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Thread: Robert E. Lee vs the Duke of Wellington

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    Robert E. Lee vs the Duke of Wellington

    In the conflicts of the musket era, two wars stand out in particular amongst popular knowledge: The Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War. I would like to compare two outstanding commanders of these two eras, the famous Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy and Arthur Wellesley, Iron Duke of Wellington. My question today is, if these two commanders were to meet each other on the field of battle, who would emerge victorious?

    Now, just a preliminary note: Technology is equal in this scenario, both sides being equipped with percussion cap smoothbore muskets (except for the Rifle regiments of the British and sharpshooters of the Confederates, who will have percussion cap rifles) and smoothbore cannon. For the British, this will be Pattern 1842 muskets, essentially a Brown Bess with a percussion cap mechanism, for the Confederates it will the Model 1842 Springfield musket. And there shall be no Minie ball. So in terms of technology, it is intermediary between the Civil War and the Napoleonic Wars. Now for the scenario:

    Robert E. Lee's objective is to reach and capture a strategically important city, which we will refer to simply as Goal. Wellesley's objective is to prevent him from reaching Goal. The road to this city runs through a valley formed by two parallel ridges, with a dried riverbed in the center. The ridges are of equal height, rising about 20m above the surrounding landscape with a gentle slope. A cluster of rocky hills with deep dens in between connects the two gently sloping ridges on the south-east end (the ridges run from north-west to south-east for about 3.2km, or about the same length as Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg). At the north-western end of the northern ridge, a large hill turns the ridge back, curving around to make a J shape. To the south and to the north of the valley there are several small hamlets, connected by roads. At the south-eastern and central parts of the valley, there are small abandoned homesteads (roughly the size of La Haye Sainte) with clusters of farming buildings. Knowing that Lee must pass over these ridges to reach Goal, Wellington marches his Army of the Peninsula (circa the Battle of Vitoria) and occupies the northern ridge. Lee arrives a day later with his Army of Northern Virginia (circa Fredericksburg), occupying the southern heights.

    British Order of Battle: (from http://www.britishbattles.com/penins...la-vitoria.htm. Though, I did do some reorganizing as as Vitoria, the British army was organized in columns for the attack, and it would not be here)

    Commander: Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington

    Cavalry:
    1st Brigade: commanded by Major General Victor von Alten: 14th Light Dragoons and 1st Hussars, King’s German Legion
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Lieutenant General Fane: 3rd Dragoon Guards and 1st Royal Dragoons
    3rd Brigade: commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert Hill: 1st and 2nd Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards.
    4th Brigade: commanded by Colonel Colquohon Grant: 10th, 15th and 18th Light Dragoons (Hussars)
    5th Brigade: commanded by Major General William Ponsonby: 5th Dragoon Guards, 3rd and 4th Dragoons
    1st Portuguese Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General D’Urban: 1st, 11th and 12th Portuguese Dragoons.
    6th Brigade: commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert Hill: 1st and 2nd Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards.
    7th Brigade: commanded by Colonel Colquohon Grant: 10th, 15th and 18th Light Dragoons (Hussars)
    8th Brigade: commanded by Major General William Ponsonby: 5th Dragoon Guards, 3rd and 4th Dragoons
    2nd Portuguese Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General D’Urban: 1st, 11th and 12th Portuguese Dragoons.
    9th Brigade: commanded by Major General George Anson: 12th and 16th Light Dragoons
    10th Brigade: commanded by Major General Baron Bock: 1st and 2nd Dragoons, King’s German Legion

    Infantry:
    1st Division: commanded by Major General Kenneth Howard
    1st Brigade: commanded by Major General Kenneth Stopford: 1st/Coldstream, 1st/3rd Guards, Co 5th/60th Foot
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Colonel Collin Halkett: 1st, 2nd and 5th Line Battalions, 1st and 2nd Light Battalions, King’s German Legion.

    2nd Division: commanded by Lieutenant General William Stewart
    1st Brigade: commanded by Colonel Cadogan: 1st/50th, 1st/71st and 1st/91st Foot Co 5th/60th Foot
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Major General Byng: 1st/3rd, 1st/57th Foot, 1st Provisional Battn. (2nd/31st and 2nd/66th Foot) and Co 5th/60th Foot.
    3rd Brigade: commanded by Colonel O’Callaghan: 1st/28th, 2nd/34th, 1st/39th Foot and Co 5th/60th Foot.
    Portuguese Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General Ashworth: 1st and 2nd/6th, 1st and 2nd/18th Portuguese Line and 6th Caçadores.

