MHO Home   Forum Home   Help   Register   Login
 
 
Welcome to MilitaryHistoryOnline.com.
You are not signed in.
The current time is: 10/18/2017 6:17:47 PM
 Civil War Commanders and Units    
AuthorMessage
Page 1 of 3 (Page: 1  2  3 )
littlepowell
SC, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant


Posts: 389
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/
Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 8:37:43 AM
I'd like to hear your thoughts on CW generals that were the best at their command level. Example, AP Hill was the best Division Commander, etc. etc.

Let's start with Army. I will have to go with Lee. Although he had his moments of failure for sure, there was no general that did more with less than Lee. Perhaps some of his success was luck? Perhaps some of it was the incompetency of his opponent generals? Either way, there's no denying that he was a master tactician commanding an army in the field.
---------------
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/ - Historical tactical combat games for PC.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 9:28:24 AM
There are few generals in history who have managed to succeed as both commanders and leaders.

A great leader might be a poor commander, and vice versa.

I think Lee combined the attributes of both.

He gets my vote.

He had to deal with some very difficult subordinates, and the entire array of southern soldiery, from top rank to the bottom, exhibited a fierce pride and individualism that - while it enhanced fighting prowess - could also make for a toxic environment in which to hold high command. We only have to look at the flawed Confederate war in the West to see how damaging this could be.

Lee excelled at dealing with these men. He knew how to get the best out of them. He won infinite respect from people who would not willingly bestow it unless they were convinced of the legitimacy of his authority.

Yes, as both commander and leader he was phenomenal.

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

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 10:58:56 AM
I guess Lee would win Commanding officer of an Army.

Immediate subordinate might be Jackson, or Hancock

Lower ranked generals might be Greene, Chamberlain, & several CSA Officers

perhaps we should have 3 or more categories??

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

littlepowell
SC, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant


Posts: 389
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 7:21:14 PM
Great analysis on Lee, Phil. I always enjoy your posts.

Dave - 4 more categories, Corps, Division, Brigade, Regiment.

It's hard to argue that Jackson was the best Corps commander. Although he had is moments of poor performance as well (see the seven days battles.)

Although Joe Hooker will always be remembered for his debacle at Chancellorsville as army commander, I've always considered him to be one of the best Corps commanders of the war. His opening attack at Antietam was all but a military masterpiece, and who knows what could have been had he not been wounded.
---------------
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/ - Historical tactical combat games for PC.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 7:33:39 PM
How could we possibly fail to mention Pat Cleburne ?

Forrest comes to the fore.

More controversially, we have a man who excercised superb divisional command, but who sank in army command....I refer, of course, to Hood.

I would like to mention Henry Hunt...where would the AoP have been without that artillery wizard ?

Sherman...what are we to make of him ? I rate him as transcending his peers in a strategic sense, but not a tactical warrior of much account.

We musn't forget Winfield Scott ( two Ts or one ?)....The Anaconda Plan has to be acknowledged as the template for victory.

And ( dare I say this ?) the man who trained the Army of the Potomac...McClellan.

I'll 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

littlepowell
SC, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant


Posts: 389
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 7:46:06 PM

Quote:
How could we possibly fail to mention Pat Cleburne ?



One of my all time favorite experiences as a student of the Civil War was seeing Pat Cleburne's coat at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox. There it was before me, in all it's grittiness.. The man that wore it was the true embodiment of the Confederate warrior. I was awe struck.
---------------
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/ - Historical tactical combat games for PC.

Gregory C. White
Canton, GA, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Posts: 172

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 9:31:59 PM
John B. Gordon was an excellent commander on the regimental, brigade and division levels. He became 2nd Corps
commander late in the war in December 1864, and was cited by Douglas Southall Freeman as Lee's closest confidant
the last months of the war.
---------------
"I do not believe that any man can adequately appreciate the world of to-day unless he has some knowledge of...[and] some feeling for...the history of the world of the past." Theodore Roosevelt

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1923

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/8/2016 10:52:01 PM
One I think who could have eventually led the AoP if he hadn´t been struck down so early - Phil Kearny.

