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Shek
19 Apr 07,, 19:43
Which battle do you think was most influential in deciding the outcome of the American Civil War? This question is geared towards either the battle where Union victory put the Union on path towards victory, or the battle where a Confederate loss threw away their chances at winning their independence.

If you have a battle in mind that isn't listed, then I'll add it to the list of options in the poll.

Amled
19 Apr 07,, 20:23
I'd have to vote for Gettysburg, due to the horrendous losse the south sustained there.
Especially of their battle hardende regiments and officers.
Pickett's Virginian's and the Carolinians at Oak hill cases in point.

Blademaster
19 Apr 07,, 23:45
I am not an expert nor historian on the American Civil War but I will say Gettysburg because after that battle, Lee gave up his dream of bringing the fight to Washington. From that point on, he was on the defensive.

astralis
20 Apr 07,, 02:46
i'd say antietam. after that battle, the UK and france were not going to intervene.

william gladstone, in 1862:

"Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made what is more than either, they have made a nation."

had lee won antietam, the UK and france would have undoubtedly recognized the confederacy, which would have been the death-knell to US hopes.

Bluesman
20 Apr 07,, 03:37
If the word you really are focused on is 'DECISIVE', my vote goes for Franklin. On that single day, the War in the West was finally OVER. There was no meaningful Confederate force left in the West after Hood destroyed his own army, and it wasn't capable of stopping the Federals when they came to smash what pitiful remnant was vainly trying to hold on outside Nashville.

None of the eastern battles decided anything very much, because Lee was still in the field and fighting until he was ground away to nothing by a seige, and not a battle.

Gettysburg did not end the war, not by a long shot, and Grant came dam' close to losing the war TWICE, well after Gettysburg. Once by horrendous casualties and a close election that almost went to the 'Surrender Now' Party (aka, the Democrats; ain't it odd how history repeats itself?) because of those casualties and an apparent inability to defeat Lee in the field. And then again when Lee manuevered Grant into a trap that almost saw the loss of either a third or two thirds of the Army of the Potomac at the North Anna River, failing only due to AP Hill's and his own seperate illnesses.

BUT...when the Army of Tennessee sacrificed itself at Franklin, it was mortally wounded, and THAT was the end of an entire theatre of the war.

Bluesman
20 Apr 07,, 03:42
I am not an expert nor historian on the American Civil War but I will say Gettysburg because after that battle, Lee gave up his dream of bringing the fight to Washington. From that point on, he was on the defensive.

Not exactly. Early made one last attempt down (which is really UP, or NORTH) the Valley. But the Federals had so dam'[ many troops, and with Washington ringed with serious fortifications...it was a no-go. It was really an attempt to draw off enough troops from Grant to allow Lee a chance to get in one last crack at a killing stroke.

Didn't work.

The Federals had ample men to cover Washington, and Grant didn't miss a step: he just kept wading right into Lee, and didn't mind the loss of the troops he sent back.

Bluesman
20 Apr 07,, 03:50
i'd say antietam. after that battle, the UK and france were not going to intervene.

william gladstone, in 1862:

"Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made what is more than either, they have made a nation."

had lee won antietam, the UK and france would have undoubtedly recognized the confederacy, which would have been the death-knell to US hopes.

That's a good pick, but it was a draw, and it barely sufficed for Lincoln to issue the Proclamation. I grant you that it WAS sufficient, though, for Lincoln to not look a total fool or terribly desperate by issuing it after a defeat, or a battle in which Lee did NOT retreat back into Virginia. In either case, Lincoln would've looked like an idiot or defeated (or a defeated idiot) if he'd issued the Proclamation THEN, and France and Great Britain would've certainly come into the war for the Confederacy.

Once the Proclamation was on the street...intervention was a dead issue.

So, I see your point that intervention would've assured a Confederacy, and once that was impossible, there was nothing that would've given the Confederacy independence automatically like that would have. But MY point is, even without intervention, the war wasn't a slam-dunk for the Federals YET; they still could've lost.

astralis
20 Apr 07,, 04:45
bluesman,


If the word you really are focused on is 'DECISIVE', my vote goes for Franklin. On that single day, the War in the West was finally OVER. There was no meaningful Confederate force left in the West after Hood destroyed his own army, and it wasn't capable of stopping the Federals when they came to smash what pitiful remnant was vainly trying to hold on outside Nashville.

interesting pick! correct me if i'm wrong, but wasn't the army of the Tennessee pretty much doomed regardless? and instead of just proving to be (not much) of an obstacle for sherman, they basically impaled themselves right there at the hands of schofield. had the confederates won at franklin, they'd still need to take care of the remnants of schofield's army, and then thomas's....and then sherman's. that's a pretty tall order.

also, regarding this,


And then again when Lee maneuvered Grant into a trap that almost saw the loss of either a third or two thirds of the Army of the Potomac at the North Anna River, failing only due to AP Hill's and his own separate illnesses.

actually, i didn't know it was that serious for the federals at the north anna. but the federals outnumbered lee almost 2:1 at this juncture (IIRC 118,000 men to 61,000 men for lee), and 33% loss for the federal army (assuming none for lee) would have meant that grant STILL outnumbered lee. hell, taking 66%, lee would outnumber grant, but not enough, i'd think, for lee to decisively change the course of the war. (at this point in time, i think only capturing washington would have allowed him to do so, and by then DC was fortified to a fare-thee-well...and lee would have to deal with what, 70,000 POWs!) after all, sherman was still wrecking the south, and there were reserves in the north.

but i do agree with you that the eastern battles by themselves did not mean much. however, in the course of the war, that was a good thing for the federals- grant in effect locked lee into place, allowing sherman to deliver the killing stroke by rampaging across the south.

on another note,

edward alexander porter, the very man who was in charge of the artillery prep for pickett's charge, said that he felt the most decisive day was one of the days in the Seven Days Battle. i think you referred to it earlier, regarding stonewall jackson being asleep. but had jackson pulled it off, it would have been a cannae for the confederates.

and early 1862 was not half as favorable for the federals as 1864 was. no standing pool of reinforcements, and DC was not all that well fortified yet.

Bluesman
20 Apr 07,, 12:19
bluesman,



interesting pick! correct me if i'm wrong, but wasn't the army of the Tennessee pretty much doomed regardless?

DEFINITELY was DOOMED, but it wasn't yet DEAD. It was in the field and fighting, and as long as that was true, it was more-or-less a stalemate, and the theatre was still 'in-play'. Once that piece was removed from Jeff Davis' chessboard, though, the war was absolutely going to end with Union victory, PERIOD - there was simply no other possible outcome. Therefore, I believe the war was DECIDED that day.


and instead of just proving to be (not much) of an obstacle for sherman, they basically impaled themselves right there at the hands of schofield. had the confederates won at franklin, they'd still need to take care of the remnants of schofield's army, and then thomas's....and then sherman's. that's a pretty tall order.

No doubt. There was simply NO WAY for Hood to have beaten all that was arrayed against him (oh, and Sherman completely ignored him and marched the opposite direction into history, destroying the innards of the South with each mile, like a blue glacier). But the question wasn't so much could Hood have WON in his area of responsibility; he couldn't have. It was a matter of Hood being able to LOSE, and he managed to do exactly that. His army was beaten in a battle that need never have been fought: the Federals had no intention of keeping that ground anyway, and left as soon as their guns had cooled. STUPIDSTUPIDSTUPID, and it was a death-blow to the Confederacy, because, as I said, that army simply ceased to be useful, and the theatre of operations closed down and left the ANV as the only army worthy of the name in the entire Confederacy. (To be sure, there were still Confederate forces in the field and fighting, but no ready-to-use manuever force that could counter the hammer-blows that kept taking the Confederacy apart in a very workmanlike and procedural fashion.)


also, regarding this,



actually, i didn't know it was that serious for the federals at the north anna. but the federals outnumbered lee almost 2:1 at this juncture (IIRC 118,000 men to 61,000 men for lee), and 33% loss for the federal army (assuming none for lee) would have meant that grant STILL outnumbered lee. hell, taking 66%, lee would outnumber grant, but not enough, i'd think, for lee to decisively change the course of the war. (at this point in time, i think only capturing washington would have allowed him to do so, and by then DC was fortified to a fare-thee-well...and lee would have to deal with what, 70,000 POWs!) after all, sherman was still wrecking the south, and there were reserves in the north.

I wasn't aware that it was that critical and close, either, until I read 'Bloody Roads South', about the Wilderness through to Petersburg. It's one of history's great 'what-ifs', and I think what's most important to know about it is the effect a defeat of that magnitude would've had on the North: MASSIVE casualties in a battle at least as artful as Chancellorsville that would've pointed up the brilliance of Lee and the (apparent) definciencies of Grant, almost certainly leading to his relief as general-in-chief. If Grant had been mauled to the extent of losing a third or more of the Army of the Potomac JUST BEFORE the election (and that defeat would've been the end of the campaign, closing out 1864 with nothing else to come in the East), what with Lincoln's championing of Grant when almost everybody else wanted to throw him overboard - it was curtains for the Republicans, and the war would've ended with the North withdrawing and the Confederacy as an established fact.

So, Lee need not have utterly destroyed Grant's army. He just needed to defeat it badly and inflict massive losses and end the campaign. Once Grant was compelled to take his army, defeated ONCE AGAIN by a masterful battle of manuever by the genius of an outnumbered but brilliant Lee, back north of the river and out of Virginia, AGAIN...the war ends with a Confederate victory because the new administration would've been inaugurated in January, before the Federal armies could go into action again and redeem the disaster.


but i do agree with you that the eastern battles by themselves did not mean much. however, in the course of the war, that was a good thing for the federals- grant in effect locked lee into place, allowing sherman to deliver the killing stroke by rampaging across the south.

Correct: the decision wasn't reached in Virginia. It was in the WEST that the war went off the rails for the Confederacy.


on another note,

edward alexander porter, the very man who was in charge of the artillery prep for pickett's charge, said that he felt the most decisive day was one of the days in the Seven Days Battle. i think you referred to it earlier, regarding stonewall jackson being asleep. but had jackson pulled it off, it would have been a cannae for the confederates.

and early 1862 was not half as favorable for the federals as 1864 was. no standing pool of reinforcements, and DC was not all that well fortified yet.

I also believe that had Lee managed to destroy and not simply defeat and repel McClellan, it would've assured Confederate independence.

I think Lee sensed it, too, and that one last disastrous battle was an attempt to make a big-dice-roll gamble to try to win the war in one big 'go', all at once, in one last day of desperate fighting. Lee knew the chances would get slimmer and slimmer with the passage of time, and he had to either win soon, or watch the possibilities get narrowed down to nothin' over the years.

He'd been victorious is each of the previous week's battles, and it was against a thoroughly-beaten general with a retreating army that he was going into that last attack, so he might've thought that they were fragile enough to shatter with a good, hard shove to topple 'em over. But that's not what he gave them: it was a bunch of disjointed, uncoordinated assaults into the teeth of the Federal's greatest strength advantage: massed, heavy artillery against troops in open terrain.

And I think the ONLY reason he tried it is because if it had by some miracle worked, the Confederacy would've won the war on the spot.

deadkenny
20 Apr 07,, 13:46
I tend to agree that it was the collapse of the western theatre that was ultimately decisive. Although the CSA suffered losses that they could not afford at Franklin, the Union was forced to withdraw at the end of the day. It was actually Nashville where Hood was ultimately and completely defeated, so I suppose that makes Nashville a worthy 'candidate'. However, I would say that Grant defeating Bragg at Chattanooga was really 'decisive' in terms of breaking the CSA position in the west. The outcome of that battle allowed the USA to advance on Atlanta. Hood's Franklin-Nashville campaign was a desparate attempt to 'force' the USA to pull back, by threatening their rear and supply lines. Basically, Hood had no realistic chance of defeating the USA in a head to head battle against their main forces, so he attempted this 'indirect' approach - which ultimately failed. So, IMHO, it was the outcome of Chattanooga which was 'decisive' in terms of putting the CSA in this desparate position in the first place.

Bluesman
21 Apr 07,, 03:19
I tend to agree that it was the collapse of the western theatre that was ultimately decisive. Although the CSA suffered losses that they could not afford at Franklin, the Union was forced to withdraw at the end of the day. It was actually Nashville where Hood was ultimately and completely defeated, so I suppose that makes Nashville a worthy 'candidate'. However, I would say that Grant defeating Bragg at Chattanooga was really 'decisive' in terms of breaking the CSA position in the west. The outcome of that battle allowed the USA to advance on Atlanta. Hood's Franklin-Nashville campaign was a desparate attempt to 'force' the USA to pull back, by threatening their rear and supply lines. Basically, Hood had no realistic chance of defeating the USA in a head to head battle against their main forces, so he attempted this 'indirect' approach - which ultimately failed. So, IMHO, it was the outcome of Chattanooga which was 'decisive' in terms of putting the CSA in this desparate position in the first place.

Well, I followed all of that, but you got a couple of aspects wrong:

1) the Federals weren't forced to withdraw from Franklin because Hood hurt 'em; he didn't. They 'withdrew' because that's what they were going to do ANYway. They were never going to make a stand there, but the fool Hood MADE 'em stand their ground, insisting on a completely unnecessary attack that didn't do anything but destroy his own army. The Federals had been marching away from him, but he 'caught' 'em, and BOY! was he ever sorry he did THAT.:frown: Nashville was merely the exclamation point on the sentence that was written at Franklin.

2) And although everything that came before Franklin by definition led up to the events there, NONE of it was decisive, nor was Franklin inevitable due to the events that preceded it. Those battles and campaigns, important and necessary, did NOT see the end of meaningful Confederate resistance in the West; Franklin DID.

So, I'm going with my original answer: 'FRANKLIN', because when you're asking about civil war battles that DECIDED things (as the original post did), then having an entire army wiped off your order of battle and leaving the entire theatre totally undefended is purty much the way that word is defined.

deadkenny
21 Apr 07,, 04:51
...So, I'm going with my original answer: 'FRANKLIN', because when you're asking about civil war battles that DECIDED things (as the original post did), then having an entire army wiped off your order of battle and leaving the entire theatre totally undefended is purty much the way that word is defined.

Sure, you can 'go with' any answer you want. However, Hood's army wasn't 'wipe off the order of battle' at Franklin. After Franklin the army advanced and assaulted the Union position at Nashville. It was Nashville where Hood's army was effectively finished.

Bluesman
21 Apr 07,, 10:12
Sure, you can 'go with' any answer you want. However, Hood's army wasn't 'wipe off the order of battle' at Franklin. After Franklin the army advanced and assaulted the Union position at Nashville. It was Nashville where Hood's army was effectively finished.

I'm not sure why I'm debating this with you, as you clearly don't know what you're talking about, but I'll take this opportunity to let others that may be reading this know that Hood did NOT assault the Federal positions, but was instead attacked and swept away himself.

As I said in my earlier posts.

deadkenny
21 Apr 07,, 15:50
I'm not sure why I'm debating this with you, as you clearly don't know what you're talking about, but I'll take this opportunity to let others that may be reading this know that Hood did NOT assault the Federal positions, but was instead attacked and swept away himself.

As I said in my earlier posts.

Well, you claim that Hood was destroyed at Franklin ('wiped off the order of battle' in your words). However, AFTER Franklin Hood ADVANCED to Nashville and detached Forrest to ATTACK Murfreesboro and took up positions outside of Nashville itself. Now, those actions may have been ill advised under the circumstances, but they were hardly the actions of an army that had been completely wiped out, 'leaving the entire theatre totally undefended' (again, your words). It was at Nashville that Hood's army was effectively 'wiped out', not Franklin. Franklin was simply an instance of Hood trying to 'catch' a portion of the Union forces and destroy them. Although he suffered heavy losses and the Union eventually 'escaped', it was not entirely a mistaken strategy as the Union position was 'vunerable', their immediate retreat route being retricted by a river at their back. The failure was in the execution. Clearly Hood failed in his objective at Franklin, and retrospectively his advance on Nashville and detachment of Forrest were serious mistakes. But the fact remains that Hood was not 'wiped out' at Franklin, so by your own logic it is Nashville that should be considered the 'decisive' battle. For my part I would rate Chattanooga as more 'decisive' than either, since it was that battle, and the aftermath, that left Hood in the desperate position he found himself in after Atlanta.

Bluesman
21 Apr 07,, 17:48
Okay, I get you now. BUT...

Franklin DID decide events. Therefore, it was DECISIVE. Nashville, if you want to look at it that way, was merely a formality. Or, as I said,
Nashville was merely the exclamation point on the sentence that was written at Franklin. (I really like the way that reads.:) )

From the 'Battle of Franklin' wiki entry: 'The Army of Tennessee was all but destroyed at Franklin. Nevertheless, Hood immediately advanced against the entire Union Army of the Cumberland, firmly entrenched at Nashville with the Army of the Ohio, leading his battered forces to further, and final, disaster in the Battle of Nashville.'

From the 'Battle of Nashville' wiki entry: 'Historian David Eicher remarked, "If Hood mortally wounded his army at Franklin, he would kill it two weeks later at Nashville."'

Nothing more needed to be done to destroy Hood; it had already been accomplished. He just didn't know it because he was constantly stoned on laudanum. So, when I said Hood had been 'destroyed', obviously he was still in the field, BUT his army was incapable of anything except being defeated once and for all at the subsequent action; it was inevitable, and therefore, the decision had been reached PRIOR to that final battle. That is the definition of 'decisive'; the matter was decided at Franklin, NOT Nashville.

astralis
21 Apr 07,, 22:39
bluesman,


I wasn't aware that it was that critical and close, either, until I read 'Bloody Roads South', about the Wilderness through to Petersburg. It's one of history's great 'what-ifs', and I think what's most important to know about it is the effect a defeat of that magnitude would've had on the North: MASSIVE casualties in a battle at least as artful as Chancellorsville that would've pointed up the brilliance of Lee and the (apparent) definciencies of Grant, almost certainly leading to his relief as general-in-chief. If Grant had been mauled to the extent of losing a third or more of the Army of the Potomac JUST BEFORE the election (and that defeat would've been the end of the campaign, closing out 1864 with nothing else to come in the East), what with Lincoln's championing of Grant when almost everybody else wanted to throw him overboard - it was curtains for the Republicans, and the war would've ended with the North withdrawing and the Confederacy as an established fact.

thanks for the book recommendation, will read up when i can. :biggrin:

regarding the political ramifications of an enormous federal defeat in the east, i think it would have been muted by events in the west, especially with sherman's atlanta campaign.

this happened at gettysburg, as well; had lee won at gettysburg, there would have been the corresponding victories at vicksburg for lincoln to point to. even in defeat, grant was still accomplishing one of his goals- keeping the ANV busy. had he lost "only" a third of his men, grant most likely would have kept on fighting- the battle at cold harbor (and this was fought at the END of the overland campaign) chewed up something along the order of 10-20% of the Army of the Potomac, but grant kept whaling lee regardless.

Bluesman
22 Apr 07,, 00:32
bluesman,



thanks for the book recommendation, will read up when i can. :biggrin:

regarding the political ramifications of an enormous federal defeat in the east, i think it would have been muted by events in the west, especially with sherman's atlanta campaign.

this happened at gettysburg, as well; had lee won at gettysburg, there would have been the corresponding victories at vicksburg for lincoln to point to. even in defeat, grant was still accomplishing one of his goals- keeping the ANV busy. had he lost "only" a third of his men, grant most likely would have kept on fighting- the battle at cold harbor (and this was fought at the END of the overland campaign) chewed up something along the order of 10-20% of the Army of the Potomac, but grant kept whaling lee regardless.

I hear ya. But that's why I wrote that one of the conditions of Grant's relief would've been if the campaign had been compelled to end (as I believe it would've). Cold Harbor was different in that Grant still had the iniative, and by the time the good people of the North were reading about the disaster, Grant was pressing on, around Lee's right flank AGAIN, and it was clear he would just make good on the losses, and drive on.

HOWEVER, if he'd been outmaneuvered and gored by a force half his size in another masterpiece of manuver warfare, almost identical to the performance Lee had turned in against Hooker the year before...report to Washingon for further orders, General.:frown: I don't believe it would've been equivalent to Grant being defeated in an attack upon Lee's works, no matter how bloodily repulsed, because there's always tomorrow, and another flank march. But at North Anna...too many dead and no good way forward would've compelled Grant to go all the way back. And that would've finished him AND Lincoln. Lincoln had backed him all the way from Ft. Donelson and the first rumors of drunken incompetence, through Shiloh when the Army of the Tennessee had been shamefully surprised and almost destroyed (being saved only by the timely intervention of the Army of the Ohio), the long Vicksburg campaign that seemed to take forever and was only helped by a half-witted performance from his counterpart; and the pressure to get rid of Grant, despised as he was by everybody that didn't actually understand the man's qualities (VERY few were aware of the pure gold that Grant represented), was enormous, so if Grant had been defeated comprehensively, Lincoln's judgement (and remember: nobody really liked Lincoln, either) would've been seen by the electorate to be faulty. Lincoln would've paid for his faith in Grant at the polls in November.

We got SO lucky; if Lee and Hill had been on top of their respective games...lights out. Even Grant saw after it was over what Lee tried to do, and it must've given him night-sweats to think about it. He never again put himself and the Army of the Potomac in a position where Lee could crush a wing at a time, like Lee was wont to do if presented with the opportunity.

deadkenny
24 Apr 07,, 17:00
Okay, I get you now. BUT...

Franklin DID decide events. Therefore, it was DECISIVE. Nashville, if you want to look at it that way, was merely a formality. Or, as I said, (I really like the way that reads.:) )

From the 'Battle of Franklin' wiki entry: 'The Army of Tennessee was all but destroyed at Franklin. Nevertheless, Hood immediately advanced against the entire Union Army of the Cumberland, firmly entrenched at Nashville with the Army of the Ohio, leading his battered forces to further, and final, disaster in the Battle of Nashville.'

From the 'Battle of Nashville' wiki entry: 'Historian David Eicher remarked, "If Hood mortally wounded his army at Franklin, he would kill it two weeks later at Nashville."'

Nothing more needed to be done to destroy Hood; it had already been accomplished. He just didn't know it because he was constantly stoned on laudanum. So, when I said Hood had been 'destroyed', obviously he was still in the field, BUT his army was incapable of anything except being defeated once and for all at the subsequent action; it was inevitable, and therefore, the decision had been reached PRIOR to that final battle. That is the definition of 'decisive'; the matter was decided at Franklin, NOT Nashville.

I can see where you're coming from, however, viewing Franklin as making the result at Nashville 'inevitable' is a retrospective view. After Franklin, Hood still had an army in the field, albeit a weakened one. In theory he could have pulled back or taken another approach - i.e. decisions such as detaching Forrest and taking up a position outside of Nashville with the remainder of his force were still decisions to be made 'in the future' in the aftermath of Franklin.

The very fact that Hood's forces were mauled so badly by only a portion of the Union forces (Schofield's) before they could link up with the remaining Union forces (Thomas') calls into question whether Hood was strong enough in the first place to succeed in this 'indirect approach' of cutting off Sherman's LoC and destroying isolated Union detachments piecemeal. Arguably Hood missed a much better chance to defeat Schofield at Spring Hill - which might then be considered the 'decisive' battle. Once Schofield fell back to his fortified postions at Franklin, it was all pretty much a formality, since Hood obviously lacked the strength to win a decisive victory against Schofield's entrenched forces, and even more so against the combination of Schofield's and Thomas' forces.

For my part, that's why I would consider the 'decisive' battle to have taken place prior to the entire Franklin-Nashville campaign. The final 'collapse' of the West really started with Chattanooga, and snowballed downhill with the Atlanta campaign. Once Sherman was in possession of Atlanta, there wasn't really anything Hood could do. We know, with hindsight, that Sherman could conduct his 'march to the sea' without maintaining a LoC back through Tenn/Kentucky. Hood wasn't strong enough to take on Sherman head-to-head, and in fact he wasn't even strong enough to take on the Union's 'rear area' forces (i.e. Thomas and Schofield). Any small chance he might have had to 'pounce' on a Union force on possibly advantageous terms was lost after Spring Hill. At that point, Hood's only options were to 'whither on the vine' or go out in a 'blaze of glory'. It's not surprizing that Hood chose the latter.