    Portuguese Division: commanded by Major General Silveira, Conde de Amaranthe.
    1st Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General de Costa: 1st and 2nd/2nd, 1st and 2nd/14th Portuguese Line.
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General Archibald Campbell: 1st and 2nd/4th, 1st and 2nd/10th Portuguese Line and 10th Caçadores.

    3rd Division: commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton.
    1st Brigade: commanded by Major General Thomas Brisbane: 1st/45th, 74th, 1st/88th and 3 Cos 5th/60th Foot.
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Major General Colville: 1st/5th, 2nd/83rd, 2nd/87th and 94th Foot.
    Portuguese Brigade: commanded by Major General Manley Power: 1st and 2nd/9th, 1st and 2nd/21st Portuguese Line and 11th Caçadores.

    4th Division: commanded by Major General (local Lieutenant General) Lowry Cole
    1st Brigade: commanded by Major General William Anson: 3rd/27th, 1st/40th, 1st/48th, Provisional Battn. (2nd and 2nd/53rd Foot) and Co 5th/60th Foot.
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Major General Skerrett: 1st/7th, 20th, 1st/23rd, and Co Brunswick Oels.
    Portuguese Brigade: commanded by Colonel George Stubbs: 1st and 2nd/11th and 1st and 2nd/23rd Portuguese Line and 7th Caçadores.

    5th Division: commanded by Major General Oswald.
    1st Brigade: commanded by Major General Hay: 3rd/1st, 1st/9th, 1st/38th Foot and Co Brunswick Oels.
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Major General Robinson: 1st/4th, 2nd/47th, 2nd/59th Foot and Co Brunswick Oels.
    Portuguese Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General Spry: 1st and 2nd/3rd, 1st and 2nd/15th Portuguese Line and 8th Caçadores.

    Light Division: commanded by Lieutenant General Charles, Baron von Alten.
    1st Brigade: commanded by Major General Kempt: 1st/43rd Foot, 1st/95th Rifles (8 Cos), 3rd/95th Rifles (5 Cos) and 3rd Caçadores.
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Major General John Ormesby Vandeleur: 1st/52nd Foot, 2nd/95th Rifles (6Cos) and 1st Caçadores.

    7th Division: commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Dalhousie.
    1st Brigade: commanded by Major General Barnes: 1st/6th Foot, 3rd Provisional Battalion (2nd/24th and 2nd/58th Foot), Brunswick Oels (7 Cos)
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Colonel William Grant: 51st, 68th, 1st/82nd Foot and Chasseurs Britanniques.
    Portuguese Brigade: commanded by Major General Le Cor: 1st and 2nd/7th, 1st and 2nd/19th Portuguese Line and 2nd Caçadores.

    Independent Brigades:
    1st Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General Pack: 1st and 2nd/1st, 1st and 2nd/16th Portuguese Line and 4th Caçadores.
    2nd Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General Bradford: 1st and 2nd/13th, 1st and 2nd/24th Portuguese Line and 5th Caçadores

    Artillery: commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Dickson
    Webber Smith’s troop Royal Horse Artillery
    Parker’s battery Royal Artillery
    Arriaga’s battery Portuguese Artillery.
    Ross’s, Gardiner’s and Ramsay’s Troops, Royal Horse Artillery
    Sympher’s Battery, King’s German Artillery.
    Batteries of Cairnes and Douglas.
    Dubordieu’s and Lawson’s batteries Royal Artillery
    Beane’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery
    Maxwell’s Battery Royal Artillery
    2 Portuguese batteries under Major Tulloh

    Confederate Order of Battle
    Too long to post in it's entirety here, but there is an excellent wikipedia page on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederi...rder_of_battle

    Overall, 80,000 British and Portugese and 96 guns will face 85,000 Confederates and I don't know how many artillery (can't find that number, will be grateful to anyone who knows how many guns Lee deployed at Fredericksburg).

    So, who will emerge the victor?

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    I must say there are an awful lot of Heavy Cavalry in the Iron Dukes ORBAT. Not so much in the Confederate ORBAT. Who will win? The Duke of Boots was a great user of the 'Reverse Slope Defence and using Line Formation.

    It depends on the tactics of the Commanders; how they position there troops, frontal or flank attack, using Artillery to cover the advance of the Cavalry. I believe it would be a closely fought Battle.

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    Robert E. Lee, defeated at the battle of 'Cheat Mountain and was blamed for Confederate setbacks. Known as Granny Lee by his troops. "Gettysburg was the price the South paid for having Robert E. Lee as Commander". (Shelby Foote). This his own guys talking about him in this way. Not good PR.

