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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 4:54 am 
"Let's be clear: The North wins the ACW whatever happens."


Just like we won in Vietnam? Like we are going to win in Afghanistan? I strongly disagree with you......The South likely should have won the war.....All they had to do do was hang on long enough to break the Northern will......It was a close thing as it happened....Only Mobile bay and Atlanta saved the Northern war effort. Had the Western Confederate leaders not made any one of several blunders, the war could have easily ended up in the victory column for Southern Indepencence.....

Could the South have militarily conquered the North? Nope......But that was never the goal......and so not even part of the equation....Could North Vietnam have ever militarily defeated our fine military? Not a chance.....Can the Afghans defeat us militarily? Not a chance.....If we lose there, it will not be the Military's fault......

BG Hank Smith
Army of Georgia
Smith's Corp Commanding


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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 7:55 am 
Well said BG Smith. Lincoln said it more than 150 years ago and this phrase still rings true today:

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth... could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years... If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be it's author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

1864 was the closest we ever came to such a fate, and I hope we may never come closer!

Col. Blake L. Strickler
Army of the Mississippi
Chief of Staff
6th Bd/4th Div/IV Corps

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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:06 am 
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Hank is right, the South could have won the war both early and late with stunning victories and high Union casualties. By its nature, these sorts of Civil Wars, where there are clear geographic demarcations, are as much "revolutionary" wars as they are classic civil wars. Since one side must occupt the other to end the rebellion, victory is more than just winning in the field and the idea of national moral plays on both sides.

However, I disagree with him that militaries cannot lose these kinds of wars. If political and military strategy are not in accord, an overpowering state can lose (the current conflict in Afghanistan is perhaps an illustration of this, although with the changes of the last 12 months, really the last 24 or 30 months, the jury is out). This can often be the fault of the military.

The American Civil War is a good example of this. Several union leaders, especially Scott and Lincoln, early on saw a clear path to political victory and attempted to implement a military strategy to carry it out (I am not saying either was without their early mistakes and misconceptions- one of Lincolns strenghts was to learn from his mistakes). McClellan, however, did not understand this strategy at all and repeatedly failed to implement it. He was too cautious and too fixated with Richmond instead of the ANV. Sherman and Grant were able to implement the winning strategy, regardless of their tactical failings.


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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:14 am 
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back to the original discussion. I do not think Grant had "learned his lessons" yet at that point in 62. He matured and learned as a commander as time went on. In my opinion, he certainly could have made the sort of operational mistakes made by Pope, but he would not have shriveled and still may have stabilized the situation by his unwillingness to lose. He and Lee shared that stubborn refusal to allow his army to lose (and the constant desire to sieze the initiative).

An important thing to note was that both Lee and Grant slowly built their armies, East and West, into forces that could consistently win on the battlefield. A key component of this was finding out which generals they could work with in the heat of battle. They had to find which generals had the stones for battlefield command AND would could understand the strategic and tacical thinking of their bosses.

I am reading Sears' Gates of Richmond now, about the Peninsula Campaign and the command follies of Johnson and Lee, where they made complicated but doable plans that their division and wing commanders struggled to implement. Over time, Lee found what roles best suited which commanders (including sending them elsewhere). The book Lee's Generals is an excellent source on this. Grant went through a similar process in the West.

Finally, I want to comment on Kennons point about the near victories in the West being thrown away by poor Confederate command decisions. The same could be said of the yanks in the East. The Peninsula, either Bull Run, Antietam, Chancerlorsville, Fredericksburg, all could have been Union victories based on the way the Union soldiers fought and the way each of those battles played out. Reading Catton's Army of the Potomac trilogy is like reading a tragedy....


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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:49 am 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Jim Pfleck</i>
Reading Catton's Army of the Potomac trilogy is like reading a tragedy....
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

So is reading Lee's Lieutenants.

MG Mike Mihalik
2/4/I/AoMiss/CSA


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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 5:40 am 
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Ah, I said Lee's Generals. I meant Lee's Lieutenants. Indeed, this war, as with most, was at heart a tragedy.


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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 1:03 pm 
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Most of the Eastern battles weren't near misses like in the West.

For the Seven Days, McClellan was in command. All the South had to do was look aggressive and he would retreat. He won every battle in the Seven Days just about and still retreated.

Bull Run the Union was tactically out maneuvered. They should have lost worse than they did but Longstreet hold off until almost dusk to attack throwing away any chance of it being decisive.

Antietam was better not fought and Johnson (instead of Lee) probably wouldn't have.

Fredericksburg the Union never stood a chance of winning. Another battle the best path to was not to go there.