Bluesman
24 Apr 07,, 18:34
I can see where you're coming from, however, viewing Franklin as making the result at Nashville 'inevitable' is a retrospective view.

Well, I obviously disagree. I mean, EVERYbody knew Hood was finished, and Thomas dam' near got himself relieved because Lincoln lost patience waiting for him to go ahead and finish the job that Hood did all the heavy lifting for.

Sherman said that Nashville was won at Franklin; it WAS inevitable.


After Franklin, Hood still had an army in the field, albeit a weakened one.

Not 'weakened; that implies it was still useful, good for something. It wasn't. What it was was mortally wounded, and useless as a manuever force.


In theory he could have pulled back or taken another approach - i.e. decisions such as detaching Forrest and taking up a position outside of Nashville with the remainder of his force were still decisions to be made 'in the future' in the aftermath of Franklin.

Well, if by 'in theory' you mean following a victorious Union force to a point of rendezvous with an even bigger Union force with your gutted-out and shredded 'force' was about the dumbest thing Hood could have done, I suppose I have to agree. But no matter WHAT was done, that army was FINISHED. It was now doomed, and its proximity to its undertaker was simply a matter of time and space, but not of outcome; that was a settled question, and the answer came at Franklin.


The very fact that Hood's forces were mauled so badly by only a portion of the Union forces (Schofield's) before they could link up with the remaining Union forces (Thomas') calls into question whether Hood was strong enough in the first place to succeed in this 'indirect approach' of cutting off Sherman's LoC and destroying isolated Union detachments piecemeal.

True, it was NOT strong enough, especially when used in the wasteful fashion that it was. It should NOT have been so used, and that's my point: by fighting at Franklin, Hood wasn't going to WIN, but he could LOSE (I'm talking about the THEATER, not the BATTLE, although losing the latter meant he lost the former, too), which he then did in spectacular fashion.

Remember: Hood's army was NOT starving. Oh, it was in tough shape, but it could have manuevered in the field until Lee gave up, a force-in-being right to the end of the war. And that's what I'm saying that you're missing: the Western theater was closed down irrevocably on the day Franklin was fought. Not before, because there was no compelling reason for Hood to throw his army away like that (lots of great reasons NOT to do it, in fact), and not after, because after Franklin, there was nothing left to determine except WHEN the coup de grace was delivered. The fact that the blow would be delivered was a done deal, and the deal was done at...FRANKLIN.


Arguably Hood missed a much better chance to defeat Schofield at Spring Hill - which might then be considered the 'decisive' battle. Once Schofield fell back to his fortified postions at Franklin, it was all pretty much a formality, since Hood obviously lacked the strength to win a decisive victory against Schofield's entrenched forces, and even more so against the combination of Schofield's and Thomas' forces.

Again, though, you're ignoring the fact that Hood NEED NOT have fought that battle, and he should have known that. Shelby Foote believes that Hood was 'disciplining' his army because of their failure at Spring Hill. James MacPherson said that Hood proved to his satisfaction that his army could assault entrenchments, and ensured that they would never again have the ability.:frown:

I know what he was trying to do: emulate Stonewall by picking off an iolated detachment of manageable size. But he wasn't Stonewall; Schofield wasn't Banks. And the situation wasn't one that called for an all-or-nothing, hell-for-leather all-in gamble of the death-or-glory charge against a strongly-entrenched enemy that didn't want to even stay on the ground where the battle was fought. Hood should've looked at those breastworks...and gone the other way.

That's not Monday-morning quarterbacking, either: Pat Cleburne told him the same thing, and by the end of the day, he and fourteen other Confederate generals were casualties (6 killed, 8 wounded, and 1 captured), and 65 field grade officers were lost.


For my part, that's why I would consider the 'decisive' battle to have taken place prior to the entire Franklin-Nashville campaign. The final 'collapse' of the West really started with Chattanooga, and snowballed downhill with the Atlanta campaign. Once Sherman was in possession of Atlanta, there wasn't really anything Hood could do.

Well, that's where I believe Hood and you are wrong. I believe he could've kept the army in the field and fighting indefinitely. True, the West was an almost-unbroken string of defeats and disasters, and ALL of it was a string of connected events, but NONE of those events necessarily led to the irretreivable loss of the entire theater in on 'go'. Until Franklin. THEN it was OVER.


We know, with hindsight, that Sherman could conduct his 'march to the sea' without maintaining a LoC back through Tenn/Kentucky. Hood wasn't strong enough to take on Sherman head-to-head, and in fact he wasn't even strong enough to take on the Union's 'rear area' forces (i.e. Thomas and Schofield). Any small chance he might have had to 'pounce' on a Union force on possibly advantageous terms was lost after Spring Hill. At that point, Hood's only options were to 'whither on the vine' or go out in a 'blaze of glory'. It's not surprizing that Hood chose the latter.

Well, I do see that, but surely you must see that Hood chose wrongly. And that goes back to my original point: Hood fought a completely optional and disastrous battle that meant the South had effectively lost any chance to distress, harrass, annoy, distract or in any way impede Union forces for a vast and vital region of the States in rebellion. In short, they lost ALL control over the main part of their entire country, except for the isolated detachments that held this port or that city or whatever, AND except that last, lone army that was worthy of being called that, which was itself effectively tethered to the capital, and therefore also of no strategic threat to any part of the Union war aims. DECISIVE.

The war was DECIDED at Franklin.

astralis
24 Apr 07,, 18:59
bluesman,

i guess the question is, how much could hood have DONE with that army, had it won (or better yet, not fought) the battle of franklin.

especially after the union armies in the western theater (minus sherman, of course) linked up. hood wouldn't, and couldn't, do anything against what sherman was doing- and that was the knock out blow.

even had it not been hood, but someone like longstreet, the army of the Tennessee just didn't seem to have the power anymore to influence things. it could maneuver in the field, but to what end? the battle of franklin just seemed to kill soldiers who would have instead surrendered when lee did. if anything, the numerical odds against hood were worse than what lee had to face. and hood had to defend a hell of a lot more territory- lee only had to cover richmond.

Bluesman
24 Apr 07,, 20:43
bluesman,

i guess the question is, how much could hood have DONE with that army, had it won (or better yet, not fought) the battle of franklin.

especially after the union armies in the western theater (minus sherman, of course) linked up. hood wouldn't, and couldn't, do anything against what sherman was doing- and that was the knock out blow.

even had it not been hood, but someone like longstreet, the army of the Tennessee just didn't seem to have the power anymore to influence things. it could maneuver in the field, but to what end? the battle of franklin just seemed to kill soldiers who would have instead surrendered when lee did. if anything, the numerical odds against hood were worse than what lee had to face. and hood had to defend a hell of a lot more territory- lee only had to cover richmond.


BUT...was the West secured for the Union BEFORE Franklin? NO, emphatically it was NOT. Oh, the Federals could not be stopped, but neither could they destroy Hood, unless he helped by making gross errors (which he did), AND they could be temporarily checked, just by maintaining a clenched fist, which is what an army is. They had to remain poised and on-guard for whatever Hood MAY be able to do. Until he was finally destroyed, and then the Federals could divide into a jillion detachments to go and mop up enemy outposts and garrisons and spread Federal control into territory that was wider than just where the main body's tents were.

Was the West secured for the Union AFTER Franklin? Oh, hell YES, it sure was, emphatically so. And then, there was simply nothing at all that was going to save the South. Now, to my mind, that is the definition of 'decisive'.

It's been said of Hood that his curse was to be such an excellent leader and such a poor general, and his inability to see his mission as one of just REMAINING, in order to keep Union forces oriented on his army. (Okay, didn't really work with Sherman, BUT, if he'd been impossible to corner by the other Federal forces, would Uncle Billy have been able to leave the Deep South for the Carolinas? Maybe NOT, and there's a net profit for the Confederacy right there.)

If Hood is leading a decent army, even one so over-matched as his was, he's still having an effect on the enemy. They can't let him go to Kentucky (where there are recruits, depots and fresh horseflesh), maybe even St Louis (where there are tons of supplies, rolling stock, inter-river shipping and MONEY). He can't be allowed to rampage around in the Mississippi delta, lest the Father of Waters be once again vexed. He is dangerous to the eastern Tennessee loyalists. He may even be able to do to the Federals what they've been doing to him, which is unleash the cavalry under the matchless master of the Grand Raid, that devil Forrest, and start tearing up track, bridge and culvert. Any detachment smaller than even odds is at risk, so they dare not move in anything but a slow and unweildy mass while he's still out there with a credible force.

But he solved all those problems for the Union in five short hours.

deadkenny
24 Apr 07,, 21:59
Well, I obviously disagree….

Nothing wrong with a little disagreement. As long as it doesn’t degenerate into flaming, it can be quite interesting.


Not 'weakened; that implies it was still useful, good for something. It wasn't. What it was was mortally wounded, and useless as a manuever force.

Well, let’s look at some figures. Before the Battle of Franklin, Hood’s army numbered approx. 38,000. Total losses from the battle were 6,252 casualties, including 1,750 killed and 3,800 wounded. Some of the wounded would have been able to return to duty. As well, some of the ‘other’ losses would have been ‘missing’ who wandered off or fled and who could also have returned. Admittedly, that was a hell of a beating to take in a single day by the standards of the time, but even after Franklin Hood had a force well in excess of 30,000.



Well, if by 'in theory' you mean following a victorious Union force to a point of rendezvous with an even bigger Union force with your gutted-out and shredded 'force' was about the dumbest thing Hood could have done, I suppose I have to agree. But no matter WHAT was done, that army was FINISHED. It was now doomed, and its proximity to its undertaker was simply a matter of time and space, but not of outcome; that was a settled question, and the answer came at Franklin.

My point was simply that Hood still had the freedom to move in another direction than fighting the Battle of Nashville. The result of Franklin may well have made the outcome of Nashville ‘inevitable’, GIVEN THAT IT WAS FOUGHT at all. However, Franklin did not make the fighting at Nashville inevitable.



True, it was NOT strong enough, especially when used in the wasteful fashion that it was. It should NOT have been so used, and that's my point: by fighting at Franklin, Hood wasn't going to WIN, but he could LOSE (I'm talking about the THEATER, not the BATTLE, although losing the latter meant he lost the former, too), which he then did in spectacular fashion.

Remember: Hood's army was NOT starving. Oh, it was in tough shape, but it could have manuevered in the field until Lee gave up, a force-in-being right to the end of the war. And that's what I'm saying that you're missing: the Western theater was closed down irrevocably on the day Franklin was fought. Not before, because there was no compelling reason for Hood to throw his army away like that (lots of great reasons NOT to do it, in fact), and not after, because after Franklin, there was nothing left to determine except WHEN the coup de grace was delivered. The fact that the blow would be delivered was a done deal, and the deal was done at...FRANKLIN.

But again ‘maneuvered in the field’ to what end? If he wasn’t strong enough to succeed in the objective of this entire campaign, then the ‘decisive’ point was earlier – before the entire campaign started. It’s also important to keep in mind that Hood was in command in the first place because Davis removed Johnson for not being sufficiently ‘aggressive’ during the Atlanta campaign. So Hood would not likely been in command long if he had simply ‘maneuvered in the field’ while Union armies were laying waste to the interior of the CSA and finishing off the ANV.




I know what he was trying to do: emulate Stonewall by picking off an isolated detachment of manageable size. But he wasn't Stonewall; Schofield wasn't Banks. And the situation wasn't one that called for an all-or-nothing, hell-for-leather all-in gamble of the death-or-glory charge against a strongly-entrenched enemy that didn't want to even stay on the ground where the battle was fought. Hood should've looked at those breastworks...and gone the other way.

Yes, I think that is key – Hood wasn’t facing the incompetent Union commanders from earlier in the war. Nor was he facing the ‘untried’ Union soldiers from earlier in the war. But he was put in command to be more aggressive, and decided to take a shot at ‘reversing’ the fortunes of the CSA, even though those chances were already somewhere between slim and none.



Well, that's where I believe Hood and you are wrong. I believe he could've kept the army in the field and fighting indefinitely. True, the West was an almost-unbroken string of defeats and disasters, and ALL of it was a string of connected events, but NONE of those events necessarily led to the irretreivable loss of the entire theater in on 'go'. Until Franklin. THEN it was OVER.

Again, kept his army in the field indefinitely to what end? Once Sherman is loose the Confederacy is going to be ‘gutted’ and Lee crushed no matter what Hood does out west. The only ‘chance’ at that point was for Hood to defeat Schofield and Thomas (individually / separately) and then turn back east and try to help Lee fend off Grant and Sherman. The fact that Hood wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to accomplish that simply points to the fact that the real ‘decision’ had been reached earlier.


Well, I do see that, but surely you must see that Hood chose wrongly. And that goes back to my original point: Hood fought a completely optional and disastrous battle that meant the South had effectively lost any chance to distress, harrass, annoy, distract or in any way impede Union forces for a vast and vital region of the States in rebellion. In short, they lost ALL control over the main part of their entire country, except for the isolated detachments that held this port or that city or whatever, AND except that last, lone army that was worthy of being called that, which was itself effectively tethered to the capital, and therefore also of no strategic threat to any part of the Union war aims. DECISIVE.

The war was DECIDED at Franklin.

I’m not sure there was any ‘correct’ choice for Hood to make after Atlanta. What could he have done to significantly affect the outcome of the war? If he had ‘followed’ Sherman then Schofield and Thomas simply would have ‘mopped up’ the west and eventually closed in behind him. He’s not strong enough to defeat Schofield and Thomas, unless they make mistakes and he attacks them at the right time and place. If he simply ‘wanders around’ in the west, avoiding any decisive conflict then Grant and Sherman crush Lee and the Confederacy surrenders anyway. The ‘no win’ position Hood was in pre-Franklin indicates to me that the decisive battle had already taken place earlier.


…I guess the question is, how much could Hood have DONE with that army, had it won (or better yet, not fought) the Battle of Franklin….

…. Hood wouldn't, and couldn't, do anything against what Sherman was doing- and that was the knock out blow….

…. of the Tennessee just didn't seem to have the power anymore to influence things. It could maneuver in the field, but to what end? The battle of Franklin just seemed to kill soldiers who would have instead surrendered when Lee did.….

Exactly! After Atlanta Hood was in a no win situation. He wasn’t strong enough to face Sherman head-to-head. If he had stayed in Atlanta, his force would have been cutoff and surrounded, unable to stop the Union anywhere in the Theatre. If he had dispersed, he risked being defeated piecemeal. Once he ‘released’ from Sherman and started his ‘Franklin-Nashville’ campaign against Schofield and Thomas, Sherman was free to devastate the CSA and take Lee ‘in the rear’ while Grant tied him down frontally.



BUT...was the West secured for the Union BEFORE Franklin? NO, emphatically it was NOT. Oh, the Federals could not be stopped, but neither could they destroy Hood, unless he helped by making gross errors (which he did), AND they could be temporarily checked, just by maintaining a clenched fist, which is what an army is. They had to remain poised and on-guard for whatever Hood MAY be able to do. Until he was finally destroyed, and then the Federals could divide into a jillion detachments to go and mop up enemy outposts and garrisons and spread Federal control into territory that was wider than just where the main body's tents were.

Was the West secured for the Union AFTER Franklin? Oh, hell YES, it sure was, emphatically so. And then, there was simply nothing at all that was going to save the South. Now, to my mind, that is the definition of 'decisive'.

Again, a no-win situation for Hood. Keeping his army ‘intact’ in the field doesn’t prevent the Confederacy from being defeated. That was a done deal once Sherman ‘broke through’ with no one to stop him.



It's been said of Hood that his curse was to be such an excellent leader and such a poor general, and his inability to see his mission as one of just REMAINING, in order to keep Union forces oriented on his army. (Okay, didn't really work with Sherman, BUT, if he'd been impossible to corner by the other Federal forces, would Uncle Billy have been able to leave the Deep South for the Carolinas? Maybe NOT, and there's a net profit for the Confederacy right there.) .

Sure, if you assume that Sherman is going to make a mistake and chase after Hood. However, he also had Thomas and Schofield to keep Hood busy while he (Sherman) headed northeast. Hood simply wasn’t strong enough to face all of the forces arrayed against him. He tried to get Sherman to ‘come after him’ by threatening his LoC – Sherman wasn’t having any of it. How do you suggest that Hood could have gotten Sherman to give up on his Carolinas campaign when he had already failed to do so during his entire campaign up to Franklin? If Sherman wasn’t biting up to that point, I don’t see how Hood avoiding Franklin would have changed what Sherman was doing.

GVChamp
25 Apr 07,, 06:19
Bull Run.
Decided that the war wasn't going to be short and the Union gave a collective "awwwwwww ****"

ArmchairGeneral
25 Apr 07,, 08:25
I'm deeply ashamed at the inadequacy of my Civil War knowledge, or at least slightly annoyed, but -given my ignorance- I think I'll provisionally go for Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Gettysburg, in that order. Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two, Chattie opened up the heart of the South to Sherman's destruction, and Gettysburg ended Lee's hopes of a "decisive battle."

Bluesman
25 Apr 07,, 16:16
I'm deeply ashamed at the inadequacy of my Civil War knowledge, or at least slightly annoyed, but -given my ignorance- I think I'll provisionally go for Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Gettysburg, in that order. Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two, Chattie opened up the heart of the South to Sherman's destruction, and Gettysburg ended Lee's hopes of a "decisive battle."

1. Vicksburg wasn't a battle. Technically, it doesn't belong on the list.
2. Chattanooga decided who controlled Tennessee, so it's a good pick, BUT it may not be THE MOST decisive battle.
3. Gettysburg didn't really end Lee's hopes of a decisive battle. It could've happened, and almost did at least once.

Bluesman
25 Apr 07,, 16:19
Bull Run.
Decided that the war wasn't going to be short and the Union gave a collective "awwwwwww ****"

But the war could've - and should've - ended the next year, at Sharpsburg. It was pathetic that it did NOT end there, and eighteen months isn't a particularly long civil war, so although being longer than what was anticipated, it need not have necessarily been 'decided' at Bull Run that the war was going to go over four years.

Dreadnought
25 Apr 07,, 16:26
I voted Gettysburgh, It was pretty much over for the South afterwards and they knew it while marching home.;)

Dreadnought
25 Apr 07,, 16:30
Ever notice Andersonville isin't mentioned much and the suffering that took place there among several other locations that prisoners were held. Though not what we would consider a battle. It was more a battle of survival for both sides that were prisoners.

astralis
25 Apr 07,, 16:51
not sure how it was decisive, either. :confused:

ArmchairGeneral
25 Apr 07,, 16:52
1. Vicksburg wasn't a battle. Technically, it doesn't belong on the list.
Battle of Vicksburg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_vicksburg)
Granted, it was only the culmination of a series of battles, but even so, the entire point was to take Vicksburg.


2. Chattanooga decided who controlled Tennessee, so it's a good pick, BUT it may not be THE MOST decisive battle.

Taking Chattanooga also opened Georgia and the rest of the South to Sherman, allowing him to cut the heart out of the Confederacy. Perhaps just as importantly, it was a vital rail hub for the South. Stopping railway transport meant no supplies, and an army without supplies is not an army.


3. Gettysburg didn't really end Lee's hopes of a decisive battle. It could've happened, and almost did at least once.

I really don't see how Lee could have produced a truly "decisive" battle after that. The point of the decisive battle is mainly psychological; after Gettysburg and Vicksburg, I find it hard to believe that anything short of absolute catastrophic defeat would have dampened the Union's spirits. They had always had the means to win; after those battles, they had the will to win, in a big way.

Bluesman
25 Apr 07,, 20:22
Nothing wrong with a little disagreement. As long as it doesn’t degenerate into flaming, it can be quite interesting.

Absolutely right.


Well, let’s look at some figures. Before the Battle of Franklin, Hood’s army numbered approx. 38,000. Total losses from the battle were 6,252 casualties, including 1,750 killed and 3,800 wounded. Some of the wounded would have been able to return to duty. As well, some of the ‘other’ losses would have been ‘missing’ who wandered off or fled and who could also have returned. Admittedly, that was a hell of a beating to take in a single day by the standards of the time, but even after Franklin Hood had a force well in excess of 30,000.

You're arguing against the combined judgement of every credible civil war historian, as well as many contemporaries that wrote about the impact of the battle. The figures WERE that bad, and what those bare numbers don't adequately express is just how terrible the losses were among the leaders.

By all accounts but yours, that army was done in at Franklin. Not hurt, not damaged, but destroyed in all but fact.


My point was simply that Hood still had the freedom to move in another direction than fighting the Battle of Nashville.

True, he did, and the fact that he snuggled up to a lethal enemy, coiled to strike, shows just how poor his judgement had become.

He COULD have moved away, and probably should have, but the only difference that would've made was WHERE and WHEN his 'army' met its inevitable end. You're not reading what I'm writing: the DECISION was reached at Franklin, and it didn't really matter where Hood went from there; he had ceased to be a factor. There was no more clenched fist, just a couple of mangled fingers.


The result of Franklin may well have made the outcome of Nashville ‘inevitable’, GIVEN THAT IT WAS FOUGHT at all. However, Franklin did not make the fighting at Nashville inevitable.

But the fighting at Nashville wasn't important! What WAS inevitable is Hood's complete collapse at any subsequent action, no matter where or when it was fought! I already covered that, and it's not like you disagree, it's like you didn't understand me.


But again ‘maneuvered in the field’ to what end? If he wasn’t strong enough to succeed in the objective of this entire campaign, then the ‘decisive’ point was earlier – before the entire campaign started. It’s also important to keep in mind that Hood was in command in the first place because Davis removed Johnson for not being sufficiently ‘aggressive’ during the Atlanta campaign. So Hood would not likely been in command long if he had simply ‘maneuvered in the field’ while Union armies were laying waste to the interior of the CSA and finishing off the ANV.

I covered this part, too.

It's like a cop responds to a traffic accident with injuries, but when he rolls up, there is a gunfight going on. He's got a priority: as long as there are Bad Guys firing, he can't treat injuries, and he can't get the cars moved, and finally, when all of THAT is done, he will be able to smooth out traffic flow and sweep up glass.

As long as Hood is on his feet with a weapon in his hand, the Federal police can't do anything but focus on HIM. The other stuff involved in re-establishing Federal control over the states in rebellion is going to have to wait, and the war is still on. Well, Hood was flat on his back after Franklin and of no threat to Federal war aims; the war in the West was finally OVER, and the cops can start getting traffic moving along the highway again, and sweeping up all of the broken glass. The Federals can divide, march to all points of the compass, and start getting the mail delivered again. You see my point? Just by EXISTING the Army of the Tennessee made it impossible to do anything but look at Hood, orient on Hood, make plans to defend against Hood or attack Hood. It was all about Hood NOT LOSING, not whether the Army of the Tennessee was able to make some miracle happen. THE WAR CONTINUED AS LONG AS THE ARMY WAS IN THE FIELD AND FIGHTING.


Yes, I think that is key – Hood wasn’t facing the incompetent Union commanders from earlier in the war. Nor was he facing the ‘untried’ Union soldiers from earlier in the war.

Sho' 'nuff. The Federal amies were world-class by mid-1864, and their commanders had had the roughest OJT in the world. Any that couldn't hack it were gone (with exceptions like Butler and Ferraro and Ledlie, of course). Excellent soldiers, equipment and MUCH better leaders meant the South felt the loss of every Stonewall and Cleburne that much more, relatively speaking.


But he was put in command to be more aggressive, and decided to take a shot at ‘reversing’ the fortunes of the CSA, even though those chances were already somewhere between slim and none.

Well, okay, I'll concede that Hood may not have felt he had any choice but to go over to the attack of anything he thought he could whip, in a long-odds gamble of repeating Stonewall's Valley masterpiece of '62. But even so, there was no reason to do what he then did, which was throw away his whole army. I'm certain that if he'd but listened to the good advice he was given, and if he hadn't been stoned and in massive pain, Franklin wouldn't have happened.


