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john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/19/2020 7:37:44 PM
Does anything think Jefferson Davis was the wrong man for the job of President of the CSA? An excellent Sec of war under Pierce he welded great power in the Admin. He worked to build a base to position himself as possible candidate for a run for President of the US. More importantly he sought to create a Southern Empire taking Cuba, large parts of northern Mexico (think original proposed Gadsden Purchase) and biulding a Southern Pacific RR. He used this power to damage Toombs and Cobb in their home state and never got along with A. Stephens a former Whig. He supported Alfred Iverson a fire-eating Calhounite over Cobb who was a Southern Unionist and frozen him out of all patronage and a possible Cabinet post.The same with Toombs. He empowered Southern Rightists, purged Unionists from position In state politics, embroiled himself in petty feuds, wrote vitriolic letters against his enemies, real or imagined
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/20/2020 6:55:12 PM
John,

Brilliant idea for a thread !

Why do I feel Jeff Davis has been unfairly treated by posterity ?

Being on the losing side is one thing ; being its leader is another. Doubly damned .

Shelby Foote has imparted a more favourable image....his three volume history made a big impact - on me, at least - and,of course , Foote, being a Mississippian, was bound to take a more sympathetic view of the Confederate President.

Davis picked up a poisoned chalice , and drank to the dregs.

Might it be argued that none could have done better, and few as well ?

He was singularly unfortunate in having Lincoln as his adversary.

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
Th'AnchoriticSybarit
augusta GA USA
Posts: 3
Joined: 2020
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 5:39:50 AM
It would seem that your logic is that as the Confederacy under the leadership of Davis failed in its bid for independence that therefore he was responsible for the loss. I have it on good authority that in the year 3964, January 15 in fact, that Earth will make first contact with an alien race. It will be a peaceful encounter and will involve an exchange of ambassadors--including a military attache. When he gets to the point of studying the American Civil War, he will cause no end of agitation when he vociferously questions the fascination with the AMCW. He will repeatedly ask "What is the big deal? The North had the bigger armies, the larger resources and it won. They were supposed to win.

Included in this response is the implicit question of what could Davis have done to alter this immense disadvantage.

Granted in the very early days of the war, there was the opportunity for just a few companies of Virginia militia to take the initiative and occupy Washington. If they timed it right they might even take the President into custody with very little trouble. From that point on the question becomes NOT why did the South not win, but why did it take the North so long to do so. But it is important to remember that in the early days of the war neither side really understood the simple fact that to preserve their independence or alternatively preserve the union they would have to kill massive numbers of their former kinsmen. As late as Antietam Lee was hampered by the fact that a large portion of his army refused to participate in his invasion of the North. They were willing to protect their homes against invasion but thought it improper to enter their former kinsmen's land and do damage to THEIR property.

Ignoring all that you are still left with the basic question of if not Davis then WHO??????? On paper at least only he had the qualifications to lead the Confederacy--a former Sec of War, a distinguished military record in the Mexican War, a sterling record as a Congressman and Senator--what more could you ask for.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 7:21:17 AM
What a fascinating personal life story there is behind this man !

Likewise for his second wife, Varina.

He seemed to combine the attributes of iron willed stubbornness with a surprisingly tender and enlightened side.

One anecdote stays vividly in my mind, but I cannot remember the source.

His son got into a fight with one of the slaves, and was soundly thrashed by the black kid. Infuriated, the son went to his dad and demanded that the slave be punished.

Davis refused to punish the slave, and actually told his son that if he had been involved in fisticuffs with one of the slaves, then he assuredly deserved to be knocked 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
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 9:46:22 AM
Further to my earlier response to John’s opening post, I must cite a quote I picked up from Shelby Foote’s assessment of Jeff Davis....

Lee said it best. He said “ I don’t think anyone could name anyone who could have done a better job than Jefferson Davis did, and I personally don’t know of anyone who could have done as good a job.” .
That’s from Robert E.Lee, which is pretty good authority.


This is the same Lee who rated McClellan as his most able opponent ....you have to wonder, don’t you ?

It’s obvious that Shelby Foote has influenced me in my take on Davis.

No doubt Jefferson Davis was heartily loathed by too many of his contemporaries . Some of the allusions to him are really excoriating : he was depicted as cold blooded and ruthless, resembling a lizard in his conduct.
A brief glance at his portrait, and he does indeed strike me as reptilian in his raw boned thinness : a trait he shared with Lincoln. They were both products of the frontier life, and knew physical hardship that I could not even imagine. One thing is very clear. Jeff Davis had been a professional soldier and had smelt powder and shed blood in battle. He was an experienced Secretary of War. Ability and courage combined with intellect to make him formidable. Whatever his flaws, he had qualities to match or exceed them. That’s what I like to think.

Perhaps the best judge was Varina Davis, FLOCSA. Her portraits suggest an alluring woman, rather Levantine in appearance and with defiant intellect shining from her eyes. The snides of Richmond high society likened her to a “ mulatta” , or an Indian “ Squaw”. She took a dim view of slavery and secession, which must have made her role difficult. She referred to herself as a “ half -breed”,in so far as she was a product of northern, as much as southern, society. According to that doyenne of Charleston society, Mary Chesnut, Varina lamented :

The South will secede if Lincoln is made President. They will make Mr. Davis President of the Southern side. And the whole thing is bound to be a failure.

These little vignettes of mine add little to the substance of our discussion, but they do show how much I enjoy our forays into questions like this.

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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 10:44:06 AM
Phil
Not blaming Davis for the CSA downfall even though I believe his stubborness did add to it. Just dont think he was emotionally right for the job. He was prickly, held grudges and was not likely to listen to others esp after he formed his opinions.
That said, who else? Robert Toombs may have been another choice but not sure if he could do the job.

Read recently that he may have had VD. First time I heard that one
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 11:32:33 AM
Quote:
Phil
Not blaming Davis for the CSA downfall even though I believe his stubborness did add to it. Just dont think he was emotionally right for the job. He was prickly, held grudges and was not likely to listen to others esp after he formed his opinions.
That said, who else? Robert Toombs may have been another choice but not sure if he could do the job.

Read recently that he may have had VD. First time I heard that one



As you say, John, who else could - or, indeed, would - have done it ?

Toombs was drunk too often : then he must be given credit for holding back the yankees in the bluffs above that bridge across the Antietam.

Who was alleged to have had VD : Davis or Toombs ?

Poxed or not, the President of the Confederacy must have had one of the poxiest jobs imaginable !

