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 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Eastern Theater)
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Larry Purtell
Little Meadows PA USA
Posts: 1797
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
5/17/2023 6:00:33 PM
From the New York Times. May 17, 1863.


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"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
5/18/2023 2:45:38 AM
Larry,

Another first rate source for information in that NYT article !

What is revelatory in that account is the great preponderance of head wounds suffered by the men in those rifle pits.

The rebels were cut down in the open as they attacked the yankees under cover, but it’s apparent that the defenders suffered a lot of head wounds as they fought from their pits.

Regards, Phil
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"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 MI USA
Posts: 8310
Joined: 2006
May 17, 1863
5/26/2023 4:05:26 PM
Larry, & Phil,

The casualty rate does show a high rate of head shots, but this is May 1863, I thought the ANV didn't resort to trench warfare until around Petersburg??

Cheers,
MD
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"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: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
5/26/2023 4:58:35 PM
Dave,

A lot of fighting before Petersburg entailed fortified positions : not just elaborate trench systems, but rudimentary scrapes and rifle pits that anxious soldiers dug quickly as they sought protection from the storm of lead.

In this case, on 3 May 1863, the yankees realised that they were about to be attacked by the rebels who had overwhelmed their comrades, and they inflicted huge casualties on the attackers, although they themselves were suffering from these head wounds as the upper parts of their bodies remained somewhat exposed as they fired from their rough and ready parapets.

Regards, Phil
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"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
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
5/26/2023 9:37:42 PM
This is really interesting to me. This part of the fighting involved Wofford`s Brigade, advancing between the River Road, and the Orange Turnpike. This was the first action of my grt grt grandfather`s sharpshooters battalion. General Wofford, on horseback, led the sharpshooters battalion forward in the first of what would become four assaults.
Now, Wofford had selected A H Patton of the 18th Georgia, Wofford`s old command, to lead the newly formed sharpshooters, and Patton led them from horseback. Patton was shot from his horse during the fight and killed. Colonel Goode Bryan was in command of the 16th Georgia during the battle and was not a casualty. So, what is thought to be the Colonel commanding the 16 Ga and shot from his horse is, in all likelihood, A H Patton, officer in command of the Third Georgia Battalion Sharpshooters.

W. R Montgomery, a member of the sharpshooter battalion wrote that the battalion made a hard charge leading the brigade, encountered heavy fire of buck and ball from entrenched Federals, fell back. They reformed and attacked, fell back again, but this time only a short distance to a position behind a small ridge, from which they reformed and attacked again. The Federals had made hasty entrenchments but they left an opening for the withdrawal of their own skirmishers. The gap was protected by logs...but not by earth thrown up against them, and this was right to the front of the 16th Georgia. In addition, the sharpshooters were playing hell with accurate fire on the Federals trying to keep up their own.

The fourth try worked, the Federals being forced from their trenches. Wofford then sent some of his forces on a circuitous route to "get ahead " of the retreating Yanks and cut them off. Montgomery writes that the sharpshooters battalion of less than 250 men wound up capturing "800 to 900 men" mostly of the 27th Connecticut and some from the 145th Pennsylvania.

Weeks later, in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, as Wofford`s Brigade came in on the flank of Federal forces of the 4th Michigan and 140 Pennsylvania, there are many written accounts from the men themselves describing coming under fire that was "surprisingly accurate' felling men seemingly with every shot.

I believe that the use of these highly skilled sharpshooter battalions did have severe impacts caused by increased fire discipline and accuracy. This could partly account for all these head wounds..and the fact that the field fortifications were not well completed, thrown up during the night, without the earthen embanking and without ditches to the front, as Phil has pointed out.

Very interesting Larry, thanks for posting this newspaper clipping.

Respects, Morris


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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
5/27/2023 2:53:11 AM
My goodness, Morris. ! This is wonderful stuff that you’re posting. What a tremendous boost to our forum it is that we can benefit from such interesting and informative content, especially when there’s a personal family connection with the narrative. Thanks !

Regards, Phil
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"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
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
5/27/2023 1:53:26 PM

Larry, I feel compelled to relate to you something I said to Phil the other day. Your posts of these contemporary news accounts are terrific. I want you to know that we all love it when you post them. Whether we respond or not, we all read them with great interest and our desire for further research and study is spurred on immensely by them. You do us a great service by doing it.

This article was kind of right down the middle of the plate for me. I am reminded of what Eddie Mathews of the Braves once said, " trying to sneak a fastball by Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak the sun past a rooster!" This one required a response because I felt I could contribute. I just want you to know how valuable and interesting these posts of yours are to us, and how much they mean. Thanks!

