputation and some men took it too far to heart and guarded that reputation with too much zeal to the point that in their minds they couldn't allow another to point out bring to light a mistake they had made on any matter. It why he had to have somebody to blame when he lost battles because the loss couldn't be his fault.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Larry Purtell
USA
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Posts: 493

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 5:57:06 PM

Quote:
Phil,

As a training and quartermaster maybe. But even then there is the story of when he was a young officer acting as both post quartermaster and a company officer submitting a requisition to himself then denying it as quartermaster then arguing with himself in writing why the items were needed and he should get them.

In all honesty if you believe that the war was won/lost in the West, and I do, Bragg is the prime candidate for person most responsible. Recently I've been doing a lot of research into certain relationships in the high command of the Confederacy mainly in the West and think this man is the most poisonous because he took everything personally and held a grudge on every personal insult which really was anything said that wasn't praise for him and his actions. It is the Southern code of honor on steroids and at its worse. The code was in large part based on reputation and some men took it too far to heart and guarded that reputation with too much zeal to the point that in their minds they couldn't allow another to point out bring to light a mistake they had made on any matter. It why he had to have somebody to blame when he lost battles because the loss couldn't be his fault.
--John R. Price



Couldn't say it better John. If one man has to be responsible for the South losing in the Western theater it's Braxton Bragg. Not one redeeming thing about that man.
---------------
"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.

1stvermont
Vermont, VT, USA
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 6:50:30 PM

Quote:
1stvermont ,

You invite us to reconsider things .

This is brave : I like the cut of your jib.

A request from me: would you please try a similar excercise for Confederate general Braxton Bragg ?

Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade



That is funny because I was sort of thinking the same thing. I think he was better than portrayed, his subordinates needed to take much of his blame. the csa army structure in the west was a horrible mess. Here is a great book that helped form that opinion.

https://www.amazon.com/Six-Armies-Tennessee-Chickamauga-Chattanooga/dp/0803298137

However i am not saying he was a great general or the most underrated like mac.
---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

1stvermont
Vermont, VT, USA
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 6:55:51 PM

Quote:
1stvermont,

What is one of the fist things the movie Gettysburg shows? That part of another Maine Regiment, the 2nd, is being folded into the 20th, the part who's enlistments hadn't ended. The difference in numbers between the two battles isn't because 40,000 Union troops from the AOP deserted. Many of the men who enlisted in 1861 did do for a two-year period and that 2 years was ending in May-June-July 1863.

I like your post on Mac a lot better just wondering who you do think was the best commander of the war?

Phil,

How can Grant say Joe Johnston was the best he ever faced if he never faced Joe Johnston on the field of battle? If Johnston is C&C West in name only, which he was, and he never faced Grant on a battlefield except Jackson which he ran as soon as the Union troops showed up how is Grant's opinion valid in any way when Grant says he was the best he faced during the war?

--John R. Price


Great movie, did you see gods and generals? If this is true [the draft had been enacted] is their anyway to tell how many vs desertion? is so I will correct my op and take away the 40,000 that i accepted without question and thank you. But either way the point of it being low morale and heavy desertion from the time hold true. I like my post on mac better as well. My best commander will be in a future post when I argue for him. I would rather wait for that since I am finishing another bio on him that i am enjoying at the moment.

---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

1stvermont
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Posts: 80

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 6:57:03 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
"The federal army of the Potomac morale was at its lowest point. 40,000 men had deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and they had yet another commander George Meade. Yet over three days of intense fighting Lee could not dislodge Meade"


40,000 union troops deserted between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg? You lost me right there.
--Larry Purtell



After the defeat at Chancellorsville union morale was lowest after a string of defeated and especially Chancellorsville where they new they were out-generaled, but not out fought. Numbers for union army at that point from my sources [listed] is usually around 130,000. Gettysburg usually bout 85,000. This is off memory so this is a guess. Causalities at Chancellorsville around 17,000.


130 minus 17= 113,00 minus Gettysburg army of 85,000= close to 30,000. Add in reinforcements during the time period and slight injuries causalities at Chancellorsville that returned, you get 40,000. Reports from both sides told of large numbers of union men leaving the army. Perhaps 40 is a little high but i have read that number from 2 sources. If you can correct it if it is wrong, i will gladly edit my op.
--1stvermont



Pennsylvania alone had 16 9 months infantry regiments (122nd thru 137th) discharged between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg campaigns. New York also had numerous two years regiments return for discharge after the Chancellorsville battle. Battles-Leaders, volume III page 258 references 58 regiments totaling 25,000 men discharged after Chancellorsville. This figure added to the loss of 17,287 at Chancellorsville accounts for the loss of manpower in AOP.