It’s always appalled me when I read about the sheer toxicity of the relationships between high ranking men in the Confederacy. This reached its nadir in the Western theatre, with dire results for the South. The venom extended beyond the military, and contaminated the politicians. The wonder is that the Confederacy fought for four years, and it took the lives and blood and health of the best part of one million yankees to subdue it.
If Davis bears culpability for some of the defects of the southern war effort, he also deserves credit for some of its more successful attributes.

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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 5:29:36 PM
Phil
Davis made some bad choices in the West. Like I said before once he made up his mind about some one it was difficult to change.
Bragg, Pemberton, Hood seem to bear this out. Wasn't a fan of Johnson or Beauregard either. It just seems that he was unable to work with those he disagreed with, whether they were good or bad. Cant see Davis saying he would hold someone's horse.

Read that Davis did and that it was herpes simplex type 1 which struck him down 4 or 5 times a year. The infection affected his left eye, causing it to swell, be unable to tear, acute dryness, and attacked the optic nerve causing debilitating pain. Heat, sunlight and stress triggered it
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 6:39:31 PM
John,

Hadn’t Bragg rescued Davis in a battle in the Mexican War : deploying his artillery and preventing Davis’s infantry contingent from being overwhelmed ?

Maybe that accounts for his persistent support for Bragg.

Joe Johnston was downright rude to the Confederate President, in much the same way as Little Mac was to Lincoln.

The relationship between Lee and Davis was much more healthy, and suggested what the Confederacy was capable of achieving if there was a degree of harmony, Davis’s flaws notwithstanding . In the opening fighting of the Seven Days, Lee had rebuked Davis for bringing his political entourage into the front line, and Davis, chastened , withdrew without subsequent ill will.

Perhaps Lee and Davis brought out the best in each other, a rare attribute in the Confederacy’s war.

Davis had been quite fond of carousing at West Point. If he had contracted VD, it wouldn’t have been surprising .....AP Hill comes to mind. Lincoln himself was under suspicion : at least, Gore Vidal implied that he might have picked up a dose of something nasty in his earlier encounters.

The squalour and hardship of life in those days was such as to produce awful mortality : it’s harrowing to read about the deaths of children and young brides, and Davis, Lincoln and Sherman were all too familiar with things that strike us as unbearably tragic. When I reflect on the huge toll of the Civil War, I sometimes bring myself up and think of the ubiquity of death from disease and accident that ravaged communities even in times of peace in the mid nineteenth century.

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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/21/2020 10:39:55 PM
Phil
I live in an old farm house. Part was built in 1792 and added on to in 1840. Across the street is the family graveyard. You can trace whole generations there. One grave marker has the names of the mother and daughter, dying days apart, possibly from cholera plus an unnamed child who died three years before. It was not unusual to have blended families like Lincoln's. This was a time period where one could earn a living taking photos of the dead, esp children.

VD is all it various forms was common at this time. AP Hill being the most famous. Rumors about Lincoln grew because he was known to take blue mass pills which contained mercury which "cured" syphyllis. The pills were also used as a laxative. Lincoln stopped taking them about the time of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Some historians now believe Lincoln worried that he may have contracted VD and it may have led to the break-up of his courtship with Mary Todd.

Didn't Churchill's father have VD?
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Gregory C. White
Canton GA USA
Posts: 328
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/22/2020 1:02:20 AM
I'm not sure there was anyone that could have done better than Jefferson Davis. He had a solid military
education and background; and represented his state and country in Washington, DC. If he could have
found a solution to appease those Southern governors from depriving the main Confederate armies
of badly needed recruits; and gotten some foreign assistance as the colonials did, his story might have
been different.

The only other candidate I can think of would be former Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky;
who ran for President in 1860 winning the states that would comprise the Confederacy. He had some
military experience in Mexico, though he saw no combat.

Best Regards,

Greg C. White


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“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevent their history, and denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of its destruction.” Sir William Wallace, 1280 A.D.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/22/2020 4:56:21 AM
Greg,

You make good points here.

Taken all in all, bearing in mind the myriad difficulties facing him, the truly cantankerous and downright difficult people he had to deal with, the task Jeff Davis undertook was monstrous.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that, in those circumstances, he did pretty darned well.

Did he give Lincoln a “ run for his money “ ? Yes, most assuredly.....the late summer of 1862 things looked very dangerous indeed for the Union : even two years later, the situation was precarious.

It would be absurd to analyse the reasons for the Confederacy’s defeat without alluding to the faults of its President. He surely bears culpability for aspects of its failure. By the same reckoning, he deserves credit for aspects of its success .

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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
7/22/2020 8:22:12 AM
Greg
Very good choice. Breckinridge may have been another choice but I dont think he was considered as much of a Southern extremist as Davis. Calhoun had passed the torch to Davis and in the eyes of many Davis was the heir apparent. Hence his moves to discredit those like Toombs Cobb and Foote.

Phil
No matter who became President of CSA they would have been dealing with a gov't unsuited for a long war. Based on State's' Rights it made it difficult if not impossible to centralize the power needed to fight. The actions of many governors, Brown of GA and Vance of NC come to mind, hindered the war making powers of the President
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/9/2020 6:40:34 PM
Quote:

Lee said it best. He said “ I don’t think anyone could name anyone who could have done a better job than Jefferson Davis did, and I personally don’t know of anyone who could have done as good a job.” .
That’s from Robert E.Lee, which is pretty good authority.


This is the same Lee who rated McClellan as his most able opponent ....you have to wonder, don’t you

Perhaps the best judge was Varina Davis, FLOCSA. Her portraits suggest an alluring woman, rather Levantine in appearance and with defiant intellect shining from her eyes.
Regards, Phil


Perhaps General Lee saw General McClellan as being very able... yet not living up to his potential?

Lee suffered one of his first major defeats against McClellan. Did this maybe shape his thinking?

"Levantine in appearance?" You made me look it up! I pictured a giant serpent. I was wrong on that count.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Levantine#:~:text=Noun,by%20Lebanon%2C%20Syria%2C%20and%20Israel

How often do you get to work "Levantine" into casual conversation? (:
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/10/2020 6:45:47 AM
To put Lee’s alleged statement into context, this was made post war.

Alleged ? I reckon it’s authentic. And you do make a good point about Lee’s opening encounter.....I would go further and say that in all his battles against Little Mac, Lee was roughly handled.

As war leaders, both Lincoln and Davis faced an awful task.

Who, I wonder, faced the greater ordeal ?