Respects, Morris
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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
5/27/2023 3:27:57 PM
In heated agreement with you here, Morris.

Larry provides us with first class primal source material, that can produce a tremendous effect in the wish to undertake further research.

When enhanced by posts of the calibre of your rendition about your great great grandfather, then we’re truly blessed here.

Regards, Phil
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"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
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2522
Joined: 2020
May 17, 1863
5/27/2023 3:43:34 PM
Larry is the best always inviting me to Gettysburg! We all should go see him one day!

vpatrick
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nuts
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 8310
Joined: 2006
May 17, 1863
5/29/2023 8:56:08 PM
Vince,

MHO used to do just that, with their Gettysburg Muster!

Anyone remember?
MD
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"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: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/2/2023 3:56:04 AM
June 1st, 1864, Cold Harbor : yankees attack with a degree of success. A couple of days later, the effort repeated on a larger scale with dismal results in circumstances so horrific that it makes spine chilling reading to this day.

This seems to be a syndrome of Grant’s generalship; a small attack one day, a much bigger attempt the next.

Vicksburg, 1863, May 19 and 22 ; Spotsylvania, 1864, May 10 and 12. Now Cold Harbor, the most notorious of all.

Should we confer credit for persistently pressing on ; or should we condemn for profligacy and predictability ?

Might we be more discerning if we gave Lee great credit for astonishing skill and resilience in parrying these blows ?

Regards, Phil
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"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 MI USA
Posts: 8310
Joined: 2006
May 17, 1863
6/2/2023 8:43:54 AM
Hi Phil,

I would just tell Grant, welcome to world of attacking Robert E Lee!

IMHO, give Lee the credit!
MD
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"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: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/3/2023 2:54:02 AM
Quote:
Hi Phil,

I would just tell Grant, welcome to world of attacking Robert E Lee!

IMHO, give Lee the credit!
MD


Dave,

The irony of this is that Lee hated fighting that kind of war.

He was brilliant at it, using his skills to deadly effect, and his skills were reflected in the superb performance of his subordinates and the men in the ranks, who exacted an enormous price from the enemy.

But Lee sought to seek an initiative that such relentless pressure denied him. He had to hope that sheer attrition would do the work of demoralising the North: a goal he came close to achieving, IMHO, by the end of the Cold Harbor battles.

Commentators tend to talk in terms of Grant imposing attrition on Lee : I see it the other way round.

Regards, Phil
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"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
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
6/3/2023 11:11:48 AM

Just my two cents on Grant; The war had been going on for three years when he was elevated to command of the armies of the Union. It ended about one year after. he knew his advantages were the availability of more men and ordnance and equipment. He knew the South`s advantage was the use of interior lines of supply and communications. He maximized his advantages...and eliminated the Confederacy`s advantage...fighting a war of attrition, and moving all at the same time in concert.

It was simple brilliance...and also very brutal. Total war. In the Wilderness campaign, Grant did much the same thing as Lee had done during the Peninsula Campaign two years before, he lost battles but kept moving forward, wearing down the ability of his enemy to re-enforce his dwindling numbers. The only difference being that Lee lost battles but kept moving, not to reduce the capabilities of his enemy to re-enforce himself...but to scare an uncertain General into withdrawing to the safety of his gunboats on the James.

Grant was effective, but as I said brutal. Not only did he lose so many men in the field, but the total war policies he instituted led directly to the horrors of the prison system on both sides.

People can lambast Henry Wertz , and the prison at Andersonville all they wish, but when Grant discontinued the prisoner exchange program..he birthed the horrors of Andersonville. His policy of "laying waste to farms and produce among the southern populace"...Sheridan in the valley....Sherman in Georgia.....caused the south to try and manage ever-dwindling supplies and provender at the same time he insured that prison camp populations would swell to beyond limited resources. Andersonville was not built, or supplied for a population of prisoners that would make it equal in size to some of the larger cities in Georgia.

Total war, a concept I believe rational....if you go to war you have a responsibility to end it as quickly as possible....if you forsake that responsibility....then don`t appeal to war in the first place. But as Sherman said, " War is all hell, you can`t reform it, it is like trying to reform the thunder."
But, in judging Grant, and Sherman, and Sheridan....they called down the thunder and they should be held to account for the good it ultimately brought... and also the evil that came with it.