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.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/9/2016 8:00:53 AM
Everyone thinks of the Lee-Jackson team for the CSA. And the Grant-Sherman Team for the Union when listing Commander, & leading subordinate officer? With Grant you get a leader who having the advantages just relentlessly attacks, & Sherman who carrys out unrestricted warfare
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/9/2016 8:11:10 AM
I meant to say also that with Lee, Jackson you get a more of a tactical plan and a subordinate who is driven to carrt out Lee's orders using the best means necessary! You have to give the edge I think to this CSA pair over Grant-Sherman? You have to wonder what might have happened if Jackson's own troops hadn't shot him??

MD

Sorry about 2 posts to get my point across but my curser froze up on me in the preceding one?
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 404

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/14/2016 12:09:18 PM
A bunch of years ago, back when North and South was still a pretty good read (IMO), North and South had back to back articles on who was the worst and who was the best CW generals. Six CW historians (whose names would be familiar to all of us) voted on the best and on the worst.

I found it interesting that all six historians (that voted in the poll) ranked Grant above Lee.

s.c.

littlepowell
SC, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant


Posts: 389
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/15/2016 7:44:09 AM

Quote:

I found it interesting that all six historians (that voted in the poll) ranked Grant above Lee.


Interesting indeed. He would probably be a close second for me behind Lee. Although I have always believed that the war would have ended a lot sooner had he been in command earlier--perhaps as early as 1862. Imagine a Grant in command of the AOTP at Antietam, with his aggressive style, outnumbering Lee 2 to 1..
---------------
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/ - Historical tactical combat games for PC.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5947
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/15/2016 8:09:28 AM
This debate- surely comes down to Ulysses S. Grant or Robert E. Lee, vastly different men with different styles and backgrounds- who not only won the admiration of their men; but the respect of the opposing force.

However it was Grant's understated brilliance that won The Civil War IMHO. With the Mississippi River heavily fortified, Grant sidestepped the Rebels by travelling up the Tennessee and Cumberland River, capturing Fort Henry and Fort Donaldson.

His orders to his subordinates were simple:pursue the Rebels wherever they went and destroy them. He engaged the Confederates repeatedly, fighting a war of attrition (The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg) with Lee until the end of the war.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/15/2016 11:15:47 AM
Grossly simplified but effective assessment : Grant defeated Lee....does this mean he was the better general ?

Monty defeated Rommel. How comfortable should we feel we the deduction that Monty was, therefore, the better general ?

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5947
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/15/2016 11:26:51 AM
Quote Phil

"Monty defeated Rommel. How comfortable should we feel we the deduction that Monty was, therefore, the better general ?"

Quite comfortable old pal-Monty beat Rommel once; and we all know that one swallow never made a summer.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

littlepowell
SC, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant


Posts: 389
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 7/19/2016 7:30:56 AM
As far as Division command, there are so many to choose from. However I have to go with my guy, AP Hill. In his prime, he was Jackson's right-hand man, and played crucial roles in Cedar Mountain, 2nd Bull Run, and of course Antietam. His division arrived just in time to prevent the collapse of the Confederate army.

Hill was a confederate warrior, who truly loved his profession. He possessed what a fellow soldier called "an unquenchable thirst for battle."
---------------
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/ - Historical tactical combat games for PC.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5947
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/4/2016 11:20:55 AM
Tallying the number of dead and wounded for each side, he concludes that forces serving under Grant suffered acceptable battlefield losses in comparison to the Confederates.

For example, 15 percent of Grant's soldiers were killed and wounded, while Lee lost 20.2 percent of his men.

Grant's forces also imposed 190,760 total casualties on the Confederates yet suffered losses totaling 153,642 men.


[Read More]

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/4/2016 1:46:47 PM
There's a MASSIVE mistake in that article, Jim.

The writer alludes to these casualties being dead and wounded .

This is not the case.

Those figures include prisoners and the paroled, which added scores of thousands to the Confederate total.

If we assess the business in terms of actual bloodshed, a very different picture emerges.

