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Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
7/14/2020 11:24:11 AM
Recently read “How the North Won”, by Hattaway and Jones. The emphasis of the book is on macro strategy, and in particular, how logistics helped and hindered the war effort, on both sides.

Thought that I would post several “observations” that I took from the book, in part hoping to initiate a discussion on one or more topics. In no particular order…

1) By the winter of 62/63. Lincoln no longer believed that the serious defeat or annihilation of the ANV (Lee) was probable. Or that Richmond could be easily captured. If Lee were beaten at something like a Fredericksburg, he would merely just retreat back over his line of communications. Which would gain the Union very little. Best hope would be to push Lee back into Richmond, but this would result in a lengthy siege, which politically, Lincoln was reluctant to see. Which is, of course, what happened in the summer of 64.

2) What Lincoln really wanted was to have Lee leave his line of communications i.e. the Maryland invasion of ’62 and/or the Gettysburg campaign of ’63. This would give the AoP a chance to inflict a serious defeat on the ANV, i.e. and maybe get south of the invading ANV, and not permit it to retreat back to its line of communications. Which was why Lincoln was so disappointed (unfairly IMO) that Meade was unable or unwilling to bring Lee to battle when Lee was trapped with his back to the Potomac. On a similar basis, Lincoln (and Grant) believed that Early’s corps should have been pursued much more aggressively, post his July 64 visit (?) to Washington.

3) Hattaway & Jones argue that this resulted in a three pronged strategy (not their actual words…). A) The war had to be ‘won’ in the west. B) The Union should attempt to “exhaust” (their word) the resources of the Confederacy, through a series of raids, that would crush the infrastructure of the Confederacy, particulalry the railroads that the ANV was so dependent upon. C) The AoP would attempt to engage the ANV under favourable circumstances, but theirs was to be largely a holding effort, to keep Lee in place, while the western Union armies won the war.

4) The Union, by 1863, was less and less interested in holding Confederate territory…as an example, before July 63, it took 30,000 Confederates to “hold” Vicksburg….after July 63, it took 30,000 Federals to keep it. Not necessarily a good trade-:) Raiding was the way to go...not occupation.

In this light, Sherman's march to the sea made 'sense'....however, my own bias is somewhat different, in that raiding and ripping up railroads was nice, but destroying the Confederate armies in the field was/should have been the primary goal. In that light (and this is my bias), letting Sherman march to the sea, while Hood was running loose in Tennessee, is difficult to defend.

5) Rivers were the platinum standard of logistics. Which might suggest that little Mac’s “Peninsula” campaign was the right one….subject, of course, to Mac guaranteeing that the defenses of the capital (Washington) was sufficiently manned. The obvious disadvantage of the Peninsula campaign was that it forced the Federals to operate on exterior lines….and made them vulnerable to what actually did happen i.e. Second Bull Run. And in July 64, Early’s campaign against Washington.

6) Related to this, Grant’s initial plans for the spring of 64 were to use the navy to land 60,000 men in North Carolina, move this force inland, and cut off the ANV’s line of communications (rail lines that supplied Petersburg and Richmond). Because of the 62 Peninsula fiasco, politically, Lincoln would not allow this. Ironically, by July 64, Grant ended up east and south of Richmond, exactly where Lincoln did not want him, allowing Early easy access to the lower S. valley, and ultimately, to the gates of Washington.

7) Railroads were ‘great’, but the further you pushed into hostile territory, the more men you had to leave behind to guard your line of communications. Although this should be obvious, Washington never fully appreciated the difficulty that Buell and Rosecrans faced in their campaigns, in this regard. And if you are going to depend on railroads to supply your invading army, you better have lots of cavalry. And the Army of the Cumberland was consistently short of cavalry...and at the same time had to face Forrest and Wheeler.

And besides the need for cavalry, Buell and Rosecrans needed LOT more men than their opponent, because the further south the AotC went, the more men it was going to bleed, in order to protect those long supply lines. Sherman was luckier in 64, in that the Federals did a pretty good job of keeping Forrest busy in Mississippi, and off of Sherman's VERY extended rail line.

8) Grant and Holly Springs. Grant’s initial ‘overland’ route to Vicksburg was stopped by Van Dorn blowing up Holly Springs. I had always read that the reason that Grant did not go back and start over was that he – from childhood – refused to reverse course once he started on a plan of action. In reality, Grant realized that an overland route to Vicksburg was always going to be vulnerable to a Holly Springs type of raid. And that using the Mississippi was much preferable. Again, rivers were the platinum standard of lines of communications.

9) Too much politics. And too many incompetent political generals (Sigel, Banks, Butler). But the Red River campaign really stands out in this department...as it was a huge liability for Sherman, in his campaign against Johnston. A) several divisions from the AotT never made it to Sherman, cuz they were stuck with Banks. They were used in the Red River campaign but were "promised" to have been freed up in time to join Sherman at the beginning of his May 64 Atlanta campaign. Didn't happen. B) Had Banks gone against Mobile instead of the Red River campaign (which is what Grant wanted), Polk and his corps might not have been “occupied” (given how incompetent Banks tended to be, who knows?) and would not have been used to reinforce Johnston and the AoT.

10) And attempting to move into and HOLD east Tennessee was almost impossible, which was consistently Lincoln’s big dream….an army in east Tennessee couldn’t live off the land, and a large army could not easily be supplied by wagons etc. in east Tennessee. And the entire 'you gotta hold" east Tennessee thing was in conflict with "don't hold territory, just raid, and destroy the railroads" philosophy that supposedly governed the Federal war aims.

11) Although Grant thought little of Sigel (talking May 64), he was apparently a fan of Butler (I found this hard to believe…). And understandably expected a LOT more from Butler….especially since one of Butler’s underlings was Baldy Smith, whom Grant had a VERY high opinion of….in fact, Grant – back in December of 63/January 64 – pushed for Baldy Smith to replace Meade at the head of the AoP….and this was, of course, several months before Grant was made Lt. General and given overall command of the Union war effort.

12) Hattaway/Jones paint a positive picture of Halleck. Very positive….maybe something I need to revisit…

s.c.


mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Hattaway and Jones
12/2/2020 8:48:54 PM
Steve & Group,
2020-12-02
Thank you Steve Clements for one of the best prepared posts.
Its been quite a while since I have read “How the North Won”, by Hattaway and Jones.
Good you mentioned that the overland campaign was not Grants idea. Grant’s appointment to Lt Gen and C-in-C was conditional on agreeing to attack overland from the Rappahannock and “pinning” Lee’s army. Grant’s original Idea was to . . . see Nevins;
Vol 4 the War For the Union Alan Nevins 1971 New York
Chapter 1 Grant Meade and Sherman Take Command p1-29
p8-9
Grant thought that “no attempt be made towards Richmond by any of the routes heretofore operated on, but moving a force of sixty thousand men to be thrown in to New Bern, or Suffolk, favoring the later place, and move out destroying the route (RR) as far toward Richmond as possible. Then move to Raleigh as rapidly as possible, hold that point, and open communication with New Bern, even Wilmington. From Raleigh the enemy’s most inland line (RR) would be so threatened as to force them to keep on it a guard that would reduce their armies in the field much below our own.” OR ser 1 v 32 p2 100-101, 142,143
Pressure from Lincoln and Stanton quickly caused Grant to abandon his own initial ideas and adopt Lincoln’s preferred approach to make Lee the target and object of operations. Grant not only intended to command from the west but appoint General W. F. Smith Commander of the army of the Potomac and take charge of the Virginia operations.
“Lincoln clung to his fundamental idea that the prime object of the north was not to close upon Richmond by water but to close upon Lee’s army by land and destroy it.”
Grants (natural) ambition caused him to yield and attempt Lincoln’s strategy – it failed – and Grant had to change his line to south of the James as he originally envisioned. This somewhat conflicts with H&J #1 above. (SC’s post) Confederate armies required a large population center as a base –Richmond, Nashville, Atlanta etc as examples. Once Union armies held (even temporarily) these centers the logistic resources were disrupted and armies forced to withdraw or disband.
The H&J so-called “raiding strategy” is an afterthought (though apt description). Union forces, even with their large advantages, simply did not have the logistical capacity to push forward large armies at the end of 300+ mile tether and supply large occupation forces at the same time. Atlanta was the logistical limit to sustain 80-90000 men. Naturally armies simply continued moving to get at and disrupt Confed Armies and their critical logistical support cities. This is what happened but was not thought out, simply a reaction to circumstances.
Richmond itself was always the correct object in the east. Once taken the main Virginia army could not be sustained and had to withdraw – as actually occurred. Grants first idea was the correct strategy and would have avoided the blood bath overland campaign. Note that but for Johnston’s wounding McClellan would have taken Richmond in summer 62 (JEJ would not hold it) – war would have been over not later than summer 63 – IMHO. Historically war ended less than two months after its fall.

I also call attention to the appendix and table at the end of the H&J volume they use to demonstrate that the charge that Lee bleed the south with unwise attacks is false. Data shows that Lee attacked no more and sustained not out of proportion losses compared to other armies.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 7:21:35 AM
What an interesting assessment about Grant.

He sought manoeuvre , not slaughter, but was pressured into the bloodbath and got the worst of it ?

Please tell me more about the refutation of Lee’s excessive prodigality.

The casualty figures, and the way they're interpreted, have long been major interests of mine.

There’s been some awful distortion by some commentators, who’ve deployed some very flawed statistics , in order to make a case against Lee’s generalship.

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: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 11:11:56 AM
Quote:
Please tell me more about the refutation of Lee’s excessive prodigality


Phil,

I think that a quick review of Lee’s campaigns during the 62 & 63 would show that he and the ANV were almost always in attack mode. This is not necessarily meant as a criticism – certainly, most of the heavy casualties (over 20k I believe) that Lee took during Seven Days would be justified by the outcome i.e. the campaign drove the AoP away from Richmond. And Longstreet’s flank attack at Second Bull Run was a golden opportunity (thank you Mr. Pope) to inflict serious damage on a Union army…and of course, time was of the essence, given Lee’s need to deal with Pope before most of the AoP could come up in support.

But given the advantages that the defense had during the CW, several of Lee’s battles stand out as being, IMO, a source of unnecessary casualties. Which the South could ill afford.

1) Malvern Hill. Lee took almost 6,000 casualties in a battle that he had little chance of winning. Maybe no chance…Frankly, I think that Lee was frustrated with his inability to coordinate his various divisions at Glendale (which did offer a legitimate opportunity to severely damage big chunks of the retreating AoP). The apparent result was that Lee was desperate to strike a blow, to make up for the missed opportunity of Glendale, and ordered an attack that should not have been made. Given the South’s inability to replace losses, taking almost 6,000 casualties for little gain was a serious error.

2) Making a stand that resulted in the battle of Antietam. IMO, the best-case scenario was what did happen. A tactical draw against heavy odds….followed by a successful retreat back to Virginia. Remember, unlike the battles that Lee fought in 64, his army was not dug in and was largely out in the open, and was very susceptible to artillery (and the ANV could not match the long distance guns that the AoP was able to employ). And that Lee was allowed to escape on the 19th was inexcusable, IMO. And obviously a very lucky break for Lee and what was left of the ANV, And no, the capture of 12k green Union soldiers does not begin to make up for the loss of veteran infantrymen that Lee lost at Antietam.

3) The third day at Gettysburg. In a not dissimilar pattern (i.e. Malvern Hill after Glendale), Lee had a real opportunity to perhaps shatter the AoP on July 2nd. I am not interested in discussing why the various attacks were not properly coordinated, what I am interested in is Lee’s reaction to the failed attacks. His inability or unwillingness to not acknowledge a missed opportunity was followed by what I view as a forlorn hope. Sending maybe 12k men right into the centre of the Union line. And once again, the waste of many good infantrymen.

I did not list the third day at Chancellorsville (May 3rd) or Bristoe Station (which was Hill’s fault, not Lee’s). Both involved the ANV taking arguably unnecessary casualties.

In contrast, much of the Overland campaign consisted of Federal attacks against dug in Confederates. And the result was…? The Union army did get a little closer to Richmond….but had completely gutted itself in the process. Which, IMO, helped lead to the ineffective attacks on the Petersburg line, after Grant crossed the James. And to an effective stalemate for the balance of the summer and early fall. Between the fighting at North Anna, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor, the Union suffered around 53,000 casualties. Lee’s ANV, suffered around 29,000 casualties…and ironically, Lee was able to replace a lot of those losses, by pulling regiments from less threatened areas, specially as a result of the failings of Butler at the Bermuda Hundred, and Sigel et al in the “Valley”.

What if Lee had used somewhat similar tactics during the latter half of 62 & 63? What would the ANV have looked like in May of 64? Would the AoP have bled itself dry/war weariness in the North have been even greater??

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 1:08:23 PM

2020 2 3
Phil & Steve,
The H&J appendix is a statistical analysis of Confed losses.
They look at the data to evaluate two questions,
(I will try to summarize several pages of analysis)
“One, the hypothesis that the confederates had less efficiency on the offensive because of their failure to realize the effectiveness of the rifle; the other that Robert E lee, by his propensity for the offensive, cost the south more casualties than others of his rank in the confederacy. As the following data will exhibit, neither of these hypotheses is true” p722
H&J then use Livermore’s efficiency index to evaluate Union and Confederate losses.
The efficiency index is basically confed losses/union strength : union losses/confed strength
They use stats for 26 battles.
Finding:
Livermore’s
%enemy % %enemy efficiency
Numbers casualties casualties index
All confederate 84.5 18 99.5 141

All lee 75.6 19.7 92 158
Bottom line data shows that Lee was more efficient in relative losses at 158 than all other confederates with relative losses at 141
sorry if not very clear their analysis starts at about p721 and continues several pages that I cant show here. also good to check out Livermores Numbers and Losses that they use as basic data. Maybe steve can backstop if I mess this up & I am no math whiz. dont have volume but copies of a few pages to quote from only.