Again, kept his army in the field indefinitely to what end? Once Sherman is loose the Confederacy is going to be ‘gutted’ and Lee crushed no matter what Hood does out west.

Not necessarily. Read what I wrote earlier, re: Sherman being ordered by Washington to 'do something' about Hood. If Thomas and Schofield can't stop Hood and Forrest, I can EASILY imagine Sherman being detailed off to get 'em both for good, once and for all. And even if they managed to corner and destroy Hood, well, Georgia lives for another six months, and the Carolinas get away scot-free, because Lee was goin' down, no matter what, because the seige of Petersburg was unbreakable and the outcome inevitable. And that's worth Hood's whole army, right there.


The only ‘chance’ at that point was for Hood to defeat Schofield and Thomas (individually / separately) and then turn back east and try to help Lee fend off Grant and Sherman. The fact that Hood wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to accomplish that simply points to the fact that the real ‘decision’ had been reached earlier.

Well, if you're taking THAT line, then Ft. Sumter has to be the decisive battle of the war, because of all the events that followed as a direct result.

No, 'decisive' means THAT event decided things, as in no alternative gives any other result. (And once again, the fact that Nashville marks the grave of the Army of Tennessee is immaterial, because the pore thang was terminal from the lead poisoning it caught at Franklin.)


I’m not sure there was any ‘correct’ choice for Hood to make after Atlanta.

Again, not the point, as he probably couldn't 'win'. But what he DID do was positively LOSE. I'm not sure there was a 'correct' course-of-action, either. But there was DAM' sure and INCORRECT one, and that's what he chose.


What could he have done to significantly affect the outcome of the war?

Simple: not kill his army in five hours. Would it have won? No, but he wouldn't have lost it, either.


If he had ‘followed’ Sherman then Schofield and Thomas simply would have ‘mopped up’ the west and eventually closed in behind him.

NOW you're getting my point: see how you just described the Federal armies reacting to and orienting on Hood? THAT is the point to staying viable. And it ain't a slam-dunk that the Federals simply march to whatever point they choose if Hood yet lives. Washington in all probability would've ordered them to pursue Hood and Forrest no matter where they went.


He’s not strong enough to defeat Schofield and Thomas, unless they make mistakes and he attacks them at the right time and place.

Again, precisely my point: they've got to remain ready for anything. They can't divide, they can't leave vital areas undefended; they've got to think about HIM, always HIM, and what he's liable to do. That is an effect of just BEING.


If he simply ‘wanders around’ in the west, avoiding any decisive conflict then Grant and Sherman crush Lee and the Confederacy surrenders anyway.

Sure, but WHEN? WHEN will this or that theater be finally closed down, and a decision reached? You're not focusing on the question of the original post, which was, Which battle was most decisive?' FRANKLIN was, because that's the one that saw the end of all hope in the Confederacy. No other battle so comprehensively spelled the end for the Confederacy, as in, there's no going on from here; it's a done deal, except for the details.


The ‘no win’ position Hood was in pre-Franklin indicates to me that the decisive battle had already taken place earlier.

No, you're focusing on what Hood could have DONE to WIN. Think instead of what he should NOT have done in order to NOT LOSE. Franklin was a colossal error, was it not? And why was that so? Because he lost a battle? Only partly; what he REALLY lost was an entire theater, and perhaps the m ost vital one to the Confederacy. If not for Franklin, that would not have happened.


Exactly! After Atlanta Hood was in a no win situation.

Most probably true, but also irrelevant. After Atlanta, there was no inevtiable, irrevocable loss of the entire theater. After Franklin, there WAS. By Hood maintaining a force-in-being, the theater is still in play, and then it's up to the Lee/Grant tableau to play out at Petersburg to end the war. For the thirtieth time...Franklin DECIDED the fate of the theater, and there's where the root of the word 'decisive' come from.

Focus on what question we're answering. You're too hung up on the unavailable courses-of-action that were open to Hood to somehow salvage his position and win the war.


He wasn’t strong enough to face Sherman head-to-head.

True, but irrelevant.


If he had stayed in Atlanta, his force would have been cutoff and surrounded, unable to stop the Union anywhere in the Theatre.

True, but irrelevant.


If he had dispersed, he risked being defeated piecemeal.

True, but irrelevant.


Once he ‘released’ from Sherman and started his ‘Franklin-Nashville’ campaign against Schofield and Thomas, Sherman was free to devastate the CSA and take Lee ‘in the rear’ while Grant tied him down frontally.

Also true, but I have a different perspective on this part, to wit:

After Hood 'released' from Sherman and started his ‘Franklin-Nashville’ campaign against Schofield and Thomas, Sherman MAY have been halted, turned around, and sent in pursuit of a dangerous force of Confederate infantry and cavalry that was rampaging around and threatening multiple points in the Western theater. If Schofield is beaten or Thomas is prevented from linking up with him, they're BOTH in serious trouble, and Lincoln, not wanting any disasters this late in the war, MAY have sent Sherman in pursuit.

Oh, wait a second, though; Hood just ripped his own army apart. Carry on General Sherman, and call us when you pull into Savannah. You see what I mean? None of what you were describing is inevitable but for the Battle of Franklin going as it did. Sherman set out from Atlanta on 15 November; Franklin was 15 days later. What if it went a different way, or didn't even happen at all? Sherman still marches blithely away, while Thomas and Schofield face Hood? Possibly NOT, and that's an effect RIGHT THERE.


Again, a no-win situation for Hood.

Which is certainly not the same thing as a 'certainly-lose' situation.


Keeping his army ‘intact’ in the field doesn’t prevent the Confederacy from being defeated.

God, I'm getting tired of repeating this: Keeping his army intact means the Western theater isn't a done deal yet. Maybe it would help you understand what I'm trying to say if 1) you focused on the word 'decisive', and 2) looked up what the word ACTUALLY MEANS. I'm not being snarky here, either; I just don't think you 'get' what the question was all about.


That was a done deal once Sherman ‘broke through’ with no one to stop him.

Nope; there WAS someone to stop him, until all of a sudden there wasn't, which was the state of affairs before and after Franklin, respectively. Could Hood stop Sherman by force? Almost certainly not (but if he'd tried, would Sherman have been able to split his army into a thousand detachments and march across a sixty mile-wide swath?). Could Washington stop Sherman because they're a bunch or nervous-nellie politicians with a poor grasp of strategy and the concept of manuever against centers-of-gravity? You betcha, and how many times did THAT happen in the East? ALL the time, and as long as Hood is dangerous, it's easy for me to imagine it.


Sure, if you assume that Sherman is going to make a mistake and chase after Hood.

Is that necessarily a mistake? Remember, the armies of the Confederacy were the primary targets of every Federal amy EXCEPT Sherman's.


However, he also had Thomas and Schofield to keep Hood busy while he (Sherman) headed northeast.

Look at it another way: Hood was keeping Thomas and Schofield busy AS LONG AS HE HAD AN ARMY. 'Old Slow-trot' Thomas wasn't any too energentic, and almost got himself relieved for his inactivity, even AFTER Franklin, when he could step outside his tent and actually SEE Hood. What happens if Hood takes a completely combat-ready army AWAY from Nashville, rippin' the hell out of whatever he comes across that's colored blue?

Does Sherman still head northesat THEN? MAYBE, I'll grant you. But even if he DOES, Hood STILL is keeping the theater in play.


Hood simply wasn’t strong enough to face all of the forces arrayed against him.

See above; you're just re-stating the same irrelevant point that Hood had no hope of defeating Schofield, Thomas, Sherman, the Martians and the Romulans. GRANTED, but it doesn't matter, because until HE is defeated (which, I will remind you for the thirty-first time, happened at FRANKLIN), NOTHING HAS BEEN DECIDED. Get me? 'DECISIVE'. FOCUS on that word.


He tried to get Sherman to ‘come after him’ by threatening his LoC – Sherman wasn’t having any of it.

Do you imagine Sherman was an independent commander, allowed to take his army in whatever direction suited him? He wasn't. It's a dam' Good Thing Franklin occurred two weeks after the March began, or it may have become known as Sherman's March to the Suburbs, followed by Washington's Interfering Order to March to Wherever Hood Went, So That We Don't Have Another 'Stonewall' Beating Up on Our Hapless Divergent Columns.


How do you suggest that Hood could have gotten Sherman to give up on his Carolinas campaign when he had already failed to do so during his entire campaign up to Franklin?

How do YOU win the War in the West when Hood still contests your control of it?


If Sherman wasn’t biting up to that point, I don’t see how Hood avoiding Franklin would have changed what Sherman was doing.

Maybe it would've, maybe it wouldn't have, but one thing is for certain: after Franklin, there was absolutely no question of it. DECISIVE. The matter was DECIDED at that battle. In other words, a DECISIVE BATTLE, and in my opinion, THE MOST decisive battle of the war.

These posts are just getting longer, and I'm losing hope that you're even reading what i'm writing.:frown:

Last post for me.

Bluesman
25 Apr 07,, 20:38
I voted Gettysburgh, It was pretty much over for the South afterwards and they knew it while marching home.;)

Incorrect; the North dam' near lost the war through politics, and then again at North Anna, the greatest 'what-if' that nobody's ever heard of.

Shek
25 Apr 07,, 20:48
the North dam' near lost the war through politics, and then again at North Anna, the greatest 'what-if' that nobody's ever heard of.

Wasn't he a Mexican general ;) Seriously, I've never heard of North Anna.

astralis
25 Apr 07,, 21:33
from the lazy man's encyclopedia.

Battle of North Anna - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_North_Anna)

"For the first time, Grant realized that Lee had outmaneuvered him. His army had been moved forward so quickly that it had broken into three widely separated parts, surrounding the V. A unit moving from one flank to reinforce the other would have to cross the North Anna River twice. Lee could attack in either direction and overwhelm either Hancock or Warren, with the other unable to support him in a timely manner. Then, the Confederates could swing back on internal lines and attack the other side. The most likely candidate for an attack was Hancock's II Corps to the east. However, Lee's illness meant that he was on his back in his tent for much of this time and, given his lack of capable subordinates, was unable to arrange an aggressive attack against either Union corps."

my thanks to bluesman for drawing this to my attention, altho i have a bit of a different read on it than bluesman has. it occurred on may 23-26, which was in the middle of the overland campaign.

now all this is my very amateur conjecture, but here goes...

had lee been at his fullest powers, he could have destroyed 1/3 or even 2/3 of grant's army. my read is that had lee "only" destroyed 1/3, it would have merely delayed grant while he drew reinforcements. in dealing with those prisoners, lee's army would have lost momentum. in other words, a tactical victory.

if lee destroyed 2/3 of grant's army, then we'd be talking about strategic victory. no doubt grant would have gone on defensive, probably withdrawing to the forts around DC. (he probably would have been sacked, too...although an army of the potomac led by either meade or hancock wouldn't have done too badly, i'd think.) however, i would argue that even in such a defeat, it would occupy the ANV. the real killing blow was with sherman, and i can only imagine that had grant been defeated, lincoln would have channeled more and more resources into the one theater which had significant success- the western theater. lincoln did have some eight months to make good santa anna...and sherman probably would have delivered this.

had lincoln lost, mcclellan would have continued persecuting the war. and even if he didn't, any surviving confederacy would be a rump state, certainly nothing like it was in 1862. a confederacy without kentucky or tennessee means that if the US wanted to duke it out again, it could drive right into the heart of the south, and split it in two. not very strategically viable.

at least, so says this armchair historian. :redface:

ArmchairGeneral
25 Apr 07,, 21:55
from the lazy man's encyclopedia...

...my thanks to bluesman for drawing this to my attention, altho i have a bit of a different read on it than bluesman has. it occurred on may 23-26, which was in the middle of the overland campaign.

now all this is my very amateur conjecture, but here goes...

Interesting. I hadn't heard of North Anna either, and I was just coming back from Wiki when I saw your post. :redface: Anyhow, although clearly it was an opportunity for Lee, I have to agree with you that any victory would only delay the inevitable. Even a smashing, utter rout of Grant is just buying time for the South. Interesting point about Sherman benefiting from such a loss. Of course, I suppose it could also result in a panicked movement of troops from the West eastward to bolster D.C.

astralis
25 Apr 07,, 22:01
armchairgeneral,

i thought of that too. i'm guessing in the short-term, that would have been true; maybe detach schofield or thomas with either the army of the cumberland or ohio out east. but i don't think it would have significantly influenced sherman's atlanta campaign- sherman outnumbered his opponent 2:1. even knocking down the odds to 1.5:1...i would still bet sherman beating johnston and hood.

once it becomes clear that lee, even in victory, would have a devil of a hard time going on the offensive once more, they would have shifted troops back out west. DC's defenses were so good by 1864 that i think it would be almost even odds if the ANV could take DC...even without the army of the potomac being there. and lee's tempo of operations were not as high as grant's- he simply could not match northern logistics (and his mentality was different).

Bluesman
25 Apr 07,, 22:50
WHY isn't anybody reading my posts?!?:mad:

To cover it again:

The BIGGEST PART of the hypothetical is IF THE CAMPAIGN HAD CLOSED OUT AT NORTH ANNA. Not MERELY LOSSES, not Grant being MERELY DEFEATED, not even Grant being MERELT DEFEATED WITH HEAVY LOSSES. THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN.

DAMMIT, y'all, I already stated that once.:mad:

NOW then, if everybody's got THAT straight, let's deal with WHY it could've ended the campaign:

If Lee blew out a third of Grant's force in a masterful example of trapping and defeating the North's main army with only half as many men, anybody that knows ANYthing about the political situation knows that keeping Grant in command and on the offensive would've been HIGHLY dubious. If it was ANY worse than that - and what Lee planned was WAY worse that that - it would've been the end of Grant AND the campaign.

Then Grant's champion would've been easily schwacked at the polls in November, before somebody else (probably Hancock) takes over and leads it into Virginia AGAIN.

As much as Little Mac would've liked to carry the war forward, his party was expressly the 'peace' party (ain't they always?). I have SERIOUS doubts that President McClellan would've been able to continue.

More to come. I'm cooking steaks for my eldest daughter's 18th birthday dinner, which is tonight.:)

Bluesman
25 Apr 07,, 23:31
Honey-teriyaki ribeyes, if you must know.:)

And a glass of wine for the birthday girl, too.;)

(Mac and cheese on the side - she's not TOTALLY grown-up yet, no matter what the state may say...:tongue: )

Bluesman
25 Apr 07,, 23:34
Oh, and one other quick point:

Get out your maps of the Battle at North Anna, zoom out to 'campaign scale', and note that if Grant had NOT been able to slip out of Lee's trap like he did (or, far worse, had been defeated with massive loss, as Lee intended), there isn't a way forward. Lee could've gone right back on the defensive, and a crippled Army of the Potomac has no way across the multiple rivers that Lee can defend behind.

Checkmate.

Bluesman
26 Apr 07,, 00:44
armchairgeneral,

i thought of that too. i'm guessing in the short-term, that would have been true; maybe detach schofield or thomas with either the army of the cumberland or ohio out east. but i don't think it would have significantly influenced sherman's atlanta campaign- sherman outnumbered his opponent 2:1. even knocking down the odds to 1.5:1...i would still bet sherman beating johnston and hood.

Well, I'm fairly certain it WOULD have had an effect on Sherman's campaign plan. Remember Hood's reputation: he literally mauled the hell out of everything he'd ever attacked. It was HIS brigade that blew a hole in McClellan at the 'impregnable' line at Gaine's Mill, and it was his brigade that led the way for Longstreet to utterly shatter Pope; it was HIS division that crushed in III Corps at Gettysburg, and then at Chickamauga he led the way AGAIN, in a devastating assault that stove in the Federal line. He was famous on defense, too: in a brilliant delaying action against overwhelming odds, he stood off most of the Union army on South Mountain long enough for Lee to pull the ANV together, and can anybody else boast that they saved Stonewall Jackson, as Hood did at Antietam?

It was with this reputation that Hood took command of the Army of the Tennessee, and NObody could've determined at that time that Hood had become perhaps the worst Confederate general whose last name wasn't 'Bragg'. DETACH troops from the Western theater? Unlikely. He terrified 'em, which is why Schofield kept right on goin' to Nashville and Thomas.

And then Sherman leaves whatever remains to march away to Savannah? Again, hard to imagine, unless one uses the hindsight that wasn't available to the Union strategists.


once it becomes clear that lee, even in victory, would have a devil of a hard time going on the offensive once more, they would have shifted troops back out west. DC's defenses were so good by 1864 that i think it would be almost even odds if the ANV could take DC...even without the army of the potomac being there.

Now, you may disagree with me, but I think there was no need to do that, and I think Lee lost the taste for it, anyway, unless there was a chance for some sort of spoiling attack that would've been just too much to take for the good people of the North. (Remember that they were getting good and fed up with the whole thing by 1864: draft riots, the Molly MacGuires, Copperheads and Democrats (imagine that; there they are AGAIN!) were all trying to get out from under the 'unwinnable' war. (Is Harry Reid THAT OLD?)

No, repel Grant's offensive, and wait it out through the winter to see if your allies (the Democrats) deliver on their promise of surrender.


and lee's tempo of operations were not as high as grant's- he simply could not match northern logistics (and his mentality was different).

No argument. By this time in the war, Southern rolling stock and rail maintainence were totally broken, horseflesh was getting critical, and supplies for offensive ops weren't there. BUT, if Lee is defending on interior lines, he's got the support to hold on until the North gets sick of the game and quits. Which I believe they would've done in our scenario.

ArmchairGeneral
26 Apr 07,, 00:58
Honey-teriyaki ribeyes, if you must know.:)

And a glass of wine for the birthday girl, too.;)

(Mac and cheese on the side - she's not TOTALLY grown-up yet, no matter what the state may say...:tongue: )

Congrats. :) Now stop making me drool. :mad: :biggrin:

Bluesman
26 Apr 07,, 01:49
They wuz GOOOOOOD!!!:tongue:

Shek
26 Apr 07,, 02:11
Oh, and one other quick point:

Get out your maps of the Battle at North Anna, zoom out to 'campaign scale', and note that if Grant had NOT been able to slip out of Lee's trap like he did (or, far worse, had been defeated with massive loss, as Lee intended), there isn't a way forward. Lee could've gone right back on the defensive, and a crippled Army of the Potomac has no way across the multiple rivers that Lee can defend behind.

Checkmate.

http://www.dean.usma.edu/departments/history/web03/atlases/american_civil_war/html/acw46.html

Bluesman
26 Apr 07,, 04:41
http://www.dean.usma.edu/departments/history/web03/atlases/american_civil_war/html/acw46.html

Yep. Grant has to disengage and go back. In the face of a victorious enemy. What Patton calls the most difficult of all military operations.

It was CLOSE, guys, and if I were inclined to believe in god, I'd say he was looking out for us that day.

deadkenny
26 Apr 07,, 15:24
You're arguing against the combined judgement of every credible civil war historian, as well as many contemporaries that wrote about the impact of the battle. The figures WERE that bad, and what those bare numbers don't adequately express is just how terrible the losses were among the leaders.

By all accounts but yours, that army was done in at Franklin. Not hurt, not damaged, but destroyed in all but fact.

Not true. There are other perspectives on this, both histories and contemporaries. Hood didn’t believe that his force had been ‘destroyed’ at Franklin. Neither Schofield nor Thomas believed it either. In fact AFTER Franklin he did exactly what you suggest he could no longer do, but could have if he hadn’t fought Franklin, which was to ‘occupy’ the attention of the Union forces in the west and ‘contest’ control of the theatre. If was only after Nashville that he ceased to be able to do so.




True, he did, and the fact that he snuggled up to a lethal enemy, coiled to strike, shows just how poor his judgement had become.

He COULD have moved away, and probably should have, but the only difference that would've made was WHERE and WHEN his 'army' met its inevitable end. You're not reading what I'm writing: the DECISION was reached at Franklin, and it didn't really matter where Hood went from there; he had ceased to be a factor. There was no more clenched fist, just a couple of mangled fingers.

But the fighting at Nashville wasn't important! What WAS inevitable is Hood's complete collapse at any subsequent action, no matter where or when it was fought! I already covered that, and it's not like you disagree, it's like you didn't understand me.

No, I did understand what you stated, I simply don’t agree with it. After Franklin, Hood still had a large force in the field. After Nashville he no longer did. Everything that you’re stating with regard to the situation out west was true after Nashville, but not after Franklin. The result that you’re attributing to Franklin simply was not achieved in fact until after the Battle of Nashville.




I covered this part, too.

It's like a cop responds to a traffic accident with injuries, but when he rolls up, there is a gunfight going on. He's got a priority: as long as there are Bad Guys firing, he can't treat injuries, and he can't get the cars moved, and finally, when all of THAT is done, he will be able to smooth out traffic flow and sweep up glass.

As long as Hood is on his feet with a weapon in his hand, the Federal police can't do anything but focus on HIM. The other stuff involved in re-establishing Federal control over the states in rebellion is going to have to wait, and the war is still on. Well, Hood was flat on his back after Franklin and of no threat to Federal war aims; the war in the West was finally OVER, and the cops can start getting traffic moving along the highway again, and sweeping up all of the broken glass. The Federals can divide, march to all points of the compass, and start getting the mail delivered again. You see my point? Just by EXISTING the Army of the Tennessee made it impossible to do anything but look at Hood, orient on Hood, make plans to defend against Hood or attack Hood. It was all about Hood NOT LOSING, not whether the Army of the Tennessee was able to make some miracle happen. THE WAR CONTINUED AS LONG AS THE ARMY WAS IN THE FIELD AND FIGHTING.

Again, Hood’s army was still ‘in the field and fighting’ after Franklin. Hood could have chosen to, after Franklin, maneuver all over the place, for whatever good that would have done. I see your point, but you obviously don’t see mine. Hood's ultimate objective was to ‘force’ Sherman back out west. The only way for him to do that was to catch Schofield on advantageous terms and defeat him, and then defeat Thomas, or at least threaten to. Of course, he might have hoped that the maneuver alone, based on the threat to Sherman’s LoC, would be sufficient. But it clearly wasn’t. It wasn’t the result of Franklin that ‘freed’ Sherman to move east. Sherman had already been moving east for over 2 weeks before the Battle of Franklin was fought and he had already reached the outskirts of Savannah. Now Sherman didn’t start the Carolinas campaign until after Nashville finished Hood, so if you want to argue that Hood’s final destruction at Nashville ‘freed’ Sherman to move northeast, that argument might have some traction. But there’s nothing to suggest that Franklin alone had any effect on Sherman’s actions.



Well, okay, I'll concede that Hood may not have felt he had any choice but to go over to the attack of anything he thought he could whip, in a long-odds gamble of repeating Stonewall's Valley masterpiece of '62. But even so, there was no reason to do what he then did, which was throw away his whole army. I'm certain that if he'd but listened to the good advice he was given, and if he hadn't been stoned and in massive pain, Franklin wouldn't have happened.

He might have 'thrown away' his army at Nashville, but not at Franklin. Franklin was the 'long-odds gamble' at catching and defeating Schofield before he linked up with Thomas. If if you believe that Hood could not win, and should not have fought Franklin, then Spring Hill was the last chance to catch Schofield on anything like advantageous terms.



Not necessarily. Read what I wrote earlier, re: Sherman being ordered by Washington to 'do something' about Hood. If Thomas and Schofield can't stop Hood and Forrest, I can EASILY imagine Sherman being detailed off to get 'em both for good, once and for all. And even if they managed to corner and destroy Hood, well, Georgia lives for another six months, and the Carolinas get away scot-free, because Lee was goin' down, no matter what, because the seige of Petersburg was unbreakable and the outcome inevitable. And that's worth Hood's whole army, right there.

If Sherman wasn't ordered to 'do something' about Hood during the entire maneuver from Atlanta to Franklin, then he wasn't going to be, short of a serious defeat of a major Union force. Hood did in fact constitute the effective maneuver force you keep mentioning, the entire time up to Franklin. Sherman's 'reaction' was to move east a full 15 days BEFORE Franklin. So, given Sherman's actual actions under the circumstances, there's no reason to believe that Sherman would have done anything differently if Hood had simply not fought Franklin and instead had 'allowed' Schofield to withdraw to Nashville without fight a battle.




