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 Civil War Commanders and Units
AuthorMessage
littlepowell
, SC, USA
Posts: 398
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 2862
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
Posts: 398
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 398
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
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
Posts: 1944
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
Posts: 2862
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
Posts: 2862
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
Posts: 413
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
Posts: 398
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
Posts: 6041
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 6041
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
Posts: 398
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
Posts: 6041
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 6041
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 6041
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 2862
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
Posts: 2862
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 413
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
Posts: 1944
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
Posts: 527
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
Posts: 2537
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
Posts: 413
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
Posts: 413
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
Posts: 6041
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
Posts: 527
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
Posts: 2537
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
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
Posts: 165
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
Posts: 527
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
Posts: 413
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
Posts: 2537
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

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/10/2016 5:27:44 PM
Steve,

The decision to attack, retreat, disengage and try a different route, are the strategic and the tactical is the how it is done. So on that level I agree with what Rick is saying but what I'm saying is the strategic decisions made didn't give Meade much if any choice on the tactics.

The entire AOP couldn't have cleared the Wilderness on the 4th and if it had tried it would have been strung out so bad that when Ewell came up and attacked he would have sliced through like a hot knife through butter and most of the AOP wouldn't have been within supporting distance. He would have taken out at least 1 Corps gotten into the wagon train and Hill coming up would have hit the lead Corps in their flank and rear as they turned to go after Ewell.
---------------
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"


scoucer
Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1944
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/10/2016 7:19:33 PM

Quote:
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.
--John R. Price


Agreed John. The difference I see is space. Sherman had the space to manouvre. Grant didn´t in N.Virginia. Different geography.
With Grant, I´m reminded of WW1 western Front generals. There´s a sort of "They´re finished, they must be, don´t let them rest, just one more push !"

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.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1944
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/10/2016 7:28:30 PM
Phil,

I think Emory Upton is one of the most under rated soldiers in the US Army. Repeatidly he would be wounded after completing his mission and therefore lose his command.

His real contrabution would be post-war as Commandant of Cadets at West Point after travelling the world as military observer. Upton would be to the Army what Mahan was for the Navy.

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.

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 8:26:48 AM
John,

Don't agree. The three AoP corps stopped and set up camp around noon of the first day. There was time... The AoP stopped, because there Apparently was concerns about protecting the trains. Certainly, the original plan drawn up by Humphreys had the AoP clearing the Wilderness in one day's march.

Which gets us back to why Wilson did not properly protect the Orange Turnpike. And why two other divisions of cavalry were sent on a wild goose chase.

And yes, you and I have discussed what I view as Wilson's failings.

Steve

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
Posts: 548
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 10:37:31 AM
Meade made the following comment in a13 April 1864 letter to his wife:
”Grant has not given an order, or in the slightest degree interfered with the administration of this army since he arrived, and I doubt if he knows much more about it now than he did before coming here.”

Grant had the US Army to run.
He could not afford to micromanage Meade’s AoP down to the tactical level.
I’m sure that at times he was involved at a more tactical level; however that was the exception and not the rule.
Meade must have had an amount of discretion.

Grant would not have recommended Meade for promotion to MG RA if all he was doing was passing on Grant’s tactical orders to his subordinates.

Quote:
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.
Humphreys wrote the plans for the Wilderness Campaign.


On 4 May:
”At a quarter past seven General Meade, while on his way to General Warren's headquarters near the Old Wilderness tavern, received a despatch from that officer informing him that the enemy's infantry was on the pike in some force about two miles from the Wilderness tavern. A few minutes later General Meade was with General Warren, and at once directed him to halt his column and attack the enemy with his whole force.”

And:
”General Grant had been at once informed by General Meade of what was transpiring and soon joined him. After brief conference the two rode forward a short distance, and took position on a knoll in the open ground around Wilderness tavern and the Lacy farm, and on this knoll General Grant and General Meade remained during the battle, with only an occasional brief absence to the nearest troops.”
(Humphreys, The Virginia Campaign of ’64 ‘65)

Quote:
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...

The orders for Sheridan with two divisions to move against Stuart came from Meade on 4 May.
According to Rhea, “headquarters” (Meade) made the decision to halt the army in the Wilderness on 4 May.

The halt in the Wilderness was due to the expected slow pace of the army’s trains.
Humphreys commented that the decision to remain in the Wilderness on 4 May was justified.
” It was not practicable, however, to get over all the great trains on the 4th, nor was it expected, as the order of movement shows.”

Walker consider that a mistake.
”The writer of this narrative has never been able to regard this early halt on the 4th of May otherwise than as the first misfortune of the campaign:”
(Walker, History of the 2nd A C)

Quote:
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.
--Steve Clements

Humphreys gave no indication that Hancock's attack was directed by Grant.
---------------
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

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
Posts: 548
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 10:42:38 AM

Quote:
John,
Don't agree. The three AoP corps stopped and set up camp around noon of the first day. There was time... The AoP stopped, because there Apparently was concerns about protecting the trains. Certainly, the original plan drawn up by Humphreys had the AoP clearing the Wilderness in one day's march.

Which gets us back to why Wilson did not properly protect the Orange Turnpike. And why two other divisions of cavalry were sent on a wild goose chase.
And yes, you and I have discussed what I view as Wilson's failings.
Steve
--Steve Clements

According to Humphreys:
"It was not practicable, however, to get over all the great trains on the 4th, nor was it expected, as the order of movement shows. In fact it was two o'clock in the afternoon of the 5th of May before they had ceased crossing at Ely's Ford, when the wooden bridge there was taken up and moved to Chancellorville; and it was five o'clock in the afternoon of the 5th of May before they had ceased crossing at Culpeper Mine Ford, when the bridge there was taken up and the pontoon train moved one and a half miles from the river. It was in consideration of the fact that it was not practicable in this region to move the great trains along the protected flank of the army simultaneously with the troops, that led to fixing the halting-places of the heads of the infantry columns at Chancellorville and Wilderness tavern, points which they reached early in the day. The troops might have easily continued their march five miles further, the Second Corps to Todd's tavern, the head of the Fifth Corps to Parker's store, and the head of the Sixth Corps to Wilderness tavern; but even that would have left the right too open during the forenoon of the 5th, and it was more judicious to let the troops remain for the night where they had halted, as it made the passage of the trains secure, and the troops would be fresher when meeting the enemy next day, of which there was much probability."
---------------
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

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 4:07:27 PM

Quote:
Immediate subordinate might be Jackson, or Hancock - Michigan Dave, 7-8, 10:55

Sorry to be late to the party!

Actually, Longstreet was Lee’s second in command, and arguably the best corps commander on either side over the course of the war.

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 4:14:00 PM

Quote:
Grossly simplified but effective assessment : Grant defeated Lee....does this mean he was the better general ? – Phil Andrade, 7-15, 11:15 a.m.

I would argue that the formula is wrong: the Army of the Potomac, not Grant, defeated the Army of Northern Virginia, not Lee. Choosing between Lee and Grant is like choosing “the best” flavor of ice cream. Perhaps Grant gets the nod from historians [as per Steve Clements’ post] not so much because his side won as because he was fighting on the side of history.

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 4:25:02 PM

Quote:
When Lee and Grant fought each other, the exchange rate in killed and wounded was dramatically in Lee's favour. – Phil Andrade, 8-5, 2:33 a.m.

But the entire time Grant and Lee confronted each other, Grant Was attacking, so of course his army would absorb higher casualties. I do not think the respective number of casualties is a good metric for comparing the generalship of these two excellent generals.

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 4:32:55 PM

Quote:
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. - John R. Price, 8-6, 9:26 p.m.

Grant's assignment from Lincoln was to defeat Lee's army. He could only do that by engaging Lee's army in battle.

Sherman's assignment originally was to defeat the Army of Tennessee. He seems to have shifted his objective to capturing Atlanta. Perhaps he was recalling that the Grand Strategy of the Union from the beginning of the war had called for an advance upon Atlanta once Chattanooga was captured. Be that as it may, Grant never lost his focus upon defeating Lee's army.

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 4:41:24 PM

Quote:
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. - Phil Andrade, 8-5, 8:25 a.m.