Larry
--Larry Purtell



Thanks for the correction ,editing commencing. Glad I came to this forum.
---------------
“The CSA congress can have no such power over states officers. The state governments are an essential part of the political system, upon the separate and independent sovereignty of the states the foundation of the confederacy”
-1864 Virginia supremeCourt

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/24/2017 11:26:45 PM
1stvermont,

You or any other author can't know how Lee would have acted had he been C&C of all Confederate forces. Plus with respect the only way for the Confederacy to win was to break the political will of the Union to continue the war and losing Richmond and basically all of Virginia isn't going to aid in that. As it was it was the strategy of the C&C President Davis to hold all points and territory Lee while advising against that strategy tried to carry it out first as military advisor then as a Department commander and for the last few months as C&C. I would also add that Richmond was one of the very few munitions production centers in the Confederacy and loss of those facilities would have been devastating to the ability to wage war. The interior lines theory for Chickamauga is wrong the direct route by rail had already been cut by the Union.

The officers of the ANVA were assembled not for Lee but for Joe Johnston and with respect most came into the own under Lee. Look at the division commanders at Seven Pines then the Seven Days and then Second Manassas. It is a big turnover and even moreso when the Army goes to the three corps setup before Gettysburg. I would also say the officer corps get plenty of credit but it is made better by Lee just as the officer corps of the AOT is under rated because of Bragg.

What are you talking about saying Jackson was a better strategic planner and thinker? When did Jackson plan strategy? If your talking the Valley Campaign I think you had better read the correspondence between Lee and Jackson leading up to it.

Agreed the newspapers were calling Lee timid for his West Virginia experiences. But "Granny Lee," and the "King of Spades" was for entrenching around Richmond so as to be able to free up the bulk of the army to move to the flank.

Why not tell the truth and blame those responsible for the frontal attacks because Lee only planned one, Malvern Hill. Jackson was most responsible because he was late and lethargic at every turn. And no Malvern Hill couldn't be flanked, swamp on one side and river the other.

Who ordered Jackson to get behind Pope? And it was Longstreet who "resisted not wanting to engage" because he let the artillery do the work of a infantry attack and saved lives. Also Longstreet wasn't up on Day 1.

Davis agreed with the invasion and gave his permission. England and France weren't going to recognize the Confederacy as long as Lincoln was basically giving away the food to feed the workers of their textile industry and Egypt was becoming a alternative source of cheep cotton.

Yes Burnside stole a march on Lee, something Grant couldn't do, but there were other places Lee could make a stand before Richmond and it was the winter.

No Lee knew they were corssing the river into the Wilderness as it was happening, the ford were picketed by JEB's Cavalry. Rember Longstreet with two divisions was gathering supplies and letting the teams and artillery horses graze in greener pastures. And no Lee was first to meet the flanking movement with Anderson's and McLaws divisions, Jackson then came up to support as the Federals fell back on Chancellorsville as night was falling. And yes Jackson's flank attack was devastating but the victory wasn't won until the next day when Stuart taking command of Jackson's Corps because Jackson and AP Hill were wounded finally united the two wings of the army after brutal and unimaginative frontal attacks.

Once Raymond and Jackson are taken and the railroad torn up there is no possibility for Johnston to relieve Vicksburg because he didn't have the transportation capability to supply the 25,000 men he had. Plus with respect they wouldn't have gotten to anywhere near Vicksburg in time to prevent the surrender even if Joe Johnston had the capability to supply any relief attempt. You had to have a railhead within about 25 miles to be able to supply a force or the capability to live off the land. The Miss countryside between Jackson and Vicksburg didn't offer the later and Grant tore up the only rail line. Oh and Jackson was talking about mounting his corps on mules and heading toward the Ohio River at one point before his death but had no part in the planning for Gettysburg. I agree about reacting to situations that arise but then why didn't this apply with Little Mac?

Longstreet was wounded after the surprise flank attack while discussing a possible further attack from the same railroad cut if Hancock wasn't prepared for it. The Wilderness was a major defeat for the Union but Hancock had his flank unit refused and prepared for a flank attack so any attck on him was going to be frontal.