I’m tempted to opine that there was greater fragility in the predicament of the Confederacy ; but I’m not fully confident in this.

Davis had to build things from scratch. OTOH, he could more easily cite a struggle for independence and claim to be fighting against aggression.

Lincoln was more beset by rivals : it was his genius to turn that rivalry to account, as the title of that superb book that I read recently suggests.

Team of Rivals ?

I think that Lincoln might have been more ruthless, and better reconciled to the attrition that characterised that war. “ The Awful Arithmetic “...was that coin phrased by him, or by John Hay ?

I reckon that the burden placed on both men was pretty damned unbearable. Davis enjoyed better spousal support from Varina than Lincoln did from Mary Todd. That’s not raising the bar very high !

In the meantime, I’ll reflect on my use of the word “ Levantine “ (:


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: 779
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/19/2020 6:52:44 PM
Quote:
Davis made some bad choices in the West. Like I said before once he made up his mind about some one it was difficult to change.
Bragg, Pemberton, Hood seem to bear this out. Wasn't a fan of Johnson or Beauregard either. It just seems that he was unable to work with those he disagreed with, whether they were good or bad. Cant see Davis saying he would hold someone's horse.


To what extent was Davis hobbled by being part of a system that rewarded where are you were born in life [and I don’t mean geographically], and was less inclined to reward competence, regardless of one’s station in society.

I am reminded that two of Lee’s nine division commander’s (who I believe were distant cousins) at Gettysburg,, managed to finish dead last in their respective classes at West Point.


It does strike me that there was a lot more "mobility" within the officer corps of the various Union armies. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Thomas all had a chance to "learn their craft", so to speak. But it wasn't just these four....it strikes me that was a plethora of officers, such as Andrew Humphreys and John Gibbon (both corps commanders by 1865) that were allowed to move up through the ranks because of their proved competence. Or a Custer or Barlow, that commanded divisions by 1864.

I also wonder what impact that Stevens, Kearny, Reno and Richardson, as examples, could have had, had they not been killed in combat in 1862. They were all solid division commanders, that likely would have ended up leading at least a corps by the second half of the war.

In contrast (and please correct me here...), the Confederacy started with seven (or so) full generals....and were basically stuck with this seven for the duration of the war. Cooper, who was no more than an administrator; Beauregard, who was effectively put on the shelf after Shiloh,. Kirby Smith (whom I don't know enough about to comment upon), Joe Johnston, with whom Davis consistently could not get along with; Sidney Johnston, whose cordon theory of defense resulted in the fiascos of Forts Henry and Donelson, plus losing the neutrality of Kentucky ... yeah, that was Polk's fault, but Johnston was in command; Bragg, the less said the better, and of course Lee.

You also had a Hardee, who appeared to be solid, but refused to take command of the AoT. And of course a Hood, who should never have been given command of the AoT. And a Longstreet, who performed very poorly out west/on his own and perhaps needed a Lee above him, to get the best out of him. And frankly, most if not all of the corps commanders, both with the AoT and the ANV, were border line flakes, ... in many cases, reasonably competent, but as part of a larger organization, badly in need of the type of guiding hand that apparently only Lee could provide.

And that there was a huge communication problem when Johnston was given "area" command in 63 and then Beauregard the same in the second half of 64....which I have to put the blame for back on Davis. The result, in 63, was that Pemberton lost both his army AND Vicksburg, and in 64, Hood ended up trying to invade Tennessee, capture Nashville and move to the Ohio. Yeah, right, when pigs fly out my butt....

In contrast, the Union went from having minimal leadership at the top, early in the war, to having a solid cadre on generals by the middle of rage war. Thinking back to '62, when Lincoln was pressed by his cabinet to fire Little Mac, Lincoln's response was "but who will replace him" (and the only answer at that time was Burnside...and we know how that turned out). But by 63, Lincoln had developed a solid core of generals in the west (and I do think that Rosecrans deserves more credit that he is inclined to get....thank you General Woods...) and had developed a generally solid set of senior officers by 64 in the east (tho it took the Battle of the Crater before the “powers that be” finally gave up on Burnside).

Two questions strike me.... 1) Should the South have made better use of Beauregard? 2) To what extent was the South "on drugs" in early 64, when Davis, Bragg and Beauregard (and I even think that Lee thought it was a good idea) all pressed Joe Johnston to take the offensive against a "weakened" Union force at Chattanooga (which we now know outnumbered Johnston, by something like 100k to 60k, in May of 64.

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/23/2020 6:40:21 AM
How interesting and discerning your post is, Steve !

There were two Southern generals who demonstrated social mobility in promotion : Pat Cleburne and Nathan B. Forrest....but those two notwithstanding , I get the impression that there were military traditions in the South that might have inhibited a more meritocratic system of promotion .

Were southerners more inclined to serve in the army and/or the militia than Northerners ?

If so, might this have consolidated traditional hierarchies and bestowed too much regard on a caste of officers which failed to adapt ?

Editing : I wrote this, and then had to come back and challenge my words....just consider the ingenuity that featured in the southern war effort : on the rivers and the seas, there were rams and even a submarine ; on land, the battlefield victories that kept the Confederacy alive could not have been won without hard core ability and adaptability from southern soldiers of all ranks. I get the impression that there was a more conspicuous role played by southern NCOs than there was by their northern counterparts, which suggests something of devolved command. Not an attribute of lack of mobility....or might I be wrong ? Maybe the reliance on the NCO class attests stricter social hierarchy .

Beauregard has been rated as the South’s most able military commander by none other than JFC “ Boney” Fuller, a British military maverick with a penchant for the controversial and a doyen of the British Fascists in the inter war years.

I wonder if determination to urge Joe Johnston to assume the offensive early in 1864 was inspired by an all too justified perception that the man was reluctant to commit to battle.


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: 6206
Joined: 2006
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/23/2020 1:22:24 PM
Quote:
Quote:
Davis made some bad choices in the West. Like I said before once he made up his mind about some one it was difficult to change.
Bragg, Pemberton, Hood seem to bear this out. Wasn't a fan of Johnson or Beauregard either. It just seems that he was unable to work with those he disagreed with, whether they were good or bad. Cant see Davis saying he would hold someone's horse.


To what extent was Davis hobbled by being part of a system that rewarded where are you were born in life [and I don’t mean geographically], and was less inclined to reward competence, regardless of one’s station in society.

I am reminded that two of Lee’s nine division commander’s (who I believe were distant cousins) at Gettysburg,, managed to finish dead last in their respective classes at West Point.