My own comment is that lee succeeded at nearly single handed keeping union at bay for 3 years while other union armies marched forward consistently. Where is the successful and prolonged defensive that held out against union advance? Lee was largely successful with offensive/defense the best defense in spite of never having real parity in forces. For all the criticism “the war was lost in the west” simply means somebody in the east was pretty effective for 3 years. I reject notion that union commanders were better in west and weaker in east as explanation. With substantially weakened ANV by 64 Lee gave Grant all he wanted. Striking change in fortune resulted when Lee took over. Not really a “Lee fan” but the history of success, and yes flawed at times, can’t be denied.

Thanks Mike_C
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 1:57:38 PM
Mike_C,

Many thanks for your effort here.

Suggest circumspection about use of Livermore. He pitches some rather dubious figures which have been too readily accepted : his rendition of Antietam, for example, should be avoided, IMHO.

As soon as I see that authors base their arguments on Livermore, I get agitated. On no account imagine that I refute everything that Livermore has done : there are some real gems in his work , and there are few things worse than armchair critics who have done nothing themselves.

How do you feel about the assertion that confederates failed to realise the effectiveness of the rifle ?

This I refuse to buy.

Officers in both armies were, surely, versed in the use of the weapons. The fact that casualties were heavy does not mean that the soldiers didn't appreciate what rifled muskets could do. Evenly balanced battles in high intensity warfare, between equally skilled and resolute armies, with similar or identical weapons, is bound to entail a lot of bloodshed. Much the same might be said of the armies that went to war in 1914.

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: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 2:28:31 PM
Mike,
Quote:
My own comment is that lee succeeded at nearly single handed keeping union at bay for 3 years while other union armies marched forward consistently.


Agree.

Quote:
Where is the successful and prolonged defensive that held out against union advance?


Apple and oranges.

Given the Union focus on Richmond, and almost only Richmond, playing defense - in this theatre - was doable. Look at Grant's efforts to outflank Lee in '64. Before crossing the James (which was both brilliant and ballsy) after Cold Harbor, Grant was essentially hemmed in with little or not place to go. At least if he wanted to "advance". I mean, he had suffered over 50,000 casualties, and in reality, was no closer to taking Richmond, or destroying the ANV, than he was at the beginning of May.

Outside of the initial movements that resulted in Chancellorsville, I cannot think of a time where the Federal forces - in Virginia - were able to outflank the ANV, and bring Lee to battle on unfavourable terms. And sadly, Hooker's cold feet kicked that opportunity away-:)

Out west...no. The type of defense that could work in a concentrated theatre, such as northern Virginia, could not work in the west. For the Federal armies, there were multiple targets and multiple ways of going after those targets...as we saw with the capture of Vicksburg, the capture of Nashville and Chattanooga and eventually the capture of Atlanta, among others. What did work was the type of strategy employed at Chickamauga. Concentrate your forces and attack an invading army...whose own operating flexibility would be somewhat hampered by logistic considerations. And, if possible, go after his supply lines i.e. a Holly Springs, that made Grant chose a water route past Vicksburg.

So, I would argue that Lee should probably have played more defense and attacked less often...especially when under less than favourable conditions i.e. July 3rd, 1863 or a Malvern Hill.

Now, admittedly, that is with the benefit of hindsight. Following my logic, there never would have been a Gaine's Mill, or maybe even a second day at Second Bull Run.

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 2:45:47 PM
Mike,

Quote:
I reject notion that union commanders were better in west and weaker in east as explanation. With substantially weakened ANV by 64 Lee gave Grant all he wanted


Well, Burnside, Pope and little Mac were all about as bad, as generals commanding an army, as you could wish for (if you were Bobby Lee). In contrast, a portfolio of senior officers were allowed to "grow" into their jobs out west...i.e. Grant, Thomas, Rosecrans, Sherman and Sheridan. And of course, they got to go against a Bragg, a Pemberton etc.

I would argue that, in terms of general officers, the Federals had a notable edge out west. That a Bragg was still command at Chattanooga (November 63) and could be allowed to send Longstreet and his two divisions against Knoxville...primarily cuz the two couldn't or wouldn't get along, speaks volumes.

Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Seven Days and Fredericksburg were all about as badly managed, from the Union side, as one could possibly imagine. And maybe Antietam as well. Which leaves what (before Grant got there)? Gettysburg? South Mountain?? Until Meade came along (and I would argue that he was competent, but hardly brilliant), the various officers that commanded the AoP were all incompetent. Which might be a bit unfair to Hooker, since he did a lot right, but appears to have lost his nerve at exactly the wrong time.

I do want to touch on your "substantially weakened ANV" comment. What was left of the ANV was lethal. The cowards and shirkers were long gone. And what was left was going to fight it out to the death.....which they did at Spotsylvania, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor etc., piling up Yankee dead like no one's business.

In contrast, Grant was, to some extent, saddled with a mixture of both veterans that were about to go home (end of their three year enlistments..and hence not eager to get shot just before they could go home), and a mix of green troops...and maybe even big chunks of Burnsides' IX corps, that were a poor match for Bobby Lee's battle hardened infantry. I think that the disparity of the casualties at The Wilderness is telling. Yes, the Federals were generally on the offensive, but Lee did not just sit back, but but aggressively attacked both of Meade's flanks...plus several aggressive counter attacks on both days of the battle.

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 5:23:00 PM

2020 12 3

Steve & group
I respectfully disagree that in contrasting Lee’s effective often highly successful mix of offensive/defensive strategy/tactics with the absence of an example of a successful passive defense in the west is apples & oranges. If Lee is criticized for “too many attacks/too aggressive” operations, what should he have done. Yet Johnston is criticized for being too cautious. It’s a circular argument. Lee knew that particularly facing superior numbers that mobility and initiative was the only way to keep the AoP at bay. And the best way to hold initiative is some kind of movement to force a reaction – the offense.
The other circular reasoning I have to respectfully disagree with is that that Burnside Pope McClellan were necessarily incompetent. True they were none to successful but lee’s superior leadership had a lot to do with that. Again, but for Johnston’s wound McClellan would have conquered Richmond in July-August 62 and possibly gone on to be the wars great general – imagine that. Burnside Pope McClellan showed some success which makes an assessment of incompetence wrong, somewhat cautious and clumsy that Lee took advantage of – the sign of a good commander – but respectfully no not incompetent. Pope was picked by Lincoln to go east specifically because of his success at Island No. 10 – a precursor to Grant’s Vicksburg envelopment. Pope was certainly not incompetent. He succumbed to just the same type of movement that Van Dorn made vs Grant at Holly Springs. Grant benefited from the fact that Van Dorn was not Lee and also lacked a Jackson and also was a much smaller force. Grant reaction was much in line with Pope’s. 2nd Bull Run Campaign may be a better master’s class by Lee in strategy and leadership even than Chancellorsville. Hooker also not incompetent, he was a very effective corps commander and clearly stole a march on Lee at Chancellorsville but Lee was no Bragg, Johnston or Hood. Hooker also led a corps at Chattanooga. Yes, there were few movements by Union to outflank Lee – that’s because he used the initiative to block/preclude any such efforts. AoP spent its time mainly trying to react and survive Lee’s initiative – that’s what made Lee’s Offensive/defense so effective. In spite of being a massive loss & possibly decisive one result of the Gettysburg defeat was that there was no effort to threaten Richmond for nine months. Even in defeat Lee was far more effective in defending Richmond than passive defensives before Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta. Again, I recognise lee was flawed but his strategy and leadership was far superior to passive western commanders.
Thanks
Mike_C.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 7:27:41 PM
Quote:
I respectfully disagree that in contrasting Lee’s effective often highly successful mix of offensive/defensive strategy/tactics with the absence of an example of a successful passive defense in the west is apples & oranges.