If you follow that argument to its logical conclusion, does that mean that McClellan, Hooker and Meade were all better generals than Grant? I think few people would make that argument, supporting my position that casualty rates are not a good metric.

During the Battles of the Seven Days, Lee was constantly attacking. Generally speaking, the attacking force will incur more casualties than the defending force. At Chancellorsville, Lee was again the attacker. The Battle of Gettysburg is, in many respects, sui generis, but again, as a general proposition Lee was attacking and Meade was defending.

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 4:53:20 PM

Quote:
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. - Steve Clements, 8-6, 2:41 p.m.

I would agree about Cold Harbor, and so would Grant. Otherwise, I disagree. Recall that the Union army in the Wilderness was operating just about at its logistical limits. It was a big gamble to start an offensive there. Hooker took the gamble, opened his campaign brilliantly, then became curiously passive. Grant took the same bold chance, opened his campaign with a very effective offensive movement, and stayed aggressive, even after absorbing the best blow Lee's army could deliver. Unlike all AOP commanders before him, Grant kept moving forward, trying to find a way to attack and destroy his enemy. That is the story of the campaign. Lee's army brilliantly parried each slashing Union attack, but rather than stop and give the enemy pause to regroup, Grant kept his army attacking. I do not believe any other general on either side could have done that.

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2537
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 5:11:40 PM

Quote:

Quote:
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. - Phil Andrade, 8-5, 8:25 a.m.

If you follow that argument to its logical conclusion, does that mean that McClellan, Hooker and Meade were all better generals than Grant?
--Charlie Richards


You appear to have missed my point....let me state this with diffidence : a retort like that in an online discussion can seem adversarial or harsh, and this is not meant in that way.

What I've been driving at here is the historiography which is replete with accounts suggesting that the arithmetic of the campaign was working in Gant's favour.

This notion I am determined to refute.

But I would not, in a month of Sundays, use that criterion to argue that McClellan and Hooker were better generals than Grant.

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

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 5:18:28 PM

Quote:
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. – Steve Clements, 8-6. 2:41 p.m.


Quote:
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. – Steve Clements, 8-8, 11:02


Quote:
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. – John R. Price, 8-8, 5:27 p.m.


Quote:
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. – Phil Andrade, 8-9, 12:04 p.m.

I’m not arguing against the proposition that the war was won in the West. But Grant certainly did not prolong the war.

The North was suffering from war weariness long before Grant began the Overland Campaign, to such an extent that Lincoln believed he would not win re-election. He feared that a Democrat would win the 1864 election, offer peace to the Confederacy, and the war to save the Union would be lost. To that end, he brought Grant east, and gave him the mission of destroying the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia so that the war could be won before Lincoln left office. Lincoln felt a great sense of urgency about pushing the fight. Grant agreed with Lincoln, and did everything within his power to defeat Lee’s army. Grant kept attacking not because he believed in attrition for attrition’s sake, but because he was indomitable in spirit, because he could only hope to gain victory by defeating Lee’s army in battle, and because he knew that was what Lincoln wanted him to do.

BY the time the armies went into trenches in front of Petersburg, Grant’s army was exhausted, true enough. But so was Lee’s army. Perhaps more significantly, Lee and his army had become convinced that they could not win the war on the battlefield, whereas Grant’s army, despite the horrendous losses it had suffered, still believed in Grant’s leadership, and still expected to win the war.

Consider the alternative: how would it have hastened the end of the war if Grant had emulated all his predecessors, had pulled back after the Wilderness, and had allowed Lee and his army respite? My conclusion: that would certainly have prolonged the war, and quite possibly would have lost it for the Union.

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 5:25:24 PM

Quote:
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?

The exchange of prisoners was stopped when the Confederacy would not offer assurances that captured Union Negro troops would be protected and treated as prisoners of war. They were willing to exchange white captives, but insisted that captured Negro troops, at best, would be returned to slavery in the South. And the Confederacy made no exception for captured Union Negro Troops who had not been slaves before joining Union armies.

I think it would have been pretty shameful for Union armies to have agreed to that sort of arrangement.

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 5:59:49 PM

Quote:
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. - Steve Clements, 8-8. 10:57 a.m.

I query how much of the blame for the anecdotal dysfunction you describe should properly rest with Grant. Grant had to fight with the army he was given, and that sort of dysfunction had plagued the Army of the Potomac throughout the war.

Out west, Grant had molded and shaped the Union Army of the Tennessee into what I believe to have been the most capable, most resourceful, and most lethal army on either side. All armies experience SNAFU's. The best armies find ways to get around the SNAFU's and win battles. The Army of the Tennessee excelled in solving problems quickly, in overcoming whatever obstacles were in its path, and in carrying out the orders of its commander. The fighting men in the Army of the Potomac were as good as any. But the AOP as an organization was not exactly a well-oiled machine. I don't see that as being Grant's fault.

charlie richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 6:38:25 PM

Quote:
a retort like that in an online discussion can seem adversarial or harsh, and this is not meant in that way.-Phil Andrade, 8-11, 5:11 p.m.

I certainly did not intend that, Phil, nor did I interpret your post that way. It would not be an interesting topic if we did not have different perspectives.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 10:57:38 PM
Steve,

OK the three AOP Corps are out of the Wilderness so JEB goes after the wagons and Ewell and Hill slice in behing the three AOP Corps out of the Wilderness who only have the ammo and food the troops have in their packs and ammo box because they are cut off from base and a whole hell of a lot of their reserves have just gone up in smoke. Burnside might save the day but he's still on the other side of the river not in supporting distance of the trains and I think JEB can delay him until Longstreet comes up because well he's Burnside.
---------------
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
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 11:10:54 PM
Charlie,

But Lee's assignment was defending Richmond and each move around Lee's flank bring the AOP closer to Richmond which make it more likely that Lee will be forced to attack you on ground of your choosing where you can bring all your arty to bear.

Sherman got Hood to attack his dug in troops three different time which defeated the AOT and lead to the fall of Atlanta because the assignment of Johnson and then Hood was to defend Atlanta.

Its the concept that both Grant and Sherman knew what their foes assignment was but Sherman used that knowledge better. I mean it wasn't a secret that ANVA would fight to hold Richmond and the AOT Atlanta.

Was Atlanta really that important from the very beginning of the war? Yes it was a railroad hub but didn't it grow exponentially during the war and become a lot more important by say 63 than it was in 61?
---------------
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
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2016 11:19:44 PM
Charlie.

But as I pointed out pulling back and starting again wasn't the only other option. He could have gone around the flank without attacking all the time as Sherman did because basically there wasn't any one point that couldn't be flanked and Lee has got to fight to protect Richmond.
---------------
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
Posts: 2537
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/12/2016 7:50:25 AM

Quote:

Quote:
a retort like that in an online discussion can seem adversarial or harsh, and this is not meant in that way.-Phil Andrade, 8-11, 5:11 p.m.

I certainly did not intend that, Phil, nor did I interpret your post that way. It would not be an interesting topic if we did not have different perspectives.
--charlie richards


It was my you miss my point that worried me, Charlie.

It's the number of times I've seen that default assessment that attributes greater attritional damage to Lee's forces...almost a kind of throw away line that appears in too many summaries of the Overland Campaign. You know, that consistent refrain ... Grant could better afford these losses than Lee ....it's a cliche that is in serious need of revision, IMHO.

The bloodshed hit the Union army harder, in relative as well as absolute terms ; more than that, I suspect that there was a greater qualitative decline in the blue ranks by the time the two armies had reached impasse.

I know that I must not calibrate my perception of the pros and cons of Grant's fight against Lee solely on the casualty exchange....after all, Lee himself dreaded the outcome based on " mere ciphering "....then it was going to be " a question of time ."

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
Posts: 1944
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/12/2016 8:43:30 PM
If I remember rightly, Grant didn´t want to invade Virginia but wanted to land in N. Carolina and come up from the South. But Lincoln disagreed.

Or am I getting senile ?