In the Overland Campaign, in the forty days of the most intense fighting between the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, the actual loss of life was five to two in the South's favour.

That said, I do endorse the view that Grant was a truly great commander.

Editing here : the figures cited for Union killed at Cold Harbor - be they 1,844 or 1,769 - allude only to the confirmed killed, and do not take into account the tragically large numbers of Yankees who were posted as missing but who, in reality, had either been killed or were left dying between the lines.

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5947
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/4/2016 2:02:14 PM
Yes Phil- but surely Casualties- and that is the term used-and this figure includes all who have been "taken out of combat" Dead,Wounded and POW's- not just "Dead and Wounded" which is quoted at 15% and 20%. To which figures do you allude to as being grossly overstated please---Casualties or Dead and Wounded ???

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/4/2016 6:39:25 PM
Allow me a moment, please, Jim.

I've been on parade cooking for a big family and friends get together, and I've sunk a few glasses of vino rosso.

I must look at this again and report back.

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: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/5/2016 2:33:51 AM
Jim,

Among the 190,000 + casualties that Grant is supposed to have inflicted would be huge numbers of men paroled at Vicksburg - that alone would account for approaching one fifth of the total.

Maybe the figure includes the men who were surrendered at Appomattox, too, and at Fort Donelson.

Perhaps I've been far too hasty in my condemnation.

I might even buy the work and look at it more closely.

Lee fielded forces that were much smaller than those of Grant, so it's hardly surprising that the percentage of loss sustained under his command was higher.

When Lee and Grant fought each other, the exchange rate in killed and wounded was dramatically in Lee's favour.

People associate Grant with Cold Harbor, which was especially notorious. It was not so much the number of casualties sustained there, as the outrageous concentration of slaughter in a short time on 3 June ; also, the dismal failure to grant a truce to recover the wounded that condemned so many to death in between the lines. On a smaller scale, this had happened at Vicksburg on 22 May 1863, too.

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5947
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/5/2016 3:43:26 AM
Phil-Looking at the quote I gave again-there is a tinge of "smoke and mirrors"-15% of Grant's forces would be fairly close to 20% of Lee's forces-so the K and W would be about the same-so Grant's total toll could probably include the parolees. More scrutiny required perchance.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/5/2016 7:11:24 AM
Smoke and mirrors .....yes, you're spot on there, Jim.

This guy Bonekemper borrowed his figures from Fuller, who in turn borrowed them from Livermore....there is a real historiographical element in the way casualty figures have been deployed in order to sustain or refute an argument.

" Boney" Fuller was a maverick ...he rather liked to stir things up and adopted a kind of " messianic" approach when he wrote his history. He was the principal advocate of the view that Grant outclassed Lee, and emphasised that Grant was the more modern and adaptable of the two.

I am very circumspect about his assessment.....I recoil from a lot of what he says, and how he says it , but I have to admit that he makes some compelling suggestions.

He uses statistics compiled by Livermore, who was a proponent of the view that the Northern armies did not enjoy the numerical superiority that they are sometimes credited with, and that there was a greater degree of skill and fighting prowess among their generals and their soldiers than the Southern " Lost Causers" would have us believe. With this agenda, he ( Livermore ) presents casualty statistics that are intended to promote his argument.

Being the number crunching nerd that I am when it comes to casualty statistics, I get agitated when I see these very questionable estimates being wheeled out by commentators , who cite them as Gospel and do not investigate their provenance.

I think that Lee did sustain casualty rates that were sometimes excessive...OTOH, he attained great results, won the love and respect of his soldiers, and kept the Confederacy alive.

Both Lee and Grant have been criticised for fighting too much. Others - Joe Johnston and McClellan, for example - have been criticised for fighting too little.

I can't spare this man, he fights said Lincoln of Grant.

We can't afford this man, he fights so much ...could this be said of Lee ?

Some historians - McWhinney, for example - would agree. I do not.

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

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/5/2016 7:43:59 AM
Steve,

I just watched a presentation on C-Span History, & I got the same feedback they (CW Historians involved in the presentation)said Lee led 1 army in the CW and he lost, while Grant led 5 different Union Armies and won with all 5 armies he led! They also confirmed that he had a much lower percentage of killed & wounded!?