Chancellorsville should have been a Union victory. But then Longstreet was on one of his horse's ass imitations and whould have been there.

The short of it is that the Virginia theater was a better match to Joe Johnson's abilities. The avenues of attack were limited and ideal for a defensive minded General to spoil any attempt on Richmond for years.

The West is another story and it is a place wide open to maneuver where a General like Lee or Jackson could shine.

Shiloh - A more agressive and driving General would have gotten has army there in few days earlier and driven Grant into the river. Probably ending both his and Sherman's careers. Hopefully Lee would let an idiot like Beauregard handle the deployment.

Corinth - Buell made McClellan look like a speedster. He crawled toward Corinth after Shiloh. An agressive General wouldn't have left his flanks alone for long.

Stones River - Only Bragg could have convienced himself he had lost after winning on the field.

Vicksburg - Lee would never get caught in fortifications. He would have had the whole army out to meet Grant.

Chickamauga - No one could have handled his troops worse than Bragg. This should have been a decisive victory for the South. Chattanooga should never have occurred.


Lee in the West could have brought the determination and will to win that the Army of Tennessee badly needed. It would also have brought the confidence of Davis to let the general in charge have the resources to win. Both in terms of manpower, authority and subordinates.

In the East things would have been more questionable. Johnson might have handled things but he lacked Davis's support. If Johnson had fought in Virginia as agressively as he did against Sherman in 65 he could have handled things.

Jackson in command in the East might have been a better choice but he had his problems too.

General Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
2/3/IV AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:09 pm 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">The West is another story and it is a place wide open to maneuver where a General like Lee or Jackson could shine.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I disagree. Lee was always more comfortable with an army command, and he excelled at using the AoNV to that effect. The western theater, in contrast to the east, was much too large. While Lee was in the east, the two main threats he faced were the AoP (and the AoV in summer '62) as well as various Union coastal holdings (Carolina and Hampton). The western theater stretched from the Mississippi to the Appalachians, and also from the Confederate border to the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, the east had one main city to defend (Richmond, and to a lesser extent Charleston) while the west had many (Vicksburg, Memphis, New Orleans, Chattanooga, Nashville, Corinth).

We look at the key battles as being where the west was lost, but that also isn't entirely true. Smaller campaigns, such as Ft. Henry/Donelson, Island #10, Pea Ridge, and Mill Springs (all battles where the theater commander could not really get involved) had drastic effect on the outcome of the war. Shiloh represented the best shot the Confederates had at whipping a sizeable portion of the Union Army, since two of the main Union armies and all but Van Dorn and some Confederate garrisons took part. However, its hard to see how Lee could have moved that battle faster, considering the distances required to unite the AoM (Bragg was coming from Florida). At best, Lee could have prepared a better plan, but once Buell arrives on the field the battle is as good as over.

Corinth was even worse, and after that the Confederate high command in the west became increasingly disjointed while the Union high command was coming together. After that, Lee could really only have affected one part of the vast western theater, and that would ultimately result in something like Chattanooga. The Union Army was simply too large, the Confederate army too small, and the theater too vast for Lee to perform at the efficiency he did in the east.

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">It would also have brought the confidence of Davis to let the general in charge have the resources to win. Both in terms of manpower, authority and subordinates.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Davis did have confidence in his generals. A. S. Johnston, Bragg, and even Pemberton were all friends of Davis and he gave them what he could. The south was simply too focused on the east to give them enough manpower, authority, and subordinates.

Lt. Col. Dylan McCartney
IV Brigade/ I Division
XIV Corps
Army of the Cumberland
Union Army


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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 2:41 am 
Ah, but the point is that if just one of the critical battles that easily could have resulted in Union disasters had indeed met with Union disater, that it would have delayed victory enough to prevent Lincoln's re-election.....

I think Lee could have likely gotten troops to Shiloh a day earlier.....The Confederate approach was anything but efficient there.....Had they had an extra day before Buell's arrival to finish off Grant, things would have likely been very different with both Grant and Shermans careers in ruins.....This fails to mention what could have been had the Confederates gone ahead and escaped from Ft Donelson when they had broken out (instead of marching back in and surrendering), thereby providing an extra Corp to the Confederates at Shiloh.

Chickamaugua would likely have resulted in Rosecrans surrender had Lee been there, that alone would have likely finished Lincoln as president....Bragg did more to lose the war than any Union General did to win it.....He was pretty pathetic.

I agree with Kenon on all but one point, that being Joe Johnston.....I feel he was the "Little Mac" of the Confederacy. He was technically very good, but unwilling to fight with enough aggressivenesss....I believe he would have retreated Richmond away in the East....The Vicksburg camapign was an excellent example of his ability to refuse to fight. Pemberton was there too and there is enough blame for both of them, but a decently coordinated campaign could have and should have defeated Grant. I will admit that neither Antietam nor Gettysburg would have happened had Joe been in command. he would never have struck North in the fisrt place......