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    chaobam,

    "granny" lee as a name was dropped after 1862.

    while i don't think he was the consummate tactician/strategist many of his proponents believe him to be (he did not do that well in the peninsula campaign, nor in antietam, or for that matter gettysburg), his showing in such battles as Chancellorsville and second manassas was quite impressive.
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    One of his greatest abilities

    Lee was able to do something that his Federal counterparts were usually unable or unwilling to do, even with a cattle prod jammed up their rear ends:

    Lee could and would MOVE.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    At the same time, Wellesley is usually seen as a solely defensive commander, and he could nail himself to good ground very efficiently, but battles like Assaye, Salamanca and Vitoria prove that he was both bold enough and brilliant enough to conduct excellent offensive operations with precise timing. His quick exploitation of the over-extended French flank at Salamanca with a succession of strokes with infantry columns in oblique order certainly show his consummate ability to lead men in the attack as well as the defense.

    We also have to take the professionalism of the two forces into account here. If i'm not mistaken, the regiments of the Civil War were, by and large, volunteer forces. The European observers of the time called it a war of the amateurs. Whereas Wellington's force is full-time professional soldiers of Britain and Portugal. No doubt the British redcoat is the more famous soldier of those two, but the Portugese were not to be underestimated either, they served Wellington quite well in the Peninsular War.

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    Lee. He understood the need to for strong reccee.

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    horatio,

    We also have to take the professionalism of the two forces into account here. If i'm not mistaken, the regiments of the Civil War were, by and large, volunteer forces. The European observers of the time called it a war of the amateurs.
    that was no longer true by late 1862 and 1863. by 1864 the average combat experience of both union and confederate armies were absolutely unmatched in the world.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    To heck with Lee....you want to compare Old Nosey with Sam Grant.

    Lee would maneuver on a tactical level...Grant maneuvered on an operational level.

    I'd take Grant in command of the Army of the Tennessee (Sherman) and the Army of the Cumberland (Thomas) circa November 1863 at Chattanooga over just about anyone.....except maybe Grant with the Army of the Potomac (Meade) and Army of the James (Ord) circa March 1865
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaobam Armour View Post
    I must say there are an awful lot of Heavy Cavalry in the Iron Dukes ORBAT. Not so much in the Confederate ORBAT.
    If I am not mistaken, didn't the British still have lancers? A lot of the Southern Horsemen used shotguns for the close quarters work. IIRC the South also eschewed typical heavy cavalry tactics. Instead they would feint a charge to get the infantry to bunch upand fix bayonets and then swing parallell to the line and deliver the shotgun fire.

    I'd give marksmanship and equestrian skills to the the Southerners, as well as tactical skill. Southern Armies might have started out volunteer, but they had been riding and shooting since childhood and the basics of thier tactics was formed in Missouri and Kansas well before the war.

    I notice that the OP has Lee attacking, and Wellington defending. I think Lee was his least able on the attack.

    One important question- does Lee have Jackson? His foot "cavalry" will be important.

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    I think a celebrity death match is in order.
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    A few questions how are both sides for supplies? Is the goal just to raze the city or to capture and hold it? Whats the distance between the southern ridge and the town?

    The percussion caps are really just going to increase rate of fire, not a whole lot of extra range or accuracy. The numbers aren't enough of an advantage for lee to attack against an entrenched defender with the tactics the weapons force so in this on just a face of it without knowing the rest I would give to wellington.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    To heck with Lee....you want to compare Old Nosey with Sam Grant.

    Lee would maneuver on a tactical level...Grant maneuvered on an operational level.
    Thats more because of the fractured command structure of the Confederates and to much involvement by Davis. Lincoln gave Grant more leeway. The superior logistical capability of the North didn't hurt either. Lee had to fight with what he had, and made the best of it.
    Last edited by Johnny W; 23 Jan 09, at 22:00.

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    Does Lee get Stonewall Jackson back as a subordinate commander? Lee, Jackson and Longstreet made quite a team.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaobam Armour View Post
    Robert E. Lee, defeated at the battle of 'Cheat Mountain and was blamed for Confederate setbacks. Known as Granny Lee by his troops. "Gettysburg was the price the South paid for having Robert E. Lee as Commander". (Shelby Foote). This his own guys talking about him in this way. Not good PR.

    I think that Shelby was referring to Lee's aggressive tendencies more than anything, and that perhaps the South might have been better served by a defensive minded commander given the disparity in numbers and logistics.

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