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
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/12/2016 11:50:22 PM
Charlie,

Can you show examples of captured USCT being returned to slavery? Can you show examples of them not being treated as POW's? Andersonville was color blind and the percentage of white deaths was a hell of a lot higher.
---------------
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"


Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
Posts: 548
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 10:29:04 AM

Quote:
If I remember rightly, Grant didn´t want to invade Virginia but wanted to land in N. Carolina and come up from the South. But Lincoln disagreed.
Or am I getting senile ?
Trevor
--scoucer

Trevor,

I haven’t found anything in Grant’s memoirs which made reference to any movement of the AoP by way of NC.
”In my first interview with Mr. Lincoln alone he stated to me that he had never professed to be a military man or to know how campaigns should be conducted, and never wanted to interfere in them: but that procrastination on the part of commanders, and the pressure from the people at the North and Congress, which was always with him, forced him into issuing his series of "Military Orders"—one, two, three, etc. He did not know but they were all wrong, and did know that some of them were. All he wanted or had ever wanted was some one who would take the responsibility and act, and call on him for all the assistance needed, pledging himself to use all the power of the government in rendering such assistance. Assuring him that I would do the best I could with the means at hand, and avoid as far as possible annoying him or the War Department, our first interview ended.”

And:
”On this same visit to Washington I had my last interview with the President before reaching the James River. He had of course become acquainted with the fact that a general movement had been ordered all along the line, and seemed to think it a new feature in war. I explained to him that it was necessary to have a great number of troops to guard and hold the territory we had captured, and to prevent incursions into the Northern States. These troops could perform this service just as well by advancing as by remaining still; and by advancing they would compel the enemy to keep detachments to hold them back, or else lay his own territory open to invasion. His answer was: "Oh, yes! I see that. As we say out West, if a man can't skin he must hold a leg while somebody else does."”


And:
”The criticism has been made by writers on the campaign from the Rapidan to the James River that all the loss of life could have been obviated by moving the army there on transports. Richmond was fortified and intrenched so perfectly that one man inside to defend was more than equal to five outside besieging or assaulting. To get possession of Lee's army was the first great object. With the capture of his army Richmond would necessarily follow. It was better to fight him outside of his stronghold than in it. If the Army of the Potomac had been moved bodily to the James River by water Lee could have moved a part of his forces back to Richmond, called Beauregard from the south to reinforce it, and with the balance moved on to Washington. Then, too, I ordered a move, simultaneous with that of the Army of the Potomac, up the James River by a formidable army already collected at the mouth of the river.”
(Grant, Personal Memoirs Vol. 2)


This may be what you recall:
”As a reinforcement to the Army of the Potomac, or to act in support of it, the 9th army corps, over twenty thousand strong, under General Burnside, had been rendezvoused at Annapolis, Maryland. This was an admirable position for such a reinforcement. The corps could be brought at the last moment as a reinforcement to the Army of the Potomac, or it could be thrown on the sea-coast, south of Norfolk, in Virginia or North Carolina, to operate against Richmond from that direction. In fact Burnside and the War Department both thought the 9th corps was intended for such an expedition up to the last moment.”
(Grant, Personal Memoirs Vol. 2)

---------------
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

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 11:27:16 AM

Quote:

Quote:
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. - Steve Clements, 8-8. 10:57 a.m.

I query how much of the blame for the anecdotal dysfunction you describe should properly rest with Grant. Grant had to fight with the army he was given, and that sort of dysfunction had plagued the Army of the Potomac throughout the war.

Out west, Grant had molded and shaped the Union Army of the Tennessee into what I believe to have been the most capable, most resourceful, and most lethal army on either side. All armies experience SNAFU's. The best armies find ways to get around the SNAFU's and win battles. The Army of the Tennessee excelled in solving problems quickly, in overcoming whatever obstacles were in its path, and in carrying out the orders of its commander. The fighting men in the Army of the Potomac were as good as any. But the AOP as an organization was not exactly a well-oiled machine. I don't see that as being Grant's fault.

--Charlie Richards


In booneyville, with limited internet access...but here goes.

IMO, much of dysfunction occurs - largely - because Grant's choice of tactics at spotsylvania are not realistic. Post the Wilderness, most of Grant's assaults involved moving divisions or corps from point a to point b, often at night, and often assuming a pace that was unrealistic, IMO.

Fighting out west, GRant had "learned", thru experience, that simply being aggressive was typically sufficient to ensure victory. That it was much more important to move quickly, rather than to wait until all your ducks were in a row. These lessons (IMO) backfired on Grant, when he came east, and had to face the first team. Simply being aggressive, without properly scouting what was to be attacked, didn't work so well in the east.

I do agree that there may well have been something wrong with the AoP at its core....someone was always late, someone always took the wrong turn etc. And yes, Grant had to work with what he was given...but IMO, on numerous occasions, Grant simply expected too much...his plans might have looked simple enough on paper, but he (again, IMO) simply chose to ignore the probability of slippage.

I Am also somewhat suspicious that Grant had difficulty going from managing a 50k or 60 k force, with corps commanders he understood etc., to a 110k army.

Steve

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 11:31:57 AM

Quote:
Steve,

OK the three AOP Corps are out of the Wilderness so JEB goes after the wagons and Ewell and Hill slice in behing the three AOP Corps out of the Wilderness who only have the ammo and food the troops have in their packs and ammo box because they are cut off from base and a whole hell of a lot of their reserves have just gone up in smoke. Burnside might save the day but he's still on the other side of the river not in supporting distance of the trains and I think JEB can delay him until Longstreet comes up because well he's Burnside.
--John R. Price



Two things...

One, as you pointed out, burnside and his 9th corps were in position to cross the river....and two, the original plan was to clear the Wilderness in one day...not sure who or. What was meant to guard the trains....the 9th corps? The cavalry? But somehow, the original plan got thrown out the window, for no IMO particularly good reason.

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 11:48:24 AM

Quote:

Quote:
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. – Steve Clements, 8-6. 2:41 p.m.


Quote:
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. – Steve Clements, 8-8, 11:02


Quote:
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. – John R. Price, 8-8, 5:27 p.m.


Quote:
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. – Phil Andrade, 8-9, 12:04 p.m.

I’m not arguing against the proposition that the war was won in the West. But Grant certainly did not prolong the war.

The North was suffering from war weariness long before Grant began the Overland Campaign, to such an extent that Lincoln believed he would not win re-election. He feared that a Democrat would win the 1864 election, offer peace to the Confederacy, and the war to save the Union would be lost. To that end, he brought Grant east, and gave him the mission of destroying the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia so that the war could be won before Lincoln left office. Lincoln felt a great sense of urgency about pushing the fight. Grant agreed with Lincoln, and did everything within his power to defeat Lee’s army. Grant kept attacking not because he believed in attrition for attrition’s sake, but because he was indomitable in spirit, because he could only hope to gain victory by defeating Lee’s army in battle, and because he knew that was what Lincoln wanted him to do.

BY the time the armies went into trenches in front of Petersburg, Grant’s army was exhausted, true enough. But so was Lee’s army. Perhaps more significantly, Lee and his army had become convinced that they could not win the war on the battlefield, whereas Grant’s army, despite the horrendous losses it had suffered, still believed in Grant’s leadership, and still expected to win the war.

Consider the alternative: how would it have hastened the end of the war if Grant had emulated all his predecessors, had pulled back after the Wilderness, and had allowed Lee and his army respite? My conclusion: that would certainly have prolonged the war, and quite possibly would have lost it for the Union.

--Charlie Richards


Well, I think that one can argue that Grant/Meade mismanaged overland....they certainly mismanaged the opportunity of the war after crossing the James, so I am prepared to argue that Grant and his tactics did extend the war into 1865. IMO, after losing 10k men in the initial Petersburg Ttacks, after losing 50k men in Overland, the armies commanded by Meade were gutted....the AoP became gunshy, it's best and most courageous left behind in Overland graves or Washington hospitals.

IMO, prior to the initial baldy smith.hancock attacks south of Petersburg, the soldiers of the AoP had al ways performed well....albeit they were often poorly led by their generals. Post Overland, the soldiers of the AoP performed poorly, arguably for the first time in the war. WHy? IMO, Cuz the army had been bled dry...the best and the bravest were dead, wounded or mustered out,replaced by bounty men, Washington heavies etc.