It does strike me that there was a lot more "mobility" within the officer corps of the various Union armies. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Thomas all had a chance to "learn their craft", so to speak. But it wasn't just these four....it strikes me that was a plethora of officers, such as Andrew Humphreys and John Gibbon (both corps commanders by 1865) that were allowed to move up through the ranks because of their proved competence. Or a Custer or Barlow, that commanded divisions by 1864.

I also wonder what impact that Stevens, Kearny, Reno and Richardson, as examples, could have had, had they not been killed in combat in 1862. They were all solid division commanders, that likely would have ended up leading at least a corps by the second half of the war.

In contrast (and please correct me here...), the Confederacy started with seven (or so) full generals....and were basically stuck with this seven for the duration of the war. Cooper, who was no more than an administrator; Beauregard, who was effectively put on the shelf after Shiloh,. Kirby Smith (whom I don't know enough about to comment upon), Joe Johnston, with whom Davis consistently could not get along with; Sidney Johnston, whose cordon theory of defense resulted in the fiascos of Forts Henry and Donelson, plus losing the neutrality of Kentucky ... yeah, that was Polk's fault, but Johnston was in command; Bragg, the less said the better, and of course Lee.

You also had a Hardee, who appeared to be solid, but refused to take command of the AoT. And of course a Hood, who should never have been given command of the AoT. And a Longstreet, who performed very poorly out west/on his own and perhaps needed a Lee above him, to get the best out of him. And frankly, most if not all of the corps commanders, both with the AoT and the ANV, were border line flakes, ... in many cases, reasonably competent, but as part of a larger organization, badly in need of the type of guiding hand that apparently only Lee could provide.

And that there was a huge communication problem when Johnston was given "area" command in 63 and then Beauregard the same in the second half of 64....which I have to put the blame for back on Davis. The result, in 63, was that Pemberton lost both his army AND Vicksburg, and in 64, Hood ended up trying to invade Tennessee, capture Nashville and move to the Ohio. Yeah, right, when pigs fly out my butt....

In contrast, the Union went from having minimal leadership at the top, early in the war, to having a solid cadre on generals by the middle of rage war. Thinking back to '62, when Lincoln was pressed by his cabinet to fire Little Mac, Lincoln's response was "but who will replace him" (and the only answer at that time was Burnside...and we know how that turned out). But by 63, Lincoln had developed a solid core of generals in the west (and I do think that Rosecrans deserves more credit that he is inclined to get....thank you General Woods...) and had developed a generally solid set of senior officers by 64 in the east (tho it took the Battle of the Crater before the “powers that be” finally gave up on Burnside).

Two questions strike me.... 1) Should the South have made better use of Beauregard? 2) To what extent was the South "on drugs" in early 64, when Davis, Bragg and Beauregard (and I even think that Lee thought it was a good idea) all pressed Joe Johnston to take the offensive against a "weakened" Union force at Chattanooga (which we now know outnumbered Johnston, by something like 100k to 60k, in May of 64.

s.c.


Hi Steve,

Like Phil I agree with your take on the Officer mobilities of both sides. You guys are into an interesting thread!

[Read More]

So who had it tougher as a leader, Lincoln or Davis??

[Read More]

Please continue,
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: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/24/2020 8:16:19 AM
Have we been mistaken in our caricatured view of a backward, agrarian South ?

It's all too easy to depict the Confederacy as a forlorn hope of romantic, pastoral people who were ground down by the mighty industrial North.....and, in all conscience, isn't this exactly what the " Lost Causers" of Southern folklore would have us believe ?

Let me invite a reconsidered view.

There was ingenuity and inventiveness in the CSA's war. There were engineers who created iron clad ships and a submarine, specially adapted rams and other attributes of modern warfare.

On land, of course, the southern armies more than held their own, to the extent of making this conflict one of the hardest and most closely fought in modern times. Fought out to the last desperate inch, said Winston Churchill, and I agree with him !

If the Confederacy had been as doomed, and as flawed, as so many commentators insist, then that automatically diminishes the achievement of the Union in winning the war.

There was, perhaps, a trajectory of brilliance and adaptability in the CSA that imparted a dynamism that has not been given the acknowledgement it deserves.

If this is so, then might we accord some credit to Jefferson Davis as the man who gave Lincoln a " run for his money" ?

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: 779
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/24/2020 4:51:39 PM
Hi Phil,

Quote:
There were two Southern generals who demonstrated social mobility in promotion : Pat Cleburne and Nathan B. Forrest


Yes and no....

Forrest was (apparently) one of the richest men in the South before the war. He may have come from humble roots, but through both wealth and temperament, he was arguably born to lead.

And Cleburne was a lawyer, and his father was a physician (Patrick failed the admission test for medical school). So...not exactly born into the upper strata of society, but not exactly humble roots either.

Quote:
Beauregard has been rated as the South’s most able military commander by none other than JFC “ Boney” Fuller, a British military maverick with a penchant for the controversial and a doyen of the British Fascists in the inter war years.


I have two of Fuller's books on the CW....but it is years since I have read them ("Grant and Lee" and "The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant") Is his comment on Beauregard contained in one of these books? Or somewhere else?

Quote:
Were southerners more inclined to serve in the army and/or the militia than Northerners ?


That is certainly my understanding...

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/24/2020 4:59:38 PM

Quote:
I wonder if determination to urge Joe Johnston to assume the offensive early in 1864 was inspired by an all too justified perception that the man was reluctant to commit to battle


My understanding is that Lee etc. had a rough idea of the size of the force that Grant was putting together above the Rapidan. And that Lee/Davis "assumed" that this meant that the North's major effort was going to come against the ANV (talking May 64).

There was little appreciation of the fact that the North had sufficient manpower to take the offensive on multiple fronts.

"The Politics of Command" (Thomas Connelly and Archer Jones) does a pretty good job of demonstrating that the Confederacy "assumed" that Johnston had sufficient manpower to attack Sherman in Chattanooga, or combine with Longstreet in east Tennessee, and move across Sherman's supply lines coming first from Nashville and ultimately Kentucky. Or to put it another way, that if Grant was putting together a 120k plus force to go against Lee, that Sherman's army had to be much, much smaller, and therefore vulnerable. Which was simply not true....

And I believe that Bragg was an unfair influence on Davis/Lee etc., i.e. not admitting to the large loss of wagons, artillery etc. that had happened at Chattanooga in November 63. And in general, pitching the belief that the AoT was strong enough to take the offensive. Kinda throwing Joe Johnston under the bus, IMHO. Which would, of course, make Bragg look better by comparison.

