MILITARY HISTORY ONLINE

User:  
Password:  
 
 Civil War - General
Page 2 of 2 (Page:  1    2  )
Message
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/2/2020 2:48:17 AM
Did Sherman regard his repulse at Kenesaw Mountain in late June 1864 as a kind of turning point ?

It was a nasty affair. I wonder if this was his response to the cry for help that Steve reckons Grant issued from his Virginia bloodbath. Almost a kind of gesture to demonstrate that he was willing to make a head on attack.

If so, it served to replicate Cold Harbor on a rather smaller scale, and might have prompted Sherman to a greater resolve to wage “ hard war” in a manner calculated to render war intolerable for the rebels.

Maybe Sheridan was motivated by something similar in the Valley, after he was dispatched to deal with Early.

Editing : A thought : maybe it would have been better for the South if the President of the CSA had not been an experienced soldier. Perhaps his knowledge of - and involvement in - the science of the military served only to antagonise his commanders in the field.

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
12/2/2020 10:28:06 AM
Phil

Do you think that by June 1864 Sherman was becoming frustrated at his inability to tie Johnston down and fight that decisive battle both Grant and he wanted? I see Grant as a bulldog who once he latched on would not let go while Sherman as more emotional and tempermental.

Which leads to that dilemna on the other side: the replacement of Johnston with Hood. Comments have been made that when Davis hated, he hated well. Both Johnston and Davis were proud men and neither could be considered warm and friendly. Both felt they knew the art of military science and could not suffer criticism gladly. Both graduated from West Point. Both served in the Mexican War but it ends there. One stayed in the Army the other went into politics.

As far as Sheridan...he came from the West and brought that experience with him. Perhaps it was a sense of something to prove to those eastern officers in AoP.
----------------------------------
"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
12/2/2020 12:26:51 PM
John,

There is something that appears to have changed in Sherman’s approach at the time of Kennesaw.

This might be an erroneous interpretation on my part, but he seems to have aspired to fighting a battle that could be compared with the grandeur of those being fought in the East. He actually alluded to this, and commented that another attack after the initial repulse of 27 June might be in order, since his casualties were low compared with those in the East. That strikes me as an odd thing to say. Was it because Grant had been leaning on him ; or might it reflect his awareness that his battles were being seen as sideshows to the main event in Virginia ? His actual casualties at Kennesaw that day might have amounted to half the total that Grant suffered in his most notorious repulse at Cold Harbor 24 days earlier ......and that’s saying quite a lot.

There’s also the story that Sherman wanted to get his men to stop relying on trenches, as he fretted that they would lose their offensive zeal and become diminished in fighting prowess if he didn’t order them to make a headlong assault. Hood has been excoriated for suggesting the same thing at Franklin. It makes you think, doesn’t it ? Franklin is the ultimate symbol of bungling and prodigal offensive tactics : Kennesaw was up there with it in some respects.

Your mention of Davis and Johnston, and their hubristic self regard as soldiers, makes me think of the contrasting humility that Lincoln displayed in relationships with his generals. Is it true that he said to Grant something like ....the actual plans of your campaign I neither know, nor seek to know... ?

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
12/2/2020 12:29:49 PM
John,

Quote:
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.


It would certainly seem so...Lincoln was upfront about his own lack of knowledge in the field of military endeavors...and only "got involved" in 62 when Mac could not be prodded into action.

If I recall, Lincoln was less than enthusiastic about Grant's Vicksburg campaign...at least the whole "swim by Vicksburg, come ashore, and then take Vicksburg from behind" way that the campaign unfolded. And wrote to Grant afterwards (and I must paraphrase here) to the effect that "You were right and I was wrong". NOT something that a Jefferson Davis would ever acknowledge to himself, let alone admit publicly-:)

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/2/2020 12:34:27 PM
Quote:
There’s also the story that Sherman wanted to get his men to stop relying on trenches, as he fretted that they would lose their offensive zeal and become diminished in fighting prowess if he didn’t order them to make a headlong assault.


Yes, he did say something to that effect...and used this bizarre form of logic to justify a head on attack that had little - if any - chance of success. One of many reasons that I do not hold Sherman in very high regard. No regret expressed etc.. No acknowledgement that Kennesaw was a huge mistake (which Thomas clearly saw...which no doubt did not help his relationship with Sherman...who wants to be remined that they made a large mistake).