As for Lee being exhausted as well...true enuff, but an exhausted man will still fight from behind works...tougher for an "exhausted" man to attack - successfully- said works. Not to mention that Lee was able to send almost a third of his infantry to the gates of Washington....not what Lincoln needed while trying to get re-elected.

I do agree with your point about Grant doggedly persevering post the wilderness....I do have a difficult time imagining Meade doing the same.

Steve

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 4:15:43 PM

Quote:
Charlie, Can you show examples of captured USCT being returned to slavery? Can you show examples of them not being treated as POW's? - John R. Price, 8-12, 11:50 p.m.

Okay:

Dec. 24, 1862: C.S. President Jefferson Davis issues proclamation branding Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler an outlaw, to be hanged immediately upon capture. The same proclamation decrees that white officers of black regiments, and the troops themselves, will be remanded to state governments for trial on charges of servile insurrection.

May 1, 1863: In response to Davis's December 24 proclamation, the Confederate Congress provides that the officers of Negro troops in the Union army should be tried under Confederate law for inciting servile insurrection, and put to death upon conviction; while the Negro troops themselves would be "delivered to the authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured to be dealt with according to the present or future law of such State or States." Ostensibly, most captured Negro troops would be subject to execution under the laws of the individual states of the Confederacy. However, President Abraham Lincoln threatened that for every Union soldier executed by Confederate authorities, a captured Confederate soldier would be executed by Union authorities. Consequently, the Confederacy did not follow through on the threatened executions.

May 18, 1863: Skirmish near Sherwood, Missouri. Wounded and surrendering Negro Union troops are murdered by Confederate soldiers.

May 25, 1863: Exchange and parole of officers ordered halted by Federal War Department, in retaliation for the action of the Confederate Congress with regard to Negro troops and their officers.

June 7, 1863: Battle of Millikens Bend. Numerous Negro Union soldiers captured by attacking Confederates. Apparently all were reabsorbed into slavery in the Trans-Mississippi theater. Reports of mass hanging of captured Negro Union troops cannot be verified.

June 13, 1863: Hearing of the capture of numerous Negro Union troops in the Battle of Millikens Bend, Confederate Gen. E. Kirby Smith writes to his subordinate, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor: "I have been unofficially informed that some of your troops have captured negroes in arms. I hope this may not be so, and that your subordinates who may have been in command of capturing parties may have recognized the propriety of giving no quarter to armed negroes and their officers. In this way we may be relieved from a disagreeable dilemma."

June 29, 1863: Battle of Mound Plantation. Texas troops under Kirby Smith capture numbers of Negro Union troops. Many are murdered outright. The others are treated as escaped slaves, not prisoners of war, and are sent into slavery in the Trans Mississippi.

July 18, 1863: Assault on Battery Wagner. Many members of the 54th Massachusetts, a regiment comprised of Freemen from Massachusetts, are captured. They are separated from white captured Union soldiers, and are held in harsh prison conditions by state authorities until December, 1864, when responsibility for them reverted to the Confederate army.

February 20, 1864: Battle of Olustee. After the battle, victorious Confederates murder a significant number of wounded Negro Union troops left on the battlefield.

April 12, 1864: Fort Pillow Massacre.

April 18, 1864: Battle of Poison Spring. Confederates attack under a black flag. Many wounded or captured Negro Union troops are murdered by Confederates.

April 20, 1864: Plymouth, North Carolina, falls to Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. Robert Hoke, with a large number of Federal troops being taken prisoner. In mid-July a survivor of the Federal garrison signs an affidavit averring that the Confederates systematically and brutally murdered all the black Federal troops taken prisoner.

July 30, 1864: Battle of the Crater. Many surrendering Negro Union troops murdered by Confederate troops.

October 13, 1864: Surrender of the Union post at Dalton. A number of captured Negro Union soldiers are murdered by Confederate guards. Those not murdered are either returned to former owners, or pressed into work gangs.


Quote:
Andersonville was color blind and the percentage of white deaths was a hell of a lot higher.

If I recall correctly, there were perhaps as many as 100 African Americans imprisoned at Andersonville. They were segregated, and treated even worse than the white POW's.


Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 6:31:20 PM

Quote:
If I remember rightly, Grant didn´t want to invade Virginia but wanted to land in N. Carolina and come up from the South. But Lincoln disagreed.

Or am I getting senile ?

Trevor


--scoucer


Before he ever got to Washington, that was his thinking...once he got to Washington, he realized that politics dictated an overland campaign (no pun intended).



Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 6:46:09 PM

Quote:

Quote:
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. - Steve Clements, 8-6, 2:41 p.m.

I would agree about Cold Harbor, and so would Grant. Otherwise, I disagree. Recall that the Union army in the Wilderness was operating just about at its logistical limits. It was a big gamble to start an offensive there. Hooker took the gamble, opened his campaign brilliantly, then became curiously passive. Grant took the same bold chance, opened his campaign with a very effective offensive movement, and stayed aggressive, even after absorbing the best blow Lee's army could deliver. Unlike all AOP commanders before him, Grant kept moving forward, trying to find a way to attack and destroy his enemy. That is the story of the campaign. Lee's army brilliantly parried each slashing Union attack, but rather than stop and give the enemy pause to regroup, Grant kept his army attacking. The force on them I do not believe any other general on either side could have done that.
--Charlie Richards


(My second attempt at posting from booneyville ...last response got eaten by the cloud-:)

Almost all of the various attacks IMO at spotsylvania were some combination of poorly planned, uncoordinated or badly supported. It wasn't just cold harbour...

And the wilderness was not much better...as I noted previously, on the 5th, Grant pushed the 5th corps to attack ewell, refusing to believe that the force on the orange turnpike could actually be more than just a brigade sent out to slow the AoP down. Instead, Ewell was there with his entire corps.

And the II corps attack, the next morning, assumed burnsides presence at a certain unrealistic hour....yes Burnside was his usual slow self, but Grant had Burnside moving over roads clogged with wagons and artillery etc. And then attacking down what amounted to a cow path.

And no one talks about North Anna...but Grant got himself into a very precarious position....fortunately for Meade/Grant, Lee was bed ridden. And with Longstreet wounded, and Lee having little/no faith in Ewell or Hill...Lee couldn't or wouldn't do anything.

Okay, I would like to go on, but this iPads auto correct is killing me....posting on a laptop is a LOT easier-:)

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1944
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 7:19:17 PM

Quote:

Quote:
If I remember rightly, Grant didn´t want to invade Virginia but wanted to land in N. Carolina and come up from the South. But Lincoln disagreed.

Or am I getting senile ?

Trevor--scoucer


Before he ever got to Washington, that was his thinking...once he got to Washington, he realized that politics dictated an overland campaign (no pun intended).--Steve Clements


Thank you Steve. I remember now where I read it. McPherson`s Battle Cry of Freedom. It´s irritating when one remembers reading something but can´t remember where and have no idea where to start looking.

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.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1944
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 7:24:02 PM

Quote:


Was Atlanta really that important from the very beginning of the war? Yes it was a railroad hub but didn't it grow exponentially during the war and become a lot more important by say 63 than it was in 61?
--John R. Price


That´s right John. It had become a major industrial centre particularly for war production. If I remember rightly, it´s population had increased three_fold.

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
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/13/2016 9:55:46 PM
Charlie,

First all of your examples haven't been proven and I believe all but 2 have been proven false including Pillow. Plus it was Indian troops that were involved at Sherwood Mizzu and it was retaliation for a similar incident inflicted on them earlier.

Second I guess Grant didn't get the War Department directive of May 25, 1863 because he paroled a significant percentage of the officers and men captured at Vicksburg. And If I'm not mistaken exchanges continued until the beginning of 1864.(see the combined reports of the Exchange Commission)

I believe there were more than 100. Those captured at Pillow ended up at Andersonville and would have accounted for the large majority of the 100 if your right and only 5 of them didn't survive the war.

Also "harsh prison condition" would IMO fit the description of every POW camp North or South. Elmira, Old Capital Prison, Camp Douglas, Rock Island and Johnson's Island to name a few were no walks in the park.
---------------
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"


Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
Posts: 2862
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/14/2016 9:13:31 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Charlie, Can you show examples of captured USCT being returned to slavery? Can you show examples of them not being treated as POW's? - John R. Price, 8-12, 11:50 p.m.