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/24/2020 5:11:08 PM
Quote:
If the Confederacy had been as doomed, and as flawed, as so many commentators insist, then that automatically diminishes the achievement of the Union in winning the war


Not an argument that I can accept. Yes, the North had the manpower etc. But it had to conquer the South. Which, given the geographic size of the South, was a VERY difficult task. My bias is that England's desire to "recognize" the South had a lot to do with the fact that they fully appreciated the difficulty that the North would have in subjugating the Confederacy. In other words, the North would never conquer the South, so why not recognize the Confederacy now and get it over with-:)

As an example, without the invention of the railroad, Sherman's spring 64 campaign would have been impossible. He simply could not have kept his army supplied without the railroad. Which was, of course, part of his problem....he was limited in how far from the rail line he could go, and yet still supply his army.

Given geography, and the advantage that rifled muskets/rifled artillery gave the Defense, all the South had to do in order to win their independence, was not lose. I am being a little fit flippant here....but if one wants to get a fair measure of how difficult it was to operate in someone else's territory (which the North spent almost the entire war doing), a quick study of Lee's two invasions (Maryland 62/Gettysburg 63) demonstrates the difficulty of keeping an invading army supplied well enough to fight an offensive war.

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/25/2020 11:32:48 AM
Steve,

Thank you for your replies : each one of my rather speculative points being challenged in a way that invites respect. Yes, Fuller did allude to Beauregard as .....probably the ablest of the Confederate generals..., on page 193 of his Grant and Lee book.

Fuller liked to court controversy, pitched himself as a maverick , and might have seen Beauregard as a kind of “ outsider” with whom he could identify. The exotic Creole image of PGTB seems to have been alluring to “ Boney” Fuller.

In regard to Jeff Davis, I wonder if his physical affliction and the effect that had on his conduct might be something he had in common with Bragg. Both of them were wrestling with their demons, and have been reviled for their flaws ; in my view, both were capable of being dangerous adversaries......think of Joe Johnston’s letter to Senator Wigfall, emphasising how Bragg’s attack at Murfreesboro on the last day of 1862 inflicted more destruction on the enemy, in proportionate terms , than any other in modern military annals.


Your comment There was little appreciation of the fact that the North had sufficient manpower to take the offensive on multiple fronts surprises me. I’d never thought that the southerners were guilty of being unaware of yankee manpower preponderance !


Much more to discuss here.....I’m sure that your comments will make me reconsider things.

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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/29/2020 1:16:13 PM
Jefferson Davis the wrong man?
I thank John Hayward for good question & sorry to be so late to the game.
To me its clear Davis himself was the largest cause for the defeat and the wrong man.

Robert Garlick Hill Kean (pronounced Kane) Memoir

Robert Kean was the number three man in the confederate War Dept from Spring 62
to the end of the war. He had frequent and direct exchanges with many principles of the confederate government and personally witnessed policy making. Note Kean generally supported of Davis but did give his opinion when in disagreement.
A few entries in the memoir regarding Jefferson Davis
p86 “Oh, for a man at the helm . . . of steadfast calm temper, heroic character and genius, a man fertile in resources, equal to emergencies. This, it is quite evident, Mr. Davis is not.” July 63
p156 Davis “seem to possess a most unenviable facility for converting friends into enemies” June 64
p214 “Davis’ “want of discernment in selection of general officers, consequently want of discipline” July 65 (one of reasons Kean gives for defeat)

When it comes to the who else argument see James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom “There was no shortage of aspirants, Toombs, Stephens and Howell Cobb, all seemed better to fit the bill.” In selecting the president. p258 He demonstrates how easy it is to commit the fallacy of inevitability and forget the “dimension of contingency” and that at “numerous critical points things may have turned out altogether differently.’’ P858
Ultimately it was a political calculation to select Davis; not fate.
“The Ten Greatest Blunders of the Civil War.” in North & South, vol. 8 no. 1 (January 2005), offered a productive discussion into how a broad range of events played out to effect the outcome of the war. Five well know historians listed the top ten blunders in the war. I have quantified the results as follows. With summary analysis below for consideration. (sorry could attach table jpg)
Scoring of blunders (blunders were scored 10-1 10 worst; following score for 50 total blinders N&S)

Jeff Davis-C-D-145 (tot 275; 53%). For 192 Confederate total blunders value; 76% credit to Davis. Davis score 133 direct and 24 indirect; 12 for indirect value = 133+12=145 total Davis. Polk-C-D-38; Bragg-C-D-7; R Lee-C-L-3; total Confederate 192. Total Unión 83. Grant-U-G-15; McClellan-U-M-12; Burnside-U-B-9. Lee contributed directly less than 5%. (sorry i know its hard to follow without table i was unable to attach, sorry)

Based on analysis of these blunders it appears that the final outcome was due far more to confederate internal factors (blunders) than any Union action/cause. The accepted version that Union won by superior command and strategy can not be confirmed by this data. Data shows that confederate command, and in particular Davis and Polk, overwhelmed other factors by a wide margin. This is not to say that Union command and other factors had no effect, but that the net outcome was ultimately driven more forcefully and consistently by poor confederate command judgment and leadership. While the data shows that military factors played a very important part, the political and economic effects of the Cotton Embargo and Violation of Kentucky Neutrality were probably the two decisive factors driving the outcome. The cotton embargo clearly had a deep and long term impact. Violation of Kentucky Neutrality undercut Confederate moral and political credibility from the outset while also creating the military opportunity for the Union to exploit the strategic and logistic position of the state. Set up as it was by this twin blow of bad judgment and with the responsible parties, Davis and Polk, continuing to have negative impact, it is a measure of effective field commanders performance that the war continued for so long and at times seemed to be almost lost to the Union. Not only did the South face the superior Union manpower, economic, and logistic resources; confederates were saddled with two men in highly influential positions who ladened their side with very serious policy and strategy gaffs from the very outset, and they consistently contributed serious bad decision making and other behaviors thereafter while crowding out other potential leaders and refusing to allow others to contribute. Davis repeatedly contributed negatively to the final Confederate outcome.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/29/2020 2:15:38 PM
This is table of top ten blunders sorry for my klunkyness