But to sum things up, there were a lot of close "what ifs" that could have changed things.....Heck, what if the Confederates had just built one Ironclad at New orleans and thereby finished it in time for the battle there.....If New Orleans does not fall, the west would have been a much tougher nut to crack for the Yankees.

Yep, lots and lots of what if's



BG Hank Smith
Army of Georgia
Smith's Corp Commanding


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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 4:32 am 
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What if the capitol of the Confederacy had remained in Montgomery? Would Lee still be forced to defend Richmond, hanging around his neck like an anchor?

Maj.Gen. Drex Ringbloom,
AotS Chief-of -Staff,
2nd Division Cmdr, "Corcoran's Legion", VIII Corps
Army of the Shenandoah
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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 7:57 am 
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Lee can't be a one-stop fix for all of the western theater's problems. He can't be at every battle, and as theater commander would have been absent from a battle like Ft. Donelson, so to assume that they could have escaped would be to assume that more changes are made. Anything is possible if you change everything, but only changing Lee cannot guarantee a sudden swing in Confederate fortunes.

In regard to Lee and Shiloh, that would be the best opportunity for Lee to make a big impact on the war in the west. However, Lee's first foray into command on the Peninsula was a series of complicated battle plans and convoluted administrative and marching decisions...exactly the same problem that A. S. Johnston encountered while advancing to Shiloh. Late 1862 Lee could have pulled it off no problem, but that Lee also had better subordinates than Beauregard and Bragg.

Lee at Chickamauga is a boon, and that would be an even greater victory for the south. That would bring an earlier encounter between Grant and Lee, with Grant at the head of the undefeated army. It's an interesting scenario, and would certainly delay the taking of Atlanta. However, Lee at Chickamauga means that there is no Lee in the east, so who commands there? Longstreet? Who wins in a Meade/Longstreet matchup? The Fall of Richmond would certainly allow Lincoln to win the election just as Atlanta did.

Lt. Col. Dylan McCartney
IV Brigade/ I Division
XIV Corps
Army of the Cumberland
Union Army


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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 8:59 am 
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Some very interesting discussion here. A good read!

One issue I would have with Lee being sent West was that it took him time to establish himself over some of his subordinates. He succeeded in this after the Seven Days by removing them or encouraging them to head out West - Magruder and Holmes for example. So if Lee is sent West in 1862 will he have time to develop a useful working relationship with his lieutenants? I imagine he would be fine with Hardee, but what about Polk and Bragg? With such leaders would Lee have been able to get them to work together more harmoniously than they did? I have my doubts.

Another point is that I believe the South's only chance of a military victory over the North was lost when the Confederates did not march on Washington DC after 1st Manassas. Failing that the South's only hope of victory was to see Lincoln replaced by a President that would have been willing to negotiate the South's secession.

To return to the original thread. Grant in the east in 1862 would have dramatically changed the course of events, but not the eventual outcome. Had Grant gone east and fell from favour by 1864 - who knows, perhaps Sherman would have led an overland campaign in the east in 1864 with Thomas charged with the advance on Atlanta (I suspect we'd still be waiting now for Thomas to get to Atlanta!)

Maj. General P. Kenney
3rd Division
Cavalry Division
IV Corps
Army of the Mississippi, CSA


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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 11:48 am 
Lee did not need to be everyplace, he just needed to be in the right place.....I think Chichamaugua would have been the most likely....I do not think Meade would have magicly have become drastically aggressive had Lee gone, and I think any reasonably compentent defense would have kept him out of Richmond......Lee could have boarded a train and come back and kicked his butt after recieving Rosecrans surrender....Little Mac for President!!!!

BG Hank Smith
Army of Georgia
Smith's Corp Commanding


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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 12:12 pm 
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I will probably receive a lot of flak for what I am about to say but I think it is worth noting as it comes from a slightly different perspective. I am European (East European to boot) in real life and I hold a BA in military history.

First I would like to say that Robert E. Lee was a great general but he is overrated in US, especially in the South. Point being Lee was probably the best tactician in the war but his strategic capability beyond Virginia was practically nil.

He was also the highest ranking officer of the side that lost the war. No ifs, buts or maybes. we can discuss the reasons, the superiority of Union manpower, industrial production, the issue of slavery, passivity of European power etc but the hard fact remains that he lost the war. Complaining how Union had superior manpower and industrial capacity is equal to complaining how Confederacy had better generals and higher quality troops.