And I always remember that this same threesome were responsible for damn near extinguishing the peoples of the tribes of the American West.

My two cents. Respects, Morris


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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/3/2023 2:42:27 PM
Once I attended a lecture by a distinguished Civil War historian - I can't remember his name - who reckoned that the phrase " Total War" is bandied about too readily in respect of the American Civil War. He opined that the sort of total war that was waged, say, between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in WW2 was infinitely more " total" than anything that we associate with Sherman, Grant or Sheridan. There was, however, in his perception about Georgia and the Shenandoah 1864-5 an emphasis on " Harsh War" in the remit of the ACW which did represent a bit of a game changer .

Interesting allusion to the end of the prisoner exchange, Morris. I would like to know more about this. Thirteen thousand federal PoWs died at Andersonville alone. Grant made a comment which I reflect on, to the effect that deaths from disease outnumbered deaths from battle, and that by pursuing relentless combat and incurring the traumatic cost of it, the ultimate loss of life was reduced because the prolongation of the war was bound to entail greater loss of life through the squalour of camp life than the shorter duration of the conflict consequential upon the pressure of intense battle.

Was that disingenuous or heartfelt as an argument, and does it hold water ?

Regards, Phil
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"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
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 228
Joined: 2020
May 17, 1863
6/3/2023 7:51:53 PM

Phil, Morris and group,

Unfortunately, the “Total War” “Modern war” Civil war myth rears its ugly head periodically.
The American Civil war was not “Modern” nor “Total”

Please see, on Military History Online;
Was the Civil War Modern? – No.
By Michael Collie

Grant’s appointment to general in chief was conditional on the adopting of Lincolns concept of fighting overland to destroy lees army. Grant had originally preferred to not attack overland but to land his main army at Suffolk or even Wilmington and attack lees from the south. Grant and Lincolns strategy were quickly defeated and reduced to slow attrition fighting of gradual advance. Grant concluded he would likely ultimately “win” by “hammering.” Grant having 2 to 1 numbers advantage meant he could always at least extend his position past lee and thereby gradually force Lee back. That’s what happened. Grants move to the south of the James signalized the defeat of the Overland Campaign. It was a smart move that proves grant should have insisted on his own strategy from the start, but he didn’t. Grant was certainly justified after Wilderness and Spotsylvania to transfer to his original strategy to attack from the south. Staying with the failed strategy cost excessive lives on both sides. Ironic to claim Lee “imposed” attrition on lee. Grant had the troops and the initiative to create a mobile campaign had he been willing but took the low-risk option. Yes ultimately lees army was stretched to the breaking point and forced to give up Richmond.

“the ultimate loss of life was reduced because the prolongation of the war was bound to entail greater loss of life through the squalour of camp life than the shorter duration of the conflict consequential upon the pressure of intense battle.
Was that disingenuous or heartfelt as an argument, and does it hold water ?”

No, it doesn’t hold water. But just trys to make an alibi for poor strategy. And also shows that Lee was the superior fighter, IMHO. The ultimate difference was the numbers.

Thanks, Mike_C.
mikecmaps





Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 3:38:54 AM
Mike_C,

Viewed in purely attritional terms, I’m convinced that the Overland fighting of May and June was a significant success for Lee. McClellan, Hooker and Meade had achieved a much better exchange rate against Lee than Grant managed in those two months. Just compare Chancellorsville with the Wilderness and the arithmetic is clear.

In this light, it’s my belief that Lee sought to “ attrite” the Federals in those battles , and in the ensuing exchange he got the better of it. There are several criteria in casualty figures which indicate the outcome of battle : not just the total numbers, but how they’re comprised. One of the most unbearable features of a battlefield defeat is the abandonment of wounded to the enemy. This hits morale very hard. To make the point, at Gettysburg Lee suffered 24,000 casualties in three days, and, of these, 7,500 - nearly one third- were wounded left behind as Lee retired. In the Overland , Lee suffered 33,600 casualties in forty days : of these, 860 - only two and a half percent, were wounded left in enemy hands. This is a point I labour, forgive me, but I really think it’s an astonishing feature of Lee’s success in this incredibly intense series of battles.

Regards, Phil
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"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: 910
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 8:38:22 AM
Quote:
Viewed in purely attritional terms, I’m convinced that the Overland fighting of May and June was a significant success for Lee. McClellan, Hooker and Meade had achieved a much better exchange rate against Lee than Grant managed in those two months. Just compare Chancellorsville with the Wilderness and the arithmetic is clear.