TOP TEN BLUNDERS NORTH SOUTH VOL 8 - 1 2005
Symonds Simon Newton Woodworth Poulter TOP BLUNDERS
1 Ft Sumter-C-D-+ Ft Sumter-C-D-+ Knty Nuet-C-D-+ Knty Nuet-C-D-+ Ft Sumter-C-D-+ Ft Sumter-C-D-30
2 Cotton Em-C-D-+ Knty Nuet-C-D-+ Cotton Em-C-D-+ Polk-C-D JeffDavis-C-D Knty Nuet-C-D-29
3 Cordon Def-c-d-+ Cordon Def-c-d-+ Rd Rvr C-U-+ Rd Rvr C-U-+ CnfLogstc-C Cotton Em-C-D-26
4 Knxvl C-C-D Shilo-C-d-+ Blkd RR-C-D+ Frnkl Atk-C-d+ CnfFincl-C-D Red Rvr C-U-21
5 Bragg-C-D+ 2BR-U Pensl C U-m FtDnlsn-C-d Cotton Em-C-D-+ Cordon Def-c-d-16
6 Rd Rvr C-U-+ Vickbg Aslt-U-G PrtsnRngr-C-D Atnm U-M+ inapplicable Frnkl Atk-C-d-10
7 Frdbg Atk-U-B+ Chickam-U Wilmgtn-U Prtbg Asslt-U-G+ Mclln-U-M Atnm U-M-10
8 Frnkl Atk-C-d+ Cold Harbor-U-G Md Cpgn-C-L Frdbg Atk-U-B+ Atnm U-M+ Blkd RR-C-D-9
9 Atnm U-M+ Prtbg Asslt-U-G+ OccupPlcy-U Blkd RR-C-D+ Brnsd-U-B Shilo-C-d-8
10 Lincn Assn-C Crater-U-G PsnRecn-C Shilo-C-d-+ Bragg-C-D+ Frdbg Atk-U-B-7
Prtbg Asslt-U-G-6


Top Blunders
1 Confederate attack Ft Sumter
2 Cotton Embargo
3 Confederate Violate Kentucky Neutrality
4 Union Red River Campaign
5 Confederate Cordon Defense in west 62
6 Hood Franklin Attack
7 Union Antietam McClellan
8 Confederate Blockade running
9 Confederate Attack at Shiloh botched
10 Union Fredericksburg/ Petersburg Attacks botched
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/29/2020 3:52:42 PM
Mikecmaps,

As you cite McPherson, it might be apt to quote what he wrote on page 857 :

If Lincoln had been defeated for re-election in 1864, as he anticipated in August, history might record Davis as the great war leader and Lincoln as an also-ran.

Yes, those contingencies are what makes history so interesting....God save us from resort to that word " inevitable " !

I do like that allusion to Davis possessing ...a most unenviable facility for converting friends into enemies.

A susceptibility to antagonism seems to have made havoc and undermined his qualities. Lincoln, in contrast, had some genius in rising above the antagonistic and securing the goal.

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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/30/2020 5:00:54 PM
Top Blunders
1 Confederate attack Ft Sumter
2 Cotton Embargo
3 Confederate Violate Kentucky Neutrality
4 Union Red River Campaign
5 Confederate Cordon Defense in west 62
6 Hood Franklin Attack
7 Union Antietam McClellan
8 Confederate Blockade running
9 Confederate Attack at Shiloh botched
10 Union Fredericksburg/ Petersburg Attacks botched


Curious as to why Confederate blockade running was a blunder....

And as moronic as Franklin now appears to us to be, did it really change the war? Yeah, there would have been a few more Confederates available to freeze their butts off in front of Nashville, but would the outcome have been any different? Frankly, it strikes me that Spring Hill was the cluster that could have changed the outcome of Hood's campaign.

Agree with the botched Petersburg attacks....the successful crossing the James should have meant the fall of Petersburg, at a minimum, which I believe would have resulted in essentially all of Richmond's rail links to outside supplies being severed. Might make this higher than number 10....cuz it should/could have lead to Lee's surrender before the end of the summer of '64.

Am also curious about the inclusion of Shiloh....was it that Johnston attacked at all? Or the tactics on the first day?? Off hand, it strikes me that a lot of other battles were much more badly managed.

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/30/2020 6:19:14 PM
Steve,

Your comments please me.

Shiloh, especially : if the attack was botched, then Heaven knows about the defence !

Yes, I can appreciate that, in the great strategic sense, the failure of the CSA to win at Shiloh was crucial, particularly alongside the fall of New Orleans and after the loss of the Forts Henry/Donelson.

Tempting to cite the imprudent role of AS Johnston in the battle : by insisting on going forward in a bayonet attack, he needlessly risked his life and paid the lethal price. The price to the South was - I would opine - also mortal : not that Johnston was the most brilliant of soldiers..... far from it....but what mattered was that his death unleashed the reign of more antagonistic soldiers in the Western Theatre who shared Jeff Davis's trait of friction and prickly conduct, a fatal impediment to the Confederate cause.

Please put me right if I attribute to AS Johnston a more generous quality of harmonious leadership than he deserved.

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: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/30/2020 6:24:42 PM
Quote:

And as moronic as Franklin now appears to us to be, did it really change the war?
s.c.



The anniversary of that battle has prompted me to open up a thread.

Was it uniquely moronic, or a singularly dramatic and tragic example of things going wrong for multiple reasons ?

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
Gregory C. White
Canton GA USA
Posts: 328
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/30/2020 8:43:33 PM
Quote:
Top Blunders
1 Confederate attack Ft Sumter
2 Cotton Embargo
3 Confederate Violate Kentucky Neutrality
4 Union Red River Campaign
5 Confederate Cordon Defense in west 62
6 Hood Franklin Attack
7 Union Antietam McClellan
8 Confederate Blockade running
9 Confederate Attack at Shiloh botched
10 Union Fredericksburg/ Petersburg Attacks botched


Curious as to why Confederate blockade running was a blunder....

And as moronic as Franklin now appears to us to be, did it really change the war? Yeah, there would have been a few more Confederates available to freeze their butts off in front of Nashville, but would the outcome have been any different?



s.c.


I'm with Steve on these two blunders. If not for blockade running the Confederacy would have been deprived of many
weapons and needed ammunition, among other things. Instead of freezing butts in front of Nashville, it seems Hood's army
could have been better utilized to harass Sherman's progress in Georgia and the Carolinas.

A few more could be added to the list. Was there any serious consideration made by Confederate authorities, especially
Georgia Governor Joe Brown, to blow up Tunnel Hill in NW Georgia, thus cutting off Sherman's rail supply line from
Chattanooga to Atlanta ? If accomplished in spring 1864, it would have been tough for Sherman's men to forage in
NW GA when the crops were not in, and that region of the state was hardly the bread basket Sherman's men enjoyed
in the fall of 1864 marching through the agricultural heartland south of Atlanta to the sea.