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

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/5/2016 7:45:21 AM

Quote:
A bunch of years ago, back when North and South was still a pretty good read (IMO), North and South had back to back articles on who was the worst and who was the best CW generals. Six CW historians (whose names would be familiar to all of us) voted on the best and on the worst.

I found it interesting that all six historians (that voted in the poll) ranked Grant above Lee.

s.c.
--Steve Clements




Above reply by myself is in response to this quote by Steve!
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/5/2016 8:25:36 AM

Quote:
Steve,

I just watched a presentation on C-Span History, & I got the same feedback they (CW Historians involved in the presentation)said Lee led 1 army in the CW and he lost, while Grant led 5 different Union Armies and won with all 5 armies he led! They also confirmed that he had a much lower percentage of killed & wounded!?

MD
--Michigan Dave


But when Grant and Lee fought against each other, how did these percentages compare ?

I think that if we investigated the most authoritative sources for the casualties in the Virginia battles of May and June 1864, we would discover that Grant suffered much bloodier losses, not only in terms of absolute numbers, but in proportionate terms as well.

OTOH, I must acknowledge that Grant succeeded in taking large numbers of prisoners...who were not going to be parolled or exchanged this time. That certainly evened things up a bit.

Editing : I've just done the excercise I suggested. If we allow for reinforcements that joined the armies in the Overland Campaign, May and June 1864, then it's apparent that 30% of Grant's entire force was killed or wounded, compared with 23.5% of Lee's.

Editing again : If you factor in the loss of prisoners - and this certainly hit Lee hard - then the overall casualty rates for the two sides in this campaign are very similar - about 35% for both.

McClellan on the Peninsula and in the Maryland Campaign , Hooker at Chancellorsville and Meade at Gettysburg all inflicted significantly heavier proportionate losses on Lee than they themselves suffered.....so, as an attritionist- in terms of casualties - Grant's performance against Lee was not up to the standard of most of his predecessors.

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

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 404

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/6/2016 2:41:31 PM
Hi Phil,


Quote:
Editing : I've just done the excercise I suggested. If we allow for reinforcements that joined the armies in the Overland Campaign, May and June 1864, then it's apparent that 30% of Grant's entire force was killed or wounded, compared with 23.5% of Lee's.


Allowing for reinforcements, IMO, understates (percentage wise) the losses inflicted upon the II, V, VI and IX corps. Without doing any homework, I think that it is a safe bet that these four corps suffered 'around' 50% casualties (of the men that crossed the Rapidan), by the time that the AoP crossed the James.

There is a long list of reasons as to "why" the initial attacks against Beauregard's small force (initial attacks on Petersburg - before Lee was able to move south) were unsuccessful ("Baldy" Smith's performance would be at the top of the list...). However, the fact that many to most of the AoP units were effectively gutted by the Overland campaign should not be ignored. Grant's (Meade's) tactics at The Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Court House and at Cold Harbor were unimaginative and highly costly. IMO, the striking power of the AoP had been bled from it by the time that Grant crossed the James.

By late summer/early fall, it was clear that Overland (and the fighting south of Petersburg) had done little towards bringing the war to a close, despite simply horrible casualty lists. Without the fall of Atlanta, would Lincoln have been re-elected?

s.c.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1923

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/6/2016 7:34:14 PM
I would disagree that Grant was an "attritionist ". He constantly tried to manoeuvre Lee into open ground where his superiority could be brought to bear. Lee never gave him the opportunity.

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
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Posts: 461

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/6/2016 9:26:27 PM
Trevor,

But when beaten to the spot by Lee, Grant attacked anyway basically each and every time. Sherman on the other hand when beaten to the spot by Johnston slipped around the flank again without attacking all but twice and one of them was only a recon in force.
---------------
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: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/7/2016 1:55:43 AM

Quote:
I would disagree that Grant was an "attritionist ". He constantly tried to manoeuvre Lee into open ground where his superiority could be brought to bear. Lee never gave him the opportunity.

