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 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)
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NYGiant
home  USA
Posts: 953
Joined: 2021
Vicksburg
10/15/2022 8:22:15 AM
Awaiting the 3 volume set on the battle of Vicksburg, by Ed Bearrs, the late legendary battlefield guide.
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 813
Joined: 2005
Vicksburg
10/15/2022 7:17:56 PM
I have Geoffrey Wards consolidated work. That does cover that battle/campaign.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1968
Joined: 2010
Vicksburg
10/17/2022 8:17:21 AM
Vicksburg is our Spring Trip destination. (We're in St. Louis, about six hours north.)
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/17/2022 8:27:31 AM
A quick test for fun :

It’ll cost us ten thousand men to take Vicksburg. We may as well loose them here as anywhere else.

Who said that, where and when ?

Editing : apologies ! As I was researching this topic, I saw this quote being cited with the number being five thousand, not ten !

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
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 813
Joined: 2005
Vicksburg
10/18/2022 2:28:50 PM
No idea Phil....
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 910
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/18/2022 5:29:27 PM
Phil,

I am probably wrong…but I am guessing Sherman at Chickasaw Bluffs?

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/19/2022 3:25:10 AM
Steve,

You’re right !

Thanks for pitching in .

Sherman, Chickasaw Bluffs, closing days of December, 1862.

A remarkable comment, don’t you think ?

Dry wit, insouciance, resignation ….. I wonder what prompted Sherman to say that.

He actually lost a couple of thousand men in that forlorn attack, and, in the campaign’s wide remit in terms of time and geographical extent, many thousands more would be killed or wounded before the capitulation of the Vicksburg garrison. That cost was greatly compounded by the impact of lethal disease in the unhealthy swamps and bayous of Mississippi and Louisiana.

I wish I knew more about this epic struggle for the Gibraltar of the Confederacy.

Open head on battles, trench warfare and siege operations, with mining and counter mining, warships fighting against each other and running the gauntlet of defending batteries, the jealousy of officers conspiring against their comrades, the ordeal of civilians under fire and enduring famine : the attributes of ancient and modern warfare. Dramatic and intriguing stuff to read and think about !

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
NYGiant
home  USA
Posts: 953
Joined: 2021
Vicksburg
10/19/2022 6:32:43 AM
Bearrs' trilogy is good.

Also the books by Tim Smith on Vicksburg and the Western Theater are good too.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/19/2022 10:44:09 AM
Was there a “ forgotten army “ syndrome for those yankees struggling at Chickasaw Bluffs ? A couple of weeks after Fredericksburg and a couple of days before Stones River, in dismal circumstances and horrible terrain, it must have been a campaign that tried body and soul.

Even in the more celebrated stage in the earlier summer of sixty three, they were under the shadow of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.

Who would associate May 1863 with Champion’s Hill rather than Chancellorsville ?

The repulse of 22 May 1863 was one of the sharpest of the war, but it doesn’t get much attention.

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
NYGiant
home  USA
Posts: 953
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Vicksburg
10/20/2022 9:18:49 AM
Many believe that Vicksburg was the turning point in the Civil War. Some believe that Gettysburg was the turning point.

I tend to side with Ed Bearrs who felt that the turning point in the Civil War was the Union army continuing to Spotsylvania and not retreating after the Wilderness battle.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 10:54:11 AM
Quote:
Many believe that Vicksburg was the turning point in the Civil War. Some believe that Gettysburg was the turning point.

I tend to side with Ed Bearrs who felt that the turning point in the Civil War was the Union army continuing to Spotsylvania and not retreating after the Wilderness battle.


THE turning point, as opposed to A turning point….there’s the rub !

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
NYGiant
home  USA
Posts: 953
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Vicksburg
10/20/2022 11:23:14 AM
Military or diplomatic turning point?

Most agree that the Emancipation Proclamation was the diplomatic turning point of the war.

Depends on what you read as to the military turning point. My friends out West insist on Vicksburg. Many insist on Gettysburg. I agree with Ed Bearrs.
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 2:39:33 PM
Edwin Bearrs was a man who deserved the respect so many had for him, his encyclopedic memory of history....if he says something it rings solid to me.

If he said that the turning point in the war was the Union Army continuing to Spotsylvania and not retreating after the battle of the Wilderness in 64...then he is pretty much saying that the turning point was when Lincoln placed Grant in command of all Union forces...isn`t he?

Thats what I say. The turning point was when Grant was placed in command, and determined that all Union forces would start the 64 spring offensive campaigning at the same time...striking from many places all at once, and depriving the Rebels of their one advantage...the interior lines of supply and communications. That was when the end was in focus.

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: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 3:46:10 PM
There were so many turning points, weren’t there ?

Who would argue with you, Morris ?

Putting Grant in command was crucial and must rank as a momentous decision that consolidated the Union’s drive to victory.

The thing about the “ Forward to Spotsylvania ! “ episode is the demonstration of resolve after what, by several criteria, was a terrible northern defeat.

In that sense I am persuaded by Bearrs.