When Sherman was holed up in Atlanta from early September until mid-November, why did he not send a large force
east to Augusta to shutdown the Augusta Powder Works? It was the second largest gun powder factory in the world
during the 19th century, producing 3.5 million tons a day until it closed April 18, 1865, nine days after Lee's surrender.
The war could have probably been shortened by several months.

Great discussion !

Best Regards,

Greg C. White

----------------------------------
“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevent their history, and denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of its destruction.” Sir William Wallace, 1280 A.D.
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
11/30/2020 10:41:24 PM
Quote:


When Sherman was holed up in Atlanta from early September until mid-November, why did he not send a large force
east to Augusta to shutdown the Augusta Powder Works? It was the second largest gun powder factory in the world
during the 19th century, producing 3.5 million tons a day until it closed April 18, 1865, nine days after Lee's surrender.
The war could have probably been shortened by several months.

Great discussion !

Best Regards,

Greg C. White


Did General Sherman know about the Augusta powder works?

Augusta was about 150 miles from Atlanta. Not a short distance in the South in the 1860s.
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 11:25:33 AM
Steve
"Instead of freezing butts in front of Nashville, it seems Hood's army
could have been better utilized to harass Sherman's progress in Georgia and the Carolinas."

What real options did Hood have after Atlanta's fall? He could have stayed to "harass" Sherman but to you really think he could have stopped Sherman? Not up on Hood's campaign but didn't he come close to success at Spring Hill? He did have a chance there to stop Schofield from uniting with Thomas. His next step at Franklin is what doomed him to failure.

Phil
Jeff Davis assumed the mantle of Calhoun as a spokeman for the South. As Sec of War under Pierce he was in de facto president as Pierce defered to him as his admin. went on. He believed he had a chance for the Dem. nomination in both 1856 and 1860 and as these chances failed he became more aggressive in his attacks on S. Douglas who was the front runner in 1860. He sought to destroy Douglas' chances both in the South and North by portraying as pro-slavery to Northerners and anti-slavery in the South. It is ironic that Davis and other Southern fire-eaters used words and ideas that Lincoln used against Douglas during the 1858 debates.
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Gregory C. White
Canton GA USA
Posts: 328
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 11:43:57 AM
Quote:
Quote:


When Sherman was holed up in Atlanta from early September until mid-November, why did he not send a large force
east to Augusta to shutdown the Augusta Powder Works? It was the second largest gun powder factory in the world
during the 19th century, producing 3.5 million tons a day until it closed April 18, 1865, nine days after Lee's surrender.
The war could have probably been shortened by several months.

Great discussion !

Best Regards,

Greg C. White


Did General Sherman know about the Augusta powder works?

Augusta was about 150 miles from Atlanta. Not a short distance in the South in the 1860s.


It had been in operation since 1862. Considering the Union spy / intelligence network
in Georgia's larger cities, I'd be stunned if Sherman was unaware of the powder works
in Augusta.
----------------------------------
“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevent their history, and denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of its destruction.” Sir William Wallace, 1280 A.D.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 12:19:13 PM
Who, without cheating by consulting books or going online to check, can cite the provenance of this quote :

I know Jeff Davis well. Ambitious as Lucifer and cold as a lizard . ?

Regards, Phil


----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 1:45:45 PM
Phil
It was Sam Houston. I have been reading the 3 volume (4th one not out yet) series of Lincoln by S Blumenthol and the quote was in there. I don't think Houston was alone in that feeling. (Tech. I guess I cheated)

Another quote from Houston was made after Texas seceeded from the Union; "Very well, let Texas be once more a sovereign nation, as she was of old. But beware of joining the portentous confederacy that is forming around Jefferson Davis !"

"Jefferson Davis is not only a dishonest man, but a liar."
Barnwell Rhett, Confederate congressman from SC, April 15, 1864.
----------------------------------
"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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 2:54:29 PM
John,

Quote:
What real options did Hood have after Atlanta's fall? He could have stayed to "harass" Sherman but to you really think he could have stopped Sherman? Not up on Hood's campaign but didn't he come close to success at Spring Hill? He did have a chance there to stop Schofield from uniting with Thomas. His next step at Franklin is what doomed him to failure.


It's an interesting question (what real options did Hood have...).

Initially, after the fall of Atlanta, 1) Sherman very politely allowed Hood to reunite his three infantry corps (IMO, Sherman should have been sacked for that...but everyone was so happy about the capture of Atlanta, that the fact that AoT was allowed to live on got buried under the carpet). Then, 2) Sherman allowed the reunited AoT to swing around his flank, and move back onto Sherman's rail line (to Chattanooga). Which was effectively his life line. For that, Sherman should have been taken out and shot...but again, everyone was so pleased about Atlanta, that this major blunder was ignored.

In fact, modern day historians continue to do so, from what I can tell. I have five different Sherman biographies on my shelf....a bunch of year's ago, I was debating the Nashville campaign with Borderstates and John P.. and ended up going through the appropriate parts of all five Sherman biographies. No where did I find any explanation for how and "why" Sherman allowed the AoT to swing right around it (after the fall of Atlanta) and get on the Chattanooga to Atlanta rail line...

So...I would argue that Hood's initial moves i.e. attacking Sherman's supply line, were probably close to optimal. Frankly, that far away from his source of supplies (Atlanta, back to Chattanooga, back to Nashville, and then up to Kentucky), Sherman was very vulnerable....as an aside, that Stephen Lee and his cavalry (in Mississippi and Alabama, I believe) were not ordered to go after Sherman's rail lines BEFORE the fall of Atlanta was (IMO) a major, and I mean major. strategic error on behalf of the Confederacy.

Then Hood moved west into Alabama (and away from Sherman's supply line)....giving Sherman the option to either chase after Hood or march to the sea. And Grant wanted Sherman to "take care of " Hood first....although he eventually relented...against his better judgment, IMO. Which was a big part, again IMO, of the reason that Grant was so freaked out when Hood ended up camping out in front of Nashville in December.