No Lee was straightening his line and eliminating a salient. Its called the Muleshoe because at that point Lee's lines curved out like a horseshoe in shap. Once straightened out it would free up troops to form a mobile reserve.

Your missing a whole month in the Overland Campaign and not a word on Cold Harbor???

Do you really think sending Hood Early's Corps was going to do any good? Do you understand how Hood was stabing Joe Johnston in the back before taking his job? Declining to attack twice? You do know that Lee advised against sacking Johnston right? That he basically said right out that Hood wasn't up to the job? That Bragg was now military advisor to Davis? What happens when Grant finds out Early is gone and he doesn't have to send troops to the Washington defenses?








---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Lightning
Glasgow, UK
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/25/2017 6:45:55 AM

Quote:
England and France weren't going to recognize the Confederacy as long as Lincoln was basically giving away the food to feed the workers of their textile industry and Egypt was becoming a alternative source of cheep cotton.--John R. Price


'England' (sic) (please use either Britain, Great Britain or UK, your choice) and France would never have come in militarily speaking unless they were attacked by the US forces in some strange turn of events. Their populations were vehemently hostile towards slavery and wouldn't have tolerated an alliance with a slaveholding society, regardless of the sympathies amongst the British aristocracy.

The extent of intervention would have been mediation, in order to stop the slaughter and try to restore unhindered commerce.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/25/2017 9:30:44 AM

Quote:
Phil,

You want somebody to try and make Bragg look good?
--John R. Price


impossible!
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Phil andrade
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/25/2017 11:54:08 AM
Not one redeeming thing about Bragg ?

Jeff Davis and Joe Johnston thought otherwise: perhaps they were afflicted in some way.

Did Hardee venture an opinion ?

And did Lee ?

The upper echelons of Confederate command were so toxic in the West.

That they were not so in the East is largely attributable to Lee's conduct , I reckon.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/25/2017 1:28:48 PM
Phil,

When did Jeff Davis and Joe Johnston think otherwise, 1861 or 1863? Davis served with him under Taylor in Mexico where Bragg made his name and it was Bragg's "Flying Artillery" and Davis's 1st Miss Vol that saved the day at Buena Vista. Yet I think too much is made of that and it goes to far to say they were great friends and Davis a unquestioning backer. I believe that Davis respected Bragg for his bravery and coolness under fire on the shared field of Buena Vista and remember that in 1861 and 62 when searching for competent commanders and a alternative to PTGB. I think after Perryville it became a matter of reputation, politics and the perception of a lack of alternative. Reputation that old code of honor thing again with a little bit of the inability to admit being wrong mixed with the politics of Davis's political enemies making Bragg their principle target thrown if with Davis's reluctance to appoint anybody who those enemies put forth. Johnston had no prior relationship with Bragg and as far as I can remember was not a big backer of him during the war and certainly not one after the war.

Hardee told him to resign in the circular after Perryville and was part of the anti-Bragg faction at every turn while also requesting transfer more than once.

Lee didn't have previous relationship and until Johnston was relieved for Hood declined to offer more than broad opinions on such things.

IMHO Bragg and Loring are the men most responsible for the toxicity. Throw in the Davis Johnston fued to top things off.

I agree about Lee in the East but victory covered up a heck of a lot of discontent. It really wasn't a smooth as your implying.

EDit It really wasn't Bragg's "Flying Artillery" as Bragg was the units second in command who assumed command when his superior was KIA. It was the superiors innovation in tactics that because of his death Bragg gets just about all of the credit for developing. He should get the credit for the actual decisions made on the battlefield and the lions share of implementation but not really the development nor idea.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Phil andrade
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/25/2017 2:43:43 PM
John,

Thanks for giving us the benefit of your knowledge and research.

I was a bit worried that you had cast your mind so profoundly against the man that you would be unable - or unwilling- to countenance any alternative viewpoint... but it's apparent that you're pretty reliable when it comes to balance.

In regard to Joe Johnston, the only thing that I can conjure up to help Bragg is a letter written to Senator Wigfall in which Johnston emphasised the unique amount of damage that Bragg succeeded in inflicting - relative to the size of his own force - in a very short time at Murfreesboro.