This brings me to second point, those are the all-time popular what ifs. The best known is by far Gettysburg. IF Lee crushed Meade and IF Army of the Potomac was annihilated and IF northern morale was shattered (despite the fall of Vicksburg) the South would won or at least Lee would capture Washington. That is a lot of ifs and they all hang on the idea that one tactical reverse would change the whole strategic picture. It might or it might not, at any rate the swing to total blitzkrieg style victory of later wars was highly unlikely.

The Confederacy managed to maintain the status quo in the East and Lee can be credited and lauded for that but at the same time it lost the war in the West and Lee shares his part of the blame for that.

Robert E. Lee wasn't a magical fix all and if Union had its Popes and Buells, the Confederacy had its Braggs and Floyds.

Just my two cents, in the end the only general who achieved surrender of three enemy armies was Union's own Ulysses S. Grant and it is the final result that counts.

Lt. A. Trommel
"Motley Foreign Ranks"
5th Bde/1st Div/XVIth Corps, Army of the Tennessee, USA


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:07 am 
"First I would like to say that Robert E. Lee was a great general but he is overrated in US, especially in the South."


Suh!!!!! Overrated????? Those are fighting words!!!! [:D]
At the least, that is extremely debatable. I guess more than anything, it is according to just who is rating him.....

------------------------------------------------------------

"Point being Lee was probably the best tactician in the war but his strategic capability beyond Virginia was practically nil."


There is no legitimate point here, because unitl it was too late in 1865, Virginia was his only responsibility. I suspect that had the job been given to him at an early enough date he would have done the job the best it could have been done.....Far better than it was anyway.....

---------------------------------------------------------------------

"Complaining how Union had superior manpower and industrial capacity is equal to complaining how Confederacy had better generals and higher quality troops."


Not equal at all, in fact, history proves just how unequal those things were in the war.......

---------------------------------------------------------------------

"The Confederacy managed to maintain the status quo in the East and Lee can be credited and lauded for that but at the same time it lost the war in the West and Lee shares his part of the blame for that."

Since the West was not his responsibility, until after it was completely lost, I would ask what responsibility should be his? He is being asked by certain historians to shoulder blame for not seeing the big picture. Until 1865, it was not his job to do so. He was not the man to make the final decisions until then. While he was included in strategic discussions, and I agree that he always argued for the options that best served his interests and those of his army, I submit that it was his job to do exactly that. He was commander of the ANV, and that was the actual extent of it. I do not recall any historian holding Grant responsible for Union defeats in the East in the early part of the war.....Hmmm, perhaps it was Grants fault that little Mac lost on the Peninsula, after all, he could have suggested to Lincoln that he give "Little Mac" the requested reinforcements.....But then, just maybe that was past the scope of Grants responsibilities, just as the weat was beyond the scope of Lee's.

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"This brings me to second point, those are the all-time popular what ifs. The best known is by far Gettysburg. IF Lee crushed Meade and IF Army of the Potomac was annihilated and IF northern morale was shattered (despite the fall of Vicksburg) the South would won or at least Lee would capture Washington. That is a lot of ifs and they all hang on the idea that one tactical reverse would change the whole strategic picture. It might or it might not, at any rate the swing to total blitzkrieg style victory of later wars was highly unlikely."


First of all, Gettysburg was a mistake.....I do think Lee should have been ordered west to deal with Grant with all reinforcements that culd temporarily scraped together.....But the fact remains that things were desperate for the South by that point. About the only hope was for a morale breaking victory by the South. I think Chickamagua was absolutely the last real oppurtunity for that. There were a few oppurtunities for such a victory, but overall, as history shows, it turned out to be highly unlikely, and did not happen.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

"Robert E. Lee wasn't a magical fix all and if Union had its Popes and Buells, the Confederacy had its Braggs and Floyds."

I have never viewed Lee as a magic fix all....As for the second half of your statement, I could not agree more.....The Union should have officially recognized Braggs many contributions to the Union war effort....It is a travesty of history that they neglected to do so.....

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"Just my two cents, in the end the only general who achieved surrender of three enemy armies was Union's own Ulysses S. Grant and it is the final result that counts."

While Grant was good enough to do the math, I do not think he was any Lee. Had the Armies been anything approaching equal strength, I think Lee would have easily bested him. I wonder how Grant would have been remembered had he worn gray. I suspect he would have been disasterous to the Southern cause. However the fact remains that given the odds in his favor, he was man enough to use those odds and achieve what no other was able to do. For that he deserves credit.
I think he has recieved it......Both then and to this day.....







BG Hank Smith
Army of Georgia
Smith's Corp Commanding


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