Well, if you're taking THAT line, then Ft. Sumter has to be the decisive battle of the war, because of all the events that followed as a direct result.

Lol, well I might well say the same thing about your argument that Franklin made Hood’s complete destruction at Nashville ‘inevitable’. Nothing about Franklin ‘compelled’ Hood to advance to Nashville. He did so because that had been his original plan and nothing that happened at Franklin changed his plan.




No, 'decisive' means THAT event decided things, as in no alternative gives any other result. (And once again, the fact that Nashville marks the grave of the Army of Tennessee is immaterial, because the pore thang was terminal from the lead poisoning it caught at Franklin.)

Once again, Hood's army wasn't 'destroyed' at Franklin. There was nothing about the outcome of Franklin that made Hood's subsequent advance to Nashville 'inevitable'. Nor did it make it 'inevitable' that he would detach Forrest or stay in his positions outside of Nashville until the Union lauched their attack. Hood may very well have moved in another direction after Franklin, and constituted a 'potential threat' and a 'force in being' that could 'contest' control of the area. Conversely, there's nothing to say that if Hood had simply not attacked at Franklin, and allowed Schofield to withdraw to Nashville, that he wouldn't have taken the same actions that he did historically anyway. So we end up in the same place whether or not Franklin was fought.





NOW you're getting my point: see how you just described the Federal armies reacting to and orienting on Hood? THAT is the point to staying viable. And it ain't a slam-dunk that the Federals simply march to whatever point they choose if Hood yet lives. Washington in all probability would've ordered them to pursue Hood and Forrest no matter where they went.

Thomas and Schofield were still ‘reacting’ to Hood both before and after Franklin. Sherman was not ‘reacting’ to Hood either before or after Franklin. So what did Franklin change in this regard?





Again, precisely my point: they've got to remain ready for anything. They can't divide, they can't leave vital areas undefended; they've got to think about HIM, always HIM, and what he's liable to do. That is an effect of just BEING.

OK, but that situation still existed after Franklin. Schofield continued his retreat to Nashville. Hood advanced on Nashville and neither Thomas nor Schofield were going anywhere until Hood’s force was ‘dealt with’. So, after Franklin Hood’s force still existed and Thomas and Schofield were still forced to deal with him and Sherman was still ignoring him.



Sure, but WHEN? WHEN will this or that theater be finally closed down, and a decision reached? You're not focusing on the question of the original post, which was, Which battle was most decisive?' FRANKLIN was, because that's the one that saw the end of all hope in the Confederacy. No other battle so comprehensively spelled the end for the Confederacy, as in, there's no going on from here; it's a done deal, except for the details.


Nope. Nashville was when that happened, not before. AFTER Franklin the Union forces in the west were holed up in Nashville, they obviously didn’t have ‘freedom of action’ until after they had dealt with Hood’s force at the Battle of Nashville.




No, you're focusing on what Hood could have DONE to WIN. Think instead of what he should NOT have done in order to NOT LOSE. Franklin was a colossal error, was it not? And why was that so? Because he lost a battle? Only partly; what he REALLY lost was an entire theater, and perhaps the most vital one to the Confederacy. If not for Franklin, that would not have happened.

The only reason I got into what Hood could have done to ‘win’ was that you raised the prospect of Sherman having to give up his Carolinas campaign. The only way that was going to happen was if Hood had ‘won’ to some extent. The pre-Franklin maneuvering was sufficient to ‘prove’ that Sherman was willing leave Schofield and Thomas to ‘handle’ Hood while he (Sherman) destroyed the Confederacy in the east.





Most probably true, but also irrelevant. After Atlanta, there was no inevtiable, irrevocable loss of the entire theater. After Franklin, there WAS. By Hood maintaining a force-in-being, the theater is still in play, and then it's up to the Lee/Grant tableau to play out at Petersburg to end the war. For the thirtieth time...Franklin DECIDED the fate of the theater, and there's where the root of the word 'decisive' come from.

After Franklin, no. After Nashville, yes.


Focus on what question we're answering. You're too hung up on the unavailable courses-of-action that were open to Hood to somehow salvage his position and win the war.

I am focused on the question, which is what battle was decisive in determining the outcome of the war (i.e. defeat of the Confederacy). In order for a battle to be ‘decisive’, the situation prior to the battle must have been in some reasonable doubt, but after the battle there must have been little or no doubt. As far as I’m concerned, once Sherman broke through and was free to destroy the heart of the Confederacy and ultimately head north and finish Lee (if necessary) the outcome was inevitable. That is the basis for my choice of Chatannooga as the decisive battle. Does Franklin meet that threshold? Well, one would have to believe that Hood’s objective was possible before Franklin, but impossible after it in order for Franklin to legitimately be considered the decisive battle. That’s why I got into what Hood could have done to ‘win’ and the extent to which Franklin significantly changed those chances. If you’re arguing that simply by Hood’s force ‘existing’ and maneuvering in the field the issue was in doubt, then those conditions still existed after Franklin. In that case the decisive battle would correctly be considered Nashville. However, in terms of Hood’s objective, which was to catch and destroy Schofield before he linked up with Thomas, I believe the last realistic chance was Spring Hill. That’s still a pretty huge ‘what if’, but one might argue that had Hood caught and fought the bulk of Schofield’s forces on advantageous terms, and decisively defeated them, that then he might have posed such a threat to the Union in the west that Sherman would have had to head back west. So, although they are not my choices, I would consider both Spring Hill and Nashville as better candidates for consideration as decisive battles than Franklin.






Also true, but I have a different perspective on this part, to wit:

After Hood 'released' from Sherman and started his ‘Franklin-Nashville’ campaign against Schofield and Thomas, Sherman MAY have been halted, turned around, and sent in pursuit of a dangerous force of Confederate infantry and cavalry that was rampaging around and threatening multiple points in the Western theater. If Schofield is beaten or Thomas is prevented from linking up with him, they're BOTH in serious trouble, and Lincoln, not wanting any disasters this late in the war, MAY have sent Sherman in pursuit.

Oh, wait a second, though; Hood just ripped his own army apart. Carry on General Sherman, and call us when you pull into Savannah. You see what I mean? None of what you were describing is inevitable but for the Battle of Franklin going as it did. Sherman set out from Atlanta on 15 November; Franklin was 15 days later. What if it went a different way, or didn't even happen at all? Sherman still marches blithely away, while Thomas and Schofield face Hood? Possibly NOT, and that's an effect RIGHT THERE.


As I stated, Sherman was moving east 15 days BEFORE Franklin. Sherman started the Carolinas campaign AFTER NASHVILLE. So there’s nothing to indicate that the outcome of Franklin affected Sherman’s actions one way or the other. I agree that things might have been different if Schofield had been caught and defeated by Hood. But that chance was missed at Spring Hill. My reading of your opinion previously was that Hood made a serious mistake in fighting at Franklin and he had no chance at all against Schofield in the fortified position at Franklin. So, if you believe that Hood had no real chance of defeating Schofield at Franklin, and that the only possible outcome of that battle was heavy losses for Hood, then it didn’t really decide anything. Only if you believe that Hood had a real chance to defeat Schofield at Franklin, but failed to do so, can Franklin then be considered ‘decisive’ in any sense.





God, I'm getting tired of repeating this: Keeping his army intact means the Western theater isn't a done deal yet. Maybe it would help you understand what I'm trying to say if 1) you focused on the word 'decisive', and 2) looked up what the word ACTUALLY MEANS. I'm not being snarky here, either; I just don't think you 'get' what the question was all about.

I understand the question, and what you’re saying. I simply don’t agree with your position on Franklin. Hood’s ability to ‘maneuver’ and ‘dispute’ the western theatre still existed after Franklin. The major Union forces in the area (Thomas and Schofield) were holed up in Nashville, facing Hood. They weren’t in a position to do anything else until Hood was finally dealt with, which he was in the Battle of Nashville.




Nope; there WAS someone to stop him, until all of a sudden there wasn't, which was the state of affairs before and after Franklin, respectively. Could Hood stop Sherman by force? Almost certainly not (but if he'd tried, would Sherman have been able to split his army into a thousand detachments and march across a sixty mile-wide swath?). Could Washington stop Sherman because they're a bunch or nervous-nellie politicians with a poor grasp of strategy and the concept of manuever against centers-of-gravity? You betcha, and how many times did THAT happen in the East? ALL the time, and as long as Hood is dangerous, it's easy for me to imagine it.

Incorrect. There was no one stopping Sherman well before Franklin. As mentioned, Sherman started moving east 15 days BEFORE Franklin, and was on the outskirts of Savannah by the time Franklin was fought. After Franklin, Schofield and Thomas were just as concerned with Hood as they had been before. Sherman was just as unconcerned about Hood. It was only after Nashville that Hood ceased to be a concern.




Is that necessarily a mistake? Remember, the armies of the Confederacy were the primary targets of every Federal army EXCEPT Sherman's.

Exactly! Sherman was not reacting to Hood, and he would not have unless / until Hood had managed to actually defeat one or both of Schofield and / or Thomas.





Look at it another way: Hood was keeping Thomas and Schofield busy AS LONG AS HE HAD AN ARMY. 'Old Slow-trot' Thomas wasn't any too energetic, and almost got himself relieved for his inactivity, even AFTER Franklin, when he could step outside his tent and actually SEE Hood. What happens if Hood takes a completely combat-ready army AWAY from Nashville, rippin' the hell out of whatever he comes across that's colored blue?

Does Sherman still head northeast THEN? MAYBE, I'll grant you. But even if he DOES, Hood STILL is keeping the theater in play.

Here you’re having to denigrate Thomas in order to support the theory that Hood was finished at Franklin. The fact is that Hood wasn’t ‘finished’ or ‘destroyed’ after Franklin. He was still occupying the ‘attention’ of the Union forces in the area. Thomas felt he needed a couple weeks to prepare for the offensive which was designed to finish Hood – which was the Battle of Nashville. Now none of Hood, Thomas or Schofield felt that Hood’s army was ‘finished’ after Franklin. I would rank the views of the commanders on the spot much more highly than what ‘Washington’ thought at the time. As for Sherman, of course he would have continued his campaign. If he didn’t change his course the entire time that Hood was ‘maneuvering’ up to Franklin, and then Nashville, there clearly wasn’t anything that Hood was going to do, short of actually defeating Schofield and / or Thomas, that was going to change what Sherman was doing.



See above; you're just re-stating the same irrelevant point that Hood had no hope of defeating Schofield, Thomas, Sherman, the Martians and the Romulans. GRANTED, but it doesn't matter, because until HE is defeated (which, I will remind you for the thirty-first time, happened at FRANKLIN), NOTHING HAS BEEN DECIDED. Get me? 'DECISIVE'. FOCUS on that word.

Do you imagine Sherman was an independent commander, allowed to take his army in whatever direction suited him? He wasn't. It's a dam' Good Thing Franklin occurred two weeks after the March began, or it may have become known as Sherman's March to the Suburbs, followed by Washington's Interfering Order to March to Wherever Hood Went, So That We Don't Have Another 'Stonewall' Beating Up on Our Hapless Divergent Columns.

Well, ‘Martians’ and ‘Romulans’ aside, it is relevant because YOU raised the prospect of Sherman having to give up on his Carolinas campaign to go out west. That simply wasn’t going to happen UNLESS Hood had actually managed to DEFEAT a significant Union force in BATTLE. Hood did a hell of a lot of ‘maneuvering’ between Atlanta and Franklin (check a map of the campaign, it was a hell of a ‘maneuver’). During that time, Schofield was in theory at some risk of getting ‘caught’ before he could link up with Thomas. In the meantime, Sherman was marching in the OPPOSITE direction. By the time of the Battle of Franklin, Sherman was already on the outskirts of Savannah. So, let’s say Hood advances to Franklin, takes a look at the Union defenses and says, as you suggested ‘too strong, forget it’. So the Battle isn’t fought and Schofield retreats to Nashville to link up with Thomas. So what do you suggest would possibly happen next that Thomas’ and Schofield’s united forces couldn’t handle that would necessitate Sherman to drop his Carolinas campaign and rush all the way out west, when the entire interior of the Confederacy was at his mercy?




How do YOU win the War in the West when Hood still contests your control of it?

It had already been won when Sherman broke through with no one left to stop him from ripping out the heart of the Confederacy and then turning north and finishing off Lee in a giant Grant-Sherman vice. Hood continuing to ‘wander’ around out west ‘contesting’ absolute Union control of ‘wilderness’ isn’t going to substantially change the outcome of the war. The only thing that could possibly ‘save’ the situation for the rebs at that point was if Hood could have caught and defeated a major Union force.



Maybe it would've, maybe it wouldn't have, but one thing is for certain: after Franklin, there was absolutely no question of it. DECISIVE. The matter was DECIDED at that battle. In other words, a DECISIVE BATTLE, and in my opinion, THE MOST decisive battle of the war.

Again, not at Franklin. Hood’s army still existed after Franklin. It was ‘destroyed’ at Nashville.



These posts are just getting longer, and I'm losing hope that you're even reading what I'm writing.

Yes, I’m reading your posts. I just don’t agree with most of your arguments.



Last post for me.

That is of course your choice.

Dreadnought
26 Apr 07,, 15:35
Incorrect; the North dam' near lost the war through politics, and then again at North Anna, the greatest 'what-if' that nobody's ever heard of.

Have to admit Blues im not the greatest on Civil War and North Anna is a new one to me. Thanks.

Dreadnought
26 Apr 07,, 15:37
from the lazy man's encyclopedia

:biggrin: priceless!

Irishman7
26 Apr 07,, 18:30
Quoting Shek: "Gettysburg did not end the war, not by a long shot, and Grant came dam' close to losing the war TWICE, well after Gettysburg. Once by horrendous casualties and a close election that almost went to the 'Surrender Now' Party (aka, the Democrats; ain't it odd how history repeats itself?) because of those casualties and an apparent inability to defeat Lee in the field. And then again when Lee manuevered Grant into a trap that almost saw the loss of either a third or two thirds of the Army of the Potomac at the North Anna River, failing only due to AP Hill's and his own seperate illnesses".


I think its funny you called the Democrat Party the "Surrender Now" Party. Eisenhower (Republican) negotiated a truce to end the Korean War and Nixon (Republican) pulled the troops out of Vietnam. FDR / Truman (Democrats) led the country to victory in World War II and Woodrow Willson (Democrat) led the country to victory in World War I. I always like right-wingers who ignore historical facts.

Shek
26 Apr 07,, 19:02
Quoting Shek: "Gettysburg did not end the war, not by a long shot, and Grant came dam' close to losing the war TWICE, well after Gettysburg. Once by horrendous casualties and a close election that almost went to the 'Surrender Now' Party (aka, the Democrats; ain't it odd how history repeats itself?) because of those casualties and an apparent inability to defeat Lee in the field. And then again when Lee manuevered Grant into a trap that almost saw the loss of either a third or two thirds of the Army of the Potomac at the North Anna River, failing only due to AP Hill's and his own seperate illnesses".


I think its funny you called the Democrat Party the "Surrender Now" Party. Eisenhower (Republican) negotiated a truce to end the Korean War and Nixon (Republican) pulled the troops out of Vietnam. FDR / Truman (Democrats) led the country to victory in World War II and Woodrow Willson (Democrat) led the country to victory in World War I. I always like right-wingers who ignore historical facts.

Get your quotes straight.

Bluesman
27 Apr 07,, 02:46
And get your history straight, too, Irish. The president isn't a dictator, and Nixon ended the war at the insistence of the 'Surrender Now' Party in Congress.

And after Truman insisted on war policies that would never result in victory, just what was left for Ike to do about Korea but end it? At least South Korea was still non-Communist, unlike what the Democrats did to South Vietnam.

Don't bring that weak crap in here anymore. This Board is for people with something worthwhile to say.

lazybastard
27 Apr 07,, 16:17
Voted Antietam. Although only in conjunction with the emancipation proclaimation. Undermining the Confederates' economy by freeing slaves in occupied territories while leaving the border states alone, at the same time reducing the likelyhood of British intervention. On the other hand, one has to take into consideration the likelyhood of Lincoln shelving the the thing to a later date had Antietam ended in a Confederate victory.

S2
27 Apr 07,, 16:51
Gettysburg. Without a doubt, this was the ANV's last opportunity to reverse the war. Had Lee interposed his forces between the AOP and Washington on terrain of his choosing, he might well have destroyed Meade.

For me, the parallel to Zitadelle, the German attack at Kursk, is striking. Lee's invasion of the north was meant, like Zitadelle, as a "beacon" to the world. No force, like the German Army in June, 1943 awaiting battle in the Ukraine, was more professional or capable. Finally, I'd submit that the ANV and its officers knew that this was their last shot. Vicksburg was besieged and nearly fallen. With it the south would be split. With no hope of lifting the siege directly, I believe that Lee marched north in hopes of turning the tables on the Union by engaging an AOP stll reeling at the command levels from the twin debacles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

Had Stuart performed his mission with the same excellence and aplomb as performed by Buford, we might not be discussing the greatest "meeting engagement" of modern times. It may well have happened elsewhere. That he didn't and Lee and the ANV found the AOP before them on the key terrain of Cemetary Ridge set the stage. When Lee ignored Longstreet's counsel to flank the AOP instead of giving battle under unfavorable circumstances, the south's fate was sealed.

Albany Rifles
27 Apr 07,, 19:09
Fredericksburg

Not decisive. Did not prevent the Union from continuing operations in Central Virginia. Was a bloody repulse and only big outcome was removed Burnside as commander of AOP.

Antietam

The most decisive diplomatically on the outcome of the war because its outcome denied the Confederacy any chance of open support by the European nations, a la Saratoga in 1777.

Vicksburg

Cut the Confederacy apart along the MIssissippi, and when Grand Gulf fell a few weeks later, opened up the river to Northern Commerce to Europe. Why was that important? BEcause the grain from the American heartland was feeding the Industrial revolution in Europe. Read about Prince Wheat versus King Cotton in some of Jim McPherson's writings.

Also pushed Grant further forward in prominence.

Gettysburg

It was big and it was bloody but was it decisive? Only in that it showed both sides the value of fighting from defensive works. The ANV was so beat up that Longstreet took his corps out west 2 months later and had a decisve role in the Cnnfederate success at Chickamauga. (Of course he would end up as the only Confederate Burnside ever beat!) Not to mention it was really a raid writ large. Lee's secondary mission was to conduct a giant foraging expedition and he was highly successful in that regard. Read Kent Masterson Brown's Retereat From Gettysburg for a great explanation.


Atlanta

Now we are talking. Its fall kept Lincoln in the White House, and without Lincoln the Union may well have fallen.

Franklin

Not Franklin but Nashville. That battle destroyed the offensive power of the Confeseracy in the West just like Spotsylvania and Cedar Creek did the same in the East.


Of this list I would say Anietam 1 and Atlanta 2.

BTW, as for North Anna...the battlefield is exceptiopanlly well preserved. A great what if.

ChdNorm
28 Apr 07,, 20:19
Well ... I voted Antietum, but accidently. I read thru them, decided on Atlanta .. and hit Antietum because it starts with an A too. Which for those of you that don't know me ... it's very indicative of my computer skills in general, and forums in particular! Maybe I should just play along like I guessed Albany would say Antietum was #1?

I do think Atlanta though. It seems to me that the campaigns up in Va were more of a see-saw slugfest that on their own weren't entirely decisive one way or another. Sherman running rough shod thru the heart of the South pretty much cut the head (Lee and the ANV) off the snake (what industrial capacity the South still had). If I'd been alive during the Civil War, watching Atlanta burn would have been the point where I turned to the guy next to me and said "Ya know ... I think we're pretty much screwed".

deadkenny
30 Apr 07,, 14:03
Antietam

The most decisive diplomatically on the outcome of the war because its outcome denied the Confederacy any chance of open support by the European nations, a la Saratoga in 1777.

An excellent candidate for the ‘flip side’ of the question, i.e. when did the CSA miss their best chance to ‘win’, rather than when did they ‘lose’ the war.


Vicksburg

Cut the Confederacy apart along the Mississippi, and when Grand Gulf fell a few weeks later, opened up the river to Northern Commerce to Europe. Why was that important? Because the grain from the American heartland was feeding the Industrial revolution in Europe. Read about Prince Wheat versus King Cotton in some of Jim McPherson's writings.

Also pushed Grant further forward in prominence.

This is a good point. I believe the ‘opening’ of the Mississippi for the Union was more important than the oft quoted ‘cut the Confederacy in half’. The ‘core’ of the Confederacy was all east of the Miss anyway and ‘overland’ routes, crossing the Miss between ‘east’ and ‘west’ were not that important in the scheme of things. However, the opening of the Miss to the Union, from top to bottom, was huge. Of course, the problems are that ‘Vicksburg’ was really more of a ‘campaign’ / ‘siege’ than it was a ‘battle’. That, plus the fact that, as you’ve mentioned, Vicksburg alone was not sufficient to completely open up the Miss (although it was clearly necessary).


Atlanta

Now we are talking. Its fall kept Lincoln in the White House, and without Lincoln the Union may well have fallen.

Good point, however, I believe that an ‘invasion’ of the south and even a ‘siege’ of Atlanta would have been sufficient to achieve the same result. Those possibilities were opened up by the result at Chattanooga, which unfortunately isn’t on the list.



Franklin

Not Franklin but Nashville. That battle destroyed the offensive power of the Confederacy in the West just like Spotsylvania and Cedar Creek did the same in the East.

Agreed, it was Nashville that finished the CSA in the west, not Franklin. However, was that not already ‘too late’ for the Confederacy? The only argument I can see that would point to Nashville as ‘the’ decisive battle would be that it ‘freed’ Sherman to move NE rather than back out west after his ‘March to the Sea’. I’m not sure that Sherman was going to be sent out west though, unless Hood had managed to pose more of a serious threat – e.g. if he had managed to catch and decisively defeat Schofield at Spring Hill and appeared to be a serious threat to Thomas.




Of this list I would say Antietam 1 and Atlanta 2.



I do think Atlanta though. It seems to me that the campaigns up in Va were more of a see-saw slugfest that on their own weren't entirely decisive one way or another. Sherman running rough shod thru the heart of the South pretty much cut the head (Lee and the ANV) off the snake (what industrial capacity the South still had). If I'd been alive during the Civil War, watching Atlanta burn would have been the point where I turned to the guy next to me and said "Ya know ... I think we're pretty much screwed".

Again, a good case for Atlanta. However, IMHO it was Chattanooga that really ‘opened’ up the south to invasion. From that point on the CSA’s dilemma was to either to hold Atlanta and thereby allow themselves to get ‘besieged’ in Atlanta, leaving ‘other’ Union forces to ‘rampage’ throughout the area or to ‘give up’ Atlanta (as they did historically) in order to retain their freedom of maneuver. Again, IMO, it was a ‘no win’ situation created by the decisive Union victory at Chattanooga.

ExNavyAmerican
02 May 07,, 04:16
I voted Vicksurg. Gettysburg was decisive in that the Confederate army was too weak to ever launch a major offensive again, but other than that it it didn't decide much.

Vicksburg on the other hand annihilated an army, captured the Mississippi and in so doing cut the confederacy in half, and it left the deep South wide open for invasion. Gettysburg didn't do any of this.

deadkenny
02 May 07,, 14:35
...Vicksburg on the other hand annihilated an army, captured the Mississippi and in so doing cut the confederacy in half, and it left the deep South wide open for invasion. Gettysburg didn't do any of this.

Actually Vicksburg didn't 'capture the Miss' in and of itself - there were other battles that needed to be fought to clear it from top to bottom. It actually cutoff Texas, Arkansas and most of Louisiana - hardly 'half' of the Confederacy. I'm curious if anyone has any detailed information on exactly what effect this 'cutting off' had on the Confederacy. I've not been able to identify any important 'LoC' that were severed. I believe, as was previously noted, that opening the Miss for the Union was actually more important than severing it for the Confederacy.