Okay:

Dec. 24, 1862: C.S. President Jefferson Davis issues proclamation branding Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler an outlaw, to be hanged immediately upon capture. The same proclamation decrees that white officers of black regiments, and the troops themselves, will be remanded to state governments for trial on charges of servile insurrection.

May 1, 1863: In response to Davis's December 24 proclamation, the Confederate Congress provides that the officers of Negro troops in the Union army should be tried under Confederate law for inciting servile insurrection, and put to death upon conviction; while the Negro troops themselves would be "delivered to the authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured to be dealt with according to the present or future law of such State or States." Ostensibly, most captured Negro troops would be subject to execution under the laws of the individual states of the Confederacy. However, President Abraham Lincoln threatened that for every Union soldier executed by Confederate authorities, a captured Confederate soldier would be executed by Union authorities. Consequently, the Confederacy did not follow through on the threatened executions.

May 18, 1863: Skirmish near Sherwood, Missouri. Wounded and surrendering Negro Union troops are murdered by Confederate soldiers.

May 25, 1863: Exchange and parole of officers ordered halted by Federal War Department, in retaliation for the action of the Confederate Congress with regard to Negro troops and their officers.

June 7, 1863: Battle of Millikens Bend. Numerous Negro Union soldiers captured by attacking Confederates. Apparently all were reabsorbed into slavery in the Trans-Mississippi theater. Reports of mass hanging of captured Negro Union troops cannot be verified.

June 13, 1863: Hearing of the capture of numerous Negro Union troops in the Battle of Millikens Bend, Confederate Gen. E. Kirby Smith writes to his subordinate, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor: "I have been unofficially informed that some of your troops have captured negroes in arms. I hope this may not be so, and that your subordinates who may have been in command of capturing parties may have recognized the propriety of giving no quarter to armed negroes and their officers. In this way we may be relieved from a disagreeable dilemma."

June 29, 1863: Battle of Mound Plantation. Texas troops under Kirby Smith capture numbers of Negro Union troops. Many are murdered outright. The others are treated as escaped slaves, not prisoners of war, and are sent into slavery in the Trans Mississippi.

July 18, 1863: Assault on Battery Wagner. Many members of the 54th Massachusetts, a regiment comprised of Freemen from Massachusetts, are captured. They are separated from white captured Union soldiers, and are held in harsh prison conditions by state authorities until December, 1864, when responsibility for them reverted to the Confederate army.

February 20, 1864: Battle of Olustee. After the battle, victorious Confederates murder a significant number of wounded Negro Union troops left on the battlefield.

April 12, 1864: Fort Pillow Massacre.

April 18, 1864: Battle of Poison Spring. Confederates attack under a black flag. Many wounded or captured Negro Union troops are murdered by Confederates.

April 20, 1864: Plymouth, North Carolina, falls to Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. Robert Hoke, with a large number of Federal troops being taken prisoner. In mid-July a survivor of the Federal garrison signs an affidavit averring that the Confederates systematically and brutally murdered all the black Federal troops taken prisoner.

July 30, 1864: Battle of the Crater. Many surrendering Negro Union troops murdered by Confederate troops.

October 13, 1864: Surrender of the Union post at Dalton. A number of captured Negro Union soldiers are murdered by Confederate guards. Those not murdered are either returned to former owners, or pressed into work gangs.


Quote:
Andersonville was color blind and the percentage of white deaths was a hell of a lot higher.

If I recall correctly, there were perhaps as many as 100 African Americans imprisoned at Andersonville. They were segregated, and treated even worse than the white POW's.

--Charlie Richards




Charlie,

I think you are much more right on this, than wrong!

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

charlie richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/14/2016 10:14:29 AM

Quote:
I believe all but 2 have been proven false including Pillow. - John R. Price, 8-13, 9:55 p.m.

They have not been proven false. Neoconfederates and other white supremacist groups persist in trying to expunge slavery and racism from the record of the Confederacy. You always make me uncomfortable when your argument moves close to theirs.

You have previously stated your full argument concerning Fort Pillow. I will not be "waving the bloody shirt" about Fort Pillow, and certainly there was a lot of propanda generated around it. However, the actual facts show conclusively that a massacre occurred. Your argument is not fact based, and is far outside the mainstream.


Quote:
Second I guess Grant didn't get the War Department directive of May 25, 1863 because he paroled a significant percentage of the officers and men captured at Vicksburg. And If I'm not mistaken exchanges continued until the beginning of 1864.(see the combined reports of the Exchange Commission), Ibid.

Nevertheless, the official policies I cited above continued in effect. (And, of course, parole is different than exchange.) The Confederacy changed its official position in early 1865, when the decision was made to enlist Negro troops in Confederate armies. At that point, the Confederacy had to officially concede that a Negro soldier was, at least militarily, the equal of a white soldier. For most of the war such an admission would have been anathema to the Confederacy. The notion that a Negro captive could be exchanged on an equal basis for a white captive implied a human equality that was contrary to the fundamental basis of slavery in the Confederacy.

Over the course of the war, of course, there were numerous deviations from official policy, and on both sides. In 1864, unofficial Confederate policy was more frequently at variance with official policy. As the Confederates encountered more United States Colored Troops in combat, and as more United States Colored Troops were captured as a consequence, a significant number of them were treated as prisoners of war and sent to prisoner of war camps. That does not change the fact that the official Confederate policy was that captured Union Negro troops would not be treated as prisoners of war, and would not be exchanged as prisoners of war. Many captured Union Negro troops were, in fact, treated as escaped slaves and sent into slavery rather than being held as POW's.

I launched off into this off-topic debate because you argued that it was Grant who decided that there would not be exchanges of POW's. That is not accurate.

Here is a very good article on the subject of captured Union Negro troops: [Read More]

Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/14/2016 10:53:43 AM

Quote:
Charlie, I think you are much more right on this, than wrong! - Michigan Dave, 8-14, 9:13 a.m.


Thanks, Dave. But you don't have to take my word for it. A good resource and a good starting point for learning more about the contributions of African-American soldiers to the Union war effort (a seriously under-studied subject) is the book Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War, 1862-1865 by Noah Andre Trudeau (Castle Books, 1998).

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/14/2016 10:15:32 PM

Quote:

Quote:
When Lee and Grant fought each other, the exchange rate in killed and wounded was dramatically in Lee's favour. – Phil Andrade, 8-5, 2:33 a.m.

But the entire time Grant and Lee confronted each other, Grant Was attacking, so of course his army would absorb higher casualties. I do not think the respective number of casualties is a good metric for comparing the generalship of these two excellent generals.

--Charlie Richards


Generally true during Overland. However, in The Wilderness, Lee was also on the offensive....although arguably not to the same degree as Grant. But the disparity in casualties at The Wilderness is quite sizeable....to a degree that would suggest that the disparity cannot simply be explained away by saying that Grant was on the offensive

Steve

charlie richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/14/2016 11:08:50 PM

Quote:
to a degree that would suggest that the disparity cannot simply be explained away by saying that Grant was on the offensive

I don't see anything to charge against Grant in that. Maybe we should give credit to Lee and Longstreet. Grant's first head on collision with the A-team. Old Pete and First Corps unexpectedly on your flank - big trouble!

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/14/2016 11:39:48 PM

Quote:

Quote:
to a degree that would suggest that the disparity cannot simply be explained away by saying that Grant was on the offensive

I don't see anything to charge against Grant in that. Maybe we should give credit to Lee and Longstreet. Grant's first head on collision with the A-team. Old Pete and First Corps unexpectedly on your flank - big trouble!
--charlie richards


Well, Grant took 18k casualties, vs. a generally agreed upon 11k for Lee. I believe that the official figure (for Union casulaties) is 17,666....but Rhea has argued the the AoP casualties were deliberately understated....

Given that Lee did not just sit back and let Grant come at him i.e. Lee's tactics were also pretty aggressive during The Wilderness......the disparity in casualties remains somewhat hard to understand.....maybe the ANV enlisted men were just better fighters...in the type of fighting that took place in the wilderness.