I've stated this before, so forgive my repetition, but I think the point has merit.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/25/2017 3:46:22 PM
Phil,

The Union lost what about 13,00 out of 43,000 but the AOT lost almost 12,000 out of 35,000? But if I may be allowed to use 1stvermont's idea of the ability to improvise on the initial plan due to changing situations of battle I'd say that Murfreesboro was the prime example of his failure or inability to do that. Instead of holding at "the Round Forrest" and "Hell's Half Acre" and reinforcing Cleburne's success he continued to order frontal attacks against strong positions which were in effect already flanked and in serious peril. He also orders and countermands reinforcement from Breckinridge across the river twice and doesn't order Breckenridge to attack until late in the day and then countermands that order believing a large Union force approaching his flank.

Plus he tries to shift all blame for failure from himself once again. Blaming McNown for letting [art his division drift chasing stragglers and basically saying Withers and Cheatham were drunk.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Phil andrade
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/26/2017 3:11:08 AM
John,

Thanks for clarifying the ineptitude of Bragg's follow through at Murfreesboro.

My principal contribution here is to draw attention to the casualty figures you cite.

You allude to the rebels suffering close to 12,000. Their official return was actually 10,266. Livermore insisted that their 1,027 missing should be increased to 2,500, thereby inflating Bragg' s casualties to 11,739. I think he takes a liberty here, and I'm surprised at how readily Livermore's analysis is accepted.

The official figure is bad enough : thirty percent of strength engaged.

What Johnston was emphasising was the enormous Federal loss : greater than that of the attackers and suffered in a very short time.

He draws attention to Bragg' s ability to do this, and identifies it as an attribute that must not be overlooked.

An initial advantage gained and extraordinary damage inflicted....only to be wasted.

Edit : remember that this was Bragg versus Rosecrans ; and Rosecrans stands out as a formidable battlefield commander. Bragg pressed home an attack of such ferocity that he managed to inflict not only a greater numerical loss , but casualties that were proportionally heavier than his own. How often did an outnumbered Confederate army , in a battle of this scale and intensity, succeed in attacking a larger army, under the command of a high caliber general, and manage to deal out greater proportional destruction than it sustained itself ?

Bragg was no pushover.


Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/26/2017 1:34:15 PM
Phil,

The reason I tend to go with the higher figure is because so many of the sick and wounded had to be left for the Federals so the reality is a higher percentage were lost to the Confederacy than would normally be the case and I don't believe Bragg's official report really reflects that fact.

But again we are going back to the fact that Bragg's initial success isn't followed up. He isn't able for some reason to deviate from the initial plan and adapt to the changing situation that every battle will bring. No matter what your action the enemy is going to react to counter and you as commander have to be able to adapt and overcome that reaction. The first casualty of battle is the plan so you can't doggedly adhere to the plan in the face of a changing situation and that is exactly what Bragg does over and over.

I'd also ask how much the initial success is really Bragg vs how much is it the Division and Brigade commanders and men of the AOT?

I'd also say that Johnston's observation goes back to the basic disagreement with Davis over strategy. Davis's is hold all points and territory while Johnston favors a concentration of force that makes holding points and territory impracticable. Attrition vs all around defense. Its a little self serving and a shot at Davis to one of Davis's biggest political foes.

Wasted courage the legacy of the Confederate Western Armies.

EDit The biggest difference between the officer Corps of the ANVA and AOT isn't ability or talent for command its trust and flexibility. The trust that if you are flexible and react to the changing battlefield situation and deviate from the plan the army commander isn't going to throw you under the bus and blame you for losing the battle.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Posts: 528

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/26/2017 1:50:35 PM
Phil,

To your edit. How much of the Union loss is inflicted in the first hour or so of the attack mainly by Cleburne's and a lesser extent McNown's Divisions? Didn't the Union flank brigade lose just about 50%? How much of the Confederate loss was from Withers, Cheatham's and Breckenridge's Divisions in frontal attacks that basically did nothing but lose lives?

I'd say the officers and men serving under Bragg were no pushovers. Bragg was a arsehole!


Edit Oh and how bad doe Cleburne get cut up pushing the attack after he's spent because Bragg doesn't reinforce success?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Phil andrade
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/27/2017 4:08:35 AM
Bragg was a arsehole

On that note I feel it's time to abandon my quest to rehabilitate Bragg and consign him to the realm of anal orifices.

Perhaps another day we might resume the anal -ysis ?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/27/2017 4:37:36 AM
Did Lee exhibit aristocratic preferences in his choice of subordinates, especially if they were Virginians ?

