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 Post subject: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:38 pm 
Since the last posting got quite a few responses here is another one....

Who is the most overrated general of the War?

I will have to say Albert S. Johnston. He happened to die while leading an Army on the verge of victory at Shiloh and so has gone down in history a bit more favorably than he otherwise deserved. His bumbling cost the Confederacy Forts Donelson and Henry in February. Johnston stayed at Bowling Green, KY, rather than moving more men to the Forts or sending a competent leader to take overall command there (like Hardee who was with him at Bowling Green). He then retreated completely out of Kentucky and Tennessee rather than fighting around Murfreesboro, Franklin, or Nashville. As a Department leader Johnston took effectual control of the Army of the Mississippi rather than acting like a Department head and overseeing the entire scene from afar. When Johnston did advance on Grant at Shiloh he attacked despite hearing rumors of Buell's nearness and against the advice of Beauregard. Beauregard had been sent West by Davis to possibly take over for Johnston as the public had grown weary of the losses in the West. Johnston had to attack now or risk losing his command due to politics and retreating. The result? The loss at Shiloh and his own death at the climax of the battle.


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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:54 pm 
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John Bell Hood.....do I even need to explain....or how about Braxton Bragg.... :D

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:27 am 
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Robert E. Lee. A good general faced by incompetents. When he faced someone near his own skill level he lost (Gettysburg) or was able to fight defensively (1864 and on). :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:58 am 
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Interesting arguments in the attached link in defense of John Bell Hood. I also look forward to comments on the nomination of Robert E. Lee as overrated.

http://www.johnbellhood.org/menu.htm

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General Neal Hebert
Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
II Corps, Army of the West
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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:05 pm 
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Location: Las Cruces, NM USA
Since I don't see any Union Generals, I have to pick Fremont!. He almost lost St. Louis for the North in the first few months of the war.

As for comments about Lee-in some ways an easy target. He was so beloved by his men, they fought the last 9 months for him as they were defeated once Petersberg was invested. However, Lee was a firm believer in civilian rule, and Davis would not surrender.

From this website

By the close of July, 1864, Grant was in a position to choose his method of warfare—whether by a direct assault, by the slower process of a regular siege, or by heavy operations on the flanks of the Confederates.

The regular siege of Petersburg began in July

source: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/battle-of-petersburg.htm

General Elkin
Horse Artillery/3rd Div/(2nd Cav)/XVI Corps
AotT

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:30 pm 
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Gentlemen <salute>

In order to describe someone as "overrated", we should have an idea of how they rate in the first place. Just to throw a few names out there I browsed a few different sites which listed the worst (and on one site the best and worst):

One site names the 10 best of each army:
1) Nathan B. Forrest 1) Ulysses S. Grant
2) Robert E. Lee 2) Benjamin H. Grierson
3) Patrick R. Cleburne 3) George H. Thomas
4) "Stonewall" Jackson 4) William T. Sherman
5) James Longstreet 5) Winfield S. Hancock
6) A.P. Hill 6) John A. Logan
7) J.E.B. Stuart 7) Quincy Gilmore
8) John B. Hood (1862-1863) 8) Andrew A. Humphreys
9) D.H. Hill 9) James B. McPherson
10) William J. Hardee 10) John M. Schofield

The 10 worst from the same site:
1) W.H.C. Whiting 1) Egbert B. Brown
2) John B. Hood (1864) 2) John Pope
3) David E. Twiggs 3) Samuel Heintzelman
4) Benjamin Huger 4) John C. Fremont
5) William H. Carroll 5) George B. McClellan
6) Braxton Bragg 6) Benjamin F. Butler
7) John B. Floyd 7) Louis Blenker
8) Gideon Pillow 8) David Hunter
9) P.G.T. Beauregard 9) William Rosecrans
10) Theophilus Holmes 10) Ambrose E. Burnside

On another couple of sites there were lists of the worst combined:
1) Benjamin Franklin Butler (US)
2) George Brinton McClellan (US)
3) Ambrose Everett Burnside (US)
4) Braxton Bragg (CSA)
5) Franz Sigel (US)
6) Nathaniel Prentiss Banks (US)
7) Gideon Pillow (CSA)
8) Don Carlos Buell (US)
9) William S. Rosecrans (US)
10) Hugh Judson Kilpatrick (US)

1) Gideon Pillow (CSA)
2) Benjamin Butler (US)
3) John A. McClernand (US)
4) George McClellan (US)
5) Braxton Bragg (CSA)
6) Ambrose Burnside (US)
7) John Bell Hood (CSA)
8) Don Carlos Buell (US)
9) William Rosecrans (US)

The names offered so far include Robert E. Lee, Albert S. Johnson, John Bell Hood, Braxton Bragg, and John C. Fremont.

Robert E. Lee makes the "best" list.
John Bell Hood makes both the "best" and "worst" on one, and "worst" on another.
Albert S. Johnson makes none of the lists.
John C. Fremont makes the "worst" on one list.
Braxton Bragg makes the "worst" on all three lists, so it's hard to imagine him as overrated.

Anyone else of the 10 best you would consider overrated?

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:22 pm 
Lee as overrated? I disagree. He was matched very well by Grant and he managed to whip him in the Wilderness. Only Grant's determination and stubborness kept the AotP from faling back as they had every previous time Lee whipped them. By 1864 Lee was without Longstreet (wounded), Stuart (killed) and Stonewall (killed) and the ANV was slowly being worn down. Lee fought well but could not stop the Union war machine with Grant at its head.