Although the whole Nashville campaign looks hare brained from here, Hood (despite a several week delay on the Tennessee River....and time spent dodging Beauregard, who was supposed to be the area commander -:), did have a real shot at taking Schofield off of the chess board of war (at Spring Hill). But once that was done, and after he ignored Forrest's suggestion that he again outflank Schofield at Franklin, the game was effectively over. Actually, that Hood could have done at Franklin (the bridge over the river at Franklin needed time to be repaired...which is why Schofield had to make a stand there) what he almost did at Spring Hill - i.e. outflank Schofield and get on his line of retreat, seems to get limited attention.

Frankly, although Hood almost nailed Schofield at Spring Hill ... the delay on the banks of the Tennessee - before Spring Hill - ended up giving time for A J Smith and his divisions to get to Nashville, and for Thomas to call in units from various outposts, recruit back soldiers that had been on leave, and couldn't join Sherman any more etc.

s.c.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 3:19:22 PM
Steve
Do you think it was Sherman's intentions from the beginning were to make Georgia howl? That he wanted to bring the war to the people of Georgia rather than defeat Hood's Army? Where as Grant made Lee his target Sherman did not make Johnston/Hood his.

While Grant planned to engage Lee in Virginia, his instructions to Sherman in a letter dated April 4, 1864 reads in part:
"You I propose to move against Johnston’s army, to break it up and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources.

On April 10, 1864, Sherman affirmed his mission as being “to knock Jos. Johnston, and do as much damage to the resources of the enemy as possible.” Although this seems in accordance with Grant’s instructions, in examining the specifics of what Sherman proposed to do, that he actually violated the spirit, if not the letter, of Grant’s directives. Sherman made Atlanta not Johnston his target

Sherman said this about Hood: "If he will go to the Ohio River I'll give him rations! The nearer the rebels come to us, the easier it will be to kill them." and "let him go North, my business is down South".


----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 5:21:28 PM
Quote:
Phil
It was Sam Houston. I have been reading the 3 volume (4th one not out yet) series of Lincoln by S Blumenthol and the quote was in there. I don't think Houston was alone in that feeling. (Tech. I guess I cheated)

Another quote from Houston was made after Texas seceded from the Union; "Very well, let Texas be once more a sovereign nation, as she was of old. But beware of joining the portentous confederacy that is forming around Jefferson Davis !"

"Jefferson Davis is not only a dishonest man, but a liar."
Barnwell Rhett, Confederate congressman from SC, April 15, 1864.


Thanks John !

Now, surely, this man knew whereof he spoke.

I know next to nothing about him : my encounter with the folklore stemming from a depiction of him in that wonderful John Wayne film THE ALAMO, when he laments the fate of his fellow Texicans and says I hope they're remembered. I hope TEXAS remembers ! . Good Grief, it was all of sixty years ago when I saw that on the big screen, and it made such an impact on me as a child, as did that other almost contemporaneous film BEN HUR !

Sam Houston excites my interest and admiration, especially for this :

Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche ; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.

Have you ever seen a more sagacious - prescient, even - statement made by a leading politician or statesman prior to a catastrophic war, than this ?

He's one of those who foresees a conflict of awful intensity, and he does not attribute inevitability to the outcome : he concedes that the South has a chance....but he's insistent that the odds are against her. He judges the mettle of the adversary, and predicts just how this will manifest itself. A man who can be so discerning in his assessment of multitudes will, I daresay, prove equally reliable in taking the measure of an individual, and his comments on Jeff Davis weigh heavily.

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
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 6:25:15 PM
Quote:
On April 10, 1864, Sherman affirmed his mission as being “to knock Jos. Johnston, and do as much damage to the resources of the enemy as possible.” Although this seems in accordance with Grant’s instructions, in examining the specifics of what Sherman proposed to do, that he actually violated the spirit, if not the letter, of Grant’s directives. Sherman made Atlanta not Johnston his target


John,

Well, as you pointed out, Sherman's original instructions from Grant were essentially to tie Joe Johnston down, so that the AoT could not send reinforcements to Virginia. The objective did change somewhat over the course of the summer....post the initial attacks on Petersburg, there is correspondence between Grant and Sherman...with Grant essentially saying "I am totally bogged down here, can't you do something in Georgia to help turn the tide". Basically, between the casualties that Grant suffered in Overland, and the casualties from the initial failed attacks on Petersburg, the combined armies under Grant, operating against Lee, had been effectively gutted as an offensive force. Which Grant had to realize...hence his plea to Sherman to "do something". So, yes, eventually, Atlanta did become the objective. But the AoT still remained as the primary objective, which Sherman seemed to forget about after 'taking' Atlanta on Sept. 1st.

Quote:
Do you think it was Sherman's intentions from the beginning were to make Georgia howl? That he wanted to bring the war to the people of Georgia rather than defeat Hood's Army?


Well, he obviously chose to deliberately move away from Hood's army, and "bring the war to the people oaf Georgia". After Hood moved around Sherman, and got on his rail line, Sherman sent about half of his combined army to chase after Hood...and once Hood moved west, before crossing the Tennessee etc., Sherman just essentially gave up "chasing" Hood.

Not sure just when Sherman decided to make his march to the sea, rather than contain Hood. I suspect that it was in the back of his mind before Atlanta fell....but I don't know that.

What is interesting- to me - is that Sherman was making a political decision here i.e. IMO, it was NOT his position to decide what his objective was i.e. he had been told to go after the AoT, and eventually, to capture Atlanta .... but Sherman wanted to wage war on civilians, thinking that this was a more effective way to bring the war to a conclusion. Frankly, that was not a decision that he should have been allowed to have made. Grant (and Lincoln) wanted the Confederate armies contained and defeated....and if it had been anyone else but Sherman, there is no way, IMO, that Grant would have given a different commander the permission to go off on a wild goose chase, rather than deal with a still dangerous army (Hood's) that was still operating in the field.

All of Sherman's combined forces couldn't or wouldn't crush and contain Hood . Yet, Sherman takes 60,000 of the best of his combined armies, and goes off on a political march to the sea....and expects Thomas to take care of Hood with what was left over.....which was essentially the IV and XXIII corps, plus A J Smith's three divisions - which barely got there in time...plus whatever units Thomas could consolidate from various outposts, many of the manned by units of the USCT.

s.c.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/1/2020 6:34:56 PM
Steve

It appears by this stage of the war Lincoln had stepped away from "interfering" in military decisions. He trusted Grant and since Grant trusted Sherman, he was alright with it.

Lincoln admitted upon hearing of the fall of Savannah to having been “anxious, if not fearful” when Sherman left Atlanta, but had decided to trust his general: “Feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that ‘nothing risked, nothing gained,’ I did not interfere.” Lincoln added, “the honor is all yours.”
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