Trevor
--scoucer


Agreed.

There are too many historians, though, who persistently state that the arithmetic of the fighting worked in the North's favour on account of superior manpower ; by so doing they at least imply, and sometimes explicitly argue, that Grant was succeeding in attritional terms.

I very much hope that I have made a convincing case in refuting this in so far as the May June fighting is concerned.

There is, however, the fact that Grant was able to pin Lee down at Petersburg, and in so doing he did inaugurate an attritional process that became effective in the end. It should not be forgotten, though, that even in those circumstances, Lee was able to dispatch Early on a foray to threaten Washington : hardly evidence of the AoNV being so constrained as to be unable to take the initiative.

Grant must be given credit for his sudden move to cross the James River...he literally stole a march on Lee and exhibited his generalship at its best here.

Without Sherman's success at Atlanta, the reckoning was going to be very grim in the overall assessment of Grant's Virginia campaign.

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

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 404

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/8/2016 10:57:44 AM

Quote:
But when beaten to the spot by Lee, Grant attacked anyway basically each and every time.


Agree completely.

In addition, the attacks were often poorly planned, with minimal reconnaissance having been made...and the attacking Union officers having limited to no understanding of what they were attacking, and even sometimes "where" the Confederate lines were.

Units were often ordered to march through the night, and expected to show up at a certain (unrealistic) time...and then to attack dug in Confederates, of unknown strength.

At Spotsylvania, just before the attack on the "Angle", one of the Union division commanders, that had marched his division thru the night (name escapes me, might have been Barlow), asked that they at least be pointed in the correct direction, or else his command would have to march right around the entire world, and take the Confederates in the rear.

s.c.

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 404

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/8/2016 11:02:01 AM

Quote:
There are too many historians, though, who persistently state that the arithmetic of the fighting worked in the North's favour on account of superior manpower ; by so doing they at least imply, and sometimes explicitly argue, that Grant was succeeding in attritional terms.


Phil,

I do agree that this is NOT what Grant wanted to do....but I might also argue that this (battle of attrition) is exactly what Grant did end up doing....and that he succeeded in extending the war because of it. And that the war was really won in the west, and not by the AoP and Grant/Meade.

s.c.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5947
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/8/2016 11:41:47 AM
I tend to agree about the war being won in the west S C-the loss of the Confederate coastline certainly presaged the end- because it cut it off from the outside world and was therefore no longer independent as claimed.The Union army could land troops at will wherever it chose.This progressive isolation came with the capture of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers- following the capture of Forts Henry and Donaldson-which led to the capture of most of the Mississippi.Isolation was then even more pronounced.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Posts: 461

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/8/2016 5:27:38 PM
Phil & Steve,


There are too many historians, though, who persistently state that the arithmetic of the fighting worked in the North's favour on account of superior manpower ; by so doing they at least imply, and sometimes explicitly argue, that Grant was succeeding in attritional terms.


Phil,

I do agree that this is NOT what Grant wanted to do....but I might also argue that this (battle of attrition) is exactly what Grant did end up doing....and that he succeeded in extending the war because of it. And that the war was really won in the west, and not by the AoP and Grant/Meade.

s.c.


If Grant didn't plan attrition as at least a fallback plan then why does he stop the POW exchange before Overland starts and refuses to restart it even after he knows about the conditions in Libby and Andersonville and knows the situation is only going to get worse because the Confederacy can't even feed itself?

Agreed that the war was won in the West but Grant came real close to loseing in in the East not militarily but politically in coming damm close to breaking the political will of the North with the long casualty lists of Overland with Richmond seemingly no closer than when the spring began and the ANVA still unconquered.
---------------
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: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/9/2016 12:04:32 PM
Grant made some oft cited quote to the effect of ".. hit the enemy and keep moving on..".

If generalship amounts to striking the right balance between manoeuvre and slaughter, then Grant's Overland Campaign saw a preponderance of slaughter and a tendency to having manoeuvre thwarted.

Crossing the James stands as the notable exception.