Yes, Longstreet's flank attack did roll up Hancock's line....but it was only - I believe - four brigades....and could do only so much damage.

Steve

charlie richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/15/2016 10:06:34 PM
ONLY four brigades?!!

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2537
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/16/2016 4:44:34 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
When Lee and Grant fought each other, the exchange rate in killed and wounded was dramatically in Lee's favour. – Phil Andrade, 8-5, 2:33 a.m.

But the entire time Grant and Lee confronted each other, Grant Was attacking, so of course his army would absorb higher casualties. I do not think the respective number of casualties is a good metric for comparing the generalship of these two excellent generals.

--Charlie Richards


Generally true during Overland. However, in The Wilderness, Lee was also on the offensive....although arguably not to the same degree as Grant. But the disparity in casualties at The Wilderness is quite sizeable....to a degree that would suggest that the disparity cannot simply be explained away by saying that Grant was on the offensive

Steve

--Steve Clements


Agreed...and, more than that, there was a much more fatal incidence in the casualty list suffered by Grant.

The most meticulous research into the AoNV loss in the Wilderness reveals that Lee's casualties were indeed heavy...just over eleven thousand. By the time the died of wounds are factored in, it' apparent that a little less than two thousand of these were killed or would die of their wounds....well under one fifth of the total casualty list. Lee himself remarked in an official dispatch that the number killed was not large, but that he had lost many wounded...of whom most were slight cases, because the battle had not offered much chance to use artillery.

Grant, on the other hand, suffered not only much heavier casualties - 17,666 by official count - but , for a number of reasons, the proportion of these who died was significantly higher. Only 2,246 were confirmed as killed....but there were many missing, and the fires in the woods claimed many lives. It appears from research into regimental rolls that the actual number of deaths was close to double the number posted as killed...pretty well one quarter of the total casualty list were men who perished.

This battle was surely one of the most horrific of all.

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
Posts: 2862
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/16/2016 9:54:20 AM
Steve, & Phil,

You guys sure aren't very big Grant fans?

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

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/16/2016 12:17:33 PM
Charlie,

You know I've never tried to expunge slavery or racism from the record of the Confederacy I just don't base how I view the Confederacy and reach conclusions as the major or only factors. You know even a broken clock is right twice a day and there can be points of truth in any argument not matter how wrong or disagreeable the cause.

My argument about Pillow is based on three facts, the profiteering and score settling of the W Tenn Cav present, the striking of the Flag and the fact that 4 USCT multiple eyewitness testified they saw executed while trying to surrender survived the battle, one who survived Andersonville, one who died from wounds in a Union hospital, one hung for desertion by the Union and one who just walked away from a Union hospital and years later was granted a pension.

You cited a Union policy that stopped both exchange and parole and I showed that both weren't stopped and I will add that when the Confederacy started enlisting Negro troops in early 65 the exchange program didn't restart. The point in time when both do stop is when Grant takes overall command. I'd also like to point out the value to the Union of highlighting that Confederate policy even if they aren't carrying it out both politically and militarily. I also have to ask wouldn't such a stated policy inspire USCT and the white officers who commanded them to avoid surrender and in many cases prefer death fighting to surrender?


---------------
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"


Charlie Richards
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Posts: 212
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/16/2016 5:11:18 PM

Quote:
You know I've never tried to expunge slavery or racism from the record of the Confederacy I just don't base how I view the Confederacy and reach conclusions as the major or only factors.

Well, that is certainly one of the areas of greatest difference in our interpretations of the Civil War. Slavery was the bedrock upon which the Confederacy was founded. The more one discounts slavery as "a factor," the further one strays from the truth.


Quote:
My argument about Pillow is based on three facts, the profiteering and score settling of the W Tenn Cav present, the striking of the Flag and the fact that 4 USCT multiple eyewitness testified they saw executed while trying to surrender survived the battle,

Well, lets look at them one by one:

As for the 13th Tennessee Cavalry, I don't share your antipathy. The Unit was composed of a combination of Tennessee Unionists, as well as former Confederates who had switched sides. In every regiment in every army in every war, there are some scoundrels and liars. I don't doubt that the 13th Tennessee Cavalry had its share. But I fail to see how that would negate the fact that a massacre took place. Even conceding the fact that the Union took advantage of the massacre for propaganda purposes, that doesn't change the fact that many Negro Union troops were shot down by Confederate soldiers while trying to surrender.

As for the striking of the flag, the Union troops fled from the parapets in a rout, and most officers were dead or wounded, so the failure to strike the flag does not prove much of anything. As regards those Union troops still armed and actually fighting, they would have been fair game. But soldiers attempting to surrender are not fair game, and shooting them down is murder. In every battle, men surrendered based upon the situation they found themselves in as individuals, without regard to whether their Unit was still flying its flag. And their surrender was almost universally accepted, by both sides, without regard to whether flags were struck or flying. It is not that Confederate troops continued fighting that is the basis of the charge, but that they needlessly murdered Negro Union troops who were trying to surrender.

As for the four Negro Union troops who testified to the massacre, no one ever claimed, even at the time, that the Confederates massacred ALL of the Negro Union troops. Approximately 35 percent of the Negro Union troops survived. (Compared to the approximately 69% of the white Union troops surviving.) That doesn't change the fate of those who were shot down in cold blood.


Quote:
You cited a Union policy that stopped both exchange and parole and I showed that both weren't stopped

Well, let’s go back to your original assertion that set us off on this side track: ”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.” That argument does not follow, as it was not Grant who stopped prisoner exchanges. The Union policy against prisoner exchanges was Lincoln’s policy, responding to official Confederate policy that captured Negro Union troops would not be treated as prisoners of war, and would not be exchanged. There were unofficial deviations from this policy on both sides, but the policies remained in effect, and large scale prisoner exchanges had stopped by August of 1863. So it wasn’t Grant, but Lincoln who stopped prisoner exchanges, and he did so in an effort to protect captured Negro Union troops from the announced official policy of the Confederacy.

Here’s an interesting article on the subject: [Read More]


Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/16/2016 5:18:03 PM
Rick,


Quote:
The halt in the Wilderness was due to the expected slow pace of the army’s trains.
Humphreys commented that the decision to remain in the Wilderness on 4 May was justified.
” It was not practicable, however, to get over all the great trains on the 4th, nor was it expected, as the order of movement shows.”


I have trouble with this...as you wrote, the army's trains were expected to be slow. So, by definition, their "slowness" was not a surprise. Despite this "slowness", to the best of my knowledge, the plans written up by Humphreys (on around the 1st or 2nd of May??), as Meade's chief of staff, had the head of the army clearing The Wilderness on the 4th. Despite the fact that the everyone knew that the wagons would be slow.

Is your Humphreys' quotation taken from his "The Virginia Campaign 1864 & 1865"?


Quote:
Humphreys gave no indication that Hancock's attack was directed by Grant.


I didn't say "directed". I said that the attack on the morning of the 6th was Grant's "plan". Certainly, Grant (as usual) did not bother himself with the specific details of the broad plan. However, from memory, along with being late...and letting his men make breakfast before engaging the enemy, Burnside asked and received (partial) permission for a "late" start. I think that the permission for the late start came from Grant (it was at least an hour's delay vs. Grant's original plan for the IX corps). But as usual, I stand to be corrected.

s.c.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
Posts: 527
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/17/2016 1:02:12 AM
Charlie,

But slavery isn't the main or only factor in the decision process of each and every individual who served the Confederacy on each and every decision made as individuals or as representatives of the Confederacy.

The commander of the 13th became overall commander early in the fight when the Fort commander went down. Who they were and what they had been doing factors in to their willingness to surrender. Given that multiple reports state that members of Bell's Brigade from the area held a trial and hanged the commander on the way back to Confederate lines proves he had a dam good reason not to surrender.

The eyewitness accounts I've read describe a close in hand to hand fight in which one man might be trying to surrender when the men on each side were still trying to fight. That some when trying to accept surrender were fired on some who tried to surrender then continued the fight. That some continued to fight because the flag was still flying no matter the situation. To the above I add the common sense interpretation that the stated policy of the Confederacy dissuaded the USCT from considering surrender and influenced them to continue the fight long after the issues was decided and add in what the members of the 13th believed they would receive at the hands of Bell's Brigade and there is plenty of incentive to fight to the death rather than surrender.