Phil,

As you and I have exchanged views on this subject previously, you probably know that I tend to agree with you.

After Overland and the first week of fighting south of Petersburg, the AoP was effectively gutted. Grant had taken close to 60,000 casualties....and IMO this understates the negative impact that Grant's tactics had had on the AoP. When you attack, it is the bravest and the best that tend to become casualties. Replacing vets with conscripts and inexperienced 'heavies' may keep your numbers up, but does little to maintain the fighting qualities of your army.

Look at the various battles fought post the first week of Petersburg, in the summer/early fall of '64 The AoP was a shell of its former self. And close to useless on the attack....

That memo that Lincoln wrote in August, where he wrote that he expected to be defeated in November....it wasn't just because of the lack of progress by the AoP, but Grant's high casualties that were not offset by any apparent success in the field had a lot to do with it. And I suspect that having Jubal Early sitting in front of Washington in July played a large role in convincing many that Lee could not be defeated.

s.c.
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 10:16:07 AM

Mike, I respectfully just disagree that the concept of "modern war" or "total war" was some myth of the civil war.

That war would see extensive use of trenches and traverses, not just saps for siege operations, but trenches thrown up to keep infantry in close proximity. It would be the precursor to the standard that would be the first world war...some 60 years later. The Gatling gun was the first extensively used "machine gun', the first extensive use of repeating rifles, the first extensive use of military telegraph and land mines, railroads, the first time a submarine was used to sink a ship, the first use of rail-mounted artillery pieces, the use of balloon observation corps, the first battle involving armor plated ships, and the end of the successful use of Napoleonic fighting formations...and though some lessons were never learned by some commanders, it was a new world of military combat. The attempt was made to use "free flight balloons" to drop bombs, and even the first use of a barge to transport and launch balloons which was the first "aircraft carrier."

By the standards of today, it was crude perhaps, but at the time it was a very new and different, and modern form of warfare.

As for "total war," I suppose the only real term that would apply to this moniker is nuclear war where both side commit to blowing everything up.

But, that war became a war against all aspects of life, on both sides. In Georgia, Sherman didn`t just order his artillery to fire on civilian targets like churches, and homes, but he sent over 400 women who worked in a Roswell mill to Ohio,( or was it Indianna) where they had no family, no connections at all, and why, to send a message that if you did anything to aid the rebel cause you could be punished no matter who you were. He used census information from pre-war Georgia to determine the extent to which he could provide off the land for his army. When the prisoner exchange program was ended, it effectively told Union soldiers, ( it was that side that ended it) that the lives of our own soldiers who are captives don`t matter very much. In the effort to intimidate civilian authorities, towns were threatened with destruction if they did not pay ransom.

I could go on.

And by the way, since I brought up Sherman and firing on civilian structures in Atlanta...Sherman lied about this repeatedly. He even blamed the rebels for constructing their entrenchments so close to town that this destruction of civilian targets were just artillery "overshoots." Well, Sherman had some of the best artillery on either side in the war....they were very good at hitting their targets ( it was the second shot fired on Pine Mt that tore through Polk`s chest) it was not overshoots. Sherman`s own orders to his artillery instruct them to fire on the buildings.

Respects, Morris



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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 910
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 11:29:57 AM
Quote:
And by the way, since I brought up Sherman and firing on civilian structures in Atlanta...Sherman lied about this repeatedly. He even blamed the rebels for constructing their entrenchments so close to town that this destruction of civilian targets were just artillery "overshoots." Well, Sherman had some of the best artillery on either side in the war....they were very good at hitting their targets ( it was the second shot fired on Pine Mt that tore through Polk`s chest) it was not overshoots. Sherman`s own orders to his artillery instruct them to fire on the buildings.


Morris,

I think that it is pretty clear that Sherman deliberately used artillery to target civilian structures. The justification for which was ....????

Quite frankly, Sherman was a LOT better at making war on civilians than he was at making war on the Army of the Tennessee.

s.c.
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 1527
Joined: 2005
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 11:56:30 AM
Quote:
Morris,

I think that it is pretty clear that Sherman deliberately used artillery to target civilian structures. The justification for which was ....????

s.c.


Total war?