There are other contenders though, and a persuasive argument can be made for all of them.

Editing : Ed Bearrs opined that of all the Civil War’s battles, the Wilderness was perhaps the “ most terrible “. He said that when interviewed in the famous TV series thirty or more years ago. Anecdotal accounts tell us that Grant himself found the experience most traumatic. That makes his ensuing decision all the more worthy of the accolade “ turning point”.

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
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 4:17:17 PM
Phil and Morris,

I understand the logic behind picking the move to Spotsylvania Courthouse as a turning point. And as Morris posted, if you believe that, then bringing Grant east was truly the turning point.

But I am not sure that I agree with it. Frankly, the entire Overland campaign was borderline a disaster, and as a result, the Army of the Potomac was basically gutted for offensive operations until the spring of 1865. The various battles of the Petersburg campaign make for very sad reading, at least from a northern perspective. I think that one could make an argument, that by losing more than 50% of the strength of the AoP by the time he got to Petersburg, that Grant came close to losing the war. Certainly, by August 1864, Lincoln was of the opinion that he had virtually no chance of being reelected… If Lincoln doesn’t get reelected, would the north, with little Mac as President, continue to fight?

My vote goes for the combination of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. If the Army of the Cumberland had been either forced to surrender, Grant (for better or worse) would not have been brought East, and I am doubtful if Northern morale could have survived the forced capitulation of the AofC.

I also think that a case can be made for Shiloh. Basically, that was the Confederacy’s one shot in the west and arguably everything after that was downhill… With the obvious exception of the pyrrhic victory of Chickamauga.

And an argument can be made for the series of battles immediately outside of Atlanta. Although Sherman screwed up royally, by allowing the badly dismembered Army of Tennessee to survive after Ezra Church, and then embarrassingly get onto Sherman’s supply line, the fall of Atlanta went a long way to ensuring that Lincoln would get reelected that November.

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 227
Joined: 2020
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 4:34:48 PM
Group,

Steve you are So right I agree with you, & was just writing similar to your point!!

Quote:
“Many believe that Vicksburg was the turning point in the Civil War. Some believe that Gettysburg was the turning point.”

“I tend to side with Ed Bearrs who felt that the turning point in the Civil War was the Union army continuing to Spotsylvania and not retreating after the Wilderness battle.”
“THE turning point, as opposed to a turning point….there’s the rub!”

Yes the rub! A turning point which helps move in the direction of the current momentum. Against THE turning point. The turning point would be a point of inflection decisively changing the momentum to a new direction. Its very difficult to pick one, the, point.

The Bearrs point seems to late, it looks like confirming the current direction to me. To be an indicator the
turning point needs to be early enough to leave some doubt, that is latter built on to the end.
So I’d say Lincolns re-election, fall of Atlanta, Grants move south after Spotsylvania or even the appointment of Grant are too late.
Some say the victories of Vicksburg & Gettysburg are THE, and it’s arguable IMHO.
I’d say that the twin battles of Chickamauga-Chattanooga are best candidate.
Early enough, fall ’63, but no major confederate strategic initiative after, as indicator of decisive trend to come.
(Yes I know-Franklin-Nashville – but was ever a serious threat??)
With Nashville-Chattanooga base controlled (yes logistics) the whole slave hinterland was exposed and
offered a field so wide that rebs could never again concentrate major forces to support
the primary strategy of hold everywhere.
Sherman then made a pretty much straight line (well sort of . . . ) advance from Chattanooga to Atlanta-
Savannah SC – NC & dislocation of ANV supply base. Along with dislocation of the slave base; in Miss & tenn.
Even had lee been holding Richmond his army could not survive long with
Sherman at Goldsboro NC by Mar ’65.
Also at both Chickamauga & Chattanooga Rebs had
distinct chances to cause major loss to union forces,
but booted chances by poor performance of entire
military structure from Davis on down.
Though as I say difficult question and arguable many ways.

Great call Steve!

Thanks all,
yours Mike_C
mikecmaps

NYGiant
home  USA
Posts: 953
Joined: 2021
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 4:37:27 PM
No all this plans worked to fruition though.

"Spoons" Butler was stopped at the Bermuda 110. Butler's expedition was an overall failure, and he was "bottled up" at Bermuda Hundred, unable to move.

"Commissary" Banks was stopped at New Market.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 5:24:02 PM
Steve’s post wins my endorsement in so far as I agree with his emphasis on the dreadful attritional impact of the Overland on the Union army : more damaging to the North than the South. Viewed in that light, the Spotsylvania moment doesn’t look much of a triumph, does it ? But I can appreciate the Bearrs insistence that such resolve being apparent at such a harrowing moment was in itself a triumph of sorts. To keep on going where predecessors had withdrawn was a turning point. But THE turning point ?

The ensuing battles, by and large, put the North in jeopardy on account of disproportionate slaughter, so I feel circumspect regarding the aftermath of that turning point.

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: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/20/2022 5:29:38 PM
Quote:
No all this plans worked to fruition though.