Mike,

Thanks for the reply...

IMO, the Western theatre (not thinking trans Mississippi) vs. Virginia were definitely apples and oranges. Out west, it was very difficult to simply "block" a Union army's flanking moves...much too much room to manoeuvre. And too many targets-:) But in Virginia, Richmond was essentially the target...so it was really only a matter of guessing which flank the invading Union army was going to try and turn. So we may have to agree to disagree on this point.

Quote:
If Lee is criticized for “too many attacks/too aggressive” operations, what should he have done.
Well, my suggestion was to play the type of defense that Lee was forced to do in '64.

Now, I am not necessarily convinced that I am right....I am just sorta throwing it out there....but I am impressed with the damage that Lee inflicted on Grant's Overland & Petersburg armies By July 64, Grant's forces were a shell of what they were in early May, and no longer suitable IMO for serious offensive operations.

But the unnecessary casualties that Lee took at an Antietam or a Malvern Hill or on July 3rd at Gettysburg do strike me as an extravagance that the South could not afford. But as you have pointed out, arguably almost by himself, Lee kept the Confederacy alive for three plus years.

Quote:
Yet Johnston is criticized for being too cautious.


Well, most would argue that he clearly was-:) He wanted all his ducks in a row before he would attack....and certainly in the Atlanta campaign, given the disparity in numbers between Sherman and the AoT, this only happened once or twice. And of course, there is a world of difference between the tactical styles of Lee and Johnston....somewhere in the middle might have been more optimal for both-:)

Quote:
It’s a circular argument. Lee knew that particularly facing superior numbers that mobility and initiative was the only way to keep the AoP at bay


Well, Lee thought that keeping the initiative was critically important, and he was certainly successful in 1862...but Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville were both essentially defensive victories, albeit at C., he first blocked Hooker's flanking force, and the turned and bent it back. But at a severe cost. His dead and wounded were roughly equal to Hooker's and Hooker's army was more than twice the size of Lee's.

In contrast, his success in 64, playing defense against a very aggressive Grant, might suggest that taking the initiative and moving tactically on the offense was not necessarily the best way to defeat the AoP. By July of 64, the AoP (and supporting corps) were essentially gutted....

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 7:44:45 PM
Mike,

Quote:
True they were none to successful but lee’s superior leadership had a lot to do with that. Again, but for Johnston’s wound McClellan would have conquered Richmond in July-August 62 and possibly gone on to be the wars great general – imagine that.


Yes, Lee had a lot to do with "that".

Could or would Johnston have kept Mac out of Richmond? Interesting question. Seven Pines showed that Johnston would fight, although his attacks were poorly coordinated...but I can't imagine Johnston being ballsy enough to coordinate his army with Jackson's valley divisions. But to actually take Richmond, Mac would have had to do something besides dig trenches and bring up artillery. I am obviously influenced by his later performances (or lack of the same), so I am somewhat doubtful.


Quote:
Burnside Pope McClellan showed some success which makes an assessment of incompetence wrong, ...
um, yes and no. Yes, Pope had Island # 10, and Burnside earned a decent rep with successful amphibious attacks on the Carolina coast.

But Pope's mismanagement of Second Bull Run, including his blind disbelief that Longstreet had "come up" defy belief. Pope was correctly sent to Minnesota to chase Indians.....And the less said about Fredericksburg and Burnside the better. Burnside was also less than effective at Antietam, although he deserved less blame than what Mac tried to dump on him.

I especially remember reading about Burnsides' role in the Federal attack on the second morning of the fighting in the Wilderness. Hancock and Warren were to attack at first light, and the IX corps was to knife in between the II (centred on the Orange Plank road) and the V corps (centred on the Orange Turnpike). .From memory, Grant wanted a 4:00 am start for Burnside (as the last corps to cross the Rapidan, Burnside's IX corps had a bit of marching to do, before they could get to their jumpoff point). Burnside argued for a 5:00 start. Which would bring him into contact with the ANV at say 6:30 or so.....Grant reluctantly gave in. After Burnside left the tent, several officers told Grant that "he will be late, he always is...That's Burnside".... The IX corps was more than late. It was late, and then before engaging the ANV, Burnside stopped the column so that they could all have breakfast. Can't have hungry soldiers. By the time the IX corps got into action, the entire morning's offense had already shot its bolt, and was being counter attacked and pushed back by Lee. I think that Burnside ended up being something like four hours late. And being completely useless....

And of course the fiasco of the Crater. Where Burnside let his division commanders draw straws. And allowed a drunk to direct the fight. As a result, Burnside let a pretty good plan fall completely apart.

As for Hooker....well, I have a soft spot for Hooker. He had just two major failings. The first was the loss of nerve at Chancellorsville. Which might have been forgiven. But from my perspective (and apparently from Lincoln's) the second failing, blaming the defeat at C. on everyone else but himself, was less forgivable. Which essentially guaranteed Hooker's exit from the AoP. His second in command, Darius Couch, basically refused to serve under Hooker anymore. And he left the service of the AoP.

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/3/2020 11:11:48 PM
Quote:
Even in defeat Lee was far more effective in defending Richmond than passive defensives before Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta


Except I am clearly not arguing for a passive role in the western theatre. The example that I gave was of Chickamauga...where the Confederacy did a excellent job of using interior lines, to concentrate a superior force against an invading army under Rosecrans. Where any reinforcements for Rosecrans would be weeks away, at best. That Bragg refused to aggressively follow up his victory at Chickamauga is not an indictment of the tactical policies that I think would have worked out west.

At Vicksburg, Grant actually was outnumbered, once he was able to land his three infantry corps on the Vicksburg side of the MIssissippi. But Pemberton and Johnson were unable to work together. Again, this was a golden opportunity for the Confederates to use interior lines, and to consolidate greater numbers against an invading army. Had the Confederate forces consolidated and attacked Grant, and/or drawn troops from Bragg (since Rosecrans was sitting on his heels) Grant would have been in serious trouble, particularly given his lack of a real supply line. He had to keep moving to stay alive.

Same with Atlanta. That the Confederacy did not go after Sherman's rail link back to Nashville, in a much more aggressive fashion, was criminal. Now, infantry (Polk's corps) was sent to Johnston, but little was done about Sherman's very extended supply line. And as I wrote previously, Sherman's flanking attacks should have been aggressively attacked. Almost without exception they were not.

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/4/2020 6:47:19 AM
Quote:

Now, admittedly, that is with the benefit of hindsight. Following my logic, there never would have been a Gaine's Mill, or maybe even a second day at Second Bull Run.

s.c.


Thanks for mentioning Gaines's Mill, Steve.

Talk about a bloodbath !

With the exception of Sharpsburg, and perhaps the second day at Chickamauga, no single day cost the South more blood than 27 June 1862.