Dan
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"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." German officer, Italy 1944. “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 228
Joined: 2020
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 12:30:04 PM

Morris and Group,

there you go again

“The Gatling gun was the first extensively used "machine gun', the first extensive use of repeating rifles, the first extensive use of military telegraph and land mines, railroads, the first time a submarine was used to sink a ship, the first use of rail-mounted artillery pieces”

Morris, respectfully, that all false. Any one taking that position needs to read the article referenced in my previous post.
Was the Civil War Modern? – No.
By Michael Collie

The article goes point by point and proves the war was not modern. The typical statement we see, like yours, makes a claim absent any evidence. Gatling gun was not a machine gun and while in existence then was rarely used, railroads and telegraph were used before. You are repeating the myth which is simply false. What were used were smoothbore cannon like at waterloo and muskets modified by rifling but still muskets not modern rifles. One in ten infantry rifles were breech loaders. In the overland campaign tactics were straight out of Borodino and waterloo. “Modern” Grant reduced the number of muzzle loading rifled artillery because the smoothbores were more effective.

The myth has been stated and restated but is simply wrong if you look at the evidence. Its really a fraud committed by many writers and important ones like Williams and McPherson. The article has full sources if you don’t like it, then following some actual sources may be useful. And yes, I know there are lots of places where the myth is repeated but nonetheless its wrong.

Any want to refute the article you need to go through it topic by topic and cite evidence not glittering generalities.
Topics include
Weapons effects and tactics
Entrenchments
Tactics of the Boer War
Railroads and transport
Violence against civilians
Conscription and mass armies.
Except for those who wish to argue in ignorance the article proves the war not modern.

Yes, Morris I respectfully agree to disagree, but not as opinion but as fact, your statement is simply factually wrong, respectfully.

Yours, Mike_C.
mikecmaps


morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 12:33:32 PM

"Quite frankly, Sherman was a LOT better at making war on civilians than he was at making war on the Army of Tennessee."

Steve, I think that about sums it up! The entire "Atlanta Campaign" was more a dance between two commanders, Sherman and Johnston, that had forgotten how to hold or the steps. Both men misread each others intentions. Sherman simply had more men, which meant he could maneuver more and cause Johnston to then abandon his positions. Thomas brought the notion to Sherman about using Snake Creek Gap....and Sherman took it away from Thomas and gave it to McPherson...who ultimately squandered the chance. Sherman even wanted McPherson to vacate his position in East Atlanta to demolish the rail to Decatur in heavy force. It was McPherson who was the one who knew an attack was coming on his position by Hood sometime that day. Had he not convinced Sherman to wait a bit, he would have been hit by Hardee while in transition..and who knows how that would have resulted.

And northwest of Jonesboro, it was O O Horward who felt the rebels would hit him...even as Sherman basically told him he was a "nervous Nellie." The same level of arrogance Sherman showed at Shilo when he was warned the rebels were in force to his front, and not still back in Corinth.

Both Grant and Sherman have a lot of mistakes over-looked by some.

Respects, Morris
----------------------------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 1:25:03 PM
What are we to make of Joe Johnston as a commander ?

All those retreats, abandoning positions and not communicating with his boss, Jeff Davis.

He must’ve been an exasperating man to preside over, reminds me of Little Mac snubbing Abe Lincoln .

A terrible habit of antagonising the Commander in Chief.

Lee was quite the antithesis : knew how to deal with people and keep a difficult team together.

People skills count, don’t they ?

And yet Johnston was a brave soldier, and was wounded badly several times. It wouldn’t do to write him off.

He meant business when he attacked at Seven Pines at the end of May ‘62, and, my goodness, he shed his blood there and then.

Compare Georgia in May 1864 with what was happening in Virginia : fierce fighting at Resaca and New Hope Church, and a lot of manoeuvre, but nothing like the massive slaughter of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. To what might we attribute the difference ?

The numbers engaged were not that different, nor the fighting prowess of the soldiers.

Something made the Overland transcendent in its horror.

Why ?

Regards, Phil
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"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
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
6/4/2023 3:28:52 PM

Mike, when you quote me: " The Gatlin gun was the first extensively used 'machine gun', the first extensive use of repeating rifles,.....the first time a submarine was used to sink a ship....." then say "respectfully, that [is] all false"....it`s off to a bad start.

Tell me when and where else in world military history a submarine sank an enemy ship. When and where were repeating rifles extensively used in battle before. And it is a lot of semantics to say that a Gatling was "not a machine gun."

Because balloons were around for many decades, does that mean that their practical use as a military instrument in that war is not modernistic usage of an existing technology. The totality of so many new and improved technologies and practical military usage of them convince me that the war was quite modernistic in nature.

I appreciate your scholarship, and the article, very well done....but I reach a different conclusion about how to summarize that war than you do.

A very interesting read none the less.