ExNavyAmerican
05 May 07,, 08:19
Actually Vicksburg didn't 'capture the Miss' in and of itself - there were other battles that needed to be fought to clear it from top to bottom. It actually cutoff Texas, Arkansas and most of Louisiana - hardly 'half' of the Confederacy. I'm curious if anyone has any detailed information on exactly what effect this 'cutting off' had on the Confederacy. I've not been able to identify any important 'LoC' that were severed. I believe, as was previously noted, that opening the Miss for the Union was actually more important than severing it for the Confederacy.

Vicksburg was the last major port along the Mississippi, and the other negligible
fighting along the river was a war all by itself in view of its indecisiveness.

By cutting off any part of the Confederacy, and Texas was the largest member, it essentially destroyed any chance for the South to become a powerful independent political entity. It was like tying off an arm, or a leg.

The importance of cutting the Confederacy in half was so that we could carry on the war against the eastern half without any problem with reinforcements coming from the west. And as I said before, the size of Texas became irrelevant to the Confederacy when it can't communicate with it. And it also destroyed any chance of capturing, and holding any western territories for the South.

I agree that capturing the Mississippi for the Union was more important then the severing of the Confederacy, but the capture combined with the severing made a very decisive battle out of Vicksburg. And then of course the Confederate army that was destroyed in the process.

In contrast, at Gettysburg, the Southern army was wipped, and they could not hope to replace their casualties, but they defeated the northern army at every battle as the Union drove south toward Richmond. The reason the Union army was able to continue after several crushing defeats (i.e North Anna, and Cold Harbor) was because of the Napoleonic determination of Grant; it had nothing to do with Gettysburg. So, though Gettysurg was important no doubt about it, in my opinion, it was far less decisive than Vicksburg.

Albany Rifles
07 May 07,, 18:40
Vicksburg was the last major port along the Mississippi, and the other negligible
fighting along the river was a war all by itself in view of its indecisiveness???.

By cutting off any part of the Confederacy, and Texas was the largest member, it essentially destroyed any chance for the South to become a powerful independent political entity. It was like tying off an arm, or a leg.

The importance of cutting the Confederacy in half was so that we could carry on the war against the eastern half without any problem with reinforcements coming from the west. And as I said before, the size of Texas became irrelevant to the Confederacy when it can't communicate with it. And it also destroyed any chance of capturing, and holding any western territories for the South.

I agree that capturing the Mississippi for the Union was more important then the severing of the Confederacy, but the capture combined with the severing made a very decisive battle out of Vicksburg. And then of course the Confederate army that was destroyed in the process.

In contrast, at Gettysburg, the Southern army was wipped, and they could not hope to replace their casualties, but they defeated the northern army at every battle as the Union drove south toward Richmond. The reason the Union army was able to continue after several crushing defeats (i.e North Anna, and Cold Harbor) was because of the Napoleonic determination of Grant; it had nothing to do with Gettysburg. So, though Gettysurg was important no doubt about it, in my opinion, it was far less decisive than Vicksburg.


Vicksburg ceased to be a port in late 1862 once the Union forces arrived there. The fighting earlier 1862 around Island No. 10 was hardly indecisive. And Teh 49 day siege at Port Hudson which fell on 9 July 1863 was easily as terrible as the Vicksburg siege. While it did not feature the manuever battles of Vicksburg, this success was what actually opened the river.



There wasn't a whole lot more help to come from Texas. Texas had provided pretty much all of the man power it could at the start of the war.


The Army of Mississippi was paroled after the surrender to Grant and violated that parole almost immediately. Even soldiers who deserted returned to the colors by mid autumn 1863. It was this violation of the parole which helped convince Grant to end all parole and prisoner exchange with teh Confederacy when he became general in chief. It was this ending of parole which lead to Andersonville and other problems in Confederate POW camps.


North Anna was hardly a crushing defeat. The 9th Corps really took heavy casualties in 1 brigade, only 1 division of the 6th Corps was enagaged and the 2d Corps had some fighting around Chesterfield Bridge. And the AOP took more casualties at both the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania than at Cold Harbor. And I would not call the OVerland Campaign a crushing defeat since they Confederates may have prevented defeat but they never stopped the AOP.

deadkenny
07 May 07,, 22:16
...
By cutting off any part of the Confederacy, and Texas was the largest member, it essentially destroyed any chance for the South to become a powerful independent political entity. It was like tying off an arm, or a leg.

The importance of cutting the Confederacy in half was so that we could carry on the war against the eastern half without any problem with reinforcements coming from the west. And as I said before, the size of Texas became irrelevant to the Confederacy when it can't communicate with it. And it also destroyed any chance of capturing, and holding any western territories for the South.
....

I'll just add to the excellent points made by "Albany Rifles" by mentioning that although Texas may have been the 'largest member' in terms of the geographical area - it was far from the largest in terms of population or relative importance to the Confederacy. The Confederate states east of the Miss would have been an entirely viable 'country' on it's own. Perhaps access to the 'Far West' would have been of longer term importance, but in terms of simply 'surviving' (or not) the Civil War, the Western territories mattered very little.

Say for example Davis had decided to go ahead with his original intention of replacing Bragg with Longstreet in command of the AoT. Aside from having a more competent commander, there is also 'unity of command' without both Bragg and Longstreet trying to outmanuever each other rather than the enemy. Then further say that the battle of Chattanooga results in a crushing defeat of the Union. The CSA manages to prevent any invasion of the 'heart' of the CSA, and to 'hold' most of the 'western' sector that lies east of the Miss. It would have been entirely possible that Lincoln could have lost the election under those circumstances, and that a 'peace party' could have agreed to some sort of 'compromise' settlement. Now I'm not suggesting that any of that was 'highly likely', but it does illustrate the point that the South still had some 'outs', even after the loss of Vicksburg and control of the Miss - even given the possible loss of the 'Trans-Miss' to the Confederacy.

GVChamp
08 May 07,, 05:01
But the war could've - and should've - ended the next year, at Sharpsburg. It was pathetic that it did NOT end there, and eighteen months isn't a particularly long civil war, so although being longer than what was anticipated, it need not have necessarily been 'decided' at Bull Run that the war was going to go over four years.

Okay, decided that the Union was overconfident and just plain old silly. :biggrin:

ExNavyAmerican
08 May 07,, 08:12
Vicksburg ceased to be a port in late 1862 once the Union forces arrived there. The fighting earlier 1862 around Island No. 10 was hardly indecisive. And Teh 49 day siege at Port Hudson which fell on 9 July 1863 was easily as terrible as the Vicksburg siege. While it did not feature the manuever battles of Vicksburg, this success was what actually opened the river.

I know. I was talking about AFTER these battles were fought. I've read about 100 (seriously) civil war books, and I am aware that these battles were important. However, at the time of the Fall of Vicksburg, it was the only major port left on the river. Though it had been invested for a while, the river could not have come under complete Union control with a hostil port in the middle of it.

Good Lord people. Give me some credit.

deadkenny;

After Vicksburg, the best the South could have hoped for was the independence of the cotton states.. Because the Union had control of most of Louisiana, some of Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The North's advantages in manpower, and industry were all the north needed to eventually defeat the south(post-war annexation included).

ExNavyAmerican
08 May 07,, 08:21
By the way, in this case, when we say "decisive", do we mean decisive as in a turning point? Because the usual mening of "decisive battle" is a battle that was a one-sided victory. If that's the case, then Fredricksburg is a very decisive battle, whereas Antietam was a tactical defeat for the Union.

I've been posting as if the meaning here was referring to a turning point victory, but it just occurred to me that I had misunderstood the meaning.

deadkenny
08 May 07,, 14:24
I know. I was talking about AFTER these battles were fought. I've read about 100 (seriously) civil war books, and I am aware that these battles were important. However, at the time of the Fall of Vicksburg, it was the only major port left on the river. Though it had been invested for a while, the river could not have come under complete Union control with a hostil port in the middle of it.

Good Lord people. Give me some credit.

Fair enough, however, I guess the key point is that Port Hudson needed to fall as well to give the Union complete control from top to bottom. Taking Vicksburg was necessary but not sufficient, and Port Hudson was taken after Vicksburg, in a separate action.


deadkenny;

After Vicksburg, the best the South could have hoped for was the independence of the cotton states.. Because the Union had control of most of Louisiana, some of Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The North's advantages in manpower, and industry were all the north needed to eventually defeat the south (post-war annexation included).

Sure, IF the Union maintained their determination to fight to the end, the Confederacy was doomed. Lincoln could probably be counted on to fight it out to the end no matter how long it took or how much it cost. However, since there was an election in 1864, and there was actually a more ‘conciliatory’ party running, you can’t assume that fighting it out to the bitter end was a foregone conclusion. Arkansas, and much of Louisiana, is west of the Miss, and thus effectively lost to the CSA after Vicksburg. Kentucky was not a Confederate state. Tenn was still being fought over, at least until after Chattanooga (which is the very scenario being discussed).


By the way, in this case, when we say "decisive", do we mean decisive as in a turning point? Because the usual mening of "decisive battle" is a battle that was a one-sided victory. If that's the case, then Fredricksburg is a very decisive battle, whereas Antietam was a tactical defeat for the Union.

I've been posting as if the meaning here was referring to a turning point victory, but it just occurred to me that I had misunderstood the meaning.

Most of these sorts of threads have criteria which are not precisely defined. Having said that, Shek has done a pretty good job of elaborating on what was intended in the first post of this thread. It has more to do with the effect a particular battle had on the outcome of the war, rather than a more limited perspective of the battle itself. Thus, a crushing defeat of the Union on the battlefield might not have affected the course of the war beyond prolonging it for long enough for the Union to lick its wounds and come back for more. On the other hand, a less ‘extreme’ victory could potentially have implications on the course of the war. Thus, the real impact of Antietam was more on the diplomatic situation in Europe than on the battlefield itself.

ExNavyAmerican
08 May 07,, 15:09
Most of these sorts of threads have criteria which are not precisely defined. Having said that, Shek has done a pretty good job of elaborating on what was intended in the first post of this thread. It has more to do with the effect a particular battle had on the outcome of the war, rather than a more limited perspective of the battle itself. Thus, a crushing defeat of the Union on the battlefield might not have affected the course of the war beyond prolonging it for long enough for the Union to lick its wounds and come back for more. On the other hand, a less ‘extreme’ victory could potentially have implications on the course of the war. Thus, the real impact of Antietam was more on the diplomatic situation in Europe than on the battlefield itself.

Okay, thanks. That's what I thought, but I thought it est to make sure.

Edit: Shek did mention it. sorry.

ExNavyAmerican
08 May 07,, 15:14
Fair enough, however, I guess the key point is that Port Hudson needed to fall as well to give the Union complete control from top to bottom. Taking Vicksburg was necessary but not sufficient, and Port Hudson was taken after Vicksburg, in a separate action.

Agreed. They both needed to fall. But with one gone, the next was sure to come as was proven with that exact occurence. If Port Hudson had fallen first, imo, I'd be supporting that one as the most important battle, right now.


Sure, IF the Union maintained their determination to fight to the end, the Confederacy was doomed. Lincoln could probably be counted on to fight it out to the end no matter how long it took or how much it cost. However, since there was an election in 1864, and there was actually a more ‘conciliatory’ party running, you can’t assume that fighting it out to the bitter end was a foregone conclusion. Arkansas, and much of Louisiana, is west of the Miss, and thus effectively lost to the CSA after Vicksburg. Kentucky was not a Confederate state. Tenn was still being fought over, at least until after Chattanooga (which is the very scenario being discussed).

I agree. If Chatanooga had been lost, Lincoln would have lost the election, and the war would have ended. But even then, we still had control of the better part of the Confederacy, and though the war probably would have ended, the Confederacy would have been much smaller than its original size.

Adalwolf
28 Oct 07,, 23:22
I'd say Vicksburg. It cut the Confederacy in two, hampering the move of needed goods from Texas back east. It also gave the Union control of the Mississippi, for trade and moving troops.

Bluesman
29 Oct 07,, 06:27
I'd say Vicksburg. It cut the Confederacy in two, hampering the move of needed goods from Texas back east. It also gave the Union control of the Mississippi, for trade and moving troops.

That was the SEIGE of Vicksburg. Not, properly speaking a battle.

zraver
29 Oct 07,, 21:04
Antietam and the soon folowing "Emancipation Proclamation", it killed the confederate hope sof international recognition and legitimacy. It dooemd them to never being more than rebels.

Bluesman
30 Oct 07,, 00:24
Antietam and the soon folowing "Emancipation Proclamation", it killed the confederate hope sof international recognition and legitimacy. It dooemd them to never being more than rebels.

No. The Confederacy STILL could've won the war, and they almost did, twice. Therefore, not decisive.

zraver
31 Oct 07,, 14:18
No. The Confederacy STILL could've won the war, and they almost did, twice. Therefore, not decisive.

Without international recognition forcing Lincoln to stop, the Confederacy was doomed by simple math. By the end of the war the South was running on a scavanger economy, it could not have kept this up forever.

Bluesman
31 Oct 07,, 17:04
Without international recognition forcing Lincoln to stop, the Confederacy was doomed by simple math. By the end of the war the South was running on a scavanger economy, it could not have kept this up forever.

Disagree. Oh, the odds were long, but remember: if Lincoln had lost the '64 election, the Confederacy would be an established FACT - they would have won.

So, no, they weren't doomed, as they almost DID win, even alone, with no foreign intervention.

Important? Certainly. But it didn't decide the issue; it could've still gone the other way, and almost did, on more than one occasion. Therefore, not decisive.

ExNavyAmerican
01 Nov 07,, 07:48
Antietam was politically decisive because it forced Europe to end any plans to recognize the confederacy. Britain would not recognize them until the South had abolished slavery. And the chances of that happening are the same as pigs flying. Antietam was only important militarily because it ended the South's invasion of the North, which of course was important but not even close to being decisive. Another reason Antietam was politically important was because of the mere fact that the south invaded the north -the confederacy automatically became hypocritical because they were "marching into other states and tyrannizing other people". Automatically making their cause as fluid as water.

Bluesman
01 Nov 07,, 14:21
Antietam was politically decisive because it forced Europe to end any plans to recognize the confederacy. Britain would not recognize them until the South had abolished slavery. And the chances of that happening are the same as pigs flying. Antietam was only important militarily because it ended the South's invasion of the North, which of course was important but not even close to being decisive. Another reason Antietam was politically important was because of the mere fact that the south invaded the north -the confederacy automatically became hypocritical because they were "marching into other states and tyrannizing other people". Automatically making their cause as fluid as water.

Not sure if you're backing up MY point, or zraver's. All of what you wrote is true, and I already knew it. But none of it refutes my point that Antietam/Sharpsburg didn't decide the outcome of the war. It wasn't the one battle that, after it was fought, there was no other outcome possible. That specification can belong to no other battle than Franklin.

Because once THAT was fought, nothing, absolutely NOTHING, was going to see the Confederacy win its independence. The war was then DECIDED; it was just a matter of playing it out to the inevitable end.

ExNavyAmerican
02 Nov 07,, 05:07
I was backing yours.

Bluesman
02 Nov 07,, 16:30
I was backing yours.

Okay, I follow all that.

JAD_333
02 Nov 07,, 18:28
I think Shiloh in April 1862 was as decisive as they get. It was the beginning of the end of CSA's control of the Mississippi. Antietam that September might have been the icing on the cake as far as getting European recognition, but Shiloh was certainly a habinger of what was to come; that is, if Britain and France were paying attention. Paired with Grant's brilliant Vicksburg campaign the following year, Shiloh, also identified a Union leader who had what it took to utilize the Union's superiority in manpower and materiale to win the war.

astralis
02 Nov 07,, 18:55
JAD,

a remarkably good choice, if i may say so myself :cool: :biggrin:

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/early-modern-imperial-ages/41115-eastern-vs-western-theater-american-civil-war.html (http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/early-modern-imperial-ages/41115-eastern-vs-western-theater-american-civil-war.html#post421732)

JAD_333
02 Nov 07,, 19:01
JAD,

a remarkably good choice, if i may say so myself :cool: :biggrin:

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/early-modern-imperial-ages/41115-eastern-vs-western-theater-american-civil-war.html (http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/early-modern-imperial-ages/41115-eastern-vs-western-theater-american-civil-war.html#post421732)

Why, thank you, Astralis. It is a rare moment, indeed, when we agree.:))

Thanks for the links.

Bluesman
02 Nov 07,, 21:22
I think Shiloh in April 1862 was as decisive as they get. It was the beginning of the end of CSA's control of the Mississippi. Antietam that September might have been the icing on the cake as far as getting European recognition, but Shiloh was certainly a habinger of what was to come; that is, if Britain and France were paying attention. Paired with Grant's brilliant Vicksburg campaign the following year, Shiloh, also identified a Union leader who had what it took to utilize the Union's superiority in manpower and materiale to win the war.

I don't see it. If it was the beginning of the end of the CSA's control of the Mississsippi, what ended that control, and wouldn't THAT be the decisive event? Also, was the loss of control of Big Muddy THE ONE THING that made Union victory inevitable? Certainly, it made it more probable, but were there not subsequent events that made a Confederate victory possible? Undoubtedly, there were, therefore loss of control of the Mississippi River did not decide the outcome of the war.

Shiloh was, indeed, a harbinger of what was to come, but that's never been a good definition of 'decisive'. Indeed, the battle decided not very much at all.

Try to make me understand your point. In what sense was Shiloh decisive, 'as decisive as they get'?

JAD_333
03 Nov 07,, 06:06
I don't see it. If it was the beginning of the end of the CSA's control of the Mississsippi, what ended that control, and wouldn't THAT be the decisive event? Also, was the loss of control of Big Muddy THE ONE THING that made Union victory inevitable? Certainly, it made it more probable, but were there not subsequent events that made a Confederate victory possible? Undoubtedly, there were, therefore loss of control of the Mississippi River did not decide the outcome of the war.

Try to make me understand your point. In what sense was Shiloh decisive, 'as decisive as they get'?



That's a tall order, Sarge... "As decisive" as some other key battles.... There are no absolutes here. I think when we view the Civil War from afar we see a handful of major strategic struggles, each of which hinged on a decisive battle.

Shiloh is such a battle. Winning it allowed the Union to proceed with its strategy of splitting the Confederacy in two. Controlling the Mississippi was key to that strategy because it meant control of Louisiana through which vital war materials came from Texas and Mexico, and neutraization of New Orlean, which was a vital manufacturing, shipbuilding and also a trans-shipment point for the South.

Shiloh, regardless of how it came about, was decisive in that context. Had the South won the battle, they would have retained control of the Mississippi for who knows how long. But having lost it, they could no longer prevent the Union from eventually gaining control of the river.

There were other decisive battles. For example, in the Shenandoah Valley, there was the 3rd Battle of Winchester in Sept 1864 in which Sheridan defeated Early. This was a devastating loss because, thereafter, the South no longer had access to what had been its most abundant source of food.

ExNavyAmerican
04 Nov 07,, 05:30
IMO, if the South had won Shiloh it would have been decisive as it would effectively destroyed an entire union army -but since they lost, it's, imo, no more decisive then Pea Ridge.

JAD_333
04 Nov 07,, 07:52
IMO, if the South had won Shiloh it would have been decisive as it would effectively destroyed an entire union army -but since they lost, it's, imo, no more decisive then Pea Ridge.

But the South didn't, and that is the whole point. What is the logic in diverting a whole army to attack a specific foe in a specific place and in regarding the outcome as decisive only if you win and of no consequence if you lose? The loss had definite consequences; it failed to stop the North's campaign to gain control of the Mississipii.

I am not a military person, so correct me if I am wrong. But don't terms like decisive or indecisive define the battle regardless of who wins?

ExNavyAmerican
04 Nov 07,, 08:43
The reason I deny its decisiveness is because it didn't stop, or start, anything. The south failed to stop the union advance -meaning the advance had already started. If it hadn't had been fought, it wouldn't have changed anything. It's like Antietam or Franklin -it didn't effect anything on the greater tactical scale.

Bluesman
04 Nov 07,, 17:11
The reason I deny its decisiveness is because it didn't stop, or start, anything. The south failed to stop the union advance -meaning the advance had already started. If it hadn't had been fought, it wouldn't have changed anything. It's like Antietam or Franklin -it didn't effect anything on the greater tactical scale.

CORRECT; you, sir, have a complete understanding of the word 'decisive'.

Bluesman
04 Nov 07,, 17:24
[QUOTE=JAD_333;423071]But the South didn't, and that is the whole point. What is the logic in diverting a whole army to attack a specific foe in a specific place and in regarding the outcome as decisive only if you win and of no consequence if you lose?
Sounds like that's the PERFECT circumstances when to decide to offer battle. What is the logic of going into a battle with NOTHING to gain, EVERYTHING to lose? (Like Franklin, if anybody would care to give my point some additional consideration.)


The loss had definite consequences; it failed to stop the North's campaign to gain control of the Mississipii.
Now, who here is arguing that it didn't have consequences? Of course it did, but not of the 'war-ending' magnitude that the word 'decisive' implies.


I am not a military person, so correct me if I am wrong. But don't terms like decisive or indecisive define the battle regardless of who wins?
No, definitely NOT. Battles may be fought to a definite conclusive result, BUT without changing the outcome of the war one little bit. I give you the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The treaty had already been signed before the British were absolutely CRUSHED, and that battle didn't change a single word of the treaty's terms.

And all those phyrric victories that, while one side levelled the other, the winners wished they'd never fought at all, much less won. 'Decisive' means that matters were decided conclusively by that event. Like I keep saying, FRANKLIN definitely did decide the matter in the West, and therefore the war. After it was fought, there was simply nothing else that could've happened that would guarantee Confederate independence. No other field battle meets that criteria, although if we include the Siege of Petersburg, in which Lee was compelled to participate, and which he could not conceivably win...it was OVER, baby.

JAD_333
05 Nov 07,, 05:56
[QUOTE]Sounds like that's the PERFECT circumstances when to decide to offer battle. What is the logic of going into a battle with NOTHING to gain, EVERYTHING to lose? (Like Franklin, if anybody would care to give my point some additional consideration.)

That's the same question I asked.



Now, who here is arguing that it didn't have consequences? Of course it did, but not of the 'war-ending' magnitude that the word 'decisive' implies.

Ah. There's the problem. We're using the word decisive differently. To you its the one battle that tips the balance in the whole war, while to me its the battle that tips the balance in a achieving a major strategic objective. I said that in a previous post.



And all those phyrric victories that, while one side levelled the other, the winners wished they'd never fought at all, much less won. 'Decisive' means that matters were decided conclusively by that event. Like I keep saying, FRANKLIN definitely did decide the matter in the West, and therefore the war. After it was fought, there was simply nothing else that could've happened that would guarantee Confederate independence. No other field battle meets that criteria, although if we include the Siege of Petersburg, in which Lee was compelled to participate, and which he could not conceivably win...it was OVER, baby.

I agree that Franklin was decisive; or perhaps demonstrative; it pretty much showed that Confederate forces were all washed up and had no hope of winning the war. But Franklin was fought in the fall of 1864 a full 2 1/2 years after Shiloh and more than a year after Vicksburg.

Those earlier Union victories contributed to Hood's defeat at Franklin. By the time Hood launched his foray into Tennessee hoping to score a surpirse victory Union forces, his army was sadly ill equipped and suffering shortages of every kind. Those shortages came about because the Union had succeeded in carrying out its strategy to take control of the Mississippi, and in so doing had split the Confederacy in two, thereby cutting its supply routes from the western half.

Shiloh had been an effort by the Confederacy to twart the Union's plans; it failed. It was a decisive battle for both sides. It decided for the Union that it could continue with its plans; and it decided for the Confederacy that it could not stop the Union's plans. After Vicksburg, the Confederacy was forced to fall back on a much smaller manufacturing base mainly centered in Selma and Atlanta. By the time of Frankin, Atlanta has fallen, and with it the last major manufacturing center the South had. It all goes back to Shiloh.