I would also note that Sherman's men were already almost always on the offensive....it was not as if they were sitting back in their trenches, hoping for Joe Johnston to attack. Sherman's sad attempt at justifying Kennesaw was such complete bull shit....

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 779
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/2/2020 12:52:48 PM
Quote:
Do you think that by June 1864 Sherman was becoming frustrated at his inability to tie Johnston down and fight that decisive battle both Grant and he wanted?


I would tend to disagree with this....at this point, Sherman's primary goal was still to keep Joe Johnston occupied...although Atlanta seems to have been a tertiary target right from the get go.

It could be argued that Sherman was frustrated because his ability to outflank Johnston was somewhat limited by his need to stay within wagon distance of his rail line. But despite that, he was making steady progress...as every time Sherman outflanked Johnston, Johnston simply pulled back (albeit, to a previously prepared position). It's no wonder that Davis was getting pissed at Johnston-:)

Where Sherman really got bogged down was once he had Johnston/Hood backed up into Atlanta. Sherman's army was not large enough to conduct a legitimate siege. And his attempts to use cavalry to cut Hood's rail lines were ineffective, to say the least.

I would be critical of Johnston. Sherman's flanking moves were essentially never opposed. Contrast that with what Lee did to Grant's efforts get around his right (thinking of after the initial Petersburg attacks had failed...and Lee and Grant were bogged down in trench warfare). Every move around Lee's right was countered - often successfully - by Lee. And the AoP suffered several embarrassing defeats in the late summer.

s.c.

john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/2/2020 2:26:41 PM
Steve

If I am reading this right both Lee and Johnston countered their opponent's flanking moves. The difference was " Sherman's flanking moves were essentially never opposed." Lee instead aggressively countered every move Grant made, making him pay for every foot of ground gained.

Is it possible that Davis saw what Lee was doing and unfavorably compared it to Johnston's results? In both case the Conf. armies were being moved slowly backwards, one towards Richmond the other Atlanta. In ANV's case it was fighting while AoT was simply retreating slowly.
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6206
Joined: 2006
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/2/2020 4:11:13 PM
Hi John,

Good point, You might also say in one case Johnston is being pressured into withdrawing, so he withdraws. In the other situation Grant is pressing the ANV, but Lee is trying everything he can to change it? He was leading right til the end, but lack of food & supplies finally caught up to him!? Davis had to realize Lee did all he could in a impossible situation?

MD
----------------------------------
"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
12/2/2020 4:53:00 PM
Quite so, MD, and let it not be forgotten that it was Davis who made the decision to appoint Lee, and in so doing rendered the South a great service.

So say I !

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
12/2/2020 6:12:42 PM
Phil
A story I read about Joe Johnston was he was known as the best shot in the Army. He and friends went bird hunting. While his friends fired away, Joe never fired a shot. Afterwards when asked why, he replied that the birds were too high or too low or too far away etc. In other words he couldn't fire and miss which might put in to question his shooting ability. It seems the same as a general. He was known as military commander of great renown but he always had a reason to defend why he didn't do this or that. On the Peninsula, in Miss during the Vicksburg campaign and in Georgia, something was just not right every time.

Did Davis really appoint Lee or was it the wounding of Johnston at Fair Oaks that forced his hand?
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/2/2020 8:38:02 PM
Group,
2020-12-02
A couple of replies wondered aloud about Confed Blockade running and Franklin as blunders so I dug out the issue to try to add some better info. Steve Woodworth #9 blunder “Confederate failure to exploit the porous blockade during the early months of the war to ship as much cotton as possible to Europe. It would have required keen foresight, but much cotton could probably have been sent through the blockade in 1861. Its presence in European warehouses later in the war could have provided collateral for much-needed loans.”
Steve Newton’s #4 “Confederate failure to take control of railroads and blockade running. The confederacy had the transportation infrastructure in its railroads (just barely) and sufficient logistical support from overseas slipping through the blockade (again, just barely) to support the war effort. There was little or no margin for error let alone blatant interference of local politics in managing either of these enterprises”
My take that these reflect a Davis failure to make effective policy to centralize control – high value frill goods often took cargo space in place of military stores. Later some measures were made to bring blockade and RRs under regulation but Davis resisted, much damage had been done, not really enforced. As Woodworth suggests Davis et al saw cotton as a weapon when it could have been a valuable resource if wisely leveraged. Not Davis.
Franklin – Steve Woodworth “John B Hood’s decision to assault the union lines around Franklin, Tennessee. This blunder probably effected the outcome of the war less than others on this list. It merits mention because it was so obvious to everyone involved at the time – except Hood.”
Craig Symonds “Hood’s bad-tempered assault at Franklin Tennessee.”
The Hood appointment was entirely a Davis/Bragg project and failure showing Davis’ practical incapacity as a military leader and strategist.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/3/2020 5:15:35 AM
John,