Respects, Morris


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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/5/2023 3:53:38 AM
That’s always intrigued me : the degree to which the American Civil War displayed the attributes of modernity with the characteristics of the old fashioned wars.

The preponderance of the fighting was conducted with muzzle loading black powder weapons, so in that sense it must conform to the wars of old.

That said, the conduct of the war entailed the mobilisation of resources that went beyond the remit of previous conflicts and certainly bring the wars of modern times to mind. The political implications of such a free press and the deployment of millions of citizen volunteer soldiers from democratic societies made a huge difference.

I like to cite the fact that the Civil War was fought pretty well half way through the century that separated the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars and the outbreak of the First World War. With that in mind, I’m tempted to ask : where would Lee or Grant have felt more at home , on the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815, or in much the same vicinity, at Mons, ninety nine years later ?

Regards, Phil
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"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
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 228
Joined: 2020
May 17, 1863
6/5/2023 5:20:32 PM

Group and Phil,

respectfully,

“would Lee or Grant have felt more at home , on the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815, or in much the same vicinity, at Mons”

Lee born 1807, graduated 1829; Grant ’22, ‘42. The artillery with which both Grant and Lee were trained to operate were
Napoleonic pieces, bronze smoothbores, typical range within line of sight at 12-1600 yards. Contrast to the
French ’75; HE shells, recoil device, steel breech loading, indirect range out to 5 miles.
Certainly, their native leadership and military knowledge (such as it was) may have been of some use.
Why would any one expect any competence (“at home”) greater in 1914 than the raw volunteer officers of 1861?

One of my pet peeves of the whole “modern civil war” fable is that has led some to write in this vein;
General blank had “an intuitive understanding of the developing trends in tactics”; when the “trend” did not exist or occur (prior to 1917).
And General blank “emerges as the modern soldier.”
Its pure fable to suggest that any Civil war person had any clue to 1914.

And why should Lee or Grant feel or behave any more at home than Joffe, French, Haig, Moltke,
Kluck or Bulow? Clearly the actual commanders 1914-1918 had little inkling of what they were
about and grossly misjudged any useful application vs mission.
And these the men who grew up
in the “trend” but still held to
Napoleon as the “Master” and Cannae as the model.

The question suggests something like that IMHO.

respectfully, Mike_C.
mikecmaps





Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/5/2023 5:59:00 PM
Mike_C.,

It’s the mere fact that the ACW fits so neatly into the midway point between the Napoleonic War and the First World War : almost uncanny in the chronology of an intervening century.

So what is the more realistic depiction of the ACW : last of the old wars , or first of the new ?

What did the battlefield of 1861-65 resemble more closely: Waterloo or the Marne ?

The former, surely ?

That said, it would be remiss not to notice attributes of 1861-65 that resemble those of 1914-18.

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
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 228
Joined: 2020
May 17, 1863
6/6/2023 7:58:38 PM

Phil & Group,

“What did the battlefield of 1861-65 resemble more closely: Waterloo or the Marne ?”

Phil sorry to keep plugging the article but rather than start repetition best to refer to there.
Yes, ACW closer to 1800-15 than 1914.

FYI you may not be very interested but the germ of the question in my own mind started many many years ago. As a mapping person I long ago collected a number of military atlases. What I noticed and puzzled me, in the WestPoint atlas ACW and Napoleonic Wars and the Thomas Griess atlas of early modern war (also WP);
I casually noticed that maps of civil war battles seem to, at least superficially,
be more like Frederick the great Battles than Napoleonic battles, or that was my impression.
And then I would often read some one saying “modern Civil War” but never was any
evidence or data actually given just a general statement or opinion.
That’s what started my effort to figure it out. And what was also startling to me was that virtually
all the available data & evidence pre-dated the post-1945 fable as constructed at that time.
But the fable is very pleasing to American ACW readers so in spite of the evidence its popular
and often repeated again and again with no evidence.
I think we see that here which is most typical, unfortunately.
What I often wish for is some bright energetic young PHD candidate to
take up the investigation of what did they ( Williams, McPherson & others)know, or should have known,
and when did they know it. Again, the bulk of the evidence predated the fable
so appears to be willful ignorance in claiming a history the never had any basis. The other “lost Cause”?

sincerely, Mike_C.
mikecmaps
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
6/6/2023 8:53:42 PM


Perhaps it would be helpful Mike if you would state, concisely, what you consider to be what makes a Modern style of war as opposed to not modern...rather than throwing around terms like willfully ignorant to describe those you don`t agree with...or those who don`t reach your conclusion.