This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last, that we've wrangled over the meaning of a word. The way I see it is that the word decisive derives from the verb to decide. Shiloh was fought to decide something and something was decided. Maybe other words would have been better in dealing with the basic question, such as pivotal, in which case Gettysburg was probably the pivotal battle of the war, because after it the South was forced to go on the defensive.:)

JAD_333
05 Nov 07,, 06:18
The reason I deny its decisiveness is because it didn't stop, or start, anything.

The reason I affirm its decisiveness is because it decided something.


The south failed to stop the union advance -meaning the advance had already started. If it hadn't had been fought, it wouldn't have changed anything.

That doesn't add up. Of course the advance had already started; that's why the South tried to stop it; they initiated a battle against the Union forces and lost. You can't be serious if you think that the battle decided nothing. Didn't the South try to win?


It's like Antietam or Franklin -it didn't effect anything on the greater tactical scale

You don't think denying the South its supply lines from Texas and Mexico, and taking away New Orleans affected anything?

ExNavyAmerican
05 Nov 07,, 10:49
The reason I affirm its decisiveness is because it decided something.

What exactly?


That doesn't add up. Of course the advance had already started; that's why the South tried to stop it; they initiated a battle against the Union forces and lost. You can't be serious if you think that the battle decided nothing. Didn't the South try to win?

It didn't decide anything because nothing had changed after the battle. The North was still advancing, the south was still retreating. If it had been won by the south it would have been decisive because it would have killed any hope of capturing Vicksburg for another year. But since it wasn't, all things, tactically, were the same after the battle as they were before.


You don't think denying the South its supply lines from Texas and Mexico, and taking away New Orleans affected anything?

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Shiloh had no influence over any of this. New Orelans was taken independently.

ExNavyAmerican
05 Nov 07,, 10:55
JAD 333;


The loss had definite consequences; it failed to stop the North's campaign to gain control of the Mississipii.

I see your rationalle now.

But if the battle hadn't have been fought, the results would have been the same.

Bluesman
05 Nov 07,, 17:09
That's the same question I asked.
No, it isn't. YOU said:
What is the logic in diverting a whole army to attack a specific foe in a specific place and in regarding the outcome as decisive only if you win and of no consequence if you lose?
And I said, when is there a BETTER time to risk battle? if you have a potential to score an enormously positive outcome with a win, but if you lose there will be no great calamity...go for it. It's like betting a lead slug to win a hundred dollar bill. And that's what Johnston saw, too: 'If the we destroy - not wound, not merely temporarily check, but utterly annihilate - a major enemy army, we will secure the majority of our country indefinitely. If we fail to do this, we'll be back in Corinth in about two weeks.' And so it proved, except he didn't personally survive the trip.


Ah. There's the problem. We're using the word decisive differently. To you its the one battle that tips the balance in the whole war, while to me its the battle that tips the balance in a achieving a major strategic objective. I said that in a previous post.
Well, it can hardly be decisive if it achieves any ole major strategic objective. THE major strategic objective, the one that brings matters to a conclusion, and then we're talkin'. I keep writing it but nobody's paying attention: 'DECISIVE' means it DECIDED the matter. Not 'contributed', not 'advanced the cause'; DECIDED. Shiloh didn't decide much of anything at all, much less being 'as decisive as they get'. Is a chess game over when you lose your queen? No, although it makes winning very much harder. The DECISIVE move is the one - THE ONE, ALONE - beyond which there is no possible chance to win.


I agree that Franklin was decisive; or perhaps demonstrative; it pretty much showed that Confederate forces were all washed up and had no hope of winning the war. But Franklin was fought in the fall of 1864 a full 2 1/2 years after Shiloh and more than a year after Vicksburg.

Those earlier Union victories contributed to Hood's defeat at Franklin. By the time Hood launched his foray into Tennessee hoping to score a surpirse victory Union forces, his army was sadly ill equipped and suffering shortages of every kind. Those shortages came about because the Union had succeeded in carrying out its strategy to take control of the Mississippi, and in so doing had split the Confederacy in two, thereby cutting its supply routes from the western half.
I disagree. None of that necessarily led to Franklin. There were an infinite number of possible branches in the timeline of historical happenings, and the ONLY one of these that made Franklin inevitable was Hood's own decision to fight a completely optional battle. Shiloh did NOT lead inevitably to Franklin, nor did anything else. Only Hood's completely unilateral decision, reached against the expert and wise advice of his clear-headed subordinates, led to the decisive event of the war.


Shiloh had been an effort by the Confederacy to twart the Union's plans; it failed. It was a decisive battle for both sides. It decided for the Union that it could continue with its plans; and it decided for the Confederacy that it could not stop the Union's plans. After Vicksburg, the Confederacy was forced to fall back on a much smaller manufacturing base mainly centered in Selma and Atlanta. By the time of Frankin, Atlanta has fallen, and with it the last major manufacturing center the South had. It all goes back to Shiloh.
No, unless you subscribe to the belief that everything was pre-ordained, and then you'd have to say that the firing on Fort Sumter was the decisive event.

There were MANY subsequent events that may have turned out completely differently. It was not a victory at Shiloh that 'caused' Vicksburg's fall, and I posit to YOU that it had the equally even odds that it would've seen Vicksburg safe, EVEN WITH THE SAME BATTLEFIELD OUTCOME.

There was a very serious inquiry held into the fact that General Grant had been surprised, was very nearly destroyed, and wasn't even present with his army when the attack opened, arriving from many miles away, possibly under the influence of alcohol. It was reccommended that he be relieved, and I seriously doubt that in the MORE than likely event that he had been, Vicksburg, taken only becuase of Grant's bulldog determination and iron will, may not have fallen AT ALL.


This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last, that we've wrangled over the meaning of a word. The way I see it is that the word decisive derives from the verb to decide. Shiloh was fought to decide something and something was decided. Maybe other words would have been better in dealing with the basic question, such as pivotal, in which case Gettysburg was probably the pivotal battle of the war, because after it the South was forced to go on the defensive.:)
Once more, because nobody in this thread is reading for comprehension, it seems: Shiloh's outcome did not make Union victory inevitable. It did not make Confederate defeat inevitable. It did NOT decide ANYthing of any great importance. If other things had come from that battle, it MAY have, such as the postulated relief of General Grant, for instance. (And who knows, the death of what many considered to be the South's greatest soldier, Johnston, MAY have been decisive, because as anybody can perceive, neither Beauregard nor the hapless Bragg was his equal.)

BUT...what we DO know is that the actual, historical results that came from the Battle of Shiloh makes the claim that after that day in April '62, the South's defeat was inevitable is simply false.

NOT DECISIVE.

Albany Rifles
05 Nov 07,, 17:25
That was the SEIGE of Vicksburg. Not, properly speaking a battle.

Bluesman

I assure you, that while, yes, there was seige at Vicksburg, there were, in fact several battles in the overall campaign. The events at teh city cannot be taken in isolation. Grant's success at Port Gibson/Grand Gulf, Raymond, Jackson, Champion's Hill and Big Black River allowed the Union to isolate Vicksburg. Without those victories Grant would not have been able to cut off Vicksburg.

Bluesman
05 Nov 07,, 17:44
Bluesman

I assure you, that while, yes, there was seige at Vicksburg, there were, in fact several battles in the overall campaign. The events at teh city cannot be taken in isolation. Grant's success at Port Gibson/Grand Gulf, Raymond, Jackson, Champion's Hill and Big Black River allowed the Union to isolate Vicksburg. Without those victories Grant would not have been able to cut off Vicksburg.

Oh, of course. I've been to Vicksburg twice, and there are PLENTY of sites that are proper battlefields not just on the approach to Vicksburg, but in the vicinity of it, too, in addition to the old seige works.

But none of 'em got the job done. The city fell after the seige took hold, not by storm. So, my point was that the SEIGE of Vicksburg was immensely important, the battles not so much. (Your point that, without those battles, there would've been either no seige or it would've taken on a different aspect is well-taken. But I think you get MY point, right?)

Albany Rifles
05 Nov 07,, 18:59
I got your point; however, I gather from your comments that you believed that a seige was a forgone conclusion. I don't think it was. Grant had been trying for 6 months to get at Vicksburg but couldn't. It was only through his maneuver campaign that allowed him to isolate it from the land...but, of course, you know that.

When were you last there? I was just there a month ago. If it has been recent I would like your opinion how how they have started restoring the battlefield to how it looked at the time; i.e., clearing the trees out, etc. I had not been there in about 6 years so it was really good to see it.

The Black Ghost
05 Nov 07,, 23:47
I would say Antietam, because it was the first time the Confederates truly lost the initiative. It also stopped European involvement in the war, which was VERY close to recognizing the independence of the South.

Gettysburg was the real turning point though, because the outcome decided the war. Had the Confederates used a little sense, and somehow won the battle, the South hypothetically could have won the war.

Bluesman
06 Nov 07,, 00:39
I got your point; however, I gather from your comments that you believed that a seige was a forgone conclusion. I don't think it was. Grant had been trying for 6 months to get at Vicksburg but couldn't. It was only through his maneuver campaign that allowed him to isolate it from the land...but, of course, you know that.

When were you last there? I was just there a month ago. If it has been recent I would like your opinion how how they have started restoring the battlefield to how it looked at the time; i.e., clearing the trees out, etc. I had not been there in about 6 years so it was really good to see it.

Comin' up on 30 years ago now.:redface:

When I was a kid growing up in Tennessee, my dad and I would spend about a month reading and studying different battles, then we'd leave early Saturday morning for the weekend and go to the battlefield, get a room close-by, and spend the remainder of Saturday with a guidebook or our favorite history of the battle. We'd stomp all around the battlefield (or whatever remained of it), then at sundown go back to the room, read the books some more, then take the park rangers' walking tour on Sunday.

It was AWESOME, and my dad is the one that instilled in me the love of history, particularly the Civil War.

It's been MANY years now since I've walked Vicksburg and Shiloh and Murfreesboro and Brice's Crossroads and on and on and on...

On our first visit to Shiloh, we found the unit marker for the 154th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment...in whose ranks my ancestor, George Washington Bluesman:P fought his one and only engagement. Read about him here. (http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/small-arms-personal-weapons/4200-springfield-rifle-civil-war-era.html#post61780) I literally changed in that moment, on that spot, and my family's past became real to me. I have never seen my father so moved before, or at any other time until his death. I can still remember the whole thing.

There's a riderless bronze horse where Johnston was hit by the fateful stray bullet, and we were going all around Prentiss' position at the Hornet's Nest and Bloody Pond just about sundown...at about the same time of day the general was mortally wounded. Again, an unforgettable moment, and when we went back to the hotel, we were both a bit skeevy. It was an intense experience. It was only our second time to visit a battlefield, and I think it was our best trip EVER.

ANYhoo, I've been to Shiloh about six times or so, Murfreesboro/Stones River four times, Chatanooga and Chickamauga four times each, Vicksburg twice, and a whole bunch of other places a time or two each: Brice's Crossroads, Cumberland Gap, Peachtree Creek, Kennesaw Mountain, etc.

Oh, and lastly: no, I don't think the ONSET of the seige was a foregone conclusion AT ALL, in fact, I've been arguing that proposition all along: the events could've gone any which way after Shiloh, not necessarily leading to the fall of Vicksburg after a seige.

But once Pemberton made the worst decision on either side during the campaign, and fell back into Vicksburg and shut the door...Vicksburg was almost certainly doomed. Pemberton had just locked up the only relief force that could've saved the city. Even though a relief effort was attempted later, it was always a no-go: the city would fall, because Grant willed it so, and had the instrument to compel it, even if it were done by slow seige instead of sudden storm. THAT is the part I think was inevitable: once Pemberton could no longer manuever against Grant, game over.

Bluesman
06 Nov 07,, 00:42
Oh, and continuing my chess analogy: Vicksburg's capture and the attendant opening of Big Muddy to Union navigation and the closing of same to the Confederates was the equivalent of capturing the Confederate queen. It doesn't end the war, nor even make the outcome certain. But it sure made it a LOT more probable, and the Confederacy was a prohibitive long-odds gamble from then on.

Bluesman
06 Nov 07,, 00:54
I would say Antietam, because it was the first time the Confederates truly lost the initiative. It also stopped European involvement in the war, which was VERY close to recognizing the independence of the South.

Gettysburg was the real turning point though, because the outcome decided the war. Had the Confederates used a little sense, and somehow won the battle, the South hypothetically could have won the war.

Re: Gettysburg, the last half of your sentence is true, but not necessarily the first half. Suppose Atlanta does NOT fall, and the '64 election goes against Lincoln, as even HE thought it would. The Confederacy's last best hope - elecoral victory from the Peace Party (the Democrats, as always:rolleyes: ) saves the day and allows the dissolution of the Union. the South wins their independence. The outcome of the battle wasn't the decisive result the South sought, NOR was it the destruction of Lee's army too far away from safe territory to reach succor in time that Lincoln was so livid about that he dam' near sacked the only general the Army of the Potomac had ever had that had led it to a uncontested victory. NOT DECISIVE.

Antietam for similar reasons. The South MAY have still won the war, even after barely hanging on at Sharpsburg. The battle decided two things: the first invasion of the North was over (but there would be others, so there was no real and permanent effect of THAT), and the Emancipation Proclamation COULD be issued, just barely, and with the stink of being unable to enforce it anywhere but where Federal forces actually existed all over it. The Euros decided that, yeah, it was good enough, BARELY, to make 'em take a seat on the sidelines to see what happened next, but even so...the South dam' near did it, anyway. NOT DECISIVE.

JAD_333
06 Nov 07,, 07:30
No, it isn't.

And I said, when is there a BETTER time to risk battle? if you have a potential to score an enormously positive outcome with a win, but if you lose there will be no great calamity...go for it. It's like betting a lead slug to win a hundred dollar bill. And that's what Johnston saw, too: 'If the we destroy - not wound, not merely temporarily check, but utterly annihilate - a major enemy army, we will secure the majority of our country indefinitely. If we fail to do this, we'll be back in Corinth in about two weeks.' And so it proved, except he didn't personally survive the trip.

Yes, they are. The questions are worded differently, but they're in the same vein.

I said:


What is the logic in...regarding the outcome as decisive only if you win and of no consequence if you lose?

Your reply in your previous post was: "Sounds like that's the PERFECT circumstances when to decide to offer battle." Then you immediately followed up with a question:


What is the logic of going into a battle with NOTHING to gain, EVERYTHING to lose?

Same question to me.



And I said, when is there a BETTER time to risk battle?

Actually, you didn't put that as a question to start with. hmm...I'll leave that as a molehill...


If you have a potential to score an enormously positive outcome with a win, but if you lose there will be no great calamity...go for it.

That may be so, but being so does not make it the reason Johnston attacked Grant at Shiloh. Lee saw a threat and recommended action to Jefferson Davis, who approved sending Johnston to confront Grant in hopes of stopping the Union advance southward along the Mississippi.


It's like betting a lead slug to win a hundred dollar bill. And that's what Johnston saw, too: 'If the we destroy - not wound, not merely temporarily check, but utterly annihilate - a major enemy army, we will secure the majority of our country indefinitely. If we fail to do this, we'll be back in Corinth in about two weeks.' And so it proved, except he didn't personally survive the trip.

Johnston might have reasoned that win or lose, he wins or at least doesn't lose, but he was wrong. Anyway, what he said carries no weight in the argument. Only the outcome of the battle does.



Well, it can hardly be decisive if it achieves any ole major strategic objective. THE major strategic objective, the one that brings matters to a conclusion, and then we're talkin'.

Why not? The history of warfare is full of statements, such as 'X battle was one of the "decisive" battles of Y war'. But it doesn't matter to me that you want it to be just ONE battle in the war. If that is how you see it, I'm ok with it, but I'm sticking to my parochial view: a war can have a number of decisive battles, and generally they are the ones that decide the outcome of some major strategic objective.


I keep writing it but nobody's paying attention: 'DECISIVE' means it DECIDED the matter. Not 'contributed', not 'advanced the cause'; DECIDED.

I pay attention to everything you write.:) I understand exactly what you are saying. I just don't agree with you this time. All battles decide something. Now if you want to modify the word and say "most decisive" etc. etc., then ok.


Shiloh didn't decide much of anything at all, much less being 'as decisive as they get'. Is a chess game over when you lose your queen? No, although it makes winning very much harder. The DECISIVE move is the one - THE ONE, ALONE - beyond which there is no possible chance to win.

I think Shiloh did decide something; it decided the South could not stop the Union's strategy to split the Confederacy. I stated several times how serious it was to the south's war effort to lose control of the Mississippi. Do you agree or disagree? BTW, a faulty pawn move in the early part of the game can be most decisive in losing a chess match.



... None of that necessarily led to Franklin. There were an infinite number of possible branches in the timeline of historical happenings, and the ONLY one of these that made Franklin inevitable was Hood's own decision to fight a completely optional battle.

I didn't say it led to the battle itself. I said that Hood's army was ill equipped when he invaded Tennessee. It wasn't because he forgot to stop at the depot to pick up new equipment; it was because there was no more equipment to be had. And why wasn't there any? Because more than a year before, the Union had closed off the western supply routes critical to the south, and that came about because the Union strategy of splitting the Confederacy in half at the Mississippi River succeeded.



Shiloh did NOT lead inevitably to Franklin, nor did anything else. Only Hood's completely unilateral decision, reached against the expert and wise advice of his clear-headed subordinates, led to the decisive event of the war.

Again, I didn't say it did. According to your definition of "decisive" battle, i.e., the one that "ends" the war, maybe it was, although I think the decisive battle that best fits your "one battle" concept was Gettysburg. It ended all hope of getting foreign assistance and put the South on the defensive from then on.



No, unless you subscribe to the belief that everything was pre-ordained, and then you'd have to say that the firing on Fort Sumter was the decisive event.

Right. And don't forget to give some caveman credit for stepping on a butterfly 20,000 years ago. Nothing is pre-ordained in war. But all events have repercussions, somwtimes minor, sometime major. Shiloh was a key stepping stone in the successful campaign to constrict the South's access to needed war materials. So, if Hood was short of equipment, one can presume there was a direct chain of events going back that led to the shortage. Otherwise, your statement that Hood acted on his own intitiative is right.



There were MANY subsequent events that may have turned out completely differently. It was not a victory at Shiloh that 'caused' Vicksburg's fall, and I posit to YOU that it had the equally even odds that it would've seen Vicksburg safe, EVEN WITH THE SAME BATTLEFIELD OUTCOME.

Yes, but WE are talking about events that WE know turned out as they did. What could have been, has not been. Vickburg's safety became an issue because the South could not stop the Union advance. Their attempt to do so failed at Shiloh.



There was a very serious inquiry held into the fact that General Grant had been surprised, was very nearly destroyed, and wasn't even present with his army when the attack opened, arriving from many miles away, possibly under the influence of alcohol. It was reccommended that he be relieved, and I seriously doubt that in the MORE than likely event that he had been, Vicksburg, taken only becuase of Grant's bulldog determination and iron will, may not have fallen AT ALL.

He was there, but not expecting an attack despite numerous reports of major skirmishing nearby. He was sick with a case of dysentery as were many of the troops. He always drank like a fish and chomped on cigars...but those close to him say it never affected his ability to command. There was an inquiry in his actions, as there always was after a battle. He was criticized for lack of preparedness, but also commended for his battlefield actions, expecially his innovative use of massed artillery and for showing up all over the battlefield to rally his commanders and troops.



Once more, because nobody in this thread is reading for comprehension, it seems: Shiloh's outcome did not make Union victory inevitable. It did not make Confederate defeat inevitable.

I comprehend what you're saying. For one thing, you're incorrectly interpreting what I am saying. Once more for the record: I am saying only that Shiloh was ONE of the decisive battles of the war, and I have given my reasons, which btw you have chosen to ignor altogether.


It did NOT decide ANYthing of any great importance. If other things had come from that battle, it MAY have, such as the postulated relief of General Grant, for instance. (And who knows, the death of what many considered to be the South's greatest soldier, Johnston, MAY have been decisive, because as anybody can perceive, neither Beauregard nor the hapless Bragg was his equal.)

BUT...what we DO know is that the actual, historical results that came from the Battle of Shiloh makes the claim that after that day in April '62, the South's defeat was inevitable is simply false.

Of course, it's false, but it's also false that I made such a claim? Honestly, I don't know whether it led directly to the end of the war. But I know it hurt real bad...


NOT DECISIVE.

NOT NOT DECISIVE.:))

Bluesman
06 Nov 07,, 08:24
You're being obtuse. THIS proposition: 'I'm attacking because if we win, it'll be a HUGE win, and if we lose, it'll be a LITTLE loss.' is not the same as: 'I'm attacking because if we win, it'll be a LITTLE win, but if we lose, it'll be a HUGE loss.'

Look at what you wrote again:

What is the logic in diverting a whole army to attack a specific foe in a specific place and in regarding the outcome as decisive only if you win and of no consequence if you lose?
You want to know the logic of that? I told you three times already. And it's PERFECT logic, as demonstrated by the dichotomy outlined above. How are the two the same in your mind? How do you calculate risk/benefit?

You would be eager to bet your slug for a chance to win a hundred dollar bill; not so much if you're the guy with the Franklin. Heh...FRANKLIN.:))

And while Lee and Davis thought it would be a Very Good Thang if Johnston stopped Grant from tearing the innards out of the entire West, Johnston saw that it could be MUCH bigger: he had Grant with his back to a river, and an impenetrable swamp, and if he was lucky, could catch him by surprise...which he DID. So the Confederate field commander at Shiloh had a MUCH bigger result in mind when he loosed his army than Davis or Lee could contemplate from their far-removed vantage points.

And what we're discussing in this segment of our back-and-forth is the AIM, NOT the result, so YEAH, it DOES matter, because if General Johnston was after the absolute annihilation of Grant, that speaks to my whole point of the set-up for Johnston wasn't going to get any better than it was as he positioned his army for attack, but it was absolutely certain to deteriorate in the near term, even moreso in the long term, so it's got to be NOW.

I'm tired of doing this in this thread (it would be MUCH more fun over barbecue and beer, but this 'over-and-out' comms method is just too tedious to be fun with the point-counterpoint beyond an initial exchange of well-made points), but I want to close by saying that the word 'decisive' is a superlative. Either a decision is reached or it is not. And what the OP asked was which battle was the most decisive of the Civil War, the WHOLE WAR, not a given major startegic objective. No other battle qualifies, not even Gettysburg - because the South dam' near won well after they lost that battle so spectacularly.

Anyway, that was AWESOME, and good on ya for a dam' good argument. (I didn't ignore ANYthing you wrote, either; you're wrong about that, too.;) )

ExNavyAmerican
06 Nov 07,, 10:43
The Black Ghost;


Gettysburg was the real turning point though

Maybe, but as long as the Union persisted in the struggle, Europe would stay out of it. Britain's neutrality was assured by the Emancipation Proclamation, Napoleon III would only recognize the South if Britain did, and Russia was decidedly on our side -they proved that by sending a fleet on tour to San Francisco to demonstrate against Britain.

Even if Lee did win Gettysburg, his army was too shattered to continue a campaign, and most probably would have been forced to withdraw from the North. He would NOT have been able to take Washington (as the movie keeps suggesting) because it was guarded by around 50 forts.

JAD_333
06 Nov 07,, 16:10
I'm tired of doing this in this thread (it would be MUCH more fun over barbecue and beer, but this 'over-and-out' comms method is just too tedious to be fun with the point-counterpoint beyond an initial exchange of well-made points), but I want to close by saying that the word 'decisive' is a superlative. Either a decision is reached or it is not. And what the OP asked was which battle was the most decisive of the Civil War, the WHOLE WAR, not a given major startegic objective. No other battle qualifies, not even Gettysburg - because the South dam' near won well after they lost that battle so spectacularly.

Anyway, that was AWESOME, and good on ya for a dam' good argument. (I didn't ignore ANYthing you wrote, either; you're wrong about that, too.;) )

I was thinking the same yesterday--this would be more fun over beer and pretzels, that is to say, after the 4th beer for me and make it Bass Ale.:) My compliments for your passionate, if not PERFECT arguments--someday the world will come to realize that an opinion is not an argument. Nevertheless, within the confines of the definitions you erected, you were magnificent, confident, and assertive. I shall claim no contest, since the perimeters of mine were far wider. Yeah, let's move on... :)

JAD_333
06 Nov 07,, 16:56
Suppose Atlanta does NOT fall, and the '64 election goes against Lincoln, as even HE thought it would.