"Spoons" Butler was stopped at the Bermuda 110. Butler's expedition was an overall failure, and he was "bottled up" at Bermuda Hundred, unable to move.

"Commissary" Banks was stopped at New Market.


Banks stopped at New Market ? Sigel, surely ?

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
NYGiant
home  USA
Posts: 953
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Vicksburg
10/20/2022 7:40:24 PM
My bad! I'm a 1862 valley Campaign guy.

But the advance was stopped,
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/21/2022 5:31:26 AM
Quote:
My bad! I'm a 1862 valley Campaign guy.

But the advance was stopped,


Yes, in Louisiana, in a fiasco known as the Red River Campaign.

Sigel defeated in the Shenandoah, Banks beaten in Louisiana, Butler failed at Bermuda Hundred, Sherman struggling at Resaca and New Hope Church in Georgia, and Grant badly roughed up in a battle that he himself described as even worse than Shiloh.

A turning point.

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
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3309
Joined: 2007
Vicksburg
10/21/2022 10:08:12 AM
To all: very good and thoughtful positions all.

Personally, I have always felt that July 4, 1863 was the turning point of the war. Not for the date itself, but the twin defeats of Lee on Union soil, and the loss of Vicksburg deep in the heart of the Confederacy, were two blows that the South could not recover from. And the Vicksburg loss made many southerners realize that the war may be loss. As Mary Chestnut wrote in her diary of Vicksburg...."that Mississippi dooms us if lost....are we not cut in half?"
Vicksburg also catapulted Grant to the fore, a ripple that would lead to Appomattox CH.

Yes, the Wilderness campaign was, in some ways, a disaster....Union casualties were horrific.....and Grant was 'butcher" but the butchers bill had to be paid some time. McClellan lost thousands too...but to what result? If the Union was led by men who didn`t have the stomach for what was needed like little Mac....who knows how long it may have gone on. Grant, for all his faults, knew how to win....and then did it.
As for Sherman in Georgia, remember his mission was not to capture and burn Atlanta...his primary mission was to prevent Joe Johnston from being able to re-enforce Lee by keeping him busy in the peach state. While Grant got bogged down by Lee in Virginia, the all out pressure on Confederate resources eventually strangled their ability to continue the war, and that too was Grant`s strategy.

Respects to all, Morris
----------------------------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/21/2022 12:08:08 PM
Morris,

Excellent pitch, and incontestably, you’re right about the contemporaneous fall of Vicksburg and the defeat at Gettysburg being a turning point of unique grandeur.

McClellan lost thousands too : yes.

Compare the balance between his Peninsula fighting of May and June 1862, with Grant’s Overland counterpart two years later. Little Mac lost twenty three thousand battle casualties, and inflicted twenty eight thousand. Grant lost seventy thousand, and inflicted fewer than forty thousand.

Approximate figures, and a tad too simplistic, I confess, but rather a damning indictment of attritional claims made by Grant, especially since he was no nearer to Richmond in the high summer of ‘64 than MacClellan had been in the summer of ‘62.

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: 227
Joined: 2020
Vicksburg
10/21/2022 4:59:47 PM

Group,

As to turning points an old chart tracks union gold v dollar rate as track to union morale victory and turning points (sorry cant post graphic)
High number weak union morale
Low number good union morale
From jan 62 to nov 62 price slowly rose from about 100 to 140
Lee wins jun to sep??
That’s $140 union greenbacks buy $100 gold

After Nov (Fredericksburg) Nov to jan 63 steep rise from 140 to 180

Jan to jul 63 Steep fall to 130 (emancipation?)
From jul 63 to nov 63 steep increase to 160
Kinda butts against our notion of
Vicksburg-gettysburg-chattannooga as positive turning points though

Nov 63 to may 64 increase to 200 before O’land campaign
but Conscription kick in and general fatigue??

From may 64 to Jul 64 (2 mos) very steep increase to 285
That’s $285 greenbacks to buy $100 gold. (war highest peak)
Pretty strong measure of negative reaction to grants campaign.
By nov 64 still about 260 with steep fall back to 140 by apr 65

Lincoln’s re-election and Savannah Carolinas campaigns??
Sorry cant do graphic

Just graphically three striking turning points 1 Emancipation Proclamation
2 grants campaign; Negative
3 Atlanta & re-election

I am not saying these are definitive but just a different perspective but interesting.
Kinda gives real time measure maybe??
Thanks
Mike_C.
mikecmaps
source: Value of "Greenbacks" during the Civil War by Wesley C. Mitchell; Journal of Politcal Economy,
Vol. 6 No. 2 (Mar 1898) p 139-167 Univ. Chicago Press (www.jstor/stable/1820362)



Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6497
Joined: 2004
Vicksburg
10/21/2022 5:44:02 PM
Superb contribution, Mike_C, thanks !

A revelation to me, and a new field of interpretation opens up.

The rather surprising surge in July to November 63 might reflect the home front unrest, especially the NYC riots. Chickamauga was a profound shock.

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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