Every witness that testified under oath gave the names of one or more of the four I mention as being executed while trying to surrender before his eyes. A bit of a coincidence don't you think?

But the announced official policy of the Confederacy wasn't put into effect and troops captured at Ark Post and Island Number 10 are fighting at Chickamauga and troops captured and paroled at Vicksburg are fighting at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Hell Stephan Lee is being promoted to Major General and commands a Corps in the Confederacy's last hurrah but he was captured at Vicksburg. Deviations are one thing but this is a whole hell of a lot more. It doesn't stop until Grant takes overall command on direct orders from Grant.

I can get access to the article you posted the NPS says it a problem on their side of the server.
---------------
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"


Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
Posts: 548
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/17/2016 1:03:25 PM

Quote:
Rick,

Quote:
The halt in the Wilderness was due to the expected slow pace of the army’s trains.
Humphreys commented that the decision to remain in the Wilderness on 4 May was justified.
” It was not practicable, however, to get over all the great trains on the 4th, nor was it expected, as the order of movement shows.”

I have trouble with this...as you wrote, the army's trains were expected to be slow. So, by definition, their "slowness" was not a surprise. Despite this "slowness", to the best of my knowledge, the plans written up by Humphreys (on around the 1st or 2nd of May??), as Meade's chief of staff, had the head of the army clearing The Wilderness on the 4th. Despite the fact that the everyone knew that the wagons would be slow.
Is your Humphreys' quotation taken from his "The Virginia Campaign 1864 & 1865"?

Humphreys didn’t indicate that his plan called for the trains to be out of the Wilderness on day one.
”The first project was adopted, and the order of movement was prepared by me in conformity to it. The order for continuing the movement on the 5th of May, issued on the evening of the 4th, also conformed to it, but owing to indications of the enemy's movement on the 4th, the order of march was partial only, and held in view the probability of a general engagement on that day.”

The movement order dated 2 May did not indicate when the trains would exit the Wilderness.

Possibly he was covering for Meade, or himself.
Yes, the account came from Humphreys’ VA Campaign 64, 65 .

The trains did have a 3600 man guard.

Quote:
Humphreys gave no indication that Hancock's attack was directed by Grant.


Quote:
I didn't say "directed". I said that the attack on the morning of the 6th was Grant's "plan". Certainly, Grant (as usual) did not bother himself with the specific details of the broad plan. However, from memory, along with being late...and letting his men make breakfast before engaging the enemy, Burnside asked and received (partial) permission for a "late" start. I think that the permission for the late start came from Grant (it was at least an hour's delay vs. Grant's original plan for the IX corps). But as usual, I stand to be corrected.
s.c.
Steve Clements

The strategy was Grant’s but Humphreys wrote the plan, and Meade was in tactical command.
Yes, I used the word “directed” but if it was Grant’s plan, didn’t he direct it?
I certainly didn’t intend to change your meaning.

My point was that, according to Humphreys, it was Meade who ordered Hancock’s attack.
One of Humphreys’ purposes, as I see it, was to make it clear that Meade was in tactical command during the campaign, to counter the impression that it was Grant.
As the CoS he would have known who was calling the shots.

”But General Grant says, in his report of July 22, 1865, upon the operations of the armies of the United States from the date of his appointment as Lieutenant-General to the close of the war, "I may here state that commanding all the armies as I did, I tried, as far as possible, to leave General Meade in independent command of the Army of the Potomac. My instructions for that army were all through him, and were general in their nature, leaving all the details and the execution to him."”
(Humphreys, VA Campaign)
---------------
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

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/17/2016 7:27:01 PM
Rick,


Quote:

Humphreys didn’t indicate that his plan called for the trains to be out of the Wilderness on day one.


At the beginning of Chapter Two of his book, Humphreys differentiated between "fighting trains" (carrying ammunition?) that accompanied the troops and the balance of the supply trains.

Yes, it would be unrealistic for the "supply trains" (not the fighting trains) to exit the Wilderness in one days' march, but if these trains were properly guarded, that would not be a huge issue....what was important, was to get a sizable amount of Meade' infantry out of the Wilderness.


Quote:
The trains did have a 3600 man guard.
second page of chapter two: "They were covered by the cavalry, and had an infantry guard of 1200 men from each infantry corps."

Given that Wilson's small (two brigades) cavalry division had its hands full guarding Meade's right flank (and managed to NOT guard the Orange Plank or the Orange Turnpike roads, the roads that Hill and Ewell, respectively, used to attack the flank of the AoP), it would appear that Sheridan/Meade's decision to send the other two cavalry divisions off on a wild goose chase might have been behind Meade's decision to bed down in The Wilderness, instead of pushing on through.

Humphreys noted that the head of the II corps arrived at Chancellorsville by 10:00 a.m. of the 4th. And that the entire corps, including the trains moving with the troops, were at the designated halting place by 1:00.


Quote:
Yes, I used the word “directed” but if it was Grant’s plan, didn’t he direct it?
Grant didn't "direct" much of anything during Overland. Maybe he needed to do a little more "directing"....which might have made him realize that his allowance for "fog" and "slippage" was insufficient.

I recognize that a Lt. General cannot be at the front lines, directing traffic....but Grant may well have been a little too distant for the AoP's good.


Quote:
I certainly didn’t intend to change your meaning


Whether you intended to "change" my meaning or not, you certainly did. But no harm, no foul.


Quote:
One of Humphreys’ purposes, as I see it, was to make it clear that Meade was in tactical command during the campaign, to counter the impression that it was Grant.


Although I would never accuse Humphreys of being a Meade apologist....I do think that he attempted to put Meade in a favourable light. Having read his book, I am guessing that Humphreys did resent Grant's presence, if only just a little. That would only be human....


Quote:
My instructions for that army were all through him, and were general in their nature, leaving all the details and the execution to him."


I agree that this was generally true. But they were general in the sense of: "move the II corps from the right, march it, all night, behind the V corps, and then attack at 4:00 a.m.". How that was accomplished was up to Meade. But Grant did a lot more than just say "go after Lee". He had very definite ideas about "how" Meade was going to go after Lee.

s.c.

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
Posts: 548
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/23/2016 9:50:16 AM

Quote:
Rick,

I recognize that a Lt. General cannot be at the front lines, directing traffic....but Grant may well have been a little too distant for the AoP's good.

The ”HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES”, should not have been located ”In Field, near Wilderness Tavern, Va.,”
Grant’s HQ, despite his distaste for Washington, should have had his HQ there.

He may have indicated his faith in Meade, but his having to attempt to command all US armies from in the field near Meade’s HQ indicates otherwise, and created an awkward, to say the least, and inefficient situation.
That entire issue was on Grant.

Isn’t your statement an indictment of Meade’s ability?

Quote:
My instructions for that army were all through him, and were general in their nature, leaving all the details and the execution to him."


Quote:
I agree that this was generally true. But they were general in the sense of: "move the II corps from the right, march it, all night, behind the V corps, and then attack at 4:00 a.m.". How that was accomplished was up to Meade. But Grant did a lot more than just say "go after Lee". He had very definite ideas about "how" Meade was going to go after Lee.
s.c.
--Steve Clements

Where do we find this plan of Grant’s you’ve been refering to?

What do you mean ”in the sense of”?
Those are very specific instructions, so where does Meade go to get a “sense of” those instructions in order to execute them?

In reviewing the OR I am not seeing any specific instructions from Grant to Meade.
”If any opportunity presents itself for pitching into a part of Lees army, do so without giving time for disposition.”
(Grant to Meade, 5 May, 0824)

During the evening of 5 May:
”Soon after we had risen from the table and left the mess-tent, Meade walked over from his headquarters, and he and the general-in-chief seated themselves by the camp-fire, and talked over the events of the day and the plans for the morrow.”
And:
” The plan agreed upon that night for the coming struggle was as follows: Hancock and Wadsworth were to make an attack on Hill at 4:30 A. M., SO as to strike him if possible before Longstreet could arrive to reinforce him. Burnside, who would arrive early in the morning with three divisions, was to send one division (Stevenson's) to Hancock, and to put the other two divisions between Wadsworth and Warren's other divisions, and attack Hill in flank, or at least obliquely, while Warren and Sedgwick were to attack along their fronts, inflict all the damage they could, and keep the troops opposed to them from reinforcing Hill and Longstreet.”
(Porter, Campaigning with Grant)


According to Humphreys:
” As soon as the fighting ceased in the evening of the 5th, General Hancock, General Warren, and General Sedgwick were ordered to attack punctually at five o'clock the next morning.”

”HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, May 5, 18649 p. m. (Received 10 p. in.) Major-General Hancock:
You are required to renew the attack at 4.30 o’clock to-morrow morning, keeping a sharp lookout on your left. Your right will be relieved by an attack made at the same time by General Wadsworth’s division and by two divisions of General Burnsides corps.
GEO G. MEADE,
Major-General.
General Getty is under your command. “



There is nothing specific as to exactly who proposed that plan, Meade or Grant, only that Grant must have approved it.
I would think that Meade would have had a better understanding of the situation than Grant.
Did Grant ask Meade what his plan was for the following day, or did he explain to Meade what he wanted Meade to do the following day?
Was to attack or not to attack an issue?


Meade later held a meeting with his corps commanders regarding the next day’s plan and, based on it, made a recommendation to Grant to delay the attack time.
Grant agreed to delay the start one half hour.

”HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES, In Field, near Wilderness Tavern, Va., May 5, 1864.
Maj. Gen. GEORGE G. MEADE, Commanding Army of the Potomac:
GENERAL: I am directed by the lieutenant-general commanding to say that you may change the hour of attack to 5 o’clock, as he is afraid that if delayed until 6 o’clock the enemy will take the initiative, which he desires specially to avoid. General Burnside is directed to bring up General Willcox’s division with his other troops if they can possibly be spared, and will probably bring them.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
W. R. ROWLEY,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Military Secretary.

---------------
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

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/27/2016 4:14:11 PM
Rick,

Quote:
Isn’t your statement an indictment of Meade’s ability?


Not necessarily. At least not by me…. However, it does tend to suggest that Grant felt that he needed to “ride herd” on the AoP and its generals. So yes, Grant’s “actions” could be taken as an indictment of Meade’s ability.


Quote:
Where do we find this plan of Grant’s you’ve been refering to?


Well, I wasn’t consciously thinking of it …. But it (II corps marching all night, going from the right of the V corps to the left…and then attacking at 4:00) does strongly resemble what the II corps did, in fact, do on May 12th (the attack at the “Angle”).



Quote:
What do you mean ”in the sense of”?
This was the type of broad stroke “plan of action” that Grant laid out….how the II corps (as an example) actually got to their jump off point was left to Meade and the respective corps commanders.


Quote:

” The plan agreed upon that night for the coming struggle was as follows: Hancock and Wadsworth were to make an attack on Hill at 4:30 A. M., SO as to strike him if possible before Longstreet could arrive to reinforce him. Burnside, who would arrive early in the morning with three divisions, was to send one division (Stevenson's) to Hancock, and to put the other two divisions between Wadsworth and Warren's other divisions, and attack Hill in flank, or at least obliquely, while Warren and Sedgwick were to attack along their fronts, inflict all the damage they could, and keep the troops opposed to them from reinforcing Hill and Longstreet.”
(Porter, Campaigning with Grant)


I am not really sure what point you are attempting to make…is it that the attack on the a.m. of the 6th was initiated by Meade, and not by Grant?

Pages 264 to 267, Rhea, “The Battle of the Wilderness”, argues pretty strongly that the plan for the attack on the a.m. of the 6th was Grant’s. Yes, coordinated by Meade. But the plan was clearly initiated by Grant.

As per the Porter quotation referenced above, it was Grant’s desire that the attack start at 4:30. As you noted in your post, Meade asked that the attack be delayed until 6:00 a.m. (Rhea argues that Meade asked for the delay because Meade and his generals believed that Burnside would be late, and that there was no way the IX corps would make the 4:30 start time). On page 267, Rhea details how Grant refused to move the attack to 6:00, but did give Meade an extra half hour leeway i.e. 5:00 a.m.

On page 264, on several occasions, Rhea refers to the 5:00 a.m. attack of the 6th as “Grant’s plan”. On page 265, it is Grant who orders Burnside to move two divisions at 2:00 a.m.

s.c.

littlepowell
, SC, USA
Posts: 398
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/28/2016 4:17:57 PM
There was a time when this thread was about ranking the greatest CW generals at their respective commands... lol

But it has been interesting to read, nonetheless.
---------------
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/ - Historical tactical combat games for PC.

Steve Clements
Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 413
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 9/11/2016 9:21:57 PM

Quote:
ONLY four brigades?!!
--charlie richards



Given how paranoid (in retrospect, rightfully so) Meade was about Longstreet's corps hitting Hancock's left flank, how on earth did the rail line south of Hancock's left flank remain undiscovered (or at least ignored) by Meade and company. On the morning of the 6th, Meade had Barlow's division, plus one or two other brigades (under the command of Gibbon), kept from Hancock's 5:00 a.m. attack on Hill's two badly mauled divisions. Those Union brigades were left behind, and on Hancock's southern flank, specifically to avoid what in fact did happen with Longstreet's four brigade flank attack.

Doubly so, given that Meade never gave up looking for Pickett. After Hancock's initial success, headquarters knew that prisoners had been taken from Field's and Kershaw's divisions .... Pickett wasn't accounted for (largely cuz he was 100 miles south at the time....). Plus I don't think that Anderson's division had yet been accounted for. So Hancock/Meade et al continued to be sensitive about that flank....and yet Sorrel (sp?) was able to march four brigades right past Hancock's flank....where were Barlow and Gibbon? How was this allowed to happen?

s.c.

jthlmnn
Milwaukee, WI, USA
Posts: 168
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 9/15/2016 11:57:46 PM

Quote:

But the announced official policy of the Confederacy wasn't put into effect and troops captured at Ark Post and Island Number 10 are fighting at Chickamauga and troops captured and paroled at Vicksburg are fighting at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Hell Stephan Lee is being promoted to Major General and commands a Corps in the Confederacy's last hurrah but he was captured at Vicksburg. Deviations are one thing but this is a whole hell of a lot more. It doesn't stop until Grant takes overall command on direct orders from Grant.

I can get access to the article you posted the NPS says it a problem on their side of the server.
--John R. Price



John,

If you haven't already, you might want to try it again. I just did and it worked fine. [Read More]

JohnT

jahenders
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Posts: 54
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2017 3:25:25 PM
Lee was able to thwart most Union maneuvers in the campaign, forcing some costly fights. However, Grant's efforts ultimately moved the Union closer to victory. The Union suffered
(perhaps unnecessarily) heavy losses, but Lee suffered heavy losses too and was far less able to afford them.

In the biggest sense, Grant led his forces in a way appropriate to the situation (strong numerical and logistical advantages) and goal at hand (push Lee back and batter him). It could be said that Lee should have done more (here and throughout the war) to preserve his forces because they were largely irreplacable. Every time he suffered losses anywhere near those of the Union, it was a net loss for him.

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2537
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/11/2017 5:00:53 PM
Sometimes arithmetic is more nuanced in its effects.

I suspect that, of the two armies , Grant's force was more overdrawn in some ways than was Lee's by the time the Overland was stalled at Petersburg.

The attrition bore heavily on both sides, but I contend that, in qualitative terms, the outcome bestowed the advantage on Lee's army.

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
Posts: 2862
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/18/2017 7:43:06 PM
The Blue, & Gray's take on it!

[Read More]

Cheers,
MD

BTW lp,

It's great that you started a thread that has lasted this long!

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

littlepowell
, SC, USA
Posts: 398
Re: Ranking the greatest CW generals
Posted on: 8/23/2017 8:37:23 PM

Quote:


BTW lp,

It's great that you started a thread that has lasted this long!

Cudos!
--Michigan Dave


Thanks. I have my moments.
---------------
http://www.scourgeofwar.com/ - Historical tactical combat games for PC.