Nothing sophisticated, just head on stuff, culminating in a superb bayonet charge by the men under Hood's command. Even Stonewall Jackson was in awe of the conduct of that attack.

A triumph achieved at prodigal cost.

We were lavish of blood in those days, wrote DH Hill in his post war reminiscences.

I wonder if such fighting imparted to Lee's soldiers an experience that, a couple of years later, was to render them supremely effective in their combat prowess in the Overland. It took that " Learning Curve" to produce this.

In British military annals, there has been a cadre of mavericks who like to see themselves as Gurus, or Messiahs, who understand the business of war. This group includes JFC Fuller, David Stirling, Basil Liddell Hart and Ord Wingate. They tend to be disdainful of military hierarchies and depict them as systemically inept and reluctant, or unable, to adapt . David Stirling, founder of the SAS, described them as layers of fossilized shit. Fuller liked to write about the American Civil War, and indulged in commentary flavoured with something of this. For example, writing of Grant and Lee, he states Neither of them understood the tactics of the bullet....

Is he breathtakingly arrogant, or ignorant, or, God forbid, both ? Many will agree with him. I don't.

Editing : a little twitchy about my claim for Gaines's Mill casualties : Southern losses on 3 May 1863 at Chancellorsville might have exceeded them ; OTOH, there were more rebels captured in the later battle, and I suspect that more of Lee's men were actually killed at Gaines's Mill. Not too sure, though.

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
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/4/2020 11:12:21 AM
Gentlemen
Marching along, we are marching along,
Gird on the armor and be marching along;
Joe Hooker’s our leader, he takes his whiskey strong.
For God and for country we are marching along.

So sang the men of Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker's Old Division. His men loved him but...his politics, his so called life style, his friends (Sickles, Butterfield etc) and his inability to keep his mouth shut doomed him. (Imagine if there had been Twitter back then!) Joe was a fighting leader up the command chain and even surprising to many a good organizer as shown by his work in the winter/spring of 1862/63. Came up with a great plan to get at Lee in May 1863 and there he failed completely. Sent West with the XI and XII as XX Corps commander and again fought hard. Again his mouth got him in trouble after the death of McPherson and being passed over.

Joe Hooker’s our leader, he takes his whiskey strong.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/4/2020 2:07:53 PM
John,

I understand his efforts to police the camps and make sure that decent food actually got to the men in the ranks made a huge impact on morale...that had bottomed out under Burnside. And real food, including vegetables etc. shortened the body count in the hospitals...

At Chattanooga, he took Lookout Mountain and then proceeded to roll up Bragg’s left flank on Missionary Ridge. The importance of which Grant sadly downplayed....perhaps to protect his underperforming subordinate, Mr Sherman.

But you are correct, his mouth was his worst enemy...and you can’t command an army if most or all of your corps commanders want you gone.

s.c.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/4/2020 6:49:55 PM
Steve

Battle of Chancellorsville:
Meade to Slocum on being ordered to pull back, Meade exclaimed, "My God, if we can't hold the top of the hill, we certainly can't hold the bottom of it!"

Hooker called a council of war on May 4 in which Gen John Reynolds voted to proceed with the battle, but although the vote was three to two for offensive action, Hooker decided to retreat. Reynolds, who had gone to sleep after giving his proxy vote to Meade, woke up and muttered loud enough for Hooker to hear, "What was the use of calling us together at this time of night when he intended to retreat anyhow?"

Gen Darius Couch requested reassignment after quarreling with Hooker at Chancellorsville. When the AoP withdrew from Chancellorsville, the river rose and cut off part of it. The other part was left under Couch who wanted to turn and fight. Hooker gave specific orders to him to repair the bridges and continue the retreat.

After the battle Hooker looked for scrapegoats to blame and found them in Howard and the XI Corps. He also blamed Sedgwick "My object in ordering General Sedgwick forward ... Was to relieve me from the position in which I found myself at Chancellorsville. ... In my judgment General Sedgwick did not obey the spirit of my order, and made no sufficient effort to obey it. ... When he did move it was not with sufficient confidence or ability on his part to manoeuvre his troops."

“The headquarters of the Army of the Potomac was a place to which no self-respecting man liked to go, and not decent woman could go."

"To tell the truth, I just lost confidence in Joe Hooker."



.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Hattaway and Jones
12/5/2020 5:36:27 PM

2020 12 05
Steve, John, Phil & Group
“In contrast, his success in 64, playing defense against a very aggressive Grant, might suggest that taking the initiative and moving tactically on the offense was not necessarily the best way to defeat the AoP.”
No. Within two months Lee had been pressed back to Richmond and Petersburg. Lee always new that allowing Richmond siege was a losing strategy – he was right. You suggest that his best? Strategy was the one that lost the quickest – not the strategy that Lee used to successfully defend Richmond for two years?? You suggest losing strategy Best??
I think we still agree to disagree. You actually make some good points for me;
“Confederacy did not go after Sherman's rail link”
“Sherman's flanking attacks should have been”
“Bragg refused to aggressively follow up his victory at Chickamauga”
As I said where’s the successful defense – not one. Well it does seem you may actually advocate the losing strategy. Actually, I understand you may not mean (and you said not) to but the argument seems to be going where you did not intend. Again the logical alternative to Lee’s approach was to rely on the defense and wait and react to union advances – that’s what lost in the west.
“the Western theatre (not thinking trans Mississippi) vs. Virginia were definitely apples and oranges. Out west, it was very difficult to simply "block" a Union army's flanking moves”
Actually not so much. Even in the west large union armies were tied to a railroad or river making lines of approach fairly obvious. Exactly why FtH&D, Shiloh were fought in those places. And also well demonstrated by the Nashville to Atlanta campaigns. Yes western Confed commanders failed to block – because they relied on defensive and gave initiative to the enemy. Yes at Chickamauga they finally beat Rosecrans to the punch (just barely) but was a frontal attack that was lucky enough to strike a union caused large gap at just the right moment. Note Bragg’s real opportunity at McLemore Cove 9-10 Sept was botched by the refusal of his petty insubordinate division commanders. And could have been an example of the best strategy but badly misfired. (see Woodworth, Davis and Generals p 230-231)
“Could or would Johnston have kept Mac out of Richmond?” Given JEJ performance in Tenn. Miss. And GA. We can say he would have abandoned Richmond after Seven Pines. And yes the only reason Lee was given command after SP was JEJ wounding. Davis like Longstreet and many/most infantry line officers looked down on staff and engineering officers like Lee. With ASJ dead; PTBG disliked, Lee was Davis last choice, last of the original 5 full generals available.(actually Lee transferred to the Cavalry 5 years before the war)
Thanks & Great discussion, Mike_C.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/6/2020 7:37:07 AM
Mike,

Quote:
“Could or would Johnston have kept Mac out of Richmond?” Given JEJ performance in Tenn. Miss. And GA. We can say he would have abandoned Richmond after Seven Pines


Well, the other side of the equation is, of course, would Mac have seriously attempted to get into Richmond-:) Given Mac's track record, I have serious doubts about his ability to engage enough of his force to inflict serious damage on Johnston. The only example we have is Mac's conduct on the offensive is at Antietam. There, despite facing an opponent with vastly inferior numbers, with its back to the river, and not entrenched, Mac used, at most, maybe two thirds of his available force, in a series of uncoordinated attacks, that yielded remarkably little.