Respects, Morris

----------------------------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/7/2023 3:08:09 AM
Mike_C,

Apologies for spouting off too quickly before I’d done proper justice to your article.

That must be irritating for you.

I’ll make amends and read it again : if memory serves me, I’ve encountered it before.

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: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/7/2023 4:26:58 AM
Mike_C,

Your article is a real tour de force.

It comprehensively refutes the trope about the unique modernity of the Civil War.

When did it become practice for infantrymen to carry entrenching tools on their backs as they went into battle ?

Might that be cited as a function of the modern battlefield ?

The individual soldier making his own “ scrape” suggests the isolation of combat and the dispersal of manpower as he availed himself of, and suffered from, the exponential increase of firepower bestowed on the individual by developing technology.

Also, of course, the practice of firing whilst lying down : much easier with magazine or clip loading rifles.

The smokeless battlefield conferred a degree of invisibility and that comes to mind too.

One thing about the ACW might be cited as a more modern attribute : the ratio of casualties caused by sharpshooting and skirmish line combat.

There’s a good article about that, and it implies that perhaps as many as four thousand of the total of killed and wounded at Gettysburg were victims of such combat. Does that signify a break from the past ? The article was written by an NPS employee and I’ll find the link later.
The implication that one in nine of all traumatic casualties - that is “ bloody losses” - were from sharpshooting or skirmish line fighting differentiates this warfare from that of a half century earlier.
I don’t know enough to be certain of that, but I’d be surprised otherwise.

Editing: an important change from the previous wars must be attributed to the status of the private soldiers and the concern for their welfare. Who gave a fig for the ordinary soldier of Waterloo ? Even in death he was overlooked and cast aside. The modernity of the relationship between soldiers and society at large in 1861-65 America is something to be acknowledged.

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
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 228
Joined: 2020
May 17, 1863
6/7/2023 5:49:41 PM

Morris, Phil, and group,

Dear Morris, respectfully,
Yes a major part of the problem is that the definition of “Modern War” is not definitive, granted. But the introduction deals with that.
And theres no point to major rehash here.

My personal assessment is the term is applied to post 1900 industrial war and that 1914-1918 was the first at least vs ACW.

Williams in LINCOLN AND HIS GENERALS page 3, first page really, (1952);
“The Civil War was the first of the modern total wars, and the American democracy was almost totally unready to fight it”

And from there for 20+ years we see some form of restatement over and over and with the most general analysis to support.
For the 350+ pages he never makes or offers any evidence supporting but then takes off talking
about leadership & campaigns etc. Never one thing about tactics, weapons, entrenchments or any thing else.
But from there modern war becomes standard in civil war historiography.

Apparently, you think “willful ignorance” to harsh? Ok, so what do you want to call it?
It was 1990 until Mark Neely started to question.

McPherson finally equivocates by saying, “the kind of war the civil war became merits the label of total war.”
This is not the question. The thesis as stated by Walters and Williams et al. is that the Civil War was the first Modern Total War.
We may accept that by this equivocation McPherson concedes that this thesis is wrong.

Restated, had a normal level of academic rigor in research and scholarship been in force
in the beginning its not likely that it would even be a topic for discussion today.

thanks, Mike_C.
mikecmaps
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
6/7/2023 8:41:15 PM
Quote:

Mike, when you quote me: " The Gatlin gun was the first extensively used 'machine gun', the first extensive use of repeating rifles,.....the first time a submarine was used to sink a ship....." then say "respectfully, that [is] all false"....it`s off to a bad start.

Tell me when and where else in world military history a submarine sank an enemy ship. When and where were repeating rifles extensively used in battle before. And it is a lot of semantics to say that a Gatling was "not a machine gun."

Because balloons were around for many decades, does that mean that their practical use as a military instrument in that war is not modernistic usage of an existing technology. The totality of so many new and improved technologies and practical military usage of them convince me that the war was quite modernistic in nature.

I appreciate your scholarship, and the article, very well done....but I reach a different conclusion about how to summarize that war than you do.

A very interesting read none the less.

Respects, Morris



Mike, I`m quoting my earlier post because I am still waiting for an answer as to why you said my statements were "false." In point of fact, they are true. If it is necessary to just brush it off as being "all false".....then what can be trusted about other points you make?