You’re right to pose that final question about Johnston’s wounding being the reason for Lee’s appointment.

Whatever the reason for the appointment , I reckon it’s worth emphasising that the relationship between Davis and Lee was good, and that the two men acted well in concert together . Perhaps it’s arguable that this was a factor that made the war in the Eastern Theatre so hard for the Union : Lee was the great influence here, and this was attributable in part to the flourishing rapport he had with Davis. If this was so, then Davis might be accorded some credit for it.

I’ll put my head over the parapet, and suggest that if Davis was as bad as his detractors insist, then the duration and intensity of the war is hard to account for. That’s a bit of a cop out argument to deploy in Davis’s defence, but I’ll let it stand and see what response it elicits.

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
12/3/2020 7:26:32 AM
Phil
Some of Davis' biggest detractors during the war were Wigfall and Rhett. Both worked closely with Davis in Washington in events leading up to 1860 and all were strong "States' Rights" men. They turned on him when Davis became President of the CSA and moved towards a more centralized gov't. Then after the war Pollard who was i believe editor of the Richmond Examiner did a hatch job on Davis in his post war.

Of all the people involved in the Succession Crisis Louis Wigfall may be the most despicable. After his home of State of Texas left the Union Wigfall stayed in the Senate and refused to resign. He then worked both on and behind the scenes to gum up the works of the Fed Gov't in its response to the Crisis. He even sat on the committee that drew up the Crittenden Compromise
----------------------------------
"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
12/3/2020 11:17:52 AM
Quote:
A couple of replies wondered aloud about Confed Blockade running and Franklin as blunders so I dug out the issue to try to add some better info. Steve Woodworth #9 blunder “Confederate failure to exploit the porous blockade during the early months of the war to ship as much cotton as possible to Europe. It would have required keen foresight, but much cotton could probably have been sent through the blockade in 1861. Its presence in European warehouses later in the war could have provided collateral for much-needed loans.”


Mike,

Well, there was some confusion in the list of 10 blunders posted on page one of this thread-:)

The cotton embargo is listed as a separate blunder from the blockade itself .... as a result, I was guessing that listing the blockade as a blunder was a criticism of something that the Union did wrong, in terms of instilling the blockade.

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 79
Joined: 2020
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/3/2020 1:18:43 PM
Steve,
yes sorry my posting skills could be much better, sorry. I dont get how to post a table here and its comes up again today with my post just now on thread on H&J stat analysis. "oh for a man of steadfast . . ." not me i guess. and I tend to prefer some quantitaive approach to avoid subjectivity so its a major weakness in useful posts, sorry.
Mike_C
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
Jefferson Davis The Wrong man
12/4/2020 10:43:17 AM
Mike, Steve

Hindsight is always 20/20. Try to think of the logic behind the CSA self imposed cotton blockade. They were looking for help/recognition from GB and France. Both those countries relied heavily on US cotton imports for their textiles. By not sending cotton overseas it would create a shortage. The shortage would causes factories to close, and workers laid off. This in turn would cause labor unrest and economic downturn. This unrest, and downturn would cause the owners to look to Parl. for help. The British Gov't would apply pressure on the US to end the war, using recognition as a threat. Brilliant!
Unfortunately both GB and Fr were able to find differnt source of cotton ie Egypt and even India.

Not saying I agree with this strategy. Just saying it is one to look at their thinking
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Page 2 of 2 (Page:  1    2  )

© 2021 - MilitaryHistoryOnline.com LLC