The other issue is numbers. With Jackson's Valley command, Lee's force totalled around 93k during Seven Days. Without McDowell, Mac had around 103k. And that assumes an apples to apples comparison. Bunch of years ago, a different Mike made a very persuasive argument, that concluded that Lee's army actually outnumbered Mac, when it came to real bodies, with muskets, on the firing line. There are multiple ways of counting bodies in a CW army, and multiple definitions....(are teamsters counted...are units guarding wagons or are on detached service counted...are soldiers on sick call but with the army counted .... yada, yada, yada).

Regardless of whether or not Lee outnumbered Mac or vice versa....unlike Antietam, Mac did NOT have a large advantage in numbers....especially if he was to go on the offensive. And based on Antietam, he would not likely have concentrated on a weak spot, and brought overwhelming numbers to bear etc. Much of the fighting at Antietam was between units that were roughly equal in numbers.

Of course, a missing variable here is would Johnston have called on Jackson's Valley army....but either way, if Johnston was reluctant to attack, he could defend (as per Seven PInes)...and if Johnston's track record is spotty, Mac's is worse-:)

I have no clue how the Peninsula campaign would have played out, had Lee not been wounded. But I am not convinced that Richmond would have been abandoned, and certainly do not believe that Mac could have or would have inflicted major damage on Johnston.

As an aside, in terms of killed and wounded, Lee's outnumbered Mac's by 2 to 1. Yeah, Mac suffered 6,000 lost to prisoners, missing etc., but my bias is that killed and wounded are a lot more "real". as prisoners tended to live to be exchanged and fight again, especially in 62 & 63.
s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/8/2020 11:14:45 AM
Quote:
No. Within two months Lee had been pressed back to Richmond and Petersburg. Lee always new that allowing Richmond siege was a losing strategy – he was right. You suggest that his best? Strategy was the one that lost the quickest – not the strategy that Lee used to successfully defend Richmond for two years?? You suggest losing strategy Best?


Mike,

I am suggesting that Lee may have needed to have played a little more defense, and avoided aggressive tactics that did little more than add to Confederate casualty rolls. Which is, arguably, a little unfair, because (of course) my hindsight is 20/20. But an Antietam, a Malvern Hill, a Pickett's Charge seemed to have been done more out of frustration than from any real expectation of benefiting from the tactical decisions.

Lee's defensive tactics in 64, forced upon him by Grant, were effective, to the extent that, by July 64, the AoP was no longer capable of offensive operations.

And in 62 and 63, Lee wasn't facing a "Grant". Any other AoP commander, other than Grant, would have retreated back across the Rapidan after The Wilderness. Which, at best for the Federals, was a tactical stalemate, but cost Grant's combined army almost 18,000 casualties. In 62 & 63, a Federal tactical defeat was always followed by a retreat, and months to regroup.

I think that the post Second Bull Run campaign was madness...at least by the time that Lee had crossed into Maryland, it should have been clear to him that his army was so reduced in manpower, that a major battle had to be avoided at all cost. And given the casualties taken in the Gettysburg campaign (27k), my bias is that invasion was also a poor idea, that yielded little to justify its cost.

IMO, Lee should have been playing for time. The opportunity to destroy or seriously shatter the AoP was, in hindsight again, close to non-existent. Civil war armies were remarkably resilient.. The closest example to a battle of annihilation was Nashville...and even there, sizable chunks of the AoT escaped to fight another day.

IMO, The goal should have been to get to the 64 elections, and hope that the North would throw Lincoln out on this ear-:) Which, as you know, in August 64, looked like it would happen.

s.c.



Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/8/2020 12:05:11 PM
Quote:
Again the logical alternative to Lee’s approach was to rely on the defense and wait and react to union advances – that’s what lost in the west.


Well, the choices out west were to either enact a 'cordon' defense, which Sidney Johnston tried early in the war, and that failed miserably, or to react to Union advances. The latter being, IMO, the correct response.

A quick look at the three major Federal offenses in 63 & 64 (Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta) do suggest IMO) that reacting to a Federal offensive was the correct strategy.

1) Vicksburg. Grant was (at least before he got to Vicksburg and could be reinforce from the MIssissippi) outnumbered by a combination of Pemberton and Johnston. And had at best an inadequate supply line. That the Confederates allowed themselves to be bested AND to lose both Pemberton's army and Vicksburg is due to incompetence on behalf of both the generals involved AND Richmond. Although for Pemberton to lose both his army and the city was criminally stupid, IMO.

2) Chattanooga. As you referenced, Chickamauga was arguably only a Confederate victory because of the mishap with Wood's division. But as you pointed out, the real opportunity was lost at McLemore's Cove. Again, inept leadership resulted in what happened at Chattanooga in November 63. The strategy was correct..

3) As noted previously, Sherman's supply line was vulnerable, and it should have been aggressively attacked. And Joe Johnston should have done what Lee did during the Petersburg campaign. Every time that Grant tried to flank Lee, Lee left a minimal amount of men in his trenches, and aggressively attacked, with the balance, any and all of Grant's flanking moves. Johnston should have and could have done the same...particularly given that he was consistently able to retreat to prepared entrenchments.

As an aside, I understand that Peachtree Creek was planned by Johnston. And it could have worked. But didn't, at least not under Hood. In contrast, the Battle of Atlanta strikes me as a useless loss of good men from the AoT i.e. 5500 I believe. Followed by Jonesborough, which added another 2700 men to the casualty list, primarily due to Stephen Lee's tactical incompetence.

Frankly, the big problem "out west" for the Confederacy was inept leadership. The AoT had five commanders.....And the more I learn about Sidney Johnston, the less impressed I am. Followed by Beauregard , who Davis hated...and who wasn't around long enough to have more than the second day at Shiloh pinned on him, then Bragg, then Johnston, and then Hood. Arguably, the most competent of the five was Johnston, which is really damning with faint praise.

s.c.

Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/8/2020 2:57:56 PM
Quote:
Actually not so much. Even in the west large union armies were tied to a railroad or river making lines of approach fairly obvious. Exactly why FtH&D, Shiloh were fought in those places. And also well demonstrated by the Nashville to Atlanta campaigns.


I think that this is a fair point. Very difficult for a Federal army - at least of any size - to move very far into the Confederacy, without resorting to either a river or a railroad.

Although Rosecrans did a pretty good job - in 63 - of confusing Bragg. Right up 'til Bragg laid that nasty little trap for him at McLemore's Cove-:) And arguably Grant did, after landing on the east side of the MIssissippi in 63.