In this preponderance of slaughter, the advantage lay heavily with Lee....so much so that I am very uncomfortable with the notion that Grant demonstrated superior generalship.

To attribute this to simple clumsiness on Grant's part is, IMHO, to downplay the qualities that Lee and his soldiers plied in the most resolute and skilful defensive actions.

This often entailed aggressive initiatives ; in much of the combat, the Confederates attacked and displayed reflexive skills that, in themselves, were testimony to a very high order of leadership in the AoNV.

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

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 548

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/9/2016 1:15:47 PM
The strategy was Grant’s
The tactics were primarily Meade’s.

In the theater it was Grant vs Lee.
On the battlefield it was Meade vs Lee.
---------------
VR, Rick Schaus

"When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly large circles around your own desk."
-- Gen. Bruce Clarke

Scott Brown
MA, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Posts: 162

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/9/2016 7:51:54 PM
That's it in a nutshell, Rick.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Posts: 461

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/9/2016 9:50:29 PM
Rick,

Up to a point I agree but how many times did Grant's strategy allow for much if any tactical discretion by Meade? Didn't many of Grant's strategic decisions dictate the tactics to be used? Plus with Burnside's and Baldy Smith's Corps reporting directly to Grant for at least part of the campaign Meade really didn't have all the battlefield control.
---------------
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"


Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class
Moderator
Posts: 404

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/10/2016 9:06:49 AM

Quote:
The strategy was Grant’s
The tactics were primarily Meade’s.

In the theater it was Grant vs Lee.
On the battlefield it was Meade vs Lee.

--Rick Schaus


Don't agree. Wilderness. First day...it is Grant that insists that the V corps attack Ewell's corps...meantime, the brigade and divisional commanders at the point of contact realize that if they attack...they will have their flanks in the air. It is Grant that refuses to believe that Ewell's whole corps can be up...and insists that Meade direct the V corps to attack.

Two huge mistakes in the Wilderness....not sure whose fault,,,,one, two of three cavalry divisions are way to the east, chasing phantoms and not clearing the Orange plank and the Orange turnpike roads. Two, the AoP should never have halted in the Wilderness....should have pushed right through on the 4th....that was the plan...unclear to me who changed it...

Day two. It is Grant's plan to make the Hancock attack...and to bring up the IX corps on hancock's right flank. Grant simply ignores Burnsides track record for being slow....and ignores the clogged roads that the IX corps would have to travel on to get to where they need to be etc.

Spotsylvannia. All of the major assaults are Grant's "idea". Not just the Angle attack. Most of the various attacks have little to no chance of success...because Grant has separated himself from reality IMO, in terms of where the various ANV units are, how well dug in they are, and the practical likelihood of coordinating the various Federal units.

S.c.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/10/2016 10:51:00 AM
Those Yankee attacks at Spotsylvania bring Emory Upton to mind.

Did he really introduce something new into tactics when he cracked the rebel Mule - Shoe on 10 May ; or did he just utilise prevailing tactics in a more effective manner ?

I mention this man for two reasons.

1. He actually demonstrated what could be achieved by deploying troops in a manner that allowed speed and mass to prevail in the face of entrenched firepower ...despite - or maybe because of - his insistence that his men must not trade fire in the process.

2. He made comments which indicated his frustration with the current method of command , implying that there was systemic ineptitude in the conduct of attacks.

Was he thinking " outside the box" ? Do we have here an example of a maverick who exhibited fighting skills redolent of those of Cleburne or Forrest ?

If so, we might have one of the greatest battlefield commanders of the war,even if he only flirted briefly with the rank of General.

I'm minded to suggest that the Yankee attack that carried the Confederate defences at the Stone Wall at the base of Marye's Heights on 3 May 1863 demonstrated similar methods to those of Upton's spectacular achievement one year and one week later : perhaps the novelty of his approach has been overrated.

Even so, didn't Grant enthuse to the extent of saying A division today, a Corps tomorrow , thereby indicating that he was wielding - or at least influencing - tactical control in his campaign ?

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

 Civil War Commanders and Units    
Page 1 of 3 (Page: 1  2  3 )
 Forum Ads from Google