Lincoln was seeing ghosts; in reality there was little chance he would lose; Atlanta no doubt helped dispell his fears and increase his margin of victory.

What he may have missed at the time was how wide-spread was the belief among the ranks from generals down that the Union ought to continue the fight and seek victory. When McClelland was casting about for support he discovered this, and it may--I don't know this to be a fact--have dawned on him that he miscalculated in running for the office.

Some historians IMO get carried away with Lincoln's forebodings on the eve of the 1864 election. We can SPECULATE, but not conclude that if Atlanta had not fallen, Lincoln would have lost the election. I think we can agree on that.:)

JAD_333
06 Nov 07,, 17:05
Even if Lee did win Gettysburg, his army was too shattered to continue a campaign, and most probably would have been forced to withdraw from the North. He would NOT have been able to take Washington (as the movie keeps suggesting) because it was guarded by around 50 forts.

I think you make a good point. One has to consider that Lee's army after the battle, win or lose, was a good bit less potent than before, and then there is still the Union army to consider, as it would not have been totally wiped out.

Albany Rifles
07 Nov 07,, 21:17
Lincoln was seeing ghosts; in reality there was little chance he would lose; Atlanta no doubt helped dispell his fears and increase his margin of victory.

Some historians IMO get carried away with Lincoln's forebodings on the eve of the 1864 election. We can SPECULATE, but not conclude that if Atlanta had not fallen, Lincoln would have lost the election. I think we can agree on that.:)

Do you realize that Lincoln won the election because of the soldiers' vote?
It was not that much of a foregone conlusion.

Albany Rifles
07 Nov 07,, 21:19
Comin' up on 30 years ago now.:redface:

When I was a kid growing up in Tennessee, my dad and I would spend about a month reading and studying different battles, then we'd leave early Saturday morning for the weekend and go to the battlefield, get a room close-by, and spend the remainder of Saturday with a guidebook or our favorite history of the battle. We'd stomp all around the battlefield (or whatever remained of it), then at sundown go back to the room, read the books some more, then take the park rangers' walking tour on Sunday.

It was AWESOME, and my dad is the one that instilled in me the love of history, particularly the Civil War.

It's been MANY years now since I've walked Vicksburg and Shiloh and Murfreesboro and Brice's Crossroads and on and on and on...

On our first visit to Shiloh, we found the unit marker for the 154th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment...in whose ranks my ancestor, George Washington Bluesman:P fought his one and only engagement. Read about him here. (http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/small-arms-personal-weapons/4200-springfield-rifle-civil-war-era.html#post61780) I literally changed in that moment, on that spot, and my family's past became real to me. I have never seen my father so moved before, or at any other time until his death. I can still remember the whole thing.

There's a riderless bronze horse where Johnston was hit by the fateful stray bullet, and we were going all around Prentiss' position at the Hornet's Nest and Bloody Pond just about sundown...at about the same time of day the general was mortally wounded. Again, an unforgettable moment, and when we went back to the hotel, we were both a bit skeevy. It was an intense experience. It was only our second time to visit a battlefield, and I think it was our best trip EVER.

ANYhoo, I've been to Shiloh about six times or so, Murfreesboro/Stones River four times, Chatanooga and Chickamauga four times each, Vicksburg twice, and a whole bunch of other places a time or two each: Brice's Crossroads, Cumberland Gap, Peachtree Creek, Kennesaw Mountain, etc.

Oh, and lastly: no, I don't think the ONSET of the seige was a foregone conclusion AT ALL, in fact, I've been arguing that proposition all along: the events could've gone any which way after Shiloh, not necessarily leading to the fall of Vicksburg after a seige.

But once Pemberton made the worst decision on either side during the campaign, and fell back into Vicksburg and shut the door...Vicksburg was almost certainly doomed. Pemberton had just locked up the only relief force that could've saved the city. Even though a relief effort was attempted later, it was always a no-go: the city would fall, because Grant willed it so, and had the instrument to compel it, even if it were done by slow seige instead of sudden storm. THAT is the part I think was inevitable: once Pemberton could no longer manuever against Grant, game over.

Thanks for sharing all of that.

I had similiar experiences with Antietam and Fredericksburg with my dad. Got to the Western theater starting about 1986 but really kicked it into gear over the last decade.

JAD_333
07 Nov 07,, 22:25
Do you realize that Lincoln won the election because of the soldiers' vote?
It was not that much of a foregone conlusion.

Yes, I do. There, also, sentiment was for winning, not settling, wouldn't you say? Since only men voted at the time and so many men were in uniform, a good portion of the electorate had a more accurate fix on how the war was going than the stay-at-home folks. Grant wanted Lincoln to win and made sure the troops were able to vote.

JAD_333
07 Nov 07,, 22:34
Thanks for sharing all of that.

I had similiar experiences with Antietam and Fredericksburg with my dad. Got to the Western theater starting about 1986 but really kicked it into gear over the last decade.

I live right in the thick of battlefields. Winchester, Kernstown 7 miles away. Cedar Creek 5 miles, not to mention a dozen or so lesser sites like Opeqon creek. Many are built over, sadly. Manassas which is 45 miles east, is pretty well set up. Gettyburg and Harpers Ferry are not far away either. Lots of folks comb the farms and woods around here with metal detectors and you can buy their findings at local flea markets. Bought a Union miniball in pretty good shape for a buck last spring. When I drive down Valley Pike from old Newtown to Middletown where the Cedar Creek battle spilled over, I try to see what the soldiers saw. Signal Knob hangs over us all the time (when it's not hazed over.) Hard to believe so many thousands of soldiers died right here.

Bluesman
08 Nov 07,, 17:18
I live right in the thick of battlefields. Winchester, Kernstown 7 miles away. Cedar Creek 5 miles, not to mention a dozen or so lesser sites like Opeqon creek. Many are built over, sadly. Manassas which is 45 miles east, is pretty well set up. Gettyburg and Harpers Ferry are not far away either. Lots of folks comb the farms and woods around here with metal detectors and you can buy their findings at local flea markets. Bought a Union miniball in pretty good shape for a buck last spring. When I drive down Valley Pike from old Newtown to Middletown where the Cedar Creek battle spilled over, I try to see what the soldiers saw. Signal Knob hangs over us all the time (when it's not hazed over.) Hard to believe so many thousands of soldiers died right here.

I love nothing as much as going to the old battlefields, and I think it's awful when they're allowed to be lost forever. I understand it, but I hate it just the same.

The worst one was the loss of Brandy Station a few years ago. The Forces of Good almost succeeded in saving it, but the site of the largest cavalry action in the Americas was bulldozed for a bunch of nondescript condos. I swear, if they were giving them away, I wouldn't want one, and wouldn't live in one if it were a choice between that and living in my car.:mad:

My son and I re-enacted the Batle of Cedar Creek on the actual battlefield, which is a rarity; they're usually held nearby. But this one has a special quality, and the Park Service allows it, and it was GREAT.

If you want to be moved by history, head up the road to New Market, and read of the heart-breaking decision that poor General Breckinridge was compelled to make when the only unit he had available to save his army was a battalion of cadets - some as young as 14 - and he gave the order to put 'em in the line with tears in his eyes. They did their duty, and more, and to this day, Virginia Military Institute marks the anniversary of the valor of the youngest of the men that laid down their lives there. That battlefield is there and waiting to be seen and understood by a visitor that wants to know about that extremely emotional story.

My Civil War artifacts story: my friend up in Minnesota is a re-enactor with the 1st Minnesota, and they muster once a month. On one meeting, one guy brought in a cigar box full of authentic uniform buttons, both Confederate and Federal. He said he bought 'em at a flea market from a guy that obviously had no idea what he had: the whole box for $5.:eek:

Mr. Sharp Buyer asked Mr. Ignorant Seller where he got 'em. And the answer broke his heart: 'Found a bunch of old clothes in some trunks in the attic of a house being torn down. Cut the buttons off and burned the old clothes.'

Yep, that's right: this ignorant yutz burned authentic uniforms that had been carefully stored for 130+ years. Both sides.:(

JAD_333
08 Nov 07,, 21:27
I love nothing as much as going to the old battlefields, and I think it's awful when they're allowed to be lost forever. I understand it, but I hate it just the same.

The worst one was the loss of Brandy Station a few years ago. The Forces of Good almost succeeded in saving it, but the site of the largest cavalry action in the Americas was bulldozed for a bunch of nondescript condos. I swear, if they were giving them away, I wouldn't want one, and wouldn't live in one if it were a choice between that and living in my car.:mad:

(

I know land developers; it's full speed ahead or go bust. We've had 2 sites saved in the last 10-15 yrs--a big hunk of Manassas that a big developer started on but was bought out on an emergency basis by Congress and a piece of Kernstown that private folks rescued from a local developer, a jerk who really did it to force a buyout. There are still quite a few smaller, signifcant pieces of ground around here that, so far, haven't been threatened because they are either in the woods or on farms. I don't think they can save it all. Hell the whole area was a battlefield. How many Winchesters were there - 11-17?

I've been to New Market many times and have seen the historical marker where the cadets made their stand.

There was a reenactment at Cedar Creek maybe a month ago and they have reenactors meet at Kernstown every year to show off their stuff, a lot of it original. The musket drill is awesome.

Too bad about the clothes going up in smoke. Around here the guy would have been run out of town. :)

svs
20 Dec 07,, 04:45
Can I sneak in here with a minority opinion? I believe the war was basically won/lost in the west and the battle for the Mississippi was the key to Northern victory.

With that in mind I would say Farragut's bloodless capture of New Orleans in spring 1862 was probably the key to Southern defeat. Along with the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, the ends of the Mississippi were in Northern hands and the economy and the ability of the south to arm its troops were severely impaired. Vicksburg etc. just filled in the gaps.

Johnny W
12 May 08,, 01:19
I picked Gettysburg, primarily because it destroyed a good part of Lee's Army. In fact, if you look at the two big eastern battles in 1863 (chancellorsville and Gettysburg), Lee suffered around 35-40 thousand casualties. Thats a tremendous loss for an Army that was outnumbered to begin with.

But I don't think there was any single battle that was the key. I think the key was Lincoln making Grant commander of all Union military forces. One he was commander of the Army of the Potomac and could finally make it fight and wear Lee down. Two, the actions of the Armies of the North became relatively coordinated whereas the Confederacy was still somewhat disjointed and under the command of the militarily inept Jefferson Davis. Grant was willing to fight and also put Commanders in place in the other areas that would do the same. From that point on, it was just a matter of time.

Speaking of key battles, one of the most overlooked was the Battle at Fort Fisher near Wilmington NC. Fort Fisher kept the port of Wilmington open, and it was Lee's single remaining source of supply from outside. Its fall was basically the final nail in the Coffin.

General Harmon
06 Nov 08,, 02:31
Now someone may have mentioned this but a decisive battle if not the most decisive was Chancellorsville, when Stonewall Jackson was killed. Everyone thinks that most casualties automatically means most decisive. I have read several Civil War books in which the authors say the war would have been much closer had Stonewall not been shot by his own troops. Maybe not the most decisive battle, but that occurence certainly made it a deciding factor.

JAD_333
06 Nov 08,, 05:23
Now someone may have mentioned this but a decisive battle if not the most decisive was Chancellorsville, when Stonewall Jackson was killed. Everyone thinks that most casualties automatically means most decisive. I have read several Civil War books in which the authors say the war would have been much closer had Stonewall not been shot by his own troops. Maybe not the most decisive battle, but that occurence certainly made it a deciding factor.

Jackson's death was certainly a great loss. However, it was probably not decisive. That is to say it wasn't the screw on which the war turned. At the time he was killed, the war was already going badly. He had to abandon
the Valley campaign which meant the south's breadbasket would soon be lost. No doubt had he lived, he would have given the Federals a run for their money, but it likely would not have changed the outcome.

JAD_333
06 Nov 08,, 05:43
Can I sneak in here with a minority opinion? I believe the war was basically won/lost in the west and the battle for the Mississippi was the key to Northern victory.

With that in mind I would say Farragut's bloodless capture of New Orleans in spring 1862 was probably the key to Southern defeat. Along with the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, the ends of the Mississippi were in Northern hands and the economy and the ability of the south to arm its troops were severely impaired. Vicksburg etc. just filled in the gaps.

I tend to agree that the decisive battles were fought in the west. IMO Shiloh was the most decisive of the western campaign if not the war. The fall of Forts Henry and Donaldson were important because they were the catalysts that led Johnston to launch an attack on Grant's forces at Pittsburg Landing. but they were not decisive in themselves. Johnston was mortally wounded at Shiloh and the Conf forces withdrew after heavy losses. After that the way was clear to squeeze off the south's trade routes with Mexico through Texas. You are right in that the decisive nature of the western battles was economic.

pate
06 Nov 08,, 05:49
It's not on the list, I'd have to say Appotomax was THE decisive one...

BadKharma
09 Nov 08,, 10:21
I tend to agree that the decisive battles were fought in the west. IMO Shiloh was the most decisive of the western campaign if not the war. The fall of Forts Henry and Donaldson were important because they were the catalysts that led Johnston to launch an attack on Grant's forces at Pittsburg Landing. but they were not decisive in themselves. Johnston was mortally wounded at Shiloh and the Conf forces withdrew after heavy losses. After that the way was clear to squeeze off the south's trade routes with Mexico through Texas. You are right in that the decisive nature of the western battles was economic.
I would have to agree once the Union split the Confederacy and gained control of the Mississippi it was only a matter of time.

It's not on the list, I'd have to say Appotomax was THE decisive one...
Not decisive it was the final battle. However the outcome was allready in the cards long before then.

Albany Rifles
10 Nov 08,, 14:30
It's not on the list, I'd have to say Appotomax was THE decisive one...

That's like saying Nagasaki was the decisive battle of the Pacific in World War 2.

After Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, the offensive power of the Army of Northern Virginia was gone. After the Wilderness and Spotsylvania the defensive power of the ANV was gone. Once Petersburg fell the logistics power of the ANV was gone. Appomattox was just the closing chapter.

pate
11 Nov 08,, 07:14
I suppose I should have put a 'smiley' there at the end... Feel free to slap me with a frozen trout or something.

Shamus
11 Nov 08,, 13:55
I suppose I should have put a 'smiley' there at the end... Feel free to slap me with a frozen trout or something.:biggrin:

Albany Rifles
11 Nov 08,, 15:37
Yes, the little smiley thingies tend to keep some of us from troll shooting.

Hadn't seen you down in these threads before...my apologies for bad asumption on my part.:)):confused::P:):rolleyes:;):cool::eek::(:co ol::redface::mad::confused::biggrin:;):redface::ro lleyes::tongue::mad::frown::eek:

Triple C
11 Nov 08,, 19:49
Well, I'd just throw this in. I remember a thread a couple of months back about a book on the history of the American rifleman. The author purports that his research proves the US Civil War infantry had consistently better marksmanship and inflicted heavier casualties then European counterparts.

Which is interesting because another one of my "warfare through the ages" type reference book suggested that US civil war soldiery must have been inferior to European troops because the latter could keep unit cohesion under fire and broke less often.

I wonder if the precieved bad American dicispline was the result of sustaining heavier, more accurate fire?

pate
12 Nov 08,, 06:14
Triple C:

I read "The American Way of War" a few years back, if I recall correctly it had something to say about the US gradually drifiting away from a "Kill the enemy army" to "destroy the enemy's capacity wage war" (ie factories, food, supply line rather than combatants as targets). I think it also said something about the US military starting in the Revolutionary War to toy with smaller units and the idea of staying away from large set-piece battles. As I recall, the Civil War was largely a set piece war, as the Union tended to focus more on reducing the Confederacy's ability to supply their army. And the Confederacy had to rely on 'targets of opportunity' as their army suffered more and more casualties... If I recall correctly, the author saw this as the foundation of our modern principle of taking out the enemy's industrial capacity. Anyhow, I think the author thought that the Civil War was the cradle from which the "American Way of War" was raised and had her eyeteeth cut...


Well, I'd just throw this in. I remember a thread a couple of months back about a book on the history of the American rifleman. The author purports that his research proves the US Civil War infantry had consistently better marksmanship and inflicted heavier casualties then European counterparts.

Which is interesting because another one of my "warfare through the ages" type reference book suggested that US civil war soldiery must have been inferior to European troops because the latter could keep unit cohesion under fire and broke less often.

I wonder if the precieved bad American dicispline was the result of sustaining heavier, more accurate fire?

I prefaced your comment, with my own. Now I may make my weak point. I think the last major conflict the Europeans had seen were the Napoleonic Wars, which were still largely set piece, mass formation, line up and fire untill the enemy army routs or surrenders. The next major conflict the Europeans saw was WWI, and we know that descended into a trench warfare, duke it out style war. The enemies singing Christmas carols to each other during the Christmas Truce (Ypress, 1914) sort of hearkens back to a more 'chivalric' time perhaps. I think even then, mass attacks into the meat grinder of machine fire (after all only an extension of the old Napoleonic style of fighting) and a general's ability to get his soldiers to do it was some mark of the general's effectiveness. I will only point out that about a year after the US entry into this war it was over. I know it is 50 years later than a mid-nineteenth century all out war between the Continent and the USA; but perhaps these European perceptions of 'poor American formation discipline' translated into an inferior war-[I]ending soldier (note I don't say war-fighting), sort of misses the point. That would be an interesting debate indeed, mid-nineteenth century doctrinal (even in their infancy) effectiveness of the American vs Continental forces... :eek:whew:eek:

If I may amend my earlier gaffe; I had actually chosen Antietam as the decisive battle.

To defend my position, I would say that prior to Antietam, Lee's Army was large enough, had the initiative and was in Union territory and so was in a position to 'cripple' the North's ability to wage war. Would Lee have destroyed Northern industrial capability had he won at Antietam, I leave to your wiser heads. Also I recall there was a vocal Northern opposition to the War, Lee's continued success would (I imagine) only have intensified this.

Anyhow, my very weak point is; after Antietam the Confederacy had lost the initiative, would never be able to outproduce the North in men or arms, and had as their only advantage the ability to feed their soldiers. An advantage that steadily dwindled as they lost control of more and more territory... Plus the implementation of the Anaconda Plan; the Battle of New Orleans (also absent the poll, which I think delivered both Vicksburg and Franklin ultimately) and the Atlantic/Gulf naval blockades...

Had Lee done a little better earlier on, he may have been able to secure more naval assets and won out in the end. That's my defense of Antietam as the decisive battle...

Hope that makes things better:)

Please forgive any ignorance I may have displayed in facts, et al. above. I am not even an amateur level historian, I have only read for pure enjoyment a few books dealing with the subject (as well as watched the History Channel a few times over the years.):)

Albany Rifles
12 Nov 08,, 15:14
If you want a good comparison of unit casualties and unit cohesion, I would invite you to study the casualties of the American Civil War and compare them to the Franco-Prussian War. The Franco - Prussian War saw 250,000 combat casualties in a 10 month period...a fairly good bloodletting. Antietam saw 23,000 in a day; Shiloh had 25,000 in 2 days. At Gettysburg, both armies lost 53,000 men in 3 days. During the Overland Campaign of 1864 both sides lost combined at least 110,000 men in a 40 day period of almost continuous combat.

I am not sure if it was the nature of marksmanship or the ferocity of combat. What I believe were the greater influences on units breaking are the following:

1) Early in the war, it was shear inexperience. There was no military tradition in the US…militias were small. The backbone of the militaries of both sides was the volunteer. We had almost no reserve forces and the Regular Army had 16,500 at the outbreak. The company officers were elected by their troops and field grade officers were selected by their state governors. General officers had been former regulars or, more importantly, politicians. The Armies learned as they went. So an initiation to fire resulted in one of 2 events…a unit breaking under fire or standing fast under conditions which really required their withdrawal. A regiment may have been authorized 1026 men but after its first battle most regiments were down to 350 - 450 due to disease and casualties (2:1 disease to combat casualties, BTW). More on this later.

2) Terrain. Most European observers (and most didn’t stick around for long) believed there was nothing they could learn from watching Americans because they fought in places which had no comparable terrain in Europe outside of the Ardennes. Part of the reason casualties were so high at Antietam and Gettysburg is they were fought in the wide open spaces where artillery as well as long range rifle volleys came into play. The vast majority of Civil War battles were fought in the woods. It was if the entire war was fought in the Ardennes.

3) Weaponry. The Civil War was the first war fought with massed armies AND rifles. The compact battle lines of the Napoleonic Era were still used. But instead of smoothbore muskets the opposing sides had rifles with 2 to 3 times the range. And early on it was not unusual to have one side with smooth bore and the other with rifles. This is what happened at Marye’s Heights to the Irish Brigade. The Confederate had P57 Enfield .577 rifles, effective to 500 yards. The Irish Brigade (along with several other II Corps units) was still equipped with the .69 cal smoothbore muskets…and they were attacking across an open field an enemy defending from behind a stone wall. Yet the Union forces attacked a dug in enemy 11 times that day.

4) Lengths of enlistments. Initially, soldiers volunteered for 90 days of service on both sides. Once it became apparent that the war was going to last awhile, the Union called for 3 year service volunteers and the Confederacy did the same, going to universal conscription in March 1862. So what impact did this have on units? Well, the Confederates knew they were in it for good. The Union soldiers were only there until their enlistments ran out. When Grant was heading South in May 1864, not only was he losing the cream of his army through central Virginia, he was starting to lose entire regiments because their enlistments ran out. A soldier who knows he gets to march away in a week or 2 and never have to fight again is less likely to give it his all. The Army of the Potomac didn’t refuse to attack an entrenched enemy …the men just attacked until they started to take fire and then would go to ground. By August of 1864 Grant would only have 5,000 men more than Lee at Petersburg. There are also ample examples of units which refused to break (The Iron Brigade, the Stonewall Brigade, etc).

5) Now look at the European armies of that time frame. I believe you will find they had a greater military tradition, a level of training and expertise and an involvement of the populace which American forces couldn’t match until 1863..and don’t forget that the Homestead Act of 1862 allowed anyone who would move the frontier as pioneer could get free land and be exempted from service. There is no way to compare the 2 populations.


Pate, good analysis on Antietam. I would add one final piece. Confederate failure to decisively win in Maryland allowed Lincoln to announce the Emancipation Proclamation…which guaranteed the Europeans would not side with the CSA.

Shek
12 Nov 08,, 18:32
I suppose I should have put a 'smiley' there at the end... Feel free to slap me with a frozen trout or something.

A frozen trout emoticon would be cool :cool:

Albany Rifles
12 Nov 08,, 18:44
A frozen trout emoticon would be cool :cool:

More like a frozen octopus.

Freeloader
05 Jan 09,, 06:23
Franklin

Gettysburg = lol

Johnny W
15 Jan 09,, 16:37
If you want a good comparison of unit casualties and unit cohesion, I would invite you to study the casualties of the American Civil War and compare them to the Franco-Prussian War. The Franco - Prussian War saw 250,000 combat casualties in a 10 month period...a fairly good bloodletting. Antietam saw 23,000 in a day; Shiloh had 25,000 in 2 days. At Gettysburg, both armies lost 53,000 men in 3 days. During the Overland Campaign of 1864 both sides lost combined at least 110,000 men in a 40 day period of almost continuous combat.

I am not sure if it was the nature of marksmanship or the ferocity of combat. What I believe were the greater influences on units breaking are the following:

1) Early in the war, it was shear inexperience. There was no military tradition in the US…militias were small. The backbone of the militaries of both sides was the volunteer. We had almost no reserve forces and the Regular Army had 16,500 at the outbreak. The company officers were elected by their troops and field grade officers were selected by their state governors. General officers had been former regulars or, more importantly, politicians. The Armies learned as they went. So an initiation to fire resulted in one of 2 events…a unit breaking under fire or standing fast under conditions which really required their withdrawal. A regiment may have been authorized 1026 men but after its first battle most regiments were down to 350 - 450 due to disease and casualties (2:1 disease to combat casualties, BTW). More on this later.