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Hattaway and Jones
12/8/2020 5:57:17 PM

2020 12 8
Steve & Group
good points & enjoy exchange.
Well we have two distinctly different interpretations of Lees campaigns.
Criticism of Lee as too aggressive and too heavy losses is refuted by H&J in their appendix pretty effectively. This criticism is long standing beginning even during the war itself and Lee was well aware of it. Sorry I don’t have the quote at hand but Lee himself responded to such statements (sorry I can only grossly paraphrase from memory) (not real quote) “enemy superior numbers are obvious, if we let that fact make us hesitate, we should never have begun this fight”?? No other confederate general showed anything like Lee’s record so kibitzing Lee’s record while being unable to show any example of a successful alternative seems weak at best. Even acknowledging Lee’s errors, his performance was effective – so effective he made his opponents “look” incompetent.
“my bias is that killed and wounded are a lot more "real"”
I think just the opposite. The way to determine a effective victory is by the per cent missing vs K&W. the state of tactics meant that yes victors vs losers K&W were very close and at times worse for the winner. As H&J say the state of practice largely dictated that breaks in the line were met with counter attacks to maintain a continuous line to hold the position. So the victor sometimes had larger losses. The number of missing show the moral effect of the fighting and that the side that withdrew left many K&W on the field. Yes Grant figured out that his generally superior numbers (no not always) meant he could stand after being heavily beaten back after attacking. So at 2nd Bull run Defending rebels had K&W about 1/3 greater than Union. But Union missing nearly equaled K&W; vs confed missing virtually nil. A fairly decisive rebel win.

“The goal should have been to get to the 64 elections”
But the facts show that even McClellan, after Atlanta fell, repudiated the idea of negotiation and insisted on preserving the union which Davis would never accept.
Lee knew the goal was to force a negotiated peace well before the election by blocking union attempts like the Peninsula campaign and holding the initiative. And yes its true it appears this would never have been likely, especially with Davis as President. Most high ranking confederates civil and military had unrealistic notions about their military chances and the determination of the northern people IMHO. Because lee was well acquainted with many unionist high & low he had a slightly better understanding of that fact. Lee always knew that “playing for time” was a losing stategy.

Again I have to say respectfully that your analysis of JEJ vs MAC is wrong. And lee critics love to quibble about numbers and even claim he had more – oh boy! Mac didnt have to engage JEJ. The only action before Seven Pines was Williamsburg. Once JEJ arrived on the peninsula it took only 2 weeks for him to retreat 50 miles to Richmond. He finally attempted to strike a blow at but that failed. There is no real evidence to say that he would have stayed to defend Richmond. Mac didn’t have to attack him he simply withdrew in the face of any pressure. And its consistent with his (JEJ) record in the west. Once in position in front of Richmond any significant attack would have sent Johnston evacuating. After Bull run Johnston actually only fought 4 battles. 4 battles in nearly 4 years of command (though he was out of command for months after being wounded and being relieved in front of Atlanta) and in the two years that the Union marched through Tenn. Miss. & Georgia he only stood and fought twice (atlanta campaign). To suggest he would have stood in prolonged defense of Richmond is not consistent with any part of his record. Note before Bull Run he evacuated, in near panic, the northern Valley destroying many valuable supplies when the nearest threat was 50 miles away.

“Frankly, the big problem "out west" for the Confederacy was inept leadership” I agree there but I think it makes my point lees strategy was correct.
“outnumbered by a combination of Pemberton and Johnston.” Not really ‘cause they were never one unit. Each acted indepentently – bad strategy.
“Sherman's supply line was vulnerable, and it should have been aggressively attacked. “ again it wasn’t; making lees example better, lee actually did what you suggest shuda been done and it worked sometimes for lee and helped make him more successful.
“reacting to a Federal offensive was the correct strategy.” Never succeeded in holding the west.

Steve, thanks great discussion, why we’re hooked on this history, I know I have been for like 60 years .
Mike_C.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/8/2020 6:26:50 PM
Mike,

You make a convincing case.

Your comment that the defending rebels at 2nd Bull Run suffered losses in killed and wounded that were one third higher than those of the Yankees has got me a bit agitated.....surely that’s incorrect, unless you’re alluding to proportionate losses, as opposed to absolute numbers. ?

The official returns of both armies show that the South lost nine thousand killed and wounded at Second Mannassas , compared with rather more than ten thousand for the North : darned close, admittedly, but, as you correctly emphasise, about six thousand yankees were posted as missing, compared with about one hundred rebels. It’s a legitimate assumption that a significant number of the yankee missing had been killed or wounded.

Steve,

Lee took incredible risks. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it ?

He was able to count on the blood and guts of his soldiers, who paid a staggering price.

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: 79
Joined: 2020
Hattaway and Jones
12/9/2020 11:52:08 AM

Phil,
Yikes! Yes sorry my bad I guess I transposed union/confed K&W. But my main point was that the number missing can be a significant figure in evaluating combat/battle and leader performance.
Sorry.

Mike_C
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/9/2020 1:17:48 PM
Mike,

Quote:
Again I have to say respectfully that your analysis of JEJ vs MAC is wrong. And lee critics love to quibble about numbers and even claim he had more – oh boy! Mac didnt have to engage JEJ. The only action before Seven Pines was Williamsburg.


I don't think that JEJ would have been allowed to give up Richmond without a fight. And JEJ would fight, he just needed to have all his ducks lined up in a row-:) He did fight at Seven Pines....he did lay a very nice trap for Schofield (and one of Thomas' divisions) at Cassville, which ironically, Hood panicked away. And I have been told - twice on this board - that Peachtree Creek was his plan.

I am not personally arguing that Lee had greater numbers...but I am willing to argue that the disparity in numbers between JEJ and MAC was not so great as to provide Mac with a significant edge. Particularly given that Mac would actually have to attack with a significant portion of his army to have a chance of success. Which, from what I know of Mac, I seriously doubt would happen-:)

Quote:
“Frankly, the big problem "out west" for the Confederacy was inept leadership” I agree there but I think it makes my point lees strategy was correct


I see a serious contradiction here....Lee's aggressive strategy worked - for Lee. For two reasons...that did not exist out west.

1) Because Lee had the skill and the balls, quite frankly, to pull it off. There wasn'T another general in the Confederacy that could have pulled off a Chancellorsville. I mean, Lee split his army (all six divisions of it...) into three separate, unsupported pieces, in the face of an enemy that outnumbered him more than two to one. And took the offensive!!!

2 ) And Lee's very aggressive tactics at Chancellorsville only worked cuz Hooker lost his nerve. Lee got away with some very large gambles....but he did so because he was going against a Mac, a Pope, and a Hooker. Trying to do a Second Bull Run or a Chancellorsville against a Grant or a Sherman or a Thomas arguably would have been disastrous.

Quote:
“reacting to a Federal offensive was the correct strategy.” Never succeeded in holding the west.


I am repeating myself here...but that was due to a failure of management/generalship. In your opinion, what strategie should the Confederacy have embarked on out west? The cordon defense was a failure. Take the war to the North?? The Confederacy - at times - couldn't even keep the AoT supplied in is home territory...how could it supply an invading AoT.? IMO, the Confederacy simply executed poorly out west. And blame lies both with the generals, the Bragg's etc., but also with Richmond, that may have been a little too focused on Virginia.

Quote:
“outnumbered by a combination of Pemberton and Johnston.” Not really ‘cause they were never one unit. Each acted indepentently – bad strategy.


That is not "bad strategy", that is (very) bad execution. What should have the Confederacy have done, in your opinion?