On what planet is Grierson rated higher than Sherman, Thomas, and McPherson? Strange website that one. Must be ran by a distant relative of the cavalryman.


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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:12 pm 
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General Strickler <salute>

I ran across a sight which pretty much trashed Sherman, saying he was saved only through his friendship with Grant and the "March to the Sea" was a success only because it was largely unopposed by any significant force; a cake walk. Perhaps deserving of an "overrated" as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:54 am 
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Sherman's reputation shouldn't come from the March to the Sea, brilliant as it was, but in the campaign to get from Tennessee to Atlanta. Wonder how Joe Johnston would have rated that?

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:43 pm 
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Gen. Strickler, I would challenge your statement thet Gen. Lee whipped Gen. Grant at the Wilderness. The best that can be said is that he entrenched in a good position and let the AoP exhaust itself attacking. Grant did not retreat following that battle, he turned the direction of his advance to the south. In the battle at Spotsylvania Courthouse which followed Gen Lee's leaving the salient known as the Mule Shoe nearly cost him the battle. 1864 was a year in which the Confederate Army was almost always fighting on the defensive and limited Lee's options to show what we could do. In 1862 and 1863 he invaded the north twice, split up his army unwisely and was nearly defeated at Antietam by an overly cautious MacClellan and then was beaten at Gettysburg by Gen Meade because he refused to listen to the sound advice of Longstreet to move on and seek another battlefield or at least make a flanking effort around the Union left at BRT. Lee was idolized by his army and the people of the south and still is by today's Southerner. He has been given an unwarranted elevation of his skills by this hero worship. He was an excellent engineer and a capable but over-rated general. He was unable to win any significant battles after C-ville (I also believe Jackson's enveloping march was Jackon's idea not Lees)when the Union Army began to achieve improved competancy in the upper ranks of it's leadership.

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:18 pm 
I believe what made Lee great was the fact that he understood that in order for the South to win they had to take such chances. He may have divided his Army when he invaded Maryland but he also divided his Army at Chancellorsville with great success. He also divided his Army before Second Manassas and whipped Pope in the process. Lee managed to inflict nearly 2 to 1 casualties in the Wilderness (according to different accounts you read) and the Union soldiers were as shocked as anyone that they didnt retreat after the battle. But Grant knew he could pay the butcher bills and his army of 120,000 men could take such losses while Lee's Army of 65,000 could not. The Mule Shoe was an error at Spotsylvania but then again so was Grant's attack at Cold Harbor. In such a campaign was the Wilderness neither side was without errors. After the Yanks attacked the Bloody Angle Lee's Army reacted well, closed the gaps, and held their lines for the day.

Was Lee as effective in 1864 and 1865 as he was earlier in the War? No. His core veterans were dwindling, his best generals were lost or on medical leave, the Confederacy was providing less materials but expecting more results, and the Union Army was larger and better trained than ever.

Having played these games for years now I know how Lee felt trying to fight such a vastly superior force! Many a time I sit here thinking, "man if I just had one more lousy division!"

I really look forward to when HPS puts out a Wilderness game as it will be a lot of fun to fight these battles in 1864 - 1865. We Rebs probably won't get many victories though :)


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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:34 am 
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I would vote for George Armstrong Custer as being very over rated

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:25 am 
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You've won me, Cam! Although there are many others I would not rate!


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Gen Mark Oakford
Army of the Potomac
http://campcromwell.blogspot.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:08 pm 
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As history's pendulum continues to swing, it is interesting to see someone like Lee's name creep into a discussion of over-rated Generals. I honestly doubt, that 40 years ago such a thought was even possible. Having said that, he most certainly had to be over-rated, if for no other reason than that no one could possibly be as good as he has been rated. (although he was very, VERY good. I'd even say he was a great general. The greatness of Lee was also, the Confederacy's undoing. Because of the manner in which he defended Virginia, and fought his battles, the longer that the war went on, the more certain the Confederacy was going to lose. (With the exception of Lincoln being voted out of office in 1864.) I point to the fact that 40 of the 50 highest casualty regiments in the Confederate army served the the ANVa. I also would allude to the fact that the army of the Potomac suffered more combat casualties than the rest of the United States armies COMBINED. Obviously, the side with the smaller manpower base, is going to lose in such a conflict. Can anyone imagine what the war would have been like had Lee accepted command of the United States forces? I could go on for days about this, but I'll leave that up to you fellows....

Regarding Custer, I can't formulate an opinion, at least an unbiased one. His hometown is a few miles from my house...but having said that, when things got tough, none other than Phil Sheridan, sent for Custer...that's okay by me.

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 Post subject: Re: Most Overrated General of the War
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:26 pm 
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Good discussion. Not well read on the civil war, but I will give an opinion, with limited background.
Lee. Pretty hard to be all he has been built up to. Agree he was outstanding, and I can give little fault even with what we can look back now as mistakes (Gettysburg assualt for instance). Still hard to knock the guy, but no one is without error, so perhaps overrated. Same might go with Jackson....amazing success, did he always work well with those around him. Don't know, easy to knock a ledgend as overrated, because they are all human.

Grant? Hard to say, right man for the time and took the heat of his decisions out east. Still, Shiloh, was nearly a big issue, and certain things in the Wilderness come to mind as open to question. Still, he is given a good level of credit in bringing the ANV down. Correctly probably, but could be overrated.

Custer?--I believe his wife took care to polish the image. Seems like a man who had potential to get into issue. Still, do you argue with the success he did have. I think also enjoyed the spotlight and some controvesy.

I should let those more well read comment, look forward to seeing more.

LTG Laabs
1/I A of M


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