John reminds us that adaptability and flexibility are essential hallmarks of successful high command.

Was the AoNV as meritocratic as it might have been?

I tend to think of Lee as being enlightened by the standards of his day, his region and his class.

Scope for reconsideration?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/27/2017 11:26:43 AM
Phil,

Virginia had the largest population in the Confederacy by about 250,000. It also had the most schools and arguably the most prestigious schools of higher learning with UVA and VMI coming to mind in the South. With respect it only goes to reason that Virginians would be well represented in the officer corps of the ANVA and the entire Confederate Army.

I think Lee was all about ability, performance and loyalty. Lets look at JEB and Gettysburg. Did Lee castrate him in his report for his mistakes? Did he publically call him out and humiliate him? Did he demote or transfer him? Did he place the blame for losing on him? Is a subordinate going to be adaptable and flexible on the battlefield more-so under a commander who does the above or one who doesn't? I love the scene in "The Killer Angels" when Stuart reports to Lee and Lee says to the effect that some officers in the army would have JEB court martialed and JEB wants to "defend his honor" first and when Lee gets angry wants to resign. Lee just gets exasperated and explains "there is no time for that" and explains he has to learn and grow and there will be no more mention of the mistake. It is so much of what I've touched on about the Southern code of honor and so much of what is the difference between Lee and Bragg.

No organization is as merit based as it should be. We are all only human and all deserve second chances or even third chances and no matter how hard we try will have favorites that get a little more consideration and slack. And there will always be somebody who thinks he's getting the shaft in some way or another.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Phil andrade
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/27/2017 12:46:57 PM
John,

What's your take on the way Lee handled DH Hill ?

The reason I ask is because I once attended a lecture by Gary Gallagher, and he cited Lee's removal of DH Hill as a masterful exhibition of tact and discretion which was accomplished without ruffling too many feathers. Imagine, said Gallagher, how much of a furore there would have been if Bragg had done that !

Therein lay one of Lee's greatest attributes : handling difficult people and smoothing things over.

Daniel Harvey Hill was a first rate fighting general , surely ?

He was Jackson's brother in law IIRC.

He fought at Chickamauga, too, so he might have made some pertinent comments about different command styles east and west.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Posts: 1944

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/27/2017 1:08:54 PM
I remember reading about AP Hill complaining to Lee about Ambrose Wright after the Seven Days. Lee`s answer " But general they are all VOLUNTEERS". This is something that Lee had grasped, that another form of leadership was necesary, and Bragg would never understand.

I have often thought that Bragg may have been successful in an 18thC european mercenary army.

Trevor

---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/27/2017 1:43:23 PM
Phil,

I'm personally split on DH Hill. I'm not sure if the command ability was worth putting up with the opinionated sarcastic pain in the ass he could be or the problems it could create. Plus I really appreciate Rhodes ability and performance up to that point.

But yes getting DH appointed Department Commander in North Carolina was ye old round peg for the round hole but he had to know it wasn't going to work with DH and Davis. It did settle NC Gov Zeb Vance down for a bit also. Basically did the same thing with the house cleaning after the Seven Days although GW Smith never forgave him or Davis for banishing him to the GA State Militia after he took command after Seven Pines.

What did Bragg do to DH Hill, supposedly Bragg's closest friend from the Old Army, after Chickamauga? Why didn't he really hold a command after Chickamauga nor ever have his promotion to Lt Gen come to a vote in Congress? I believe he, like Hardee after Perryville, told Bragg to resign after fighting one battle under him.

A interesting side story to Hill and Chickamauga. Seems after the first day, late that night in fact, Hill tries to make his way to Bragg's HDQ but is never able to find it. By that time Longstreet has arrived and Bragg divides the Army into two wings with Hill's Corps under the Wing Command of Polk. Now to compound the fact that Hill never found Bragg's HCQ two messengers delivering orders to Hill never found him with the orders and Hill never reported to Polk's HDQ for orders because he didn't know he was under Polk's command. Now Bragg ordered a attack first thing in the AM by Polk's Wing and Hill was to lead off the attack but he and Cleburne and Brekenridge, his division commanders, have no idea. Polk is fuming so after his 2nd messenger comes back unable to find Hill he send his aide with orders directly to Cleburne an hour after the attack is supposed to start because Bragg is all over his back blaming him. The aide find Hill drinking coffee with both Cleburne and Brekenridge and staffs and promptly tries to arrest Hill on orders from Bragg because the attack hasn't started. Bragg instead of finding out what happened had order "those responsible to be placed under arrest." Well Cleburne and Breckenridge refused to do anything unless ordered by Hill and they couldn't accept Hill's orders if he was under arrest. So the aide relented and Hill's Corps attacks about a hour and a half later, they had been in the process of cooking rations and Hill wouldn't stop the process which pissed Bragg off even more.