Quote:
No other confederate general showed anything like Lee’s record so kibitzing Lee’s record while being unable to show any example of a successful alternative seems weak at best. Even acknowledging Lee’s errors, his performance was effective – so effective he made his opponents “look” incompetent.


I generally agree with this....but at the risk of repeating (and repeating) the same points 1) He got away with it, cuz he was going against inept commanders in 62 & 63. 2) He took a lot of casualties - with hindsight - that he didn't have to suffer i.e. Antietam, Malvern Hill, Pickett's Charge etc. Some of those men would have been very useful in the campaigns of 64. The North could sadly afford a Fredericksburg. The South could not afford an Antietam.

Quote:
The number of missing show the moral effect of the fighting and that the side that withdrew left many K&W on the field.


I suspect that this is often true. But having prisoners taken, that at least in 62 & 63, were eventually swapped back, did not have as negative an impact on the North as did their killed and wounded. That was my point....for what it's worth -:)

Have enjoyed the discussion...but I am starting to repeat myself...

s.c.

Edit. Mac may have been for continuing the fight if POTUS, but his party was most definitely not.

mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Hattaway and Jones
12/9/2020 4:37:35 PM
2020 12 09

Steve, Phil & group
“Trying to do a Second Bull Run or a Chancellorsville against a Grant or a Sherman or a Thomas arguably would have been disastrous.”
Speaking of that . . . I had posted an old article on my own CIVIL WAR DISPATCH (now Defunct) “Grant at Manassass” (yes counter-factual) where I examine the idea.
I can only summarize but:
1) Grant had been moved aside and would likely have accepted a command in the east.
2) Halleck (before going east himself) objected to losing Pope who he preferred to grant.
3) Ultimately Lincoln Picked Pope because of his successful ISL No 10.
Three times between Apr and Dec 62 Grant was surprised – Shiloh; Corinth; Holy Springs.
Reaction of Grant & Pope were similar. Neither in 62 had experience to avoid being surprised.
Nothing in Grants record up to summer-fall 62 to suggest he could have avoided treatment like Pope had he faced Lee/Jackson on the Rappahannock July august 62.
(want full article email me privately)
I know many find counter factuals to be poison – I don’t.
My conclusion “ The point here is not that Lee would have beat Grant at Bull Run. More important is that the margin between good and bad commanders may be quite small. While it’s common to hear Pope called incompetent, in fact Grant may be regarded very differently today had he been in Pope’s place at Bull Run.”

So now some one will say counterfactuals don’t count, don’t prove anything, or cant be meaningful.

My response:

COUNTER-FACTUAL ANALYSIS
A prime example of counter-factual analysis as a valid tool of historical research comes from the distinguished civil war historian Allan Nevins in his The War for the Union: the Organized War 1863-1864. In his chapter titled “Vicksburg: the Organized Victory” we find the following on page 56:
Could the South have held the Mississippi if it had centered its main energies upon the task? Probably it could, if a number of posts between Island No. 10 and Port Hudson had been energetically fortified and provisioned; if a powerful mobile army had been kept intact under one bold general; and if this army had been given timely strength by reinforcement from Virginia and from Arkansas. Effective defensive measures could have been taken, but the necessity was not always clear, and in taking such measures the Confederacy would have weakened other areas. The country was full of provisions; it had insufficient transport to be sure, but determined and resourceful officers, moving in time, could have accumulated enough salt-pork, corn, beans, rice, sugar and molasses to feed garrisons in Vicksburg, Port Gibson, and Port Hudson for long periods. The river was as much a natural barrier for defense as a natural avenue for invasion. Effectively fortified to prevent the passages of boats – unarmed transports steaming down, slow moving ironclads struggling upstream – it would have proved a valuable bulwark. The people of the lower valley felt strongly that the defense of New Orleans has been bungled; that it should never have been possible for Farragut to make so easy a conquest. They felt outraged that the Confederate flotilla at Memphis should have been so swiftly annihilated.

Again on page 59 he assesses Pemberton’s actions in counter factual terms:
Had Pemberton acted instantly on this order, he might have effected a junction with Johnston somewhere near Clinton, and helped preserve the mobility of the joint force. Instead, he called a council of war, showed them the message and argued at length against obeying it. A majority of the council voted for accepting the orders, and a minority wished to strike at the communications of the advancing Union forces. Pemberton unwillingly adopted the latter plan. Johnston, however, was at this moment forced out of Jackson by Grant’s brief occupation of the place, and when he directed Pemberton on the 15th to move directly to Clinton for a junction, his orders were betrayed to Grant.

These two examples are perhaps dispositive of the value and validity of counter-factual analysis as a tool of historical narrative.

Ok!, so my point is I reject that MAC, Pope, Burnside or Hooker or Meade were incompetent no they simply fell to a combination in Lee/Jackson that had the better idea of strategy, acted on it, executed it and won by surprise and mobility.

Yes we start to rehash but I respect your points we just see it differently. I do stick strongly to my view. And understand there are many who agree with what you say.
Yours, Mike_C.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Hattaway and Jones
12/9/2020 5:49:50 PM
Quote:

The number of missing show the moral effect of the fighting and that the side that withdrew left many K&W on the field.


Mike,

This is an important feature of the civil war casualty returns that is too often overlooked.

A victorious army might report a larger number of killed and wounded than its defeated adversary : that must not obscure the fact that the winners who retained the field were able to make a proper accounting of their dead and wounded ; while the defeated party relinquished the field and abandoned dead, wounded and dying, posting them as missing in action. It's a striking fact that in the Seven Days, Second Mannassas and Chancellorsville, the Union army reported roughly six thousand missing in each of these battles : the majority of these were unwounded prisoners, but we can be sure that many were killed or wounded. The same can be said of Chickamauga. Even at Franklin, which is cited as a battle of lopsided slaughter, the yankee casualty list conveys a distorted image : 2,326 casualties, but only 189 of them were posted as killed. Nearly half of the total casualties were returned as missing, and recent research reveals that the true number of killed was much greater, once the fate of some of those missing could be established. When the Union soldiers returned to the battlefield some weeks later, they went to great pains to recover and rebury their dead comrades, after hundreds had been interred hastily and rather indecently by the rebels, who had far more of their own dead to worry about. The point that matters is the awful blow to morale that abandoning wounded and dying brothers in arms entailed ; for the Union armies, this was an important feature in the balance sheet of defeat, and I am sure that commanders on both sides realised the crucial effect on morale that holding the field exercised. Lee's outrageous stand at Sharpsburg on the day after the battle might be attributable in large measure to this awareness : he was unwilling to hurt morale further by abandoning his wounded. This might also be true of Gettysburg, but this time he did have to leave thousands of his wounded behind. I note that in the Overland fighting in May and early June 1864, Lee's record was fantastic : the number of wounded left in enemy hands was astonishingly small, considering the intensity of the battles. The same could not be said of the yankees, whose casualties were not only far heavier, but also included large numbers whose fate was truly horrendous, as they were abandoned in burning woods, or left to die in front of rebel trenches. Many of these were posted as missing. What this fighting did to the morale of Grant's soldiers is hard to imagine.

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

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