2) Terrain. Most European observers (and most didn’t stick around for long) believed there was nothing they could learn from watching Americans because they fought in places which had no comparable terrain in Europe outside of the Ardennes. Part of the reason casualties were so high at Antietam and Gettysburg is they were fought in the wide open spaces where artillery as well as long range rifle volleys came into play. The vast majority of Civil War battles were fought in the woods. It was if the entire war was fought in the Ardennes.

3) Weaponry. The Civil War was the first war fought with massed armies AND rifles. The compact battle lines of the Napoleonic Era were still used. But instead of smoothbore muskets the opposing sides had rifles with 2 to 3 times the range. And early on it was not unusual to have one side with smooth bore and the other with rifles. This is what happened at Marye’s Heights to the Irish Brigade. The Confederate had P57 Enfield .577 rifles, effective to 500 yards. The Irish Brigade (along with several other II Corps units) was still equipped with the .69 cal smoothbore muskets…and they were attacking across an open field an enemy defending from behind a stone wall. Yet the Union forces attacked a dug in enemy 11 times that day.

4) Lengths of enlistments. Initially, soldiers volunteered for 90 days of service on both sides. Once it became apparent that the war was going to last awhile, the Union called for 3 year service volunteers and the Confederacy did the same, going to universal conscription in March 1862. So what impact did this have on units? Well, the Confederates knew they were in it for good. The Union soldiers were only there until their enlistments ran out. When Grant was heading South in May 1864, not only was he losing the cream of his army through central Virginia, he was starting to lose entire regiments because their enlistments ran out. A soldier who knows he gets to march away in a week or 2 and never have to fight again is less likely to give it his all. The Army of the Potomac didn’t refuse to attack an entrenched enemy …the men just attacked until they started to take fire and then would go to ground. By August of 1864 Grant would only have 5,000 men more than Lee at Petersburg. There are also ample examples of units which refused to break (The Iron Brigade, the Stonewall Brigade, etc).

5) Now look at the European armies of that time frame. I believe you will find they had a greater military tradition, a level of training and expertise and an involvement of the populace which American forces couldn’t match until 1863..and don’t forget that the Homestead Act of 1862 allowed anyone who would move the frontier as pioneer could get free land and be exempted from service. There is no way to compare the 2 populations.


Pate, good analysis on Antietam. I would add one final piece. Confederate failure to decisively win in Maryland allowed Lincoln to announce the Emancipation Proclamation…which guaranteed the Europeans would not side with the CSA.


Excellent post. And I didn't know the bit about the Irish brigade still being equipped with Muskets. I would have thought it was the other way around. It makes Burnsides decision to attack even more questionable.

astralis
15 Jan 09,, 18:37
i would add that the Union/Confederate armies had a lot more ground to cover, manuever, and fight for than their German/French counterparts.

also, i think both Union and Confederacy had a more resilient political structure. say abe lincoln or jefferson davis was captured. i don't think it would have led to the same collapse the french had after napoleon III was humiliated.

Albany Rifles
26 Jan 09,, 22:07
Excellent post. And I didn't know the bit about the Irish brigade still being equipped with Muskets. I would have thought it was the other way around. It makes Burnsides decision to attack even more questionable.

The Irish Brigade were still suign their Model 1842 Buck and Ball .69 Caliber smoothbores at Chancellorsville in May 1863 and Gettysburg in July of that year. By choice, eith the exception of the 28th Mass, the Irish Brigade would hold onto their Buck & Balls until Spring 1864!


.http://http://books.google.com/books?id=pkh5TUdvD8UC&pg=PA147&lpg=PA147&dq=small+arms+%2B+%22The+Irish+Brigade%22&source=web&ots=ZJkynEyRFY&sig=r4ffGG1NmuMCTPHZh-O0eDH3R_Q&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPP1,M1

Shek
22 Oct 09,, 00:26
While not a battle, I would change my answer to be the election of Lincoln in November of 1864. After that, there was no doubt that the CSA was going to become a historical memory.

However, I would still stick with my original thought that Antietam was the beginning of the road to the end.

Shek
11 Sep 10,, 15:33
While not answering the exact same question that began the thread, what would be interesting to hear would be what battles were most damaging to the CSA's efforts? I'd vote for Chattanooga in the West and Chancellorsville in the East. Chattanooga irreversibly opened up the Deep South to attack and vaulted Grant to LTG and General-in-Chief, which once and for all synchronized Union strategy across all theaters of the war. Chancellorsville was symptomatic of Lee's approach that suffered unsustainable casualties while breeding overconfidence that would mask the impact of this bleeding.

BadKharma
11 Sep 10,, 17:31
I think far too many people underappreciate the importance of the western battlefields.

Bluesman
11 Sep 10,, 21:51
I just re-read my posts in this thread. BRILLIANT. I'm right, you know: FRANKLIN.

Shek
12 Sep 10,, 00:08
And then again when Lee manuevered Grant into a trap that almost saw the loss of either a third or two thirds of the Army of the Potomac at the North Anna River, failing only due to AP Hill's and his own seperate illnesses.

Hancock's II Corps was the only element that would have taken severe casualties (believe I had been incorrectly referring to it being Burnsides IX Corps in prior posts), and even then, it would have been Ewell's and Anderson's Corps (30K between) against Hancock's Corps of 24K in a stand-up fight outside of earthworks. Lee had only a few hour window in which to attack, after which Grant had realized that the entire ANV was at N. Anna and then ordered Hancock to entrench, at which point the ANV would taken severe casualties in the assault.

The defensive position was superb, although it took Warren's mauling of Hill's elements to shock Lee into action finding it, but it wouldn't have necessarily translated into even 1/3rd casualties as the ANV would have had to leave the earthworks to assault, meaning their assault would have lost momentum, and the assault would have been directed at only 1/4 to 1/3 of the AoP. In other words, it would have taken 100% casualties of Hancock's Corps to even reach the 1/3rd casualty mark.

North Anna is not the near miss that some writers make it out to be.

Bluesman
12 Sep 10,, 02:53
North Anna is not the near miss that some writers make it out to be.

Ah. Grant and I were wrong to think it was an extremely dangerous trap that he'd fallen into. I'm now clear on that, but I only wish somebody had told him before he died.

Heh. {;^)

Shek
12 Sep 10,, 13:01
Ah. Grant and I were wrong to think it was an extremely dangerous trap that he'd fallen into. I'm now clear on that, but I only wish somebody had told him before he died.

Heh. {;^)

You're making it out to be an offensive trap that was left unsprung, missing a decisive battle. Grant didn't see it this way. He saw it as a strong defensive position that wasn't worth assaulting.

eHistory at OSU | Online Books | The Official Records of the Civil War (http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/sources/recordView.cfm?Content=067/0009)


To make a direct attack from either wing would cause a slaughter of our men that even success would not justify. To turn the enemy by his right, between the two Annas, is impossible on account of the swamp upon which his right rests. To turn him by his left leaves Little River, New Found River, and South Anna River, all of them streams presenting considerable obstacles to the movement of an army, to be crossed. I have determined, therefore, to turn the enemy's right by crossing at or near Hanovertown. This crosses all these streams at once, and leaves us still where we can draw supplies

He didn't see it as an advantageous defensive position, either, but the fact that he entrenchsed and remained there for two days highlights demonstrates that it wasn't untenable and that he didn't see great risk - just the lack of advantage.

In the end, the mathematics carry the day. 1/3 is the upper bound of casualties, a figure that required 100% casualties for Hancock. In a fight of near parity (30K ANV vs. 24K AoP), requiring coordination between two weak ANV Corps Commanders (and Lee wasn't known for cross-Corps coordination) assaulting over open ground against the strongest AoP Corps Commander, Hancock, I think you'd be hard pressed to argue for 50% casaulties (and there'd be correspondingly heavy ANV casualties). Thus, Grant would suffer about 15-20% casualties, a figure that he'd already suffered in both battles preceding that one that never was at North Anna and close to the one he would suffer at Cold Harbor over the course of that battle.

What did he do after each and every one of the those? "And keep moving on."

Thus, North Anna wasn't where Grant almost lost the war. In fact, I think it'd be safe to say that any Confederate assault probably would have simply contributed to ANV exhaustion without any advantage to the ANV and potentially led to conditions where Cold Harbor or Petersburg in mid-June would have been the end.

Shek
13 Sep 10,, 03:02
For those not familiar with North Anna (or as Albany Rifles likes to term the Overland Campaign - the battle for I-95), see the following map. You can see that Hancock's right flank ties into terrain and while his left flank was flapping, the ANV would have had to have leave Hanover Junction flapping in order to have extended beyond Hancock's left flank. Furthermore, the same stream/swamp that would have disrupted any offensive assault by Hancock would have done the same for Ewell.

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/northanna/index/north-anna-battle-map.jpg

JAD_333
13 Sep 10,, 04:00
While not answering the exact same question that began the thread, what would be interesting to hear would be what battles were most damaging to the CSA's efforts? I'd vote for Chattanooga in the West and Chancellorsville in the East. Chattanooga irreversibly opened up the Deep South to attack and vaulted Grant to LTG and General-in-Chief, which once and for all synchronized Union strategy across all theaters of the war. Chancellorsville was symptomatic of Lee's approach that suffered unsustainable casualties while breeding overconfidence that would mask the impact of this bleeding.

Chattanooga was no doubt damaging for the reasons you mentioned and because it opened the way to Atlanta. But was it one of the two most damaging, along with Chancellorsville fought later the same year? Maybe at that point in the war it was. But it seems to me the most damaging losses were those which came earlier that led to South's loss of New Orleans and control of the Mississippi. The loss of Atlanta was more damaging than either battle because it completely changed the political landscape in the North and demoralized the South. Chancellorsville had to be fought to turn back Hooker. If it ranks among the most damaging for the reason you give, then it should be lumped together with Lee's other offensive battles, which altogether cost him far more men than he could afford to lose. Some historians say the greatest damage for the ANV to come out of Chancellorsville was the loss of Jackson.

Albany Rifles
13 Sep 10,, 14:30
Actually, it is more the battle of US 1!

An assault on Hancock's II COrps would have had a very difficult time in succeeding. The topography would have prevented the concentration of forces required to inflict that kind of damage.

And, JAD, I believe Shek wa referring to Chattanooga in November 63 and not Summer of 63.

Albany Rifles
15 Sep 10,, 15:53
I did some more thinking on this while walking my dogs last night.

I would like to amend and extend my comments and change my answer (if I gave one) to the Seven Days Battles.

No doubt many of you scoff but here is my reasoning:

During the Seven Days we can see the emergence of Lee's belief in the invincibility of the Army of Northern Virginia's fighting ability. Opening with the bloodletting at Beaver Dam, continuing through Gaines' Mills and finishing with the sanguine affair at Malvern Hill, Lee continuously threw the ANV at the AOP. I completely agree that the aggressive tactics paid off for Lee. I am not arguing that Lee needed to push McClellan back. But the entire campaign was a continuous display of shoddy staff work which got soldiers needlessly killed and wounded. The spirit of the regiments of the ANV allowed Lee to win that battle. That bred in Marse Robert an almost holy belief in the abilities of the ANV. It also sold into his mind the belief that the attack was always the preferred method of combat for him. We see this again and again...and the resultant casualty lists were stunning - almost 20,000 during the Seven Days, 9200 at Antietam, 11,000 at Chancellorsville, 17,500 at Gettysburg.

But what did Lee need to accompplish? As long as the ANV lived, there would be a Confederacy (same with the AOT). Lee's aggressive tactics did not match his strategic mission...keep his army alive and in the field. He should have learned the lesson of a previous Virginian, Washington, who knew when to attack and when to live to fight another day. He should have conducted a more defensive war at the operational level in order to husband his most precious resource....the infantry of the ANV.

And he developed this doctrine during the bloody path from Richomd through Hanover and Henrico counties to the James River.

The Seven Days set Robert Edward Lee down the path of destroying his army on the offense.

Shek
17 Sep 10,, 02:19
Buck,
Great analysis. In citing Chancellorsville, I was looking at it from a perspective that from that point on, Lee was a permanent fixture that could not be removed and whose advice could not be dismissed lightly by the Davis government. Maybe I'm dating this too late - at what point was Lee as ANV Commander irreversible? I know that Jackson (despite his dismal performance) was initially the hero of Seven Days because of campaign in the Valley months prior.

Albany Rifles
17 Sep 10,, 04:10
Buck,
Great analysis. In citing Chancellorsville, I was looking at it from a perspective that from that point on, Lee was a permanent fixture that could not be removed and whose advice could not be dismissed lightly by the Davis government. Maybe I'm dating this too late - at what point was Lee as ANV Commander irreversible? I know that Jackson (despite his dismal performance) was initially the hero of Seven Days because of campaign in the Valley months prior.

I'd say after 2d Manassas. Lee's success there gave him the morale authority to treat with Davis on all matters...he had delivered Richmond and drove the Union forces back on their heels.

As for Jackson, more complex. I remember a discussion with 2 British officers who said in their army they believed the Stonewall sobriquet was earned because he was "thick as a plank.". He had some great success in The Valley....but how did he do at the Seven Days? Pretty good at 2d Manassas and decent at Antietam. But didn't the only breakthrough of Confedera(e lines at Fburg occur on his corps front?

As with many through history his beatification was enhanced by death on the battlefield.

Mihais
18 Sep 10,, 12:29
IIRC he had the weakest position at Frederiscksburg,terrain wise.IMO his great merit was that he was good on his own.He didn't needed supervision,something Lee was not very good at practicising,anyway.

JAD_333
18 Sep 10,, 15:17
Albany:

Once again, we consider the question: what was the most decisive battle in outcome of the war. The outcome is the Northern victory. The Seven days was indeed significant in reducing the South's strength, but it was not the decisive battle. It hastened the outcome no doubt. I am the lone voter who believes that Shiloh was the decisive turning point. You know that battle well, so I won't go over it again. But the Northern victory there was a reverse of enormous consequences for the South for without it the North would not have gained control of the Mississippi and cut off the South from a principal source of material and transport. Had the South prevailed at Shiloh it could have maintained a defensive posture against Northern armies and drawn the war out to such an extent that the South would have succeeded in gaining diplomatic recognition from England or France and Northern politician in favor of peace would have been strengthened and likely succeed. The poll at the beginning of this thread is heavily skewed toward popularly recognized battles and ignores those that put the train of victory in motion.

Shek
18 Sep 10,, 17:43
John,
I think Buck was answering my redirection on the thread, which was getting at when the seeds of defeat were sown, not necessarily when they began to sprout.

astralis
18 Sep 10,, 20:53
shek,


Maybe I'm dating this too late - at what point was Lee as ANV Commander irreversible?

i'd say antietam.

Shek
18 Sep 10,, 21:10
shek,

i'd say antietam.

Antietam was at best a draw for the ANV - Lee entered Maryland and in making a stand at Antietam, ended the foray north with a loss. I'm not sure how that would capture the imagination of the South such that he could no longer be fired by Davis.

Albany Rifles
18 Sep 10,, 21:41
Albany:

Once again, we consider the question: what was the most decisive battle in outcome of the war. The outcome is the Northern victory. The Seven days was indeed significant in reducing the South's strength, but it was not the decisive battle. It hastened the outcome no doubt. I am the lone voter who believes that Shiloh was the decisive turning point. You know that battle well, so I won't go over it again. But the Northern victory there was a reverse of enormous consequences for the South for without it the North would not have gained control of the Mississippi and cut off the South from a principal source of material and transport. Had the South prevailed at Shiloh it could have maintained a defensive posture against Northern armies and drawn the war out to such an extent that the South would have succeeded in gaining diplomatic recognition from England or France and Northern politician in favor of peace would have been strengthened and likely succeed. The poll at the beginning of this thread is heavily skewed toward popularly recognized battles and ignores those that put the train of victory in motion.

You won't get much of a fight from me there....but I was answering Shek's redirected question.

And as for Jackson as independent commander....who was his opposition? Jackson did well against the second string. And many of his peers and historians have faulted him for his refusal to keep subordinates informed of the overall plan. Lck of understanding of the commander's intent for a battle stifles initiative and flexibility. This caused some fo his issues at the Seven Days and Fredericksburg.

astralis
19 Sep 10,, 16:11
shek,


Antietam was at best a draw for the ANV - Lee entered Maryland and in making a stand at Antietam, ended the foray north with a loss. I'm not sure how that would capture the imagination of the South such that he could no longer be fired by Davis.

yeah, that was my thinking, actually- if lee didn't get fired for antietam, short of a devastating loss, what WOULD he fired for?

Shek
19 Sep 10,, 16:22
shek,

yeah, that was my thinking, actually- if lee didn't get fired for antietam, short of a devastating loss, what WOULD he fired for?

Your argument would be fodder for Buck's nomination of Second Manassas - it revealed the preference for Lee as commander.

JAD_333
19 Sep 10,, 19:08
You won't get much of a fight from me there....but I was answering Shek's redirected question.

That's what happens when you only have a couple of minutes to catch up on a thread. My apologies. I take your point on the redirect.


And as for Jackson as independent commander....who was his opposition? Jackson did well against the second string. And many of his peers and historians have faulted him for his refusal to keep subordinates informed of the overall plan. Lck of understanding of the commander's intent for a battle stifles initiative and flexibility. This caused some fo his issues at the Seven Days and Fredericksburg.

I've read several explanations for his closed mouthed approach to planning. One, he believed his plans weren't open to discussion. Another that he feared tipping off Union forces (this in the case of his Valley campaign). From a psychological viewpoint, we can look at the example of leaders who tend to fly by the seat of their pants. Laying out a detailed plan ahead of time could thwart moves to take quick advantage of rapidly changing developments. etc.

Shek
20 Sep 10,, 01:19
From a psychological viewpoint, we can look at the example of leaders who tend to fly by the seat of their pants. Laying out a detailed plan ahead of time could thwart moves to take quick advantage of rapidly changing developments. etc.

John,
Grant provides an excellent example of where clearly laying out plans need not contradict with a coping style of battlefield leadership that attempts to take advantage of fleeting opportunities.

JAD_333
20 Sep 10,, 02:09
John,
Grant provides an excellent example of where clearly laying out plans need not contradict with a coping style of battlefield leadership that attempts to take advantage of fleeting opportunities.

That is very true of Grant, Sherman and other successful generals. I don't know whether you meant that in contrast to Jackson or to refute my thesis. For argument sake, I maintain that some supremely confident and successful leaders play their hand close to their chest because their ego makes it difficult for them later to reveal that they changed their original plan while it was unfolding, or the plan is beyond the pale. That may be the case with Jackson. He drove himself and his men pretty hard, and for that reason, his immediate subordinates might have had reservations which he didn't wish to consider. I read of some of his forced marches in the Valley where he expected 20-30 percent of his men to collapse by the road in exhaustion on the way to wherever he was going. He calculated that they would eventually straggle back to their units, but he would have gotten to where he was going much faster than the Union forces believed possible. Is that a plan you share with your command staff? I don't know.

Shek
20 Sep 10,, 02:49
That is very true of Grant, Sherman and other successful generals. I don't know whether you meant that in contrast to Jackson or to refute my thesis.

Only in contrast, not to refute why he did so.

Triple C
28 Sep 10,, 07:36
JAD,

How was Shiloh decisive in securing later victories in the west? Did the Southern losses in that battle and the moral defeat so severe that they were unable to regroup and effectively retake the initiative again ?

Albany Rifles
28 Sep 10,, 13:43
I'll jump in with 2 quick points.

At Shiloh, A.S. Johnston was killed. The Confederacy lost an excellent combat commander and were left with the likes of Bragg and Beauregard as the primary commanders in the west....and the lethal command team of Grant and Sherman was forged in that battle.

Not to speak for JAD but that may be his reasoning.

Of a secondary nature it also showed the new soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee that a fight lost is not a battle lost. Those Union regiments learned a valuable lesson....as did the new majors, colonels and brigadier generals.

JAD_333
28 Sep 10,, 15:06
Albany makes good points. The overarching significance of the battle is that Confederacy failed to check the North's momentum in carrying out its grand strategy, aka the Anaconda plan, which was set in motion by Gen Winfield Scott, who was commander in chief at the start of the war. The plan called for squeezing the South's ability to replenish war materials. In the west that meant gaining control of New Orleans and the major rivers, particularly the Mississippi. If that could be achieved it would close important Confederate trade routes from the west and give Union forces a base of operations deep in Confederate territory. The Confederates were well aware of the plan. At Shiloh the Confederates hoped to prevent Grant's Army of the Tennessee from linking up with Buell's Army of the Ohio because together they would significantly outnumber Confederate forces in the region. They failed. From that point on, although a lot of hard fighting was still ahead for Grant, particularly at Vicksburg, the Union had the momentum, and as we know eventually gained control of the Mississippi. The squeeze was on and it proved to be decisive in wearing down the South's ability to wage war. Of course, superlatives such as "most" in describing battles does not diminish the importance of subsequent battles. But had Grant's army been defeated at Shiloh, it would have retreated and left the South with its western supply routes--at least for a time, and who knows but that time might have led to a different outcome in the war.

Shek
24 Oct 10,, 11:19
Having just read "Bloody Roads South" by Trudeau, I can see where if that's the only book that one has read (Foote may also describe it similarly) then one might think that North Anna was a "trap" left unsprung. However, his account makes no attempt to analyze the topography or the need to leave the earthworks to assault with a multi-Corps assault in an extremely small window before it would have been an assault against earthworks - I'm not sure that would have even been enough time to mass, form, and assault in that small window of opportunity. Bottomline, Trudeau assumes that bad for offense for Grant = good for offense for Lee if only did didn't have the sh!ts, which is off the mark.

Shek
22 Sep 14,, 16:57
At the risk of the accusation of necromania, since we've just passed the 152nd anniversary of Antietam and today saw anniversary of the largest fruits of victory from Antietam, the release of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, I figured it'd be a good time to revisit the question. I'm still thinking that Antietam was a major turning point in the war. It didn't put Confederate independence out of the question, but it certainly was a game changer by settling the question of foreign intervention (no!) once and for all.

Albany Rifles
22 Sep 14,, 18:22
Shek,

No necromancy...after all.

It's history!

Knowing your background and how you earn your "king's shilling"...

There is no doubt that Antietam changed the tenor of the war...both domestically and internationally. Any chance of a balance between King Cotton & Prince Wheat had the scales tip in the balance of Prince Wheat after this. The populations of GB & France would not stand for openly supporting a slave republic when both populations were strongly abolitionist.

astralis
23 Sep 14,, 10:44
The elites of both countries, on the other hand, tended to be pro-Confederacy, both by inclination (association with the great landowning slaveowners) and policy (weakening a potential Great Power). They also looked forward to dominating the new CSA as well.

Palmerston was on the edge of recognizing the Confederacy in conjunction with Nappy the third when news of Antietam reached him.

Albany Rifles
23 Sep 14,, 13:46
Asty, absolutely agree. Most of the established powers were hostile to the US and were hoping to see a divided continent. The one European power which backed the Union, and strongly so, was Imperial Russia.

astralis
24 Sep 14,, 04:07
True, I just doubt that Russia would have lifted a finger if Palmerston and Napoleon recognized the Confederacy. Had that happened Lincoln would probably have surrendered prior to the inevitable Union financial collapse.

It's amazing, the difference between 1862 and 1863. Even a major Union defeat at Gettysburg wouldn't have had the implications that a minor Union defeat at Antietam would have had.

Albany Rifles
24 Sep 14,, 13:56
True, I just doubt that Russia would have lifted a finger if Palmerston and Napoleon recognized the Confederacy. Had that happened Lincoln would probably have surrendered prior to the inevitable Union financial collapse.

It's amazing, the difference between 1862 and 1863. Even a major Union defeat at Gettysburg wouldn't have had the implications that a minor Union defeat at Antietam would have had.

100% concur.

And I didn't mean to suggest that Imperial Russia was much of help vis a vis UK/France. It was kind of a way to show that we had no friends OCONUS. Hell, even the Ottomans pulled for the CSA!