Edit Bragg moved his HDQ back about 2 miles from where it originally had been and the guides left at the old spot in the road didn't wait long enough for Hill whose Corps attacked right around sunset and fought in the twilight and darkness. So it wasn't until close to 11PM earliest that Hill even started looking for HDQ. It wasn't all on Bragg but things like this happened over and over in his command.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2542

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/28/2017 5:04:05 AM
John ,

Longstreet gives a sorry depiction of the state of affairs as he arrived to fight at Chickamauga : I don't have books to hand, but if memory serves he was bewildered by the total lack of reception: not only was this discourteous, it was downright abysmal as an example of failure to communicate at times of critical importance.

Let it be said, though, that Longstreet was to prove himself a failure during the ensuing Knoxville campaign: worse still, he exhibited unpleasant traits that rival Bragg's when he bungled the attack at Fort Sanders, blaming his soldiers when he got thrashed by Burnside.

A most unedifying episode, and a stark reminder of the hero to zero syndrome that we see replicate throughout that war.

This, I think, attests Lee's qualities better than a mere list of his victories, impressive though that is.

A survey of how so many others came to grief should suffice to remind us of the enormity of Lee's achievements.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2542

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/28/2017 9:14:54 AM

Quote:
I remember reading about AP Hill complaining to Lee about Ambrose Wright after the Seven Days. Lee`s answer " But general they are all VOLUNTEERS". This is something that Lee had grasped, that another form of leadership was necesary, and Bragg would never understand.

I have often thought that Bragg may have been successful in an 18thC european mercenary army.

Trevor


--scoucer


Trevor,

How right you are !

Lee, despite - maybe even because of - his aristocratic background, might have realised that this was a different kind of conflict from what the military caste had prepared for.

The citizen army of volunteers; the attention of the press and the intrusion of political influence into the excercise of military command....these were, I think, more challenging as novelties than the introduction of rifled firearms that we keep reading about.

Many generals of that era must have been out of their depth in that war : it imposed enormous demands...perhaps even unique ones in its amalgamation of black powder tradition with modern democratic expectations.


To be fair, very few could cope with it.


Lee handled this; Bragg did not.

And Lee found the strain difficult to bear. Retaining composure and holding his tongue when he must have felt unimaginable exasperation when others let him down. So few of us could manage this: many of us would be like Bragg. No wonder Lee developed cardiac illness.

Given the securities of an eighteenth century ambience....yes, I see Trevor's point: Bragg might have worked.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 528

Re: A Critical Look at Robert E Lee
Posted on: 8/28/2017 1:59:43 PM
Phil,

To be fair the Confederate railroads were delivering Longstreet's two divisions in drip and drabs and there was no set schedule as to when and what was arriving. IMO its more damming to the idea of interior lines for the Confederacy, they really didn't have them because the Union rail infrastructure was so much better.

Yes and no. First he never got all of Bushrod Johnson's and Cleburne's Divisions that he was suppose to as Grant attacked as Johnson's was on the trains and Cleburne was waiting to board. Second his timetable had to be moved up because Grant attacked and destroyed the Missionary Ridge position. Third he didn't blame the soldiers he blamed McLaws and there is merit to that blame. You have to understand that there is some evidence that Lee wanted to get rid of McLaws after the Seven Days and Longstreet carried him out of loyalty. Plus the achievments of the division don't add up to the command talent at the brigade and regimental level. There is a piece of evidence right before Gettysburg that Lee is basically telling Longstreet to pay particular attention and guide/steer Mclaws actions during the campaign. Maybe a letter or the report of a conversation but my point is that McLaws was on thin ice a long tome and he is basically as much to blame for Fort Sanders as Longstreet. He should have done just as much recon or more and he should have tried to get the ladders and other equipment needed and he did neither. Now the crap about Robertson and Jenkins is a different story and certainly more Bragg than Lee.


---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


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