Once repeaters, whether the Spencer or the Henry were introduced into that war and demonstrated under battlefield conditions, there was no going back. Once a submarine was used to successfully sink an enemy ship, there was no going back. When armor plated ships blasted each other to a draw...there was no going back (The Brits even stopped the order of wooden hulled ships they had ordered for future construction.) When there are so many technological advances that produce a change in future military planning, and are the beginnings of the evolutionary practice of improving those mechanics...I would call that signs of modern warfare.

You don`t agree. Fine. But use of terms like willful ignorance are not necessary or called for.

Respects, Morris
----------------------------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/8/2023 1:49:19 AM
Here’s something that I can contribute to this discussion which hasn’t yet been mentioned.

The mortality of the American Civil War was more redolent of the old warfare than the new.

Here I allude to the cause of death.

Without attempting exactness, deaths from disease in the ACW accounted for two thirds of all the fatalities suffered by the armies. Roughly one third of all the dead soldiers were killed in battle or died from wounds.

In the Great War of 1914-18, four fifths of all military deaths were due to combat: indeed, in the British, French and German armies close to nine tenths of all the dead had been killed in battle or died from wounds.

The Balkan and Ottoman armies differed in this, because they suffered much higher mortality from disease 1914-18.

The fatality from squalour had been dramatically reduced; that from battle had been commensurately increased. This reflected the application of sustained, intense, industrialised violence on a stupefying scale which characterised the warfare of 1914-18.

This had not been attained in the American Civil War, although there was a whiff of it in Virginia in May and June 1864, which did indeed have a portentous attribute.

Ironically, in WWI the US was something of an outlier, with deaths from disease outnumbering those from battle, although that reflected the relatively short period of time during which American troops actually fought on the grand scale - six months in 1918: a large portion of the US deaths occurred at home, with the flu pandemic accounting for many of them.

The medical advances were to be of paramount importance here.

Incidentally, Timothy J Orr is the author of that essay on the role of sharpshooters at Gettysburg, and he’s now a recognised authority on the war . He wrote the essay when he was a NPS ranger, if I’m not mistaken.

“ Sharpshooters Made a Grand Record that Day

Combat on the skirmish line at Gettysburg July3 “

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
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 228
Joined: 2020
May 17, 1863
6/8/2023 11:02:51 AM


Dear Morris,

“signs of modern warfare”
“the kind of war the civil war became”

These are equivocations to cover the myth.
Some go on repeating the old fable.

Standing on one spot and looking at the plain may be a sign the world is flat.
But change of perspective enlightens that it is not flat.
Its best not to conclude based on skimpy information.

But for those who wish to believe the world is flat yes that’s their right.

It’s often best to make judgement based on substantial evidence not a few cherry picked bits.

A sincere effort would address the article with specific facts topic by topic.

I hate to go on with this but had the very same debate 12-15 years ago on another
old civil war blog. After dozens of posts and weeks of discussion argued the
myth tellers into concession.
When one myth teller could only say “but . . .”
myth is just so popular readers hate to face the facts.

sincerely Mike_C
mikecmaps



morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
May 17, 1863
6/8/2023 11:16:07 AM
And I`m still waiting for an answer as to why you said something I stated was "all false" that was demonstrably true.

I had no idea you were an absolutist like NY Giant.
"It`s my opinion-conclusion, and you cannot disagree without being a willfully ignorant, flat-earther."

That doesn`t go over well.

Respects, Morris


----------------------------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 1527
Joined: 2005
May 17, 1863
6/8/2023 12:14:37 PM
These lists are quite detailed, how did reporters obtain such information? And, how did field hospitals/doctors obtain the information of casualty names, units, etc; dog tags, names inside jackets, equipment, etc?

Dan

Quote:
From the New York Times. May 17, 1863.




----------------------------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." German officer, Italy 1944. “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1973
Joined: 2010
May 17, 1863
6/8/2023 12:16:15 PM
"Media liaison" is what we'd call it today.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6507
Joined: 2004
May 17, 1863
6/8/2023 1:17:54 PM
Quote:
"Media liaison" is what we'd call it today.


A timely reminder of the “ modernity “ of this war : assiduous care for the fate of the ordinary soldiers, who, in warfare half a century earlier, would not have merited a mention, let alone a concise description of the wounds suffered.

This is what I’d been struggling to say in an earlier post on this thread.

The Crimean War had seen a degree of this recognition and care developing, but nothing so meticulous as this.

Generals and subordinate commanders, surgeons and clerks, were all being held to account, and expected to demonstrate that they were worthy of the trust a modern, democratic society placed in them to exercise a duty of care to the men under their command and control.

This surely differentiated this war from 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
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